Sunday, March 26, 2006

Curmudgeon in the Wry 318

Wednesday, March 22, 2006---625 Words---Average reading time: 2-minutes, 5 seconds (time well spent)
Offending readers one issue at a time since 2001.
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Rave: Van Morrison
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Rant: Cue the violins: It doesn't get much better than NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue describing the owners' impasse with the NFL Players Association as "about as dire as dire can be." This sort of melodramatic language results from taking yourself too seriously, something pro football is prone to do.
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Factoid: Bobby Knight and Florida’s Billy Donovan are the only two men (past 50 years) to both play and coach in the Final Four.
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Line of the week: From New York Times restaurant reviewer Joe Sharkey---“Makes hunger an attractive alternative.”
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Rant: Sure am glad the NFL labor battle between billionaires and millionaires got worked out!
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Rave: The soundtrack CD from “Good Night and Good Luck.”
Diane Reeves delivers vocals that are smoky, satiny and sultry. Brings the movie right back for you and has you looking for a night club with no cover, no minimum. Enjoyment plus!
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Final Four Factoid: Only four college players have been to four Final Fours---Clay Buckley, Greg Koubek, Christian Laettner and Brian Davis. DUKE grads all!
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Truism: There is such a thing as a quiet leaf blower. It is calling it a rake.
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Truism II: The definition of confidence is working the Sudoku puzzle with a pen.
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Truism III: Dilbert is not a comic strip. It’s a documentary.
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Rave: To David Wells for speaking out against Barry Bonds.
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Rant: Best Oscar for “It’s Hard for a Pimp”---Rogers and Hammerstein are turning in their graves.
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Rave: So, the Final Four is coming up the first weekend in April---and you say your brackets are in shambles.
Well, you can find great solace and enjoyment in
John Feinstein’s paean to March Madness, “Last Dance, Behind the Scenes at the Final Four.”
Since he has been going to the Final Four since 1978 (before it went to 64 teams), he has plenty of wonderful tales to tell.
The focal point is 2005’s North Carolina, Illinois, Michigan State and Louisville tournament.
However, he strays and presents a lot of magnificent history in the form of back-stories. Therefore, it not a play-by-play type of book---rather it reads like a novel.
He presents insights into the teams, the selection committee, players past and present, coaches, the officials, the fans and the legends.
It is all told in a relaxed, lyrical anecdotal fashion that is so easy to read that you never realize how much you learning.
Totally absorbing, and perfect for this time of year---or any time of year.
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Hmmmm: I have never really understood the whole Sarah Jessica Parker phenomenon, but then again a lot of things get be me nowadays. Reality TV being another.
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Consider this: For the guilty, a dumb jury is better than a brilliant lawyer.
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Rant: You know we are all swimming in a cultural sewer, when pimps are now being portrayed as sympathetic figures.
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My-oh-my: The Associated Press reports that actor Mel Gibson is shipping an eight-lane bowling alley to his private island in the Fiji archipelago. Bowling, fine. But eight lanes for an island inhabited mostly by turtles?
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Hmmmm: You know you have heard a lot of music when you realize that Neil Young is sixty.
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Rant: How many eyewitnesses does it take before someone doesn’t “allegedly” do something, like the UNC graduate student that plowed through a crowd of people with his SUV?
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.
http://kenvandurand.blogspot.com/

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Curmudgeon in the Wry 317

Sunday, March 05, 2006---564 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 52 seconds (time well spent)
Offending readers one issue at a time since 2001.
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Rave: Jay Bilas
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Movie Magic: “The Magnificent Seven” is a great western motion picture---arguably the film that launched Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and James Coburn to stardom.
In the movie, James Coburn’s character, Britt, had exactly eleven lines---including, “You lost” and “Three.” Now that’s pithy.
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Rave: The next best thing to reading Michael Connelly is rereading him!
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Rant: Someone should make Simon Cowell sing, instead of being simply obnoxious.
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Big yawn: World Baseball Classic---I have less than zero interest in this boondoggle.
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My take: The Blue Jays are still the Blue Jays until they prove otherwise.
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Hmmmm: If the NHL takes two weeks off, does anyone miss it?
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Rant: The only thing wrong with the catfight between Trump and Martha Stewart over her horrid TV show is that there is nobody to cheer for.
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Rave: The good news is a year from now no one's going to remember Bode Miller.
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Rant: Is it true that when the groundhog saw his shadow it meant seven more months of Barry Bonds?
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Rave: Two thumbs up for “Turning Angel” by Greg Iles.
Prosecutor/novelist Penn Cage returns from my favorite Iles book, “The Quiet Game” as the protagonist.
Penn has left the legal life to spend time with his daughter in his hometown of Natchez. And, he has renewed his boyhood friendship with Dr. Drew Elliot, a prominent member of the Natchez gentry.
Both are attending a board meeting of the elite private school, St. Stephens Prep when the meeting is interrupted with news that star senior student on her way to Harvard (Kate Townsend) has been found murdered.
Kate was the poster child for perfection. However, the investigation shows Kate was buying drugs from an infamous dealer, posing for kinky photos and having an affair with a married man (Dr. Drew Elliot).
Dr. Elliot informs Penn of the affair, claim innocence in the murder and gets Penn back into the legal game to defend him. The price of defending his friend could affect Penn’s run for mayor and makes him a target for the real killer.
There is no shortage of homegrown suspects as well as a few outsiders and a particularly venal blackmailer.
It is a fast moving plot with a rapid pulse. The reader is enveloped by the conspiracies and small town intrigue. There is ample action as we learn just who did what to whom, and why.
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Hmmmm: My dentist told me to only floss the teeth I want to keep.
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Rant: You know that words hive become merely props when “illegal aliens” are now referred to as “undocumented.”
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Three Point Play: The feel-good story of the year is 5-foot-6 Jason McElwain, who has autism, and was put into a high school basketball game in upstate New York as a reward for being the team manager. He hit six of 10 3-point shots in four minutes. Stranger than fiction? Even stranger than that.
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Rant: The male “American Idol” contestants should get their own show called “American Ugly.”
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Curmudgeon in the Wry-----316

Friday, February 24, 2006---609 Words---Average reading time: 2-minutes, 07 seconds (time well spent)
Offending readers one issue at a time since 2001.
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Rave:
Thom Schuyler
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Political rules to live by: Never deplane in front of Gerald Ford, bet money on Dan Quayle in the spelling bee, go boating with Jimmy Carter, let Ted Kennedy drive home from the party or go hunting with Dick Cheney
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Must see TV: Villanova @ UConn on Sunday at 2 PM on CBS.
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More Must See TV: Carolina @ DUKE on Saturday (3/4) at 9 PM on ESPN, espn2, ESPN-U and ESPN Classic. First time ESPN has shown a sporting event on four outlets.
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Rave: In the 2005-2006 season, DUKE will make more regular-season national TV appearances (27) than any college or NBA team. The Lakers are second with 24.
90% of DUKE’s schedule is on national TV---a higher percentage than any NBA, NFL, MLB or NHL franchise.
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Rave: The other side of the pillow.
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Rant: Nomar grew up in the United States, the country that has made him rich and famous, but he was going to play for Mexico. Is that about it?
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Tap-in: When basketball-player-of-the-year candidate Adam Morrison was coming out of high school in Spokane, Wash., the only college to offer him a scholarship was hometown school Gonzaga.
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Hmmmm: North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough, who scored 40 the other night against Georgia Tech, is a 20-year-old freshman. Duke’s JJ Redick, a senior, is still only 21.
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Best Cheney line: There's no truth to the rumor that had Dick Cheney been in Dealey Plaza In 1963, President Kennedy would have been alive and 40 people on the grassy knoll would have been dead.
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Rave: With prose as spare as the production on those great Ricky Nelson hits of the late 1950’s/early 60’s, Ross Thomas creates some of fiction’s most colorful and unforgettable characters.
“The Seersucker Whipsaw” (1967) and 1972’s “The Porkchoppers” both center on political election fixing.
An election in an African country in the "The Seersucker Whipsaw" while "The Porkchoppers" features a heavyweight union election.
Both are peopled with political fixers, a cadre of PR pros, devious players on all sides, behind-the-scenes corrupters, double dealers and political factotums of every hue.
The characters and dialogue are top notch…and you easily believe these shenanigans happen multiple time daily.
Except for the difference in technology (mimeographing instead of instant messaging) these books do not have a dated feel. The concepts and the conniving Machiavellian exploits are 21st Century.
A writer of extraordinary talent!
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Hmmmm: Should I blame Clinton or Bush for the U.S. ski team’s poor performance at the Olympics?
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Boring Olympics: A tie with Latvia? Latvia? It all seems a long way from the "Miracle on Ice" in 1980.
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Rant: Every time I surf thru and catch a few seconds of these scintillating Olympics, the events all look like a winter chase scene in a James Bond movie.
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Dumbest Olympic TV comment: “Ooooh, that is just the essence of snowboardcross.”---Come on! It has not been a sport long enough to have a following, let alone an essence.
Bob Costas has to be embarrassed being connected to the NBC coverage.
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Pop quiz: Quickly---name one medalist from the USA…any sport!
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On the radar: The big new scandal in college sports will be the renegade prep schools, which have a lot more to do with jump shots than books.
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.