I'm not a big fan of Lesley Visser, but she is something of a sportscasting pioneer for her gender.
She was the first female NFL beat writer. She was the first woman to appear on Monday Night football. She was the first woman to marry sportscaster Dick Stockton. She was the first woman sportscaster to have plastic surgery on her face after tripping in Central Park and skidding face-first on the pavement.
And on Aug. 5 she will become the first woman to be recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame (she will receive the Hall of Fame's Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award).
June 30, 2006
I'm not a big fan of Lesley Visser, but she is something of a sportscasting pioneer for her gender.
June 29, 2006
Photo printed without permission from Ian Herbert of the Express.)
At the time, I thought this was a stupid requirement. After all, I was buying a fourth-floor unit in a nine-story building. Why would I need flood protection?
Well, a few days ago a storm drenched the city in more than a foot of rain. (My initial useless thought: Since one inch of rain equals 10 inches of snow, if this were a winter storm we'd have gotten more than 120 inches of snow.)
In fact, D.C. hasn't gotten so much rain at one time since Hurricane Agnes, who sounds ancient but is actually younger than Luke Perry.
Due to the storm, my apartment's front hallway got flooded. It turns out my building has been missing a lip on a roof vent, which led to water gushing through and leaking pretty much everywhere in the building. In my front hallway, the water oozed up through the floor boards to form puddles.
Given how I feel about the D.C license plates that say "taxation without representation" and the D.C. police cars that say "youth violence" (both slogans should begin with the word "no" in order to properly convey the message that the city stands in opposition to those causes), it's no surprise that this advertisement in yesterday's Express annoys me.
In the ad, Jack H. Olender brags that he runs a malpractice firm. He even touts the fact that he's known as "D.C.'s medical malpractice king."
Shouldn't he proclaim himself as D.C.'s anti-medical malpractice king?
When I moved to D.C. in 1998, I took care of a few things right away. For example, I got a local driver's license and registered my car.
I didn't realize at the time that I should have rushed to visit the National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum. Not long after I moved (okay fine, so it was a little over a year later), the namesake of the Gallery Place neighborhood closed for renovation.
And it's been closed ever since.
Since I wasn't really paying attention to this part of town in 1998 or 1999, I had no memory of seeing the bulding without the construction barriers.
Until this week, that is. The museum opens Saturday.
Before I go, I'll be sure to upload my iPod with these two audio guides: One from the National Portrait Gallery and one from the American Art Museum's Lincoln Gallery.
June 28, 2006
DENVER — One thing I found interesting about my trip here earlier this month was the frequent use of the word "smothered" in restaurants when referring to sauces.
Menus listed almost every dish as being smothered with curry sauce. Or smothered with cheese. Or smothered with red chile sauce. Or smothered with green chile sauce.
The following is a real conversation that took place at a Tex-Mex place called Las Delicias.
Me: Hi, I'll have a chicken burrito.
Waitress: Okay. And what would you like it smothered with?
Meanwhile, the trip was the first time I'd ever gone to Chipotle. I lunched at once of the chain's locations just off the 16th Street pedestrian mall because I thought it was the flagship location. But I later learned that the original Chipotle restaurant was actually at a location close to the University of Denver.
Over the past month, most visitors to this site have come via Google searches for information about a purported romantic liaison between Bonnie Bernstein and Bill Belichick. (For such a query, Google spits out this page high on its search results.)
I can't help you folks out, sorry.
(But at least you're better than the Lisa Guerrero fetishists.)
I do however have some information on Bernstein's profesional life, by way of USA Today's Michael Hiestand: On July 2, she will return to the sportscasting world by becoming an ESPN reporter on baseball and college football.
June 27, 2006
There's a store near my house called Souvenir City. It's located in a run-down building that looks like it hasn't been home to a good souvenir since 1968.
(At least that's how it looks from the outside. I've never been in.)
As the rest of the neighborhood gentrifies, this store bucks the trend each hour that it doesn't become a Starbucks.
But Souvenir City is doing just fine, thank you. All day long, tour buses unload passengers looking for a place to spend money on Americana-related paperweights and other trinkets. As much as I love my own neighborhood, is there nowhere better in the District to take these people?
And since the store sees such a steady stream of tourists, why can't Panera open a shop here to feed them? (And me.)
In 1958, the Frito Company acquired the trademark rights to Ruffles® and became the first company to sell ridged potato chips nationally.
Before then, people were forced to eat flat chips. It's hard to imagine such a world, even though I actually like flat chips better.
Interestingly, though, I can't stand smooth-walled pasta. Pasta tubes that have exterior grooves ("rigate" in Italian, meaning ridged) are far better because they allow room for the sauce to fill in. And the texture gives more for the mouth to touch and taste.
Thus, I dislike ziti but love penne, rigatoni or riginelle. Is there such thing as a ridged spaghetti?
June 24, 2006
After almost five decades, the China Doll restaurant closed last night. To me, that makes it official: Chinatown is now just a place with a few Chinese restaurants. After all, the neighborhood is dominated by stores like Ann Taylor Loft and Bed Bath and Beyond.
It's sad, of course.
But these things happen. Neighborhoods change.
Harlem is going through gentrification. But before it became predominantly black, it was a Jewish neighborhood. And Italian. And Hispanic.
Georgetown, D.C.'s most famous elite and mostly white enclave, used to be a thriving black neighborhood after the Civil War.
And although the Chinatown gate (paifong) will remind us of the neighborhood's roots, it was a German neighborhood before Chinese immigrants settled in.
We all have weaknesses. Mine (well, one of mine) is Aaron Spelling's Beverly Hills 90210.
Spelling died June 23.
In his obit, I learned that he was the first Jewish cheerleader at Southern Methodist University. Now that is a pioneer.
June 23, 2006
Led by Nike founder Phil Knight, boosters for the University of Oregon made a splash in 2001 when they spent $250,000 on a 10-story billboard in Times Square to tout QB Joey Harrington's Heisman Trophy hopes.
Harrington lost. But so did LaDainian Tomlinson, on whom the New York Times said Texas Christian University spent $90,000 to promote.
With Knight writing the checks, Oregon teamed with DuPont to create a refracting paint to use on the helmets. It looks really cool. But the paint is made with glass beads and costs $2,400 per gallon.
This year, the Oregon Ducks unveiled new uniforms. Nike says its "advanced technology" makes the uniforms 28 percent lighter when dry 34 percent lighter when wet.
As far as I know, no team has ever had more than one helmet design in the same season. But starting this fall, Oregon will have three. The green ones are the same $2,400-per-gallon ones they've worn for the past few years. As for the new white and yellow ones, Nike did not say whether they too would require the same paint.
In February, I mentioned that I've started eating whole wheat English Muffins.
Maybe I like the taste of whole wheat, I decided. After all, I like Wheat Thins.
Well, last week I picked up a box of Wheat Thins and found out that they are actually made from bleached flour and without whole wheat.
(Evidently, Nabisco thinks that people who buy a box of food called Wheat Thins don't actually want a wheat-like taste.)
It turns out that if you want your Wheat Thins to be made of actual whole grain wheat, you need to buy a specially marked box of Wheat Thins Multi-Grain.
June 22, 2006
Earlier this week, I attended an event at the Motion Picture Association of America.
I had never been to the MPAA building before, but I could tell from the address that it was located about a block and a half from the White House. On the way to the event, I wondered why I had never noticed the building before.
After all, I figured that the trade association of the American film industry would have a pretty flashy building. That is, who would know more about the power of images than Hollywood?
The answer, it turns out, is just about everyone.
If I were in charge at MPAA, our building would have a flashy marquee. Tourists would flock to the building to take their pictures against the majestic cinematic backdrop. Inside, the hallways would be decorated like a Planet Hollywood.
Instead, Hollywood's D.C. headquarters is located in a nondescript concrete office building. The only sign that something interesting is inside is a small plaque by the front door. There are a few movie posters on the walls, but the sole art piece in the reception room is an oil painting of George Washington.
June 20, 2006
Here in D.C., the Hecht's department stores will become Macy's soon.
I grew up in Madison, where the venerable Marshall Field's too will soon wave the Macy's flag. (Unless the new owners have already cut back on the store's flag budget.)
Here's why midwesterners love Marshall Field's: It's a good store. A recent poll ranked Marshall Field's second only to Nordstrom among department stores in customer service. Macy's didn't even make the list.
Yet for some reason, polling data also shows that a majority of residents in areas served by Marshall Field's considers Macy's to be "as fashionable or more fashionable" than Marshall Field's. I suppose we can blame Miracle on 34th Street for that reputation.
As Gail Heriot writes, Marshall Fields invented the "no-questions-asked" return policy, the in-store escalator, the bridal registry, public book-signings and the bargain basement. But did you know that Frango Mints, the store's in-house brand of chocolate meltawy truffles, were known as Franco Mints until the authoritarian Francisco Franco took over Spain?
At least Macy's will be keeping the Frango Mints.
DENVER — Locals call the Denver International Airport "DIA."
"I'm happy to pick you up from DIA," they might tell you. (If they're nice people.)
But the airport's call letters are actually "DEN."
In fact, if you try to use Expedia or Orbitz to book a flight to DIA, you'll get info on flights to Dia Island in Greece.
June 19, 2006
June 18, 2006
When I first looked at the Washington Nationals schedule this year, two things stood out: the home series against the Baltimore Orioles in May and the New York Yankees in June.
Indeed, those games were well attended with a great game-day atmosphere.
Or so I'm told. See, I was out of town for both series, meaning I didn't even get a chance to watch either one on TV.
Now that I'm back in D.C., a glance at the schedule shows that the next home series is against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
June 15, 2006
DENVER — "Do not place your shoes in an x-ray bin," the security agent yelled at me this morning at the airport. "I don't know where they've been. They probably have poop on them. Put all shoes directly on the conveyor belt."
I did as told. But if my shoes did have poop on them, how would it have been any better to contaminate the actual surface where everyone's bags rest?
Watching the World Cup while flying was nice, but it made me think of all the football games I've missed over the years because I was stuck in an outdated airplane. (Remember that Packers-Raiders game on Monday Night Football when Favre threw for 400 yards and 5 touchdowns the week that his dad died? Well, I don't.)
Frontier doesn't serve meals, but they did give me a tasty muffin that (according to the package) was two adult servings.
On the plane, I read "The Washingtonienne" -- the book by the slutty Senate intern who kissed and told. I knew it would be a trashy book, but after just one chapter, I felt filthy just holding it.
I shouldn't have put this book in an x-ray bin. It deserved to be on the conveyer belt itself.
Recently, I've added a few songs to my iTunes playlist that are straight out of films, TV shows or commercials I've seen.
- "Dry the Rain" by the Beta Band (from the film High Fidelity). In the film, John Cusack plays the song in his store and brags, "I will now sell four copies of 'The 3 E.P.s' by The Beta Band." It worked on me, although I bought the song not the whole album.
- "Roll All Day" by Ice Cube (from a Chevrolet commercial a few years ago). Given the plot of this song, it's funny that it was ever in a car commercial.
- "Up All Night" by the Boomtown Rats (from Jim Rome's radio show, which I listened to almost every day in college). Years from now, someone is going to make millions by doing a cover of this song that has better vocals than the original.
- "Overkill" by Colin Hay (from Scrubs). The scene on the show where Hay plays this song in the elevator cracks me up just thinking about it. Although interestingly I didn't like the show at the time.
- "Damn it Feels Good to Be a Gangster" by the Geto Boys (from Office Space). There is something very liberating about this tune.
- "Galvanize" by the Chemical Brothers featuring Q-Tip (from ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike In The Morning show).
- "Yeah!" by Usher featuring Ludacris & Lil Jon (from the film Hitch). I've never seen the movie, but the riff got stuck in my head when I saw the trailer while waiting in the theater to see The Aviator. Damn, that's a good memory I have!
- "Let's Get Retarded" by Black Eyed Peas (from the NBA commercials). This was a mistake on my part; I shouldn't have wasted my time with this.
- "Forgiven Not Forgotten" by the Corrs (from a 90210 episode).
June 14, 2006
This week, I'm excited to take my first flight on Frontier Airlines, which features DirecTV at every seat. (The seat's TV can be activated for a nominal $5 charge.)
I think this is a great feature and hope it catches on as an industry staple. But I do want to point out that while Frontier says the TV means that "your viewing choices are almost endless," it offers only 24 channels. (No MASN, of course.)
Meanwhile, my home version of DirecTV started offering a new network this week: The Sleuth Channel. It promises to air mystery-themed films such as Scarface, The Jackal, Casino, Sneakers and Mercury Rising — but it mostly fills its lineup with the 1980s-era TV shows Miami Vice, The A-Team, Knight Rider, The Equalizer, and Simon & Simon.
I suppose this is a channel I can live without on my Frontier Airlines flight.
June 13, 2006
In April, my office accidentally found a way to call the Washington Nationals clubhouse.
Rather than risk the chance that we find their number too, the Chicago Cubs have set up a Motorola i580 to use in dugout when calling the bullpen.
Cubs senior vice president John McDonough told the AP: "What better place in major league baseball to debut wireless communication than 92-year-old, beautiful Wrigley Field?"
June 12, 2006
In February, LAL Speak touted a CD by Amadou and Miriam, a Malian blind couple who are reportedly quite popular in Africa and Europe. In his pitch, LAL told us that the music is a polyrhythmic mix ranging from sweet love songs to "urban chaos."
I live downtown and was skeptical about paying for more urban chaos. But it's a catchy CD. To me, a person who knows nothing about Malian music, the album sounds both modern and traditional at the same time.
(Side note: I find it interesting that I now know of two people named Amadou.)
One of my sister's college roommates was in five episodes of 90210. (She has done many more impressive things in the 10 years since then, although you might know her best for her role in a Southwest Airlines commercial as the snooping woman in the bathroom who giggles at her friend's prescription drugs before the shelves suddenly collapse. "Want to get away?")
Anyway, her latest project is NBC's Windfall. I don't often have the patience for hour-long shows, but I made it through the pilot, which aired last week.
A group of friends buy lottery tickets together and win. Your typical chaos ensues: Russian brides are purchased, high schoolers become emancipated, and children ride back-yard carnival sets. You know, the usual.
I'll probably watch the next episode too, especially since the show features Luke Perry and I remain fixated on 90210's former stars. In fact, the last hour-long show I started watching starred Jason Priestly.
June 10, 2006
Disappointingly, none of you took me up on my plea to set up an account with Bloglines.
But this week, I found out that Google has its own RSS reader: www.google.com/reader
Usually, Google turns everything it touches to gold. But I still prefer Bloglines. For now.
June 08, 2006
Given how interested I was in what Danish people call Danish pastries, it seems obvious that I'd be interested in what other countries call the World Cup.
In 1994, I watched the games from Spain, where they call the event Copa Mundial or Los Mundiales. (I perfered the latter, since I equated it as being like saying "The Worldsies" or "The Worldwides")
In 1998, I found myself in the host country of France, where they call it La Coupe du Monde. I didn't make it to any games while I was there. In fact, I spent most of my time visiting cities that weren't hosting games so that it was possible to find a place to sleep that wasn't booked up.
In 2002, the games were in South Korea & Japan. I watched many of the games on TV in my living room with Josh, usually at 3 a.m., while Marnie slept in the next room.
This year, the games are in Germany, where the people call the event Die Weltmeisterschaft.
To JQB, who heads to Germany tomorrow: I hope you can find a way to see some Weltmeisterschaft.
Earlier this week, there was some fuss about the date.
Let's assume that six really is the number of the devil.
Why is it that no one seems bothered by the fact that it was 6/6/06? I mean, there's a whole extra digit in the way.
How is everyone so sure that the devil adds up any extraneous numbers and dicards them if the total still adds up to six?
As Jon Stewart said Tuesday night: "Forty years ago was 6/6/66. Then you might have had something. The only time it was really 6/6/6 was June 6 in the year 6. Which at the time wasn't even called 6."
June 07, 2006
Pink (the singer born as Alecia Moore) told the London Observer that when she began her career, "people couldn't figure out whether I was gay, straight, black, white or whatever, and I loved that."
People couldn't figure out whether she was black or white?
Is that a first for a women whose father is of Irish and German descent? (Admittedly, her mother is Lithuanian. But that shouldn't confuse things, since Baltic people aren't often confused with being black either.)
June 06, 2006
Aaron Sorkin needed the inspiration of a high-priced call girl to write poignant dialog. The rest of us just need some West Wing DVDs and a pen.
A freelance producer for NBC wrote a script for host Tom Hammond to read during the Kentucky Derby coverage in which two parts were identical to a speech given by President Barlett during the fourth season of the West Wing.
A New York Times reader e-mailed the newspaper about the apparent plagiarism, starting a chain of reaction that led to NBC firing one of its freelance producers.
In the Kentucky Derby feature, host Tom Hammond talked about Barbaro's trainer, Michael Matz, who survived a plane crash in Iowa and led three children to safety. Matz "ran into the fire to save the lives of three children. Ran into the fire," Hammond said.
Compare that to Bartlet's speech in which he praised rescuers of a pipe bomb explosion in Iowa, saying they "ran into the fire to help get people out. Ran into the fire."
The Kentucky Derby feature concluded with Hammond saying that the "funny thing about life is that every time we think we've measured our capacity to meet its challenges, we're reminded that that capacity may well be limitless."
Compare that to Bartlett's speech, in which the fictitious president said: "The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels, but every time we think we've measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we're reminded that that capacity may well be limitless."
At the intersection of Georgia Ave. & Forest Glen Rd., the fine people of Silver Spring recently installed the kind of traffic light with a countdown of the number of seconds remaining until the light changes.
At first, I was pleased with this development, since I was excited to test my theory of this intersection, which is that the light does not allow enough time for person to cross Georgia Ave. before getting impaled on the road. (That is, without sprinting across and narrowly avoiding death.)
But the test, conducted yesterday, was inconclusive. The light still doesn't give people enough time to cross, I still contend, but it's difficult to tell because the countdown doesn't begin until a few seconds before the light is about to change.
What's the point of a countdown if it's not going to start at the beginning?
June 05, 2006
Germany has a car company called Bayerische Motoren Werke.
Here in America, the company is called Bavarian Motor Works, or BMW. We often refer to BWM cars as "beamers," a slang word that evidently plays off the company's acronym in England, which is BM. (The shortened acronym could be because "BMW" is a British phrase referring to a cocktail of Baileys, Malibu and Whisky.)
But among the company's enthusiasts, the word "beamer" (or "beemer") actually refers to BMW's motorcycles, not cars. Instead, the automobiles are supposed to be dubbed "bimmers." The Boston Chapter of the BMW Car Club of America Inc. makes that very clear.
But come on. No one says "bimmers" to refer to BMW cars. And even now that you know the difference, are you going to start saying "bimmer"?
June 01, 2006
As I type this, Marnie is watching "The 2006 Scripps National Spelling Bee," which is taking place a few blocks away from our house.
There are two contestants left. One of them is from Canada and the other one is...
"How can someone from Canada be in our 'national' spelling bee?" Marnie asks.
I have no answer.
In February, I asked my readers to vote on whether my trip this month should be to Iceland & Denmark or to New Zealand & Tahiti.
Interestingly, the vote was 11 to 3 in favor of the first option.