Thursday, May 31, 2007

Name That Tune Returns

Lyrics from five songs are listed below. Your challenge is to name the song title and artist. Please try not to search the internet for the answers. Either you know the songs or you don't. I think this second version is a little tougher than last week’s debut. Good luck!

1. Till now I always got by on my own
I never really cared until I met you

2. I’d shout out an order, I think we’re out of this man get me some

3. Da Force coming down with mayhem
looking at my watch time 3 A.M.

4. I could use a little fuel myself
And we could all use a little change

5. If you're callin' 'bout the car I sold it;
If this is Tuesday night, I'm bowling.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Kevin Costner

Kevin Costner is currently making the rounds going on television shows to promote his new movie, "Mr. Brooks," in which he plays a serial killer. I actually think that Costner will do a great job playing a bad guy, but that’s not the point of this post. Seeing the movie previews has reminded me of something that I have known for years; Kevin Costner is an underrated actor. Take Costner in his five best movies (in my opinion, Dancing With Wolves, The Untouchables, Field of Dreams, and then two of Bull Durham, JFK, Tin Cup and Thirteen Days) and compare them with the five best movies of other actors of his era. I think it’s fair to say that Costner would do well. While Costner is not in the same class as Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Denzel Washington or Tom Hanks, I think he’s certainly in the next tier with Harrison Ford, Robin Williams, Mel Gibson (before he went crazy) and Tom Cruise (see Mel Gibson). I would take Costner’s top five movies/performances over Ford, Williams, Gibson and Cruise.

I think it’s fair to write that Costner does not have the reputation he deserves because of one movie, "Waterworld." The cost to make Waterworld was so extraordinary at the time that it had no choice but to fail. Even though other actors have had flops, Costner seems to have “suffered” more for "Waterworld" than any other actor has for another movie. Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty recovered from "Ishtar." Even Mel Gibson earned three Oscar nominations for "Apocalypto."

I admit that I have a certain bias for Costner. “Field of Dreams” is my favorite movie of all time, and I also played Black Jack in his Deadwood, South Dakota casino. Plus, Costner seems like the kind of guy who would buy you a beer. Maybe "Mr. Brooks" will bring Kevin Costner back and make others believe what I just wrote, that he is an underrated actor.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Random Links

Fergie is coming to Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax. No, I’m not kidding. (Click on the meet Fergie tab.) Here’s your chance to challenge Fergie to a spelling contest! She will be at Verizon Experience store at 3:00pm on Tuesday, May 29.

Good luck to the Ithaca College Women’s Crew team at the NCAA Rowing Championships!

I admit that I’m not as devoted of a Lost fan as most other followers, but the season finale on Wednesday was really, really good. Here’s a good recap of all things Lost. Please note that most of the theories are way above me.

Fourteen Ithaca College students of the a cappella group Ithacappella, some of them seniors skipping their own graduation ceremony, opened the set of an Incubus concert in LA. Here’s the article; here’s the YouTube video.

Roger Federer and Pete Sampras will meet in an exhibition match in Kuala Lumpur as part of Malaysia’s 50th anniversary of independence celebrations. I’m guessing that they will both receive nice paychecks. It would be an especially interesting match if the Pete Sampras of eight years ago could play today’s Federer.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Favorite Unpopular Posts

The idea of this is to share past posts that I thought were good, but did not seem to take off. I was tagged by Rinsem’s Rink, who I have linked to several times over the past few months. So here are seven posts from the past year or so that I feel deserve a second chance.

When Did Pittsburgh Become a Country Town?
Self-explanatory (or maybe not).

The Greatest Icelandic Musicians
To be honest, I was hoping that Icelandair would see this post and fly me to Iceland to prove that there are many great Icelandic bands. Maybe that will happen now!

Guilty Pleasures
No one seemed to make fun of the fact that I like VH1 reality shows, Hilary Duff, Neil Diamond, Eddie Money and the Spice Girls.

Do I Need to Turn in My Man Card?
I admitted that I worked out to Leslie Sansone DVDs.

You 1988 Pittsburgh Pirates
The days when there was true hope that the Pirates could be good

Toilet Talk
Toilet technology is not where it should be in this country.

Cleaning House
Found newspaper articles

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Breaking News: California Tortilla Opening in Reston


This is huge! One of my favorite restaurants, California Tortilla, is opening a franchise in Reston, Virginia. I e-mailed Pam Felix, Marketing/Queen of Burritos (that is her actual title listed on the website) to confirm that this is true, and she replied that the new location will hopefully open mid-summer. This makes me very happy. I haven’t been as excited about the opening of a business/store since Wegmans came to Northern Virginia in 2004.

When a California Tortilla opens, they give away a free burrito and pop (yes, it's pop) to every customer from 11am-2pm and 5pm-8pm that day. Plus, the first ten people in line receive a free burrito every week for a year at that store, and the next 20 receive a free burrito every week for a month at that location. Depending on the opening date, I may take a day or half-day off of work to wait in line.

Fantasy Television League

Way back in September, I mentioned my participation in The Alison LaPlaca Open, a contest to see who can guess which television shows would be cancelled during the 2006-2007 season. Now that the season is nearly complete, I have unofficially (depending on the status of Standoff and According to Jim) finished in the top ten, possibly top five, out of over 100 entries. I correctly predicted that What About Brian, Kidnapped, Happy Hour, Runaway, The Knights of Prosperity, The O.C., Seventh Heaven and The War at Home (thank goodness!) would not make it to the 2007-2008 season. Unfortunately, Men In Trees starring Anne Heche survived, and NBC was apparently smart enough to realize that The Singles Table was a terrible show and never aired it.

I’m definitely going to participate next year. My top pick will probably be Caveman, the new comedy based on the “guys” from the GEICO commercials.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Name That Tune

Here's a little game to start your week. Lyrics from five songs are listed below. Your challenge is to name the song title and artist. Please try not to search the internet for the answers. Either you know the songs or you don't.

1. Little boys messin round with the girls playing double-dutch

2. And I feel so much depends on the weather
So is it raining in your bedroom?

3. The D-A-double D-Y-M-A-C
Ya you know me

4. We're no strangers to love
You know the rules and so do I

5. Cry baby cry
When you've got to get it out

I'll be back this evening with the correct answers and to declare the winner. Good luck!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Pittsburgh Penguins Job Opportunity

Want to work for the Pittsburgh Penguins, but you can’t skate? The Penguins are looking for a Game Night Producer. The responsibilities include planning, formatting, and executing JumboTron and game night presentations; working with Mellon Arena staff to coordinate visual in-arena components; and organizing sponsorship-related opportunities with the Corporate Sales Department. The Game Night Producer must be a creative, responsible individual who can thrive in a high-pressure, fast-paced environment.

Tasks and Responsibilities:
• Plan, format and execute the Pittsburgh Penguins game night presentation including but not limited to pre-game and post-game ceremonies, PA announcements, JumboTron, matrix messages, music, organ, national anthems and in-arena and concourse promotions
• Coordinate with the Corporate Sales Department to ensure proper sponsor visibility and fulfillment of all contractual obligations
• Work under pressure and make complex decisions in a time-sensitive situation
• Possess a technical understanding of control room workflow, capabilities, and limitations
• Ability to interface and lead Pens Patrol and other game night staff as well as coordinate logistical issues within the arena

Qualifications:
• A minimum of 3-5 years experience working in a live event or broadcast environment with an emphasis on producing and directing as well as experience writing game scripts and coordinating in-game promotions and special events
• Excellent communication and time management skills with a friendly and professional demeanor
• Ability to demonstrate flexible and creative problem solving skills
• A working understanding of broadcast control room flow of operations
• The ability to make quick and complex decisions under pressure situations in a team environment
• The ability to communicate and cooperate with technical crew, building staff, and Pittsburgh Penguins staff.

This seems like a perfect job for GwenJen or maybe Eddie Olczyk.

Click here for more information or to apply.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Evening at RFK

I attended the Washington Nationals-Atlanta Braves game on Tuesday night, my first baseball game of the season. What a fantastic evening! Here’s why:

I bought Lower View Outfield seats for $5, but never got close to sitting there. Instead, we sat on the 1st base line in Field MVP seats that sell for $55. I used to do this all the time for Pittsburgh Pirates games at Three Rivers Stadium, although then, we actually sat in the outfield or upper deck seats and moved down to the nice seats later in the game. The one good thing about a losing team in an old, undistinguished stadium is the many open seats. I’m really going to miss RFK for baseball games next year when the Nationals move to a brand new stadium.

I may have mentioned a while back that I used to work as a beer man. I write this now because I think I have a good sense of what makes a good beer man. So when I write that RFK has the greatest beer man I have ever seen, I write that with conviction. First, RFK Beer Man (I don’t know his name) carried three stacks of beer trays. I didn’t get a full count, but my guess is he started with a minimum of 72 cans. That in itself is tough enough to do while walking up and down aisle after aisle and yelling to sell the product. What really distinguished this beer man was how he opened and poured the beer. He had some type of hand-held electric can opener (I searched unsuccessfully online for about 20 minutes trying to find the product) that removed the entire top of the beer cans. He could do this for two beer cans at a time, and then quickly pour the topless cans into plastic cups. Anywhere he went, people would stop watching the game and watch him in amazement as he opened the cans and poured the beer. It was unbelievable!

A foul ball landed two rows in front of us and another two rows behind us. I have never caught a foul ball, and if I ever do, I have a feeling that I won’t be able to keep it. I’ll end up giving the ball to some little kid sitting a row down.

If you are a designated driver or have no intention of drinking beer at a baseball game, I highly recommend signing up at the designated driver booth. Just for pledging that you’re not going to drink, you receive a free pop coupon (soda for some of you) and are entered into a drawing. Tuesday night, the designated driver booth gave away two free pop coupons. I also won two tickets for Busch Gardens as the lucky winner of the drawing.

Anyone who has attended a Nats game this year knows about the President races. This is a complete knock off of the Milwaukee Brewers’ Sausage race and the Pirates’ Pierogi race. Anyway, the big story is that Teddy Roosevelt has never won a race. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln always win. My guess is that the Nats are saving a Teddy win for a big moment, either the last game at RFK, the first game at the new stadium, or if the Nationals ever sell-out a game, which could happen this weekend against the Baltimore Orioles.

Oh yeah…the Nationals lost 6-2.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

PayPerPost

Rinsem’s Rink has recently started to participate in PayPerPost, which is exactly as it sounds. You get paid for blogging about “web sites, products, services, and companies and earn cash for providing your opinion and valuable feedback to advertisers.” I was and am intrigued by this so I asked Rinsem for more information. So far, he has written three posts which totaled $25. I’m curious if anyone else out there has tried PayPerPost, and if so, what do you think? I don’t want to sell out, but I’m not sure that I’m currently really selling in. If I wrote about these products and services, would you be less inclined to visit this site? Any advice is appreciated.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Dilemma

I am writing about another contest in which I would like you to vote, but I’m in a bit of a quandary. First, the contest is Diamonds in the Rough by Briggs & Stratton where one youth baseball/softball player will win $10,000 and a clinic hosted by Tino Martinez. Twelve winners (now finalists) have been selected from eligible entries based on creativity, description of a mentor and a specific “Power Within” example. There are some pretty cool essays written by these kids.

Here’s the dilemma. Of the probably hundreds if not thousands of entrants, I have received e-mails to vote for two of them. Taylor T. of the Atlanta area is a student of long-time reader Christine. Ellen M. from Pittsburgh is a former student of a friend I have known since my chickenpox days.

The rules state that there is only one vote per e-mail address. I have voted once for Taylor and once for Ellen using different e-mail addresses. Instead of asking you to vote for one specific person, vote for two!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Birthday and Mother’s Day Surprise

On this day 28 years ago, I turned 4 (yes, you added correctly, I am 32 today), and got chickenpox while my birthday was on Mother’s Day. Apparently, the chickenpox ruined the birthday/Mother’s Day dinner. So for those of you celebrating birthdays or Mother’s Day today, I hope that chickenpox is not part of the festivities.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Chess Fight

Maybe you’ve heard about the fight that broke out at the Boston Pops’ opening night concert. For some reason, this story reminded me of a fight that took place at my junior high chess tournament. When I was in eighth grade, I participated in a chess tournament with about a dozen other schools in the area. I don’t remember how it started or what it was about (probably someone touched a piece without moving it, which is a no-no in a chess tournament), but Aaron German and a kid from another school started to get in an argument. (The argument took place during a break so my touching theory is likely wrong.) Aaron was a cool guy. He also had a bit of a temper and seemed to be in detention or in-school-suspension a lot, sometimes for fighting.

Anyway, perhaps inspired by the chess fight that took place in a “Family Ties” episode or just being a 13 year-old, I helped escalate the situation. Aaron and the other kid starting trading insults. Nothing major, but I thought I would “help” the situation by throwing in “Oooooooooh; you’re going to let him say that!” By continuing to say things like that, Aaron and the other kid couldn’t back down. They probably didn’t want to fight – well at least the other guy didn’t – but they had no choice. Pushing ensued and a punch or two may have been thrown before a few teachers broke up the fight. The moral of the story: I was a really good chess player.

P.S. There is no truth to the rumor that the World Chess Boxing Organisation started based on the aforementioned chess tournament incident.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Greatest Icelandic Musicians

Last December, I ranked the greatest Canadian musicians of all-time. It was a fun activity, and I received some good comments, although most of them were about Nickelback. Anyway, after reading that Björk is releasing a new album, I decided to bring back the idea. Today, I rank the greatest musicians ever to come from Iceland.

1. Björk
2. the Sugarcubes (Björk’s band before she went solo)
3. Tie between everyone on The Icelandic Music Page.

I would love to come up with more, but I only knew Björk and had to look up the Sugarcubes. Are there any performers or groups that I’m missing?

In case you were wondering, no Icelandic musicians made the Final Four of Band Madness. It’s David Bowie vs. The Beatles and Led Zeppelin vs. Pink Floyd.

Wednesday Morning Notes

On the way to the San Francisco airport, we passed a Shell gas station charging $4.33 a gallon…for regular unleaded! Directly across the street was a Chevron station charging 70 cents less per gallon. According to the taxi driver, who was extremely passionate about the subject (some might say crazy or fanatical), the Shell station is believed to be the most expensive gas station in the country. Apparently, a San Francisco TV station questioned the station manager about the extraordinary prices. The manager explained that he was just breaking even because of the high cost of rent.
---
Unfortunately, Tiffany Catania got voted off Good Morning America’s Dancing With the Moms. I blame myself. When I first encouraged people to vote, Tiffany advanced to the next round. Since I was away last week, I didn’t solicit votes, and now we see what happened. Sorry Tiffany.
---
Finally, Mother’s Day is on Sunday, so don’t forget to send Mom a card. There is no mail on Sunday, so you may want to mail the card soon, like today!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Celebrity Sighting

With the exception of the time last year when I saw the Indianapolis Colts and Dan Reeves, I never see famous people at airports. That changed today. As I was walking to my gate, I noticed someone who looked very familiar. Some people may even say that he looks like former president Andrew Jackson (see below). As I got closer, I heard him talking on the phone about Roger Clemens. Yes, I saw Peter Gammons at the San Francisco International Airport. Gammons is widely regarded as one of the best baseball writers and reporters for his work at The Boston Globe and ESPN.

Over the next half-hour, I debated whether or not I should go over to speak to Gammons. I’m sure people come up to him all the time and I wanted to respect his privacy. Several of my colleagues offered to take a run-by picture of me standing behind Gammons. I figured that could be rude. I actually called a friend and talked somewhat loudly about fantasy baseball players hoping Gammons would notice. Of course, Gammons was on the phone nearly the entire time. At one point, I think I heard him say that Melvin Mora of the Baltimore Orioles is awful. Finally, as I was boarding, Gammons got up and walked around. As he passed me, I said, “Hi Mr. Gammons. I just wanted to let you know that I love your work.” He smiled and replied, “Thank you very much.” That was the entire conversation. I really wanted to ask him if the Pirates will ever be good again. I guess I’ll have to wait until the next time I see him.


Sunday, May 06, 2007

Adventures in San Francisco

I haven't had an opportunity to write since I arrived in San Francisco, so I thought I would share a quick story from the trip. After an excellent dinner at The Stinking Rose the other night, we decided to walk up Lombard Street, which is famous for its steepness and twists and turns. This is nothing too unusual or out of the ordinary. After reaching the top of the hill and beginning to walk back to the hotel, I ran into a problem...I really needed to use a bathroom. Unfortunately, the area was mostly residential and the only open businesses were laundromats without restrooms. Amazingly, after a few blocks, there was a port-a-john on a side street. My prayers had been answered! Another problem, the port-a-john was locked. I've never seen a locked port-a-john before, although I found two more over the next few blocks. Finally, after strongly considering relieving myself on a side street and risking arrest and embarrassment, I found a coffee shop that was nice enough to let me use their bathroom as they were closing for the night. I found a website for Cafe Nook (apparently not named for Washington Nationals Outfielder Nook Logan), so here's some free advertising in exchange for their generosity.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Five Questions

Morag "interviewed" me by sending the following questions:

Of all the places you have lived in your life, which one was your favorite, and would you move back if you could?

This is a tough question since I’ve really enjoyed everywhere that I lived. Therefore, I’m being upfront in that I’m partially avoiding the question. When I win the lottery, I’ll move to my winter house in San Diego and my summer home in Ithaca, New York. At times, Ithaca has a small town feel, yet it is a vibrant community due to Ithaca College and Cornell University. There is an outstanding arts community and numerous state parks, gorges and hiking trails. Ithaca has fabulous locally owned restaurants, Wegmans and the cost of living is exceptional. The only drawback is the winter weather, which is why I’m also choosing San Diego. I moved to San Diego after I graduated from college. There was a significant El Nino during my first winter, one of the worst winters any of the locals could remember. Coming from Pittsburgh and then Ithaca, rain and 50-degree days was the best winter weather ever. Besides the fantastic weather, the beach is not far from anything. Every time I return to San Diego, I always spend a few hours walking on the beach.

What's your dream vacation?

Of these five questions, this was the hardest for me to answer. I have no idea. I’ve been to most places I wanted to in the United States, so I guess it would be an international destination. I’d love to go to Australia, New Zealand, South America, Japan and basically most of Europe since I have never been to any of these places. There are more places in Canada I would like to explore. While not necessarily a dream vacation, in my lifetime, I would also like to visit many parts of the Middle East, although as an American, that may never happen. Cuba could certainly become a tourist destination in the next 25 years if not sooner.

What one thing would you do if you knew going in that you absolutely could not, would not fail?

This has to be something athletic. I have no interest in climbing Mount Everest, swimming the English Channel or running a marathon. Winning a Super Bowl would be nice, although I could only be a kicker. I’m also too short for the NBA. I think it would be playing a significant part of a World Cup victory. I’d be very happy scoring a goal or making a great pass to set up a goal.

What's aspect of your life is the most different now that you're married?

Stability. I’m not writing that I was unstable prior to marriage, but my life is much more stable now. I’m with someone who I can share my thoughts and hopes, loves me unconditionally and keeps me in check. There’s a lot of little things too. For example, when we’re apart, I stay up later at night and therefore, wake up later in the morning causing me to get to work late. That doesn’t happen when we’re together. Plus, I eat much better now that I’m married!

Are you internationally known?

Now, this question has to be a set-up. Everyone should know the answer. I’m not internationally known but I’m known to rock the microphone.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

31-Cent Ice Cream and More

Since I missed Ben & Jerry’s free scoop day a few weeks ago, I wanted to let everyone know that tomorrow (Wednesday, May 2) is 31-cent scoop night at Baskin Robbins. The 31-cent scoop night runs from 5-10pm in honor of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Through this promotion, I also learned about and signed up for Baskin-Robbins’ birthday club. Later this month, I’ll get a free scoop of ice cream just for being born!

Now I’m curious about other places that give away free birthday food, so here’s what I’ve found thus far:

Red Robin – Free Burger – I cannot remember if the free burger is only if another burger is purchased; I’ll find out when I receive the e-mail later this week. (Join the Red Robin eClub.)

Austin Grill – Complimentary Entrée – Again, I cannot remember if the entrée is only if another entrée is purchased. (Sign-up for the Austin Grill Eclub)

Silver Diner – Complimentary Entrée and a Piece of Birthday Cake (you need to sign up for the Blue Plate Card at the restaurant).

Please leave any other suggestions for restaurants (preferably in the Washington DC area) that have free birthday meals in the comments section. Thanks!

This is another example of using my blog for good instead of evil!