April 30, 2008

View from the top (Burp)

That's right, kiddies. One month into the season and the Baltimore Orioles are back in first place, ahead of the Red Sox and the New York Voldemorts.

But still, the doubters mock our Birds. Noting that the O's and Tampa Bay (no more Devil) Rays are battling for first, ESPN.com's Page 2 today ran a very tongue-in-cheeck piece on this now-heated rivalry. I liked the list of the 10 best games between the two formerly -- and profoundly -- feeble teams. Funniest part of the list was the entry for the fifth-best O's-Rays game: April 9, 2002, a rainout. Laugh now, little man.

If the Orioles somehow manage to win the American League (HEY! Don't laugh. It's my blog) I have decided today that I'm going to fly to New York, drive down to the the Watchung Deli in Montclair, N.J., and eat a Benny Mac sandwich.

What's a Benny Mac, you ask? Try this on for size: a chicken cutlet sub with macaroni and cheese, plus barbecue sauce and bacon. It's just one of the delicacies mouth-wateringly described in this New York Times article about seven great sandwiches in the tri-state area. (By the way, isn't every state in a tri-state area?) Just try to read this article without getting hungry. Or nauseous.

April 28, 2008

Behind bars

I know it's ultralame to post nothing more than a link to another blog, but tough luck.

I thought this item from the New York Times' "Laugh Lines" blog was tremendously cool and wanted to make sure you saw it.

Don't know about you, but I'd definitely buy crap I didn't need if the packaging had cool barcodes on it. On second thought, I buy crap I don't need now even if it has standard barcodes, so what's the difference?

April 24, 2008

All the news that's fit to wear

I think I just threw up a little bit.

Clicked over to CNN and noticed these little t-shirt icons next to some of today's top headlines. (Atop the list for the moment: The incredibly important and impactful news of Wesley Snipes' tax evasion conviction.)

T-shirt icons? What could it mean?

One of the t-shirt-accompanied headlines caught my eye. Clearly I was struck by its potential for journalistic excellence. The headline read -- I kid you not -- "176-lb beauty squashes stereotypes."

Frightened but curious, I clicked on the t-shirt. Just as I feared, I landed on a page that -- again, I kid you not -- offered for sale black, white and grey t-shirts emblazoned with that very headline. That's right, it's irrelevant news you can wear!

Is someone at CNN world headquarters sitting there thinking that Zazzle and Busted Tees are eating into their revenues -- that strange headlines on sportswear is going to save the news business? I'm at a loss here. Edward R. Murrow, come back!

McCain and the Waves

When he was deciding which issues he'd be for and against, it must have been a really difficult call for John McCain to come out ... wait for it ... against the government's response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

Well, I'll be.

Such a topical issue for the 2008 campaign. I was waiting to make up my mind until I heard about this one. It's so interesting, so enlightening, to hear his thoughts on a three-year-old event that every single person on the planet agrees was a government failure of catastrophic proportion. And promising that "never again will a disaster of this nature be handled in the terrible and disgraceful way that it was handled" -- that's pure genius.

(When I hear a 98-year-old presidential candidate say crap like that, it reminds me of one of the better lines from Top Gun: "Your ego is writing checks your body can't cash.")

Wait, do you think this means that Obama and Clinton, since they're in the opposite party, supported the way it was handled? Crap. I was going to vote for one of them. But now, McCain just seems to have nailed this issue.

April 23, 2008

Bearly news

Another reminder that network news producers are not big on what I like to call "news judgment."

Watching Good Morning America today, I was amazed to see that the Pennsylvania primary was the day's top story. Amazed because just a few minutes later, during what they called, without a trace of irony, "the day's top stories," ABC got to an item about a grizzly bear-slash-movie actor that killed his trainer yesterday near Los Angeles.

Yes, it's sad that a dude died while trying to corral a 7-foot, 700 pound wild animal, and, perhaps, sadder still that the authorities are now considering killing the bear. I mean, after all, he was, um, acting like a bear.

But the day's third most important news story? Well, consider the following:

- ABC did have grainy footage shot from a traffic helicopter of -- as the reporter so eloquently put it -- "the bear pacing in his cage."
- Someone died in gruesome fashion.
- Last, and perhaps most important, the bear had been in a movie with Will Ferrell. The bear is a celebrity! A celebrity who killed someone! Surely, he deserves -- no, demands -- the same news treatment as Robert Blake or O.J.

So yes, friends, this was the third most important news story ABC could find today. Really, it's amazing they could come up with even two things that deserved to come first in the lineup. That there was news that might directly affect more people than a bear attacking its trainer in Southern California.

At the end of the breathless report, Chris Cuomo, who's rapidly joining Ann Curry at the top of my list of TV journa-lites I could really do without, somberly intoned, "Another reminder that these are... wild animals." I have to say, it really made me stop and think.

Speaking of Ann Curry, can anyone explain to me why ... aaaaaaaahhhhh!??! ... why she's actually in news, let alone on national TV? Now, it's almost like she's taunting us with her irrelevance. The AP reported that during Laura Bush's guest host gig on the Today show yesterday, the First Lady successfully executed (gasp) a voiceover. Curry gushed, "You did that so well, it's obvious that we [the full-time news personalities] are overpaid."


April 17, 2008

Recruit, redux

I promised, oh about two months ago, to keep you posted on the strange story of Kevin Hart, a 290-pound (or maybe 300-pound) high school football player from Nevada, who held a press conference to announce he was going to play football at the University of California.

The original post is here, but to make a strange story short: He made the announcement, Cal said it had never recruited him, and Hart said he must have been duped.

I'm about 10 weeks late in following up -- guess I should have checked the news coverage the day after the original story broke. That's when Hart admitted he made the whole thing up, because, as he told the AP, he wanted to play Division I football "more than anything."

Gotta give him credit for putting one over on the coaches and administrators, not to mention the media goons who showed up for the shindig without bothering to call the universities he said had been recruiting him. Sounds like young Kevin is one of those future college students who will -- to quote those annoying NCAA TV ads -- turn pro in something other than sports.

Nuts, Part II: The Ad

In addition to the helpful (and much appreciated) suggestions you provided about various forms of bananas and leg-cramp prevention, I got some input on the topic from my close personal friends at whatever department inside Google decides which paid ads get posted on my blog.

And by the way, couldn't that department hire a graphic designer so these content-generated ads don't look so sketchy? Just from the look of 'em, every ad makes me think I'm clicking through to a scam.

At the moment I'm writing this, there's a mini-banner over there to the right about a product called Hyland's Leg Cramps. (I'm not posting a link because if you're interested, you should click on the ad. From click-throughs so far, I think I've made about eight cents, so by this time next year, I'll have earned back the 99 cents I spent buying Eben that song on iTunes.)

Anyway, if I were the good folks at Hyland's, I'd probably tweak the product name just slightly so it implied that the ointment or salve, or whatever the heck it is, relieves leg cramps, rather than causing them. Seems like someone in marketing or legal could have thought of that. It has quinine in it, so maybe I'll give it a shot.

April 11, 2008


I think I'm sick of bananas.

A few months ago, I started trying to eat one a day to prevent my legs from cramping up at night. (My dad said something about potassium being some kind of anti-leg-cramping wonder-mineral. Who knew?) (Probably lots of people who've gone to medical school. Or read books.) (It's enough with the parentheses already, huh?)

Anyway, it worked. I have been leg-cramp-free. But now it's like taking medicine. Just the sight of 'em is starting to creep me out.

I think I might have a good solution, though. My gorgeous wife makes a mean banana bread. Wonder if the potassium works still works if you eat bananas in loaf form. Your input is welcome.

April 10, 2008

Like Delmarpa, but different

If you've read any past posts, you know I'm a big fan of The New York Times.

That's mostly because it's one of the best-written, best-edited papers there is. (And, as my college newspaper editor used to point out, it doesn't come with coupons or the funny pages, so it must be pretty serious about the news.) Usually the top-notch editing applies to the Times web site, too. But I found a funny mistake yesterday in a Q&A with the Times travel editor.

Responding to a question from a reader, the editor mentioned the Delmarva Peninsula, which he described as, "that jut of land made up of portions of three states (Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania)...."

Well, that's close. As the great Meat Loaf once sang: Two out of three ain't bad. Problem is, the "-va" in Delmarva comes from Virginia, which should have been a hint that the Old Dominion State, not Pennsylvania, is the third state that makes up the peninsula.

Being the editor pest I am, I actually emailed the Times yesterday to let them know. The mistake was fixed when I checked the page this morning.

BTW, geography errors aside, the piece is kind of an interesting read if you're looking for vacation ideas. But it sorta seems like a travel editor could check a map for that kind of thing, doesn't it?

... Or however you spell it

As if, in some small way, the folks who write CNN's Web site reports were trying to provide support for yesterday's post, this sentence appeared today in a CNN.com story about American Airlines' Great Flight Cancellation Spree of 2008:

At Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, American passengers reported frustration but complemented the carriers efforts to get them to their destinations.

Spelling? Punctuation? Whatever, dude. Haven't you seen those touchscreen election maps?!?!

April 9, 2008

CBS, as in Can't Be Serious

CNN is a super place to get your news if you need wall-to-wall coverage every time a random twentysomething celeb is getting arrested for DUI or a weather disaster strikes a trailer park -- or if you like breezy five-second analyses of important issues that might actually impact your life. Oh, and if you like annoying sound effects while John King plays with touchscreen election maps.

So it's ... what's the opposite of super? ... not super to hear that CBS News is considering outsourcing some of its news gathering operation to CNN. It's like hearing that Tony Bennett is considering outsourcing some of his singing to Michael Bolton. Yes, Tony's been around for a while, and he's not as mainstream as he was back when, but the result would be so disheartening.

Sounds like some people need to watch Good Night, and Good Luck for a little inspiration.

There's a difference between TV journalism and TV coverage. Let's hope CBS keeps its business in house.


Another sports post that nobody else will care about, but I'm putting this up for later -- in a few months, it will be a happy reminder of good times.

It's more than one week into the 2008 baseball season, and the team with the best record in the American League is...

Not the Red Sox.
Not the Yankees.
Not the Tigers.
And not even the Southern California Angels of Greater Los Angeles or Possibly Anaheim.

Nope. It's the Baltimore freakin' Orioles. That's right, baby. The 6-1 Baltimore Orioles. The same team that finished 2007 so far out of first place that when the newspapers printed the daily standings, they were almost off of the page. Told that the O's six-game winning streak matched their longest streak in 2007, one of the Orioles players asked, "We won six games in a row last year?" I was surprised, too.

The latest win was an 8-1 victory over the Texas Rangers, the team that must have collapsed from exhaustion after one game against the Orioles last year, because they spent so much energy rounding the bases and scoring 30 runs -- yes, 30 as in three-zero, and yes, that was one single game.

Incredible as it may be, the standings as of this morning look like this:

Too good to last? Maybe. Still 155 games left? I know. But for this week, anyway, it's like 1983 all over again.

April 6, 2008

Sad, but (not) true

Oh, wait. You mean those sad stories about the common folk that presidential candidates tell during their campaign speeches have to be true? Hm.

Well, that changes everything! What's Hillary going to do now?

This gaffe has to be mostly the fault of her campaign staff, for not checking it out, but maybe she oughta surround herself with people who would have thought of doing that. At this point, I think I'd be more surprised if the stories in her speech were actually based in fact.

April 4, 2008

John McCain, rabble-rousing stud muffin

It's one thing to connect with the electorate by reminding us that despite your bona fides as a military hero, you're not perfect. You got in trouble in school. Raised a little hell. (See my previous post.)

It's another thing to take every possible opportunity to share all of the gory details -- and do so with great pride -- of your years of being a drunken man-slut.

What's even better about these revelations of John McCain's hard-partying youth is that his campaign advisers think they're, well, on strategy. His media adviser tells Time that this is a good way to "appeal to young people." Right. Youngsters love hearing stories about senior citizens getting sloshed and whoring it up. Makes them seem so ... much... yeeeeeccccchhhhhh.

April 2, 2008

Oh, good. Another class clown

Candidate McCain gets many many points for his military service and his survival as a POW. No doubt about that.

But he's canceling out some of those points by bragging today about all of his demerits while he was a student at the Naval Academy. The New York Times excerpts an advance of the speech, which is being delivered at Annapolis today. The pertinent portion:

“In truth, my four years at the Naval Academy were not notable for exemplary virtue or academic achievement but, rather, for the impressive catalogue of demerits I managed to accumulate. By my reckoning, at the end of my second class year, I had marched enough extra duty to take me to Baltimore and back seventeen times — which, if not a record, certainly ranks somewhere very near the top.’’

(By the way, that better not be some kind of cheap shot at Baltimore.)

I'm not sure if he's exaggerating his misbehavior to seem more like a regular guy, or whether he really was getting written up all of the time. I also tend to think he had to be a fairly serious student to get into and graduate from the academy.

Either way, it makes me wonder what would happen if we had a president who really had been a total screw-off during college. What would that be like? Maybe we'd be better off with someone who was a top-notch student and is comfortable with that. That'd be neat.