Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Darlington County

That's right friends, the blog is kicking off in style today with a little bit of The Boss. One of my favorite Bruce Springsteen songs is "Darlington County" from the "Born in the USA" project. While many people feel a connection to "Dancing in the Dark" (nice to meet you, Courtney Cox) or "Born in the USA" (Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda from WWF fame), for me it was the song about two guys and a road trip. From the same CD comes one of Bruce's silliest songs - Bobby Jean. Check out the lyrics - so bad.

I've got Bruce on the brain tonight, as he has a Baltimore show on November 20 and I've been reading some about the ticket fiasco. So I'll work in some Springsteen as the blog rolls along.

Bruce Springsteen is not a football fan - while you might think that this favorite son of New Jersey is a Giants fanatic, he has no ties to any team. Bruce played the halftime show of the Steelers / Cardinals Super Bowl this past season. I tend to think that Bruce would be a fan of a blue collar kind of team - maybe the Packers or Bears.

Anyhow, after three weeks of the football season, I did not expect the Ravens to be the league's darlings. Everyone says that the Ravens are the best team, that Joe Flacco is an MVP candidate, and that Ray Lewis making the best plays of his career. I think that the defense is playing well because of their deep talent (thanks, Ozzie) and that the offense is playing well because of coaching (thanks John, Cam and the rest). The Ravens being 3-0 is cool, especially since both the Redskins and Steelers are 1-2.. This weekend's game against the Patriots will be a good test, but since weather will not be a factor, I like the Ravens to keep up their winning ways. The game will be close - maybe 24-20 in favor of the purple birds.

And one more thing- keep you thoughts on the "Streets of Philadelphia" ... my niece will be there starting tomorrow for her surgery. Needless to say, we'll be thinking about her, and about Karen and D.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hello Nurse!

Kudos to anyone who new that today's blog title comes from "The Animaniacs." If you have no idea who "The Animaniacs" are, have a look at this link ... and before you scoff at it as some silly cartoon, it's Steven Spielberg's silly cartoon.

The "Hello Nurse" line was an Animaniac staple - notice the nurse pictured via the link above. It directly relates to:

Issue #1

I have good school stories to share, as I missed the last two days of work in order to stay home with Lilly. Lilly has been sick since overnight Monday / Tuesday, and missed the past three days of school. Her illness? The same illness that Pam had from Friday through Tuesday. Pam was out of commission all weekend, and missed work Monday and Tuesday.

Logic says that I'm due to have "it" as well, but as of this post (knock on wood) I'm holding up pretty well. My annual illness usually comes in February, but I suppose that in this day and age of flu mutations, anything is possible. It's back to school tomorrow for Lilly and for me. We took in a number of movies in our time together - High School Musical 3 and Kung Fu Panda at home, and a Thursday matinee of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. Mr. T was great in his role as Earl the policeman.

Issue #2
I was looking forward to posting a food entry on-location from Jacksonville, FL this weekend, as we were headed there for a 50th anniversary celebration. Pam's aunt and uncle invited all of the nieces and nephews, and Pam's folks, for a rendevoux / suarree. After some painstaking deliberations, we decided not to go on the trip. Lilly's fever was still unsettled, and we had both already missed 2 days of work. We'll miss out on some good laughs and of course some savory food and beverage, but better safe than sorry.

Issue #3
The Ravens are 2-0 and a two-touchdown favorite against the visiting Cleveland Browns. While I would usually view this game as a potential clunker against a down-on-its-luck division rival, the Ravens should quickly and easily deal with the Browns. The Ravens have not played a clunker game under John Harbaugh - the six losses last year were to Pittsburgh three times, Tennessee, Indianapolis and New York (Giants).

The Browns do have Josh Cribbs, who may torment the Ravens a bit in the return game or in a "wildcat" formation. But Cleveland has scored only 26 points this season, and the Ravens are stingy at home.

My prediction - Ravens win 31 - 10.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Happy New Year!

The blog would like to wish one and all a "Happy New Year." It's Rosh Hashana, which translates to "Head of the Year." The holiday kicked off at sundown on Friday, and its two big customs are apples and honey, and the blowing of the shofar (a ram's horn). A third, unofficial custom in many families is ...

Issue #1 - The food

My mom hosts Rosh Hashana dinner - in many years, she follows up the dinner with a late lunch the next day. The stuff is good - plain and simple. Things kick off with matzoh ball soup - for those not in the know, this is chicken soup filled with soft, fluffy dumplings (but there's nothing inside). Add in a few carrots, and it's good to go. Most folks have a single bowl - me, not so much. I never have fewer that two, and one year, I had so much soup that they put my picture in the dictionary next to "bloated."

Next comes chopped liver and gefilte fish. Mom makes the liver at home from scratch - for those who love chopped liver, it's a delicacy. Tupperware containers accompany guests when then leave, as the liver is one of their favorites. I skip liver and fish - instead I slurp more soup.

The main course - served buffet style - is quite the sight. Usually, turkey, brisket and corned occupy center stage (just 2 of the 3). Surrounding the meats are a sweet potato casserole, stuffing, a grilled veggie medley, a jello mold, applesauce ... my eyes begin to spin at this point.

Dessert - chocolate chip cake, mondel bread, and ... who cares what else? Sometimes there's fruit - I'll skip the fruit unless it's strawberries dipped in chocolate, which magically appeared.

It was delicious - on Friday night, and Saturday night (along with steak tenderloins) and again on Sunday after I mowed the lawn.

Thanks, mom.

Issue #2

Does it get much better than Ravens win and Steelers lose? I suppose I could root for a Redskin loss, but why waste all of my rooting karma on one weekend? I am most proud of the Ravens - they proved most pundits wrong by travelling cross country to win on the road, against a team that many say will be in the Super Bowl.

From the "I'm a bit concerned even though the Ravens are 2-0" department, the mighty defense has looked more like a bend-but-don't-break group, rather than the immovable force group of past seasons. To be fair, it does not look so intimidating to give up 50 points in two wins; then again, 14 points last week were careless, as were seven more this week.

But when push came to shove, the Ravens forced the Chargers into four field goals, and made a crucial big play to end the game. That Darren Sproles guy gave the Ravens fits for most of the day. But on the biggest play of the game, Ray Lewis made the big tackle.

Next up, the Browns come to Baltimore - I haven't looked yet, but the Ravens may be a 10-point favorite. Cleveland is not so good.

Did I mention that Pittsburgh lost?

Issue #3

Our school attendance will take a dip this week, and not because of "swine flu." We have a number of students participating as exhibitors at the Great Frederick Fair. It's kind of refreshing that in an era where kids take off of school all-too-often for "vacations," we have some students showing off their skills and talents. I use to chuckle that the school system closes for a day for the Fair, but the Fair is a big deal. Have a look at this link.

Good luck, kids.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Big Crabcake

No, we're not talking about a dinner event at G & M, but rather M & T Bank Stadium - site of the Ravens' opening day win over the Kansas City Chiefs, 38-24. The stadium received that nickname from ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman - I believe the derrivation comes from Tampa(which happend to be the location of theRavens' Super Bowl victory in 2001). The Buccaneers played in Tampa Stadium, which was briefly renamed Houlihan's Stadium when the era of corporations buying the naming rights to sporting venues was in fashion. Berman had begun to call the building "The Big Sombrero" in reference to its hat shape.

The Ravens played at Memorial Stadium for a couple of seasons until Ravens Stadium opened near Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 1998. Before the M & T Bank acquired the naming rights in 2003, the building was called PSINet Stadium. That company filed for bankruptcy. Anyway, with the absence of a compelling or catchy name, Berman bestowed "The Big Crabcake" on the building.

Some folks can't stand Berman - I think he's harmless, and his cheesy shtick at least shows he passionate about covering sports and having fun.

Back to the Ravens for a minute - a win is a win. The team looked awesome at times, and asleep at others. They will need to fine tune some things before the Chargers games next weekend. Although, I will point out that San Diego was 8-8 last year. Ravens were 11-5.

Food for thought - there really is nothing like a breakfast at Lenny's on a Sunday morning during football season. Everyone is wearing purple - patrons, cooks, cashiers. The pancake combo with eggs and bacon was great, not to mention the bagel and lox. Sipping coffee, talking about football and just relaxing. Too bad I had to ruin the experience by actually going to a football game and having a stomach ache for almost four quarters. It had nothing to do with the food, but rather the up and down play of the football team. Up 10-0, down 14-10, up 17-14, tied 17-17, up 24-17, tied 24-24, up 31-24, up 38-24.

By the way, the spread was 13. Boy is Vegas smart.

Quick education notes - Catoctin High School football (where ALL of our students go) is 2-0 after a win on Thursday night. Keep it up, fellas.

My daugher loves Kindergarten; my wife likes third grade; I still like middle school.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I love me some me!

As much as I would like to take credit for that quote, it actually belongs to Terrell Owens. I don't much care for T.O., but I dig the tee shirt that you can buy from his site.

The quote was said to me by a student at school today - how's that for a segue to ...

Topic #1

School was a-buzz today with ... that's right, you guessed it, the President's speech. Frederick County had made the decision last week to let each teacher decide for him/herself about viewing the speech with students. As parents began to call and write about their child being excluded from any speech activities, our front office staff (they are a great bunch, by the way) complied names and proactively sent the list to teachers. Teachers were instructed to check the list for student names before beginning any classwork related to the speech.

I guess Frederick County was on the right track to leave the decision up to each school staff. Harford County did a quick about-face - after announcing Friday that the speech would not be viewed today, the system issued a statement that students would have the chance to see the speech on Thursday.

Let me throw this out there - which of the President's advisers thought it would be a good move to make the speech text available for preview ON A DAY OFF OF SCHOOL? Were school employees supposed to interrupt their barbecues and beach days for a look at the speech? Maybe things would have been a bit smoother if the speech preview was available on Thursday or Friday before the long weekend ...

Topic #2

Football is two days away. Several publications / pundits rate the Ravens as the tenth (approx.) best team in the league; the Steelers sit atop most lists. The Redskins land around the 20th position. None of this really matters - that's why they play the games. But here are a few predictions for you:
  • The Ravens and Steelers will split their two games, with the home team winning each time.
  • The Cowboys will win the NFC East.
  • The 49ers will win the NFC West.
  • The Saints will win the NFC South.
  • The Vikings will win the NFC North.
  • The Patriots will win the AFC East.
  • The Chargers will win the AFC West.
  • The Titans will win the AFC South.
  • The Ravens will win the AFC North - what else did you expect me to say?
Topic #3

Breaking news - we ate at home tonight. Pam whipped up a batch of Parma Rosa sauce from Knorrs; I sauteed some chicken strips and shrimp (thanks Costco); I tossed in some peas; we boiled a box of wheat blend pasta, and BAM - what a meal! I'll be enjoying the leftovers tomorrow night.

This came on the heels of a delicious Labor Day BBQ - there was the classic burger and dog fare, along with pasta, potato and fruit salads. We rolled in with a platter of wings - half "honey barbecue" and half "spicy." There was not a single wing left on the dish.

Until next time,


Sunday, September 6, 2009

One Stop Shopping

The blog and its posse / mishpucha / peeps attended a Labor-Day-Weekend-BBQ on Saturday. The event was nice enough to provide material for all three aspects of the Blog.

Issue # 1 - The Fan

So we're at the BBQ for maybe 10 minutes, when I make my way with beer #1 to the deck where several of the other dads are hanging out. One is wearing a college football throw-back jersey - Archie Griffin from Ohio State. It's after 4 pm, and his team played a noon game versus Navy. Ohio State won the game despite some tense moments near the end. I say to the man "Ohio State had a tough time today," to which he responds incredulously "Well there goes that taped game ..." He looks at me, gets up and walks inside the house.

Are you kidding? He might as well wear a sign board that says "Hey world, don't talk to me about a football game that is already over. I want you to be a mind-reader and NOT talk to me about the football team / game whose jersey I happen to be wearing in public on the opening weekend of the college football season." By the way, that would be a really big sign board.

I did not and do not feel guilty in the slightest. Besides, if the game was that important, go to a sports bar, or follow it on your phone. Yutz.

Issue #2 - The food

Pretty good BBQ spread ... highlights included someone's homemade salsa. I did not get a taste, as many of the people sitting at the table monopolized the bowl and polished it off. I also had my first taste of "Shock Top" beer, an Anheiser-Busch product that tastes like a Blue Moon. Not too shabby.

I also had my first exposure to "spiked watermelon." The only alcoholic fruit I had sampled in the past came in a pitcher of sangria. I didn't stray from the beer to sample the wacky watermelon, but I thought it was worth a mention. Shrimp kabobs were tasty, as was the BBQ pork, hot off of the grill. Also delicious, but not homemade, was the nugget tray from Chick-Fil-A. Never disappoints.

Issue # 3 - Obama Drama

Since Friday afternoon, everyone who we have seen has said "You're teachers - what's your school doing about the Obama speech?"

This has become quite the fiasco. Most people I see and talk to (both educators and others) think that it's OK for a President to address kids about the importance of school. I tend to agree. Then again, while I am a cynic on many topics, I am not one on this. I don't believe that the speech is a veiled attempt at "social engineering" or "brainwashing" or even "campaigning."

The economy is a wreck. Our education system ranks below several other nations. What is so bad about a pep talk from the President? Politics and race will always be hot button topics - the two are combined here, and folks are yelling. If Taylor Swift wanted to do this, or Peyton Manning, do you think there would be this much drama?

That being said, I think some people are speaking out (which is their right) because their party and ideas are not the same as the President. Some people just like to debate and argue. The White House did say that the speech text would be released on Monday for schools to preview ... but schools are closed, so that preview is not going to occur. So much for that idea.

As for what Frederick County is doing, each teacher has the option to show or not show the speech. Some parents have called and written to have their child excluded from any speech-related activities.

For me, it's much ado about nothing.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I've been pondering ...

If you didn't know that the title of today's blog comes from a radio legend named Alan Walden, do yourself a favor and look him up.

Issue #1
Despite the fact that I find comedian Jim Breuer to be more annoying than funny, he landed one of the best commercial gigs. Pizza Hut now has a stuffed crust pan pizza. You can not be serious (speaking of funny, John McEnroe is funny)! Pizza Hut is not at the level of some of our local pizza establishment favorites such as Pasta Blitz (Howard County), Maria's (Baltimore County) and J & P's (lots of counties - originally Frederick). But the "Hut" is kid / family friendly, has Romano Cheese salad dressing, and a buffet for lunch in many locations. Yum. I look forward to sampling the new pizza and reporting back.

Issue #2
I'm just a bit jealous (and puzzled) how Howard County teachers get two consecutive four-day school weeks to open the school year. I know that the teachers have to work on Friday (attending meetings), but Frederick County opens up with two straight full weeks of school. Our kids and teachers stepped up to the plate to start the year, while Howard County is skating with just eight. To be fair, Frederick County kids are off on September 25 for "Fair Day." By the way, the "Great Frederick Fair" is pretty awesome.

Issue #3
My fantasy football team is sweet. I have Donovan McNabb, Reggie Wayne, Larry Fitzgerald, Marques Colston, Daren McFadden, Jonathan Stewart, Vernon Davis and the Dolphins D. "Championship!"