Thursday, July 28, 2005

The time has come. The time is now.


It's here. And I'm stoked. Excited. Ready.

You will next hear from me on or around August 8, 2005, after I'm done bachelor partyin', anthem singin', marryin', receivin', and honeymoonin'.

Take it easy, y'all.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Vote for Paul Maguire again.


Unfortunately, Steven A. Smith is already out to an insurmountable lead. But fans of together with me. Let's at least go down with our shields in our hands.

Monday, July 25, 2005

ESPN "Road From Bristol" continues

UPDATE TUESDAY AFTERNOON: ESPN has just announced that Theismann will move to Monday Nights with Al Michaels for the 2006 season. Joey T will go from being grating, annoying, and stupid on Sunday nights to being grating, annoying, and stupid on Monday night. I'd hit the mute button and turn on the radio commentary...but I usually watch the game on TiVo delay, so I can't. This sucks.

It's more important than ever that you vote for Theismann.

Vote for Theismann. He's in for a dogfight against Woody Paige, who I actually don't mind much.

(And note who has been chosen for brilliant commentary in why to vote for Joe.)

As a wedding gift, could someone vote for Maguire and Theismann and Vitale by proxy in the event their matchups come up while I'm on my honeymoon?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Where I've done been meme

The thing about memes is that when I'm not tagged, I have more desire to do them.

And I like introspection, especially eight days before my wedding.

The extended Hugh dance mix:

Twenty-five years ago today was a Tuesday. I was in school. Yes, we went to school in July...overcrowding forced us into three different vacation schedules until I was tenth grade.. I was off from Valentine's Day until mid-April, then from mid-August to mid-October. It was wonderful...vacation when nobody else had it, wonderful uncrowded skiing on February and March weekdays. But I digress. It would have been the end of fourth grade. I had three wonderful teachers, the most wonderful of which, Miss Glenn, had secretly told me she was getting married that summer. I told her I was going on a big trip to Detroit to see my Aunt Sally and Uncle Fred. I was counting down the days. Miss Glenn put the number of countdown days until Detroit on the board...just a number, the meaning of which would be our secret. The number must have been around 23 at this point.

Twenty years ago today, Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play. And I was in ninth grade. It was a Monday. Although ninth-graders were in the junior high at that time, Mom would take me to the high school every morning for two classes. I was two years ahead in math, so I took the class at the HS, and since I was doing very well in Russian, the Russian teacher had me take Russian up there as well. Miss Gleaton (a major looker...ninth grade is when my heterosexuality REALLY kicked in...I was in Miss Walsh's Social Studies that quarter with a hah-ah-ah-aht girl named Erin, who, damn it all, sat several seats behind me). Mom would pick me up after those two classes and lug me down to the junior high, where that quarter I enjoyed the aforementioned Miss Walsh, Speech and Drama with Miss Hanley (loved the improvs), Earth Science with, I believe, Mr. Ziegler, and...I can do this, I swear...I think it was choir that quarter. Ms. Huebner. We were a few weeks away from my first trip overseas...a family European tour de force. I probably spent most of the day thinking about Erin, some of it doing homework, and some of it playing Statis Pro Baseball--my friends Peter, Ian, and I had a season set up.

Fifteen years ago today, I was in my second year as a counselor at a camp for gifted kids. It was a Sunday...if memory serves, it'd be the first day for the second set of campers. I checked kids in for the morning, took them on a tour of the university campus, and probably did a getting-to-know-you activity with our sister counselor group, which was more than likely Emily's group...although I seem to remember switching sister counselors that year, so I won't promise that (just in case one of you researches and figures out I'm wrong on this point). Probably spent the late-night after kids were in bed chatting with my counselor buddy Michael.

Ten years ago today
, I was starting a bit of a life nadir. I was selling off-track horse bets at the dog track. Since it was a Saturday, there were two sets of dog races, so I probably slept in, got to work at noon (wearing my burgundy vest), clambered up to the off-track horse section, sat down next to my buddy Pat, and enabled compulsive gamblers. I had only been on the job for two months at that point, but they recognized my abilities and put me right up to the tougher job (where, in addition to punching in the bet, you had to be sure you had the right track). I had just bagged on my MFA in poetry in Pittsburgh, moved into my parents' basement, and was saving money for my move to Seattle and getting my teaching credential. It was early enough in The Basement Time that I probably still thought I could save money quick and be in Seattle for the first day of school. I was delusional...I didn't have enough to move until February, and didn't move until March. When I'm in Denver, I still head out to the dog track, place a bet or two, and reflect on how far I've made it. Many of the tellers are still the same. One time when I returned, one said to me: "Things are okay. They suck, but it's okay." The only good things about that summer were my parents' wonderful understanding, my dad's Rockies tickets, and my buddy Michael's (the same Michael) free passes to the movies. I saw everything that year.

Five years ago today, I was on my first summer vacation as a high school teacher. I was between girlfriends and hadn't yet started internet dating. It was a Saturday, and it's lost to history. Maybe I hung out with my then-baby nephew. Oh, that was a summer when I insisted on writing poetry for ninety minutes every day. It's a good bet I did that. I was preparing for my baseball train trip down the Pacific Coast, which was one week away. Mostly that was a summer of chillin'...I had finally made it to the place I was picturing during the Life Nadir of The Basement Years five years prior.

One year ago today
, I was on the 2004 baseball trip (a loop from Toledo to South Bend to Chicago to Battle Creek to Detroit to Toronto to Batavia, NY). I spent a hot, muggy, hot (and did I mention hot?) afternoon at Comerica Park in Detroit watching Mike Sweeney homer twice--7 RBI--as Kansas City defeated Detroit 13-7. Uncle Fred let me borrow his car to make the trip, and thankfully gave me spot-on perfect directions to the ballpark. Nobody hangs out outside the stadium in Detroit. It was sad. I wandered about, took a billion pictures, moved up to the third row from the top of the stadium to be in the shade, scored the game, and wandered back to the Aunt Sally and Uncle Fred's house to enjoy dinner with them.

You know, I've been to about 170 major league games now and about 30 minor league games. I wonder if I've been to a game for every day of the season...I must be closing in on it. Maybe I can fill in the gaps.

Yesterday, I bought thank you gifts for my parents, brother, sisters, and all the members of the friend choir. I then called Hawaiian Airlines and persistently (but politely, I hope) talked to as many people as it took to switch Swankette's and my seating on the flight so we could be together. I'd like to spend my honeymoon with my wife. I took a long nap, watched too much TV, and checked to see if we have sufficient decoration for our themed reception tables. Somewhere in there, I realized I really might have to spend money on a personal trainer. The "I'm not working out because I'm so busy with school" racket ain't working anymore. I worked on an assignment for my fiction writing correspondence course. I then climbed into bed with my wife-in-nine-days and looked at Kauai guidebooks until midnight.

Reflection: Travel is important to me. All of these entries save two involve travel...I've come from somewhere, am about to go somewhere, am coming home from somewhere. Leaving home has always kept me sane and somehow confirmed my existence. If I can pat myself on the back, I also think the entries reflect loyalty...Aunt Sally and Uncle Fred make the first and penultimate entries, and they'll be here for the wedding in a week. Michael makes two entries, five years apart, and also will be here for the wedding. Hell, I even still exchange Christmas cards with Erin.

I also loved trying to pinpoint the exact day's activity rather than generally saying what I was up to. It's a challenge to my eiditic memory. (Jim, thanks for teaching me that word.)

Insomnia observations

Watching ESPN Classic...NFL Films. Some highlights from the late '70s and early '80s (Jim Plunkett was featured).

What happened to the giant signs written on bedsheets that were draped along walls of the football stadium? There are a few posterboard deals nowadays, but significantly less fan signs, and I can't recall the last time I've seen a bedsheet. Is it because there are so few big blank walls in today's stadiums?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

That said...

In spite of what I said in my just-completed post, I'm troubled by what I read about Roberts in this article.

I skipped all the way down to his decisions as a judge--I can't judge him on arguments he made while working for the government or private clients.

And I disagreed with every decision he made.

Thing is, I don't think we'll do better with Bush nominating. Liberal rabble-rousing friends, help me out: what would a protracted fight accomplish? Convince me it's possible to get a moderate nominee.

John Roberts

I've seen multiple complaints in the blogosphere that President Bush is taking a step backwards by nominating a white man for the job, and some are using his nomination to surreptitiously paint the President as racist.

There is so much wrong with this line of thinking that I'm compelled to bring up the following:

1. The President, for his many, many faults, isn't racially homogeneous in his appointments. In fact, he's one of the better presidents we've ever had at racially diverse appointments. (Of course, he's terrible at getting diversity of thought around him, but that's not my point here.)

As a case in point, let's look at Cabinet members. Of President Bush's 15 Cabinet members, 4 are women. 6 are racial minorities (2 African-American, 2 Asian, 2 Latino). Compare this with Clinton's Cabinet when he left: out of 14 members, 4 were women, and 5 were racial minorities (3 African-American, 1 Asian...Norman Mineta makes both lists!...and 1 Latino). If you're going to attack W for nominating too many white guys, be sure to attack Clinton too, since his cabinet was mathematically whiter.

2. Using the same logic that nominating a white guy to replace a woman is a step backwards, we would have to conclude that Clarence Thomas was an equal and indistinguishable replacement for Thurgood Marshall. I don't believe any liberal would agree with that statement.

3. Similarly, using this logic, Clinton's choice of Stephen Breyer needs to be called as regressive as Bush's choice of Roberts. After all, they're both white guys.

4. I breathed a sigh of relief that it wasn't Alberto Gonzales. I'd much rather have a white guy on the court than a Latino who's on record as saying we don't have to follow the Geneva Conventions at Gitmo.

Come on, fellow liberals. If you're going to go after Bush, go after him for his many, many legitimate shortcomings. Not this. Same with Roberts. Let's judge him on the content of his character, and critique him there. The racial line of attack is both silly and ineffective.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

See? You can make a difference.

We got Maguire to win.

Five of those votes were from this blog, and I firmly believe that we got others to join us when they realized Paul Maguire is a pinhead. We turned the momentum and got Maguire into the second round.

The tougher job comes up soon, though, when 8-seeded Maguire faces #1 seed Stephen A. Smith. SAS is annoying, but Maguire is annoying AND a moron AND thinks he's funny AND RUINS SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL. He says players should "go for the juggler." What does he have against the juggler? He WHINES.

Worst of all...I think, on some level, Stephen A. Smith knows that what he's saying/doing is a schtick, an act, his meal ticket. I think Paul Maguire doesn't know how ridiculous he is. He actually thinks he's adding to Sunday Night Football.

Get some friends. When it's posted, let's try to pull the 8-1 upset.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Chapter the Last regarding Daniel's Broiler

The manager who laughed at me called to apologize today. He seemed repentant to me, stating that he never wanted to make light of the fact that I'd been sick. I let him know I can't remember being mistreated to that extent by service personnel ever or anywhere, and let him know that Swankette and I were going to spend several hundred dollars on gift certificates that night for wedding-related folks. Not way.

It's hard to gauge emotion over the phone, but I was satisfied with the apology. The conversation went well enough that I decided to ask him a question about the evening that's been bugging me for a while. I simply asked: "What happened?" He said "It had nothing to do with the job. It's me. I've been doing a lot of thinking since that night, and I think I've done some learning." Fair enough.

He did, in a cloying, begging fashion, say "Is there anything I can do that would bring you back?" His tone actually made me a little felt desperate, and why he'd be desperate to get me back, I'm not sure. I simply said no.

That's that, then. I'll go to Yarrow Bay Grill for my oh-my-god-fancy and oh-my-god-expensive food needs from now on.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Vote for Paul Maguire. Please.

UPDATE SUNDAY NIGHT: The voting has been extended to Monday night. I need all of you to go over there and vote for Maguire today. Together, we can make this happen.

Thanks to Swankette and pankleb for being good little foot soldiers. The rest of you regulars: I know who you are. And I know of certain people whose names rhyme with Palison who have read this entry and not voted for Maguire yet.

Please. I've never asked for anything before. Just hit the link below and type his name in. "Maguire." Thanks.


An Atlanta Braves blog is running a Vote for the Worst ESPN Broadcaster poll in NCAA Tournament Style.

Unbelievably, they made Maguire only an EIGHT SEED! He is my least favorite broadcaster ever. A HORRIBLE analyst.

And he's losing his first round matchup right now! J.J. Adande is getting more votes (a vote means you're bad). Adande is kinda milquetoast, but he's not stupid enough to get me screaming at the get me actually considering not watchign football!

Please go here and just type in the word "Maguire" in the comments. I'm begging you. We can't let this travesty of justice endure.

Voting ends Saturday night, so do it now!

(If you want to vote in some of the other matchups, more power to you.)

Friday, July 15, 2005

Putting away the chain mail...the Executive VP calls

Well, fifteen minutes after the last post, the Executive VP called. He was a nice man...very calm and apologetic. It did not prove necessary to storm the castle...which is almost too bad because I was all geared up to head to the office for a confrontation.

He continued to say that his restaurants have not used MSG since the late 1980s. I asked him why

1. I, who am violently allergic to MSG, because so violently ill,
2. Why the kitchen staff said they use MSG, and
3. Why the butthead manager offered me "a list of foods that don't use MSG."

His response: he doesn't know who they talked to in the kitchen, and the butthead manager "is new on the job--just promoted from being a waiter--and probably just went with the flow."

I asked him, considering that I have all of that evidence that there was MSG in the kitchen, why I should take his word that there isn't when he's not even on site. This is where he most impressed me. He said that, if he were in my shoes and had my evidence, he'd probably think that there was MSG in the kitchen too. That impressed me.

Net result: I'm still convinced Daniel's Broiler uses MSG. And lots of it. But I liked this guy.

We were at a standstill about the MSG issue, so I told him what I wanted to have happen. I told him I never wanted to be anywhere near any of his restaurants again, so he shouldn't even bother offering me gift certificates or free meals of any kind. He candidly said he'd do the same if he were treated as I was treated. I asked for two things to happen if he wanted to make things right. First, I said that Swankette's credit card should be credited for the meal, since this whole experience has been such a joke. He agreed to do that.

My second request (demand?) is a little trickier. Although I appreciated the Executive VP's many apologies, I told him that they weren't necessary--the Executive VP hadn't done anything wrong! I told him that if this manager was new on the job, he "wasn't exactly making a sparkling debut." I said that I wanted an apology from the manager who laughed at me. Not one of those wimpy-ass business apologies ("we're sorry this happened" "we're sorry you were upset,"), either. I deserve to have this manager write or call me and say something like this: "When you told me that our food had made you sick, I laughed at you. That was a terrible thing for me to do, and simply wrong. I apologize for my behavior."

When I said this to the Executive VP, there was a lengthy silence. I thought we were going to go toe-to-toe on this one...that he was hesitating. But then he said: "Hold on. I'm writing that down." Then he said: "I will see to it he does that."

The VP did his job, and I appreciate him. But I won't go back to any of his restaurants ever again. I don't want to become violently ill from MSG again.

This is the last time I'll say it: Don't eat at Daniel's Broiler.

(The last time, that is, unless I don't hear from the manager. Then I'll have to find some creative ways to bug these guys. I don't hold grudges against people, but I sure as hell willing to against companies.)

Storming the Castle or For The Love of God, Do Not Eat at Daniel's Broiler

(Scroll down to other posts for the history of this too-long story, and also check out my baby's blog for another perspective.)

It's been two days since the Executive VP of Daniel's Broiler's parent company emailed my baby saying that none of their restaurants use MSG. (It's been four days since Daniel's Broiler told me they DO use MSG, and six days since I ate MSG at Daniel's Broiler and became breathtakingly ill...still feeling lingering effects as of yesterday).

Two days without hearing from them at all. She's left emails and voicemails.

Today I got involved. I left the VP a voicemail, sent him an email, and tried to make an appointment to see him (the receptionist said she couldn't do it). What's left?

As my fiancee put it: "It's time to storm the castle."

If we do not hear from someone in the next one hour and 45 minutes, I am going to call the receptionist and tell her that I'll be there in 20 minutes and will need to speak to someone when I get there. I'll bring a good book, and I'll be very polite and patient. Two days is long enough to wait.

Cover me. I'm going in.

It's my fault.

The Mariners, fresh off an improbablw sweep in Anaheim, came home hoping to continue the momentum today.

Not so much.

We made yet another hum-drum pitcher, this time Daniel Cabrera (7-7, 4.90 ERA coming in), look fantastic. EIGHT of our nine innings were three up and three down (one required a double play). We were two-hit.

And you all know the reason: it's because I was there.

The M's are 2-10 in my presence this year. Compare that with their 20-23 home record, and it's OBVIOUS that I am a statistically significant factor in their losing at home. Someone with math skillz can tell you how many standard deviations off the mean I am. It gets more obvious with every anemic performance I sit through in person...and every good one I see on TV.

Just tell me what I'm doing wrong, and I'll change! I'm tired of being the cause of all of this sucking!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

In other news, the Pope continues to practice Catholicism

This headline is currently on Yahoo! News:

Most DVR users skip television ads--study

I love baseball--

which means I love Batgirl. She's a non-sexual baseball literary crush.

She made me laugh out loud with this, an "analysis" of the Bret Boone trade. (It's really funny, even if you're not a baseball fan...if you're not a fan, you can skip a few paragraphs.)

and then made me stand up and say "AMEN!" with this open letter to Fox Sports.

The Plot Thickens or More Reasons Not To Eat At Daniel's Broiler

(Earlier episodes of The Yuckiest Restaurant Experience Ever, And All For $200 are found here, here, here, and here.)

My blushing bride-to-be has received emails from the manager at Daniel's and from the Executive VP of operations at the parent company, Schwartz Brothers Foods. The former simply asked to talk to her. The latter apologized a couple of times, once for "what was obviously a bad situation" (feh) and once for the fact that "our manager obviously did not handle this situation very well." A little weak, but it's a start.

Here's the part that I find funny. I'll quote him:

"On the issue of MSG I can vouch for the fact we do not use it. We specifically made the decision in the late 1980's to stop using this product in any of our recipes. We go out of our way to insure that any pre made product or ingredients we purchase do not have MSG in them. This has been one of our business practices for a long time, so it's very probable this was not the source of the issue."

Man, is he going to be pissed when he finds out that the hostess checked with the kitchen, who told her they use MSG, and that the manager also said they use MSG, and finally, the manager (right after he'd stopped laughing at me) offered to give me a list of menu items that don't use MSG! My conclusion is that Daniel's Broiler is using MSG without the knowledge or blessing of their parent company! Daniel's Broiler has made a liar out of their Executive VP!

Man, this is gonna be goooood to watch develop. Not worth the night of horrible illness or the subsequent being laughed at, but still pretty good.

Curiouser and curiouser. Swankette told the VP how ludicrous all of this is in her email response. I'm chomping at the bit to get in on the action myself, but it's probably better that the calmer one of us does it...

I suspected it all along...

Take the What High School
Stereotype Are You?

Although, on a different day, I could have fallen in two or three other camps.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Ref news

I've been promoted back to the Varsity officiating list for next season. It'll be good to get back there--particularly to work with Varsity-level partners again. I didn't mind being the old and sage teacher, but I must admit doing it every game got awfully old.

Back into the cauldron.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Do not eat at Daniel's Broiler or The Revenge of the Sick, Dissed Diner

As my baby has posted, there has been progress in the debacle over "The Best [sic] Restaurant In Seattle."

My suspicions were confirmed when I called Daniel's Broiler tonight. Yes, they use MSG on their steaks. Let's start with this issue and move on to the worse one later.

If you're going to have your hostess and your servers brag about the quality of your select meats, practically eulogizing their cows as valedictorians of their classes, why would you want to put MSG on the meat to "enhance" the flavor? Isn't that admitting your meat isn't very good? I'm willing to bet they put it on the bacon that was wrapped around my scallops, too. Why? Bacon is tasty no matter what. I should have asked if they used MSG, sure, but who'd expect an allegedly good restaurant to use it?

But this isn't the worst part. When I learned about the MSG use, I talked to a manager at Daniel's. I was upset, and my tone may have showed it, but I didn't say anything out of line. I told him I'd been sick for nearly 48 hours, and that while I should have asked, I was surprised that a restaurant as expensive as theirs, and with their reputation, would still use MSG when it's been banned from establishments like Outback Steakhouse and Red Robin. I suggested that maybe they should get MSG out of their kitchen.

The manager actually LAUGHED AT ME. He did so in an extended fashion, for about five seconds, and it would have been longer if I hadn't started yelling. I actually lost my temper, which doesn't happen very often. In fact, it's the first time I've lost my temper in front of my Sweetie. Not that she noticed...she was too busy simultaneously losing her temper.

Don't make me angry. You won't like me when I'm angry.

I shouted: "Why the HELL ARE YOU LAUGHING AT ME????" His response: "Your tone is out of line. You don't have to talk to me like that." He was still laughing as he said that.

To review the conversation so far:

1. I tell the manager that I have been violently ill from eating his food.
2. The manager, upon hearing this, laughs at me.
3. I angrily ask the manager why he's laughing.
4. The manager tells me to watch MY tone!

Well, screw Daniel's Broiler. Daniel's Broiler officially sucks, and the manager (it's all I can do to lay off giving his name him here) is a horrible man who will laugh in the face of my physical pain.

Now, anger into action:

Sweetie has posted about it.
I have posted about it.
We have written scathingly negative reviews on two restaurant-review websites about Daniel's Broiler.
I have emailed Daniel's Broiler my fiancee's blog entry about it, and informed them of all the negative reviews we have composed.
And I have emailed Schwartz Brothers Foods, the parent company for Daniel's Broiler, and told them that perhaps this manager isn't the guy they want representing their restaurants to the public.

I feel SO much better now.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

I love Sunday nights

Hugh has just blogged about how Sunday nights bum him out. That got me to thinking about something I've wanted to blog about for a while. Believe it or not, I've meant to write a post about how much I love Sunday nights.

For me, Sunday nights embody a strange combination of winding down and gearing up...the fun is over, but now it's time to transition back to work...and work is always something I've liked. (Well, almost always. But more on that later.)

I guess my love of Sunday nights started while sitting in a hot Louisiana house in Aprils, Mays, and Septembers, grading sixth-graders' papers to the sound of Jon Miller. More than anything, I associate Jon Miller's voice with Sunday night. I keep ESPN's ballgame on while getting ready for Monday, or, if I'm done with the grading/homework I need, while chilling, which is also getting ready for Monday.

That and Bart Simpson's voice. "I'll get started right after The Simpsons," I'll say to myself, eyeballing the stack of papers. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't, but the notion of getting back into normal rhythms is always there. And that notion has always been peaceful to me.

The only time in my life I didn't like a Monday-to-Friday job was when I was doing stupid temp work and living on $8-an-hour after moving to Seattle. That was a time in my life I was blessed with a magnificent 9 PM Mass at the UW's Newman Center. I would zip over after Jon Miller and The Simpsons to get recentered during a damn depressing chapter of my life. They hadn't built the new, big, beautiful church they have now--at the time, Mass was in the basement of an old fraternity building. The Mass had no music, either. It was just candle-lit. But I liked the stripped-down celebration--it was a cut-the-crap encounter with God. I'd sit, fists on my forehead, and say "Okay, God. You and me. Let's get at it." I hated going to work on Monday morning, but Mass made it easier, and that's why those Sunday nights were perfect. I was reminded that the universe was bigger than my stupid temp job. Church is how I actually counted down the weeks until I would be back at school again. "Fifty more masses...forty more masses..." Sunday nights were happy milestones. It's the perfect time to go to church, I ideal transition into the new week. If my new faith home had a Sunday night service, I'd go in a heartbeat.

There's something wonderfully reassuring to me about settling down and getting back to routine, especially when it's a routine I like. And I guess that's part of why I've made Sunday night itself into a series of routines--Jon Miller, Chris Berman, Bart Simpson, church, doing the week's fantasy baseball lineups, postponing the stack of minor, unimportant grading that's always dogging me. Even now that Catholic Mass isn't a part of my Sunday night, the ritual of it stays with me.

Geez. Now that I look at what I've written, it looks like that's the point. Epiphany alert! I've had a specific Sunday ritual since just after graduating college 13 years ago. In my head, I've made that ritual into a symbol for endings and beginnings, for progress and for rebirth. When it looked like Sunday nights were becoming a downer, I found a way to make them meaningful and uplifting. I guess it's my favorite time of the week...and now I think I know why. The reflective nature of stopping-and-starting has compel me to make it my favorite time.

The "best restaurant" in town

My sweetie was rewarded for some extraordinary job-related feats with $100 worth of gift certificates for the best restaurant in town. (That $100 wound up being good for about half of the bill, but anyway.) My baby and I cashed them in last night.

As if a romantic meal with my baby wasn't enough, the gift certificates gave me a chance to eat surf and turf. I swear to God this is true...lobster activates some of the same parts of my brain that sex does. Eating lobster is simply one of the best experiences of my life...that, and eating the best ice cream I've ever had. Lobster and that ice cream are, quite literally, two of the highlights of my life. My bride-to-be likes taking me out for lobster a couple of times a year just so she can watch my face while I eat it. So yay. Lobster.

As soon as I got home at 10:45 PM, I knew something was wrong. I was having a reaction that made me believe that they put MSG on the steak. MSG+TRP=uh-oh. MSG+TRP=we wish we had a two-bathroom home. Or maybe it wasn't MSG. Was there something bad in my delicious salad? There was time to think about this as I was yuckily, terribly, violently sick until 1:00 AM.

Some TRP Gastrointestinal History: I have been sicker twice in my adult life than I was last night: once from TGI Friday's in Scottsdale, Arizona (the coconut shrimp...the concerned manager offered to drive me to the hospital, and didn't make me pay for the meal...after all, I only had the meal with me for about a half hour), and once from the Red Dome Inn in Pittsfield, Illinois, where a burger got me so sick I was in the hospital in Mexico, Missouri two hours later.

Last night wasn't as bad as those. But it was close. And I was madder than I was for the other incidents because Daniel's Broiler is supposed to be the absolute nicest place in town. It's certainly the most expensive. They're not supposed to make you violently ill. TGI Friday's? They're well known for terrible food. Probably 10% of the population has gotten sick from them. Some little place in western Illinois? Whatever. Adds to the story. But a place that I'll voluntarily don a tie to attend? That shouldn't give me over two hours of retching and reading Sports Illustrated on the throne while my baby feels sympathy bloating. Oh, but I am angry at you, Best Restaurant In Town.

I will call them tonight and tell them what happened to me, and see if I can get a list of ingredients for what I had (the scallops-and-bacon, the spinach/pecan salad and dressing, and the lobster, filet mignon, and garlic mashed potatoes.) It'll be interesting to see how they respond.

Meanwhile, I'm down for the count today, skipping church, flipping through the games on MLB Extra Innings, choking down saltines and grape juice and maybe--maybe--some rice by this evening. Best restaurant in town indeed.

At least we didn't plan to go there for the rehearsal dinner.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Who came up with this idea?

ESPN meeting a few months ago:

"Well, there's no hockey. What can we put on now?"
"Hey! I've got it! Let's remake The Newlywed Game with athletes!"

Punchline: the damn thing works. I love watching it.

Somebody at ESPN was as dumb as a fox.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Olympics just got less fun.

ESPN is reporting that baseball and softball have been dropped from the Olympics:

Baseball and softball were dropped from the Olympic program for the 2012 Games on Friday.

Each of the 28 existing sports was put to a secret ballot by the International Olympic Committee, and baseball and softball failed to receive a majority required to stay on the program.

The IOC will consider replacing them with two sports from a waiting list of five sports: golf, rugby, squash, karate and roller sports.

What's more depressing? Losing baseball, losing SOFTBALL (those US teams have kicked butt lately!) or the possibility of gaining golf (snore), squash (huh?) or roller sports? I hope they don't mean roller derby or Rollerball...

I certainly hope that Japanese and MLB players play in the baseball World Cup now.

On NPR today

a reporter acted a little surprised that workers in London continued to work, in spite of the tragedy, until it was clear they would need to walk home.

Study your history.

Thoughts and prayers your way, London. Cheers.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Discovered this one last week. It's by Paul Zimmer.

Zimmer Imagines Heaven

for Merrill Leffler

I sit with Joseph Conrad in Monet's garden.
We are listening to Yeats chant his poems,
A breeze stirs through Thomas hardy's moustache,
John Skelton has gone to the house for beer,
Wanda Landowska lightly fingers a harpsichord,
Along the spruce tree walk Roberto Clemente and
Thurman Munson whistle a baseball back and forth.
Mozart chats with Ellington in the roses.

Monet smokes and dabs his canvas in the sun,
Breughel and Turner set easels behind the wisteria.
The band is warming up in the Big Studio:
Bean, Brute, Bird, and Serge on the saxes,
Kai, Bill Harris, Lawrence Brown trombones,
Little Jazz, Clifford, Fats, Diz on trumpets,
Klook plays drums, Mingus bass, Bud the piano.
Later Madam Schuman-Heink will sing Schubert,
The monks of Benedictine Abbey will chant.
There will be more poems from Emily Dickinson,
James Wright, John Clare, Walt Whitman.
Shakespeare rehearses players for King Lear.

At dusk Alice Toklas brings out platters
Of sweetbreads, Salad Livoiniere,
And a tureen of Gazpacho of Malaga.
After the meal Brahms passes fine cigars.
God comes then, radiant with a bottle of cognac,
She pours generously into the snifters,
I tell Her I have begun to learn what
Heaven is about. She wants to hear:
It is, I say, being thankful for eternity.
Her smile is the best part of the day.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Has anyone else seen...

The Education of Shelby Knox?

I just watched it tonight...unfortunately, it looks like PBS won't be airing it again soon (but set the TiVoes just in case). Hell of a good movie about a hell of a sharp kid. Take all of the histrionics and attention-loving of a high school girl, and make that girl an activist for sex education and equal rights for homosexuals. Then, put that girl in Lubbock, Texas.'ve got a documentary.

I was even more impressed with Shelby's parents than I was with her. They're Republican Baptists who appeared way out of their comfort zones, but supported and loved their daughter even as things seemed to be hitting the fan. The mother, uncomfortable as she was, even marched with her daughter at a pro-gay-rights rally in Lubbock. Shelby seemed to have that 17-year-old invincibility complex going for her...she jumped into situations like that march without seeming to think they might have consequences in Lubbock. Her mom knew those consequences, but went anyway. To me, that's the definition of courage. One cannot have courage without fear.

Also, the filmmakers didn't make the mistake of presenting the fundamentalist Christians (who are against anything other than abstinence-only sex ed) as stupid or evil. Instead, they gave them fair time to state their case (such as it is).

Has anyone seen the movie? I'd love to hear some opinions besides mine and the bride-to-be's.

This is funny.

Jim Caple's report on the World Wife-Carrying Championships. Part 1 of 2.

Puts the Tour de France to shame. And Caple's damn funny.

Need help interpreting a dream

I'm teaching my high-schoolers Dr. Seuss and the way it is used as ritual. So I organize a field trip to a Catholic Mass at the church I went to as a kid. Once Mass begins, my kids are up milling about all over, talking to other high schoolers, walking in an out of the service, being a pain. I notice one of my kids is reciting The Cat in the Hat Comes Back during the Gloria and thinking it's really funny. My teaching partner and I have to round everybody up and give them countless stern glare in an ultimately failed battle to reign them all in.

What's that mean?

Monday, July 04, 2005

It was only one stinkin' mistake...

My baby is a sweetheart, and not just sweetheart of the Yakima Bears game. She is a sweetheart because she didn't mention in her post what a pinhead I am.

You see, in the essay, I said we were getting married on July 29th. I got the date of our wedding wrong. You see, I had baseball on the was our third minor league game in three cities in three days, and we'd been playing catch for much of the three days in preparation for her throwing out the first pitch at the rehearsal dinner, and it was the rehearsal dinner on my mind, not the wedding. And so I wrote in my winning essay that we're getting married on the 29th. And we're not. We're getting married on the 30th.

My baby made fun of me for this yesterday...and justifiably. But she didn't go public with it today...she kept it a secret, just calling it a "rookie mistake" instead. Still, I'll probably hear about this periodically for many years...but I'm still greatful for her kind, gentle demonstration of restraint.

I have a friend who proposed to his wife excitedly in the car in a stupid way. She said yes, but made fun of him to her friends for years. When the time came for their fifth anniversary, he re-proposed to renew their vows...on one knee, in a nice restaurant...the right way...but with a catch: he said "From now on, you can't tell the real story of how I proposed. You have to tell this one instead."

Someday down the line, I'll make my baby Sweetheart of the Game somewhere else. I'll get the correct date of my wedding. And when I do, she will NEVER get to tell the story of my blunder again!

Word of advice

Don't watch Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest before breakfast.