Archive for April, 2012

Doctor- I Don’t Think I Can Handle Another Game #7

Capital's Netminder, Braden Holtby (Photo by Patrick McDermott - Getty Images)

Actually, I didn’t do so well through game #6 between the Boston Bruins and the Washington Capitals. It’s just so excruciating. And with hockey, there’s no time for rest- for the players or for the fans. A mad rush on goal is the next second’s defensive collapse. And vice versa. For three friggin’ hours.

And these teams are so evenly matched, it’s ridiculous. Never before in the entire history of the National Hockey League have six playoff games in a single series each been decided by one goal.

I do think Cap’s coach, Dale Hunter, has the right attitude and maybe that’s what really matters. He says “you have to enjoy it.” “It” being the opportunity to even be in a game #7. Certainly, the Caps have exceeded all expectations already.

So…yeah…you players…go on and enjoy this. As for me, I’ll be sitting on the edge of the couch either screaming or crying, hyperventilating as I pace around the living room, biting my nails, or answering phone calls in a totally unfriendly manner (the audacity of anyone ringing or texting me during playoff hockey is more than I can fathom).

I don’t know what you call all that….but I don’t classify it, technically, as fun. There is, however, an intriguing possibility. What if they win? It could happen, you know.

There is a victory dance I have developed in recent weeks after Caps and Nationals wins. It frightens my pets and simultaneously startles and amuses my girlfriend, but I have danced this dance many times in the month of April already. It’s a combination of the Twist and the Mashed Potato, and involves a lot of gyrating arm and wrist action with considerable doses of White Man Overbite.

It’ll be that or sitting in my chair in the bedroom/office. In the dark. Shaking my head. Don’t make me go there, Caps. Please. I would respectfully ask that you ignore any past histories, omens, jinxes and victim mentalities and jam that little black puck in the Bruin net early and often.

Go. Red.

Paul Draisey, 1956-2012

April 18, 2012 13 comments

These words are hopelessly inadequate so please forgive me. But something really needs to be said about Paul Draisey. Professionally, he’ll be remembered as a radio-guy, the voice of Loudoun County, Virginia for some four decades. Hell, he was the unofficial Mayor of Loudoun County.

He hired me into my very first radio job at WAGE-AM, in Leesburg, Virginia in 1977. He successfully trained me for my 3rd class FCC license you used to have to get in those days to go on the air and be able to turn the transmitters on and off. He was one of those handful of people in my life who decided to take a chance on a green, hungry kid who was looking for a future and fell in love, like Paul did, with the medium of radio. It would become a career. It will be 35 years this September. I have him to thank for every penny made and for every accomplishment I have ever achieved in the radio business.

Paul knew everyone and everyone knew Paul. He was tight with the Sheriff’s deputies, the fire and rescue folks, the politicians, teachers, coaches, businessmen and women, just about every charity that ever turned up in Loudoun County. I’ve never really known anyone before or since who so respected, honored and epitomized “community.”

Paul and I kept in touch sporadically through the years, more so when Facebook came along. He read this blog from time to time.

I know he was proud of me as the 19-year-old kid he hired would go on to work at networks like CBS and CNN and ABC and now NPR. In fact, I know, because he told me, that when I took over CNNRadio back in the 1990’s, he had WAGE switch radio networks to CNN. That, my friends, is loyalty.

Let me quote a colleague of Paul’s interviewed for the local Loudoun County newspaper because, really, my own words are beginning to fail me here. These are the observations of Dave Scarangella, another alum of WAGE Radio.

He was a man who cared about Loudoun County and freely devoted his time to a lot of causes, from the USO to the Middleburg Fire Department. He emceed well over a hundred charity events in his lifetime, freely mentored any person who needed help, and seemed to remember ever athlete, coach, politician and businessman he ever met. He was a special person and a great friend.

They say that the measure of a man’s success in life is how many friends he makes along the way. In that regard, Paul was the most successful man I ever knew. He will be missed.

The day Paul died I happened to read something about death that left me deeply moved. The belief by some Native American tribes that a person dies twice in life. The first, is the physical death; the passing of the body. The second death is when all those you ever knew and remembered you also pass; the death of the memory of the individual.

One of those we can do nothing about. But that second death- it is absolutely in our power to pass the word, from generation to generation, to as many people as possible, about the life and good works of those, like Paul, who gave so much of themselves to make their families and their communities whole.

So these words, Paul- are for you, my friend. They are also for your family- your wife, Donna and your kids Brad and Kyle Draisey and Kristen Stennett, to your half-brother, Bill Torrey, and to everyone who never even knew you but whose lives would have been richer if they had.

We love you and we will remember you and we will pass your memory on forever.

The Shuttle Fly-Over and the Death of the Big Idea

April 17, 2012 1 comment

Anyone who says the public has lost its sense of wonder about science and space and technology was proved wrong Tuesday.

People were perched on roof tops, stopped at bridges, gathered at parks and monuments- all eyes trained to the sky. School children screamed with delight as the big 747 lumbered at low altitude with the workhorse space shuttle, Discovery attached, pockmarked over 39 trips to space and now headed toward its final resting place. It was an oddly electric moment that came seemingly out of nowhere.

And here we are either paused or stalled or seemingly disinterested anymore in scientific and engineering achievement. The shuttle fly-over seemed sadly symbolic; not only the official end of the space shuttle program, but the death of the Big Idea.

Where are the leaders who think big thoughts? Where are the men and women who dare to dream, to change our world, to look at our planet, our solar system, our universe and see possibility and discovery?

It seems a narrow world these days- a world of accountants with green eye-shades who spend their days counting dollars and make their living killing dreams. It seems to be a world of timid leaders who think of the future in terms of weeks and months instead of decades and generations.

Next year will mark a half a century that we lost the President who sent us on a mission to the moon. Imagine a legacy founded on a dream that would extend that long into the future.

I was in 2nd grade at St. Rita’s elementary school when a nun with a scared and worried face rushed into our classroom. And we sat at our desks, praying the rosary, grown-ups and kids, hoping against hope that it couldn’t possibly be true that the young President had been shot and was now fighting for his life in a hospital in Dallas, Texas. I know the romance of JFK and Camelot has long been shattered but it wasn’t all just illusion. There were big dreams and big ideas that died along with that man.

I am reminded of those beautiful lyrics from Paul Simon, one of the poets of this aging generation of mine:

We come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come at the age’s most uncertain hour
And sing an American tune

It would be nice someday to sing the American tune again with a sense of joy and wonder instead of our current dirge of sobering sadness and never ending limitation. Never ending possibility is so much more inspiring for the human heart.

Democrats Way Angrier With Hilary Rosen than Republicans

I don’t doubt a lot of the G.O.P. anger at the Democratic strategist’s comments that Ann Romney “has never worked a day in her life,” is totally genuine. But it would also be political malpractice if they didn’t take tactical advantage of the gift handed them by Hilary Rosen.

With the President enjoying an 18% advantage with women voters, Democrats were beside themselves today at Rosen’s clumsy words which she continued to double and triple and quadruple down on as night turned to morning. In an article on Huffington Post she further accused Mitt Romney of hiding behind his wife’s skirt. Within a couple of hours, that particular sentence had been magically scrubbed clean.

Apoplectic Democrats including the President, the Vice President, the First Lady, the Obama team’s campaign manager, his top advisors, and for all we know, Bo, the First Family’s dog, were falling all over themselves distancing themselves as far as possible from Rosen.

Republicans are now trying to paint her as a close advisor, an Obama intimate- the President’s brain. She is, in fact, the ultimate Washington insider. The PR firm she works for advises the Democratic National Committee and she gets invited to White House state dinners, but that’s about the extent of it. Certainly, whatever minor political influence she may have had is pretty much now dust in the wind.

The point Rosen was trying to make is that Mitt Romney’s efforts to close the gender gap by saying his wife is a key advisor on the economic plight facing the nation’s women provides a narrow view because Ann Romney has had distinct economic advantages through her life.

But as a breast cancer survivor, a victim of Multiple Sclerosis, and as a woman who raised five boys, Ann Romney is also an incredibly sympathetic figure who most political observers agree connects with voters way more effectively than her husband. So on top of that, Rosen’s perceived additional attack on “stay-at-home” moms, was possibly not the smartest move for a political “strategist.” One wonders, while she was at it, why Rosen didn’t go on and assault apple pie as well.

As the Ozzie Guillen of politics (the Miami Marlins Manager who set off a firestorm by telling Time magazine he loved Fidel Castro), Ms. Rosen is not very popular right now in Democratic circles. I think she’s been invited to her last White House dinner and if I were her, I would not be looking for an invitation to the Democratic convention either.

Is this a lasting issue? I think so. The Romney’s will shortly be giving an interview to ABC’s Dianne Sawyer. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to hear Mitt Romney make reference to the matter in his convention speech. Ann Romney has been made a heroine and her value to the campaign, in general, is now enormous.

As more than a few conservative bloggers have pointed out today, who would have thought it would be a Democratic “strategist” who would finally unite the Republican Party behind their presumed nominee?

When a Baseball Manager Goes Haywire

The team formerly known as the Florida Marlins used to have a big apathy problem. Now they’re known as the Miami Marlins and they’ve traded their issues of fan indifference and poor attendance for another problem- fan hatred.

When he isn’t issuing homophobic slurs, revealing he gets drunk after every game, or decorating the clubhouse with sex dolls, Marlin’s Manager, Ozzie Guillen, is working overtime to anger entire cities. When your team is based in Miami and you build a new stadium with public funds pretty much in the middle of little Havana, probably the last thing you want to do is give an interview in which you tell Time magazine you love Fidel Castro. But that’s exactly where he went.

Can you even imagine heading up the Marlin’s public relations office right now? Guillen has been suspended for five games, has held a tear-drenched news conference and has done everything but flog himself in the town square- but it changes nothing. Damage done. And the anti-Fidel/anti-Guillen protests continue outside the Marlin’s beautiful new stadium.

I have been thinking of hypothetical examples that would compare to the sheer tone-deafness of Guillen’s remarks. Here are some sample headlines:

Detroit Tigers Manager Lashes Out at American Auto Industry- Praises Japanese Car Manufacturers

Cardinals Manager Insults Augustus Busch, Reveals Hatred for Beer, Calls St. Louis Arch an Eyesore

Texas Rangers Manager Disses Davey Crocket- Claims Loss at Alamo No Big Deal

Philadelphia Phillies Skipper Bans Hoagies and Cheese Steak Sandwiches from Clubhouse- Declares Cheese-Wiz Nutritionally Toxic

You catch my drift.

I’m thinking Guillen does not make it to next week.

He has, however, added tremendous value to a certain baseball that I have displayed in a collection in my apartment. Back when he was a utility infielder for the Atlanta Braves more than a decade ago, Guillen was tossing ball with Chipper Jones at Turner Field before the game. My then 7-year-old son, Charlie, and I happened to be sitting in some box seats next to the field. Bless his heart, Ozzie tossed Charlie the ball and I had him autograph it.

And it wasn’t his only good deed that day. He tossed lots of kids balls, even handed one youngster a souvenir bat. I always admired him for the kindness he showered on those kids that day. I feel sorry for the guy, really, I do. But he has only himself to blame for his thoroughly bizarre, self-inflicted wound.

My Excellent Man-Cave Weekend

My genetic male predisposition toward sports-oriented isolationism was rewarded handsomely over the weekend.

It started Thursday, actually, when the girlfriend took a trip to New York to visit family and friends. Suki, the dog, of course, needed her walks and attention so I took Friday off to take care of the friendly little canine over the weekend. So not only was this the perfect opportunity for a man-cave weekend- but a three-day man-cave weekend- with a Thursday night bonus.

Perhaps you looked up at the night sky recently when a rare alignment of Saturn, Venus and a crescent moon provided an unusual opportunity to revel in the mysteries of the universe and our home solar system. Well, that’s what my man-cave weekend was like. Instead of planets, there was the incredibly rare alignment of the start of the baseball season, the end of hockey’s regular season and the Masters golf tournament.

But not only were my favorite teams playing and available for viewing- they were also…winning. Opening day on Thursday at Wrigley field, featured a thrilling come-from-behind win by the Washington Nationals. Thursday night, the Washington Capitals completed their improbable return for the fifth straight year to the Stanley Cup playoffs with a tense win over Florida while the Buffalo Sabres were losing, clinching the Caps post-season appearance.

The Masters, of course, started on Thursday and so between those three events, Man-Cave weekend got off to a raucous start. Friday was all Masters, but then it all repeated Saturday as the Nationals notched another come-from-behind win over the Cubs in the afternoon and in the evening, the Caps stunned the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. After the hockey it was off to Saturday’s Masters highlights.

The Nationals finally lost a game on Sunday, but, really, who cares—it was Sunday at The Masters. Some people celebrate Easter Sunday by making an appearance at church, hiding Easter eggs for small children or generally contemplating and celebrating the changing of the seasons and the irrevocable end to Winter darkness.

I, however, was reveling in the Church of Golf at the Cathedral of St. Augusta watching mortal men battle the twin challenges of one of the most beautiful and diabolical golf courses ever designed and their own frayed nerves.

I watched in hushed amazement as South African Louis Oosthuizen holed a double eagle at Augusta’s 575 yard par-5 second hole. I’ve never seen anything like it before and never will again in my lifetime. The guy hits the green on his second shot and the ball literally takes a sharp, right turn and travels 60 feet at the perfect angle and velocity to just drop gingerly into the cup in one, final, slow, glorious rotation.

Do you know how ridiculous that was? That one golfer, with one shot, picks up three strokes at the final round of the Masters on Sunday? There have only been 4 double-eagles in Masters history- and I believe this was the only one of them that was ever televised.

The playoff ending that ultimately crowned Bubba Watson Masters champion was wonderful too. Even though I don’t particularly follow them, I capped off my magical weekend watching the Texas Rangers on ESPN Sunday night baseball- for no particular reason except I could.

I think it was Saturday night (not sure- the whole weekend was one large blur) I talked to Millie in New York. I believe she asked me if I missed her and, of course, I said, I missed her tremendously. She knew better. “You’re having the friggin’ time of your life, aren’t you? Nationals, Caps, golf. You can watch whatever you want, eat whatever you want- no interruptions. You have walked the dog haven’t you?”

I had. Honest. Only takes 15 or 20 minutes. In fact, if it weren’t for Suki’s two daily walks, I seriously doubt I would have seen the light of day. I hear the weather was great this weekend. Except for a few short ventures to the great outdoors- I would not have known because- as he intended- when God created light- he purposely made sure hardly any of it would seep into the man-cave.

Lotto Failure- Plans Significantly Scaled Back

Well, I did not win the mega-millions lotto. But my office pool did hit a $2 combo and my share is 15 cents, though the whole thing is in dispute. Some people put in a dollar, others, like me, put in $2, and one person put in $5. I’m pretty sure my share should be more like 30 cents.

But these problems pale in comparison to the warfare that’s broken out in a Baltimore suburb where a woman who bought winning lotto tickets on behalf of her co-workers at a McDonald’s now says they don’t get any of it because she went out and bought the ticket separately on her own. But from the same Seven-Eleven. Good luck with that, lady. I believe your life has just gotten a little more complicated than it was 72 hours ago, back when you didn’t have to worry about hiring large, burly men to protect your life.

Now that I know I didn’t win the big one, I have had to shelve my plans to buy an island. The research I conducted along the way revealed that they range in price from $50 thousand to $40 million. The problem with the $50 thousand one is that it’s in Fiji, which, of course, is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It’s a one acre plot with an ocean view (actually it can’t help but have an ocean view, it’s kind of surrounded). But visiting it, is pricey unless you can get work in Fiji itself. It’s about $6 thousand to fly there round-trip, so ten visits alone would cost more than the entire island.

I was also going to eat lobster every day but did find the local Harris Teeter sells a fine export from Chile- langostinos- kind of like miniature lobster tails. I figure if I really want to, I could have those once a week.

I was also going to figure out which continent to visit first between Asia and Europe. I have decided, for the time being, to remain in North America. Over in Pentagon Row, the restaurant section of Pentagon City, there’s a quaint village-like atmosphere which seems reminiscent of the Denmark exhibit at Epcot Center at Disney World. I am going to walk there and check it out.

Finally, after much consideration and a conversation with my accountant, I have decided I want my 30 cents distributed in 26 equal annual payments. This will ensure I will remain cautious and disciplined with the money and not spend the entire cash reward in an impulsive manner.

I have also decided to try and keep my job, if they’ll have me. Based on my checkered career, the odds on that are slightly better than winning the lottery. But I must say, the ‘ol workplace is looking much, much better than it did, say, last Friday- a few hours before the drawing.