Sunday, January 29, 2006


Can't decide if I want to post any articles on here as my reporting career goes along. I think I'll stick with not doing that, unless they win awards or something.

I didn't see any episodes of Lost until Thanksgiving, when my parents and girlfriend and I watched almost all the first season on DVD, and I've given myself over to the cult of J.J. Abrams. But just so I don't feel too uncritical, here are the top 5 things I dislike most about Lost:

1) Too much "baby-in-peril" drama. It's not that I'm skittish, it just feels a little too manufactured sometimes. "Nobody in any real danger this week? Let's have Claire turn her back for a few extra seconds as you bite your fingernails. Oh, that's right, you'd bite them anyway, Mr. Disgusting Habit."
2) Kate's nostrils.
3) It could use a little more humor. I'm not saying promote a background character and make him Abbott to Hurley's Costello, I'm not saying more scenes with Hurley, but the drama wouldn't be quite so exhausting and it'd be a little more compelling if there was more balance.
4) Not nearly enough Sayid.
5) The fact that I can think of Gilligan's Island parallels for all of that show's main characters:
Thurston & Lovey Howell: Boone and Shannon, Jin and Sun
The Professor: Sayid/Locke
Gilligan: Hurley/Charlie
Skipper: Jack
Mary Ann: Kate
Ginger: also Shannon

Hurley as Gilligan and Sayid as the professor are as close to perfect as such comparisons come. Shannon works as Ginger and as Lovey Howell, and Boone's a good match as her disdainful lover Thurston. The others just remind me of those characters occasionally.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

A word about the "Reservoir Dogs" phenomenon in the park

Walking more than three abreast is impolite, I feel safe in saying. Plus I've got actual, non-Reservoir dogs to contend with while I run, so any help would be appreciated.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

This job thing is for suckers!

So I've worked three days at my new paper, and it's simply pathetic how tired I am when I come home. Aside from one 3-miler (Monday afternoon, after only a 6-hour shift) I haven't been able to do anything more strenuous than flip through channels.

Not only is my publisher running a marathon the week after mine, he got his master's degree at my alma mater. Plenty of suck-up potential.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Panthers-Seahawks: Observations from the couch, fourth quarter

9:16: Carolina will take over on its own 4 after a punt. It has 12 minutes to get at least 20 points.
9:20: The call was changed to a touchback. Come on, Panthers, the refs are trying to help you. Do somethin'.
9:21: More announcer code: When Aikman says the ball "came out of his hand funny", that means the quarterback must have been an idiot to throw it.
9:22: Fourth and 10 with 11 minutes left, and they're not going for it? Come on. Come on, that's just gotta be stupid. If you're down by 20, 11 minutes is not a healthy amount of time to have remaining. Baker's punt is bad, anyway.
9:24: This isn't really a plug, but the three-course menu for $13 at Friday's is a good deal. And I don't particularly like eating there, but really, pork dumplings, a cheeseburger and cheesecake for $13 is much better than what you'll usually see on those menus.
9:26: Yawn. Are you still reading this? I can't believe I'm still writing it. But as boring as this game has become, I'm becoming more confident that the Super Bowl will be competitive. Seahawks and Steelers, Seattle and Pittsburgh. Hey, they're decent-sized markets. Better than if it had been Jacksonville vs. Carolina or Tampa Bay.
9:31: Alexander punches in a TD from the 2. Oh yeah, the football game's still on! 34-7, Seattle.
9:39: Delhomme throws a 47-yard TD pass to Drew Carter to make it 34-14. Holmgren's pissed, but really, there is no chance his team will lose. There are five minutes left.
9:43: The onside kick rolls under one line of Seattle defense, but the second line gobbles it up.
9:45: I swear that's erstwhile comediam Bill Bellamy in Carolina's receiving corps.
9:48: Aikman essentially challenges the Seattle faithful: "I know Steelers fans have always traveled well ... it'll be interesting to see how these Seattle fans travel." This isn't an away game in Green Bay; I think they'll show up just fine. And, oh yeah, it's their first Super Bowl ever. So I think they'll buy a few tickets.
9:53: Another two-minute warning, and again, that's enough for me.

Panthers-Seahawks: Observations from the couch, third quarter

8:35: Be proud of me, I am eating a healthy snack. An entire red pepper. How many cheeseburgers will I have to have to make up for this? By the way, Seattle is already at the Carolina 36 on the opening drive, and Alexander rips off another one down to the 20. Carolina's defense looks tired, very tired, and there's no end in sight. Alexander has more than 100 yards rushing now.
8:37: Touchdown pass to Darrell Jackson. I won't lie to you: this game is over. 27-7, Seattle, with 26 minutes and 9 seconds left. If Carolina wins this game, it'll be because it became an entirely different team. The team that has materialized so far can barely tie its own shoes.
8:41: Jake Delhomme has always looked 15 years old, but with the lost-little-boy look he's wearing right now, he looks closer to 9. No offense to any tough-guy 9-year-olds out there, inexplicably reading my blog.
8:43: Not to pile on, but Delhomme's footwork in the pocket looks like me running the point in LYA basketball. And Aikman, I'll give you a slice of pepper if you stop using "impact" as a verb. Forget it.
8:45: Third and 15, Carolina fails on a screen pass and even has an ineligible receiver downfield. The first two games of this couch's life have both been pretty uncompetitive.
8:50: Five minutes seems a lot longer when you're doing this. I'm sure several plays have happened, but I keep surfing to read coverage of the Steelers game. Anyway, it's now somehow 3rd and 25 for the Seahawks, and Hasselbeck scrambles for a good chunk of it. Punt.
8:52: Steve Smith is back to return the punt, and he's yelling that there aren't enough guys on the field, and he calls a timeout just before Seattle was going to let the play clock run out anyway. Unfortunate. He's going to be the life of the party in the losers' locker room.
8:55: Seattle pins them inside the 2 with the punt. Buck: "Everything is working for Seattle." Except Hochuli, who's working for Carolina. Bada bing.
8:56: A rattled Hochuli calls Carolina for a false start, hears boos, and tearfully bellows, "What do you want from me?" If only that had actually happened. But the false start did. No boos.
8:58: Three bad plays inside the 5 by Carolina -- will they have to go for it? I guess not; good thing I don't coach a team. Panthers punt, but it's so short that Seattle will start in field-goal range.
9:01: Donovan McNabb in a Chunky Soup commercial for New England clam chowder: "New England, huh? Well, I like it anyway!" Kill me with anything you're holding right now.
9:02: Jake Delhomme's QB rating -- "like a bad GPA," Buck cracks -- is 1.6. Hasselbeck's is over 120. Seattle sets up for a field goal, but pooch punts it inside the 10 instead. Nice move. I'm looking forward to seeing Holmgren and Cowher coach against each other in the Super Bowl.
9:05: Steve Smith beat his man deep but had to come back for the ball because he's faster than Delhomme's arm is strong.
9:06: It's JAMAL, Jamal Robertson. And he catches and runs for a first down. Then Mangum gets a first, and finally Carolina goes to the no-huddle offense.
9:08: Delhomme throws his third pick, another poor throw. He's having his worst game of the season. John Fox should ask Holmgren if he can trade Delhomme for Seneca Wallace, right now.

Panthers-Seahawks: Observations from the couch, second quarter

7:29: Hasselbeck misses a wide-open Mack Strong in the end zone.
7:30: Touchdown, Alexander. 17-0, Seattle. There are 44 minutes and 53 seconds left in the game, and the temptation to say it's over is so, so strong.
7:31: I bet Pats fans feel about these "fraud monitoring" commercials the way I feel about Mama McNabb and her spots.
7:33: Buck: "This place is literally shaking." My head is literally shaking: nuh-uh.
7:33, redux: He Hate Me is in! Rod Smart returns the kickoff a modest distance.
7:34: Whatever else you say about this game, don't forget that it features starting fullbacks with the best possible names -- Hoover and Strong. Come on. That's cheating, to have fullbacks with names that good. No wonder they both made the title game.
7:35: Good lord. Delhomme airs it out on third and 1 to Somebody Carter, who comes up "with the biggest catch of his life," Buck says. First down inside the 30 for Carolina.
7:37: Hey, Steve Smith made a catch while I was watching! Buck says Fox's show 24 is "off to a fantastic start." And Delhomme literally shakes -- no, literally spins around 360 degrees, then throws a pass off a linebacker's helmet. I think I need Jake Plummer's O2 machine.
7:38: Delhomme looks like a rookie. He just took a huge third-down sack back at midfield, and that whole drive goes for naught.
7:40: Do you think August Busch IV was just homeschooled at the brewery after kindergarten? There was no chance his family'd let him be something other than a brewmaster. It's that Roman numeral; it really limits the career options. Don't believe me? Fine. By the way, nice win at Georgetown the other day, John Thompson III.
7:41: Buck says that Steve Smith "snapped during the break", conveniently enough. I don't blame him; he can't even smell the ball, and his quarterback throws like Adam Sandler in The Longest Yard, or at least in the promos I saw.
7:43: Carolina is finally getting decent pressure and making Hasselbeck look sub-superhuman. Time for Steve Smith to unsnap and return a punt -- if they punt anywhere near him.
7:45: Mesmerizing sequence. Smith catches the terrible punt, knifes through a few gaps and takes it to the house at Mach 6, but there's a flag. Hochuli says, "During the return..." and trails off, asking another ref what the call was again. Then says, "There is no foul on the play. Touchdown." Um, what? The crowd just snaps (not during the break). The flag was for a block in the back, but then the refs decided that the Panthers guy pulled up enough that it didn't warrant a penalty. 17-7, Seattle. Wowsers.
7:50: In the replay of Holmgren after the flag was picked up, he looks as feverishly angry as I've ever seen a coach.
7:51: Hasselbeck is back in his comfort zone, picking apart the vaunted Carolina D. 2nd and 10, he changes the play at the line but is forced to call a timeout when his guys don't seem to understand.
7:55: Hasselbeck scrambles for a first, then Alexander slashes for another, and then another. Three plays take Seattle from the SEA 40 to the CAR 22.
7:57: Darrell Jackson is called for an illegal crackback, and the crowd is ready to strangle Hochuli. Then Engram is muscled away from an end-zone shot, no flag, and the crowd seethes again. Good thing Hochuli can kick all their asses. Seattle's now backed up out of field goal range.
7:59: Jackson catches a pass long enough to get Josh Brown a shot at a 39-yarder ... and it's perfect. 20-7, Seattle.
8:00: Buck digresses to the Hawks' D: "I think the world is now seeing how good and how dangerous this Seattle defense can be." Yeah, sorry about that, guys. Aikman says they're not being predictable in how they try to stop Steve Smith, and to that I say, um duhhh. If they were being predictable, someone would predict it and know how to beat them. Too much couch for me, maybe.
8:03: Carolina needs to convert this third and 6, but Delhomme throws to a highly covered receiver. They'll have to punt and give Seattle one more chance to pad its lead before half.
8:04: Since I didn't do my research, it's only now that I find out (because Buck says it) that Seneca Wallace isn't a receiver at all, he really is the backup quarterback, but they simply put him in a pass route. Cool.
8:08: After the two-minute warning, Hasselbeck throws for a first down and Seattle can probably run the half out.
8:10: The announcers mention how long Hochuli is taking to make calls, but I think it's because he's scanning the stadium for emergency exits.
8:14: Thirty-three seconds left, fourth down at the Carolina 30. Holmgren decides to kick a 49-yard field goal instead of going for it or punting. The wind catches it in the last 10 yards and it's no good. Carolina has about 30 seconds to go about 30 yards to get into field goal range itself.
8:17: Ten seconds left. Smith drops/Delhomme misses a pass that would have put them into field goal range. The half ends with a "Hail Mary" that wasn't, an out route to the 20-yard line. Huh? Frank Reich, still awake?

Panthers-Seahawks: Observations from the couch, first quarter

6:21: Barely time to breathe between games. I wasn't going to care as much about this game as I cared about seeing the Steelers win, but now I'm going to root for the Panthers; only an above-average defense will be able to beat the Steelers in the Super Bowl. The Panthers have one, the Seahawks don't. Plus, I want to see the one star from my fantasy football team (Steve Smith) do his thing in Detroit.
6:31: That dude from Mad TV does a mean John Madden impression, and the actual midget he had impersonating Bob Costas ... I mean, that's the best kind of not-nice.
6:34: Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are on the case. Buck's a little sharper than Nantz (who is still very good), and Aikman is light years better than Simms, but he's still prone to overreferring to "the National Football League", just in case we all forgot which friggin sport we were watching.
6:39: American Idol's Carrie Underwood gives us the anthem. Close-ups aplenty -- Matt Hasselbeck is so bald, while Brett Favre has not lost a hair! Does that explain Matt's angry-apprentice complex? And am I allowed to just make up complexes?
6:41: Good anthem.
6:42: Has anyone had these "chicken fries" from Burger King? This isn't a rhetorical question; if you have had them, comment and tell me if they suck.
6:43: Dad, sorry about the baldness crack. But did you notice in these last two commercials? All the guys with mustaches and no beards? It's time to explore that second career in commercials, Dad.
6:45: Pam Oliver says Hasselbeck has a hurt finger on his throwing hand, and Bobby Engram has a back issue he won't talk about.
6:46: Chris Myers says Steve Smith talks to himself on the field. Well, he's good enough that he's allowed to be crazy, like van Gogh.
6:48: Newly crowned starting RB Nick Goings runs the first play, a run of zero yards. Uh-oh.
P.S. hwong14's blog is
6:49: Three and out for Carolina -- and Ed "Unbelievably Muscular" Hochuli makes his first appearance! Good Lord, this man is ripped.
6:50: Announcer code: When Aikman says something was a "very (pause) close call", he means it was a very BAD call.
6:51: First sack on Hasselbeck, by two Panthers who shushed aside the O-linemen assigned to them. Not good.
6:52: Impressive run by Alexander for 14 yards. Could have been 3, should have been 8, but he's good at busting tackles. 3rd and 3 now.
6:53: Hasselbeck avoids a sure sack and hits Jerramy Stevens, an 8-foot-34-inch tight end I drafted for fantasy football before he was any good, for a first down. Damn.
6:55: Solid stop by Carolina on a third-and-short. Fans plead for them to stick it, not kick it, but Holmgren sends in the punter. Touchback. Oops.
6:56: Lots of short sentences closing these entries. Stupid.
6:59: Carolina's gone three and out on its first two series, so maybe I should revise my indictment of Seattle's defense.
7:04: Seattle converts the third and short it missed last time. Alexander doesn't look particularly injured, but I haven't heard Julius Peppers' name called yet.
7:05: I thought Seneca Wallace was still in college as a quarterback, but apparently he's in this game and he catches a sweet ball from Hasselbeck in double coverage, even though Aikman didn't like the throw. And now Stevens catches a TD with no one in spitting distance of him. 7-0 Seattle, quickly.
7:09: Buck tells me that was Wallace's first pro catch, so I no longer feel stupid for not knowing he was in the National Football League.
7:12: Lofa Tatupu intercepts Delhomme and Seattle is 20 yards away from making it 14-0. Didn't expect the home team to dominate early, given how flat the Hawks were last week against Washington.
7:14: Jerramy Stevens catches it inside the 10. His jersey number #86, the one on his shoulder, is peeling off.
7:16: Peppers finally makes a play, stuffing Alexander. And Hasselbeck gets bottled up on a scramble (crowd wanted a face mask), so Seattle has to kick. 10-0, Seahawks.
7:21: Whoa. I've been nodding off watching Carolina's offense, so I'll just assume they still haven't completed a pass to Steve Smith. And now Nick Goings is "woozy and headed off the field", Buck says. Who was Carolina's fourth-string running back in training camp, because that guy will now be the featured back. Frut-froh.
7:24: Somebody Robertson is in as the running back, and he brings good luck in the form of a defensive penalty and automatic first down.
7:25: Delhomme throws another pick, far more brutal than the first one, and Seattle again is next door to the end zone. This could cripple the Panthers.
7:27: Aikman on Delhomme: "He didn't see what he thought he saw." Meanwhile, Alexander rumbles to the 2, and the first quarter runs out. Disastrous 15 minutes for fans in the Research Triangle.

Steelers-Broncos: Observations from the couch, second half

4:46: I'll be in and out of the game (and the diary) for the next 15 minutes; this burger is taking longer to defrost than I'd hoped.
4:53: Fourth down Steelers at the 35 of Denver. Punt, 52-yard field goal or go for it? Cowher decides to take a delay of game and punt, trying to pin the Broncos close to their own end zone. I'd have kicked the field goal with the thin air and Reed having hit a 47-yarder already. But it's a "beauty," Nantz says, and Denver will start from its own 3.
4:59: Three and out, as Denver goes backwards to its half-yard line before punting to MY MAN RANDLE EL. This post was light on capital letters so far -- sue me.
5:02: Turning point? Hines Ward seems to pull in a pass on third down but Champ Bailey unloads on him, and Pittsburgh will have to punt again. If Denver doesn't get any points on this upcoming drive, they will lose. There are six minutes left in the third quarter, so they'd need to get a point a minute, unanswered.
5:04: So much for the "turning point"; these Pittsburgh cats just have more energy. The returner lets the punt bounce behind him at the 5, and it's flying toward the end zone when a Steeler special-teamer grabs the ball and flings it back over his left shoulder before he and it get to the end zone. Denver will start at its own 3. Again.
5:06: So much for "so much for the turning point". Shanahan challenges, and it looks like our man had his toe on the goal line. Officials make it a touchback; Denver gets the ball on its 20.
5:10: A wide-open Denver receiver drops a pass that'd be the team's first first down in 20 minutes of game time. Somebody named Alexander. That hurts, to drop a pass when your name finally gets called and some punk only knows the Alexander part of it. Plus you're losing by 21.
5:11: Okay, I could root for Denver if Rod Smith made more grabs like this one. Leaping catch over Troy Polamalu, as Simms eviscerates Plummer for passing up a shorter but surer first down. I think Simms is mad that his last assignment of the year has become a blowout.
5:15: On 2nd & 1 at the Pittsburgh 30, Plummer takes a shot downfield (why not) and Ashley Lelie yanks in a touchdown pass. 24-10 Pittsburgh, and holllllld everything! Let's see if Pittsburgh can eat up another six minutes of game time, then get a field goal to make it three scores. If they can't, we might have a game back on our hands.
5:19: The Bus blows up John Lynch on a block and Ben flings it 20 or 30 yards to a wide open Cedrick Wilson. Armen Keteyian reports that John Lynch is limping, but Bonnie says Bettis has a cold. Touche'.
5:21: Cedrick Wilson gets 15 yards on 2nd & 17; maybe Ward's being overcovered, because Wilson is catching everything.
5:22: The Steelers are at the Denver 25 as the third quarter runs out, so safe to assume we'll see at least a field goal try.
5:26: Ben gets sacked at the 25 on the third down, and here comes Reed ... dead center. 27-10, Pittsburgh.
5:27: Hurray! A Budweiser commercial I haven't seen. Two teams of football-playing horses wait pensively as a zebra reviews a play under the hood. Two cowboys watch: "This referee's a jackass." -- "No, I believe that's a zebra." -- "You're right. Why can't I quit you, Heath Ledger?"
5:30: Just as I was thinking how long it had been since I'd seen a big return this postseason, Charlie Adams brings the kickoff back to the Pittsburgh 42. But on the first play, Plummer throws it right to the Steelers' Larry Foote for his second interception. I just saw two Denver fans eat each other. I'll tell you, you can debate how much credit to give Whisenhunt versus how much credit to give Roethlisberger, but there's no question where to put the blame on the Denver side. Plummer was not pressured at all on either interception, and each one was an easy play for the defender.
5:33: Finally, a three-and-out by Pittsburgh. Plummer will start at his own 15 this time. Maybe he'll like that better. I don't think Shanahan can yank him in this game if he wants to start him ever again, but I'm sure he's tempted. Really, Frank Reich, stay by the phone.
5:37: Plummer dodges a sack twice, then finally shovels to Anderson but gets penalized for having an ineligible man downfield. Then Cecil Sapp drops a pass after a modest hit. The Broncos can't get out of their own way.
5:40: Lelie wrenches his body around on the deep route, Plummer throws it a little short, and Lelie makes the catch for a big gain. Then Plummer dodges another sack, wings an incompletion to a receiver at the 10 but the Steelers are penalized for pass interference AND having a guy remove his helmet afterward! Suddenly Denver's close to cutting the lead to 10 with 9 minutes left. That'd be manageable.
5:43: The Steelers get called for a face mask now; they're sort of coming apart here. They expected the game to be over already. First and goal at the 5.
5:44: ANOTHER flag. False start on Denver. Jitters all around.
5:45: Plummer runs Sprint Right Options and keeps it, to the 4. Good decision. Next play, Mike Anderson punches it in for the second touchdown. 27-17, Pittsburgh, with 7:57 left. So much for the blowout; Denver has its swagger back and Pittsburgh, despite its coach's warnings, is playing to run out the clock, not to score more points. This could turn into a disaster if Ben goes three and out again.
5:48: Sauerbrun kicks it out of bounds for Denver. Plummer is on an oxygen machine on the sideline.
5:52: And there's a three and out by the Steelers. Put down the air, Jake the Snake, and go make this a 3-point game.
5:54: The Broncos are moving a little slowly, a la the Eagles in the Super Bowl last year. I know how this movie ends.
5:55: Plummer sacked on third down when the Steelers bring the house. Broncos going for it on 4th and 10, and if they don't get it, they're screwed.
5:56: They don't get it. They're screwed. The Steelers' pressure finally tired out Denver's O-line.
6:01: Roethlisberger scrambles from the 6 for a touchdown. Except for a few hiccups in the second half, this was a dominating game by Pittsburgh. Fun to watch, not like some routs. 34-17, Pittsburgh.
6:02: Hugs on the Pittsburgh sideline, and it looks like cursing on the Denver sideline.
6:07: Well, I'll wrap this up. Two minutes left, but the football on the field is meaningless. Good for Jerome Bettis, finally getting to a Super Bowl. And good for me, considering changing out of my pajamas. Yea right.

Steelers-Broncos: Observations from the couch, first half

2:55: First blood is drawn, not by a tackle in the game, but by my couch. I got up too fast to go to the bathroom and caught the back of my heel underneath it. No twist, but a little chunk taken out. A bleach-blond trumpeter honks an unorthodox national anthem on the field in Denver as hwong14 yells, "Boo! Artistic license!"
2:58: First beer is poured, a Yuengling. I only have one left, now. Maybe I'll save it to be the first beer of Derby weekend.
3:00: NFL great Deacon Jones squawks out a minute-long tease for CBS: "I never made it to the Super Bowl. Ain't that a (tackle noise meant to drown out the word 'bitch')?"
3:02: We're in the hands of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms now. Nantz is a pro, Simms just blathers.
3:04: Ben Roethlisberger has a good faux-Jake Plummer facial-hair scheme that he's grown this week. Also, replays of the sacks on Peyton Manning plaster a goofy smile on my face.
3:05: It's never just "the league" or "the NFL". It's always, ALWAYS, "the National Football League," said by color commentators with the same reverence as "the father, the son and the holy spirit." I can't explain how crazy this drives me.
3:06: Oh good, a Boost mobile commercial with Terrell Owens saying, "I've ma-toored." Ree-hee-heally?
3:07: Man, my post frequency is gonna fall quickly. Anyway, Bonnie Bernstein AND Armen Keteyian on the sidelines, but I wasn't looking at the screen when Bonnie came on. Is she wearing fur again?
3:08: Steelers kick off, short return by Denver. Let's see if Plummer has his head on straight.
3:11: Broncos make it to midfield. Graphic says they're 4-0 when hosting AFC title games.
3:12: Four runs, two passes and a scramble so far. Pretty standard Denver.
3:14: A punt to my man Antwaan Randle El, but a stupid fair catch. I hate fair catches. I'm pretty sure they didn't have fair catches in the XFL. Also, can we mike up ALL the players, like Vince McMahon did?
3:16: Roethlisberger starts with an 8-yard screen to Willie Parker. I like it.
3:17: 20-yard pass to Randle El! I guess I'm a big fan of WRs who used to be QBs.
3:18: Former Terp Domonique Foxworth on D for Denver. Three touches for Parker so far, none for the Bus. Worries about the cold air and his renewed taste for the fumble, perhaps?
3:19: Ridiculous play. Champ Bailey breaks up a pass to Hines Ward, it flies far up in the air, and Ward catches it. Bailey was trying for the pick and the touchdown, but it's a Steelers first down.
3:20: Willie Parker now has the taste for the fumble. Denver recovers, but it really looked like Parker was down. We'll see, when commercials end.
3:23: Officials are reviewing. Forearm and one leg look down when the ball comes out, but nothing else. I think Denver will keep the ball; no indisputable evidence.
3:24: Whoa! "The runner's forearm was down, in control of the football." Steelers regain the ball, third down. Hmm.
3:25: Low snap to Rothelsburger, but he wings a first-down pass to Nate Washington (who?) anyway. Ben's looking calm.
3:26: Why couldn't I have been named Ebenezer Ekuban? And when am I going to stop posting every single minute?
3:27: Not yet. And Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt looks way too much like Bill Cowher if Cowher trimmed his face.
3:28: They're trying a 47-yard field goal ... well, it's Denver air. And Jeff Reed takes advantage, making it with plenty of distance. 3-0, Pittsburgh. I wanna see Jason Elam hit a 65-yarder before he retires, is that too much to ask?
3:33: Jenna Elfman, back on TV? I'd like to be able to say she's a much better actor than Heather Graham, whose sitcom lasted one episode, but as anyone who knows me will tell you, I'm a terrible liar.
3:35: Plummer is pancaked and loses the ball; a Steeler crawls onto it. Pittsburgh is practically back in field-goal range.
3:36: Heath Miller catches a first-down pass and sucks in his limbs like a turtle before being crushed by two Broncos. Yeah, I think that's why I didn't play football.
3:37: The Bus gets nothing in his first carry, gets a couple in his second. He's wheezing pretty hard already, as the first quarter ends.
3:40: Tom Cavanagh and Leann Rimes as television love interests? How about another CSI instead?
3:41: Ooh, THAT's a touchdown. Ben lobs it to the back of the end zone, and Cedrick Wilson grabs it and slaps each foot down before falling out. Nice move. 10-0, Pittsburgh. In case it's not yet obvious, I am rooting for Pittsburgh. I like Ben, I like the Bus, I like Bill Cowher, I like Ward and Randle El, I even like Joey Porter and all his talking. And I'm still bitter at Mike Shanahan for platooning his running backs, making my draft pick of Mike Anderson less ingenious than it could have been.
3:44: Um, that could have been avoided. Jeff Reed's kickoff goes out of bounds. Dumb at home, very dumb on the road, very very dumb on the road in the playoffs when you've grabbed momentum with a 10-0 lead. Can Denver take advantage of getting the ball on its own 40 to start?
3:46: Troy Polamalu brings down Mike Anderson with a brilliant tackle after being bumped into the air by a blocker. Denver goes for it on fourth and 1 with Anderson again and gets it on Anderson's second effort. Way too much action too fast for a novice live-diary keeper! No time for wit!
3:48: Plummer's first-down pass deflected just past the line of scrimmage. Ashley Lelie knocked out of the game for one play.
3:49: 13-yard pass to Mike Anderson, who is the offensive alpha and omega right now.
3:50: Plummer hits TE Jeb Putzier in stride, getting to the 12. He's looking crisper, like lettuce before I accidentally leave it on a sandwich I microwave.
3:53: Dabney COLEMAN is in this Jenna Elfman monstrosity? It looks so unfunny I'm just about ready to submit this live diary as a sitcom pitch. They'll put anything on TV!
3:54: 4th and 3 near the 5 ... Denver goes for a 23-yarder. 10-3, Steelers. Impressive drive by Denver, they mixed the passes and runs well. Tatum Bell is a nonfactor and Mike Anderson is everything, and the painful memory of my close-but-no-cigar roto football season propels me into the kitchen for another beer.
3:58: Annnnd it's the other Yuengling. My will power is an example to the children.
3:59: Awesome. Dave Letterman: "Another celebrity pregancy. First Katie Holmes, then Angelina Jolie, now Gwyneth Paltrow. I'm exhausted."
4:00: A pass/fumble by Ben is ruled an incomplete pass under the Tuck Rule. Shanahan's face is ready to leap off of his skull.
4:05: Pittsburgh's running game is going nowhere, and their passes are going great. Weird. No gain by Parker, then an 18-yard pass to Wilson.
4:07: Hines Ward pulls in a third-down pass inside the 25. Pass, pass, pass. Denver's going to make Ben win this game, but he's looking like he's up for it. Parker = 6 rushes, 5 yards.
4:10: Randle El chases blocker Alan Faneca for another first down. Four minutes left in the half, and Pittsburgh is in control. I can barely hear the Denver crowd.
4:13: I didn't like the Donovan&Mrs. McNabb Campbell's Soup commercials to begin with, but when they were showing in the playoffs along with Eagles playoff games, I tolerated them. Now, they're all I see of the Eagles in the postseason, and they are infuriating.
4:14: Halfback go pass gives the Steelers their 345th first down of this drive, inside the 10. Two-minute warning. Can I make it to half without hitting the john? Ahh, playoff tension.
4:17: The Bus is in the game, and he immediately gets in to the end zone. Great clock-eating drive ends in a touchdown, and Nantz dutifully gives credit to blocker Alan Faneca for blowing up two Broncos. 17-3, Steelers. Denver has less than two minutes to get something done before half.
4:21: Plummer's first pass is a lob and it is easily intercepted near the Denver 40 at the sideline by Ike Taylor. What in the world was he thinking?
4:22: Two runs by Willie Parker, and Pittsburgh is suddenly inside the 15. One minute left.
4:23: Bettis gains two. It looks like Cowher will try to run the clock out, even if they just get a field goal.
4:24: Touchdown Bettis! Oh no just kidding, Hines Ward penalized for illegal formation. Ugh. He was "covering up the tight end". Heh. The play was a quick handoff to Bettis, who was practically standing next to Roethlisberger, and he was virtually untouched.
4:26: Fifteen seconds left... Roethlisberger rolls out left, and tosses it to Hines Ward in the back of the end zone. The same arc as Plummer's INT; the difference? Ward was open. 24-3, Pittsburgh. Boy howdy. Is Frank Reich available to come off the Denver bench? By the way, Ken Whisenhunt better get a head coaching job within two years.
4:32: Plummer trots on to the field at his own 30 with three seconds left. Come on. If this Hail Mary works, I'll eat both empty beer cans.
4:32: It's a screen pass, and no dice. And I can finally hear the Denver fans: they're booing their team off the field into the locker room. Who would've thought that fans booed outside of Philadelphia? Time for a sandwich; back for the second half.

Like it?

I'm trying out new designs for the blog. This may be a little too green.

Today is New Job's Eve, and while I'm excited to start, I'm also excited to watch football on my new couch. I'll do a running diary a la Bill Simmons (minus the Boston bias) for each game. First kickoff is at 3 p.m. EST.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Some friendly, passive-aggressive advice

To people who are thinking of getting a dog, here's a good thing to know: it's considered polite to know the difference between a human's face and a dog's genitals.

For instance, if your dog runs up to another dog in the park and vigorously licks him or her in the reproductive region, you aren't obligated to apologize to the other dog; the other dog knows this comes with the territory and will be indifferent or even pleased.

However, if your dog runs up to my face in the park while I am stretching with my eyes closed and slobbers on it, maybe you could interrupt your phone conversation about "I can't remember if it was Neil Diamond or Neil Young" and say, "Aw man, I'm sorry, he's a little too friendly sometimes," or even, "Here's $10." If you walk right past me and say nothing, make sure I don't know which car is yours, because it's hard to buff out key marks, and it's harder still to start your engine when someone's peed in the gas tank.

From the "what is wrong with my brain" file

I had one drink last night, ONE, a whiskey and ginger, and I end up dreaming that I ruined my elementary school Christmas pageant because I hit a kid with a ruler, but I told the principal that it was only because I was giving him pajamas for Christmas. Fantastic.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

My 159-day weekend comes to a close

When I got out of college almost four years ago, I wanted to be a newspaper reporter. Reeeeeally wanted to be one. But there was nothing out there, and it was easier finding a job as an editor, which happened to be something I was good at. One coaching stint, four editing jobs and one five-month poker-playing hiatus later, my reporting career is finally about to begin.

I'm going to be a general assignment reporter for a daily newspaper in the Louisville area, publishing an average of two articles a day, five days a week. Between that and training for the marathon, I expect to be incredibly busy, after quite a long time of being not at all busy. I haven't the slightest idea how much I'll be blogging, but I should be able to come close to the occasional-short-update frequency that I've maintained for the past couple of months.

At least, I'll let you know if I've been sued for libel or if I've blown out my Achilles tendon.

Oh, and now for the REALLY good news: Our sofa is being delivered on Friday. The living room will become a little smaller but more comfortable.

It's on

My marathon training began in earnest today with the longest run of my life. Since it was a 12-miler and the marathon is 26.2, it would seem I have my work cut out for me. But today's run felt comfortable, and though I don't think I had another 14.2 in me when it was over, I wasn't dead either.

So here are the splits. One lap around Cherokee Park is 2.4 miles, so I did that lap five times, with my iPod along for the ride to stave off boredom.

16:38 + 17:33 + 17:47 + 16:58 + 17:10 = 1:26:06. That's an average mile of 7:10.5, and that's nowhere close to a pace I can sustain for a marathon. I'm thinking my pace will be closer to 8 minutes a mile.

Now I'm going to eat an entire pizza in my pajamas. I'm pretty sure that's what you're supposed to do after a 12-miler.

Edit: I really did eat the whole thing. I haven't done that since Rome.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Stalling for time with short runs

I did a quick 4-miler yesterday -- 5:49 + 6:36 + 6:24 + 7:07 = 25:56 -- but I can't be doing them too often anymore, because I am running a marathon April 29. Gotta start doing some 12s and 15s.

Saw the Narnia movie yesterday, too. It was reasonably good, but I couldn't help thinking that the casting director would have had a deeper pool of child actors, a much deeper pool, if the movie was to star American children, not Britons. But I suppose they weren't too bad. The Narnia books really contain too many tea parties and such to lend themselves well to film, but there's no harm in trying.

And really, if you're going to cheat on your lover, do it in front of a dog.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Two fun things yesterday

I bought a sofa, and I bowled four consecutive strikes -- I'd never even bowled three straight (a turkey) before. Unfortunately, it was a timed thing, and our time ran out before I could bowl my last frame, so none of it counts. Urg.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Hank (left) and Max regard each other fiercely after the Water Bowl Incident.

Men should act like men, and men should delete captions on photos of their cats if those captions say "Aww." Oops.

Max does his tail exercises, trying to swat a kitten off the couch.

Hank and Max, looking guilty.

Can't help myself

It's a football game between two teams not from Kentucky or Philadelphia or anywhere I've spent more than a day in, but I've gotta mention the play that just happened in the Broncos-Patriots game.

Broncos 10-6, Patriots inside the red zone and looking really polished. Tom Brady throws into the end zone, not even really a horrible pass, but Champ Bailey makes a very nice interception and takes off in the other direction, down the sideline. He wriggles free from a running back's tackle at midfield and is staggering toward end zone glory when Patriots tight end Ben Watson introduces himself, leveling Bailey at the 2 yard line and popping the ball out. Officials said the ball went out of bounds at the 1, leaving Denver with possession, but it looked every bit as likely that the ball actually went out of the end zone, which would have given the Patriots possession at their 20 and left Denver pointless.

Anyway, Belichick challenged, the call stood and Denver punched it in on the next play, but Watson's effort was unbelievable. Try and watch video of this play somewhere if you can, it's so impressive for a tight end to chase down somebody as fleet as Bailey over 100 yards, and it's all the more impressive that after running 100 yards he composed himself enough to separate Bailey from the ball, two yards from the end zone.

Anyway. Watch it.

Friday, January 13, 2006

No more driving, ever

I drove about 36 hours in five days this week, Exton-Vermont-Philadelphia-Exton-Philadelphia-Exton-Virginia-Louisville, or something like that. Brutal. Interviewed for a couple of reporting jobs, and did some bowling.

My girlfriend got herself 15 seconds of fame! Who knew she didn't like the president?

Edit: Link should work now.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The race

Good 5K race today: 5:58 + 6:26 + 6:17 + :47 = 19:28. 10th out of 127 runners. It was about 25 degrees, brrrrr.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Total disaster

I'm home visiting my folks, and they're on the South Beach diet. The food in the cabinets is unrecognizable. Some WaWa deli trips will be essential.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Good tournament

Placed third of 93 in a $45-entry short-handed tournament this morning. Instead of normal tournament tables, which seat a maximum of 10, this tournament puts a maximum of 5 at a table. I had a bad end to the first hour, and hit the first break with 40% of my original chips (28th of 29 players at that point), but then a bunch of uncontested all-ins, and some fortunately contested ones, put me in good position the rest of the time. Won $457.

Monday, January 02, 2006

In which Louisville is rather balmy

The high is 71 here today, and I ended my several-week hiatus from running by doing 4 miles in the jampacked park -- in my cold-weather Under Armour, foolishly enough. That was followed by a moment of claustrophobic panic when I simply could not find a way to take the stuff off.

Today feels like my first full day in Hong Kong, when I think it topped out at 85.