Wednesday, May 18, 2005
  Lift Your Head Up, Wednesday
Here's the Hand for this week:

Thumbs Up: To recent Penn State graduate Adam Taliafierro. In ceremonies in University Park, PA on May 14, Taliafierro received his bachelor's degree in labor and industrial relations, even compiling a 3.2 grade-point average along the way.

But the good news isn't his walking with his classmates. It's the simple fact that he IS walking.

Taliafierro was a standout defensive back for the Nittany Lions' football program. As a freshman, he cracked the starting lineup and was playing well for Joe Paterno's troop. While attempting to make a stop in a game against Ohio State on Sept. 23, 2000, Taliafierro suffered a severe spinal injury, fracturing his C-5 vertabrae.

Immediately following the injury, doctors predicted Taliaferro would never walk again. But just five months after the injury and difficult spinal-fusion surgery, that's exactly what he did. And almost one year to the day of his life-altering injury, he excited the 109,000 people at Beaver Stadium when he led Penn State onto the field.

Years of rehab has yielded him 85-90% of his original faculties back. And now he tackles yet another goal: law school. Somehow I don't think the rigors of being a 1L is really going to be an issue for him...a walk in the park, if you must.

Thumbs Down: The folks who run Major League Baseball's "Extra Innings" package on the telly.

Now, before I slam them, I would like to give them props for responding to an email that I thought was pretty obvious to be tongue-in-cheek...but back to my griping...

The Red Sox are the World Champs. They are, arguably, the most popular team in MLB. People from all over the country - and the world - subscribe to some form of the MLB package in order to follow them. I'd be willing to bet you a slice of pizza with pepperoni that more Sox fans subscribe than, say, Mariner fans. Or Devil Ray fans. Are there Devil Ray fans? There is that one heckler idiot that NESN annoyingly mikes up when he goes nuts on Mark Bellhorn, but other than that, they all look like empty green seats to me.

So why use non-NESN feeds? Why alienate a good 50-60% of your customer base who want to see Don Orsillo and the Rem Dawg? This past weekend, when Boston was playing Seattle, they used FSN Northwest's feed and the Mariner broadcast team. They were both about 80 years old and, at one point, I thought I heard the color guy stirring his Metamucil (orange flavor, I'd presume) so he could get regular by the 7th inning stretch. And that was a highlight.

Thankfully last night, Donnie-O and Remy were back on the screen and all was well. Although, someone might want to tell their production manager that when it's time to go to commercial, they ought to do just that...go to commercial...and make sure the mikes aren't hot. But that's a completely different breed of cat altogether.

Index Finger: This week's propers go out to none other than Mother Nature. It's getting sunny out. Which means it's getting warmer. Which means it's inching closer to beach weather.

The warmer weather also allows for not having to wear a god-damned shirt and tie to work everyday. And, for the first time in a long time, I'm taking advantage of the weather and doing something commonly known as "exercise." I read about this new phenomenon - "exercise" - somewhere.

Scientists and doctors claim that by "exercising," you can get healthier and feel better in the morning and your pants won't get tight and you won't get a gut or grow boobs like Phil Mickelson. (holy run-on sentence, Batman.)

But seriously, it's been great. I got into the whole walking thing in Australia. I walked everywhere, with the exception of the times when I took the train...or a cab...or was flying...or driving... But walking is good for you. And if you have some tunes to put a little pep in the step, all the better.

Middle Finger: I've been in a rather good mood as of late and nothing has really pissed me off for more than two or three seconds. I get mad when I miss the occasional jumpshot during lunchtime hoops, but that happens so rarely, that it's almost not worth mentioning. But I digress.

Have you been following the latest saga with the American media and the lack of diligent fact-checking or substantiated stories? I could go on-and-on about this topic, but you all probably have important things to do before Friday and I'm not sure I'd finish quite before then. And like I said in last week's Hand, I'm not much for talking politics with strangers.

But since none of you fine, fine folks out there (and I know that sets of eyes have viewed this stuff at least 280 times...) have commented on anything I've written thusfar, I'll assume I have not offended anyone and will proceed to go medieval on yo' ass.

Last week, Newsweek wrote an article about the internment camps at Gitmo and how U.S. investigators would put copies of the Qu'ran in the toilet and flush them or even (with apologies to Triumph the Comic Insult Dog) poop on them. In the Muslim faith, that is a crime punishable by death. And, if you shit on Muhammad and have weed in your boogie board bag, like, say, in a land with a large Muslim population like Indonesia, yer doubly fucked mate. (free Schapelle)

Now, I have no doubt that the U.S. might be using some unconventional means to an end to get some answers from some of these folks. And I am OK with that. I do wake up every morning and wonder "hey, I wonder if these fuckers are going to blow me, my friends, or anyone else up today." That sucks.

So if you have to pull a tittie-twister or purple-nurple on some al-qaeda member, cool by me. A little sleep deprivation never hurt anyone, either. I call that "junior year in college." Even if you have to douse their feet with kerosene and light them on fire, I'd be willing to turn my head. (did it just get weird? it got weird, huh?) But for crying out loud, why write about that? Why tell anyone about that? Why misrepresent it? Why, why, bleedin' why?

Newsweek publishes its story and all holy hell (no pun intended) breaks loose. Scores die in anti-U.S. riots and, to quote Papa Jack, "someone's got-ta pay!" The White House says Newsweek got-ta pay:

"There is lasting damage to our image because of this report," the chief White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, said at a news briefing. "And we would encourage Newsweek to do all that they can to help repair the damage that has been done, particularly in the region."

Man, where do I start? I've got an idea, Newsweek...if you want to fix the lasting damage to our image, go out and find some of the WMD's we heard so much about... Just a thought.

And further, McClellan, who called Newsweek's retraction "a good first step" shortly after the magazine issued it on Monday, said that journalists at the magazine could do even more "by talking about the way they got this wrong and pointing out what the policies and practices of the United States military are when it comes to the handling of the holy Koran."

Well, I'm chock full o' suggestions this afternoon. Right after Newsweek explains how it f-ed up covering this story, how about the White House explains how they just f-ed running this country, this useless war, this economy - and while we're at it - all your policies and practices since Sept. 12, 2001.

Me? I don't care if you crap on the qu'ran and piss on Mecca. Just don't crap on the Constitution, too. And don't put our men & women in harms way by being irresponsible.

Whew. Good thing I'm "exercising" or else I'd be real bitter these days.

(author's note: addendum...David Wells gets the middle finger, too. 1.3 IP, 9 H, 7 ER this afternoon vs. the A's. If it didn't take me a while to come up with the Newsweek stuff, I'd erase it.)

Ring Finger: Portman's the muse. And that can't be denied. But I would be hard-pressed to disagree with Maxim magazine's "Girlfriend of the Day." Her name is Joss Stone and she is amazing.

One look at the photos and you say, "wow, pretty blonde." And you see the stats, "wow, 5-11, she's tall." And if you have a thing for English women, then you'll say "hey, she's from Dover and I've got an English fetish."

Then you see the birthdate and you feel icky. Born in 1987??? But she is 18, so you won't have to try to convince the judge that you're innocent because you were duped, a la Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull. (assuming you do start to date her)

But the kicker comes when she opens her mouth and sings. It's like nothing you could imagine. She's got a deep, soulful voice that warms you up. Her new tune, "The Right TIme," that serves as the soundtrack for the new white jeans ad for the Gap. If you have a chance, check out her music. It will not disappoint.

The Pinky: We're coming to an end of an era. The last two Tuesday trash days are evidence.

The strip of grass in front of 549 Webster Avenue has been piled high with trash, as the three inhabitants have been slowly packing all their unwanted and unnecessary stuff into disposable boxes and tossing it aside. Monday night, the big couch that was in the living room for so long took its swim with the fishes.

549 has been a second home for me the last few months and has served as an alternate homebase for countless others along the way. We're all better for it.

It's not a sad breakup, just an inevitable one. We all tried hard. But then Jimmy quit and Jody got married... We all knew it'd never get far. No, wait, that's what happened to my band back in 1969.

One of the three flatmates is moving home and the other two fellas are moving down the road. Apparently a couple came to check it out this past Sunday, as it's on the market now. That finicky little missy saw as much as she cared to in the 45 second tour of the place. (apparently the bathroom was the final straw) She doesn't understand. Never will. Can't expect her to.

With the Memorial Day holiday coming on the final weekend of the lease, it's unlikely that 549 will go out with a bang. But at least one of the housemates did (wink-wink, nudge-nudge)...and that's good enough for me.

Until tomorrow, enjoy today. One.
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A daily - or every-other-day - account of all there is in my head
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(I vow to attack this endeavor with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.)

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