Saturday, February 06, 2010

go or geaux?

Although it really doesn't matter to me who wins the Super Bowl, I do want to pick a team and root for them tomorrow. I like both the Colts and the Saints and will have to dig a little deeper to find a preference.

The Colts are especially popular in Knoxville because of Peyton Manning. My friends outside Tennessee might not realize that he is a former UT Volunteer. In addition to all his national endorsements, he turns up on local TV in commercials for Mercy Health Partners. I am impressed with the star quarterback's ability, even if he is a little OCPD.

The City of Indianapolis also has something going for it in my book. One of the boxes in my basement contains the key to the city. Don & Mike and I each received a key when we did a remote broadcast from Indy at the invitation of then-mayor William Hudnut.

Although it has been many years, the Colts lose some points for the way they abandoned Baltimore. They should have left their name and colors behind like the Browns did when they ditched Cleveland. Instead of becoming the Ravens, the old Browns should now be the Colts.

The storyline of the Saints is appealing to me. I like that they were one of the last five teams to have never reached a Super Bowl. Their dedicated fans have been waiting a long time to win a championship. It's almost like the Red Sox or Cubs winning the World Series.

I've been to New Orleans a few times for the Morning Show Boot Camp convention and absolutely loved it. I like going to the Acme Oyster House and getting on their webcam. I love the Bananas Foster at Brennan's and just about anything étouffée at just about any restaurant in the French quarter.

So who's it going to be? Do I cheer for Peyton, whose work ethic and incredible ability I respect and admire? Or do I go with the feel-good story of New Orleans? Maybe I'll think about it tomorrow morning while I'm waiting for Mass to begin at All Saints Church. Hmmm... maybe I just decided.

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Monday, February 01, 2010

bowled over

That wasn't so bad, was it? Something I have been hoping for since 2006 happened last night. The Pro Bowl filled the football void on the Sunday before the Super Bowl.

I can't be the only one who liked the change. Ratings for the game were way up and I heard on NFL Network that the highest ratings for the game were in football-crazy New Orleans, which had no players on the field. Some people, like WATE's Mark Nagi, objected to the lack of Saints and Colts players in the Pro Bowl. I wonder how many Super Bowl players skipped the Pro Bowl in past years because they were too banged up to play again so soon.

I also wonder if those who didn't like the change were expecting a real football game. The Super Bowl players weren't the only ones missing. The AFC had to go deep into their roster to find a starting quarterback. It didn't matter, the game was fun to watch and AFC quarterback Matt Schaub turned out to be the MVP. Because of the physical nature of the sport, a football all-star game is probably less intense than a baseball all-star game. Well alright, let's say less intense than a basketball all-star game. No matter, the Pro Bowl is glorified two-hand touch anyhow.

As a Redskins fan, I thought I wanted the NFC to win. Yet, I was unhappy when an Eagles quarterback connected with an Eagles receiver for a touchdown. When a Cowboys quarterback was intercepted, ending any hope of an NFC comeback, I was pleasantly amused.

My gripe is that the NFL scheduled the game opposite the Grammy Awards. I would have preferred to watch the Pro Bowl before the Grammys. If I still lived on the West Coast, I guess I could have done so. However tape-delayed award shows are another pet peeve of mine. Some of us equate major award shows with major sporting events. The audiences for the Grammys and the Pro Bowl are not mutually exclusive. The Grammy ratings showed an increase too.

The 2011 Pro Bowl will be played in Hawaii, which probably means another evening start in the Eastern time zone. Let's hope that the higher ratings last night keep the pre-Super Bowl void filled with football. I still like my idea for a Consolation Bowl between the teams that lose the conference championship games. Anyone else?

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Friday, January 08, 2010

nominee for best Grammy alternative

One of the NFC playoff games this weekend has made me feel conflicted. I come from a family of New York Football Giants fans. I got more interested in football after moving to the D.C. area and meeting several of the Washington Redskins. I married into a family of Redskins fan and before long, I had converted.

When the dreaded Dallas Cowboys play the despised Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday night, I will be hoping that somehow they will both lose and both be eliminated from the postseason. Obviously that can't happen and one team will survive to play again on the 16th or 17th. So I am faced with a question: which team do I hate more? As a Redskins fan, I should say the Cowboys. Yet my roots have stirred a deeper dislike for the stinking Eagles.

The weeks leading up to the Super Bowl are usually more fun than the big game itself. I will try to watch as much of the four games this weekend and next as I can. The conference championship games on January 24th are must-see TV for me. This year, the league has finally done something to alleviate the boredom of the Sunday following the championship round.

Instead of having no football to watch a week before the Super Bowl, the NFL decided to try playing the Pro Bowl that day. This is something I have been hoping for since 2006. My son and wife both said, "what about the players in the Super Bowl?" My response is "who needs them?" In past years many of the Super Bowl players skip the Pro Bowl anyway. Others only play for one or two series of downs. Excusing those few players from the Pro Bowl will have no major effect on my enjoyment of the game. I hope the experiment works.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

toot toot yeah retweet

The 287 friends, listeners and spammers who decided to follow my feeds on Twitter in the past five weeks may be disappointed with today's blog post. This afternoon a physician's assistant in training told me that I tested positive for flu and that I should rest. While I was waiting to be seen, I read the USA Today and used my fancy new QWERTY phone to post random stuff on Twitter. I know it's a cop out, but the best thing for me to do tonight is recycle those thoughts. I'll give you a few from last night too.

You may notice in one of the items that I have decided to bring back the eighteenth and nineteenth century abbreviation for et cetera. It saves one whole character, which means something when Twitter only allows you 140 of them. That sounds like something Andy Rooney might say if he were on Twitter. There are a few parodies of him, if you're interested.
  • I'm thinking about doing a #FollowFriday tomorrow but I'm concerned that you'll say "duh, I already know about all those people."

  • Best quote about #theoffice - "If you don't know a @MichaelScott, you are a @MichaelScott."

  • Why is #Survivor in black & white? Are they back in Kansas?

  • What is wrong with me? How did I forget that Pam is pregnant on #theoffice?

  • So there's not another person inside Kevin on #theoffice? That was just gossip? So confusing!

  • My wife remembers from last season of #theoffice that Pam couldn't get x-rayed after getting injured playing volleyball. Aha!

  • Thanks Dave for the Kanye-licious link! RT @RavinDave Hey Frank, check out I promise you'll get a kick outta it.

  • What the heck.. #FF @celebritydeaths @knoxtweetlunch @FrankStrovel @caswalker @volsHannah @niftykrisha @AllAccess @JohnHudgens @Helen_Keller

  • My wife is sick, my boss is sick and I'm starting to get a runny nose, &c. I'm in the doctor's cough-filled waiting room now.

  • Hey Robert Bianco at USA Today, you used "churlish" twice on the same page (7D) today. Just so you know.

  • This is weird but my favorite part of USA Today is the NFL announcer listings on Fridays. Sam Rosen & Tim Ryan will call the #Redskins game.

  • I wonder if Fox Sports broke up the team of Dick Stockton, Moose Johnston & Tony Siragusa because Goose would say, "thanks Moose, Dick..."

  • Best #NFL announcing teams? Buck & Aikman; Nantz & Simms; and for nostalgia, Enberg & Fouts. Sorry Al Michaels, you're not on my list.

  • Hey @clydetombaugh, may I borrow your copy of Tim McCarver's new CD?

  • According to the student physician's assistant, I tested positive for type A flu, like my wife. It is not the fashionable H1N1 strain.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

no accident

Some interesting stories have emerged from the recent plane crashes in New York. Two Blount County women have now met because they were both on the plane that crash landed in the Hudson River. The News Sentinel featured them on Sunday.

I was even more interested in the Florida family who avoided the fatal crash near Buffalo. A gate agent at Palm Beach International Airport rerouted them off Flight 3407 for two reasons. They missed the boarding call for their flight to Newark, where they would have gotten on the doomed plane. Rather than rush to catch their scheduled flight, the gate agent advised them to switch to a different airline. Turbulence and delays in Newark also factored into the decision.

My father used to say that he missed a deadly crash due to the Immaculate Reception. He regularly flew to Miami on business for Bacardi Rum. In 1972, he had plans to see the Dolphins in the AFC Championship game near the end of their undefeated season. Back then, the rules for which team hosted playoff games were different than today. Even with their record, the Dolphins were not guaranteed home field advantage. When Franco Harris made his improbable catch and helped the Steelers defeat the Raiders, it meant the Dolphins would have to travel to Pittsburgh the next week. The flight my father probably would have taken from New York to Miami, had the Dolphins hosted the Raiders, crashed into the Everglades on Friday, December 29, 1972.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

mixed marriage

The George Mason at James Madison basketball game seemed like a good thing to put on the TV while my wife and I were relaxing at home yesterday, that is until the Dukes narrowly won in an upset. At least my wife, the JMU alumna, was happy about our schools' rivalry for the first time in five years.

The game was on DirecTV channel 642, which is Comcast SportsNet MidAtlantic. The technicians had some trouble deciding whether or not the broadcast was supposed to be in HD. They switched several times from widescreen to pillars and back. I was hoping to hear the "Mason Nation" jingle during the game. I have read about it but not heard it yet.

The GMU Patriots will be televised again on Thursday night when their away game against the Delaware Blue Hens is on ESPNU. Fans at the game will be entertained by multiple mascots, which might be lucky enough to get some nominal TV coverage. No word if Two Face will be there or not.

Apparently the University of Delaware is a mascot factory. Who knew? In addition to the current YoUDee, the court will be filled with former UD mascot team members who are now working as mascots for professional sports teams. The list includes Screech from the Washington Nationals, Slapshot from the Washington Capitals, Poe from the Baltimore Ravens, Wool E. Bull from the Durham Bulls and Swoop from the Philadelphia Eagles. They should ask Jennaphr Frederick to show up and dance with the mascots like she did a few years ago.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

perpetual light skype upon them

In this Internet era, everyone could benefit from having a Google Alert for their own name. I've had one in my name for a while and I've recently suggested that my wife and kids set up some for themselves. This past January, Stacy McCloud got a laugh when a Google Alert showed her name in my blog post titled "local news anchor on pot."

When I first set up my own Google Alert, I would get a lot of links to pages about the late politician and judge Frank Murphy and to news stories mentioning the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice. The famous Michigander turned up recently in a story on George Mason University's History News Network. Sometimes I got news of former NFL player Frank Murphy. Lately there have been even more Frank Murphys turning up on the Alert.

There's a Frank Murphy who is a "streetwise scrum half," whatever that means. In Florida, there's a Frank Murphy who is the president of Catholic Charities, Diocese of St. Petersburg. A Dr. Frank Murphy is vice-president of the South Carolina Animal Care and Control Association. However it was yet another Frank Murphy who gave me reason to write this post.

He's a funeral director in Salem, Massachusetts who has started using the Internet to help grieving families. He sets up video streaming to allow far-off relatives to view funeral services online.
The process requires only a single camera, a laptop and an Internet connection. There is a 40-second delay, but viewers are essentially watching the proceedings in "real time" through a link to a secure page or by logging in to a password-protected portion on the Murphy Funeral Home Web site.

The biggest challenge was practical, not philosophical. The church lacks an Internet connection, and Murphy is not ready to take the service wireless — at least not yet. Fortunately, a benevolent neighbor of the church allowed a cable to be run from his router, enabling the broadcast to happen.
As an aside, I thought it funny that the website for the local newspaper in Massachusetts is called

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

never give up, never surrender

Today's guest blogger from beyond the grave is once again my father. When I visited my mother this Spring, she gave me copies of three letters he had written to various famous people. I posted the first two here and here. I think you'll agree that I saved the best for last.

I was reminded to look for this third letter one day last week when my mother wrote a comment on my blog entry about the B-17. She recognized the title of that post as an homage to my father. The phrase was a campaign slogan he came up with when a friend of his was running for city council.

As mentioned before, my father was a big fan of sports, especially of the New York Football Giants. They were a championship team when he was a young man but not so good during the twenty years he was a season ticket holder. Unfortunately he died before the Giants made their first Super Bowl appearance.

My father was set off by an article in the New York Times titled "Giants Shown Game Films; Csonka Is Ill." Coach Bill Arnsparger had decided to show game films to the team as a whole instead of dividing them into offensive and defensive squads. Here's the part that Dad highlighted:
The emphasis, said Jack Gregory, the defensive captain who had never before seen offensive films, was on the positive. "It accomplished what [Arnsparger] set out to do," said the defensive end. "I think he was trying to get us to have confidence in each other. He told us we're still his team, he hasn't given up on us and we shouldn't give up on ourselves.

"Let's face it. This is an ideal time for guys to start quitting."

Gregory, echoing the official team line, said the Giants' main problem has been "lack of concentration."
The day after the article was in the paper, my father wrote to Jack Gregory. At the time, the Giants were at a low point in team history. They were near the beginning of a nine-game losing streak in the 1976 season that would end with a 3 - 11 record. They were 5 - 9 in 1975 and 2 -12 in 1974. The previous year wasn't much better. They were 2 -11 - 1 in 1973.
September 23, 1976

Mr. Jack Gregory
Defensive End
New York Football Giants
c/o Pace University
Pleasantville, NY

Dear Mr. Gregory,

I was greatly distressed this morning by a statement attributed to you. And I would only hope that you might consider and pass along to your teammates the corrosive effect such an attitude, as implied in your statement, could have, not only on your current year but on the future of pro football and the security of the future of the pension program for all players.

I do not begrudge professional athletes their above average salaries (the median family income for the U.S. is about $13,000 per annum), their generous pension programs which beat virtually everything other than very top management gets in industry, or the emoluments, opportunities, adulation and favors that flow your way.

What I do resent, is the hint at the possibility that short of gaining the playoffs, the professional athlete does not deliver his finest performance. There are a lot of us in life that never make the playoffs.

This hurts. Those of us who work in offices all week genuinely look forward to just getting out on a Sunday afternoon to see a football game and enjoying ourselves. We love the sport. We love the competition. We stand in respect bordering upon awe, for the outstanding performances that we pay to see. There isn't a single person in the stands who could take your place on the field, for if there were they probably would be there.

So, we come and pay to appreciate your skills, your energy and your perseverance in a difficult, demanding and exhilarating sport. Whether you win or lose frankly only affects us in a vicarious way. We brighten to your wins, we regret your losses, but we don't get to share in your playoff purse. It hardly matters -- unless we bet -- what the score is. The most we can hope for is the opportunity of buying a ticket to see in person the playoffs, or divisional championship if it happens that they are being held in the home city of the Eastern Division winner that year.

We buy tickets because we love the game. And that means we expect to see a good, fair, even competition whether the team has a shot for the Super Bowl or not. It's a Sunday afternoon's entertainment and on those cold days in December -- in snow or sleet or rain i.e. Giants-Vikings Yale Bowl Dec. 1973 (sleet); Giants-Eagles, Yale Bowl Dec. 1974 (snow/sleet/rain) for even in a "meaningless game" (whatever that is) the fan is entitled to a good game. To us, it is the entertainment we pay to see.

We'd rather see you win. But we deserve more than to see you quit. And frankly, the team has quit several times in recent years. I have to go no further than the two games mentioned above for two miserable performances or two equally miserable days.

I realize that you were attempting to say that the Giants were not going to quit even after two disheartening losses. But I say that the notion of quitting should not even be a part of your vocabulary.

As a Giant fan, I have spent about $1,962 for season tickets since seeing the Giants beat Pittsburgh to win the Eastern Divisional title in 1963. In the years 1964 through 1975 the Giants have played 84 "home" games including 12 at Yale Bowl and seven at Shea Stadium. In all of those games, I dare say, there were fewer than a dozen or so interesting ones. I'm not talking about Giant wins -- although I enjoy them more than losses -- I'm talking about good, well played, evenly matched competitive games. In other words -- games in which neither side quit, the Redskin game at Shea last year, for example.

At present, Giants tickets are $9 and $11 each, and we send our money off to buy these seats, including those games in cold, windy, weather-uncertain December, by June 1st. With four seats -- so I can take my wife, children or friends -- that comes to an annual outlay of $322. That's a lot of discretionary income to tie up all summer and most of the autumn, before getting any return.

The cost of going to a Giants game easily approaches $50 to $75 each Sunday. Add to the $46 ticket price, the cost of tolls, parking, program, tip, refreshments, gas and oil, extra clothing, and time, and you have a pretty expensive afternoon. That's the price of four rounds of golf, or rental of an indoor tennis court for 3 hour-long sessions or a good steak dinner for four at Gallagher's.

Tickets for the Metropolitan Opera or New York City Ballet or a Broadway show are cheaper and I don't hear any of those performers "quit," even if it is late in their season. Maybe it's because they just concentrate on offering the best that's within them and devote themselves to excellence in each performance. Maybe that's because they don't have to worry about making the playoffs. You seem to lose sight of the fact that the playoffs are merely the logical product of the season. It's the season that counts. It's the four months of excitement, excellent performance, unpredictable entertainment we pay to enjoy. The season came before the playoffs and that season consists of 14 games. Don't sell the product short.

I mentioned both salaries and pension at the outset. If the prevalent attitude becomes one of quitting because a game has no effect upon the standings -- or because a team has lost the first two games of the season, there is great danger that the fans might become disenchanted with what they get out of this considerable investment of money, time and interest in pro football. And unless the stadium is full, and people are clamoring for tickets -- the wherewithal to provide those salaries and pensions will evaporate -- and so will your economic security.

Giant fans have stuck with you guys through 12 lean years and haven't quit yet. I don't think it's appropriate for you to talk of quitting at this stage or any stage of the season.

With kind regards,

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Monday, October 06, 2008

new beast of the east

Some of the cast and crew of "Fish Bait" slept aboard the luxury houseboat at Flat Hollow Marina & Resort. Those of us who arrived later in the week were given rooms on land in the gorgeous A-frame chalets overlooking the water. I was one of four people in the Pinewood Chalet.

One of the producers, Andrew Rogers, arranged the shooting schedule so that I didn't have any scenes to film while my wife and I went to church on Sunday. After Mass, we still had enough time to watch the first half of the Redskins game. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the chalet not only had DirecTV but the NFL Sunday Ticket also. Just because I could, I flipped around to other games briefly during commercial breaks. However the Redskins game was actually on regular TV in our area this week.

The picture froze a few times during the game. I assumed that someone or something had gotten in the way of the chalet's satellite dish. I wasn't too concerned because I was recording the game in HD back at home. I was called to the set at halftime and avoided hearing the score until I got home last night and could watch the second half. Unfortunately my reception at home was poor too. Instead of glorious HD, WTNZ switched to SD for most of the game, which makes me think the problem was on their end, not mine.

Last night, while I was uploading my photos from the weekend, I finished watching the game and then flipped around the dial hoping to at least see some highlights in HD. Instead, I saw every play on NFL Sunday Ticket SuperFan's Short Cuts. A normal football game takes over three hours to watch. NFL Replay fits the game into an hour and a half. Short Cuts gives you the whole game in only half an hour. You get every play and none of the in-between stuff. However the audio is a little disconcerting. While re-enjoying the Redskins victories over the Cowboys and Eagles, I got used to ignoring the sentence fragments from the color commentator and focusing on the play-by-play announcer. For example, Troy Aikman would be in the middle of one of his favorite Jay Novacek stories when Joe Buck would interrupt to bring us back to 2008.

Speaking of the past, last week I also watched Brett Favre's record-setting performance in those weird Jets throwback uniforms against the Cardinals.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

weekend roundup

Several unrelated stories came across the Frank Murphy Dot Com newsdesk over the weekend.

The annual "What The Fluff?" festival in Massachusetts was postponed from Saturday to Sunday. One of the activities was a Fluff Lick Off, in which contestants had to lick a large dollop of Marshmallow Fluff off a piece of clear plastic. One blogger has posted photos that say it all. By the way, the festival still has me misidentified as "Frank Miller" on their site.

They held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Body Farm in Texas on Friday. News footage from the Fox affiliate in Austin shows a guy who looks exactly like UT's Dr. Bill Bass as one of the ribbon cutters.

Perry Simon posted a link to a great article about the closing of Shea Stadium. Like all Mets fans, I'm disappointed that the old joint didn't get to host the playoffs and World Series one more time.

My wife says that her guilty pleasure today was to read the comments posted by irate Cowboys fans on various Dallas websites. She happily pointed out to me that Jim Zorn will be the only Redskins coach with a perfect regular season record at the soon-to-be-vacant Texas Stadium.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

replay booth

A packed agenda kept me from watching all the sporting events I wanted to see this weekend, although Friday night's game was only on the radio. My wife and I heard a post-game interview with Luke Smith of Knoxville Catholic High School as we drove home from a dinner party. The description of their game against Baylor and the overtime period made me wish that the contest had been covered by Wazoo Sports. Wazoo offers a live video stream of a high school game each week on their site, which is also picked up by Next Friday they will cover the KCHS at Anderson County matchup. I couldn't get it to work tonight but in the past, I've been able to click on an archived game to see some of Catholic's victory over Austin-East.

I was at work on Saturday and saw none of the Mets game. I caught a little bit of college football. I'm glad Notre Dame won and Florida lost but I feel bad for all the UT fans. The Vols should have won their game against Auburn.

Today I had a work thing downtown at the same time as the Mets game. I recorded the pregame show on TBS, hoping to see some of the "Shea Goodbye" festivities. Thanks to a brief rain delay, I saw none of it. I found out later that most of the stuff I wanted to see happened after the game. The Mets blew the opportunity to make the playoffs and ended their season today.

I've only just now finished watching the Redskins upset victory over the Cowboys. I had to record the game while I went to a table reading for the independent film I'll be in next weekend. I didn't know the score but had a hint that the Redskins had won from my wife's tone of voice. Meanwhile, I found out that the filmmakers still need a few extras for a party scene on Saturday. Send your headshot to

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

son of glitch

Here's a suggestion for the NFL and DirecTV. Next year, add some preseason games to your fabulous NFL Sunday Ticket subscription package. It's not that I particularly need to see second and third-string squads battling for a place on the roster. Every year the first Sunday of the football season means that it's time to work out some technical problems before being able to watch a game. Why not let us fans get our bugs fixed during the preseason?

The DirecTV Supercast came in handy last year. I often watched games online while at work on Sundays. My first several attempts to log in today failed. The error message told me that the Supercast was only available between noon and 8:15 p.m. There was no way for me to tell it to check its watch and see that it was just after 1:00 p.m. This year, the Supercast uses its own streaming video player powered by Adobe AIR technology. They say it's still possible to watch the feed through a web browser with the latest version of Macromedia Adobe Flash. Unfortunately the computers at work don't have the right software and I don't have the administrative privileges to do anything about it. Once I got home from work today, I gave the Supercast player a test drive and was duly impressed. There was no delay between the video on my television and the video on my computer. The picture quality was very good in the small player, not so much when expanded to full screen. I could easily click between games and the Red Zone Channel. At least next week my son will be able to use my password to watch the Redskins game in his dorm room. During our practice run today, neither he nor I had any trouble viewing the games that were also being shown on broadcast TV in our respective areas.

NBC's "Sunday Night Football Extra" player was less impressive. The bells and whistles are a great idea. It's cool to be able to switch camera angles at will. However the stream was choppy and the picture was a little blurry. During commercial breaks, the NBC feed was replaced with other game highlights presented by studio hosts from the NFL Network. Those hosts and highlights had a much better picture quality than the live game. After a while, the video player tried to cut me off. I had to click "yes" to continue watching. On top of all that, the Internet feed was sometimes delayed from the broadcast by up to ten seconds. I was hoping that NBC would give us picture quality as good as we saw online during the Olympics. Instead I was left wondering if some network executive gave the order to keep the online stream inferior for fear of losing his television viewers to the Internet.

An online promo for Notre Dame football reminded me of something I heard during yesterday's NBC telecast from South Bend. Knoxville Catholic High School standout Harrison Smith is a red-shirt freshman for the Irish. You might remember reading my blog entry when he was being recruited by both Charlie Weis and Philip Fulmer two years ago. When Harrison made a good tackle in yesterday's game, the announcers revealed that the other players call him "Hayseed."

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

glorify your name

No offense to our parish priests but the best sermons I heard this weekend occurred not at Mass but during the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Both Darrell Green and Art Monk spoke beautifully about their faith, their family and football.

Darrell told an amazing story of how he barely missed the chance for a ride home from college with his best friend Carnelle. He was homesick and depressed that he didn't get to visit his family for the weekend. On Monday morning he learned that Carnelle was killed in a car wreck. Had he gotten the ride, Darrell's life would have probably ended too. Later he said that he felt God had a plan for him to remain with one team when he could have easily been a free agent. By staying with the Redskins, Darrell Green could also stay with the same church. He and Art Monk both mentioned Grace Covenant Church in their speeches. Art and his wife turn up in a photo on the church's website.

Monk must have thought for a moment that he might never get to his speech. He set receiving records throughout his career. Last night he set a record for receiving the biggest ovation from the crowd. The four minutes of applause helped make up for the eight years he had to wait for his enshrinement.

Monk and Green are two of the main reasons I became a Redskins fan. I come from a family of Giants fans. While working at WAVA, I had the opportunity to meet several of the players, including Art and Darrell. At first I would cheer on the individual accomplishments of the guys I had met. How could I not want success for those two? Before long I was rooting for the whole team, just as I am tonight as the Redskins play the Colts.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

reblog, reuse, recycle

It's time to revisit a few old blog posts and check for updates. I think Oprah does this all the time. Once in a while I write a brief update in the comments section of an entry, like I did about Gentlemen's Top Cuts yesterday. Three of my past topics turned up in the news today, which was all the incentive I needed to write tonight's post about them.

It seemed incongruous to me that several cable "reality" shows are in high-definition but that "Survivor" and "The Amazing Race" were not. Now we hear that the seventeenth season of "Survivor" will be the first shot in HD.

When I watched a Redskins game on the NFL Network, I was underwhelmed by Bryant Gumbel's play-by-play announcing. I wasn't alone in being relieved that he will step aside.

Shea Stadium's final opening day had me thinking about the place. All the times I was there, I never thought about breaking a seat and stealing the pieces as souvenirs. The attempt to Rickroll Shea may have failed but people elsewhere are still showing the love to Mr. Astley.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

in this world the headlines read

The Giants were trailing 7-3 in the Super Bowl last night. Their defense was playing well but the offense had only managed one field goal. As I said I would the other day, I got into a New York state of mind by enjoying a Mallomar during the game. Shortly thereafter the Giants scored a touchdown. New England came back to take the lead again and it looked like they might actually achieve the 19-0 record we've heard so much about. When Eli Manning avoided that sack and threw the ball to David Tyree, it occurred to me to have a second Mallomar. Sure enough, the Giants responded with the game winning touchdown.

My mother and her siblings all grew up in the Bronx. They were exchanging emails all weekend as they make plans for Grandma's birthday party this Spring. All of their messages ended with the words "Go Giants!" The biggest Giants fan in our family was my dad. He even sent me to the same Catholic school as some of the Mara kids. Wellington Mara is buried in the same cemetery as several of my relatives. Within minutes of the game's end, people had posted congratulatory notes on Mara's page at

Meanwhile my wife and the rest of the Redskins fans in our family happily recall that both previous Super Bowl wins by the Giants were followed by Redskins wins.

My favorite Super Bowl commercial has been getting favorable reviews. It featured computer generated images of balloons at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The greatest balloon of all time, Underdog fought for a Coca-Cola bottle with Stewie from "Family Guy." To my knowledge, there has never been a Stewie balloon in the parade. Do you think there will be one in the future? I'm not sure that I want to see him there. Although Underdog clearly deserved the soda, Charlie Brown rises up over Central Park and gets the bottle instead. Good grief!

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Friday, February 01, 2008

nosh bridges

It seems like every newspaper had a story and every local TV news show had a cooking segment about snacks over the past two weeks. Super Bowl Sunday has become an eating holiday to rival Thanksgiving. Finally, here's an opportunity for me to post some photos of snack foods that have been stuck in my camera phone for months.

A simple trip down the snack aisle at Wal-Mart reminded me of when I was a kid and my parents took us to Colonial Williamsburg. While there, I saw a lecture on archeology. The speaker said they were trying to determine the age of various glass bottles they had uncovered in what was probably a colonial trash pile. He lamented that the people of that era didn't write about changes in their drinking containers. He said it would be akin to someone writing "Dear Diary, they changed the shape of my Coke bottle today." Obviously the archaeologist didn't foresee a future full of blogs in which we do exactly that. And now you know why I was compelled to take a picture of some Planters jars that are cleverly shaped like Mr. Peanut.

I spotted this bag of Rap Snacks when someone brought it to an Einstein Simplified show some time ago. The lighting was poor but you can still read that they are YoungBloodz Southern Crunk Barbeque flavored chips. Crunk chips might have been more appropriate for the last time that the Super Bowl was played in the ATL.

Salty snacks are okay but my weakness is sweets. With Lent starting on Wednesday, I may use the Super Bowl as an excuse to enjoy a popular New York treat, namely the Mallomars that have been Ziploc-ed in the pantry since October. Makes sense if I'm rooting for the Giants this year.

My camera phone still had the image of a Kosher cake I captured at Kroger. I photographed this Strawberry Flavored Angel Food Roll, not because I craved the taste of it but because I loved the name of the bakery that made it. The label from Fancy Schmancy Desserts says it's "so good Bubbe will take 2 pieces home... in her purse."

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Friday, January 25, 2008

let the points soar

Every year I get frustrated by the NFL's momentum-killing bye week after the playoffs. I've even suggested that they excuse the Super Bowl players from the Pro Bowl and move the Hawaiian two-hand touch game to this weekend. Or stage a consolation bowl between the Packers and Chargers.

As I wait and hope that the Giants can be giant-killers, the NFL Network is giving me something to pass the time. Several times a day they have been replaying games in their entirety. Tonight they showed the Giants vs. Packers game from last Sunday. They've also been running some Super Bowls from the past.

The other day I flipped past and got immediately hooked in by a classic Redskins victory. My wife and son watched with me. We were just in time to see Doug Williams' first touchdown pass of Super Bowl XXII. The Redskins went on to score 42 unanswered points, winning the game 42 to 10.

Seeing the old coverage made me appreciate the advances in television since then. The 20-year-old graphics and camera angles seemed truly archaic. The announcers were Frank Gifford, Dan Dierdorf and an unrecognizable Al Michaels. His voice has changed dramatically over the years. Is it just me or does Michaels do the overwhelming majority of the talking on the Madden NFL video game?

It was great to see my son watch that game for the first time. He's a Redskins fan who is too young to remember the last time they were in the Super Bowl. For my wife and me, it was complete nostalgia. After each extra point, we shouted "Ali Haji-Sheikh," the name of a place kicker we had long since forgotten. The ABC cameras didn't always cut away, which let us hear this sound several times.

As Ricky Sanders caught touchdown after touchdown, I was reminded of his performance at the team's victory celebration back in D.C. This young broadcaster was there to witness Sanders catch a pass from President Ronald Reagan. My good friend Bean and I described it live on WAVA.

In the time leading up to the game, we did some anti-Broncos smack talking on the morning show. Management complained when we said "Denver Sucks" on the air so I came up with an alternative catch phrase by looking in the dictionary: "The Broncos draw liquids into their mouths by creating a partial vacuum with their lips, cheeks and tongues." A listener made us some "Denver Sucks" hats, which we ungraciously wore to the White House. I have a picture taken using some antique technology. As you can see, a flaw in this "film" makes it look like I have something coming out of my nose.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

five squared

Yesterday's game between the Giants and Packers left me torn. As a football fan, I wanted to see Brett Favre do well after the great season he's had. But as the son of two Giants fans, I felt some loyalty to Big Blue.

I know that my mother was rooting for New York. She told me how much she enjoyed the game when I talked with her today. My late father was a big fan of the Giants. He had season tickets and everything. As a result, I got to see the Giants play at Yankee Stadium, Yale Bowl, Shea Stadium and Giants Stadium. Still, I didn't become a real fan of football until later when I was working at WAVA and I met several of the Washington Redskins as they came in for interviews.

Today is the anniversary of Dad's passing. It's hard to believe that my sisters and I have lived longer since his death than we had before it. My mother has maintained a connection to my father's memory by keeping his Giants season tickets in the family. One of my New York cousins buys the tickets from her each year. The other day Mom got an email from the team with information about the Super Bowl ticket lottery. If she had gotten tickets, I wonder if I would have wanted to buy them from her. I've always thought that I would rather watch the Super Bowl on TV (especially in high definition) than go to the game.

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

margin of defeat

The football season ended today for Redskins fans. We were hoping for a win against a team that got to the postseason by playing a much softer schedule than the Redskins did. Instead the Seahawks and their noisy 12th man showed that they deserved to be in the playoffs.

My family and I thought the refs blew a couple of spots today that should have given Washington a first down. The most exciting play of the day turned out to be a bust. With 12:38 left in the game, a Redskins kickoff sailed over the head of the Seattle returner and landed near the 20 yard line. The Redskins recovered the ball and ran it in for what appeared to be a score. The NBC graphics even briefly flashed "touchdown." It was like a really long onside kick. The touchdown didn't count since they can't advance the ball but the Redskins did get great field position at the spot where they recovered the kick. After all that, they couldn't get a touchdown and then missed a field goal. Speaking of NBC, I thought Cris Collinsworth did a good job in the booth. I wish he were there more often.

The Redskins had been on a winning streak since the funeral of number 21, Sean Taylor. Last week much was made about the Redskins beating the Cowboys by 21 points to reach the playoffs. I don't think there will be as much attention to the fact that they lost by 21 points today.

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

where's Brookshier?

Andrew Siciliano sounded almost as surprised as I was to hear Pat Summerall calling today's Rams at Bengals game. I thought he had retired two or three times by now. Because the Redskins had already played this week, I was free to enjoy Andrew's amazing expertise on the Red Zone Channel on DirecTV today. Well, technically I watched it on because I was away from home during football time. A couple of times Siciliano switched to the game in Cincinnati when things got slow in all the other games. I think it was just to listen to Summerall. They don't normally flip to a game just as the announcer wraps up the first half and tosses it to commercial.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

with steam coming out of his ears

The news that Jimmy Kimmel will do double duty next week didn't surprise me. If anybody can do it, it's him. Jimmy is tireless when it comes to promoting his late night show, even if it means flying cross-country to fill in for Regis Philbin every morning next week and then returning to Hollywood each night to host his own program. I'm sure he would be more comfortable on a private plane but he could probably get some good material for the shows by flying commercial. Jimmy must have thought about a radio deejay named Tom Joyner who became famous as the "fly jock" when he did a morning show in Dallas and an afternoon show in Chicago, flying between the two cities daily.

When I flipped over to ESPN to check the score of the Giants game on Monday night, I heard the announcer promote that Jimmy would be there after a break. I had to stop and think for a moment since the game was in Atlanta, not New York. Sure enough, Jimmy was at the game. I wondered if he had gone to Atlanta just for the game or if he was busy promoting his show in a city that only recently began airing it. Jimmy cracked a few jokes about the announcers and I didn't think anything else of it until I read the ridiculous news that ESPN has banned Jimmy from "Monday Night Football." Is that any way to treat the guy who hosted the ESPY awards? He's as confused as anyone.

I really like the monologue on "Jimmy Kimmel Live." They make great use of video clips from the news and from that evening's prime time shows. Although the network won't let them do the show live anymore, they tape it around 8:00 p.m. PT (11:00 p.m. ET), which is about three hours later than Leno tapes and about six hours later than Letterman tapes.

I would hate it if ABC hired Jay Leno for a late night show that would bump Jimmy to a later time slot. There's talk of Leno going to Fox or ABC when his NBC contract expires. The mistake NBC made by hiring Leno over David Letterman is coming back to haunt them again as they try to plan for a smooth transition to "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien." If Leno didn't want to leave, he could have told them before they announced the plan for him to step down. NBC is sticking with the plan. Last week they announced that they would renovate a stage at Universal Studios to be Conan's new theater as part of their plan to abandon my beloved Burbank.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

no purchase necessary

The reason my wife was okay with my purchase of the NFL Sunday Ticket was so that she too could watch her beloved Redskins. Their games have rarely been on TV in Knoxville these past few seasons. This coming Sunday, she'll be out of town during the Redskins at Packers game. She plans to bring a laptop so she can watch the game online, as I described a couple of weeks ago. Here's the catch: if WTNZ airs the game (and they will), DirecTV will black it out in Knoxville both online and over the satellite. But does the location of the laptop matter? Will the blackout be determined by the Knoxville zip code in our billing address or by the Atlanta IP address she's using at the time?

Last Sunday I clicked on somebody's blog through the Knoxville Blog Network and found a link to another blog which in turn had a link to a site with fantastic NFL coverage maps. It looks like most of the country will get the Redskins/Packers game, which means my wife can watch it on WAGA and won't have to worry about whether or not the DirecTV Supercast will work from Atlanta. Who knew that each team would have only one loss going into Week 6?

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

green hornet and the big apple band

The only Monday Night Football game I'll probably watch all year was played earlier this week. My family and I didn't mind staying up late to watch a well-played Redskins win. Thanks to the NFL Sunday ticket, we'll watch the Redskins in their throwback uniforms this weekend while our local Fox affiliate shows the Panthers at the Falcons.

One of my all-time favorite artists, Brian Setzer and his horn section made a noticeable improvement in the Monday Night Football opening song. I almost always like songs with lots of brass. The horns get a good workout on the clips I've heard from the new Brian Setzer Orchestra album. "Wolfgang's Big Night Out" comes out Tuesday. This time around they give the big band treatment to familiar classical melodies. Tonight I took advantage of the free download of "Take The 5th" available through the Setzer website. It's a twist on Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. The concept (but not the execution) reminds me of the disco hit "A Fifth of Beethoven."

The BSO MySpace page has more clips. I especially liked their interpretation of "Flight of the Bumblebee" called "Honey Man." Starting tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m., we can listen to the whole album online for 48 hours. You'll need to click here and then enter the passcode WOLFGANG

If money were no object, I would hop on a plane and go see one of the shows on the 6th Annual Christmas Extravaganza Tour. Listening to the classical variations and last year's speculation that he might retire the BSO made me wonder if someday Brian Setzer would play the local symphony circuit. He would have to bring the Gretsch and the Fender amp with him while the symphony in each city plays all the other parts. It might be the only way we get him to come to Knoxville.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

are you ready for some

Today was my first day with the NFL Sunday Ticket in HD. At 1 o'clock I started flipping through channels 718 and up in eager anticipation of glorious high definition football. Just like on Wednesday, I got the dreaded error message, "channel not purchased." When I tried to call DirecTV, all I got was a busy signal. Repeatedly. Maybe I wasn't the only one having problems. I made myself some lunch and put on one of the blurry SD channels to make sure I was at least getting those. By the time I finished eating, most of the HD channels were working. The problem returned at 4 o'clock. Gradually the channels started coming on but by 5 o'clock I was still not getting channel 721. Coincidentally, the error code for "channel not purchased" is 721. I grabbed the phone and called DirecTV to find out what was happening. First I talked to a woman in the Philippines who had me reset my set top box. When that didn't make a difference, she transferred me to a guy in Montana who thought that the problem was somehow related to the September 19th rollout of more HD channels. The engineers were working on it, he said. People on the West Coast will get the new channels first. I was told to be patient as it may take several days (or longer) for them to work their way Eastward.

This was the perfect week for me to work out the bugs with my Sunday Ticket subscription. The Redskins don't play until tomorrow night. Instead of sticking with one game, I was in the mood to watch them all. They have an easy way to do just that on the ADD Channel or as they call it, the Red Zone Channel. Somebody at Sunday Ticket headquarters keeps an eye on which teams are nearing the goal line and flips from game to game for you. You end up seeing most of the scoring plays live. The rest are shown on replay very shortly thereafter. If nobody seems about to score, they show you whichever game is most interesting. There are no commercials. During today's action, there was no halftime break either. By the time the last game ended its first half, other games had already started their second half.

On Sundays that I can't be at home to watch, I can still see most games over the Internet by using the DirecTV Supercast. The games broadcast in my home market (on WVLT and WTNZ) are blacked out on the web, just like they are on the satellite. The flaw in that plan would occur if the game I want to see is on broadcast television in Knoxville while I'm traveling in an area that gets a different game. For example, I wouldn't be able to see a Redskins game on the computer if it's available on WTNZ. If I happened to be in Atlanta and if the Falcons happened to be on at the same time, I would be out of luck. Maybe there's a way to contact DirecTV if I need to travel on a Sunday and all the other chips have fallen into place. Here's a screen grab of what it looked like toward the end of today's Bengals at Browns game, except that I saw the actual game in the empty black box.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

line and sinker

The guy at DirecTV said that my call was approximately the tenth he had received today asking about the same problem. My HD channels (72 through 79) were not working. The on screen message said "channel not purchased," which I knew to be incorrect. How did I know? I watch a little bit of "Arrested Development" or "Nothing But Trailers" on HDNet almost every day. Plus we pay the bill every month. The problem was easily resolved as the guy on the phone pushed a few buttons from his cubicle in Oklahoma. He speculated that it may have had something to do with some new settings because of all the new HD channels about to make their satellite debut. My new pal told me that most of them will turn up on the same channel numbers where they are now.

Before hanging up, I mentioned that I still did not have an HD DVR. I wanted to get one last December, but they were on back order. Ever since then, they have told me the only way to get the DVR would be to pay an additional $300 for it. I had refused because I know somebody who got a DirecTV HD DVR box for no extra charge when he signed up for the service. That's when the guy on the phone set the hook. They had a special offer. I could get one of the HD DVRs for no charge if I signed up for NFL Sunday Ticket. That's like telling me that the ice cream is free when you buy a piece of cake. I love ice cream and cake. I asked him to hang on while I used the cell phone to call my wife for a brief discussion about finances. Meanwhile, the DirecTV guy put me on hold while he checked with his supervisor to make sure the deal was still available. I laughed and said that I was also checking with my supervisor. Both our bosses said yes. They're supposed to deliver the DVR on September 24, just in time to solve the problem of the four Monday shows I want to watch at the same time.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007


On the old "Max Headroom" series, TV executives got instant ratings and made on-the-spot programming decisions based on them. I was reminded of that futuristic '80s show by some modern technology.

DirecTV has a relatively new feature that I only started playing with today. "What's Hot!" is a list of which shows are most popular with DirecTV subscribers at that exact moment. Leave it on long enough and you'll see shows move up or down in the listings. To get to the "What's Hot!" page, I tuned to the News Mix channel and pushed the red button on my remote. Here's a camera phone photo of the biggest shows during the 9:00 p.m. Eastern hour tonight.

It's no surprise that the NFL season opener tops the list. A rerun of "C.S.I." was beating a rerun of "Grey's Anatomy." The MTSU game showed up in the top 5 too. I imagine that TV executives would have a hard time turning off the "What's Hot!" list.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

stadia mania

Several sports facilities have passed before my eyes in the last two weeks. During our vacation road trip we drove past LP Field, Busch Stadium, Edward Jones Dome, Jacobs Field, Cleveland Browns Stadium, Fenway Park, Shea Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Lincoln Financial Field, Oriole Park and M&T Bank Stadium.

Before heading to Miller Park yesterday, I saw a little bit of "The Today Show." By coincidence, they had a feature about going to a baseball game. Tiki Barber would try to enjoy a game at Fenway for less than $50. Although Tiki advised viewers to buy a $12 bleacher seat, the camera plainly showed him sitting in an expensive seat near the dugout. His budget also did not include the bottled water that could be seen tucked under his arm. I wonder if things are more expensive in Boston than Milwaukee. A 20 ounce bottle of Aquafina cost me $3.50 at Miller Park. I saw many amazing desserts available in the Club level. Bernie Brewer would be a lot thicker around the middle if he ate those sweets. And if he were real, of course.

I was pleasantly surprised by the sweet treat offered by Midwest Airlines as we flew in and out of Milwaukee. Warm chocolate chip cookies are served on every flight. The airline claims that they are baked on board. They looked too perfect for that. I suspect they are at least partially cooked on the ground. I heard some people worrying that the cookies might be a casualty if Midwest is acquired by AirTran.

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