The Kids Are Alright: Hanging Out Sunday’s Wash

* Yes, I know it’s not actually “alright,” but that’s the way the Who spelled it on their album, and the Cal Band did a Who tribute show Saturday (and a damn fine job, although a Union Jack formation would have been a nice touch).

* It’s also an apt title if you look at the relative youth that Cal has rolled out (and Vandy and Bama, albeit to a lesser extent). But the tradition lives at Cal: last year’s backup becomes this year’s star running back, and another star-in-waiting shows up as the backup. Keep an eye on Shane Vereen, if you can, and you probably can’t. You sure can’t on Jahvid Best, who moves like a streak of lightning and is so electrifying that he cannot go in the shower for fear of electrocuting his teammates.

* The boos that cascaded down from the east stands following Longshore’s second INT should not have been directed at him – and to be honest, probably weren’t. They should have been directed (and rightly so) at Jeff Tedford, who cannot seem to grasp that the Golden Bears are a football team and not Nate Longshore’s personal group therapy exercise. Continuing to put Longshore in that position is bad for morale – for the fans, for the team and doubtless for Longshore himself. I am sure Nate is a fine gentleman and is doing his best, but that ship has sailed, for better or worse – this is Kevin Riley’s offense now, and the sooner everyone comes to terms with it, the better.

* Man, but Bama sonned Clemson something awful. Freshman running back piled up almost 100 yards, the much-vaunted Julio Jones scores a TD in his debut, and John Parker Jimbo Billy Bo Bob Wilson passes Brodie Croyle for completions. (I still despise Dennis Franchione and Mike Price, because the tumult they caused the Crimson Tide wasted the career of somebody who should have been his generation’s Namath or Sloan or Hollingsworth or Barker.) The ACC has reverted to the Almost College Conference for football purposes and will remain so until forcibly proven otherwise, because that was just ugly. (East Carolina? East F-ing Carolina?)

* Vanderbilt finally breaks the streak against the very team they last got a win against. I wouldn’t say they clowned Miami of Ohio, but any SEC team should be favored against any MAC team, and at least the ‘Dores didn’t let the side down. Not sanguine about next week, though – I am sure that after the humiliation last year, Spurrier will have the Gamecocks loaded for bear and will be looking to administer the beatdown.

* Yes, Ess-Eee-See and all that, but I won’t shed one single tear if Tennessee gets their ass handed to them on the West Coast by a team with an ursine mascot for the second consecutive year.

* Celtic lost the first Old Firm derby of the year, 4-2, although it’s a relief that Venegoor of Hesselink was healthy enough to play as a sub after being stretchered off against Falkirk last week.

* And to cap everything off, the Redskins are limping to the starting line after two absolutely anemic performances down the stretch. The problem with preseason is that you look good playing third-string on third-string with guys that aren’t even going to make the practice squad, and all those great runs by Marcus Mason or traffic catches by Billy McMullin or great passing from Colt Brennan are all meaningless come Thursday night, when Washington becomes the latest stop on the NFL’s “Messiah Mannings” tour.

* Advice to anyone playing the Colts or Giants this year: come out in gold jerseys and black helmets with a “V” on the side. Mannings tend to freeze up and choke when they see it, and there’s proof if you look it up.

* All my peeps on the Dirty Coast: stay dry and shoot first.

One Very Positive Sign.

Illinois/Delaware vs Arizona/Alaska.

When’s the last time there was no Southerner in any of the four spots on the national ticket? You have to go back to 1984, and even then, George H.W. Bush claimed a Houston hotel as his legal residence (and tried to sell himself hard as a Texan). Before that, you have to debate whether Maryland counts as the South or not (slave state, lots of Southern cultural influences, but never seceded). If it doesn’t, you’re looking at 1972 (Nixon/Agnew vs. McGovern/Eagleton/Shriver, and no, Eagleton’s 3 days as VP candidate and being from the border state of Missouri doesn’t count). But if it does, then you have to go all the way back to…1944, when FDR (New York) and Truman (from Missouri, but Kansas City which is far from the secessionist regions) squared off against Thomas Dewey (New York) and John Bricker (Ohio).

Obama’s final list seems to have been Biden, Bayh, and Sebelius – Delaware, Indiana and Kansas.

McCain’s final four were Romney (Utah/Massachusetts), Pawlenty (Minnesota), Lieberman (Connecticut) and Palin (Alaska).

Is it possible that for the first time, we might actually be approaching a repudiation of the Confederatist political culture?


“A Vice-President cannot help you, he can only hurt you.”

-Richard Nixon

If it really is Sarah Palin, I’m not sure what to think. It’s an interesting pick, to call out America’s Hottest Governor (TM-Wonkette) as your running mate. But I’m not sure what it really accomplishes, for several reasons:

1) She’s from Alaska, which has a smaller population than San Francisco. Sure, it’s three electoral votes in the bag that might have been drifting toward Obama, but if you’re trying to shore up a state, shouldn’t the pick have been from Virginia or Ohio or Florida?

2) You’re basically taking the “age and experience” meme and piling it in a heap and setting it on fire. Sarah Palin has been governor of one of America’s least-populous states for two years, before which she was the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska (pop. ~8000). There’s very little to suggest she’s done other than a fine job, but it makes Barack Obama look like a wizened statesman by comparison, and undercuts perhaps the most effective line of attack against Obama.

3) Alaska is not like other states. Zippy income tax; in fact, every citizen gets a check from the government for his or her share of the state’s oil revenue. I don’t know how many otherwise-undecided votes energy policy drives in this election, but if you want to suggest something other than a “drill more, drill harder” approach to energy policy, Alaska may not be the place to look for it.

4) Alaska is very much like a Southern state, in that its politics tends to be insular, nepotistic, and generally corrupt. (See also Stevens, Murkowski.) Palin has gotten her fingers burned on the fringes of this earlier in the year, but not in a terribly serious way, and she certainly doesn’t appear on the surface to be up to her neck in dirty dealings – but because of the nature of the state’s politics, she’s potentially vulnerable to as much guilt-by-association as Biden’s Delaware connections provide for him. This is a chance worth taking in the Rove offense, if you’re trying to depress turnout generally and say “well, I’m corrupt, you’re corrupt, they’re all corrupt, don’t bother showing up”, but that’s a hell of a three-rail bank shot to be taking with only nine weeks to go ’til Election Day.

5) Nobody other than hardcore political junkies could pick her out of a lineup with Tina Fey and three elves. Again, not necessarily a problem, but you really don’t want the first reaction from the rest of the country to be “Who?”

6) At this point, you’re probably thinking “Look here, donkey, they must know something you don’t because they wouldn’t be picking her otherwise.” Well, two things: first, there’s no such thing is something they know that I don’t, because I really am just that good (tip: remember Brian Schwitzer of Montana, who is a FIGJAM of the first order but who is going to be a big deal in a few years). But more importantly, what they think they know may not in fact be valid information.

See, Team McCain is inexplicably convinced that with Hillary Clinton out of the race, the people who voted for her are all ripe for the plucking by the GOP, and they’ll torpedo Obama at the waterline and sail on to victory. But that argument falls apart for two reasons:

* Half those people just saw the Clintons endorsing the hell out of Obama publicly for four days. They are over their first flush of anger and ready to go back to a candidate much closer to their actual beliefs. They are probably not on the table.

* The rest of the folks who would vote for Clinton over McCain, but not Obama over McCain, are concentrated in states that McCain’s going to win in a walk anyway. It doesn’t matter if every white woman in every Wal-Mart in all of West Virginia pulls the lever for McCain, it’s still only got 5 electoral votes. There’s aren’t enough women sufficiently disaffected to vote for McCain in enough states already in play to make a material difference. (I had a professor who once ran for statewide office on the idea that there were enough women in the “works at Wal-Mart” demographic to get her the nomination. She finished third.)

In the grand scheme of things, it’s a head-scratcher of a pick. You could be reaching for the novelty of a “first” on the GOP side, but all it does is point out that the Democrats did it twenty-four years ago, and that they did it out of a sense of desperation. It could be a sop to the party regulars, getting a solid conservative on the ticket, but it’s questionable how well it will play in parts of the country where they were already averse to a black man and now have to consider a woman on the ticket if they go the other way. It could just be an attempt to get youth and vitality on the ticket, and Bobby Jindal’s not available because of the hurricane.

Ah well. What’s done is done. Congratulations to Sarah, and congrats as well to Alaska and Hawaii. Less than fifty years after statehood, they’ve both got a name on the big ticket, and it’s good to remember that “United States” isn’t dependent on “contiguous landmass.”

An analogy, on the eve of football season

Imagine you support a football team that is really a good team, near and dear, that just hasn’t managed to get over the hump. And then, all of a sudden, they’re in the Super Bowl. You’re thrilled beyond belief, you’re so close to the championship you can scream…but they’re playing the games at the rate of one play per day. No tickets, no TV, no radio, no internet, and all you know about what’s happening is what the players mention as they come back to the bench.

What would you do? I’ll tell you what you’d do: you’d be a nervous wreck for, like, two months.

But that’s the thing about sports: you derive an immense amount of joy just from being happy for the guys who are actually out there winning the championship.


So I’ve had occasion to do a lot of reflecting lately. Figuring out how you’re going to cope with your job, your family and your future will do that to you. And I’ve noticed that I’m starting to remember a lot of things I had forgotten about, and vividly at that.

One of those things is Led Zeppelin.

Yes, I have always known that Led Zep is at the pinnacle of rock, and they were all over our car stereos twenty years ago as we first abused our new licenses, and I bought Mothership as soon as it hit iTunes, and “Good Times Bad Times” was sort of the unofficial anthem of the Vanderbilt team that ran riot through the top 25 right up until they shat the bed in the NCAA tournament. But flipping through some of those tracks tonight, I am really remembering for the first time in a long, long, long time just how awesome the music is. And I close my eyes and there I am, pushing a Monte Carlo with 125,000 miles on it, glass tops in the trunk, marveling at how General Motors can built a 5-liter V-8 that only turns over 160 horsepower (I get damn near that with better torque out of a 5-cylinder now), wind whipping through a full head of hair because I’m still only 16 and I have redneck fringe, jacket sleeves jammed up past my elbows and two aces in the band of my hat in the front seat (two down, two to go, four aces means state championship), constantly glancing down at that blue sparkly thing on my hand that means I’m going to be a senior shortly, and Black Dog cranked to the stars, Hey hey mama say the way you move, gonna make you sweat gonna make you groove, and I’m just utterly rockin’ out and it’s great to be alive, and what’s with that horn honking, and–

–and whoops, that’s not a Monte Carlo burning down I-65, that’s a Rabbit stopped at a green light at the corner of Stevens Creek and DeAnza, and the people behind me are pissed.


Hanging Out Monday’s Wash

* Family’s always trying, isn’t it?

* The more I see and hear of him, the more I am convinced that Joe Biden is going to be the Charles Barkley to Obama’s MJ: don’t dare get between him and a microphone, and you’re going to be cringing waiting for him to drop a clanger, but the potential entertainment value is through the roof. It ought to be an interesting week.

* I still despise him and think he’s a jackass, but Kobe Bryant gets a pass this week. What he did overnight Saturday was incredible to watch – as was Dwayne Wade’s effort. Seriously, when you can bring Dwayne Wade off the bench, you should be unloading whoop ass by the case. But anybody who thought a bunch of NBA stars couldn’t come together, play as a team, subvert 12 egos for one goal – well, these guys looked like a million damn dollars and a bunch of them are talking about wanting to come back in 2012. Lock and load and find some cover.

* There was zippy fog in the city yesterday. My plan had been to use the effects of the fog to offset the effects of the company, and yet? No fog. I am bitter and I want a refund. That lunkhead Austrian robot from the future has a LOT to answer for this year.

* “John McCain was a POW!” is the new “Did you know Jerome Bettis is from Detroit?”

* Whatever you may have thought of Margaret Thatcher in the past, this may be the saddest thing I’ve ever read:

Thatcher’s condition has deteriorated so much that she forgets that her husband, Denis Thatcher, died in 2003, her daughter said in a memoir that is to be published next month and was serialized over the weekend in the Mail on Sunday newspaper.

“I had to keep giving her the bad news over and over again,” Carol Thatcher wrote. “Every time it finally sank in that she had lost her husband of more than 50 years, she’d look at me sadly and say ‘Oh’ as I struggled to compose myself. ‘Were we all there?’ she’d ask softly.”

* I didn’t post that much about the Olympics this year. Every time they come round, I tend to think about where I was four years ago and what was happening with my life. And while I’m remembering 2004 (housesitting, early days at the last job, still disoriented from the move), I’m thinking just as much of 1988, when the Olympics didn’t start until school was back in and I was starting my junior year…and having the kind of start to the year that normally gets listed in history books as “The Gathering Storm” or something like that.

* Leona Lewis is all right but no Robert Plant. But Jimmy Page is still the Death Star. Every hair-metal swill ever made collapses prostrate in fear before the opening chords of “Whole Lotta Love.”

* Coffee makes everything better. However, the girl behind the counter looks at you funny if you reply to “Room for cream?” with “No, but room for whiskey would be great.”

* My Buddy Vince Says [redacted for NDA]