Sunday, January 29, 2006

A Band Rediscovered

I had some rare free time on my hands so I decided to search a live music archive web site called Live Music Archive. The site is committed to providing the highest quality live concerts in a lossless, downloadable format and to preserve and archive as many live concerts as possible for current and future generations to enjoy. There are hundreds of Grateful Dead shows here and a couple months ago, the Dead wanted to cease the trading of their shows on this site, but have since relented. Grateful Dead backtracks on download ban

I kept this site in my mind and decided to check it out last night. The band that caught my eye while surfing the site was Little Feat, a band which played a nice mix of R&B, blues, country and rock and roll. In the 1970's, they were extremely popular here in the Washington DC area. I listened to quite a bit of two concerts, one from Liser Auditorium here in DC on August 10, 1977 and another show at the Orpheum Theater in Boston MA on May 13, 1977. DC was a great venue for Little Feat. The Warner Theater and Lisner Auditorium shows were always sold out. They had a lot of support here. It seemed like everyone I knew and hung out with at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda where I grew up was a fan of this band.

A couple of the songs from the Lisner show made it onto their 1978 live album Waiting for Columbus. I do recognize long time DC area DJ Cerphe's voice from WHFS giving the intro. The quality of the Lisner show isn't all that great, but it's definitely worth a listen.

The second show is a much better recording. It's amazing that an audience recording in 1977 could be this good. The music in this show is raw and explosive. It was great hearing old favorites like Time Loves A Hero, Oh Atlanta and Red Streamliner.

While I listened to them a lot growing up, I never got to see them live.

More information on Little Feat can be found here:

All Music and the band's official web site Little Feat Web Site

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Rookie Dad: Week 12

In the three months Benjamin has been with us, we have experienced all kinds different emotions as we learn to become a family together. This little guy didn't come with instructions, so both of us are learning more each day. Certain problems that used to take some of our time and energy sort of just disappear as Weena and I understand Benjamin's needs always come first. We'll eventually straighten out whatever needs straightening out at some point. I'd rather see Benjamin's smiling face when I get home than figure out which bills to pay when.

I do remember hearing David Letterman saying after his son was born "I could never imagine being a part of something that turned out so beautiful". Amen Dave.

Hard to believe he could go from this:

Benjamin: 3 hours old

To this:

Benjamin: 3 months old

Stay tuned for more adventures....

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Happy Birthday Weena!

With much love, we hope you enjoyed your special day. You are special to the both of us!

Benjamin and Bill

PGA Tour Shanks One

Thomas Boswell wrote in his column today about the PGA Tour's decision in 2007 to move the Booz Allen Classic (Formerly known as the Kemper Open) from its usual June date to late September or early October.

This decision by the PGA Tour rankles me a bit as the Washington DC metropolitan area has always supported this tournament and the PGA Tour is basically telling the golf fans here we don't give a damn anymore. This move could signal the end of a PGA Tour stop here.

The PGA should realize the only thing most sports fans in the D.C. area care about in October is the Redskins. I used to volunteer at this tournament as a marshal (1982-1990) and I've supported it when I can over the years. I have a lot of neat memories there. We marshaled on the par three 12th hole at Congressional. I saw Jack Nicklaus play there. One fond memory I have is the late Payne Stewart and I chatting a few times. I would leave the day's sports section near the water cooler for players to glance at when waiting to hit their tee shots and Payne, like a lot of the golfers, was a big sports fan. It would sadden me if there was no tournament here. When Benjamin gets older, I want to take him and my Father out there to see the action.

Avenel is a great place to watch a tour event. The move in '87 was done a couple years too soon as the course did not have ample time to mature as it was finished in the early '80's. The course and tournament was not helped at all by 1986 Kemper champion and number one ranked player Greg Norman's remarks about blowing up the ninth green at Avenel during that 1987 tournament. Avenel subsequently got a bad name and rep and as a result, the event has struggled to attract big names over the years. Another factor was where the PGA Tour stuck the tournament. Some years it was held two weeks before the U.S. Open. Other times it was held the week before the U.S. Open. A lot of top pros stayed away as they needed a break after playing in a bunch of invitational events (Colonial, Byron Nelson & Memorial) in May. They would still draw big crowds here though.

Two things are on my wish list here. One, I hope the PGA Tour reconsiders this decision. The area charities that benefit from this event each year would be the big losers as well as the golf fans who have supported it over the years if this event leaves the area. Two, I wish one Eldrick Woods would play in this event. Just come out once Tiger. He's played here in the D.C. area before. 1997 at the U.S. Open at Congressional and the 2000 and 2005 President's Cup at RTJ in Gainesville VA.

Len Shapiro's column

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Tough loss for the 'Skins

Not a whole lot to say after today's 20-10 Redskins loss to the Seahawks. I'm not as down as I thought I would get. This team came back from a 5-6 record earlier in the year, finished 10-6 to get the final playoff spot and played two tough post season games. As a fan I'm very proud of the effort and heart this team showed. Previous teams under Daniel Snyder's ownership would have folded up shop and collected their pay check. Joe Gibbs and his staff would not see to that.

It was fun to be excited about this team again. E-mailing friends, office talk, seeing strangers in the street in Redskin gear and yelling "Go 'Skins!" My friend Tim called a couple times during the playoff run and we carried on discussing the team and the upcoming match ups just like we did during Joe Gibbs, version 1.0 from 1981-1992. The one thing missing was the pile of empty beer bottles at The Dancing Crab.

Seattle snaps their 6 game playoff losing streak and hosts the NFC Championship next week against Carolina or Chicago. The Redskins need to address some personnel issues, they were short of reveivers and they now need to find a healthy, reliable kicker. I believe they are on the hook contract wise with Mark Brunell through next year. While he had a much better season this year than last, he's 36 going into next season. Should they go after another QB such as Aaron Brooks of New Orleans, who lost his starting job. It will be an interesting off season.

Chin up though 'Skins fans. It was a decent year and be proud. Joe Gibbs did a damn good job. Sadly for the DC area pro sports fan there is now a void until April. That's when D.C. United, the Nats and Orioles start up.

Read more about the Redskins-Seahawks here:
Michael Wilbon's column

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

TV Sports or Sleep?

Maryland vs Duke One of college basketball's best rivalries is tonight. In fact it is going on as I type this. The game started at 9:00 PM on ESPN. No chance I'm awake when this is over around 11:15 PM. Why? Because I need to hit the rack by 10:00 PM as Benjamin usually wakes up around 3:30 AM for a feeding and change. Then my alarm to get ready for work rings at 5:20 AM. So I need as much sleep as I can get now.

I'm used to missing key sports events by now. World Series games for years have been starting at 8:30 PM and end at midnight, so I miss out a lot when games are played during weeknights. Sad, because I really love the World Series. Thankfully there are sports highlights available 24/7, so that's pretty much the route I go now. I've practically given up going to games during the work week as I rarely get home before 11:30 PM.

I was able to stay up for game three of the World Series, as it occurred the night Benjamin was born. This game ended a little after 2:00 in the morning and I was there for it all. No chance could I sleep on the greatest day of my life. One, I was too keyed up emotionally and two, I needed to be there for Weena in case she needed something. To commemorate this milestone day, I was able to get a ticket stub from this game.

I can show this to Benjamin and say "Son, this is one of the events that happened the day you were born. Daddy even managed to stay up to watch it."

As I sign off it looks like I won't need to watch the second half of this as Duke has a 23 point after the first half. Goodnight Terps. Goodnight audience.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Rookie Dad: Week Ten

Here's our little guy goofing off in his portable gym. Benjamin's very aware of his surroundings now and he's active and alert. He is ten weeks old today. My rookie season as a Dad gets better each day. I make my share of mistakes but I learn more and more each day. Weena has worked with children in the past and she has been wonderful with him.

One thing I'm good at is calming Benjamin down when he fusses. I'll hold him and sing to him. I've noticed he'll relax a bit, then the eyes shut and he'll fall right to sleep. Or so I think. Deep down he's telling himself "If I just shut my eyes, it will stop. My Dad cannot carry a tune".

We'll have our ups and downs as a family but the one thing I do have in the archive are the Dad-isms I used to hear my Father say when I was misbehaving. I'm sure I'll be breaking them out at some point in the upcoming years. Some examples:

"I've had it up to here with this behavior...."

"You think that's funny now, smart guy....."

"Wait until you grow up and have kids of your own..."

"I WILL turn this car around"

Post more in the comments section if you have them ;)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Joe Gibbs and the Redskins

Joe Gibbs is back. The Redskins are back. Today, for the first time in six years the Redskins played a playoff game. Maybe I should say the Redskins defense played a playoff game today as the offense struggled, totaling 120 total yards. That was the lowest offensive output ever in an NFL playoff game. How can you win when your offense is non existent? Here goes: LaVar Arrington's interception set up the Redskins first score, a 6-yard touchdown run by Clinton Portis. Sean Taylor (more on him later) returned a fumble 51 yards for another first-quarter score. The Redskins held on for a 17-10 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The defense was unbelievable during this game. There should be a game ball for Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams as the Bucs threw everything at the Redskins. All they could manage was a field goal and a touchdown run by Chris Simms.

While Taylor made a clutch play on his touchdown, he also showed how much of a bonehead he can be. After a key third down stop by the Redskins, Taylor and Michael Pittman were doing the typical “woofing” at one another that makes sports unwatchable at times. The next thing you saw was Pittman slapping Taylor helmet. So you’re watching the TV and thinking that’s a penalty on the Bucs, right? Nope. It was an unsportsmanlike penalty on the Redskins. Everyone in my casa, the announcers and 'Skins fans all over, is livid at the ref’s call. What we didn’t know was what Taylor did to get the shot to the helmet. He was called for spitting in the face of Pittman and was ejected from the game. There should be a suspension as this is a classless act. Expect a huge fine by the league. Way to help your already injury depleted team out Sean. These guys weren’t to be denied though as they held off two Tampa Bay scoring threats in the closing minutes, including a near catch in the end zone that could have tied the game with just less than three minutes to go.

Third down, ten with three minutes left at the Redskins 35 yard line. Bucs QB Chris Simms threw a near perfect pass to Edell Shepherd. I kept telling everyone in my house it was not a question of if Tampa Bay would score, but when. However, Shepard lost control of the ball as he was touching down in the end zone. I thought since he had both feet in and they hit the ground, the play was over. It was reviewed and the result was no TD.

So this is six straight wins now for the Redskins, who went to 11-6 with the victory and advanced to the second round next Saturday at Seattle, who are 13-3. Today’s win was a small payback for a 36-35 loss to Tampa Bay earlier in the season, a game the Bucs won on Mike Alstott's controversial 2-point conversion run with less than a minute remaining.

Today’s win also avenged their last playoff meeting, a 14-13 loss to the Bucs in January 2000.

Couple more thoughts I had during this game: ABC's announcer and former Redskin QB Joe Theismann was telling viewers that Redskins kicker John Hall's range is 46 yards tops after the Redskins chose to punt rather attempt to kick a 50 yard field goal in the first quarter. Hall later nails a 47-yard field goal that would have been good from 55 yards. I was thinking about Theismann later in the game when Redskins Punter Derrick Frost got shaken up a bit after tacking a Buc player after a punt. Who would punt if Frost couldn't go? Hall? He's been hurt off and on this year, that's why Theismann made his earlier statement about Hall's range. Maybe Mike Sellers or someone from special teams would be summoned to punt. Theismann filled in once as an emergency Punter in 1985 when they were in Chicago after regular Punter Jeff Hayes got injured in the game. Theismann’s effort for that day included a one yard shank that led to a Bears TD.

Joe Gibbs was a master today. The game was ugly but a win is a win and us fans will take it. He now has a 17-5 playoff record and I believe he is now third on the all time list for playoff victories. I keep saying it and saying it, but today felt like the ’82 playoff run all over. What was special about this day was watching it with Weena, Benjamin and my in-laws. It was fun explaining the Redskins playoff history with them as the game went along. I did have to watch the language though as the last thing I want the first words from my son to be are "$%#@&* referee".

So next Saturday the Redskins play the Seattle Seahawks, owner of the NFC’s best record at 13-3. Earlier this season on October 2, the ‘Skins and Seahawks played a OT thriller at Fed Ex Field and the Redskins won 20-17 on kicker Nick Novak’s 39 yard field goal. I expect a game similar to that one next Saturday although stopping NFL MVP Shaun Alexander will be tough. The offense needs to get their act together but we've seen this with Joe Gibbs teams before. He'll straighten it out. What has made him a Hall of Fame coach is he is one of the best at making adjustments, correcting weaknesses and getting his teams ready. Yeah, the offense stunk today but I still like the Redskins chances a lot next week. Seattle is 2-6 all time in the playoffs and hasn't won a playoff game since Ronald Reagan was President (12/22/84).

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Like Father, Like Son

Dad, circa 1962

Benjamin, Christmas Day 2005

Both of us have our mouths open. I have some teeth while Benjamin doesn't yet as he's just two months old when this pic was shot. I'm not sure how old I was when my Dad shot the picture of me. There wasn't a beer can in our house so I couldn't duplicate the shot Dad took. Right now Benjamin and I play a little game when I come home from work each day. Sometimes he has his frown on, so I give him a frown face back at him. We stare directly at one another for about ten seconds,then he breaks out into this big smile. Seeing this, I forget about my crummy day at work and the daily auto race on the Dulles Toll Road...

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A friend passes on....

This past Friday December 30th I was cleaning out some things in my desk at work before the New Year's holiday, vowing to come back to a somewhat organized work area to start 2006. While sifting through some things, I came across a business card of a former collegue from my days as a banker. On the back, he wrote the name and phone number of another collegue JP, who had moved into the Bethesda area after retiring. I looked at JP's name and number and made a vow to call him in the new year and possibly get together for lunch since he lived in Bethesda and I worked there.

Fast forward to Monday January 2 and I'm hanging out with my son Benjamin, reading something in the Post Metro section and while flipping through the obituaries to resume the article I was reading, all of the sudden I see JP's name. Holy cow! He had passed away at age 73 on that Friday when I was thinking about him! I was stunned and in shock. It had been awhile since I had spoken with JP and my instinct had always been to call and see how he was doing. Sadly, I was always "too busy", either at work or at home. I'm bummed I didn't follow up and now I'll never have that chance again.

I showed JP's obituary to Weena and I told her how I was thinking about him on the day he passed away and how coincidental this was. Weena told me it was JP's way of communicating with me to let me know to pray for him.

I'll tell you a little bit about him. I started work at Capital Bank near Farragut Square in Washington DC, Fall 1989. He was the bank's real estate lender and someone I was drawn to instantly because he reminded me so much of my Grandfather, who had passed away two years prior. Both gentlemen shared a love for baseball and just listening to JP's stories was like being around my Grandfather all over again. We became friends over time and would talk endlessly about the Orioles, Redskins, Terps and all the other local sports teams. He and his son sat in the same section and row at RFK Stadium for Redskins games as a couple of my friends. Every time I'd go to a Redskins game from '89-'96 I would make it a point to meet up at the game and talk sports with JP, his son and my friends. Looking back at those times and the time I worked with JP, I can honestly say he was one of the nicest and classiest persons I've ever met.

So those out there reading this, if there is a friend out there that you have lost touch with and have not spoken to in a long time, pick up the phone and call. It won't take long to say hey and you'll feel better for doing so. I wish I had done so with JP.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

Just wanted to take time to wish everyone out there a happy and healthy new year!

The Redskins beat the Eagles 31-20 today to finish 10-6 and more important, make the playoffs for the first time since 1999. They play at Tampa Bay next Saturday.

I like 2006 already.

In closing out 2005 we went to a New Year's Eve party at Weena's cousin's house. It was nice, people dressed up in costumes from the '60's and '70's and danced to the music from that time period. Nicely done. I was in a small room with a TV watching some of the Raiders and Giants football game and when that ended, we switched to ABC and New Year's Rockin' Eve. Around 11:40 PM EST I saw Dick Clark for the first time since he suffered a stroke in 2004. I don't know if he was on earlier or not but it was sad hearing his voice as this stroke almost took his life. Then I thought at how hard his rehab had to have been this past year and how cool it was he was even back on the air.

I'm 44 years old and have seen Dick Clark on tv for practically my entire life. American Bandstand, New Year's Rockin' Eve and a host of other shows and commercials too numerous to mention over his lengthy career. I think he probably wanted to show others it was possible to make progress after an event that came very close to killing him. From what I read, he turned down numerous appearances and interviews and chose to make last night his comeback.

No doubt Clark's return was encouraging for thousands who watched the show from their hospital rooms after suffering something similar. For that, I will salute Dick Clark's efforts and hope he gets stronger each day.

Happy New Year!

Bill, Weena and Benjamin