Thursday, March 30, 2006

Moving the clocks forward. Dateline: Indiana.

At 2 a.m. Sunday morning, Indiana is going to explode. You can already feel the tension as you walk by people on the street. "Oh man, the clocks are going to...MOVE FORWARD! Or is it backward? No, I'm pretty sure it's forward. What am I gonna do?" There will be mass chaos, all right. There is a certain hilarity in revelling in the shock and horror of Hoosiers who are utterly terrified of the clock moving ahead an hour. Afterall, they have been trying to avoid this moment since 1966. Whenever there is a small snowstorm approaching, the newscasts go on high alert warning of "WINTER BLAST, (insert year here)." In this case, all you have to do is replace that with, "APPROACHING CLOCK APOCALYPSE, 2006! WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!"

Of course, this is all happening before the eyes of out-of-staters who are in town for the Final Four. Surely, it will be a hilarious episode for them to watch as frightened residents take to the streets in horror, turning cars, setting fires and looking to the sky for the Four Horsemen.

Once the terror has ended, there are good things that will come out of this ordeal. Because we are the westernmost state on EST, there will be 10 p.m. sunsets in June. What this means for four-year olds who have to go to bed when there is still daylight and their parents who have to endure the screaming, who knows? But aside from small children and parents of small children, it is a good thing. Of course, by winter, we'll have 4 p.m. sunsets, which will bring forth a record number of people with seasonal affective disorder, but you take the good with the bad.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

"Death of a Racehorse" by W.C. Heinz, 1949

As in literature, in sports journalism there are masters who came before who a person can look to for inspiration in style and craft. W.C. Heinz is one such individual. During his newspaper career, Heinz worked for The New York Sun, The New York Daily News and later wrote for various magazines and authored several books. Heinz was a pioneer in sports journalism, as he was one of the first to move away from the flowery, overly dramatic prose that for decades before defined sports journalism. He proved that clean, simple writing could be powerful writing. His 1949 story that appeared in The Sun, Death of a Racehorse, is possibly the greatest deadline story ever to appear on the sportspages of a newspaper. When you read a story in the newspaper, all too often, the ending is weak. The writer is in a hurry or tires at the conclusion. One of the defining characteristics of Death of a Racehorse is the ending. It's haunting, in a way. While reading it, it is easy to imagine Heinz sitting in the press box and writing on his typewriter with rain pouring outside. A Google search showed the text is only available in a couple places, so I'll post the story here.

# # #

They were going to the post for the sixth race at Jamaica, two year olds, some making their first starts, to go five and a half furlongs for a purse of four thousand dollars. They were moving slowly down the backstretch toward the gate, some of them cantering, others walking, and in the press box they had stopped their working or their kidding to watch, most of them interested in one horse.

"Air Lift," Jim Roach said. "Full brother of Assault."

Assault, who won the triple crown ... making this one too, by Bold Venture, himself a Derby winner, out of Igual, herself by the great Equipoise. ... Great names in the breeding line ... and now the little guy making his first start, perhaps the start of another great career.

They were off well, although Air Lift was fifth. They were moving toward the first turn, and now Air Lift was fourth. They were going into the turn, and now Air Lift was starting to go, third perhaps, when suddenly he slowed, a horse stopping, and below in the stands you could hear a sudden cry, as the rest left him, still trying to run but limping, his jockey -- Dave Gorman -- half falling, half sliding off.

"He broke a leg!" somebody, holding a binoculars to his eyes, shouted in the press box. "He broke a leg!"

Down below they were roaring for the rest, coming down the stretch now, but in the infield men were running toward the turn, running toward the colt and the boy standing beside him, alone. There was a station wagon moving around the track toward them, and then, in a moment, the big green van they call the horse ambulance.

"Gorman was crying like a baby," one of them, coming out of the jockey room, said. "He said he must have stepped in a hole, but you should have seen him crying."

"It's his left front ankle," Dr. J.G. Catlett, the veterinarian, was saying. "It's a compound fracture, and I'm waiting for confirmation from Mr. Hirsch to destroy him."

He was standing outside one of the stables beyond the backstretch, and he had just put in a call to Kentucky where Max Hirsch, the trainer, and Robert Kleberg, the owner, were attending the yearling sales.

"When will you do it?" one of them said.

"Right as soon as I can," the doctor said. "As soon as I get confirmation. If it was an ordinary horse, I'd done it right there."

He walked across the road and around another barn to where they had the horse. The horse was still in the van, about twenty stable hands in dungarees and sweat-stained shirts, bare-headed or wearing old caps, standing around quietly and watching with Mr. M.A. Gilman, the assistant veterinarian.

"We might as well get him out of the van," Catlett said, "before we give him the novocaine. It'll be better out in the air."

The boy in the van with the colt led him out then, the colt limping, tossing his head a little, the blood running down and covering his left foreleg. When the say him, standing there outside the van now, the boy holding him, they started talking softly.

"Full brother of Assault." ... "It don't make no difference now. He's done." ... "But damn, what a grand little horse." ... "Ain't he a horse?"

"It's a funny thing," Catlett said. "All the cripples that go out, they never break a leg. It always happens to a good-legged horse."

A man, gray-haired and rather stout, wearing brown slacks and a blue shirt walked up.

"Then I better not send for the wagon yet?" the man said.

"No," Catlett said. "Of course, you might just as well. Max Hirsch may say no, but I doubt it."

"I don't know," the man said.

"There'd be time in the morning," Catlett said.

"But in this hot weather --" the man said.

They had sponged off the colt, after they had given him the shot to deaden the pain, and now he stood, feeding quietly from some hay they had placed at his feet. In the distance, you could hear the roar of the crowd in the grandstand, but beyond it and above it, you could hear thunder and see the occasional flash of lightning.

When Catlett came back the next time he was hurrying, nodding his head and waving his hands. Now the thunder was louder, the flashes of lightning brighter, and now rain was starting to fall.

"All right," he said, shouting to Gilman. "Max Hirsch talked to Mr. Kleberg. We've got confirmation."

They moved the curious back, the rain falling faster now, and they moved the colt over close to a pile of loose bricks. Gilman had the halter and Catlett had the gun, shaped like a bell with a handle at the top. This bell he placed, the crowd silent, on the colt's forehead, just between the eyes. The colt stood still and then Catlett, with the hammer in his other hand, struck the handle of the bell. There was a short, sharp sound and the colt toppled onto his left side, his eyes staring, his legs straight out, the free legs quivering.

"Aw, ----" someone said.

That was all they said. They worked quickly, the two vets removing the broken bones as evidence for the insurance company, the crowd silently watching. Then the heavens opened, the rain pouring down, the lightning flashing, and they rushed for cover of the stables, leaving alone on his side near a pile of bricks, the rain running off his hide, dead an hour and a quarter after his first start, Air Lift, son of Bold Venture, full brother of Assault.

A whole bunch of rambling

Per a discussion on sportsjournalists.com, in journalism, we tend to wet our pants over awards. APSE's. ASNE's. SPJ's. Other various state and national awards. Typically, we'll mention it in the paper. Some papers even place a story on the front page. But why? Readers don't care. As was mentioned on the board, to readers, it does not hold any more significance than the lucky individual who wins Employee of the Month at Burger King. And the person at Burger King gets the special parking spot, which is more than any journalist can claim. At least Burger King Guy gets something useful and tangible. All we journalists get is a plaque to put on the wall. Most awards are judged subjectively and involve such a high level of politics that any meaning in them is drowned out by the time said plaque reaches its spot on the wall.

I'd rather see a reporter who consistently breaks stories and devotes him or herself to being solid everyday than one who is constantly focused on winning awards. On the board, Jason Whitlock makes the point that awards are journalism's steroids and a major reason for the issues with fabrication. He's right. Most journalists have an insatiable hunger to move up and up and up. It's natural, and most are not as good as they think they are.

However, as we have seen in the cases of Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass and others, a few lack the moral fiber to advance legitimately. They resort to cheating. It is sad. It is unfortunate. And in some cases, it is inevitable. A reporter thinks he is a "young effing stud." His editor, too, sees his reporter as a "young effing stud." The editor wants results and awards. The reporter wants to advance. The editor keeps the reporter on a loose leash. The reporter takes liberties. The editor does not think twice. And then there's trouble. It does not matter if it is Jesus Christ who is wearing a fedora and sitting in front of a typewriter. The editor needs have control over his or her reporters. There should be no star system. And while we're at it, take away the awards system, too.

# # #

After reading a Des Moines Register column by Marc Hansen about a college kid who decided to spend part of his Spring Break at Wal-Mart as an experiment, it made me realize that, while Wal-Mart is the definition of evil, it would be a fun thing to do. When I was a junior in high school, I sat by a kid named Jason in study hall. Jason was one of the funniest persons I have ever met. He decided to see how long he could live in the tent and patio area of Wal-Mart. Jason figured he could subsist on hotdogs and chips while taking shelter in a giant tent. He only survived for six hours before he was asked to leave by the Wal-Mart police. In the Register story, Skyler Bartels stayed for nearly two days. That's amazing.

When asked about Bartels' experiement, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman said, "We were not aware of this, but it's not something we condone. We're a retailer, not a hotel." Perhaps she is jaded by the constant protests that surround Wal-Mart, but that is a snide comment to make about someone who was attempting to show how Wal-Mart can be a fun place. He did not do anything wrong. Doing something for the sake of doing something out of the ordinary is admirable. Too often, we get set in our ways and don't venture out of what we see as normal living. Delving into the slightly abnormal can be healthy.

There is a discussion board along with the story. I am amused at the people who read the story and wrote derogatory about Bartels' project. That he is a slacker, a good for nothing kid and he needs a haircut. These people...he is a college student who was on Spring Break. He had free time, and that's how he chose to spend it. He could have gone to Florida and cause trouble, but he decided to do something different. To spend any time in a Wal-Mart is a mind-numbing experience, and it was a test of human endurance. I'd probably go crazy.

Friday, March 24, 2006

This and that

First off, I would like to share with you people one of the strangest non-Onion or satire story I've ever read. It's probably the strangest story I've ever linked to. The title of this story is: "Dedication Honors Nude Britney Spears Giving Birth." Basically, it is a statue of a naked Britney Spears giving birth on a bearskin rug from a position that I doubt many people give birth in, and this is all disregarding the fact she had a C-section. The story reads...

"Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston," believed Pro-Life's first monument to the 'act of giving birth,' is purportedly an idealized depiction of Britney in delivery. Natural aspects of Spears' pregnancy, like lactiferous breasts and protruding naval, compliment a posterior view that depicts widened hips for birthing and reveals the crowning of baby Sean's head.

The monument also acknowledges the pop-diva's pin-up past by showing Spears seductively posed on all fours atop a bearskin rug with back arched, pelvis thrust upward, as she clutches the bear's ears with 'water-retentive' hands.


I honestly don't know what else to say. However, if you have a neighbor you really don't like, I would suggest purchasing this statue and placing in a prominent location on your lawn.

# # #

While eating lunch today, I watched a documentary about Evel Kneival on The History Channel. My three favorite parts were 1) when he said something to the effect of, "I'm not a hero. I'm a legend." and then they defined what a legend is. 2) When Evel talked about how he saved the toy business. 3) When Evel was describing how when a guy named Sheldon Saltman wrote a negative book about him, he went to Hollywood, asked for Saltman, waited outside for him and beat him with a baseball bat. He didn't even see anything wrong with it. He thought he was doing the guy a favor.

# # #

Lately, I've tried to figure out what can get a person through daily life with the realities and supposed realities that surround us. The war in Iraq? It's a civil war, a quagmire of the highest degree and it's never going to end. Terrorists? They're going to get us, or they might not. The bird flu? We're all gonna die. The deficit? Nine trillion dollars, and I would like to apologize to my grandchildren and their grandchildren. The Bush Administration? It's way, way, way, way too long until Jan. 20, 2009.

Somehow, we all find a way to get through the day without losing our collective minds. How we do so is what I don't understand. I guess if my grandparents' generation could get through the Depression and then World War II, we can get through this, but at least there was leadership in place in the 30s and 40s to give people some degree of hope that times would be better. At a time when we need a Roosevelt or a Lincoln, we're stuck with a bastardized version of James Buchanan. Look up Buchanan, and you'll see what I mean. One guy didn't really try to stop a civil war and the other started one with his actions.

And that's enough of that.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A letter urging Vice President Dick Cheney that he eat Trader Joe's chicken noodle soup because I like it and I think he would, too

Dear Mr. Vice President,

You don't know me, but I know you. Well, I don't really know you, but I know you through the TV and the various articles I've read about you. You might say I'm quite the admirer. The scrapbook I made of your accolades would support that. Some say I'm obsessed, but no, no I'm not. You're my vice president, and my hero. I had sympathy pains when you shot that man. I mean, I, I really felt bad. For most lesser mortals, it might have ruined their careers, but you've managed to become untouchable. That's what I want to accomplish: to be untouchable in my quest for world domination. I'm sure you'd understand.

But my ambitions are not the point of this letter. Rather, I would like to suggest to you Trader Joe's chicken noodle soup. Not only does it have chunks of chicken, egg noodles, diced carrots, celery and onions mixed in a hearty chicken broth that is a meal in and of itself, Mr. Cheney, Trader Joe's chicken noodle soup has a full-bodied flavor that will leave you satisfied. I think you'd like it. Nay, I KNOW you'd love it. Dick, if I may be so informal, you've had some health problems that scare me everyday. I can't bare the thought of our country losing you. I can't bear the thought of me losing you. So if you would, try some of this soup. Not only is it good, but it is nutritious, unlike the regular grocery store brands like Campbell's that are full of salt. You have to watch those things at your age. But regardless, just try some of this soup. After you eat some of it, you'll be tempted to pull out a huge "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED...I HAVE FOUND AWESOME SOUP" banner to hang on the White House. But please try some. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Warmest regards,

Daniel Bradley

# # #

What? I didn't tell you I became a Republican? Well, I did. Who needs logic and reason when you can have world domination and big freaking guns that blow up lots of stuff? I mean, I woke up this morning and realized the thought of the military-industrial complex makes me wet my pants in excitement. All those wasted years as a liberal pacifist. What was I thinking? Hail Bush!

# # #

Finally, finding pictures like this on message boards is what makes the Internet great...

Monday, March 20, 2006

Is your last name still playing in the NCAA Tournament??? I didn't think so!



While it's the worst thing to happen to people's brackets, four mid-majors (Bradley, Wichita State, George Mason and Gonzaga, although, Gonzaga might not really be a mid-major anymore) making the Sweet 16 is one of the best things to ever happen to college basketball. It's taken some time, but the power structure of college basketball is changing due to players leaving early for the NBA. Because they haven't lost anyone to the draft and are able to place experienced teams on the floor, those four can compete with anyone. And Patrick O'Bryant, who is only a sophomore for Bradley, is the best center still in the tournament. Will any of these teams win the championship this year? Probably not. But it wouldn't be surprising if a Missouri Valley Conference team makes the Final Four in the near future. The playing field is leveling, and it's the best thing that could happen for the game.

The best quote out of all of this came from Gus Johnson, who was calling the George Mason game for CBS: "There is a new Cinderella, and his name is George!"

# # #

This picture is great. I love that the chair had tape put on it before Roy Williams decided to slam it down in anger.

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Applebee's Shrimp Sensations commercials are our punishment for the bad things we do as a society and as a human race

EDIT: When I wrote this last night, I didn't realize the one with the guy drinking the sauce was a Friday's commercial. Am I really supposed to know the difference between Applebee's and Friday's? They're basically the same themed restaurant based in suburban hell. One is a neighborhood, while at the other, it's a "Groundhog Day" type environment where it's always Friday. Neverending Friday. I prefer Thursday.

-----

If I see the two Applebee's Shrimp Sensations commercials that feature the Gilligans Island spoof and the stupid guy drinking the freaking sauce one more time, I am going to be tempted to go down to my neighborhood Applebee's and raise some thunder. For 12 hours at home and at work, I was surrounded by the NCAA Tournament on CBS. Seemingly on every single commercial break, one of these two spots ran. Sometimes, both. Sometimes back-to-back. And even sometimes, the same commercial repeated right after it just showed. Make it stop, please? I'm pleading with CBS to stop showing those commercials. I might lose my mind.

Some research of the Gillgan's parody shows that Applebee's executives wanted to produce commercials with two people who are now known as "The Applebee's Guys." The fact that these spots were thought up by human beings, then approved by their bosses, then approved by Applebee's clients, then approved by focus groups who thought these would be positive things to foist upon the viewing public and then approved by CBS to show them is an amazing fact of nature that will probably never be surpassed. It's inconceivable that anything so retched and annoying could exist over and over and over again. It's a never ending circle of hellfire and insanity.

The problem is that it's going to happen all over again on Friday. It's going to be 12 hours of two idiots pimping seafood with a Gilligan's Island spoof song followed by a jerk WHO DRINKS THE SAUCE! OH MY GOD, HE DRANK THE SAUCE! HE THOUGHT IT WAS A SHOT OF ALCOHOL, BUT HE DRANK IT! STOP THE PRESSES, FOLKS! HE DRANK THE SAUCE! THE JERKTRAIN HAS ARRIVED, AND...HE...DRANK...THE...SAUCE!!! Stupid Applebee's. If it weren't for your chicken finger and riblet basket, I'd abandon you.

But while we're particularly annoyed, let's have a sing-along!

Just sit right back and grab some tails
The tails of some tasty shrimp
Sensations now at Applebee's
Are really worth the trip

Sauteed, crisp fried or fire grilled
Served on a handy skewer
So many shrimp you'll want to plan
A three hour touuuuur
A three hour touuuuur

So join us here this week my friends
It's time for eating good
Shrimp Sensations now at Applebees
In your neighborhood

Well, now that we're all feeling homicidal, it's time to sleep. Goodnight.

Monday, March 13, 2006

A blind man ain't got no business at a circus

Temple basketball coach John Chaney announced today he is retiring after his team's season ends. Sure, he had periods of craziness. He did threaten to rough up John Calipari and he put in a player to intentionally hurt a St. Joseph's player. But when you look past the his episodes of going over the edge, what I appreciate about Chaney is that he always spoke his mind and not what sounded nice. It was an original mind, which is something today's sideline suits seem to lack.

He also gave us this press conference excerpt. I didn't bleep out the cursing, in case you're at work...

"We play game after game. We hold a team to 50-something, and we get 40-something. So we go back in the dressing room and I say, 'All right, men, we've got to play more defense.' We hold a team to 49, and we get 48. We go back to the dressing room and say, 'We've got to play some more defense.' There ain't that fucking much fucking defense in the whole fucking world! You've got to put the goddamn ball in the goddamn basket. That's something you have to understand. And we've got a team that can't shoot.

You can run around all day and set up all kinds of out-of-bounds plays, all kinds of patterns for David, but the other team knows what I know! I learned that a long time ago. I don't have to tell you a lot of stories. But I'll tell you one.

We had two guys one year when we had Nate Blackwell and Tim Perry. And we were playing Rhode Island. And I say, 'Timeout.' We're leading by six with a few minutes to play. I say, 'Get the ball into Timmy.' Well, the other team knows. They play Timmy, they play Nate.

And here's Ramon Rivas standing there wide open underneath the basket. They give him the ball. And he throws it up against the backboard five times and gets five offensive rebounds. So I say, 'Time the fuck out. Come over here. I don't want you to give the ball to anybody. I'd rather you shoot a bad shot or Timmy shoot a bad shot than to give it to Ramon.'

He goes back out there and he's crying. So help me God, Nate was crying. And he sees Timmy's covered and he's covered. But here's that shit-eating grin on Ramon Rivas. And he gives it to him. Before he could shoot it, I say, 'Timeout.'

So I bring them over to the huddle. Ramon is trying to get in the huddle. And I'm standing like this to keep him out of the fucking huddle. '(To Blackwell) What the fuck did I tell you? Don't you motherfuckin' give him the ball. Don't you do it.' So now they go back out on the floor.

And here's Ramon coming up to me, because he couldn't hear what I was saying. And he says, 'Coachie, coachie, what do you want me to do?' I said, 'Come here. Don't help me no motherfuckin' more. Sit the fuck down.' There's a reason why a guy's open. You know what I'm saying? He's always going to be open if he can't shoot. Here's Nate: 'He was open.' There's a reason. They leave him open.

This is a very simple game. It's not a hard game. Jim Maloney, my old, dear friend who passed away, said, 'Don't ever, ever, in your life pass up a shooter.' It's easy to teach a shooter how to play defense. But you can't go recruit defensive players and try to teach them to shoot. Nineteen, 20 years old, it's over.

You know in the old days they had records. There were hit songs on one side, and then the other side didn't have any hit songs, there wasn't anybody dancing. The guy said, 'Why ain't y'all dancing?' The record done flipped over.

When a guy reaches 19, 20 years old, it's over. You can't teach him how to shoot. I get letters from fathers: 'He can vertical jump 50 million fathoms, whatever. But you can teach him how to shoot. You're a legend.' I said, 'Give him to my enemy. I don't give a shit how good he can jump. Send him to my enemy.' It's bullshit.

You figure we shoot 60-something shots and St. Joe's shoots 43. Against Villanova we shot 70 shots. They shot 43. We shot almost twice as many shots. And then we end up with four turnovers, five turnovers. We lead the nation in low turnovers every year. I never lost games where I had five turnovers, four turnovers, in a heated game, and get twice as many shots as the other guy.

A blind man ain't got no business at a circus. And that's what I have, three blind mice, maybe 10 of them. How many guys do I got? Twelve of them.

No more questions, guys. And don't put the curse words in there. Write about the toilet down there in the dressing room. Fordham's got goddamn money. Why don't they build a new arena? We've got to throw them the hell out of the league! Take the money and run.

That's a sin, man. You go down there. That's where they ought to put you guys. I want y'all to come in that door down there. They got shit on the floor that's been there. I bet you there's rodents in that room. And all the students have stuff that's laying there soaking wet.

And then we've got a policeman who says, 'Coach, I'm going to check the back door to see if it's locked.' I said, 'For what? What the hell do you want to check the back door for?' The policeman is down there, sitting down there, guarding what?"

Friday, March 10, 2006

Please do

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Intermission

During the intermission, please feel free to buy popcorn and drinks from the food stands in the lobby. We will resume here shortly.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Amazon searching

After scouring amazon.com, I found the best bookcover on the planet. From Mark MacYoung, "Secrets" of Effective Offense: Survival Strategies for Self-Defense, Martial Arts, and Law Enforcement. I like that secrets is in quotation marks.



# # #

Something I would like to read is Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919 by Stephen Puelo. In 1919, a giant tank holding 2.3 million gallons of molasses collasped, sending 15-foot high waves of the stuff rolling through Boston and killing 21 people.

This is what the fury of molasses looks like...



That would have to be terrifying to look outside your window and see a giant wave of molasses coming right at you. For years, people claimed they could still smell molasses in the area of the flood.

# # #

Is it normal for me to walk around all day afraid that Dick Cheney is going to jump out of nowhere and shoot me in the face? Yeah, I know that incident happened a couple weeks ago, but I'm just concerned the scary guy is going to pop a cap into me.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Angry old women

It's great what a basketball game between two rivals can do to a seemingly sweet old lady. I sat next to one tonight at the Purdue-IU game. We'll call her, I don't know, Alice. Alice was at the game with her grown children, their wives and sat next to her grandchild. Everything seemed to be normal until a bad call prompted Alice to scream, "That sucks, you son of a bitch! Bad call, ref!" followed by, "I'm sorry" as she patted me on the shoulder. It was great, and because the referees were particularly bad against Purdue, she had plenty of opportunities to scream and curse. A perk of growing old is that being profane becomes endearing. I could go on a street corner and start screaming 500 degrees of nastiness and people would complain. However, if it were Alice, they'd just smile and think it nice that the elderly have spirit. Here's to Alice.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

So THAT'S what flaxseed oil does!

The San Francisco Giants players decided to play a game of "Giants Idol." Someone decided it would be a good idea for Barry Bonds to play Paula Abdul. This was the unfortunate result...


(AP photo by Ben Margot)

That's all I have.

(When questioned about whether he took steroids, Bonds said he took "flaxseed oil.")