Friday, June 29, 2007

Music Meme (1979)

I got tagged earlier this month by Dave and I've been meaning to get to this.

1. Go to www.popculturemadness.com
2. Pick the year you turned 18
3. Get yourself nostalgic over the songs of the year
4. Write something about how the song affected you
5. Pass it on to 5 more friends

So I went to the site and here goes:

1979 Reset:
I was attending Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda MD. I made spending money delivering The Washington Post and doing odd jobs such as cutting grass, painting and caddying. Today at work I found out we have someone working part-time this Summer in the IT Department. He is 14 years old.

In Sports: The NBA World Champion Washington Bullets lost in the NBA Finals to Seattle, 4 games to 1. I went to my first World Series in Baltimore. The Orioles lost to the Pirates in 7 games.

So here are a few tunes that 1979 gave us...
Y.M.C.A. by the Village People. I hear this all the time at family gatherings when the karaoke machine gets turned on. I'm just glad they don't follow it up with In The Navy.

I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor. I prefer hearing her 1974 version of Never Can Say Goodbye instead.

Don't Stop Til You Get Enough by Michael Jackson. I remember smashing my college roommates LP that had this song on it. It felt good, but since he was 6'4" 220 lbs at the time, I replaced it later.

We Are Family by Sister Sledge. I will always hate this song as the '79 Pirates used this as their theme song when they won the World Series.

Old Time Rock and Roll by Bob Seger. I still play this occasionally. I remember in 1984 the Orioles Rick Dempsey and a few teammates did a video of this and it was played at Memorial Stadium. Since they were a million games behind the Tigers at the time, that video, along with the beer man's location, were the only things worth watching that summer of '84 when we'd go to the ball yard.

Hot Stuff/Bad Girls by Donna Summer. I think this is played at every WNBA game. I know because once upon a time I actually went to a WNBA game.

Other 1979 tunes:
Good Times by Chic, Escape (The Pina Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes. I saw this guy in concert in college. He opened for The Little River Band. It was on campus, I was drunk and it was free. I remember singing a drunken version of his other tune Him with three classmates I met at the show. This was pre-You Tube so thankfully this is not on the internet. Ain't No Stoppin Us Now by McFadden & Whitehead. The Washington Capitals used this as their opening song when they came out on the ice. I liked it, it was catchy but unfortunately for the Caps, everyone stopped them as they were the doormat of the National Hockey League. September by Earth, Wind and Fire. I like this group a lot now but at the time I didn't really care for them. I was too busy listening to Dylan, Springsteen, Hendrix, Allman Brothers Band, Nils Lofgren and Little Feat. Earth, Wind and Fire had a couple more hits in '79, Boogie Wonderland and After The Love Is Gone. A good year for them.

1979 also gave us My Sharona by The Knack, Born To Be Alive by Patrick Hernandez and Pablo Cruise checked in with I Go To Rio. I'd rather hear fingernails on a chalkboard than these. I guess they made sense at the time.

Other notable acts that had a couple releases in 1979
Blondie: Heart of Glass and One Way Or Another
The Eagles: Heartache Tonight and I Can't Tell You Why
The Police: Roxanne and Message In A Bottle
The Blues Brothers: Soul Man and Rubber Biscuit

One of my favorite albums (which later became a great movie) came out that year. Neil Young's, Rust Never Sleeps. It made Rolling Stone Magazine's list of top 500 albums of all time (#350).

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Week In Review

All is well. Benjamin moved to the Toddler room at his day care and he's wasted no time in making new friends and he really seems to enjoy himself there. I see how happy he is when I pick him up every day.

On Thursday, my cousin Katie and her fiance Christian arrived from Norway. They flew over for a friends wedding and stayed at my sister Kim's house. We all got together for dinner and had a nice time. They brought over a Norway soccer kit for Benjamin, which I will have him wear shortly. Katie and Christian's wedding is in September.



Finally, I watched the U.S.A.'s 2-1 victory over Mexico in the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which is the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean.

The victory continued the U.S. dominance over Mexico (I love writing this). They are 9-2-1 against Mexico since 2000, including 8-0-1 in games played in the U.S. This is the fourth time the U.S. has won the Gold Cup and this victory gave the U.S. a berth in the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa. This will be great tournament experience in preparation for the 2010 World Cup. I was bummed after the U.S. crashed out of the 2006 World Cup but right now the future for U.S. soccer looks pretty good.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day

Spent the whole day with Benjamin and Weena. We had a lot of fun just hanging around with each other. It's a special honor for me to be a father and I am very proud. I will always try to do my best to set a good example for Benjamin. Just hearing "Happy Father's Day directed to me is an awesome feeling.



When Benjamin was asleep, I watched the Real Madrid-Mallorca match on GOL TV. Win at home and Real Madrid wins their 30th Liga title. In the 17th-minute Mallorca went ahead 1-0 and Barcelona (tied with Real Madrid at the start of the day) was hammering Gimnastic Tarragona. If that held, Barcelona would win La Liga. In the 32nd minute, Real lost striker Ruud van Nistelrooy to a pulled hamstring and I was sensing doom for my long time favorite team in La Liga.

In the second half, Real Madrid woke up and scored three times and to take the game 3-1 and the title. Even though Real Madrid and Barcelona finished with the same number of points, Real wins by virtue of a better head to head record vs their rivals.



It was also the final match in a Real Madrid uniform for David Beckham, who now moves on to Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy. His pal Tom Cruise and his wife Katie Holmes enjoy the match with Beckham's wife and family. (Weena, this is for you)



During dinner, we watched the U.S. Open golf tournament, a Father's Day tradition going back many years with my Dad. Argentina's Angel Cabrera beat Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk by a stroke to capture his first major championship. Cabrea's win pleased my Father-in-Law as his middle name is Cabrera. Everyone had a great weekend. My Father-in-Law spent time with his brother at his house while my Dad was playing in a weekend golf outing with some of his pals. Happy Father's Day all!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Saturday In The Park

Today we decided to put aside the outdoor chores for a bit and take Benjamin to the park near the house. It was a beautiful morning so we headed out after breakfast.

Here are some pics we took. Benjamin had a blast! He loves playing here.

People talking, really smiling


Funny days in the park


A real celebration


Ive been waiting such a long time..For today!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Week In Review

The kidney stone passed at 3:15 AM this morning. I felt the pain and was relieved and able to go back to sleep shortly after. I was pain (and pain killer) free all day today. I do not wish this on anyone.

This Sunday will be my second Father's Day. This is a something I honor and cherish a lot. Nothing will top the sound of Benjamin's voice saying "Hi Daddy!"

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Kidney Stones

It all started with a little stomach ache around 6:00. I had just gotten home from my first day of my new job when the pain hit. It was pretty minor and thought it was jitters from the first day so I drank a Coke hoping to settle things down.

I ate a little dinner, then took Benjamin upstairs to read to him and help get him ready for his bath and bedtime. Around 8:00 I felt a twinge in my back and when Weena came up to give Benjamin his bath, I went downstairs in the basement to stretch. I did some stretching and decided to sit down and watch the Orioles-Nationals game when surging pain hit and I fell off the couch onto the floor. I had kidney stones before, in September 2000 that required surgery so I was familiar with what the pain was like. Some call it the closest to giving birth a man will ever feel. It felt like I was shot and I was screaming in the basement in pain for close to 45 minutes.

Weena came down stairs and I asked if we had any pain killers and she gave me one Percocet. So here I am now an hour after taking the Percocet in no pain, cranking out a blog entry.

If I do have these I hope that I can pass them and not have the surgery I had back in 2000. Good news is I am on my new employer's health plan effective today.

More information about kidney stones here.

In the meantime, I probably should give up drinking sodas. I don't drink much, usually one a day at lunch and maybe a couple on the weekend. I'll replace those with more water. Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Back to Bethesda and Hala Madrid!

The three of us went back to Bethesda today to meet my friend Carmen and her daughter Ambra for lunch. Afterwards we hung out at a park nearby the restaurant and took some pictures of Benjamin playing around.

Higher, higher!


Anyone ready for some fĂștbol?


Bending It Like Beckham


Carmen and Ambra are heading to Spain for three weeks so it was nice to catch up with them before they left. They plan to spend most of their time in Madrid, Carmen's hometown and one of my favorite cities in the world.

Speaking of Spain, we got home in time for the Real Madrid-Zaragoza match on GOL TV. Real Madrid and Barcelona are currently tied for the top spot in La Liga with two matches to go, so this was huge. Ocasionally, GOL TV would show the Barcelona-Espanyol match on a split screen. I was loving every minute of the coverage (despite Ray Hudson's painful analysis) but the results of the games weren't great for me as a Real Madrid fan. What happened at the end of both matches was something incredible. I'll do my best to set it all up here despite not having TIVO to review this...

Real Madrid's title hopes were fading fast as they trailed Zaragoza 2-1 with just over a minute to go in their match. Rivals Barcelona led 2-1 at home against their city rivals Espanyol, also with a minute to go. If those results held, Barcelona would have a three point lead for the title heading into next weekend's final matches.

In the 89th minute of both games, on the split TV screen (Thanks GOL TV!) Real Madrid scores to salvage a 2-2 draw and Barcelona surrendered a late goal to also tie 2-2. Simply incredible!

So all Real Madrid have to do to win their first league title since 2003 is beat Mallorca at home in the final game of the season next weekend. Easier said than done though and several possiblities could occur between Real Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla. Real Madrid and Barcelona are tied with 73 points. Real Madrid hold the edge over Barcelona because of their better head-to-head record thanks to a win in Madrid and a tie in Barcelona. Sevilla has 71 points. Sevilla can take the title if they win their final match at home to Villarreal and both Barcelona and Real Madrid lose.

If all three teams finish tied, Real Madrid will take the title. If Real Madrid and Sevilla have the same point total then Sevilla will be champions. If Barcelona and Sevilla are tied, then Barcelona will win the title.

Got it?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Moving On.....

Today was the my final day at my job I've had for almost six years. I really enjoyed my time there, I learned a lot of new skills over the years and I appreciate the opportunity this firm gave me to grow as a professional and a person.

I have no complaints but the commute was starting to wear me out and I was missing Benjamin in the morning when he woke up. That, coupled with a nice career opportunity close to home and Benjamin's day care led me to make my decision to move on.

Things like this I will get to see now. Here is Benjamin before he headed out to day care "feeding" his Elmo this morning...



Won't really miss this place at 6:15 AM....There were a few interesting morning happenings I saw here at this 7-11 over the years as I stopped there to get my newspaper and coffee....



During this last day a part of me was a little sad about leaving. I kept myself in check though thinking about the excitement at the new opportunity I have coming up. Most important, I kept thinking I will be seeing this little guy more in the AM.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Good Old Hockey Game



Hello out there, we're on the air,
It's hockey night tonight;
Tension grows, the whistle blows,
And the puck goes down the ice.

The goalie jumps, and the players bump,
The fans all go insane;
Someone roars, "Benjamin scores!"
At the good old hockey game.

Oh! The good old hockey game,
Is the best game you can name;
And the best game you can name,
Is the good old Hockey game!

Second period....
Where players dash with skates a-flash,
The home team trails behind;
But they grab the puck and go bursting up,
And they're down across the line.

They storm the crease like bumble bees,
They travel like a burning plane;
We see them slide the puck inside,
It's a one-one hockey game.

Oh! The good old hockey game,
Is the best game you can name;
And the best game you can name,
Is the good old Hockey game!

Third period....
Last game of the playoffs too!
Oh, take me where the hockey players,
Face-off down the rink;
And the Stanley Cup is all filled up,
For the champs who win the drink.

Now the final flick of a hockey stick,
And on one gigantic screen;
Well, the puck is in - the home team wins,
That good old hockey game.

Oh! The good old hockey game,
Is the best game you can name;
And the best game you can name,
Is the good old Hockey game!


The Good Old Hockey Game by Stompin' Tom

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

CJ

Had to post something about the passing of former Washington Bullet guard Charles (CJ) Johnson. He was an important member of the 1978 Bullets team that won their only NBA title. I became a Bullets fan in the early '70's when I went to a couple games at Cole Field House. The Bullets new arena, the Capital Centre, wasn't finished yet so the Bullets played some home games on the University of Maryland campus during the early part of the '73-'74 season.

Let's go back to January 1978. Bullet GM Bob Ferry signed CJ to a 10 day contract as the Bullets were decimated with injuries, suiting up just seven players against Phoenix one night. I remember the play by play voice of the Bullets Frank Herzog moaning about how can the Bullets compete with just seven players.

CJ was signed and arrived at the Cap Centre via helicopter just in time for his first game. He was signed as a reserve but occasionally started during his two seasons with the team and he became a fan favorite with his hustle. He always played hard and seemed to nail the clutch shot when teams focused primarily on Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes and Bob Dandridge.

Bullets fans remember that CJ had one of the all time great moments in Bullets history as he hit a half court shot as the buzzer sounded to end of the third quarter of game 7 in Seattle. That fired up the Bullets as they won game seven and the title 105-99. I remember Herzog's call "CJ with the ball....the long shot issssss GOOOOOODDD!!!! He hit it at mid court...from the right side! Everything is breaking the Bullets way!" Ok, so it's not as famous as Celtics announcer Johnny Most classic "Havlicek stole the ball!! It's all over… It's all over!!" but it's something I won't ever forget as I was a sophmore in high school when the Bullets beat Seattle that year. Somewhere in this house I have a cassette tape of the final half of this game.

Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes and Bob Dandridge were the heart of that championship squad but CJ was the final piece to a very talented team that always seemed to fall short in the playoffs. Teammate Phil Chenier summed it up best about CJ in an article I read earlier today. "He was an incredible defensive player, he seemed to be the type of player who never got riled or nervous".

CJ was 58. He had cancer.

RIP CJ. I won't ever forget that shot.

Bullets Fever!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Day Care Report

Wow, hard to believe that one year has passed since Benjamin's first day care experience. Before he was at his current place, he stayed with a family friend who ran a day care center from her home as my inlaw's took their annual Summer trip to Canada. She knew this was a temporary arrangement as we were going out of our way big time to get Ben to and from her house. Lucky for us a month later we got a spot at his current place. Since then he's progressing nice and learning more and more each day. Here is is current Growth Report as well as a piece of art he did today.



Language and Literacy: Benjamin can say a lot of words such as ball, outside, mine, thank you, his playmate's names, colors, numbers, shapes, animals names and sounds. He listens to every story and familiarizes himself with the pictures inside the book. His memory is very good.

Wellness: He can walk well and can pick up more than one thing at a time and he loves playtime. He points to items when he needs them. He imitates motions of arm, hand and finger play. Example, during "Wheels on the Bus", he moves his arms imitating the wheels (BB: Think basketball and the traveling call a ref makes).

The World and Me: He is very happy and friendly with his playmates. He enjoys circle time, but he becomes upset if a toy or other object is taken away. He is very good when it comes to cleaning up the toys. He is a very warm and affectionate child.

He's been putting a couple words together to form little sentences. A couple examples: The other night as he finished his dinner, he looks at me and says "All done Daddy". He also said to me "Hey buddy" after hearing me say this daily when I arrive to pick him up.

When I picked him up today, he was in the playground area kicking around a little kickball. Memo to D.C. United Head Coach Tom Soehn: Benjamin has a nice first touch but needs a little work with his scoring touch. He won't give up the ball easy (see above).