Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My Draft Recap, A Few Days Late

I really only care about two teams when it comes to the NFL Draft: obviously the Redskins and the Hokies. In my eyes, both did very well for themselves.

Once again, the two did not mix this year, and all eight of the drafted Hokies went elsewhere (though one landed in Baltimore).

Start with Virginia Tech. We had eight guys drafted, and five more signed free agent deals within the next 24 hours. Not everyone is guaranteed a spot on any roster, but for the first day picks, and even the early second day picks, I don't think there is any question they'll make the team.

Round 1
Pick 26 - Houston Texans take Duane Brown (OT). Brown was a phenom at Tech. He came in as a tight end and had a decent freshman season under Jeff King's tutelage. He made the move to right tackle to fill a need for our offensive line and began to flourish as a lineman. Eventually, the coaches dropped him at left tackle, which is arguably the most important spot on the line for a team employing a right-handed quarterback. I think Duane will have no problem learning to block for former Wahoo Matt Schaub, and will fight for early playing time as a rookie. He joins several other Hokies in Houston (Andre Davis, Brandon Frye, and Xavier Adibi).

Round 2
Pick 4 (35) - Kansas City Chiefs take Brandon Flowers (CB). Flowers was relatively unheralded coming out of high school. He got an interception on his first appearance in maroon and orange, but later broke a bone and was granted a medical redshirt year. Upon his return, he was the only redshirt freshman player in NCAA history to have an interception in his stat line at the beginning of the season. He went on to be one of the best defensive backs in the history of VT football. He's a powerful hitter, a savvy defender, but a little slow on his feet.

Pick 11 (42) - Denver Broncos take Eddie Royal (WR/RS). Eddie waltzed in to Blacksburg amidst a ton of hype and fanfare. If he disappointed, it's only because our offense couldn't get him the ball enough. He is a speedster, through and through, and is one of the strongest players pound for pound I've ever seen. At 5'10 180 lbs, he can bench 400 lbs. He will be a good return man in the NFL, and may get a few looks at receiver as well, though scouts criticized his route-running and his durability.

Round 3
Pick 9 (72) - Buffalo Bills take Chris Ellis (DE). Another big hype recruit, Ellis came in tall and lean. His frame didn't afford much room for weight gain, which is one of his biggest knocks. He'll be a good situational pass rusher for the Bills, but will likely not be an every down kind of end. He's just not bulky enough to support on the run. His speed will get him past lazy guards on the pass protection though.

Round 4
Pick 19 (118) - Houston Texans take Xavier Adibi (OLB). I consider this a steal. I view X as first round talent. He could add a little bulk to his frame, but he is very fast in the game. He is incredibly smart, a monstrous hitter, and a good cover linebacker. If he doesn't blossom in to a full time starter in Houston (whose defense has been questionable since they became a franchise), I'll be surprised and disappointed.

Round 5
Pick 13 (148) - Denver Broncos take Carlton Powell (DT). CP quietly became a key figure in our defense. He was a big body on the interior line, and was huge in run support. He will need to add a little muscle without sacrificing any speed if he wants to make it for the Broncos, who have a decent d-line already. He joins Eddie Royal in Denver.

Round 6
Pick 8 (174) - San Francisco 49ers take Josh Morgan (WR). I'm sorry, Josh. You deserve better than this. Nicknamed the Old Man for his aged look, Morgan was a phenomenal receiver when he wanted to be. He is knocked for taking too many plays off, and dropping too many easy balls. The way I see it, he's just not good at catching over his shoulder. He can make a circus grab for SportsCenter on one snap, and on the very next snap drop a wide open ball on a fly route. With some polishing, he could flourish. Either a complete steal, or a complete bust (if you can consider a 6th round pick a bust).

Round 7
Pick 8 (215) - Baltimore Ravens take Justin Harper (WR). I could cut and paste Morgan's analysis and put it here for Justin. He was much more consistent, and is a better athlete, but has trouble getting his big frame separated from quicker corners. If Flacco turns out to be the real deal for Baltimore, then Harper will flourish.

Signing free agent deals were the following players:
Vince Hall (ILB) - St. Louis: Bud Foster says Vince is the best player he has ever coached. If that translates to pro quality, then the Rams got an absolute steal getting this guy in free agency. He is a little small, and a little slow on paper, but when you put him in a game, he is a ferocious player...always the first guy to the ball. I would put money on him going to a Pro Bowl at some point in his career.

Josh Hyman (WR) - St. Louis: See analysis for Morgan/Harper. Hyman was probably the least polished of the four senior receivers at Tech last year. He joins VH in St. Louis.

Kory Robertson (DT) - Miami: The Big Country goes to Miami to help them rebuild. He is a solid tackle with a huge frame. A couple years as an understudy ought to put this guy on the field.

DJ Parker (FS) - San Francisco: Another steal in my eyes. Parker was a three year contributor at safety for one of the best defenses in college football. And he quarterbacked it. If he can't help San Francisco on defense, then it's a fault of their coaches, and not their players.

Barry Booker (DT) - Tennessee: Very much the same as Kory Robertson, with a little more raw talent. He has a strong shot at joining Vinnie Fuller on their roster.

As for the Redskins...I was pleased as I said, though not ecstatic.

We essentially took three receivers in the 2nd round--Devin Thomas (WR - Mich. St), Fred Davis (TE - USC), and Malcolm Kelly (WE - OU). Thomas and Kelly were both considered first round talent, so getting them in the second was a very good thing. Fred Davis is a very athletic receiving tight end, but not much of a blocker.

Past these three, we addressed further needs with an offensive guard (Chad Rinehart, Northern Iowa), a defensive end (Rob Jackson, Kansas State), a corner back (Justin Tryon, Arizona State), two safeties (Kareem Moore, Nicholls State, and Chris Horton, UCLA), and my favorite pick, a quarterback (Colt Brennan, Hawaii). Moore was most likely drafted as a return guy more than as a safety.

I would love to see Brennan come in and take over for Jason Campbell, especially with the west coast offense Zorn is going to implement. Campbell isn't suited for the spread, and Brennan ran it to perfection in Hawaii. Add to it the two big bodied receivers we got in the second round, and another receiving tight end to line up across from Cooley, and I think Brennan should be our guy. The franchise quarterback we've been waiting for, maybe.

But, as everyone who pays attention knows, the draft is a complete guessing game. It'll take at least a year or two before we find out how well we did.

For now, I'm excited about the way things went. Best of luck to all the Hokies trying to live their dreams.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Technical Analysis meets Pop Culture

Someone took the time to analyze several songs that have become iconic in pop culture over the past few decades. Will passed this along to me, and I thought I should share it the best way I know how.

We'll start with Meat Loaf.

Next up, we have the brilliant Rick Astley.

You may remember this one from a 'hit' movie a little while back.

Next up, a little Right Said Fred, chalked up to a bar graph for better comprehension.

Next up, we are going to get a little offensive for those of you still harboring warm feelings towards Jacko.

And, for one of the worst songs of all time to make money...Aqua.

This one is clever enough to not need much explanation:

In case you're not sure what you're looking for in a significant other, here's a little flow chart to help you make a decision.

And possibly my favorite, even though the song was a joke in terms of quality music.

Legal Disclaimer: I have no idea where these originated. I'm just spreading the funny, with no intentions of making money. Do not reproduce or distribute these images without explicit permission from the manufacturer. Like I did.

You May Remember Me From Such Movie Masterpieces as "Taxi"...

Yep, I'm Jimmy Fallon. And I'm not very funny. But I'm about to take Conan's spot as host of 'Late Night'.

"The word is out among the NBC brass: As rumored and bounced around for some time, Jimmy Fallon is set to take Conan O’Brien’s job as host of "Late Night" in 2009. It’s a done deal."

My first reaction to this paragraph was "Damnit, looks like I'll never watch 'Late Night' again." However, my instincts urged me to read on. And, thankfully, I did.

"Conan, of course, will be taking over for Jay Leno, who will leave the "Tonight" show in May 2009 as part of a forced retirement."

But, wait. Where, you ask, will Jay Leno go? Yep, my curiosity got the best of me as well. So, on we go.

"As for Leno, he has plenty of options. One of them might be to replace "Nightline" on ABC, pushing Jimmy Kimmel back to 12:30 a.m. But a lot can happen between now and May 2009 in the chess game they call TV programming."

Splendid! I'd miss his identical jokes every night, as well as all the mumbling he does under his breath, and the way he trails off at the end of every single joke he tells. I'd certainly miss the way his mouth keeps moving for several seconds after he finishes trailing off. And, of course, I'd miss his jaw line. Please don't let this be the end of his comedic television career!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Where have you been?

Juggling my busy schedule of not working, hanging out with friends who have recently moved to a much more local locale, training for a restaurant that may never open, and enjoying the beautiful weather we've been having, I haven't had any time to write in this thang. So, here I am.

First of all, it was cool having so many DC teams in the playoffs this year. The 'Skins made it (not really deservedly, in my opinion). Wizards made it, and clearly don't deserve it either. The Caps made it and made a great showing against the Flyers. They couldn't quite eke out the Game 7 win in overtime after coming back from a deficit. But it was the most hockey I've ever watched in my life. Ovechkin is a manimal.

As for Carpaccio, it's the same story, different day. Opening continues to be delayed. Now they're saying we will have our soft open on Monday of this coming week. I aced our first menu quiz, and our second menu quiz didn't happen. It's existence was a threat meant to push us to study harder. It worked for some of us. Others in the group decided to drink all day instead. I studied. I don't know how we're going to open a restaurant in less than a week when we don't have uniforms, food, a liquor license, or a kitchen staff, let alone a wait staff. But if they are confident, I'm confident.

One thing I do know...once this place does finally open it's going to be phenomenal. The food looks and sounds great on the menu, and our drink list--particularly the wines--is extensive.

I'm trying to figure out something to do this weekend that would be fun and spontaneous. It may be my last free weekend until my birthday at the end of June (crab feast - if you're reading this, you might be invited).

Friday is a double whammy celebration. Despite all of us being broke (I have picked up three extra shifts this week at the Capital, which I should have been doing for the past two months), we are celebrating Brad's birthday as well as Sanna's moving to the 'Nooga (Chattanooga, of course) on May 1st. I'll have to split my time accordingly, while still being responsible enough to rest up for my football game Saturday. Although last game I came to hungover, I played quarterback and led us to a 4th quarter (sort of) win. Maybe I should get blasted with Brad while being economically-prudent.

Not much else going on. I'll try to be more regular on the bloggerating.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Virginia Tech Remembrance Week

I debated posting something on this today versus Wednesday. I figure I can start to get my thoughts out now, and say more on the 16th as things come to me.

I still remember vividly the morning of April 16th last year. I got a text from Jay to see if I was watching the news, which at the time I wasn't. I was still in bed, but I flipped on CNN (please excuse my choice of news networks, for those of you who are sensitive about biased reporting...I don't follow politics enough to know right from wrong in this department). At the time I turned on the television, there was no massacre. There were only the reports of a gunman on campus, and two people dead in a dorm.

However, there was a campus-wide manhunt, so I remained glued to the television. I only got up briefly to shower at about noon so that I could go in to work at the newspaper. Aaron (former boss there) had a TV on in the newsroom for me when I got there, so I could keep up with what was happening while I worked. As I did my work, I kept a couple news websites open as well, to monitor from as many different perspectives as I could. As the day went on, the death tally rose and rose. It was mortifying. I was shocked. Couldn't focus on what I was doing. My hands were shaking. I had that sick feeling deep down in the pit of my stomach, the kind of feeling you get when you feel betrayed by the person closest to you. That's the only way I can think to describe it.

Everyone reading this knows what happened that day. Everyone in the nation should know. And here we are, almost one year later. It's a hard thing to go back and relive. There are a plethora of Facebook groups commemorating this student, that professor, this memorial event, etc. While I'm sure everyone has the best intentions, it sort of belittles the effect of a remembrance when everyone is trying to do their own thing. But that's neither here nor there. It's nice that everyone is trying to do their part to do whatever they think creating a Facebook group does.

The Annapolis Hokie alumni chapter is having an event as well, but I didn't reserve a spot.

So, my point--and my previous rambling has nothing to do with making a point--is this: how do you pay tribute to such a horrible event? Donating money is an easy way out. Is it enough to just spend the day thinking about the victims? Should I be somber and morose all day? Maybe set aside a block of time where I just shut myself off and be nostalgic? What's appropriate for something like this? I will obviously wear orange and maroon. Maybe that's enough. Show people I'm a part of what happened, although distantly. I wasn't there the day everything went down, but Blacksburg will always be a second home to me. I have close friends who were directly affected by the day's events. So I feel like I was--and am--a part of it. I drove down the following evening and spent the week with my friends who still live there.

For now, I think I'll see what feels right come Wednesday. I'll probably be a little somber. There will likely be stories all over the place talking about what happened, reminders everywhere.

This is the end of my rant. Suggestions and comments are encouraged, for this post more than others.

Running: Day 1

I am most likely going to lose track of all these days. I now have three separate counting posts (training, flag football, and running). I'm sure this won't be an every day post...but for now, I'll use it as an introduction.

I finally started running again today. I've never really been in to running as a form of exercise. I realize its benefits. And I love to run for sports...for a purpose. But running to run was boring, not worth the physical toll. Ryan finally convinced me last fall to get some good running shoes and give it a shot with him.

I actually started to enjoy it, but I was traveling too much, and after the first couple weeks we never got in to a good routine. It kind of fell off.

Today was rough. Surprisingly, I didn't get winded. We ran part of the cross country trail behind Annapolis High. I think it's about 2.2 miles. I didn't make it all the way because my shins started burning beyond a tolerable level. I pushed through for awhile, but couldn't make it past a mile and a half. They still burn.

Hopefully, tomorrow I won't be too sore to go again. Since I have a bad thumb--though it is improving--I can't lift for the time being.

Playing tennis with Bill after I finish at The Capital today.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Middleton Tavern

I had never eaten at Middleton's until today. When I worked downtown as a teenager, they had problems with health violations, so I usually avoided the establishment.

But, since they are still open, I gather they cleaned up their act.

I went for lunch today and it was pretty incredible. For an appetizer, we ordered the baked brie. It is baked in honey with toasted almonds and served with bread and grapes (the menu says fresh fruit, but apparently if you only order one type of cheese, you only get one type of fruit). The brie was the best I've ever tasted. Baking it in the honey was pure genius.

For an entree, we opted for the spinach salad prepared tableside. The sauce and the accoutrements are all mixed and prepared in front of you. It came with bacon fried in a red wine vinaigrette with sugar added for taste and texture, mushrooms, and croutons. I'm not quite sure what went in to the dressing. I tried to watch, but was too distracted with the brie. All I saw was a little crushed garlic. We had chicken mixed in and our server tossed it and served it up. Fresh ground paper and grated Parmesan sprinkled on top added the final touch. It was delicious as well.

I wish we had had time for dessert. Well worth the trip, either way.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Flag Monkeys - Game 3

Game 2 for my attendance.

Charlie was back and played quarterback. He was elusive in the pocket, but his throws were not too accurate. It gets a little frustrating. I'd like to get back there. He's gone again next week, so I'll get another shot.

We were playing "Ezee Cougars...Ezee". They have very athletic guys, and average girls. We outmatched them on the girls side, but were pretty badly outmatched on the guy side. I got #1 duties on their best receiver. He was an absolute animal. There was nothing we could do to cover him. I'm not the best coverage corner out there, but I can hold my own, and I'm fast enough to keep up with most guys. This guy worked me all over the field. I could only hope to stay close enough to get his flags after the catch. He got the first touch down of the game under double coverage (little lapse in awareness by the safety, maybe). The first half ended with us trailing 6-0. We got the ball to start the second. Other than this guy, our defense stymied them completely.

Our offense was knocking on the door all day long, but just couldn't cross the goal line.

With about 1:50 left in the game, Will came up with a monster interception. He took off down the field, managed to pitch back to me before having his flags ripped, and I took off. The ref said I stepped out of bounds before getting to the end zone, but I disagree. The crooked side lines were a factor, unfortunately.

Despite that, we had the ball back with two time outs and about 1:30 on the clock. We're moving, but not well.

Finally, we decide to draw up a play where we have two split ends, and I line up in the slot (one guy wide on each side, and me lining up on the right side, but close to the middle of the field). My job was to draw my man and the safety away from the right side. Charlie watched me so the safety locked on his eyes, and at the last second, after I took the defense to the left, he bombed the ball right to Will, who was streaking down the sideline. Caught on the one yard line, tip toed in to the end zone. Score sat at 6-6 with 0:12 seconds left. We failed to convert on the extra point, unfortunately. We should have had it for the win right there.

They got the ball back on the kickoff and had two chances to score, but couldn't. No overtime in SLeagues, so we ended in a tie.

Team record: 1-1-1. Good game, very friendly and competitive.

In the first half, I jammed my thumb trying to catch an underthrown ball across the middle. Worst jam I've ever had. Current thumb condition: iced, wrapped, and inoperable.

Carpaccio Day 2 - Menu Training

This post will be a little more brief because I lost the use of my left thumb (hopefully temporarily) in a football accident (post to follow this one).

We did our first day of menu training yesterday, which consisted mostly of familiarizing ourselves with every selection on the menu. More importantly, we got a crash course in Italian pronunciation. Nevermind that the lesson was taught by an American, despite the fact that an Italian family owns the place. It went pretty well. This guy is going to be the head waiter, and has decent pronunciation after working with the owning family for five years.

Some things to note...the food on this menu sounds fantastic. A few items to note...and in doing this I hope I'm not creating any legal problems. These recipes are not intended to be resold, reproduced, or shared. This is strictly for entertainment. End, lawyer speak.

On the antipasti (appetizers), there is an option for polpettine di granchio, which are mini crab cakes with pimiento peppers, fresh corn, avocado, and a hint of Calebreza chili flakes, served crispy.

Under the Aqua Terra section, hopefully I found my future favorite dish: Bistecca Fiorentina. Eighteen ounce New York prime steak sliced and served Tuscan style topped with sauteed mushrooms, roasted garlic and shaved Parmesan. Served with Tuscan potatoes and spinach (on the steak I think).

Pasta Sensation (cheesy menu section title) has a lot of good choices. The Papardelle Donatello has extra wide egg pasta stained with Chianti wine (no distinguishable effect to the flavor), with mignon tips in a classic Genovese ragu topped with Gorgonzola (I'd prefer Parmesan or Mozzarella).

And our selection of Brickoven Pizzas looks outstanding. It hurts to type so I'll share these later. Or make you come in and see for yourself.

Today, we have a short training session. I don't know what we're covering, but hopefully it is interesting and worthwhile.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Carpaccio Training Day 1 - Wine Tasting

Italian wines are not fun to learn.

While I never claimed to do well learning wines at the Melting Pot, I at least knew the names of most of what we sold. I couldn't tell you if it was oaky or grassy, earthy or robust, cherry or blackberry. I can recognize spicy, and I can tell the difference between red and white (ha...), as well as blushes (only the finest blush for our anniversary please, Beringer White Zinfandel will be dandy [and it's clear from the lack of any information that no one cares about this wine]).

So I know merlots, cabernets, shiraz/syrah, various blends, chardonnays, etc. Those names and terms, I understand. But when you get in to Italian wines, the wines aren't named for the type of grapes. They are named for the region in which it was made. So now, instead of tasting all these things that I recognize, I have to learn all the various hillside names in Italy, and Tuscany in particular.

Couple that with the fact that I didn't really like any of the wines we tasted, and you can see I didn't really enjoy this tasting. But our table did win the spittoon competition. We wasted the least amount of wine out of the four tasting tables. Yay, drunkards.

The only one I could get down with very little trouble was the 2003 (I think) Tassinaia. Vinfolio doesn't have any information on this particular choice. Anything that ends in 'aia' in Italian means 'by the'. I think (and this is a guess) that this one means 'by the pebble'. Not important. What is important is that this bottle is going for $96, and it still wasn't that good.

Anyhow, regardless of the fact that our wine distributors put together a shoddy tasting with crappy expensive wines, we all had a good time. I'm enjoying the time spent with Carpaccio folk. As long as we can keep some of the obligatory restaurant drama at bay for the first few months, and as long as we actually open (looking like the last week in April now), I think it's going to be a great place to work.

Body Worlds 2, and a day in Baltimore

Pretty fantastic. This post may be a little gross for my weaker readers.

We settled on Body Worlds as the day's event. Due to a late start, we didn't make the Aquarium for stop #2.

I wish I could put in to words the effect of the exhibit. It was extremely interesting. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of this exhibit, check out the web site. I can give you a non-scientific explanation with reference links to help fill in the parts I don't know, and don't care to explain.

Through a process called plastination, which was created by Dr. Gunther von Hagens, this exhibit was created using real human bodies. Every single tendon, muscle, ligament, bone, hair follicle, organ, etc. has been willingly (controversy here) donated by its previous owner. Because most of this happened in China, there is a lot of speculation that these bodies--at least some of them--were not acquired in legal/ethical/moral ways. But that's not important to me, particularly. Maybe I'm cold and heartless. But I think the way they are being used justifies some questionable practices, as long as no one was murdered or tortured to create this experience.

So these bodies are dissected and manipulated to exhibit all the various aspects of the human body. Each system of the body is displayed by itself and in combination with the various other systems. You get the circulatory and the nervous systems, as well as the skeleton and muscles in various stages of life, health, movement, etc. Some of the bodies were clearly athletes and are well built and maintained. There are other displays showing the effects of cirrhosis on the liver (too much drinking), smoking and coal mining on the lungs (apparently, a pack of cigarettes a day deposits a coffee cup worth of tar in your lungs each year). There are cancerous lungs, enlarged hearts, kidneys riddled with cysts. All of these 'items' are preserved using the plastination technique linked above.

And obviously, this exhibit is not for the faint of heart (no pun intended). The birth exhibit was a little strange. There were fetus's from every stage of development--the embryo on up to a whole baby. One was still in the womb of its mother, who was dissected and opened so that the entire baby was visible inside of her.

The only thing that got me--and those of you who know me well know this about me--was the prosthetic body parts on display. Some of the bodies were fitted (not sure if it was pre- or post-mortem) with artificial hips and knees, rods in their bones, plates in their skulls, and pacemakers. I don't do well with that. Any unnatural addition to the body gets me a little uncomfortable feeling. I think that I'm going to need knee replacements when I get older, so it was a little morbid to see what that is going to look like. Fingers are crossed though, hoping for the best.

Strangely enough, after spending three hours in the exhibit taking everything in, we were starving. So we went to PF Changs in the inner harbor and dined at the bar. We shared some seared Ahi tuna and chicken lettuce wraps (hippyish but delicious, better than CPK's). Shared entrees were the Chang's spicy chicken and the Singapore street noodles, which came with chicken and shrimp mixed in. The Patron margaritas were on point, and the dessert was phenomenal. Next time you're at PF Changs, ask your server about their eight new mini desserts (the directions on the dessert menu tell you to do it) 'cause they are amazing.

We decided it would be a margarita night from then on, so we hopped around back in Annapolis to a couple different spots. Mexican Cafe first, to break in a first timer. Then, Tsunami. Ryan, who I've known for ages and run in to just about every time I go out...and is the younger brother of one of Liz's old best friends, was bartending.

After that, it was home and in bed to wake up for a wine tasting for Carpaccio. That will be another post.

Monday, April 7, 2008

On the Agenda

Lots of things are hopefully going on for me this week.

Tonight is the NCAA Championship Game. Unfortunately, UCLA losing knocked me out of contention in all of my brackets. It would have been one thing if they had lost well, but they got absolutely blown out by a Memphis team that I've been favoring all season. The only reason I didn't pick Memphis to win it all is because they screwed me the last two seasons when I picked them to win it. My spite has come back to bite me. But I'd much rather cheer spitefully for Memphis than see Kansas win anything. I like the players on the Jayhawks (particularly Rush and Super Nintendo Chalmers), but can't in good conscience root for them after the Orange Bowl this year.

Tomorrow, I'm planning a spontaneous trip somewhere. Originally, the options included Ocean City (free place to stay), New York City (free place to stay), a winery tour in VA, or a day in DC (museums) or Baltimore (Body Worlds 2/aquarium). First, I recognize the irony of planning a spontaneous trip. Second, I realize DC and Baltimore don't really count as trips. Just roll with me. Ocean City is out due to weather complications, New York due to time conflicts. The winery tour is out due to laziness, most likely, but hasn't been eliminated completely. Baltimore is the leading candidate.

Wednesday, training at Carpaccio should actually start. Except it won't be at Carpaccio. We have wine training (read: tasting, hopefully) at Greystone Grill across the street. Menu training should follow on Thursday and Friday. Hopefully, this means the restaurant will be opening soon. I could really use a real income.

Saturday, the Flag Monkeys return to action in DC. I'm not sure I'll get to play quarterback again, but I'd like to. We'll have to see who comes to the game.

That's it for now.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Flag Monkeys: 1-1

In my book, we're 1-0, since I missed the first game. But it actually did happen. We had a 'power play' for the whole game because the other team was short a player, and still lost 12-0. Clearly the team was a little rusty. We were short on our usual players as well, but at least fielded a full team.

Yesterday's game was different. Let's start with the trip to DC.

The cherry blossoms are in full bloom, which means DC is an absolute madhouse. We should have foreseen this and ridden the Metro. We arrived at the fields at almost 12 exactly, giving us plenty of time to warm up for our 1pm kickoff. Foreshadowing: gas tank light was on in Bill's car at this point. Unfortunately, parking was at a minimum. We circled around after our first pass through to find out that our normal parking strip was suddenly blocked by police barricade. One thing led to another and boom, we're in Georgetown with no clue how to get back. A couple of phone calls and several wrong turns later, we finally get to Constitution and park about a mile from the fields. Current time, 12:55. So, Bill, Liz, Zach, and I take off at a brisk jog through the mob of tourists. We took a wrong turn at the reflecting pool and lengthened our journey pretty significantly.

Finally, we arrive at the softball fields where our game is almost underway. Current time: 1:10. As luck would have it, the other team was short a player as well, so they waited for us.

We get ball first. I'm playing quarterback. I had about 30 seconds to warm up my arm. Our first possession wasn't pretty.

Our stalwart defense locked things down from the get go. They had one good player, and she (who I'm convinced was laced up with HGH and anabolic steroids) was all over the place. She was getting ridiculous pressure on me in the pocket. She made a one-handed catch on a severely underthrown ball coming across the middle. And her attitude was terrible.

Both teams traded off mediocre possessions. I had an interception (playing defense). The second half, we finally found our rhythm a little bit. We began to matriculate down the field, but still couldn't find the end zone. On one of our last possessions of the game, we were firing on all cylinders. I found Bill in the back of the end zone with a bomb from about the 30 yard line. It wasn't pretty, but he came down with it. We couldn't quite connect on the conversion, so the score sat at 6-0 with time winding down.

Liz's shut down performance at the boundary corner spot was unreal. Someone decided we should put her on a guy so that we could have a guy man up on the beast girl. She was in his grill all game long. They tried him deep when they saw the mismatch, and Liz closed the small gap (I called it baiting the quarterback) as soon as the ball was in the air and knocked it right out of the guys hands. Play of the game. He complained that she interfered with his route. Picture perfect defense.

They failed to get a first down from their own 20 with under two minutes left, and the referee called the game. Flag Monkeys win it, 6-0.

We began our happy trot back to the car. Bill needed to be at work in an hour, so we thought we were golden, time-wise. Current time: 2:00.

First task was turning around on Constitution so we could get on 395N. Not easy. The excursion through Georgetown had brought his gas level to the final red bar, and the light was a constant reminder of our impending doom. Those of you familiar with DC know it's a horrible place to need a gas station.

After about 45 minutes of trying to find one, while trying to stay near 395, and avoiding the cherry blossom traffic, we are all close to panic mode. When all was considered lost, fate intervened. We are suddenly on 395N about a mile from New York Avenue, where I know gas stations live. How far down NY Ave., I misjudged. After some intense worry, our beacon of hope appeared. A big, green, BP sign. We drifted in to the gas station parking lot as the car began to sputter on its last fumes. Success.

Lunch at Checker's was amazing. It's a rare treat that I get to eat there. Anyone who has never tried their burgers or fries, or even shakes for that matter, it's worth the trip.

Editor's note: We did not actually sputter on fumes, though we were dangerously close to that point. I took the liberty of exaggerating the story for entertainment purposes.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Fine Line Between Excited and Bragging.

I'd like to read (well, write) the copy of a letter I received in the mail today.

Dear Mr. Renaut:

Congratulations! We are thrilled to offer you a place in the Class of 2011 at Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. Your application demonstrates that you will be a valuable addition to our academic community, and we look forward to your joining this select group of future attorneys.

There is a bunch of informative jargon that follows. But the key component of this letter is at the bottom, tucked neatly in to a corner of the paper's margin.

Handwritten in ink:


I applaud your commitment to maintaining the highest professional standards and representing the legal profession well. We would love to have you at ASU this fall. Phoenix is a great city for someone with your background in sports.

Shelli Soto
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid

Out celebrating!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Where does all the oil money go?

That's People are being exploited, robbed, and murdered for this.

Solid Silver Audi A8. Well, almost. They describe a unique process of polishing the car to make it look like it's all silver. Either way, that cost an absurd amount of money. They needed to build a special suspension kit and custom tires to make up for the tripled weight of the body.

If you had the money to create this 'masterpiece', how many better ways do you think you could spend it? I have about 15 good ideas that came to me in the time it took to write this paragraph.

Right Hand It Is: A Weekend in Florida

I am still recovering from what I will just refer to as "The Weekend". You know good things happened when every single person involved in an event--The Weekend--has as their Facebook status a message something like "Best weekend ever" or "Still recovering from the greatest weekend of all time". Mine was "Back home. What a ridiculous weekend". Common ground: The Weekend.

Parental warning: drinking involved. Please don't judge.

Everyone warning: this post is long.

Most of you know I was in Florida from Thursday through Sunday for Ross and Sarah's wedding. I have been asked for a recap. I think today is the first day where I feel up to the task of attempting that.

I slept at Joe's house Wednesday night so that my commute to Dulles wasn't nearly as bad. We all had a 7:20am Southwest flight direct to Orlando. A bit of foreshadowing: when I checked my bag, I tried to put my car keys in it despite learning my lesson with that a few months ago, and the ticket counter attendant told me not to, so I put my car keys in my jacket and checked the bag. Current temperature: 45 and rainy. Joe and I met Todd, Schlansky, and Max at the gate, where we instantly made friends with everyone. Somehow, we were perky and upbeat despite the severe lack of sleep. A petite blonde FSU alum struck up conversation with us while we all waited to board our 737. Max is severely crippled, this time physically, and he got us priority access on the plane. He managed to save the entire front row for the five of us, and we even had an older woman in our row to befriend. When Max tried to ask her to leave the seat for us, she responded "There's no savesies on planes." She dug her own grave.

By the time the cabin doors had closed and the flight attendant was making the obligatory safety speech, we had everyone's attention on the plane. Talk about the life of a party. We were shushed repeatedly by several crew members, but in a fun way. To make a long flight short (zing), we chatted, I expanded my musical horizons on Todd's iPod. Joe played with Todd's iPhone. Schlansky got his iBag, Max his iBook. There were no iBud earphones, which was surprising. Nevertheless, we had lots of iFun with Todd's iSelloutedness.

Fast forward to Orlando.

We get off the plane and proceed to call Ross, meaning every single one of us called Ross simultaneously. One got through, the rest left messages that would later be ignored, to find out where he was. Ten minutes and two rounds of phone calls later, Ross arrives along with Jon and Laz to pick us up in two SUVs. Current temperature: 80 degrees and sunny. Necessity level for jacket: zero. Jacket gets tossed in the back of Jon's 4Runner.

Big Meezy was staying at the Days Inn, which Ross had Google Mapped previously, but apparently incorrectly. We spent about 45 minutes trying to find his hotel. In that time, we passed through the same two toll booths no less than four times. We finally find him, and Todd, Joe, and Meezy (who is appropriately named Big) squeeze in to the back seat.

Universal Studious was a blast. We hardly did anything more than walk around and make jokes. We rode a couple roller coasters and did a Spiderman 3-D adventure thing. Paused for some superhero photo ops. Max and Todd almost got eaten by a dinosaur. Ellen DeGeneres was there filming her show.

Then we left.

Thursday night was the "bachelor party". Dinner at Dragonfly was unreal. Best sushi ever. We had a table of girls next to us that Jay was chatting up, but without much success. Somehow, ordering sushi and appetizers and drinks for 13 people only added up to about $400+, and everyone was full and satisfied. We threw Ross and his dad's portion of the check in to our collective split. Each person ended up paying about $50 except Joe, who didn't tip on account of being douched in beef carpaccio grease during dinner.

From there, the town was ours. We hit a local dive bar that was $7 all you could drink draft and rail liquors. It was dead at first, but began to fill up. We picked some tunes on the juke box, made lots of friends. Ross even got to look popular with the ladies (see pictures on Facebook). Bar hopping continued until we ended up at Club Decadence. MISTAKE. No more comment necessary. We ended at another bar, unfortunately I didn't notice any names, and closed it down with them. Someone had the bright idea to take us to Perkins at this point, which is a Denny's-esque all night breakfast place. MISTAKE. It's a wonder we didn't get kicked out (which could be a theme for the weekend).

Sleep at the miserly Red Roof Inn followed.

We had full intentions of sleeping in and doing nothing while the bridal party went to lunch at The Swamp to get to know one another. Ross had a last minute change of heart and decided to invite all of us. So, we all met up downtown at the local UF watering hole and began our long wait for a table for 14. Five dollar pitchers can make time fly in a funny way. Important note about Gainesville, girls are not allowed to make residence in the city limits without the following characteristics: blonde hair, skinny, gorgeous. There is a city wide mandate requiring sun dresses at all times. For anyone looking to transfer to another college, or seeking postgraduate education, consider Florida.

Lunch was a blast. Everyone had fun. Post lunch was my day. My self-proclaimed quest on the trip was to find an alligator that was both alive and in the wild. I asked all around for a good place to do this and met optimistic responses. Alice Lake was the place to go. We let all the people with more important things to do part ways, then the rest of us stragglers--me, Jay, Joe, Max, Mitch, and Erica--went in search of a gator.

After about an hour, I found one! He was smallish, and had a big bite taken out of his back. But that was not important. What's important is the video you're about to watch. No more explanation is necessary.

Friday night was the rehearsal dinner at Mr. Han's. Chinese food that was, in my educated opinion, overrated. There wasn't enough food, and what came out was pretty good, but did not meet the hype. There was endless wine in carafes on all of the tables, though, so despite being relegated to the children's table outside of the private room, we managed to entertain ourselves (and most of the rest of the wedding entourage). The bride and groom to be weren't interested in getting blasted the night before the wedding, so they didn't make a late night out of this, but the rest of us made our way to Ale House where Jennie took amazing care of us. You can't put a price on good service in a bar. When you have a young-ish girl trying to take care of about 20 rowdy, drunk, older people, mostly guys, and she doesn't even blink, it's impressive.

The convenient thing about the Ale House was that last call was 1:30am. The grocery store next door sold beer until 2:00am. Our hotel was a block from the grocery store. If that's not destiny, I don't want to believe. Needless to say, the after after after pool party at the Red Roof Inn was where things were happening. Nevermind the fact that the pool was closed. We hopped the fence. Cory, the big Forest Whitaker looking security guard, was okay with it.

We all nursed our hangovers out by the pool. Still 80 and sunny, it was a perfect day. Naps, Gatorade, and swimming are the perfect cure for any drinking-related ailment.

We met at the Sweetwater Branch Inn for the wedding around 6:30. Everyone looked amazing. I'm not much for the sentimentality of weddings, though I respect the importance of the experience. During the ceremony, the entire line of bride's maids were weeping. Even Todd shed a tear...

We chose our seats poorly, so we couldn't see or hear much of the ceremony. But it seemed nice. The cat that lived in the gazebo enjoyed his perch over top the wedding party. And then, Ross and Sarah were married. Reception follows. Good times.

Dinner was good, the speeches were good. I particularly liked Mr. Wechsler's (father of the bride) speech. Very deep, straight from the heart, and well thought out. Ross and his dad made a really good slideshow that played before we ate. It's okay that none of the pictures had me in them. No big deal.

Once we got to the bar after dinner, things went haywire. There were no holds barred. You know your wedding is getting out of control when a "Free Michael Vick" chant is raised. We had dueling college chants. Hokies vs. Seminoles vs. Gators vs. Canes. Despite the Hokies being the only team who couldn't back up our boasts, we won the chant off.

Someone (probably me) decided Ale House again after the wedding would be a good idea. So the group, minus the newlyweds, made its way to Ale House again for a repeat of the previous night. Jennie was there but was not our server this time. Manny took very good care of us though. Jennie did come out and chat for a little bit. At some point during the night, we had a majority of the bar chanting "Primae Noctis". That may have happened Friday night. Fuzzy memory on this one.

This night shaped up a lot like the previous night. Late night pool party, though this time it was a little more ridiculous. Mitch went feral. Cory came back a little less pleased than he was the night before, but he let us stay if we shared our beer. Not a problem at all. Max rebroke his foot for the fourth time on the trip. Permanent boot...

Brunch at 9am. MISTAKE. Even the newlyweds who weren't up until 5am didn't make it on time. But we were there right at nine. Atlanta Bread Company was the spot for the obligatory Jewish bagel brunch. This might have been one of the most fun moments of the trip. Everyone was deliriously tired. We spent the majority of the brunch convincing Erica to stop in Orlando on her way to Tampa so we had a ride to the airport. She finally accepted after Joe managed to bring tears to his eyes. We sent the couple on their merry way to St. Lucia after an all-in (hands and a crutch) cheer for the Weinrebs.

The drive to Orlando was really fun as well. Erica drove me, Todd, and Max. Everyone else was in the other car. Max got us through the security gates without waiting in line (thank you cripple in the wheelchair, yes we exploited your handicap). The only negative to Erica driving us was that we got there hours earlier than we needed. Small price to pay for a great favor.

Sometime between checking my bag and getting on the plane, I realized I never grabbed my jacket from Jon's car. Car keys and jacket got left in Gainesville. So, $70 later, they were overnighted my way. Thankfully, Max was nice enough to drive me to Annapolis on his way to Silver Spring from Reston. Melissa drove me to Joe's on Tuesday to pick up my car, where it had lived since Wednesday.

That concludes the trip. Hope you enjoyed.