I've often said that I can indeed judge a book by its cover.
(And anyway, the premise is that one can't accurately judge a book by the cover, not that one can't do it.)
But usually, I can do it. Accurately.
However, I was wrong on my first instincts about "Why my wife thinks I'm an idiot," the new book by ESPN's Mike Greenberg. He's a SportsCenter anchor and hosts a morning show on ESPN Radio, and I figured the book was an attempt to make a quick buck by writing 200 pages of name-dropping drivel.
But Greenberg himself isn't your average airhead jock anchor. For one thing, he seems more interested in fashion than sports. (What other ESPN personality would mention off-hand, as Greenberg does on page 93, that he is wearing a "black cashmere Loro Piana blazer, a silver Prada dress shirt, untucked, and brown suede Gucci boots"?)
The book is No. 14 this week on the New York Times Bestseller List. And that's because it's not about sports.
It's an introspection by a Medill-educated man trying to figure out women, especially what to do when his wife says she is fat and hates her clothes. It's a lesson on how to tell the difference between identical-looking Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik black strappy sandals. It's a humor book by a great story-teller. And it's a probing look into who it was that came up with the idea of placing tiny pins inside dress shirts, despite the fact that the shirt is already neatly folded and tightly packaged in cellophane.
March 31, 2006
I've often said that I can indeed judge a book by its cover.
March 30, 2006
D.C.'s cherry trees have been blossoming ever since temperatures hit 80 degrees a few weeks ago. (A spell of cold weather hit immediately afterward, leading to a very uneven year for cherry trees.)
Here's what it looked like yesterday across the street from the National Japanese American Memorial:
Click here to see my Cherry Blossom pictures from last year.
I haven't seen Commander in Chief since I first talked about it last September.
The show has been on hiatus since Jan. 24. But here's the latest: ABC will put the show back on the air April 13. It's new time slot will be Thursdays at 10 p.m.
March 29, 2006
I've probably heard "Don't you want me," the 1980s anthem by Human League, a billion times.
Only vaguely paying attention all these years, I knew it was about a guy feeling sad that his girlfriend dumped him. But I never knew why she dumped him. (I never cared either, and it could be argued that I still shouldn't care. But it's too late -- I've already started writing this post.)
Today, I paid enough attention enough to the words to realize how overly controlling our supposed protagonist is. He says to the girl, "I picked you out, I shook you up, and turned you around. Turned you into someone new."
He adds, "Don't forget it's me who put you where you are now," and threatens, "And I can put you back down too."
In other words: without him, she is useless to the world.
One thing I always liked about the song is that he gives the girl a one-verse rebuttal. But rather than fight back and say that she hadn't wanted to be turned into someone new, she takes the high road and says they've had good times but "it's time I live my life on my own."
Later, I'll let you know whether I think Tommy Tutone deserves Jenny (at 867-5309).
This afternoon, President Bush was speaking at a Freedom House event at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill just as I happened to be walking by.
You can't tell from this picture, but the presidential limo is displaying the pre-2000 tags (where I grew up, they were known as license plates -- but in D.C. they are known simply as "tags") that don't have the "taxation without representation" political message. I recall President Clinton putting on the new tags before he left office, and I knew Bush had taken them off. But for some reason I thought Bush had managed to get Virginia tags rather than older D.C. ones.
Okay, I've finished watching Knight School, ESPN's six-episode reality show. Just as I predicted after watching the pilot, I enjoyed this series. Tyler won the roster spot on Bobby Knight's team, but only because Dustin lost his notebook and then lied about it.
As it happened, I didn't like either of the finalists -- I was rooting for Cole and Arvin, who were both eliminated on the penultimate episode.
All through the series, Knight emphasized that he wasn't necessarily looking for the best basketball player; he was looking for the person who would best follow directions and fit in with the rest of the team. (This explains why he cut Dustin for losing his notebook.)
Interestingly, Knight said this week: "I think if we were to do it again, we'd just take the best basketball player."
Look, Knight ought to have the freedom to take whomever he wants for his team. But since the whole world saw on TV that Dustin (and Arvin and Cole) was better, why aren't "Mid-Majors" lining up to beg these folks to play for them?
March 28, 2006
Courtney emailed today to brag that there is a picture of her "knockers" on the BBC's Arabic Web page. (Click the knockers to see the full story -- they're the fourth picture from the top.)
It seems she was in London's Trafalgar Square on Saturday for the Freedom of Expression Rally.
Courtney's email did not say how she found this picture. Is it possible that an Arabic-reading friend of hers recognized her from this picture?
March 27, 2006
Meanwhile, a large section is still fenced off. It looks as though they're building a walkway through the parking lot in order to connect 10th Street for pedestrians.
As someone who lives on 10th Street, I appreciate the concern. But why are they wasting their time on this project? We don't want a fancy-pants walkway that ideally would be torn down in a couple years once development plans are in place. We want to see work begin on the long-term plans, whatever they turn out to be.
(As for the walkway, just open it already. Have I had to walk around the fenced-off area this whole time because they are waiting for a special unveiling ceremony?)
March 25, 2006
This week, the Smoking Gun posted a copy of Dick Cheney's "downtime requirements" -- a document the vice president's office gives to hotels where he will be staying.
For instance, the hotel is to provide four cans of caffeine-free Diet Sprite and several bottles of water. (If his wife is with him, she demands two bottles of either Calistoga or Perrier sparkling water.) Also, a pot of decaf coffee is to be brewed and ready to go when he arrives.
Although it's tempting to fixate on these orders and compare them with our own soft-drink preferences, there is a much bigger concern:
Allowing the hotel staffers to make Cheney's coffee and provide his Diet Sprite and water is a national security risk.
Evidently, it works like this: Cheney arrives at these hotels in a bullet-protected motorcade. He is escorted to his room by a team of protection officers. Then he walks in and takes a drink from a soda can put in place by a minimum wage-earning maid service wage with unfettered access to the vice president.
I wonder if Victor Yushenko likes Diet Sprite.
March 24, 2006
Let's look at the 334 college basketball teams out there:
Assuming that the "mid" in Mid-Major stands for "middle," what are Mid-Majors in the middle of? What's lower than a Mid-Major?
Two thoughts on news that Barry Bonds is suing over a new book alleging he took illegal performance-enhancing drugs:
March 23, 2006
Air Force Academy's basketball team made the NCAA Tournament this year as a 13-seed. (They lost to Illinois in the first round.)
In the course of this happening, it was brought to my attention that the Air Force has cheerleaders.
It's not that the military shouldn't have cheerleaders (and Bill Kristol doesn't count). But it is hard to imagine that the same type of person who enrolls at a military academy can be the type of person who becomes a cheerleader.
(No offense to former pom-pon dancer Amy P.)
NFL owners are considering a new rule that would force officials to make sure there is a penalty before they throw a flag.
As Mike B. points out, this implies that the current system allows officials to throw a flag without actually seeing a penalty. It's hard to argue against this rule change.
One idea I don't support, however, is the proposal to expand the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams. If more teams make the playoffs, it would make the last two weeks of the regular season less important, meaning we'd see many more games with star players sitting out to avoid injuries. Besides, the playoffs don't need to see more 8-8 (or even 7-9) teams.
March 22, 2006
Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal introduced us to the world of "fake paparazzi journalism," in which stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Jessica Simpson hire their own photographers.
Here's how it works: The celebrities simulate "unstaged" moments for their staff photographer. They leak the photos to tabloid reporters. And poof -- they've satisfied the hunger of both fans and media for impromptu photos without actually sacrificing any privacy.
Granted, they likely have the most success with this plan when it produces unflattering pictures. But evidently it is worth the cost.
And speaking of costs, I wonder how much these hired photographers earn.
March 21, 2006
I haven't watched South Park since its first season in 1997. In fact, it hasn't really been on my radar for awhile.
But everyone seems to be up in arms about an episode last fall that Comedy Central has agreed not to re-air after complaints from Tom Cruise, so I decided to watch.
(View it for yourself by clicking the image.)
I don't see what the big deal is. That is, I understand why Cruise and Scientologists (and Jews, for that matter -- lost in the flap over Scientology is the part when Cartman says Stan is being "a Jew" when he wants to avoid spending money) are upset. But spoofs and satire of public officials are legal in this country.
Comedy Central had no legal reason to pull the episode from its re-run list.
Bonnie Bernstein has resigned from her job at CBS with three years still remaining on her contract because "she became frustrated over the network's philosophical approach to the sideline reporter's role."
(Thank you to WFY for making me aware of this news.)These days, Bernstein runs a new company called Velvet Hammer Media. In her new role, Bernstein charges $1,250 for a one-on-one phone consultation with aspiring broadcasters. For $2,150, she'll follow up with three more conversations.
Over the phone, Bernstein will evaluate a client's appearance and provide guidance for job search strategies.
I'll grant her this much: As a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Maryland-College Park and a member of the Board of Directors for that school's journalism program, she's more qualified for this consulting job than Lisa Guerrero.
March 20, 2006
NEW YORK — According to this sign, which I saw yesterday at the corner of East Broadway and Forsyth St, there's no littering from 3 a.m. until 6 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays.
It's just an idea, but maybe they should extend those hours a bit.
March 19, 2006
"Hi, it's me... I'm on the bus back from New York... Why? The train takes just as long and costs five times as much... Wichita State? ... Bradley?!"
March 17, 2006
NEW YORK — President Clinton said that it was a hard adjustment leaving the White House after eight years. He joked it was a shock to enter rooms and not hear a band strike up with "Hail To The Chief"
Well, I'm not used to entrance music. But as I wrap up my first stay at a five-star hotel, I'm preparing for the shock of not having a team of people rush to open doors for me or run out to buy me a Washington Post or London Times when I want one.
Apex Bus -- which I now highly recommend, by the way -- dropped me off last night in New York's Chinatown, which is a lot more Chinese and much bigger "town" than D.C.'s version.
I already knew that, of course. But it was quite a juxtaposition going from one to another.
Amazingly, I haven't lost my camera yet...
March 16, 2006
Hosts Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon tape Pardon the Interruption at Atlantic Video, which is a production studio a couple blocks from my house.
They tape the program at about 4 p.m., and it airs on ESPN at 5:30 p.m. They later re-broadcast the show on ESPNEWS at 6:30 p.m.
On Tuesday, ESPN didn't air PTI because the 9th inning of a World Baseball Classic game took about 5 billion years to end.
Here's what annoyed me about that scenario:
Meanwhile, last July PTI started putting the final segment of its show in the middle of SportsCenter (as a an effort to force viewers to sit through SportsCenter just to see the rest of PTI).
Evidently, they don't put up with that sort of crap in Canada, where the show airs on TSN. As a result, at the end of the penultimate segment, Tony Kornheiser often waves a Canadian flag and says "Goodnight, Canada," which is a pretty random thing to be saying to the rest of us in the middle of a show.
March 15, 2006
I'm going to take a direct bus this weekend from D.C. to New York.
Although I've driven this route many times, I've never done the bus before. I seem to have many options:
Greyhound costs a bit more, of course. But anyone who has taken Greyhound knows that it isn't exactly a luxury liner worthy of a higher price. Anyway, I'm leaning toward Apex Travel (which also has this blog).
Last week, I met the United Kingdom's ambassador to the United States -- David Manning. However, I didn't realize it at the time.
We were wrapping up our conversation on Tony Blair's position on climate change when I realized that he was the only one in the room who was not wearing a name tag. He later excused himself to go to the podium and welcome everyone to his house. (Did I mention that the event was at the ballroom of the ambassador's residence?)
I didn't have a chance then, so I'll do it now: Sir Manning, it is an honor to meet you.
March 14, 2006
NORTHBROOK, Ill. — An acclaimed photographer might be praised for being artistic in capturing Jeff's smile as he & Amy shared their first walk as a married couple. Then again, he might instead be criticized for botching the shot. Click the picture to see the rest of the album.
March 13, 2006
Click here to join my online NCAA Tournament pool. You'll need a free CBS Sportsline login (once you've logged in, the password to enter my pool is "dl004d").
The scoring system works like this: You get points for the seed number of the correct pick. But each round has a multiplier to make the picks more valuable. Good luck!
A buddy of mine in college had an interesting theory:
He believed that the amount of sleep his body needed could be calculated not as eight hours of sleep per night but as 240 hours of sleep per month. Thus, he could stay up for three straight days so long as he fell asleep for the following 24 hours.
Unfortunately, his body didn't always understand the flexible deadlines. And sometimes he would get so tired that he would fall asleep while sitting up and talking. Literally.
Anyway, here was his interesting theory: A person can't fall asleep if he's wearing uncomfortable clothing. So on the days and nights he wasn't sleeping, he wore suits. To class. To breakfast in the cafeteria. To the dorm lounge. Everywhere.
Last week, I put the theory to the test. In the middle of a spell in which I hadn't eaten or slept for a couple days due to illness, I had plans to go out. So I put on a suit and tried to stay alert.
I'm smiling in the pictures, but it didn't last very long.
March 10, 2006
When discussing steroids and Barry Bonds, people often point out that Major League Baseball didn't ban steroids until after the 2002 season.
But why should that matter? Possession of steroids without a prescription is a federal crime.
There's nothing in the baseball rulebook against homicide, either.
As a result, a convicted murderer can take solace that although he's on Death Row, at least he hasn't lost his eligibility to play baseball.
March 09, 2006
March 08, 2006
Disregard every negative thing I ever said about the Lost And Found Department at O'Hare Airport.
We now own more cameras than we know what to do with.
I'd like to go to Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic.
I wish, though, that the country was still known as Czechoslovakia. Not because I don't think the "Velvet Divorce" was the right thing to do.
My reason is selfish: I spent a lot of time learning how to spell Czechoslovakia when I was little. My sister even invented a song to help me remember it.
And yet on Jan. 1, 1993, that skill became useless.
March 07, 2006
CHICAGO — Last May was the first time I had ever seen Chicago's Millennium Park.
The park was built over the Metra rail yard at the north end of Chicago's Grant Park. Although I enjoy run-down rail yards to a strangely high degree, even I can admit that Millennium Park is fantastic. And it seems to be loved by locals and tourists alike.
Anyway, I like Frank Gehry's concert pavilion and the giant LED faces of Crown Fountain. But my favorite part of the park is Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate sculpture, which locals seem to call "the Bean."
Last weekend, I saw the 110-ton Bean at night for the first time, reflecting the evening skyline. It's hard to take a bad picture of this thing.
March 06, 2006
NORTHBROOK, Ill. — After watching the Winter Olympics, Marnie & I were curious about the sport of curling. Thus, we decided to spend Saturday at the Chicago Curling Club and visit the American Museum of Curling History.
We learned enough to describe what I'm doing in the picture at left:
As the skip, I'm attempting a draw shot in order to deliver the rock down the sheet to the center of the house to start the end.
March 05, 2006
NORTHBROOK, Ill. — Notre Dame, Michigan and Wisconsin fans can all agree on one thing:
Ohio State fans are jerks.
(I also learned that Amy B., now Amy P., was a cheerleader in junior high. Or maybe she was a pom-pon girl.)
CHICAGO — Lost And Found at Chicago O'Hare Airport is closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. Thus, someone who loses a camera bag on Friday must wait until Tuesday to see if it was found. And even though the Lost And Found room is just a few feet away from where I type this, no one will let us in until Tuesday.
Can we at least fill out a claim form? No, not until Tuesday.
This experience has only made me more interested to see this Lost And Found room. Given its limited hours, I doubt many people show up to claim their belongings. It must be the biggest room in the world.
March 04, 2006
March 02, 2006
Starting March 1, DirecTV is raising its rates for TiVo subscribers from $4.99 to $5.99 per month.
At least I'm paying less than you suckers with cable.
Meanwhile, TiVo CEO Tom Rogers said this week that the company may start giving away free TiVo boxes to anyone who wants one, in order get more people sign up for its service. The problem for TiVo is that 70 percent of its 4 million customers use DirecTV, which has stopped selling TiVo in favor its own brand of DVR. Since DirecTV gives its proprietary DVRs away for free, who would buy a TiVo-brand DVR?
March 01, 2006
Not that it matters to viewers, but Scrubs producer Bill Lawrence told the Hollywood Reporter that the NBC show might move to ABC.
It turns out that Scrubs is produced by Touchstone Television, which is part of the ABC/Disney empire. NBC has little incentive to market the program since the bulk of the profits go to its rival. Thus, ABC would be a more natural fit.
Since the entire cast is already under contract for next season, this move could happen quickly.
It's frustrating to be tired in the middle of the day. Actually, it's frustrating to be tired at any part of the day other than when you're in bed trying to sleep.
On the other hand, is very fulfilling to be tired at the end of a day. Being tired when trying to sleep is like getting to the front of the buffet table after fasting all day.
The worst part of sleeping is when the alarm goes off. But if I wake up accidentally and see from the clock that it's not yet time to get up, I feel happy.