Friday, June 27, 2008

Thanks, Comcast!

After a Comcast representative came to our house, groveling, yapping about how bad they wanted to keep us as a customer, he offered us their phone service -- Comcast Voice -- at no charge, AND, to sweeten the deal, we were given every channel they offer.

Well, not the Playboy channels, but still, a pretty nice deal.

So, we say goodbye to our old phone bill, and hello to among other channels, NFL Network!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to start sending emails every five minutes asking them to please replay in its entirety the 1981 NFC Championship game that saw my Eagles defeat the hated Dallas Cowboys 20-7, earning a trip to Super Bowl XV.

Here's the signature play from that game, complete with the original call from Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier. Something I never noticed before...the Eagles left tackle should have been whistled for a false start!

Oh well, tough luck for Dallas. Considering they've won three Super Bowls since that day -- compared to zilch for the gang in green -- I think the 'Boys have gotten over it.

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin: 1937-2008

I recently wrote about George Carlin as his last HBO special was about to air a few months ago, but I just wanted to make another mention of one of my favorite comedians, who passed away last night at the age of 71.

The clip below is from that show, and it's his comments on death, or at least some of our reactions to someone else's death. And yes, there are swear words, so prepare however you need to.

Hopefully the language doesn't get in the way of enjoying Carlin's work, which when he was on -- which was often -- was brilliant. And make sure your kids listen to him as well, when they reach whatever age you feel is right.

I have to thank my parents, who let me listen to one of his early albums, Toledo Window Box at the house when I was in my early teens. It was on 8-track, and I can even remember hearing it in the car on the way to school on several occasions. I wouldn't get out of the car until Carlin finished his rant on the persistence of farts.

Hey, I was only 14.

Wait, that is still probably the bit that would make me laugh the most today, too.

Also loved this old favorite, "If you have 24 odds and ends on the table, and 23 of them fall off, what do you have, an odd or an end?"

Carlin was a master at dissecting the way we act, the way we live, and, especially, the way we talk. Some of my favorite Carlin bits involved words we use, expressions, phrases, emotions, and the analysis of why we say what we say when we say it.

He'll be most remembered for the Seven Dirty Words bit, and while that's not a bad thing, it's important to remember that his act was so much more than that.

One of my favorite Carlin memories happened about 10 years ago while I was sitting in an airport waiting to board a flight to Colorado. There were some delays, so to kill the time, I resumed reading his book, Brain Droppings. Well, it didn't take long until I was laughing so hard I was crying, and whenever I'd stop, I would think back to what I had just read, and it started all over again.

I was fortunate enough to see him live on stage in Las Vegas back in 1997. Whether or not you've had that chance, spend a few minutes on Youtube today -- when the little kids, or boss aren't around -- and enjoy one of the all-time greats.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Cubs vs. Sox: Move Over Boston and New York

Now that the hoopla over the Celtics, Tiger Woods, and Willie Randolph has begun to wind down, the White Sox and Cubs can take over the sports world...for a few days at least. As well they should.

Excitement is always at a high level when the crosstown rivals face off for the only real interleague series that matters to Chicago baseball fans takes place, but this year, it's reached an intensity that could only be eclipsed by an all-Chicago World Series. And, don't rule that out for a few months from now.

The White Sox -- along with the Arizona Diamondbacks -- enjoy the biggest lead of any division frontrunner in baseball, 4 1/2 games.

The Cubs have the best record in baseball, 45-28.

This weekend at Wrigley Field, and next weekend at U.S. Cellular field, the two teams will play their annual six games as fans of both teams cheer, boo, drink, taunt, drink, laugh, drink, cry, and drink, in delirium.

ESPN will broadcast Sunday night games both weekends, so it must be big. Two straight Sunday night games without a New York or Boston team is unfathomable.

Well, it's about damn time. They should be here. The Sox did win it after all just three years ago, and The Cubs -- pending possible doom with the Zambrano injury -- feel like this is their best team in a long time, considering they have baseball's best record at the latest point in a season since their last championship team 100 years ago.

There's even an effort to have Steve Bartman throw out a first pitch before a game in September.

So, while us here in the Windy City will enjoy all six games, and whatever -- if any -- bragging rights emerge, considering the success each of these teams is having, it's impossible to ignore the possibility that these same two teams could get together for a World Series. It's so delicious, I don't even want to write anymore about how fantastic it would be, because I would probably jinx it.

Still, it's hard to resist thinking about. Late October, Cubs vs. White Sox for all the marbles...

Even New York and Boston would enjoy that one.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Jim McKay

Within the last few days, not only have we lost Jim McKay, but also Charlie Jones, and Tim Russert.

I'm more of a sports fan, than a political junkie, so while I'm aware of Russert's work, I only watched Meet The Press rarely.

Jones was a longtime announcer for AFC -- and prior to that, AFL games -- on NBC. He'd usually be doing a late game from the west coast. Whenever you heard Charlie Jones doing a game, you knew it was usually a late Sunday afternoon from San Diego, Denver, Oakland, or Seattle.

It was good to hear Charlie's voice in the fall, because it almost always was accompanied by the wonderful smell of Sunday dinner filling the air as well.

Here's a little clip of Charlie opening a 1983 playoff game on NBC.

As for McKay, he was simply one of the most important sportscasters of the last 50 years. And, over the course of a fateful day in Munich during the 1972 olympics, delivered the news of one of the most unforgettable stories, ever.

There's an interview with McKay, conducted in 1998, in which he recaps his career in thorough fashion. In this part, he chronicles the events in Munich.

McKay passed away on the day of The Belmont Stakes, an event he anchored many times.

He also was the host of many U.S. Opens, when the golf event was carried on ABC. As Tiger and Phil battle it out at Torrey Pines, keep McKay in mind.

Jones and Russert, too.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Sopranos Finale: A Year Later

It's been about a year since the finale of The Sopranos aired on HBO. There's still been no definitive explanation as to what, if anything, happened as the final scene cut to black.

I've read something this week that has me leaning more in the direction that Tony got whacked.

It was certainly a significant theory from the start. When I first wrote about the finale last year, I was leaning that way, but never felt satisfied at the vagueness of how it was presented to us.

When asked about the final scene, creator David Chase would simply say things like, "it's all there," indicating there were clues to figure out that would solve all of our questions.

Thankfully, someone out there has more time than me to decipher those clues. Whether this person is right or wrong is up for debate, but I like the case that's made.

It's a lengthy read, but well worth it.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

My Brother Joins The Club

Congratulations to my brother, Rick, and his new bride, Allison. The happy couple tied the knot last weekend.

They met in Australia back in 2001, each on a separate trip from an Illinois school.

One of the friends they had in Australia came to the wedding. I did my best to restrain myself from asking if he knew any of The Bee Gees, or The Wiggles.

My cousin and her husband flew in from Minnesota for the event, as well. It was great to see them again. We only get to hang out once or twice a year. I didn't bother to ask them if they knew Prince.

Did that already.

The weekend was nothing but fun, even though rain cut short our Friday morning round of golf. We simply adjusted our schedule to include a stop at Hooters and then Arlington Race Course instead. Of course, as soon as we sat down at Hooters, the sun came out.

Our youngest daughter, Sarah, threw a big fit and wouldn't let my wife leave the hotel to join us at the rehearsal dinner. Even with a babysitter all lined up, it just wasn't meant to be.

Ahh, kids. Paying attention Rick and Allison?

The wedding day went off without a hitch. Our oldest, Megan, was the flower girl. The smile on her face as she walked down the aisle was my favorite moment of the whole weekend. Although, it was a tad bittersweet, as it's a smile I'll be seeing on her face coming down an aisle all too soon.

Not too soon, I hope.

She got her first ride in a limo shortly after the ceremony, and her first sip of champagne as well. She loved it. The limo ride, that is.

She also stole the show on the dance floor at the reception. I wish I had a dollar for everytime a group of dancers formed a circle around her.

After a bit of rest overnight, many from the reception -- mainly the two families -- gathered one last time for breakfast at the hotel. Our families really get along well, and instead of simply being happy for Rick and Allison, there was a genuine sense of happieness to now be connected with a new family, made up of really good people.

It was a fitting end to a really great weekend.

So, raise a glass to Rick and Allison, new members of the married club. Welcome aboard, brahh.