Thursday, September 28, 2006

I used to go up for summer vacations for a week at a time to stay with my paternal grandparents. This is in the late 70's, maybe early 80's. I remember wiffle ball in the backyard with my grandfather, games of Uno with Grandma, trips to the Indianapolis Children's Museum and Conner Prairie. I also remember every late morning sitting down to watch The Price Is Right.

Does it amaze anyone else that Bob Barker is still around doing this after 35 years? He's on his third announcer, for the love! Johnny Olson was the first, Rod Roddy after him, haven't the faintest on this "new" guy.

Brilliant concept, actually. It's one giant long commercial combined with 70 some odd games that they rotate through. Phrases like "c'mon down," "spin the wheel," and "showcase showdown" say it, everyone can identify the show. I can't begin to imagine the money that this show has generated for the network over three and a half decades. The man is truly an institution and I wonder when he decides to hang it up, who in the world will they replace him with? Will the show even go on?

For many, of course, Bob Barker has an even greater claim to fame.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Why are we killing this guy? It's has absolutely blown my mind the way Alex Rodriguez has gotten hammered by the press and fans in New York this season. You would think that he's the worst player to ever grace the pinstripes the way he's been dogged. Good lord, folks, he's on pace to hit .284 with 35 homers, 165 hits and 122 RBI. To put that in perspective, if you give him a seventeen year career with those numbers, you're looking at a .284 average with 595 home runs, 2805 hits and 2074 RBI. The home run totals would place 5th all-time, the hits would put him at 45th, and the RBI would slide in at 4th. Those are first ballot Hall of Fame numbers that he's putting up.

I mean, if this is the Alex Rodriguez we see for the next seven year (taking him to age 38), you're looking at his career numbers being .297 with 3215 hits, 2197 RBI and 708 homers. Those are better numbers than Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, Micky Mantle and Reggie Jackson. Cut the guy some friggin' slack.

Of course, he'd better pick it up starting in the next couple of weeks!

Monday, September 25, 2006

It's not a top five list, although plenty of those will roll down the pike in the coming months. To me, there are three movies that are more quoted than any other among American males between the ages of 18 and 55...Animal House, Caddyshack, and Airplane. While I don't imagine that it will crack that hallowed list, upon repeated viewings I do feel that Anchorman could be that for this generation. Just a truly bizarre and yet truly hysterical movie...doesn't make a dang bit of sense but who cares?

"It's quite stings the nostrils."
"And you ate the whole wheel of cheese?"
"I would like to extend to you an invitation to the pants party."

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I look back at my middle school and high school year books and just cringe with each passing page. Clothing...what was I thinking? And it looks like the idea of a haircut had never crossed my mind. However, as the photo above suggests, this was a little over the top even for me.
Outside of maybe Texas, the biggest high school football rivalry in the nation is right here in Louisville, KY. When St. Xavier and Trinity, two private all-boys schools less than five miles apart from one another, come together, it's complete insanity.

Think about it. The major metropolitan newspaper starts doing massive articles almost a full week in advance, putting a high school game on a higher priority level than the local major colleges. Alumni from out-of-town plan yearly vacations to coincide with the game. For heaven's sake, they typically have 35,000 turn out for the game, which includes tailgating for 4-6 hours in advance of kickoff.

Doesn't hurt that they're usually pretty dang good. Between them, St. X and Trinity have combined for 25 of the last 37 state championships in the big school division. Last year, Trinity won in the regular season convincingly but St. X beat them in the title game.

After all the buildup this year, however, the game was cancelled due to the terrible weather that killed several people in the area. No makeup for the regular season game, but look for these two to bump heads somewhere along the state tournament trail.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

This site was introduced to me several months ago and it's absolutely addictive. It's called Criticker and it helps you choose movies to watch based on recommendations by other movie lovers. Here's how it works. You work through the list of movies in their database and rank each movie on a scale of 1 to 100. Then (for example), their program looks at the 727 movies I've ranked so far--like I said, addictive--and the 72 my brother Jeff has ranked, and determines that there are 45 that we've both seen. Of course, it does this for me against thousands of other users. Eventually, it tells you what users tastes most closely match your own, and then you can use recommendations of films they've seen to tell you what you might like that's out there. Obviously, the more films that you and everyone else rate, the more accurate the system will become (see the logic here).

I can't justify ranking anything less than a 20. So I've taken my 727 movies and each number between 20 and 100 gets about nine movies slotted there. My nine favorites are (in alphabetical order): Amadeus, Casablanca, The Empire Strikes Back, Field of Dreams, The Godfather, Raiders of the Lost Arc, Rocky, Star Wars, and the original Superman. The bottom nine--and it'd be tough to crack this dreadful group--are Captain EO, A Clockwork Orange, Exorcist II, Halloween III, Last Tango In Paris, Nell, Nurse Betty, Tapeheads, and Vulgar. Yeah, there are a couple of alleged classics in there, but they both sucked.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Since I've already ripped off Lonnie's blog design, I'm even more blatantly going to steal his ideas whenever I'm having a lack of inspiration. Such as, what is popping up on the iPod when it's randomly shuffling through. At this very moment:

Jimi Hendrix "All Along The Watchtower" - the definitive cover song of all time, and with all respects to anything else Jimi did, probably his definitive song IMHO. Heck, when Dylan (who did the original) does this song in concert, he more often than not imitates the Hendrix version. One of the most gripping intros to a song ever and the guitars throughout are outstanding.

Jethro Tull "Locomotive Breath" - the all-time loser is quickly losing his mind and who the heck can blame him? Kind of amazing given the lyrics in the third verse that this one ever got radio play

Stevie Nicks "Stand Back" - Stevie rocking out the synthesizers...great drive to this song, and she's got the most distinctive voice of virtually any woman in rock. About the same time frame as her work with Tom Petty; this pales compared to "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around."

Nirvana "Heart Shaped Box" - brooding, dark...not a big Kurt Cobain fan (alright, I think he's wildly overrated, but that's another blog), but this is some pretty solid, understated stuff.

Bryan Adams "Can't Stop This Thing We Started" - first indication of how eclectic my collection is, going from Nirvana to this. We're talking some real fluff, but I like because it sounds good if you've got it cranked up really loud...which we did senior year on 88.1 WNAS, so it's the memory of those times much more than the song itself.

Ice Cube "It Was A Good Day" - and not the edited version, either! Imagine my surprise scrolling through an Isley Brothers CD one afternoon and hearing "Between The Sheets." This is my favorite Cube song because all the murder and meyhem that is the staple of South Central L.A. is absent (hence the title). Besides, last week he "messed" around and got a triple-double!

Cyndi Lauper "Change Of Heart" - remember when Cyndi Lauper was as big, maybe bigger than, Madonna? I think when this song came out and Madonna was doing stuff like "Papa Don't Preach" the pendulum had swung permanently.

Quarterflash "Harden My Heart" - yea for the sax solo! Very simple song, but very effective. Another good "girl kicking guy to the curb" tale.

Rick Springfield "Jessie's Girl" - what needs to be said? I would definitely nominate this song as one of the ten greatest of the 80's.

Five For Fighting "It's Not Easy To Be Me" - who in the world could have ever predicted that a song about Superman's self doubt could be so dang good? Great lyrics, bittersweet feeling to it. Some genius on YouTube is going to mix highlights from the most recent movie to this song very soon, I guarantee.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

They're called "Man Laws" and you'd better adhere to them or else! What marketing genius brought this diverse collection together?

Down by contact...tops or poke it, you own it (get your mind out of the gutter)...high fives...garage refrigerators...crushing cans against your forehead...and finally, how long to wait?

Oh, and to follow up on a posting from a few days back, they might be down another Heisman candidate, but just a tremendous job yesterday by Louisville against Miami.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

So, yeah, just your typical Friday afternoon lunch break...stretch the muscles after a lot of sitting, go find some grub, and meet the most famous person on the face of the Earth.

This was the thrill of all thrills for me. I won a game of "horse" against the best female player I've ever seen, and I've gone one-on-one in a pickup game with my idol growing up. I've had drinks with the guy who hit the most famous shot in basketball history. But this is a whole different level of chills running down my spine.

I had a history professor gracious enough my senior year in college to allow me to write my senior thesis paper on Ali's impact in American society during a ten year stretch coinciding with Vietnam. To say that Ali became my life would be accurate, as I devoured every bit of information I could. If there's any subject I consider myself to be an "expert" on, Muhammad Ali is it.

Physically, as you would imagine, he's merely a shell of himself, as the years in the ring and Parkinson's disease have taken their toll. But when children from a local elementary school met with him, he was playful and had a light in his eyes that was a tremendous joy to see. It was also a great honor to meet and chat briefly with his wife Lonnie.

Unfortunately, I had to get back to work and missed out on the chance to see a future President of the United States, who was running a few minutes late to meet with Ali.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I'm pulling like crazy for Louisville on Saturday. Granted, I'm no die-hard like some of these Cardinal fans around town, but in the grand scheme of things in terms of life around here the next four months, I think it'd be a good thing.

I've had the good fortune to be living in Indianapolis for two Colts trips to the AFC finals and four Pacers trips to the Eastern Conference finals (plus one trip to the NBA Finals). I was living in Louisville during Final Four runs in basketball in 1983 and 1986. My one year going to school at IU was in 1992-93, when the Hoosiers were ranked #1 in the country most of the season behind Calbert Cheaney. And in every instance, the level of (to use a cliche) electricity in the air and the way it inspires a greater pride in community is hard to describe.

So I want the Cards to beat Miami this weekend, want to see them tear into West Virginia in early November, and then sit back and enjoy the delirium as UofL makes a serious first-ever run at a national football championship. Sure, it'd be a whole lot more realistic task if Heisman candidate Michael Bush hadn't broken his leg, but the running back by committee approach since then and the brilliance of Brian Brohm still gives them a shot.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Things have been hectic and I've been lazy. So no long post or anything deep and insightful today...actually, that's pretty much the norm around here.

Instead, an homage to the greatest basketball-related television commercial of all-time (and lead in to a future Super Bowl commercial blog).

Nothing but net!

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I'm not taking any political stands here. I'm a registered Republican but I like to think of myself as someone who tries to look over all the evidence leading up to the elections before I start pulling levers/pushing buttons/making sure my chads aren't hanging.

However, I have to at least mention the Mike Sodrel campaign going on in the Indiana 9th District, a showdown with his predecessor in the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrat Baron Hill. They've had close races in the previous two elections (separated by just 1500 votes last time) and this one is shaping up to be a barn-burner again.
I'm very interested in the race because a former fraternity brother and groomsman in my wedding, Cam Savage, is serving as Sodrel's chief of staff and is currently back in New Albany orchestrating the re-election campaign. He's got a background working with Richard Lugar and Todd Rokita in Indiana and has worked some really tight races in the past...I know his competitive juices are flowing as we hit the homestretch here. With Republican majority in the House at stake, this race is going to get a lot more national attention than usual and is shaping up to be more contentious the further along we go.

If I'm going to make any comment about the election other than supporting a good friend, it would be for everyone to get out and vote come Election Day. It was a great turnout in 2004 and we all need to take on some civic responsibility. And if you're in Chicago, vote often!

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Monday, September 11, 2006

It's the fifth anniversary of 9/11. I have two dominant memories of the day. First, the uncertainty of family members that ran a business within blocks of the World Trade Center and what their status was. Secondly, there was a dramatic increase in air traffic around Indianapolis directly after the attacks, then NOTHING. Eerie to see absolutely no airplanes for two straight days.

I think the documentary that CBS runs about the firefighters on September 11 should absolutely be required viewing for U.S. History classes at the high school level. Powerful stuff. If you haven't seen it and would like a copy, please let me know and I'll be happy to get one to you.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Franklin over Wabash! Sorry, it happens so infrequently in football that it's how I had to lead today's blog. This shout out goes to the best man in my wedding!

First note...let's all bow our heads for a moment of silence. Today's the sixth anniversary of a wretched day in Indiana University history. Some people love him, others hate him. Count me in the first group. Bobby, I wish you were passing Adolph Rupp and Dean Smith along the sidelines at Assembly Hall this winter to become the winningest NCAA Division 1 men's coach of all-time. Here's hoping you stick around long enough to get to 1000 wins and add another championship.

I don't follow high school football too closely, but enough to know that this was a stunner. Ben Davis High School on the west side of Indianapolis has traditionally been THE power in Indiana over the past two decades, with about a half-dozen state titles and one national championship. What Warren Central (the defending state champs) did to the Giants on Friday night, however, bordered on the unbelievable...#1 trouncing #2 by TEN TOUCHDOWNS.

Finally, congratulations to Geno Auriemma, the women's basketball coach at the University of Connecticut, for his induction to the Basketball Hall of Fame over the weekend. I wouldn't be presumptuous enough to claim to be a friend of Geno's, but I did spend three summer's up in Storrs working his basketball camps in recent years. Whether it was having beers down at Ted's bar or watching Red Sox games on the big screen in Mcmahon Hall, he always struck me as a pretty down to earth kind of fellow...albeit one with five national championships in the last twelve years. He's a little brash for some, but he does the things the right way, the kids graduate--and he wins. Good work, Coach!

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

They call it Spaghetti Junction, but most of the residents of the Louisville area would consider it something closer to one of the more nefarious circles of Hell. It's the junction where interstates 64, 65 and 71 all come together at the Kennedy Bridge in downtown. Now, I've tried going to concerts at Deercreek on a Friday night and fighting with Indianapolis traffic as you leave 465 onto 69 on the northeast side, but for the sheer frustration daily of starts and stops, hurried moves to make quick connections, and a lot of potential for accidents.

This group makes a compelling argument for an alternative in downtown Louisville. It would remove a two mile stretch of I-64 on the waterfront, divert that interstate across a new bridge already in the works in eastern Jefferson County (and connect with I-265 in southern Indiana), with all sorts of proposed benefits. Of course, not everyone is a fan of either this plan or the bridges.

Interesting debates all around...

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Friday, September 08, 2006

When America goes the way of the Roman Empire, it won't be nuclear war, invasion by the commies, or even moral decay from the inside caused by professional wrestling. I'm convinced that the Internet and all the entertaining ways it allows us to waste our days away is going to cause us to slip into further mediocrity. So sayeth the yahoo on the Internet blogging away.

Sites like YouTube have got to be right at the top of that list of sites that is going to accelerate this process. I have to force myself to limit time there to just five minutes or so a day. Too much more, and I'd find hours at a time slipping past me.

There's much better stuff on YouTube to be found than this, but several of these cartoons left me chuckling out loud and grateful that no one was around to hear my chortling. Call them inspired revisions of classic movies, and how they might have turned out with just a slight twist coming down the stretch. There are quite a few to choose from, but my favorites were Star Wars, Superman: The Movie, Saving Private Ryan, Se7en, and (without question, my favorite take) Lord of the Rings.

Chortle away.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

I'm not going to lie, there were times last week that I found myself tearing up and getting emotional over the Andre Agassi farewell tour at the U.S. Open. The first two rounds were amazing, quite possibly the best first and second round matches I've ever seen in any of the Grand Slam events. I was a little wrung out by the time he played Benjamin Becker on Sunday, my mood echoing Andre's play as the back flared up a little too much on him.

Agassi is my favorite player ever, narrowly edging out Boris Becker and John McEnroe. I think the emotional involvement probably says something about feeling like I'm getting older. Seventeen years ago, when I was starting to play tennis at New Albany High School, Agassi was the favorite of most of us (Lonnie being one of the holdouts that was more of a Sampras guy). My favorite baseball player at that point was Roger Clemens--and had been for three years. I watch those guys still performing at a high level all these years later, and somehow it throws me back to my youth, simpler times, all that jazz.

Another part of the appeal I had for the Bald One was the evolution in both his game and personality over the span of his career. Flashy outfits, bad hair, junk food addict that pounded the heck out of winners all over the place. Twenty years later, he's much better known as a fitness buff, his phenomenal return of service, his patience in outlasting and wearing down the competition, as well as all his charitable service away from the court. Once upon a time, maybe Larry Bird's transformation from backwards hick from the hills of southern Indiana to a media saavy jokester was the ultimate shift, but Agassi's is even more dramatic and interesting.
Many years back I couldn't imagine being as interested once McEnroe, Connors and Lendl stepped away. Same feeling as Becker and Wilander were making their run. Heaven knows a lot of people are of that mindset with Agassi and Sampras out of the picture. I'm sure that sometime down the road when Federer, Roddick and Nadal are in the twilight of their careers, others will feel the same way. But having grown up in roughly the same age bracket as the recently retired stars, having followed their every move, somehow it's different for me. Farewell, Andre, and thanks...


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Every day I kill enormous amounts of time surfing the Internet and gathering information here and there from a list of old reliables. Some of my favorites:

Region Roundball Review
Indianapolis Star
Louisville Courier-Journal
In Deference To My Idols

Occasionally I'll check and see how all the colleges I've coached basketball at are doing, although I've finally hit the stage where all my Franklin kids have finally graduated:

Bellarmine University Knights
Brescia University Lady Bearcats
Franklin College Grizzlies

And when I was on the constant job prowl (which I don't intend to do anytime in the near future), there were the obligatory hunts with the NCAA and NAIA.

Figured if I could put all of those in one easy place, I could trim my time on the computer by a good 37 seconds or so!

More links to be added, no doubt. This is addictive!