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Archive for May, 2011

Rooting Against the Miami Heat

Sportswriters are telling us to get over it. To get over the ego of LeBron James; forget the tastelessly tacky ESPN announcement show where he jilted Cleveland; ignore the three-ring, laser-circus Miami Heat signing event in which LeBron, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh stood on platforms posing like Greek Gods.

We’re supposed to sit in awe at this dawn of a new dynasty led by a guy many are now calling the greatest basketball player who ever lived. No- I don’t think so. I’m not going to like this one bit. I like my heroes slightly humble and with more than one dimension. Mickey Mantle was deeply flawed but he had the humility to go along with the once-in-a-generation talent. Muhammad Ali backed up his arrogance with grace and power but there was more to him than boxing; he sacrificed the best years of his career on principle- opposing participation in the Vietnam War and refusing induction into the U.S. Army on religious grounds.

One gets the sense the only thing that matters to LeBron James is basking in his own wonderfulness, an exercise that is much easier to do when you have your own huge posses who constantly remind you of your greatness.

I remember his famous return to Cleveland back in March. LeBron reportedly doesn’t like to ride on the team bus and he makes his own travel arrangements. But on this occasion he didn’t clear it with anybody so when he turned up at the player’s parking lot in a limo with a second vehicle behind him carrying his posse of friends, the Cleveland Cavaliers turned him right around. They let him in once he’d come back alone. Then he skipped the pre-game introductions in his old hometown, claiming he forgot and must have been in the bathroom.

He’s got all the talent in the world. Miami has the best basketball team money can buy. So what? The only actually interesting thing about these NBA Finals, is if Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks can somehow manage to derail this Hollywood Dream Team and inject in them, that missing sense of humility. Maybe the addition of a little character will make all the egos a little easier to take.

Oh- so you’re good at basketball? Yawn. Hockey is a much cooler pastime anyway. I have a thing for team sports.

Garciamedialife Takes a Brief Pause…

Just momentarily…while part 2 of the Epic Move from Hell continues. The fun part is getting to drive from New York City to DC on I-95 the Friday before Memorial Day weekend with a dog throwing up in the back seat. Sshhhh…don’t tell Avis.

Back with more extreme moderate snarkiness next week…have a great holiday weekend everyone. And remember those who have fallen to keep us safe and free.

Just In Case the World Ends Saturday

Well, actually, rapture is Saturday- the world ends in October according to Harold Camping of Family Radio Worldwide. In any case, I’m not likely going anywhere special Saturday, except a brief visit to New York City, which some people think is heaven and others think is hell.

I do want to point out that Harold Camping predicted the end of the world in 1994 so unless we’re living in some parallel universe, I am not going to be cashing in options, packing bags, selling houses or otherwise preparing for the end. His record is spotty.

And just out of curiosity- why are some of Camping’s followers selling their houses? You can’t take the proceeds with you, can you? Do they take money up there? What if it turns out they only take Euros?

I understand some folks, poking some good-natured fun at Camping’s prediction, are having rapture parties and such. Yes, I’m a skeptic, but I’m also no tempter of fate. I’m hoping my neutral stance might possibly put me in the rapture crowd. You know, just in case.

If I am rejected, I will see you on Sunday and start saying my goodbyes in late September.

Later.

If there is one.

Moving Mayhem- Dust Bunnies & Memories


I took a few days to relocate within the DC area over the weekend, moving from Chinatown to Arlington- my 8th relocation in 10 years and I’ve pretty much had it with this process. I mean how many times in one day can you possibly forget where you put your keys and your cell phone?

One of the fun things about apartment renting is always the exit; the pre-inspection inspection and then the actual inspection inspection. Everything was good for the pre-inspection inspection as there was still furniture. Post-move, I’ve never seen so many dust bunnies packed into 900 square feet; how does that happen? Thanks to Jiffy Maids, I’ll yet retain my dignity.

And I got indirectly serenaded during my last night in Chinatown. It was the final night of Police Week in Washington and law enforcement people from every corner of the country had gathered for various observances, ceremonies and, apparently-parties. No doubt, for this one week, I lived on the safest block in America. I’ve never seen so many cops in one place.

Saturday night- they blew it out big time. It was actually 2am Sunday, and I couldn’t sleep anyway, but the unmistakable strains of bag pipes permeated the whole neighborhood. It was, in fact, one of the nicest renditions of Amazing Grace I’ve ever heard on bag pipes. And when the guy finished, you could hear the inebriated roar of a crowd that must have counted 200. Extremely inspiring.

Ah, Chinatown- I’ll miss you, you big lug. Over my year and a half living next to the Verizon Center and overlooking an alley next to one of the most raucous clubs in DC, I’ve heard everything from knife-fights and arrests to blaring car horns after every Caps home-playoff victory (that would be 4 times over two years). I’ll miss Chinatown Express; the best, greasiest Chinese food ever. That’s the restaurant with the guys in the windows making noodles next to the hanging dead ducks and chickens.

While I entered the great moving vortex, I see I missed some important current events. They found Osama bin Laden’s “huge” stash of porn and I just learned Donald Trump has decided not to run for President. Smart move, Donald. And as for Osama- who knew the world’s #1 terrorist was pretty much a hypocritical, dirty old man? Nice legacy, bin Laden.

So all is right with the world, I’m moved in- I have cable and access to the world wide web. On to the boxes.

The Least Racist Man in America

“I am the least racist person there is.” Donald Trump today on Fox News Channel’s morning show. Admirably clever sentence, but honestly, at this point, I highly recommend some media training might be in order.

And it might go something like this:

Media consultant: So Mr. Trump, I understand people have been unfairly labeling you as a racist.

Donald Trump: It’s the damndest thing. I don’t understand it. I have a great relationship with the blacks, as a matter of fact….

Media consultant: W-w-ait, one second, sir. Did, did, you just say “the blacks?” You haven’t actually said that in public have you?

Donald Trump: Sure did. Went on a radio show a couple of weeks ago-and it’s true, I’ve always had a great relationship with the blacks.

Media consultant: I see. I would suggest a slightly different turn of phrase, perhaps something more like, “I’ve always had a great relationship with the black community.”

Donald Trump: Hey, that’s good. The blacks do kind of have their own little community. Yeah, I like that.

Media consultant: Are there other things you’ve said in the media on the subject of race relations?

Donald Trump: Oh yeah. I was on with Fox and Friends this morning. I have my own little corner of the show. I told them the truth too. Told them I was the least racist person there is.

Media consultant: You used the word, “least,” did you? May I recommend an outright denial? Something like: “I am NOT racist.” “Least” racist sort of implies everyone in America is a racist and that of all the racists; you are the most tolerant of them. It’s kind of a mixed message.

Donald Trump: Huh.

Media consultant: What else did you say on this Fox and Friends show?

Donald Trump: Here’s the beauty part. Complete total proof I am the least racist person, ever. Randal Pinkett won, as you know, on The Apprentice a little while ago, a couple of years ago. And Randall’s been outstanding in every way. So I am the least racist person.

Media consultant: You said that? And Mr. Pinkett is an African-American?

Donald Trump: Oh yeah. He’s one of the blacks I know.

Media consultant: I see. What do you think started this whole racism thing?

Donald Trump: It started about the same time I asked the President of the United States to provide a birth certificate to prove he’s one of us- you know, American.

Media consultant: Why would you do that? Didn’t the White House already post his birth certificate some three years ago?

Donald Trump: That was a short-form certificate of live birth. Not the same thing as a long-form certificate. But I am very proud of myself. I made the President produce his birth certificate…the real one.

Media consultant: So the birth certificate matter is over for you?

Donald Trump: Well, yeah. But now there’s the matter of the college records I want released. I hear the President was a lousy student and no one really knows how he got into Harvard.

Media consultant: Mr. Trump, at this point let me offer some historical background. There was a time in this country when people of color, had to offer certain proof of things that others didn’t. Like that they were smart enough to do things like- vote. Sometimes they were made to take literacy tests. Others, to this day- people who look a little different than the rest of us, are asked for certain papers to prove they’re actually U.S. citizens. There’s a certain historical sensitivity about minority individuals having to provide extra proof about things.

Donald Trump: Damn. These are great ideas.

Media consultant: Some may take it wrongly or out of context, that you’re implying the President got academic opportunities other didn’t, just because he’s African-American.

Donald Trump: Yeah, well….in my family, the way it’s done is you, like, buy a college a library or a gym or something like that. Two, two and half a million dollars in a “charitable contribution” can go a long way, you know. It’s not fair people can get into colleges without making extra donations, if you know what I mean.

Media consultant: Well is that it?

Donald Trump: Yeah, well, there’s the basketball thing.

Media consultant: The basketball thing?

Donald Trump: Yeah, I said that with people really hurting in this economy, while they’re paying four dollars a gallon for gas, maybe the President ought to spend a little less time on the basketball court.

Media consultant: You didn’t.

Donald Trump: And on my Celebrity Apprentice show last night….I don’t know how this happened…but I ended up firing two black people, Star Jones and LaToya Jackson. And a third one quit, that woman with Housewives of Atlanta, or whatever it’s called. But there’s still one left!

Media consultant: One what?

Donald Trump: One of the blacks. One of the blacks is left- the little rapper guy.

Media consultant: Mr. Trump, it really has been nice meeting you. At this point, I’m going to turn you over to someone else in our PR firm- someone who specializes in damage control….you know, containing issues that could be publicly embarrassing.

Donald Trump: Damage control? Did I damage something? What? Did I embarrass somebody?

Notes and disclaimers: Though many of the Donald Trump quotes are actual responses to questions he’s given over the past month or so, some of these are purely fictional. He has not come out in support of literacy tests for voting purposes and I have no idea how Trump got into the Wharton school, though his son-in-law was admitted to an Ivy League university shortly after a $2.5 million donation from his father. It’s outlined in detail in the book, The Price of Admission , by Wall Street Journal education writer, Daniel Golden.

My Caps Collapse Theory for 2011


Caps fans have these theories to explain the misfortunes for each of the team’s 36 years, though for most of the first decade we didn’t have to worry about collapses in the playoffs- it happened in the regular season. IMHO, this time around there are three reasons for the latest epic playoff fail.

#1) Statistical Inevitability: They were too hot at the end of the regular season. Heading into the playoffs, in their last 20 games, they were 16-3-1. Add the 1st round series win in five games over the New York Rangers and they were 20-4-1 as they began play against Tampa. In the middle of the season a 4-game swoon after a hot streak is not that odd; it’s almost inevitable. In the playoffs, it ends your season.

#2) Subliminally- They Set the Wrong Goal: They were too fixated on getting past the 1st round in order to erase last year’s epic fail against Montreal when they blew a 3-1, 1st round series lead after posting the best record in hockey. They played a series of very tough, low-scoring games against the Rangers capping their 1st round success with a perfectly-played game at home. There was relief and way too much satisfaction for managing to get into the 2nd round. Oh, they all say they’re playing for the Stanley Cup, but psychologically, the Caps were really playing just to get past the 1st round and as heavy favorites going into the series with Tampa- they figured it was going to be a piece of cake. Please note the lack of euphoric celebration in the Lightening locker room last night. Those guys are all business, know they have one more series ahead of them to get to the finals and are not sitting back, all pleased with themselves like we were.

#3) Bruce Boudreau does cute television commercials, but in the end, gets outcoached when it really matters. Tampa threw the Caps off with their 3-1-1 defense and Boudreau never really figured out an adjustment to handle all those defensive players just hanging back near their own goal. Then when they got ahead, instead of staying with the conservative, defensive approach, Tampa threw the Caps off again, switching to an aggressive, offensive-oriented game. Line changes screwed the Caps repeatedly, it seems. Some of that is lack of execution, but some of it was just plain bad timing. I suppose in an ideal world, you have someone like Bruce Boudreau get you through the regular season and then you bring in a really good strategist to coach you through the playoffs. But that’s not how it’s done, so even though he has a great regular season record as a coach, he’s not been able to lead the team past the 2nd round—ever.

They should not blow up this team. There are so many really good, young players- they have the potential to be a dominating franchise for years to come. I hope they keep this great mix of youth and veterans; with a good strategist guiding them in the playoffs- they’ll do ok sometime in the next couple of years.

We should be grateful we have one of the best teams in hockey even if they are perpetual playoff underachievers. And there were some great moments this season. I will never forget that crazy come-from-behind victory over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden with the fans chanting “Can you hear us.” That’s the memory I think I’ll hang on to.

Oh and one more thing about next year: Keep your expectations nice and low. Let them surprise us for a change instead of endlessly disappoint us.

Enjoy the golf, boys. We still love ya’.

Navy SEALs & Surgical Strikes


By the end of this fiscal year, the U.S. will have spent $1.3 trillion dollars over the past decade prosecuting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I propose we wrap things up now and employ that Navy SEAL-6 squad instead.

Seems to me you can spend billions and billions going after the tail of the monster, or a couple hundred million and go for a double-tap to the head of the beast. No, really. What if instead of sending hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops, we had just used good intelligence and Navy sharp-shooters eight years ago to take out Saddam Hussein?

What if instead of fighting what may become a protracted conflict in Libya, we send Muammar Ghadafi a little note hinting that some Navy SEALS may be paying him a visit shortly. Might he immediately negotiate for exile in Sharm el Sheikh where he and Hosni Mubarak could have adjoining estates?

I’m only half-kidding. It seems to me there are a lot of different ways to get to the same end. The surgical strike approach gets there faster and a hell of a lot cheaper in both treasure and human lives. Getting the leader doesn’t ensure victory but I suspect it speeds up the process.

But you can’t go around the world assassinating people, you argue? Excuse me, but did you see what we just did with Osama bin Laden? Did we ask Pakistan’s permission? Did we ask them to come along? No, we didn’t. That would have been pretty darned silly, considering the laser-sharp quality of Pakistani intelligence which couldn’t figure out what that big million dollar mansion was with the 18-foot walls and barbed wire some 50 miles from their nation’s capital.

And in total seriousness, the more I learn about these Navy SEALs, the better I sleep at night. I am so glad they’re on our side. The truth of the matter is that they have been engaged in many missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Remember the American ship captain they rescued last year from Somali pirates with pinpoint fire at a tiny target bobbing up and down in a large ocean? I believe that was the last time we know of that President Obama specifically turned to the SEALs.

For a few facts and photos about this elite squad of warriors, you might want to check out this slide-show from Slate.com entitled, “No Bark, All Bite.”