March 31, 2004


Few things in life can match the exhilaration generated by an unannounced visit from an oversized processed dairy product wearing sunglasses.

Providing further proof that I work in a very odd place of business, I looked up at about noon today to see a large string cheese mascot prancing through my office. Instead of questioning why that might be the case or perhaps wondering how he got into the building and whether this might be a clever terrorist attack, I grabbed my camera. I turned the corner to see that he (He? Can you really assign a sex role to a dairy convenience food?) had begun physically accosting our columnist, Steve.


Considering Steve's dimensions, (He and I are part of a loose social affiliation known as "The Behemoths." You figure out why.), the cheese clearly did not understand that he might be messing with the bull and soon getting the horns.


Something about the cheese stick's exuberance won Steve over. The gift basket chock full of wine, gourmet sauces and vinegars might have had a role in that coercion.


Dave was quite taken with his new friend. I understand there will be some sort of domestic dairy commitment ceremony next week.


One moment of great pride for me came when another of our columnists, Dan, bellowed, "GET THE SOMBRERO!" That told me I had truly trained my colleagues to utilize the Mexican chapeau whenever a singularly bizarre situation presented itself.

I ran. I fetched. I placed the sombrero on top of the cheese's stringy dreadlocks. He (she?) knealt to accept the offering. I stood on my tiptoes to accommodate the height. And then the photo above was shot.

Yet another moment of magic captured forever for The Sombrero Project.


It was at this point that things began to turn ugly. The Cheese Stick, clearly enamored with his overwhelmingly positive reception, attempted to capitalize on the good will of his audience by, um, manhandling the staff. The female staff, to be specific. In the shot above, he (she?) attempts to recreate the blindfold-in-front-of-the-refrigerator scene from "9 1/2 Weeks" with poor Mary, who had no idea that the Cheese had commenced to performing some uncalled for pelvic thrusts in her general direction. The security guard, who looks deceptively placid and stoic in this photo, sprang into action and threw a Figure-8 chokehold on the Cheese until he (she?) relented his (her?) grasp on Mary. Thank God he was there to save the moment.

The moment will forever from this day be known in the annals of our corporate history as "The String Cheese Incident."

Let the healing begin.


Not satisfied with harassing Mary, the stick moved on to Karen, whom he (she?) attempted to sway with a suave, debonair Charles Aznevoir-like act. He (she?) was as wholly unsuccessful with Karen as he (she?) was with Mary. Way to stay strong, my colleagues.


When I say that the Cheese delivered the goods, I may have been understating things a tad. Here, you can see that a crowd has formed to cast lots for the mascot's unholy offering. The draw of promotional booze and cheese was strong enough to lure Lyn from the other side of the office. Clearly, this was Satan's treasure, from which no guiltless pleasure could be gained.


Rebuffed, horny and, quite frankly, out of trinkets to dispense, the Cheese made his (her?) way to the exit, broken and embittered. It didn't help that he (she?) was suffering from this social indignity as well:


Visible Panty Lines.

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March 30, 2004



The "Voyage From The Bottom Of The League" began for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays this morning as they beat the New York Yankees 8-3 during the season opener in Tokyo.

Do not refresh your screen. That score is correct.

Not only did they come from behind to win, the Rays had 15 hits.

Here's hoping there's more where that came from.

Some interesting highlights:

* During a rally by the Yankees in the 8th inning, the sound system at the Tokyo Dome blared "We Will Rock You" by Queen. In English. Insert your own joke here.

* After the Rays got the last out, the sound system at the Tokyo Dome blared "Celebration" at ear-splitting decibels. Nice to see Kool and the Gang translates to the other side of the Pacific.

* ESPN, which sent an army to broadcast the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game in Japan at the beginning of last year's NFL preseason, couldn't be bothered to send its announcers to Japan for the start of the real Major League Baseball season. Or to actually use their regular play-by-play and color analyst. Or to feature the game on ESPN instead of ESPN2. And since there was a half-second delay in transmission between Tokyo and Bristol, Conn., Karl Ravech was constantly announcing events that had happened a second or two earlier.

Posted by Jeff at 08:16 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack



...weighing in at 8 pounds, 9 ounces, please join me in welcoming Jack Anthony Agliano:



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Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a code-writing software geek.

Then again, when I see something on another blog that I like, I usually try to figure out how to install it. Or at least try it out.

So when I saw Radio.Blog over at Suburban Blight, I e-mailed Kelley to ask for destructions. I thought it was cool that you could put what is essentially a jukebox on your site for visitors.

She was kind enough to pass along tips for installation and, viola', there it is on the right side of the page.

If you like it, let me know. I'll be glad to rotate the tunes now that I know how to program the darn thing. And if you have any requests ("Electric Youth" anyone?) I'll be glad to consider them.

I picked a mix of tunes for the first go-round, everything from Tom Jones to South Park's Cartman singing the first few bars of "Wild Wild West." I like them all for various reasons:

*Sheryl Crow's "Home" is a haunting little tune about disillusioned love. This acoustic version is very intimate, like you're in her kitchen listening to her strum.

* Same goes for the Dirty Vegas song "Days Go By." First time I heard the acoustic version, it struck me like a Crowded House song. In fact, it's the basis for that freaky techno Mitsubishi commercial with the boneless woman poppin' and lockin' in the front seat in the Kangol cap. I like this version better.

* Joss Stone's "The Chokin Kind" is a remarkable song. Mostly because she was 15 when she recorded it. I heard this song and it hooked me hard enough to buy the CD.

* Nikka Costa is another singer I hope gets more acclaim and exposure. Her stuff sounds like it came out of 1974 and her voice is gritty and powerful.

* The Lyle Lovett song, "I'm A Soldier (In The Army Of The Lord)" was played in the credits of the movie "The Apostle." As an avowed Lovett fan, it was extremely difficult to pick only one song.

Let me know what you think.

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Being somewhat of a... how do you say... word guy, I have an appreciation for the sport that copy editors employ when they jump into the fray of style and accuracy issues at various publications.

One of the best in the business is Bill Walsh over at The Slot. Bill is the national desk copy chief at the Washington Post as well as the husband of my dear friend Jacqueline.

Bill has a new book out, The Elephants of Style: A Trunkload of Tips on the Big Issues and Gray Areas of Contemporary American English.

Bill held court today in an online chat that provided an interesting glimps into the world of copy editing. Readers got the chance to serve questions while Bill acted like the concrete wall at the playground, batting back their interrogatory tennis balls with aplomb and great wit. I liked these exchanges best:

Seattle, Wash.: I wonder if you could expand on your discussion of the difference between "attorney" and "lawyer," and when it's appropriate to use one or the other. Like most people, I always assumed they were synonyms. But you say a usage like "he is a patent attorney" is incorrect.
Bill Walsh: Attorney is to lawyer as rescuer is to lifeguard. To be an attorney is to act on another's behalf. Often that's exactly what a lawyer does, but it's not the name for the profession.
And this one:
Scranton, Pa.: Some reporters I've talked to insist on using "says" instead of "said," arguing that it's more conversational. A few years ago it wasn't all that prevalent, but now I see it more and more, even in an occasional AP hard-news stories. What's your take?
Bill Walsh: "Says" doesn't bother me. I think "says" and "said" can peacefully coexist in the same story. One denotes a quote that represents a continuing thought ("I like boobies," Hefner says), and the other is more of a one-time thing ("She is my bride for life," Hefner said).
And this one:
Comma Splice: I had an English teacher in high school who would automatically fail any essay that contained a "comma splice." What was the big deal?
Bill Walsh: Commas aren't supposed to join independent sentences, she was right to fail you. See?
And this last one:
Tampa, Fla.: Do you think R.E. M. should have split at the previously agreed upon date of 1/1/2000 in an effort to preserve their musical legacy and dignity?
Bill Walsh: It couldn't have hurt. But some of the not-so-good stuff was well before that.
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March 29, 2004



When we last saw the Rev. Joe Kendall, Side Salad's official Spring Training correspondent, he was busy showing his father all of the top ballparks in the Tampa Bay area.

Last weekend, the Reverend, now free of his babe magnet of a dad, battled the stiff eastbound traffic on Interstate 4 to visit Disney's Wide World of Sports complex, location for Cracker Jack Stadium, spring home of the Atlanta Braves. That day's opponent: The New York Mets.

Rev. Joe reports that watching the Braves and Mets play in Disney is a surreal experience if you're used to watching spring ball in neat little ballyards in downtown settings. The Braves stadium looks like a building out of the Disney architectural digest: sterile and theme-park-like with an abundance of parking, so artificially clean that it left him hungry for the grit of baseball.

So speck-free was this ballyard that it could easily be converted into a movie set during offseason. Hmmm, "Angels In The Outfield 4: Revenge of the Reverend" perhaps?


When they say Wide World of Sports, they mean it. In the summer, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers train here. Underneath the stadium is a full workout facility and basketball gym. At the time the Reverend was visiting, there was an annual cheerleading competition. Disney's thought: The more the merrier.


Hey, look! A band in baseball uniforms, just like stadiums didn't have in the old days!

Joke No. 1: The guy on the left? Steve Sax.

Joke No. 2: It's not the size of your saxophone, guy on the right, it's how you use it.

I'll be here all week. Be sure to try the veal.


Disney does a great job making things festive with lots of flags and banners. These replaced the ones that were up in February that read, "MICHAEL EISNER SUCKS" and "IT'S A SMALL QUARTERLY DIVIDEND AFTER ALL."


It's true what they say: Disney parks are made for the family. The Bill Gates family, that is. I understand they just installed a plan so you can put a ballpark frank on layaway until next March.


The park refrains from ruining the ballpark experience with a lot of those annoying "DO NOT INTERFERE WITH PLAY ON THE FIELD" admonishments. Instead, they merely require fans to file slowly past this bronze statue immortalizing Steve "I'll Cost The Cubs The Chance At A World Series" Bartman.


It's clear this fan got the message.


It's nice to see Disney cater to the Internet pervs from Atlanta by booking this event simultaneously.


Okay, Rev. Joe. That's enough cheerleader shots for now.

Remember that restraining order, buddy.


Inside the park, there are beautiful sight lines. Including to the fake plywood pennants in left field. How do you know they're fake? There is no wind in Orlando 11 months out of the year to keep flags flapping. At least not until a hurricane blows through town.


Ah, yes. The time honored tradition of asking your favorite ballplayer for his autograph before the game. These boys have been stalking Cliff Floyd since he was an all-star Florida Marlin.

Doesn't Cliff look happy to have missed out on that World Series ring? Good thing he jumped to the Mets just in time to avoid all that fame and postseason bonus money.


Behold the object du jour: the berm. Every spring training and minor league stadium has one now. A reminder: berm is Alsace French for "the place the beer guy does not serve."


Okay, Rev. Joe. That's enough usher shots for now.

Remember that restraining order, buddy.


Tour Stop No. 1: Clearwater; Philadelphia Phillies.
Tour Stop No. 2: Tampa; New York Yankees.
Tour Stop No. 3: St. Petersburg; Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Tour Stop No. 4: Dunedin; Toronto Blue Jays.
Tour Stop No. 5: Lakeland; Detroit Tigers.
Tour Stop No. 6: Tour of the Tampa Bay Area Ball Parks.

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The Web has been all a-twitter today with news of an Austrian health survey that declared eating boogers is good for you.

Innsbruck-based lung specialist Prof Dr Friedrich Bischinger said people who pick their noses with their fingers were healthy, happier and probably better in tune with their bodies. He says society should adopt a new approach to nose-picking and encourage children to take it up.

Encourage children to take it up? How ever will we bribe them to acquire such skills...

Nevermind. I think it is incumbent, in light of this revelation, that Vice Admiral Richard H. Carmona, Surgeon General of these United States, start a public awareness campaign. Posters, public service announcements, brochures. The whole ball of... well, you know.

And I have the perfect spokesman:


Curtis "Booger" Armstrong, from "Revenge of the Nerds."

Posted by Jeff at 12:16 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 28, 2004


Fender bender? Vandalism? Auto break-in? Cop pull you over?


Trunk Monkey.

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March 27, 2004


Word late last night was that a new lead singer for Van Halen was announced yesterday:


That's right. Sam the Man. Supposedly he went on the show and told everyone that he'd been in the studio working on a VH greatest hits CD and that the group is planning a tour.

Then Rolling Stone had the news on its Web site. They say there are 28 North American dates planned.

Now if they can just do it and get underway before Eddie gets a bug up his ass again...

Here are the (extremely, tentatively, massively fragile) dates:

6/11: Greensboro, NC, Greensboro Coliseum
6/13: Hershey, PA, Hershey Park Stadium
6/16: Philadelphia, Wachovia Center
6/19: Worcester, MA, Worcester Centrum
6/22: East Rutherford, NJ, Continental Arena
6/25: Hartford, CT, Hartford Civic Center
6/26: Albany, NY, Pepsi Center
6/28: Washington, DC, MCI Center
7/1: Pittsburgh, Mellon Arena
7/2: Cleveland, Gund Arena
7/3: Toronto, Air Canada Center
7/6: Columbus, OH, Schottenstein Center
7/7: Indianapolis, IN, Conseco Fieldhouse
7/10: Detroit, Joe Louis Arena
7/11: Auburn Hills, MI, The Palace at Auburn Hills
7/19: Chicago, TBD
7/22: St. Paul, MN, Xcel Energy Center
7/26: Kansas City, MO, Kemper Arena
7/28: St. Louis, MO, Savvis Center
7/31: Omaha, NE, Qwest Center
8/1: Denver, Pepsi Center
8/5: Phoenix, America West Arena
8/7: Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay Events Center
8/10: San Jose, CA, HP Pavilion
8/11: Sacramento, CA, ARCO Arena
8/13: Oakland, CA, Oakland Arena
8/14: Fresno, CA, Save Mart Arena
8/19: Los Angeles, Staples Center

Posted by Jeff at 08:50 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 26, 2004



Boy, the stuff you get in the mail.

Like this advertisement for "Sloops," a "unique loopless 5-pocket jean." (For a larger version of the ad, click here.)


How unique, you may ask rhetorically? They tell the reader breathlessly that the design is "patent pending." As in "Sloops (patent pending) are meant to be supported by and worn with suspenders. Sloops (patent pending) were created to complement and fit the physique of the typical suspender wearer (no hips, no rear end)."

What are some of the features of this unique design?


"Relaxed front"? Isn't that a euphemism for "baggy crotch"? I'd have to think so.


So, this is the relaxed fit? I should have known. The thumbs were a dead giveaway.

Uh, wait. What's that well-worn white spot on the front to the left of the zipper.

Nevermind. I don't want to know.

Nor do I want to know what's inspiring this look:


I mean, that bemused grin is straight out of a male enhancement commercial. He could be this guy's not-so-distant cousin.

Perhaps he's merely enjoying the benefits of this claim:


You mean, this is all mathematical? And all I'd have to do is add Double-Ups? What are those? Anything like Pull-Ups for Grown-Ups?


Ah, I see.


Wait. I was told there would be no math.

But they're right. It does all add up when you think about it. To this, of course.

Ah, the satisfaction of well-crafted active menswear. Is there any wonder why women find us so irresistable?

Posted by Jeff at 08:38 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


It's amazing the things you can do with a click of a mouse that have almost no purposeful applications other than amusement.

Like, for instance, the software that allows you to take a photo of a normal Carvel ice cream Cookie Puss:


...and convert it into its somewhat melted evil twin:


Thanks, J-Walk.

Posted by Jeff at 11:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



I've never felt a great deal of love for a robotic interplanatary rover before.

But I sure as hell do now.

Here's hoping they find Kobe beef cattle and Amstel Light up there.

Posted by Jeff at 10:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 25, 2004


A friend of mine had the good fortune of meeting New York Yankees manager Joe Torre the other day. Said he was a lovely man, very personal and open with his thoughts.

At the end of their meeting, he promised to send her boy an autographed ball and photo. True to his word, a package arrived about a week later with the ball and photo enclosed in this envelope.


Now, I don't know if you've ever gotten anything from the New York Yankees. I never have. Even the return address part of the envelope reeks of class.

Too bad the rest of the envelope didn't match that level.

Let's take a closer look, shall we?

As you can see here, (the address has been blotted out for privacy reasons), there are a couple notations on the envelope right above the mailing address label.

Come closer...


That's right. The package was sent with insufficient postage. Which means that the receiver has to pony up $1.98 for the privledge of receiving a ball and photo from the New York Yankees.

This from the team that has the highest payroll in sports franchise history. Not just baseball. Any sports franchise. How high? In the neighborhood of $200 million high.

You might wonder how they can afford to pay such exorbitant salaries.

Well, sending packages with postage due saved them a buck-ninety-eight.

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When last seen, The Rev. Joe Kendall, Side Salad's exclusive Spring Training correspondent, was touring through the Detroit Tigers' spring home, Joker Marchant Stadium.

Well, the Rev.'s father, Julius, came into town last weekend, which gave Joe a chance to tour the area's finer baseball establishments (that is, when he wasn't memorizing his latest script for the next season of "Pastor Cop.")


Unlike Rev. Joe, who can be moody and surly at times when he isn't fighting crime, acting or spreading "The Word," Julius is a lovely, warm and cordial man with an ever-present smile. In the photo above, he's seen sitting behind the backstop at a recent Devil Rays spring training game.

Then again, if you can't smile while sitting at a spring game accompanied by perfect weather, you don't belong at the ballpark.


Rev. Joe wasn't the only celebrity on hand for the game. Here, FoxSportsNet talks to tennis great Jim Courier, who was sitting in the same row as Joe and Julius.

One question they didn't ask: "Hey, Jimbo, what's your stance on non-secular law enforcement?"


Julius and The Rev.'s whirlwind tour took them to several parks over just a couple days. Here, Julius poses just outside the right field stands at the New York Yankees' stadium in Tampa, Legends Field.


Much like his son, Julius enjoys meeting people at the ballpark. Like, say, this TV crew from Japan who are covering spring training for folks back home.

Repeat after me, "Gambaree Yanks!"


The Rev. Joe repeatedly chants this mantra: "There are no menial jobs at the ballpark. All are honored by their association with the game."

Here, Julius follows that theory by chatting with a parking usher before the first pitch.


Julius and Joe had company among diehard fans. These folks stood/sat in line waiting for the remaining spring training tickets for the year at Legends Field. Note the woman in front who appears to be knitting a donut for Alex Rodriguez to swing in the on-deck circle. How thoughtful!


An important part of any spring training excursion, according to Rev. Joe: quantitative carbo-loading.

Here, just before the two attack the new Philadelphia Phillies home, Bright House Stadium in Clearwater, Julius is shown after a satisfying meal at Lenny's, a local institution.

As the photo was being snapped, Rev. Joe was overheard asking, "Got any Juicy Juice in the back?"


Did we mention that Julius is always ready with a smile? Here he is standing on the left-field concourse at Bright House Stadium during another beautiful Florida spring morning.


It's unclear exactly what this child was attempting to accomplish with his portable fan during the Phillies game.

Perhaps he was warm and needed a short burst of self-made breeze. Perhaps he was doing that experiment in which you talk into the fan and hear your voice quiver back at you. My theory: he was hoping to use the rotating blades to scrape away the horrific psychological residue of last year's late-season fade by the Phils.

Yeah, that's it.


Tour Stop No. 1: Clearwater; Philadelphia Phillies.
Tour Stop No. 2: Tampa; New York Yankees.
Tour Stop No. 3: St. Petersburg; Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Tour Stop No. 4: Dunedin; Toronto Blue Jays.
Tour Stop No. 5: Lakeland; Detroit Tigers.

Posted by Jeff at 02:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Kevin at Wizbang shares this rather alarming note about life on campus at The University of Florida, from which I graduated:

Today's college students live well. [...] But one modern convenience has been removed from the dorm rooms at the University of Florida. Campus residents can no longer use Kazaa, Morpheus or any other P2P (peer-to-peer) file-sharing software to download music, movies or software applications. The free lunch ended abruptly at the beginning of the 2003-04 school year, when network administrators working in the campus housing unit turned on software they developed that not only detects illicit network activity but also dynamically enforces acceptable-use policies without IT intervention.

In other words, forget the dorm room bongs, the porn, the booze, the drugs, the store-bought term papers, the steroids, the campus radicals, the date-rape pills, the religious cults, the cheap trucker speed, the underage athletic boosters, and, by all means, the illegal hot plates.

But crack down on music sharing?


I smell an eminent scholar endowment chair sponsored by the RIAA coming soon. Not to mention a quick workaround by the boys over at the computer lab on campus.

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March 24, 2004



We're introducing this new feature here in the Salad bowl as a way of honoring those who show a talent - either cultivated or inadvertant - for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.

This week's award goes to Keith Hanselman of Akron, Ohio, who, while showing genuine surprise at being the new father of sextuplets, nevertheless compares his wife's reproductive tract to a countertop appliance.

Keith's wife, Jennifer, delivered three girls and three boys within one minute at Akron General Medical Center, according to news reports.

That's right; six kids in 60 seconds.

Ladies, you can stop clutching your abdomens now.

And while every rational human on the planet would agree that her accomplishment was a truly amazing feat of productivity, fertility and efficiency, it does not warrant the following quote from her sire:

"It was like a popcorn popper."

Congratulations, Keith, on being our inaugural winner. You'll be informed later on where you can pick up your prize.

Posted by Jeff at 10:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack



Kelley at Suburban Blight had a great idea: A Courtney Love haiku contest.

As longtime Salad Bowl diners know, we're quite fond of the old 5-7-5. Especially when it comes to coping with the sub-par performance of Florida football coach Ron Zook.

I won't spoil Kelley's winning entry, but I did like the third-place winner just as well:

Heroin's too slow.
To get where you're going fast,
Try Curt's solution.

Posted by Jeff at 04:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Tampa is a town filled with architectural marvels - both good and bad. I work across the street from an amazing structure, Plant Hall at the University of Tampa.

Plant Hall is the university's main classroom and administration building and has earned designation as a national historic landmark. A stunning example of Moorish architecture, it was built in 1891 by railroad magnate Henry Plant as the luxurious Tampa Bay Hotel. Today, it's the centerpiece of UT's 85-acre campus along the Hillsborough river.

On Tuesday, I got to take a tour of Plant Hall, including a chance to climb up through one of its signature minarets.


The tour started on the fourth floor of the hotel. It's like something out of Scooby Doo up there, all dark and creaky. Former hotel rooms in the building now serve as faculty offices and classrooms.


Our tour guide, Jan, took us to a side hallway that featured a door that looked very much like a closet. C.S. Lewis would have loved this one. The only thing that was missing was a lion and a witch.


The door opened into this impossible staircase, which was, at best, only 18 inches wide. Note the handles on the wall. There was no room for bannisters.


That staircase led to this room. Looks like a great interrogation room, if you ask me.

Next to that room was a ladder that led to...


...this level. Which then led...


..up another ladder. (Note the iron grate you had to pass through.)


...and another...


...going up?


Someone's been here before.


One last ladder through a trap door that opens into the portico of the minaret, after which you see...


This. It's the southern wing of Plant Hall.

The view up there is amazing. The minaret at the center is identical to the one we're standing in.


As you can see, I was a tad intimidated by my surroundings.


This is looking north across the river.


A shot of the north wing of Plant Hall.


Looking southeast toward downtown.


Just below us on the east side of the hotel was a 100-year-old fountain that Henry Plant installed.


A shot of Henry Plant Park. At one time, it was the home for a zoo that entertained hotel guests.


Gotta show a little love to the News Center.


Again, looking east toward the Museum of Art.


One more look downtown.


Time to crawl back down.

Posted by Jeff at 01:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 23, 2004



The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race came to an official end yesterday Perry Solmonson came in 77th, with a time of 15 days 2 hours 50 minutes and 36 seconds. For that effort, he got to blow out the "widow's lamp" as the Red Lantern winner, after he crossed under the burled arch finish line in Nome.

For the record, the winner was Mitch Seavey of Seward, who crossed after 9 days 12 hours 20 minutes and 22 seconds.

Here's the great thing about the Iditarod, they hold the victory banquet even before the last musher gets off the trail. Gotta love that. Want a free meal? Get to Nome before dinner starts, pal.

Last year's Red Lantern winner was Russell Bybee, who took 44th and last place with a time of 15 days, five hours, 30 minutes and 53 seconds.

Considering that the first Red Lantern winner in 1973, John Schultz, completed the race in 32 days, Perry has plenty to be proud of. They say in aviation that every safe landing is a good landing. So goes mushing. Every trip across the Iditarod finish line is a good finish.

There's not a lot of room in Nome at the end of the race. Front Street, the main drag in town, is about 100 yards off the frozen Bering Sea. Dog teams are taken out to the ocean front and staked to the ice. There they are fed and bed down on straw until an airplane is available to fly them back home.

Snow actually has to be trucked in to Front Street to make the finish chute.

Oh, and there's only one parking meter in town.

To get a little better sense of how weird the ceremonial start of the race in Anchorage is, here are several pages of photo galleries taken along Fourth Avenue. In some of them you can see the blue and gravel facade of my old newspaper, The Anchorage Times.

Posted by Jeff at 08:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



There are some memories I'd really like to get rid of. Like the time I broke my foot - falling up a set of stairs. I've always wished for the capacity to shake my head like an Etch-A-Sketch and wipe it out.

Apparently, the good folks at Lacuna have developed that technology.

Posted by Jeff at 08:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 22, 2004


... a photo of a pregnant woman eating an orange:


If you couldn't tell, Kiely's due on Wednesday.

I don't know that I would have had her sense of humor this late in the game.

Good luck, chica. We're all counting on you.

Posted by Jeff at 08:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



What makes Dallas Mavericks owner and NBA badboy Mark Cuban a dork? Is it:

1. His haircut?
2. His passion for verbally abusing NBA referees?
3. The fact he made a billion dollars from the Internet during the dot-com era?
4. The fact that despite being a billionaire, he writes his own blog?

So difficult to choose...

Posted by Jeff at 08:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Just when you think you've done something good, something pure, something unselfish, you find out this is the end result.

Hello, and welcome to another episode of, "Unintended Consequences."

Posted by Jeff at 08:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Ever wonder what your life would be like without labels and signs and advertisements?

It would be surprisingly clutter free, if this page is any indication.

Posted by Jeff at 07:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 21, 2004


Probably because he just found a new home.

That's right, Warren Sapp, the Mouth of the NFC South, the self-annointed QB Killa, is headed to Oakland to play for Raider Nation.

That he left isn't really a shock. There were not-so-subtle indications from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that Warren was going to wake up one day very soon to find a 20 on the nightstand.

The shock was that he found someone to give him a 7-year, $36.6 million contract that includes $7 million in guaranteed bonuses. That's astonishing, really, when you consider that last year, he had only five sacks and only 37 solo tackles. The man had only two sacks in the last eight games of last season, and 7 of those games he had no sacks at all. Nada.

So, we wish Warren well and we'll look forward to the day that they bring him back to make him a "Buccaneer of Honor" and retire his number and all that. But for now, it looks like all that money and draft picks Al Davis got from Tampa for giving up Jon Gruden have pretty much been compensated.

That said, it seems like a very long time since last summer's sweltering training camp, when Super-Bowl-massaged egos were inflated and life seemed good...

As another celebrated body leaves One Buccaneer Place...'s to you, Warren. Drink up, big guy.

For previous "Why Is This Man Laughing?" episodes, click here and

Posted by Jeff at 10:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 20, 2004


Hey, Devil Rays fan. (Yes, Mom, you're the one.) Be sure to come out to Tropicana Field on April 7 and Aug. 2 so you can participate in what are sure to be memorable nights in team history.

On Wednesday, April 7th, the New York Yankees come to town. For the insolence of abusing their much beloved employees, the Yankees will face the wrath of... Don Zimmer Fan Mask Day. Every fan who attends - Devil Ray and Yankee alike - will receive a mask featuring the face of Rays’ Senior Baseball Advisor Don Zimmer. Yes, the formidable Bronx Bombers will get to see what I'm sure will be dozens of fan faces adorned with the pudgy mug of their former Yankee bench coach/human bulldog/Pedro Martinez hitman. Repeat after me: Oh, the horror!

Then on Monday Aug. 7, the first 5,000 fans attending that night's game against the Boston Red Sox will receive an individual mini Don Zimmer bobblehead doll. This will be one of nine bobbleheads highlighting the Devil Rays’ 2004 promotional schedule. (Nice to see the Rays pony up the extra cash for the shot of the bobbleheads. Photography like that really sings.)

Back by quasi-popular demand, the Aubrey Huff, Rocco Baldelli and Carl Crawford mini bobbleheads will be the first three in a series of nine given out during what the team is calling "the 2004 Championship season." Those dates are:

April 10 - Aubrey Huff
May 18 - Rocco Baldelli
May 23 - Carl Crawford
May 30 - Tino Martinez
June 9 - Jose Cruz, Jr.
June 26 - Toby Hall
July 19 - Lou Piniella
Aug. 2 - Don Zimmer
Sept. 27- To Be Determined

That's right, kids, there's a bobblehead to be named later.

Don't think of it as, "What the &#@!, they don't have nine players good enough to feature on their team?" Think of it as, "Hey, we're keeping our late-championship-season-playoff-push free-agent-miniature-idolatry-options open." And, you know, there's always the option of turning Sept. 27 into "Bring Your Magic Marker To The Ballfield To Name Your Own Damn Bobblehead Night."

The Devil Rays have every reason to hedge their bets. Remember, this is the team that scheduled Jason Tyner Bobblehead Doll Giveaway Day on June 2, 2002 for a home game against the Oakland A's. That, of course, was before they sent the man of the hour to the minors. Five days before his bobblehead was to be given out.

To be determined, indeed.

On that note, here's the the rest of the 2004 promotional schedule:


6 – Schedule Magnet courtesy of Tropicana***
Thermal Mug courtesy of Checkers***
7 – Don Zimmer Fan Masks courtesy of Nestle***
9 – Poster courtesy of The Tampa Tribune*
College Night
10 – Aubrey Huff Mini Bobblehead*
16 – Poster courtesy of The Tampa Tribune*
College Night
18 – Softball Day
30 – Poster courtesy of The Tampa Tribune*
College Night

1 – Youth Sports Weekend
2 – Youth Sports Weekend
New Era Rays Cap Giveaway^
13 – College & University Day
18 – Rocco Baldelli Mini Bobblehead*
19 – Tino Martinez RallyStix courtesy of 970 WFLA**
21 – Poster courtesy of The Tampa Tribune*
College Night (Grad Night)
23 – Carl Crawford Mini Bobblehead*
27 – Value Game
28 – Poster courtesy of The Tampa Tribune*
College Night
30 - Tino Martinez Mini Bobblehead*

9 – Jose Cruz Jr. Mini Bobblehead*
11 – Poster courtesy of The Tampa Tribune*
College Night
13 – Little League Day
Spiderman Day
25 – College Night
Poster courtesy of The Tampa Tribune*
25 – NASCAR Night
26 – Toby Hall Mini Bobblehead*

1 – Value Game
16 – Parks and Rec Day
Raymond’s Birthday
Poster courtesy of The Tampa Tribune*
College Night
19 – Lou Piniella Mini Bobblehead*
30 – College Night
31 – Parrothead Night

2 – Don Zimmer Mini Bobblehead*
6 – Poster courtesy of The Tampa Tribune*
7 – Bike Night
18 – Rocco Baldelli RallyStix courtesy of 620 WDAE**
20 – College Night
Poster courtesy of The Tampa Tribune*
21 – 60s Night
31 – Greek Heritage Night

1 – Italian Heritage Night
2 – Polish Heritage Night
3 – Irish Heritage Night
Poster courtesy of The Tampa Tribune*
College Night
4 – Hispanic Heritage Night
5 – Negro League Celebration
20 – Retro Night
Air Force Day
24 – Fan Appreciation Weekend
Poster courtesy of The Tampa Tribune*
College Night
Boy Scout Night
25 – Full Season Ticket Holder
Appreciation Day
26 – Fan Appreciation Day
27 – Mini Bobblehead*

* to the first 5,000 fans
^ to the first 5,000 fans 14 & younger
^^ to the first 5,000 fans 21 & older
** to the first 10,000 fans
*** to all fans in attendance

Posted by Jeff at 06:10 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 19, 2004


SocialJpg.jpg offers this list of the 100 Most Often Mispronounced Words and Phrases in English.

If you ask me, they forgot one (okay, technically two.): Social Security.

Folks, it's So-cial-Se-cur-i-ty. Six syllables. Not Sosh-she-cur-ty. That would be four syllables. If you're going to pay into the system and then have it insufficiently provide for you when it comes time to draw money from it, you should be required to pronounce the words correctly.

As noted on the list, I also cringe when President Bush says "NUKE-u-lar" instead of the actual pronounciation of "NEW-clee-ar." And before you jump on me for being partisan, understand that it drove me nuts when Jimmy Carter - a nuclear physicist, for crissakes - pronounced it "NUKE-u-lar" as well.

As Dennis Miller would say, "I think that if you have access to the button, you should be required to pronounce it correctly. I'd hate to have the last few minutes of life on earth marred by a syntax error."

As a side note, I went combing through and found this directory sorted by language:


Interesting. I had a hunch Alabama needed its own dictionary.

Posted by Jeff at 08:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



My boy David here has some serious white-boy-on-Amateur-Night-At-The-Apollo-worthy moves.

A side note: My mom bought me a short-sleeve version of this shirt in 1979 from Chess King so I could wear it to an 8th grade dance. I thought I was the shiznit.

Clearly, I was wrong.

Posted by Jeff at 08:09 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack



There's a new version of the Yeti vs. Penguin game. This time you throw the little bugger like a discus and watch as he bounces off ice walls and gets slapped by seals.

It's amazing how fast this little game has taken off. It started with just a Home Run Derby style version. It morphed into a steroid-choked version (When, oh, when will someone take a stand and insist on yeti drug testing?!?!?) and a blood-soaked Passion of the Penguin-like episode.

There's also a version in which an orca smacks penguins with his tail, but that one required too much coordination. Simplicity is the guiding principle here. This latest version seems to hold up.

By the way, try topping my score.

Posted by Jeff at 08:05 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack



If you're wondering what to get me next Christmas, don't bother with this.

Posted by Jeff at 08:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 18, 2004


Carol, a photographer I work with who is somehow able to translate the stupidity that fills my head into visual masterpieces, wrote to say that she enjoyed the camping photos I posted a couple days ago. She also sent along a pic in exchange.

Friends and neighbors, meet Buster.

Posted by Jeff at 08:05 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack



Sometimes you just have to know when to shut up, sit down and write some words for The Man. And push along a bunch of links, of course.


* The top 100 April Fool's Hoaxes of All Time.
* Tattoos for wimps. Or at least for the hypodermically challenged.
* I love me some freak show.
* Take a look at how your favorite Web sites used to look.
* Photos of every bowl of pasta eaten by a 23-year-old guy in Rome.
* Three terrifying words: Build-A-Nerd.
* Animals that could stand to hit the snooze button.
* Yee. Haw.
* To quote A Flock of Seagulls: Aurora Borealis comes in viewwwwww.

* Five in a row, any way you play it. Say it with me: Luffarschack.
* Games people used to play.
* Because Web site addresses aren't nearly complicated enough.
* Check, mate.
* This just feels so right.

* Burn, baby, burn.
* Stuff to fill your head.

* Right this way, please.
* A is for Apple, J is for Jacks.
* Baby, if you've ever wondered, wondered whatever became of me...
* I had too many of these to count.
* If Escher was here, he'd probably tell us, "It's all relative, baby."

Posted by Jeff at 08:03 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 17, 2004


I know I'm officially old when the best music I'm exposed to on any regular basis comes from commercials. It's how I found out about Nick Drake, The Strokes and other great music.

But I had to dig through a ton of sites to find out who did the songs. Mow Ad Tunes compiles info on who does commercial music, as well as film trailers and TV shows.

Posted by Jeff at 08:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 16, 2004



By now, you probably know the drill: We give a pair of Elvis sunglasses to a random collection of people and let their Inner Elvis come out to play. (For a better idea, you can view previous galleries by clicking here and here.)

That project was preceded by The Sombrero Project, and its subsequent parts (Dos, Tres and Quatro).

I say all that in order to note that we have some delicious additions to the visual pantheon:


I ask each subject to give me their best Elvis Pose. Some pose on the john, some grow mutton chops and others fall limp on the floor with bottles of Scotch in their hands.

I asked the same of Ric here. And while I'm sure The King would have appreciated his retro-style Tribune sweatshirt and the energy he put into the pose, I'm not sure he would have approved of the Fonzie thumbs up.


This photo was taken at a time of great duress. Here, we see Joanne posing with her right hand propped up against a diagram used in a Blanchard employee training seminar.

During that seminar, Joanne explained that employees generally follow four different models ranging from excited beginner to disillusioned worker to skilled veteran to master employees. Many of these levels can be contained in one employee, since they are task specific. For example, you can have a master at one task who is thrown into a new situation, where they feel more like an inexperienced beginner.

They also follow four developmental levels, ranging from Low Competence/High Commitment to High Competence/High Commitment. It is the job of managers, Blanchard maintains, to not only diagnose their employees' abilities but also to recognize where their commitment levels are. That way, you can tailor your comments and directions in a way that will not only inspire but make their work more efficient.

That said, what does it mean by the subconscious positioning of Joanne's turqoise-bedazzled hand?


Hmmmm. Straddling the line...

I sense some impending commitment issues, Joanne.


The Sombrero Project has been the showcase for many an inanimate model. It's been seen perched on top of everything from an Edward Munch inflatable "scream" doll to a squeezable brain to, yes, a ceramic bust of Elvis.

The above photo was shot at a great little restaurant on Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa, El Taconazo. The interior of the restaurant showcases many an impressive sombrero, but the rear of the building is where the kitchen is: a converted school bus. (Side Salad will have more information on this in coming days.) This kitchen makes some of the best Mexican food we've ever had.

Anyway, it seemed only fitting that our chapeau be placed over the heart of this bus, which is where you put your hat when you're giving thanks for such an abundant blessing.


This is my favorite shot of all.

James is a security specialist at my place of employment. He is, quite simply, the friendliest man I have ever come across. No matter whether it has been a simple handshake or a serenede of, "Gooood morning to youuuuu,'' from his roving security cart, James has never failed to make me smile. You can't help but love a guy like that.

So when he saw me walking through the building with a sombrero in one hand and Elvis glasses in the other, he became consumed by the idea of posing. The rest of the day, when he saw me, his greeting was customized by, "Buenos dias!" and "Hasta la vista!"

When the time came to pose, James did a double-fisted jig, his whistle and keys jostled by the energetic movements.

James, you are the embodiment of what the Sombrero and Elvis projects are all about.

Posted by Jeff at 08:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 15, 2004



When we last left The Rev. Joe Kendall, Side Salad's Spring Training correspondent, he was mixing with the profane dual logo-wearing Toronto Blue Jays fans in Dunedin.

His latest stop: Lakeland's Joker Marchant Stadium, spring home of the Detroit Tigers. Quasi-officially, it is known as Tiger Town. He dropped by to see them play the Montreal/San Juan/Wherever Expos.

The Rev. Joe said he was pleasantly surprised by Tiger Town, which is just off State Road 33. The stadium is one-year removed from getting a $10 million radical facelift that turned the facility into one of the nicer venues on the Grapefruit League circuit.

The game between the Tigers and Expos should have only been so nice. In the top of the third, the Tigers committed three errors and the Rev. Joe heard a shrill voice from the stands scream, "Come on!" every time the Tigers booted the ball.


Here's a view from the press box.


As we stated earlier during trips to St. Pete and Clearwater stadiums, grassy berms are all the rage now among small park designers.

To refresh your memory, "berm'' is German for "the patch of grass where no beer vendors visit.''


The view from the berm is very nice. Not unlike the view available at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.

If, you know, the Little League World Series was played half-speed by overpaid underachievers like the Tigers and Expos.


There are no beer vendors on the berm, but you can get some tasty barbecue out there.


And if you sit in premium seats, the DQ lady brings you some rather tasty menu items.

*Editor's note: For you Tigers fans who happen to be reading this, DQ does not mean disqualify. At least not at this point in the season.


Considering that the games are played around lunch time, might the DQ sign in right field be a bit of a distraction for Tigers hitters?


It's good to see the Tigers mascot taking it slow. Seasoned baseball professionals all know that you never want to go full-speed until the last week of Spring Training. I like the fact he's sitting next to the EMT and his medical emergency "crash box." Very prudent positioning on the mascot's behalf, considering temperatures were in the 80s and he's wearing a Tigers jersey over his fur.

Rev. Joe reports that in person, the mascot "looks like Tony from the cereal box."


Tiger Town and Detroit's new Comerica Park are the site for a vicious and brutal mascot war. It's Tiger versus Toga for the soul of this team, with the old-school Tigers fans going for the big cat and the pro-Illitch faction backing up the pizza-friendly family that owns the team.

When asked for comment, Little Caesar would only say, "PAN PAN!"


It was Katharine Hepburn Big Hat Day at Joker Marchant. First 100 fans over 65 received a straw hat that kept the UV rays at bay.

Good to see that you can have a promotion and do some good at the same time.


Apparently, former Tigers skipper Sparky Anderson is serving beer now in the Cecil Fielder Bamboo Beer Garden out behind the right field bleachers.


You know, if he squints tries real hard from behind home plate, newly acquired superstar catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez - fresh from his World Series MVP outing with the Florida Marlins - can see 100 losses just beyond the gap in right-center.


Tour Stop No. 1: Clearwater; Philadelphia Phillies.
Tour Stop No. 2: Tampa; New York Yankees.
Tour Stop No. 3:
St. Petersburg; Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Tour Stop No. 4:
Dunedin; Toronto Blue Jays.

Posted by Jeff at 08:06 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 14, 2004


Every now and again, I like to check to see how people are finding Side Salad. Many are tripping over from places like Tom Mangan's Prints the Chaff, Meg's Sick Candy, Jim's Parkway Rest Stop, LeeAnn's The Cheese Stands Alone and Margi at MargiLowry[dot]com.

Through these associations, bolts of lightning in a bottle sometimes occur. Like when the Salad Bowl gets a mention in The Providence Journal.


Sheila Lennon writes a nifty blog column there. She saw a link that Tom had posted at Chaff headquarters and followed the link back to me.

Then the Dallas Morning News picked up her column:


It ran the same blurb.

Following that, I ran a Google search and found that Liz Donovan at the Miami Herald gave us a similar mention.

Pretty damn cool, to say the least.

Now, I'm a newspaperman. I see my name in print all the time.

But I always get a kick when it shows up in places that I never would have expected it to.

(Thanks to Tom. Keep printing that chaff, big guy.)

Posted by Jeff at 11:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


What's the definition of obsolescence?

A Web site that hasn't been updated since November, for one.

This e-mail notification I got tonight also qualifies. In spades:

Subject: Tampa Mob Project Message *yawn*
Okay, now officially over three months since "great things" were promised. I guess this list is officially dead?
Before I unsubscribe from shere boredom, does anyone know of an active flash mob in Tampa I can join instead?

I'll admit, I was a little rough on the local mobbers, but it breaks my heart to see those eager beavers scattered to the wind like this.
Posted by Jeff at 08:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 11, 2004


It's hard for me to be truly compassionate for the bombing victims in Spain. Or worry about political instability in South Korea. Or begin to absorb that a new report says children abducted or recruited to fight in wars suffer horrific atrocities.

I'm sorry, but there are more pressing issues on my mind at the moment...


Like the fact that John Lynch, a 32-year-old multimillionaire surfer boy free safety from San Diego, a man who was the soul of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a conscience for a community, is suddenly out of work.

I am unable to think of anything else at this moment except for the fragile nature of his future. My soul weeps for his sudden and unexpected dismissal. Can't everyone see this man is hurting? How can any of us enjoy our lives when we all know that he's only going to go to another team and make millions more while still being regarded as an icon in this town, which embraced him as its native son? How can you sleep knowing he'll still be married to a wonderful woman and be a father to beautiful children while performing for an audience of millions who revere him for his comedic soup commercial talents?

Have you people no consideration for the desperate fate of others? Can you think of no one but yourselves?

There are times I lose faith in humanity's capacity to engender love. This is one of those times.

My soul feels so empty.

Posted by Jeff at 11:54 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack



I've written about a little problem with iPod digital players and their rather expensive and temporary batteries.

Now there's another reason not to buy them: You're girlfriend might kill you with it. .

Or not...

Notice anything weird here?


Posted by Jeff at 10:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



This story about a woman who got a new cellphone that happened to have Chris Rock's old phone number has the faint whiff of urban legend. Especially the part about Spike Lee calling. And Adam Sandler. And Jerry Seinfeld.

But why let facts get in the way of a good story.

Posted by Jeff at 10:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Which mascot's story would you most like to be made into a movie?
A. Cap'n Crunch
B. Sugar Bear
C. Count Chocula, Boo Berry, and Franken Berry
D. Snap, Crackle, and Pop
E. Diggum
F. Tony the Tiger
G. The Honeycomb Craving

Got an answer? Go here to cast your vote. You can also suggest who you'd want to see play your lead cereal character on screen.

Here are a few of my favorite cereal boxes:

CerealBillJpg.jpg C3POJpg.jpg AlphaJpg.jpg

BruteJpg.jpg CerealSpockJpg.jpg CrispyJpg.jpg

Posted by Jeff at 10:03 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack



Under the heading of What The ****!?!?:

Anchorage, AK – Wednesday, March 10, 2004 – Four time Iditarod Champion, Doug Swingley, officially scratched at 9:35 a.m. today in Takotna.

Swingley indicated he may have “frozen his corneas” while on the trail near Rohn and has been having difficulty with his vision since that time. Teams had been battling temperatures ranging from 25 to 35 degrees below zero, combined with winds of 35 to 40 miles per hour.

Swingley hopes to be able to return to Anchorage tonight to consult an eye specialist to assess whether or not he has suffered any permanent damage.

This is a guy who has won the 1,100-mile race four times, setting time records in a few of those wins. This is not an inexperienced musher.

Makes you wonder what the rookies in the race are going through this year.

(For the record, the latest results show that four-time winner Martin Buser and Mitch Seavey are jostling for the lead, about halfway through the race.)

But back to frozen eyeballs...

Charles, a friend I knew in Anchorage who now lives in Juneau, sends this note:

I've had frozen corneas when I lived in Barrow and Fairbanks and believe me, it's not fun.

What happens is the frost catches on your eyelashes and melts from your body heat. Then the moisture gets on your eyes and the wind will freeze it. It's even worse if you were wearing contact lenses at the time. I was basically blind in my right eye for a couple of days after my last minor case (I'd been riding on a snowmachine with someone and didn't have goggles). And it has caused some permanent damage (my eyes don't adjust to brightness as fast as they used to and they're slower in focussing), although I can wear my contacts again.

I guess Swingley's problem was intensified because he had Lasik eye surgery two years ago. There have been other cases of extreme weather and altitude causing problems with people who have had Lasik surgery. If I remember correctly, one of the climbers mentioned in Jon Krakauer's book "Into Thin Air" went blind during the storm on Everest because he'd recently had Lasik surgery.

Posted by Jeff at 06:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 10, 2004



Naivete, thy name is John Knoll:

When John Knoll created Photoshop in 1989, he knew he was designing an image-editing program that could be used in good ways and bad. But even Mr. Knoll, who wrote the software with his brother, Tom, was unprepared for how outlandish photo manipulation would become. "When we worked on it, mostly we saw the possibilities, the cool things," said Mr. Knoll, 41. "Not how it would be abused."

Thanks, Johnny. Because of you, I have 50 different ideas of what Marge Schott is doing in the afterlife.

Posted by Jeff at 10:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Side Salad's Spring Training correspondant, The Rev. Joe Kendall, enjoyed a wonderful time following the spring baseball trail in the Tampa Bay area. After documenting action at Al Land field in downtown St. Pete on Saturday, it was a trek to Dunedin about 15 miles north of St. Pete to catch the Blue Jays in a small city stadium tucked in a residential neighborhood a walk away from Dunedin's business district.

The Blue Jays, which have a new logo, are called just the "Jays." You will see their logo in the upcoming photos. Their stadium was named after another communications company called Knology, with a silent "K" like Knotts.

This was a concession table at the stadium. Pennants for a buck. Such a deal.


The Jays' stadium is simple -- no berms, or fancy architecture, or wide concourse. It had a very relaxed atmosphere, almost like a local college game. There was not much a buzz about baseball -- but it was a nice laid-back ambiance.

The Rev. Joe says he's amazed at the array of activities available in Florida in March. During a morning bike ride before heading for Dunedin, the Rev. Joe passed a University of South Florida-Illinois baseball game and a Renaissance Fair along the way. The route, by the way, also included passing Busch Gardens, a gem in Tampa.

The day before on Saturday, the Rev. Joe returned from the Devil Rays game back to the Tropicana Dome, where he had parked his car, and on a whim bought a ticket to an amazing Cirque de Soleil show that was all about ballet, acrobatics, theater, music, humor and gymnastics. March is truly a month to behold, with temperatures that can range from beach-going 80s to bone-chilling 40s.


This is usher Jack Welch. He joked he didn't want his photo to be taken because his ex-wives might find him in Dunedin. Sorry Jack -- the Rev. Joe never misses a photo op.


The Rev. Joe tells me he's always amazed at how easy it is to walk around and get an up-close feel for the ballgame while schmoozing with the fans.

"Well, Joe,'' I tell him, "Beer is a conversational accelerant.''

(For a larger version of the above photo, click here.)


The Rev. Joe met his buddy Mary Ellen again. Mary Ellen is from Pasco County and sells credit cards by luring customers with trinkets at local sports venues. The last time Rev. Joe saw her, she was hawking beach towels at the New York Yankees' Legends Field in Tampa. In Dunedin, she was working the booth again -- this time pushing Jays T-shirts.


New logo or not, here is a fella who enjoys kicking it old school in his outdated Blue Jays cap and won't give in to the new style.

Keep on rockin' in the free world, brutha.


Now this usher was with the program. Here he is, sporting is new Jays lojo. His cooperation was appreciated, but he'd better let go of the material or it will stick that way. You don't want people thinking you have a third nipple, for crissakes.


Rev. Joe said he enjoyed listening to this fan named John, who was saying
scalpers wanted $150 for tickets to an upcoming Yankees-Astros game when Andy Petitte and Roger Clemens will see their old mates.

The reverend said the man used many a curse word. So bad were they that Rev. Joe will not repeat these quotes. Let's just say he was mighty peeved.

The usher on the right looks enthralled, doesn't he?


This is a photo often shot from a similar angle outside great venues like Wrigley Field. Alas, this is not Wrigley. This guy also has failed to make the conversion from the old Blue Jays jersey. He's just keepin' it real.


The Rev. Joe said he was amazed at how current events made their way into the game. This is Jason Alexander of "Seinfeld" fame talking on CNN about how he's leading a movement for moderates on the Israel and Palenstinian sides on a TV in the Blue Jays office.

I do hope this doesn't interfere with his great work selling chicken for KFC.

Oh, wait. He got fired from that job for siding with the chickens. Nevermind.


The Rev. Joe will end his visit to the Blue Jays' stadium with the story of
sad Big Frank, who the Holy Reverend of Baseball met while heading out.
Here's Big Frank's story: He says was a White Sox catcher in the minors from 1956-64 and roomed for four years with a White Sox prospect named Norm Cash in the late 1950s before Cash was traded to the Tigers, where he hit .363 to win a batting championship with his sweet left-handed swing, bat cleanup behind HOFer Al Kaline and played on the '68 Detroit club that won the World Series. Frank said his catch and peg to second was .6 of a second and that the White Sox wanted him to play first after they traded Cash to the Tigers, but that he wanted to play catcher and he refused. The White Sox never gave him a chance after that.

Frank said he went to Cash's funeral a few years ago. Frank said he was told by Cash's wife at the funeral that Norm Cash was drunk when he died in a foot-and-a-half of water at his boat in the Detroit area. Now Frank is in town to watch the Phillies at their new Clearwater digs for a week. Monday, the Red Sox come to town and Frank will be there.

Posted by Jeff at 08:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 09, 2004



Bill at Off-Topic makes this keen observation:

Suddenly waiters and waitresses are saying "How does everything taste?" instead of "How is everything?"

Bill gets paid very well to notice such changes in verbal climate conditions.

My latest peeve is The Over-Attentive Server.

During a road trip about two months ago, I had one actually tell me at a Hops in Gainesville that, "I'm here only to make you happy.''

She filled the glass between swallows. She kept so many hot honey buns coming to the table that I thought I was Winnie the Pooh. Drop a spoon? Got another one. Need a napkin? Not a problem. Turtle Wax your car? I'll buff it up pronto.

I felt like telling her, "Back up, Sheila. I'm not that co-dependent."

Know the other thing I've noticed? It takes an act of Congress to get your check. Actually, after the main course, you have to essentially put a gun to the head of a busboy just to get the server to your table in order to hint at the remote possibility that you might - just might - want to resolve your financial discrepancies sometime before the end of the universe.

But I'm not bitter or anything.

Got a favorite restaurant peeve?

Best one wins a token prize of immeasurably small value.

Posted by Jeff at 10:05 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack



Temperatures today range from just 5 in Bangor, to 12 in Deluth and 25 in Green Bay.

While in Fort DeSoto, Florida...


...water temperatures have been hovering near 72 degrees.

There is a 100 percent chance of gorgeous white sand...


...scenic views of Tampa Bay...


...shorelines full of migrating birds...


...and a few scattered visitors.

We now return you to your cold and miserable existence.

Posted by Jeff at 07:41 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

March 08, 2004



Just bumped into this maddening game called Demon Balls today. It's entirely impossible to solve, I'm guessing, unless you're 22, stoned out of your mind and don't have any plans on going to class for an entire week.

Ah, those were the days my friend. We thought they'd never end.

Anyway, it got me thinking about a host of games that I used to list over at my old, moldy, crusty Blogspot home.

Suddenly Blogger Axiom No. 412 kicked in: Anything worth listing once is worth listing a million more times.

So here are a few of my favorite time killers, with a few new ones added in for good measure. I'll be listing them permanently on the right margin:

For a full-screen view, click here.



Scissors, Paper, Stone

Marbles and Speed Marbles



Posted by Jeff at 11:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



..."The Exorcist" in 30 Seconds (and re-enacted by bunnies).

The one bunny is a spitting image of Regan.

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I'm a fairly massive "Sopranos" fan. So much so that one of my career highlights included interviewing a friend of series creator David Chase who wrote a cookbook themed to the book.

That said, I've been sort of ho-hum about the previous two seasons. I mean, I'm all for domestic drama and Ralphie's head in a bowling bag, but the series lacked the grittiness that I began to love it for five seasons ago. If I had to hear Uncle June moan about his court case and prostate again, I was gonna lose it.

That's all changed.

After watching last night's season premiere, I can safely say that Chase has his mojo working again. The "Godfather II"-esque opening shot of the blowing leaves and neglected back yard - harkening to the shot of Michael Corleone coming back to the house in Tahoe - hooked me instantly. The Melfi sex, the Paulie and Chris whacking and the Carmine keel-over were just icing on the cake.

I swear... I hate the show's producers when the series goes on any one of its interminable hiatuses, but I love me some gangsters when the thing comes back.

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Side Salad's comprehensive coverage of Spring Training 2004 continues, with our roving correspondent, the Rev. Joe Kendall, hitting the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' FanFest and their spring training game on Saturday.

(Previous Spring Training reports can be found here and here.)

The esteemed reverend is proud to report that baseball is alive in St. Pete. The Rev. Joe visited the Devil Rays' spring stadium at old Al Lang Field in downtown St. Pete, but began the day at the D-Rays' FanFest at the Tropicana Dome, which, to Rev. Joe, looks like "a giant flying saucer tipped slightly on its side off I-275.''


At FanFest, Rev. Joe stumbled onto a bed near the third base dugout provided by Devil Rays sponsor Kane's Furniture.

Joe thinks this might not be such a good thing to have on the field during games. Especially during potential blowouts against division rivals like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.


The Rev. Joe noticed this pop culture tie to the D-Rays at the Trop -- the
Durham Bulls, the Triple-A club featured in the classic baseball movie "Bull Durham.'' Like Kevin Costner, I believe D-Rays manager Lou Pinella also believes in long, slow, soft, wet, deep kisses that last for three days.


The Rev. Joe hopped on a shuttle bus for the mile-long trip from the Trop to the Devil Rays' spring stadium that's named after a local utility company. Joe enjoyed seeing people catching the game from the sidewalks and trees outside the stadium.


Yes, Virginia, there are such things as adult Knothole Gang fans. Even when the knothole is a break in a plastic tarp painted to look like a sheet of plywood. Sort of.


You can get this close from outside the stadium. And while that kind of proximity is admirable, perhaps the D-Rays - a perennial last-place team with serious attendance issues - might not want to work so hard to keep people out of the grandstands.


Once inside Al Lang Field or Florida Progress Stadium or whatever the hell it's called now, the Rev. Joe began circulating and schmoozing. Here, he talks with Dan the usher who had a funny story about the time he helped a patron who was trying to carry two beers. Dan recalled that consumption of one of the beers was already started, so he helped the patron by taking a sip of the untouched beverage so the guy could carry "balanced beers."

Danny is some kind of thoughtful.

Now, why he's wearing Pirates colors at the D-Rays' home field is anybody's guess.


Rev. Joe took in the berm down the leftfield line.

Every spring training park has a berm now. It's the hot new design element. Al Lang/Florida Progress/Whatever The Hell It Is tore down huge metal bleachers to make this lump of turf.

For the record, "berm'' is German for "the patch of grass where no beer vendors visit.''

In this photo, the reverend shows us a field shot looking west at the berm across the field. Notice how the rightfield berm was closed off to fans.

The Rev. Joe said he smells a story.


Rev. Joe was real close to Jose Mesa of the Pirates. Mr. Mesa (background) did not appreciate when the Rev. Joe reminded him that he blew the save for the Indians against the Marlins in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series.

Relievers can be so touchy that way.

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March 07, 2004



So, I had to go back today to the Florida Strawberry Festival to attend another country music concert. Quick quiz; Does this make me:
A) A sucker for country music
B) A dutiful employee
C) Susceptible to the charms of farm animals, body odor and funnel cake
D) All of the above.

Okay, that was a rhetorical question.

But there was plenty to see and do. And plenty of images that may scar me for the remainder of my days...


First let me say that if you had to pick a throaty, redheaded, audacious, overweight Kentucky girl to sing you some country music, Wynonna would have to be your first and second choice. She puts on one helluva show.


She also seems to attract an audience that is hell-bent on making some rather bold statements with their head apparel.


I know one fan who should stop buying from the Frederick's catalog.

Don't be fooled by the rocks that she got. She still, she's still Jenny from the block.


Not too far from the exit of the performance arena stands this food stand. I like to think that the word "Beef" is in quotes for a good reason and not because the quotes are meant to infer the idea that the food might be "like-beef" or might exhibit "qualities similar to but not exactly identical to beef." Who knows, maybe Beef is the nickname of the chef.

Let's pray that's the answer.


A stone's throw away was the "Agriventure'' section (is that a hybrid of aggravation and adventure?) featuring various forms of livestock and farming. It included a life-size plastic model of a milking cow fitted with a functional udder. (Great band name, by the way: The Dysfunctional Udders).

Anyway, kids could reach down and grab a teat and pull on it until their hearts and carpal tunnels were content, with none of that threat-of-the-cow-kicking-you-in-the-temple kind of hassle.


It came very close to being labeled a "heavy petting zoo.''

Mommy taught her well.


Directly in front of that display was a small wooden shack with a cowboy-hat-wearing gentleman seated in a rocking chair. The sign on the wall says it all: ASK UNCLE NAT.

Perhaps you were supposed to ask him about the fake cow with the functional udder. I had other questions for Nat, such as...


Hey, Uncle Nat, are you having a seizure or are you just drowsy?

And this question:


Hey, Uncle Nat, did you know that's the out-of-town newspaper?

Somehow, I suspect that when the bow-tied, horn-rimmed Howard Troxler pens his very urbane and well-reasoned Metro columns, the last consumer he figures will be reading his prose is a temporary cowboy sitting on the front porch of a wooden shack at the fair, right next to a fake cow with a functional udder.

But maybe I'm just projecting.


What the albino tigers of Sigfried and Roy's act were to Las Vegas, the pinkish swine of Robinson's Racing Pigs are to the strawberry festival.


Huge crowds cheer on the fleet-footed porkers, who race around a track of saw dust to be the first to get an Oreo cookie.


The speed of the hogs is remarkable. So is the patter of the race announcer, who dubs them with porcine-derrivative names like "Dale Earnhog Jr." and "Rush Hamhock.''


I believe that's Sarah Jessica Porker in front by a snout.


The new feature this year is the "pig paddling porkers.'' In that race, a beefy set of hogs cuts halfway through the racing track, climbs a set of stairs and launches their fat little torsos into a skinny pool of water, through which they swim torpedo-like, climb out, towel off and then run to the finish line for a cookie. The grace they utilize in their swim is awe-inspiring. Not unlike watching five chunky Russian women piggy paddling through a hot spring in Kiev on a cold winter morning. Or something like that.


Gotta admire the determination of the lead pig. Look at that grimace. He appears to be hydroplaning.

It was at about that moment I was reminded of the lyrics to James Taylor's song about his pet pig, "Mona":

When you were just a football
At your mama's side
I reckon everyone figured you
For a bar-b-que when you died
And here i'm thinking about you lying underground
Pushing up a pine tree in my field

Oh Mona, Mona
You can close your eyes
I've got a twelve gauge surprise
Waiting for you

Swim while you can, Arnold Ziffle. One day - maybe not today and maybe not soon, but one day, they're gonna run short of bacon.

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Well, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is underway. That's no small thing, considering that again this year there is a minimum of snow to mush on the trail. It isn't as bad as last year's race, which had to be restarted in Fairbanks, but it's fairly slim on snow out there, thanks to 32-dgree weather in Anchorage. (For a larger version of the above photo, click here.)

The official standings are pretty meaningless at this stage, since the race only started and the order is largely ceremonial, since it is determined by lottery. But the fact that five-time winner Rick Swenson is in front is no small thing, since he likes to get a lead and keep it.

It's amazing how little technolgy is used in an effort to mush 1,100 miles. Until 2001, mushers didn't use GPS systems to track their positions. Until someone pulled in or pulled out of a checkpoint, there was no formal way of knowing where the mushers were in between..

I did a story in 1991 when I covered the race for The Anchorage Times about a French musher named Pascal Nicoud, who decided halfway into the race to mush back east toward Anchorage because his dogs came down with diarrhea. None of the Iditarod officials knew where he was until I called a restaurant in a small town in McGrath (population 423) and asked if they had seen Pascal. They had. He was sitting there at Rosa's Cafe, eating a bowl of soup.

The next year, the Iditarod adopted a rule banning mushers from going backward on the trail.

If you're interested in knowing more, The Anchorage Daily News has a great site with up-to-date details, photos and even maps.The guide to mushers' gear also is pretty cool. Hard to believe those guys go out in that wilderness with so little stuff to get them between checkpoints.

In lieu of that, I'll post updates as the race goes on. Should be a good one.

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March 06, 2004



I've written several times about the addictive little game that features a yeti smacking a penguin Home Run Derby-style. It morphed eventually, as things on the Web tend to do, into a steroid-choked version (Think Barry Bonds) and a blood-soaked Mad Max version. There's also a version in which an orca smacks penguins with his tail, but that one was too complex. Simplicity was this game concept's strongest virtue.

Apparently the history of the game, which was created in January, is just as fascinating.

Apparently, the game's originator was a mystery at first, until it was discovered that a guy named Chris at an Austrian game company invented it. The phenomenon has now grown to the point that it has sprung an offshoot known as Yeti Sports. The complete history of the Yeti Penguin Game can be found here.

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How deep is the level of acceptable cultural deception? We've just hit bottom in the Marianas Trench.


Now you can use background noises on your cellphone to disguise where you're calling from. It's from a company called SounderCover. Here's their pitch:

Did you ever wish you could hide your location when talking on the phone? Ever wanted to give the impression you were somewhere else?

SounderCover gives you the ability to add a background sound to any incoming or outgoing call, giving the impression that you really are in the environment where the background sound is normally heard.

As J-Walk says, "I wonder how many people need to lie about being at a circus parade?''

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March 05, 2004



Martha... Can I call you Madge?

Baby, I had your back on this one. I did. I was the one telling anyone who would listen that you were just a pawn, an iconic scapegoat who was being unfairly pinned against the fulcrum of justice because you were rich and white and had a life that looked oh-so-hospital-corners together. Everyone was jealous of your wealth and stature and Kmart association. But not me. I saw you for the Madge I read about. The one who gave me the pleasure of making a dried dandelion candle by pouring molten wax in a milk carton and then suffering through the resultant toxic fumes. (You forgot to tell me to first empty the milk, you silly.)

Then when your multiple felony convictions were announced, I was with you today when you told us directly through your tastefully designed Web site (Mmmm, love that Grannysmith Apple Green nameplate) that you appreciated the love and support of your fans and that you'd beat this judicial witchhunt.

I was even prepared to kite a check today to cover you for at least part of the 80 large that you lost in the market today. Those heartless bastards on Wall Street can be so fickle.

But Madge, when you had the audacity to walk out of court wearing a fox dicky around your neck, you know, I had to end it right there. The love is gone. It's over. I'm done. Anyone who would anticipate the day of her possible federal conviction and potential prison sentence by arranging to dangle a puffy fur boa around her neck can't possibly have taken this humbling experience too hard.

Now, an ascot I could understand. A well-tied scarf? Sure. I'd support you 100 percent.

But choosing to wrap Bre'r Fox around your clavicle?

You're in the briar patch on your own, toots.

Enjoy the thorns.

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Got a chance to get out of the building for an hour and go tooling through downtown Tampa. I like riding there for the simple reason that there isn't much traffic, and the traffic that does pass through usually does so on one-way streets, making it easier to get around. It's a docile place, as core downtown areas go. Lots of pedestrian suits. The occasional homeless person on a bench. A few brick-paved streets. A trolley car or two.

Still, there are some relatively funky spots to explore, and when the weather is as nice as it's been for the past month or so, it's difficult to resist the lure of spending your lunch hour exploring.(For a larger version of the above photo, click here.)

This week, there seemed to be a million window-washing crews crawling up and down the sides of tall buildings, including the Bank America tower, the Wachovia building and the City Centre tower. It's as if there was a 24-hour period between monsoon seasons to get every window in the city clean.

A side note: One woman pedestrian on her way back from lunch stopped and asked me what I was doing taking pictures?

"Recon,'' I told her.

That'll teach her.


As I said, downtown can be pretty sterile - if you exclude the bum urine in the occasional puddle or two. This is as bohemian as it gets: A guy with his bongo or drum or whatever the hell it is, sitting on a park bench.


As you can see, Bongo Billy had a bit of a nicotine addiction and spent much of his time slapping the skin with one hand while using his other hand to steady the cancer stick between his lips. The resulting effect was a rhythm that sounded more like an EKG than any kind of tribal drumming.

Suck it down to the filter, Billy. It's all yours.


Most of the midday activity revolves around filling your pie hole at lunch. There are many options - Tampa is a city filled with great restaurants and eateries. Lunch carts are another matter. This one above was clearly lacking in customers. But a closer look may reveal the reason:


Do you really want Homer Simpson making your sushi in a cart with a double entendre in its name? I don't think so.

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March 04, 2004


Funniest fake news I've read in quite a while.

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March 03, 2004



I'd like to welcome a longtime online supporter of Side Salad to a long-overdue place on the blogroll: Meg from Sick Candy.

Meg's site is full of dishy items and fun design. Must be rough having a life that requires you to make appearances on E!, lollygag in the arms of hunky (alleged) Hollywood producers and obsess about ""Average Joe Hawaii.''

Be sure to drop by and say hi. But whatever you do, don't make fun of the flatness of her hair. She's a fashion editor, for crissakes.

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Last week I wrote about my friend Rod Boyce, the news editor at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Rod got about halfway through mushing his dogs along the grueling trail of the Yukon Quest sled dog race last week before calling it quits in minus-50 temperatures.

His wife, Julie, sends along this e-mail and a spectacular photo of Rod at the helm:

Rod was hugely nervous at the start and really, really sick.

He wound up having a good time on the Quest, for the most part. He's getting ready for a 100-mile race on March 12. He's also looking forward to the 2006 Quest.

This mushing stuff is way addictive.

Rod also sends along this note:


Hey, glad to hear you keeping watch on me. It might have been better, though, if you would have strapped on a harness and started pulling. Wait a minute, that sounds nasty.

Well, it sure was an experience, and I'll probably try again in two years, when the race again goes that direction. I'm pretty happy even though I didn't get to the end. I managed a series of personal firsts: first time running 14 dogs, first time traveling that far (560 miles), first time (and last, I hope) running dogs at 60 below, first time wearing Depends (yes, apparently mushers do this at the start of a major race since it's difficult to stop. And the way my morning was going, I had reason to want a pair.)

I made a couple of rookie mistakes that put me way behind. You know, dumb things like not putting a fresh set of runner plastic at every checkpoint and flinging my spare set into a dark abyss while dragging on my belly behind the sled while trying to climb up to Eagle Summit. And then there's my poor decision to shove the team on an eight-hour run to reach a checkpoint when I had only trained them to run six hours at a stretch. Anyhow, I learned loads and will revise how I train next season so I can have it together for the 2006 Quest. It's a lot of work but sure beats anything else I can think of -- short of maybe buying a 1968 Firebird and cruising around looking for... well, whatever.

You know, the thought of you in a harness just ain't pretty.

Rod of the North

I couldn't agree more, Rod. I couldn't agree more.

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I don't want to say that I had a weird morning Wednesday, but it started at 7:20 a.m. with oversized breakfast and cereal mascots and by 10 a.m. included a handshake with a Super Bowl kicker and his brother.

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Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.

Charles VI of France, also known as Charles the Mad or Charles the Well-Beloved!

A fine, amiable and dreamy young man, skilled in horsemanship and archery, you were also from a long line of dribbling madmen. King at 12 and quickly married to your sweetheart, Bavarian Princess Isabeau, you enjoyed many happy months together before either of you could speak anything of the other's language. However, after illness you became a tad unstable. When a raving lunatic ran up to your entourage spouting an incoherent prophecy of doom, you were unsettled enough to slaughter four of your best men when a page dropped a lance. Your hair and nails fell out. At a royal masquerade, you and your courtiers dressed as wild men, ending in tragedy when four of them accidentally caught fire and burned to death. You were saved by the timely intervention of the Duchess of Berry's underskirts.

This brought on another bout of sickness, which surgeons countered by drilling holes in your skull. The following months saw you suffer an exorcism, beg your friends to kill you, go into hyperactive fits of gaiety, run through your rooms to the point of exhaustion, hide from imaginary assassins, claim your name was Georges, deny that you were King and fail to recognise your family. You smashed furniture and wet yourself at regular intervals. Passing briefly into erratic genius, you believed yourself to be made of glass and demanded iron rods in your attire to prevent you breaking.

In 1405 you stopped bathing, shaving or changing your clothes. This went on until several men were hired to blacken their faces, hide, jump out and shout "boo!", upon which you resumed basic hygiene. Despite this, your wife continued sleeping with you until 1407, when she hired a young beauty, Odette de Champdivers, to take her place. Isabeau then consoled herself, as it were, with your brother. Her lovers followed thick and fast while you became a pawn of your court, until you had her latest beau strangled and drowned.

A severe fever was fended off with oranges and pomegranates in vast quantities, but you succumbed again in 1422 and died. Your disease was most likely hereditary. Unfortunately, you had anywhere up to eleven children, who variously went on to develop capriciousness, great cruelty, insecurity, paranoia, revulsion towards food and, in one case, a phobia of bridges.

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March 02, 2004



Went this afternoon to see George Jones play the Florida Strawberry Festival . It was great to see the old country music legend play through a dozen or so of his hits. Having been weaned on Johnny Cash and hillbilly music by my grandmother as a kid (even though I hated it at the time) and having seen Willie Nelson in concert, I've always wanted to see Jones play.

Even though he's 73 now and his voice doesn't have the power it used to, he still put on a great show.

But the real show was in the audience and at the fairgrounds...


The audience was made up mostly of elderly fans. It seemed like there were a million of those mobility scooters in the audience. Like some sort of geriatric biker gang or something.


Did I mention that the audience was elderly? Thought so.

Not everyone in the audience qualified for a titanium hip. This woman, though, is going to need a new heart valve after she finishes this sausage dog loaded with onions.


The real attraction at the Florida Strawberry Festival is, obviously, strawberries. I ducked out of the concert for a moment to buy a strawberry shortcake that cost $2.50. There's a big debate about what tastes better: sponge cake or biscuit. I have to say that based on my tasting Tuesday, sponge cake wins hands down.

What fascinated me was the assembly line nature of the shortcake booth. The women there said they served 4,500 bowls on Monday - on a Monday!

To meet that kind of demand, you have to depend on high-tech equipment:


I was told that this is called a "creamer." It's essentially whipped topping hooked up to a CO2 cannister that shoots it through a plastic hose. I had images in my head of the shortcake people doing some heroic whippet shots to empty the cannister at the end of the day.


Did I mention there were a lot of mobility scooters there? Thought so.


I got a kick out of this woman. She obviously had some child watching responsibilities, but felt the need to call someone from the concert to let them know she was there.


She also felt the need to share the concert with whomever was on the other end of the line.

These kinds of conversations are why cellular phones were created.


The Jones show only lasted about an hour, but these folks had places to be and things to do. They couldn't be bothered with staying through the end of the last song. Very busy. Gotta go. People to see. Outta my way.

Still there were diehard fans craving autographs. I think that's Annie Wilson from Heart carrying the guitar case.

They all were hanging around waiting for Jones to materialize at his tour bus on the other side of that fence. Never happened. Still, you can't blame a guy for trying.

Speaking of which, don't you hate it when stereotypes prove to be true?


Did I mention the large number of elderly attendees? And that strawberry shortcake is the main attraction?


Sometimes, you just gotta make your own picnic bench.


Missed a spot there, big guy.


If, by chance, you didn't get enough to choke on at the festival, there's plenty to buy in tents outside the fairgrounds. Oh, and t-shirts were $1 each at the liquidation sale next to this fruit and vegetable stand. One pistachio-colored shirt featured the design a leafless bush with cats all over it. Underneath was one word: "PUSSYWILLOW."

Yep. Those shirts were a bargain.

On the other side of the tent was the B&E Bar-B-Q trailer. I think I know, based on what the pig looks like, what "B&E" stands for:


"Breaking & Entering."

Posted by Jeff at 11:41 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


As I mentioned the other day, my friend, the Rev. Joe Kendall, is touring Spring Training ballparks. The first stop last weekend was the new Brighthouse Networks Field in Clearwater. Yesterday, he visited Legends Field, spring home of the New York Yankees.

He filed this report:

"On a warm morning, Yankees fans strolled around the grounds asking, 'Hey, who is that guy?' I chatted it up with fans and enjoyed some good banter.''


This is Mary Ellen of Pasco County, who was peddling credit cards while pitching superabsorbant beach towels. She said people enjoy this shot because of the "background."


Astute Yankee fans might recall a slick-fielding third baseman by the name of Aurelio Rodriguez, who played for the Detroit Tigers before playing for the Bronx Bombers and wore No. 13. But this newest A-Rod makes a few more dollars a year. Here it is -- the jersey at the spring training store. Buy them while you can.


This fella said only four words: "I will not pose."


He may live in Florida, but his heart is in The Bronx.


It was early for beers on Sunday, so the concession workers joined together for some comraderie.


Many come to pay homage in what they consider to be the spring cathedral of baseball, Yankee Stadium South -- Legends Field. I was impressed by how many just enjoyed hanging out, soaking up some sun, and watching players do long-toss drills. Legends Field's highlight is outside the ballpark. It's the public square of retired numbers, which run from the Babe to Reggie.


Someone - even a Don Zimmer lookalike - has to cut those papers for the rosters that sell for a buck a piece. (TY stands not for Ty Cobb, but for the Tampa Yankees.)


Prepare yourself, kids. It's a Frank Howard sighting!! Big Frank, a former AL homer champ, is now king of the fungoes. Ten years ago he was the fungomaster for the Mets and was the object of Mets fan/freak Tommy T's eye. Now he's hitting grounders and fly balls to Yankees prospects. C'mon, Frank, give up the bat!

Posted by Jeff at 10:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Here's a switch: the Oscars were worth watching for the commercial interruptions instead of the show.

The New York Times (free registration required) has a story about the strength of this year's spots. Especially the "Caddyshack" ad featuring Tiger Woods in the Bill Murray role as Carl Spackler, the head greenskeeper at Bushwood. The fact they did it on the night Murray was nominated was brilliant.

The AmEx ad with hyperperfectionist Martin Scorcese criticizing his newphew's birthday party snapshots at the 1 Hour Photo was hilarious. Best tag line: When Scorcese calls his nephew and says, "Hi, Uncle Marty here. How'd you like to turn 5 again?"

I know this makes me sound like a complete and utter tool, but every time I see an American Express ad, I think, "Damn, I wish I was that smart." I've yet to see one of their Tiger Woods ads that wasn't great.

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March 01, 2004



My good friend, the Rev. Joe Kendall, attended the opening of the new Philadelphia Phillies spring training ballpark in Clearwater, Fla., on Saturday. Named BrightHouse Networks Field, the park is designed in a classic Floridian architectural style (whatever the hell that means) and offers numerous amenities, including:

*A 360-degree main concourse, open to the playing field.
*7,000 fixed seats with grass berm seating for an additional 1,500.
*A tiki-hut pavilion in left field.
*Group picnic areas, party suites and Club seats.
*A kids play area and team store.
*A state-of-the-art video scoreboard.
(Coincidentally, Alan Snel of Hudsonian fame wrote a story about the opening in today's Tampa Tribune.)

Rev. Joe, who once starred on the PAX TV series "Pastor Cop" and was the 1994 recipient of the Crimefighting Clergyman of the Year award from the Police Chaplain's Association, attended the Friday night gala, and offers an exclusive report and snapshots as Side Salad's spring training correspondent:


I and many other baseball afficianados celebrate that annual rite in March, when ballplayers visit Florida to help the exotic dancer industry and northerners thaw out and get sunburned.

I hit my first ballpark of the Grapefruit League this year -- the Phillies' new
home in Clearwater. I give the new ballyard four gloves on the
five-glove scale, a high rating for a truly wonderful new venue that's open,
inviting and offers a 360-degree concourse.


Despite construction of a new spring training stadium, a memorial endures. This is near the entrance of the Phils' new ballpark.


A phony Lieberthal watches the real Lieberthal throw pegs to second base.


This fella has an electricity-powered bicycle. "When you get to be my age,
you need a little extra charge," said the Philly fan who allowed me to take
the 75-pounder for a spin. "Don't be afraid to put it into gear."


They're very serious about clean at the Phillies' new Clearwater stadium.
This woman was standing proud.


That's a good lookin' schedule there, ma'am.

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Freud would have had a field day with me last night.

In my one and only dream last night, I was held captive inside a narcissistic California cult that worshipped false idols and performed extravagant rituals. After months of exausted deliberations about what my fate should be, my captors finally decided that since I posed an escape risk, I should be dipped in metal so that my body could be used as a template for copies of my form to be made. After that, I was to be displayed in front of cult members and worshipped like a golden pagan idol. But just before I was to be presented to billions of cult idolators, a gigantic, sparkling, beautiful angel wearing a magic bracelet snatched me in her grasp and made off with me, taking me to a more deserted part of the cult compound to worship me all by herself.

At this point, the dream ended, but I have a pretty good idea what inspired it:


F-"Lord of the Rings." They should have given all the awards to Charlize instead.

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