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February 2007 Archives

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February 28

There was a discussion over on Gameday about why the quarterback rating in the NFL so easily accepted, but new baseball statistics are not. The quarterback rating is an official NFL statistic, which is not true of VORP, OPS and win shares. Of course game-winning RBI was also an official statistic and that died a quick death. I guess the NFL is filled with sheep and MLB has hardened traditionalists.

Women's Soccer is returning. The cities are Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Washington, and a Western City to Be Named Later or WCTBNL. It won't happen until 2008 and it appears western heavy while the WUSA was predominantly eastern.

I can watch women's soccer because it's not inherently different from the men's game to me, just a little less rough. I couldn't say the same about women's basketball or women's softball. Heck, that's softball. I might watch women playing actual baseball.

Matt Bruce lists his favorite highway interchanges. My favorite highway, although not really an interchange is the former Interstate 170, now a 1.25 mile stretch of US 40. It was meant to connect I-70 to downtown Baltimore, but was cancelled.

Just outside Baltimore is the triple overpass where the Baltimore Beltway, I-70 and Security Boulevard meet. It was a landmark on the way to the Hunt Valley Inn and Balticon.

Montgomery County is where I-270, the Washington Beltway and Maryland 355 meet. Metrorail also passes through here before it goes underground and doesn't surface until after Union Station.

The most infamous interchange in the area is the Mixing Bowl in Springfield. The picture in the link is out of date since much construction has ensued since then. In researching this post, I didn't realize there were Little League ballfields so close to the location, but I wouldn't since I'm usually concentrating too hard on not getting into an accident and hoping the signs will accurately direct me where I actually want to go. Apparently, the fields have been closed for a couple of years while road construction continues.

February 27

A convention of adult entertainment executives scheduled for Reykjavík had this unfortunate headline: Porn producers forced to cancel congress in Iceland.

Ex-Nat Matt White is a lousy major league pitcher, but potentially a rich man, even by MLB player standards:

White owns a rock quarry in Massachusetts that could eventually produce more than $2 billion worth of mica schist flatstone, which is used for walks, patios, steps, walls, hearths and ponds...

A geologist, however, told White that as much as 24 million tons of the stone is on the mountainous 50-acre property, which White purchased from his aging aunt so she would have enough money to live in a nursing home.

February 26

I was watching Catania play Inter Milan yesterday in an empty stadium. It was spooky. The average Saturday morning match of six-year-olds has more electricity than that match. The television production was still first rate, but it was so weird that it was so quiet. The typical televised college soccer match has at least 1000 people in attendance and even that small a crowd can work up a roar when the home team scores.

A BPG discussion about Caroline Kennedy possibly throwing out the first pitch in the last season at RFK degenerated into bashing Uncle Ted. That did give me the idea of having the first pitch thrown for several games by descendants of Presidents. I think it would be funny to have a descendant of Teddy Roosevelt standing on the mound as the big-headed version of great-great grandfather hands them the ball.

February 25

Watched the Cold Case episode "8:03 AM". In February 2002, a 13-year-old girl from Chestnut Hill and a 15-year-old boy from North Philly were both killed in their schoolyards at 8:03 a.m. There didn't seem to be any connection between them until a witness volunteers that Shirley Reed, the mother of Madison, the Chestnut Hill girl, went to a North Philly shooting gallery to get fixed. Skill Jones, the North Philly boy, sometimes sold drugs there.

Madison ticked off Gibby Hanes, the Chestnut Hill drug dealer, and got herself shot. Skill had stopped selling. Junkie Toomey Williams was willing to trade a gun for a fix. Instead, Toomey shot Skill.

Went on to the Criminal Minds episode "Fear and Loathing". Teenage black girls have been found dead in Westchester County, New York with swastikas on their faces. Once the BAU figures the unsub is a black male with connections to the music industry that lures black girls with singing talent, it's a pretty straightforward search to find the guy. The swastika was just to throw the police off that they were looking at a hate crime, not a serial killer.

When the BAU says they are looking for a black man, the white mayor doesn't want to put out that information, fearing a race riot. Ware, the black state trooper in charge of the investigation, decides to go ahead with the BAU recommendation. He and Morgan chase down a possible lead and Ware is shot to death by a white homeowner thinking he's a prowler.

We got about 4-5 inches of powdery snow. It was relatively easy to shovel out. There were about five minutes of freezing rain that stung when it hit the back of your neck. A brown male tabby Miranda had named One Whisker rubbed against me while I shoveled. He stopped long enough for me to read his name tag which said "Thomas".

February 24

Went to dinner at Romano's Macaroni Grill with my parents and my sister's family. The group had been waiting for as long as 55 minutes when Whitlock decided to take action and soon she had four people from the restaurant standing around her. It could well be we got seated because the Romano's people wanted to get rid of her.

We got home in time to watch our shows starting with the Numb3rs episode "Finders Keepers". A net has dredged up animals from the bottom of the sea for a junior high oceanography project. It's also dredged up a diver.

The first suspicion is that he has joined other salvagers in search of the Cheetah, a high-tech yacht on a round-the-world race that sank off the coast a few days ago. Special Agent Liz Warner tags along, thinking the diver may have been involved with, or stumbled into possible drug smuggling activities. The yacht owner says that as the boat took on water, four of the crew members were able to escape, but the skipper, Reid Sarasin stayed on, hoping to keep it afloat with only himself as the crew.

The NSA visit Charlie and he tells them where thinks the Cheetah is likely to be. Meanwhile, Charlie follows the FBI search for the Morris Brothers who employed the divers and are believed to have been dumped at sea. The search turns up the brothers, weighted down underwater, as well as the Cheetah.

The NSA come clean that they suspect Reid Sarasin was smuggling a missile guidance system into the United States for Middle Eastern terrorists. When the yacht was sinking, Sarasin stayed aboard to deliver the guidance system, turning off the transponder to prevent tracking. When he is apprehended, he denies any knowledge of the Morris Brothers' death and just says the guidance system was taken by two guys in a yellow box truck. The NSA use their satellites to find the truck and catch the would-be terrorists.

There were a number of goofs in the show. Charlie is convinced that the boat design was flawless, but the ocean can easily and unexpectedly produce forces way beyond what the designers expected. The NSA people are way too well dressed and socially ept to be factually accurate. Finally, it is never explained why the terrorists killed the diver and the salvage brothers, but not Sarasin.

Went on to the Monk episode "Mr. Monk is on the Air". Shock jock Max Hudson had something to do with the death of his wife by asphixiation from the gas fireplace. Monk is hired by Hudson's sister-in-law Linda Riggs to investigate.

Monk appears on the air twice with Hudson. The first time, Monk is embarassed. The second time, Hudson insults the memory of Trudy and Monk attacks him. He can't figure out how Hudson could have killed his wife when he was out of town for a couple of days and actually on the air when she died. The key comes when Monk learns that Hudson was taking care of his neighbor's dogs while they they were on vacation.

Hudson had trained the dogs to turn the gas on in his bedroom. His wife had taken so many sedatives, she'd never notice when the dog entered the room. Hudson used the command "Jiggle me timbers" the morning of her death. He left a radio on within earshot of the dog and when it heard the command, it turned on the gas.

Finished off with the CSI: Miami episode "Internal Affairs". Benjamin Rhodes is found dead in his home from some puncture wound to the chest. Natalia's ex-husband Nick Townsend is part of clean-up crew and has a habit of stealing things from crime scenes. When Nick turns up dead, Boa Vista is arrested.

Detective Jeff Berkeley and the CSI nightshift are put on the case. Natalia is stil sleeping with Nick while she is warning Maxine Valera away from him because of his history of domestic violence. Boa Vista admits to following Valera to his condo where she saw him get rough, then Maxine pushed him away until he lay motionless on the floor. Valera believes she accidentally killed him.

It turns out Benjamin Rhodes was a psychiatric patient of Lauren Sloan. He slept with her and made several complaints to the State Board. Sloan no longer wanted Rhodes as a patient and threatened him with a gun filled with blanks. She didn't realize she could actually kill him with it.

Sloan confesses of the affair and the murder to her husband Jeff Murdock and remembers she left her earrings at the crime scene. When Murdock gets there, he overhears that Nick took the earrings. He follows Nick to his condo and, after Valera leaves, kills Townsend, somehow never bothering to take the earrings.

There were huge storytelling holes in this episode. There was never any compelling explanation of how either Boa Vista or Valera killed Townsend. You just knew that they'd find something that would point to a non-regular. You were never convinced any of the cast were in any serious danger.

February 23

The term "Moneyball" has been thrown around haphazardly to refer to the use of non-traditional statistics, strategies or practices. It's almost as ubiquituous as the term "cyberpunk" was used 20 years ago to refer to non-traditional science fiction. While the Yankees and Red Sox may be going beyond batting average and pitchers wins to evaulate talent, they're still using their financial advantage as their primary weapon.

Some people may call the Nats' approach to their starting staff Moneyball for taking advantage of the market's preference for experience over expected performance. I prefer to call it Cheap Ball - the idea that any wins that don't directly lead to contention have no value whatsoever. Therefore, winning 55, 65 or 75 games makes no difference.

A strange Freudian slip of mind - I made the note of Cheap Ball and thought of a high school quiz bowl personality who also pays me.

February 22

I heard Jason Whitlock on The John Riggins Show sounding pretty upset the mess outside the NBA All-Star Game has become. It sounded just like his AOL column. The weird thing is that his Kansas City Star column from Monday severely downplayed the bad parts, as if he could not participate in certain aspects, but did not condemn them. Did he change his mind? Is this contradictory tone an accident? Does the Star want an NBA team in KC?

Wimbledon is giving out equivalent prize money to the mens and womens champions. I think the prize money should be based on actual interest. In some years, the men are a bigger attraction and should get more money. In other years, like this one, the women are more interesting.

Wimbledon is really going to break tradition when they move the entire kit and kaboodle of the tournament to Milton Keynes.

Watched the CSI episode "Sweet Jane". Liev Schreiber plays Mike Keppler, a new CSI from Baltimore and originally from Trenton. He is temporarily assigned to the graveyard shift in Grisson's absence.

Keppler joins Willows at the scene where 17-year-old Veronica Sorenson, a runaway from Victorville, has been found strangled and naked in the worst part of town. She has been carefully wiped clean and Keppler believes this may be the work of a serial killer. They find three similar unsolved homicides involving Jane Does in 1975, 1989 and 1999 with similar looking women left strangled in similar physical positions.

All three bodies are exhumed and Doc Robbins notices a similar cheap dental filling on the gumline. Tox on some of the victims suggest anesthetics used in dentistry and Keppler believes the killer may be a dentist. Using geographical profiling, he identifies a clinic and Dr. Dave Lowry, played by Ned Beatty, who worked on Veronica Sorenson and has been around long enough for the 1975 murder.

Nick is able to identify a bite mark by enhancing negatives from the 1989 murder. Keppler is able to match it to Lowry's dental impressions before he had work done. Lowry is going down for all the murders, but refuses to give the names of his victims.

Whitlock was particularly impressed the creepiness of Beatty's character - everybody's grandpa who is also a serial killer. I was more impressed by the courage of the writers and/or director to go with an understated approach.

February 21

I can't let go of the mistake that is Sister Cristian Guzman. Aaron Gleeman has this to say about Brian Duensing, whom the Twins drafted as compensation:

In particular his numbers after moving beyond Beloit were well below par, as Duensing allowed 98 hits, including 10 homers, while handing out 26 walks in 89.2 innings between Fort Myers and New Britain. The Twins were smart for being aggressive with Duensing and he deserves credit for holding his own post injury, but soon he needs to show that he's more than a back-of-the-rotation starter. As a soon-to-be 24-year-old with an iffy strikeout rate and .273 opponent's batting average, I'm skeptical.

We don't know if the Nats would have selected Duensing if they had the draft pick. He doesn't seem like he'll be an impact player for the Twins. On the Nationals Duensing might be Chicxulub

Jamming Econo has the background on the Ronnie Belliard extortion case. One could twist this to be the Nats' own Tom Brady...except we don't know for a fact that the woman in question was actually pregnant...and Brad Moynihan never attempted to extort cash from Tom Brady...and Brad Moynihan to my knowledge has never been convicted of drug and weapons charges. I'd just happy to see Belliard assuring that Cristian Guzman makes a full recovery.

February 20

I liken the relationship to a baseball team like a romance. Unlike spring training two years ago, there isn't exactly the same excitement, just as a dinner or movie date later in the relationship is not quite as exciting as one in the first few weeks. Still, if the love is there, it's still exciting.

From being in Viera last July, I can picture exactly where those workouts are taking place clearly in my mind.

Whitlock's old boss grew up in Florida and went to spring training as a boy. Even as an adult living in the Washington, he continuted to fly down for spring training. The only picture he showed me that I remember was a smiling Darnell Coles sitting on a bench. Coles is now manager of the Nats New York-Penn League team, the Vermont Lake Monsters.

February 19

Watched the Numb3rs episode "Nine Wives". Fourteen-year-old Josephine Kirtland, is found wandering the desert, having just escaped from Abner Stone and his polygamist cult. Stone escaped to Canada, but has now returned to California for some unexplained reason.

California Highway Patrol stop an SUV that has Stone as a passenger and he shoots the trooper dead. Stone and his cult retreat to a cabin, surrounded on all sides by the FBI and police. He releases propane gas and leaves the house with a woman member as a hostage. The police subdue him as the house blows up and he blames the government for the disaster.

Charlie and Amita attempt to decipher a quilt and a piece of paper. Mildred walks by and thinks it's some secret FBI cattle breeding scheme. Charlie then realizes it's the genealogy of the polygamist cult, because there's a great deal of inbreeding.

Went on to the Cold Case episode "Blackout". In January 1996, five members of the Williams family are celebrating the 13th birthday of young Matt during a driving snowstorm. Estranged matriarch Lauren, played by Donna Mills, shows up unexpectedly acting just like a classic 1980s primetime soap opera bitch. She's the one who ends up dead, face down in the indoor swimming pool.

It turns out than when her son Tad was 13, Lauren began sexually abusing him. Now that her grandson Matt was 13, it looked like she was going to start up with him. Not wanting that for her son, Matt's mother and Lauren's daughter Ginny drowned her own mother.

February 18

Watched the CSI: Miami episode "Backstabbers". Sonya Barak, previously known as Sonya Moretta, is being arraigned as an accessory to the kidnapping of Peter Kinkella's family. The judge grants a million dollars bail. Outside the courthouse, someone fires from a yellow Corvette and her lawyer Russell Tanninger is shot dead. The gunman was actually aiming for Sonya, but the ricochet killed her lawyer.

As the police go through a wild goose chase trying to find her, the big break comes when they discover Peter Kinkella posted her bail and is about to take her on a yacht ride, supposedly to kill her. Horatio arrives and tells Kinkella to go home while Sonya sails away.

In the other plot, Hector Rivera is found with Sonya's car and the body of bodega owner Gabriel Cervantes in the trunk. The victim recently left the Craneo gang and was killed when he wouldn't pay protection money. Security footage from a rental car company shows that Rivera did not jack Sonya's Mercedes, but she handed it over willingly to get the police off her. While the blood evidence from the Cervantes murder from Rivera's jacket is compromised, they do find plastic explosives from the attempt to blow up the nuclear power plant. He helped load them and soon he's off to rot in Guantanamo.

Sonya is portrayed as the ultimate femme fatale, but why is she stupid enough to go onboard Kinkella's yacht? The terrorist organization is al-Qadr, close enough, but not quite al-Queda. There's no way a radical Islamic terrorist organization would allow a woman so high up in the group, especially one dressed like such a wanton strumpet. There is a Caucasian and a Hispanic in the al-Qadr, supposedly as an analog to John Walker Lindh and Jose Padilla.

From Thom Loverro:

The highlight of my first full day here in vivid Viera was meeting Miss Chatter.

Watched the Bones episode "Judas on a Pole". Former FBI agent Garrett Delaney is found burned on the roof of a hotel used to house FBI informants with various artifacts found around him. Included is a journal that is best explained from the beginning.

The Ohio bank robbery gang that Brennan's parents belonged to was being investigated by a joint law enforcement task force. The lawmen got corrupt and started taking a cut of the proceeds. Meanwhile, they set about to plant cash on civil rights activist Marvin Bennett and frame him for the robberies. Special agent Gus Harper did not want an innocent man to go to prison so the dirty agents had Harper killed and framed Bennett for it. From the limited contact Temperance and Russ are having with their father, Garrett Delaney was closing in on Russ before he was killed by their father Max Keenan.

Booth gets help from Assistant Federal Prosecutor Caroline Julian to exhume Gus Harper's body for a new autopsy. Saroyan conducts the inquest and determines the killing shot was made with a military sniper rifle. Booth is suspended by Deputy Director Robert Kirby and Julian finds out Kirby was the only surviving member of the joint bank robbery task force who had military sniper training.

Throughout the episode, Max Keenan has been delivering messages through his priest friend, Toby Coulter. Julian tells Booth that the real Father Coulter is an infirmed 90-year-old man. As Temperance meets with Father Coulter, she realizes he is her father with makeup and cosmetic surgery. As she tries to incapacitate her father for arrest, he handcuffs her to a park bench. Russ arrives in his pickup truck to drive their father away. Booth shows up soon afterwards, but lets them go.

The episode ends with Max Keenan burning Robert Kirby's body. The father was played by Ryan O'Neal. Since he was using plastic surgery to change his appearance, the next actor to play him will probably be somebody else.

February 17

Howard Megdal makes the case for Gil Hodges in the Hall of Fame and defends himself to the the Primates. I take issue with Megdal's evaluation of his time in Washington:

While defining great managers is far from a science, Gil took over two of the worst teams in baseball, and had tremendous success. Taking over the Washington Senators in 1963, he led them to an improved record in each of four subsequent campaigns, mostly on the backs of Frank Howard and such lesser lights as Don Lock, Ken McMullen and Phil Ortega (these were the best players of his lot).

I have a hard time with the characterization "tremendous success" in Washington. He never got the team above .500. Although the Senators regressed under Jim Lemon, Ted Williams finally broke .500 before Bob Short dismantled the squad in preparation for moving to Texas.

Phil Wood wants to kick Hodges out of the Washington Hall of Stars. He gets an unfavorable comparison to Ted Williams managing the same franchise and Teddy Ballgame looks bad as a manager compared to Frank Robinson. In all honesty, I think if Hodges had lived, he would have ridden the arms of Seaver and Koosman to another division title, similar to Yogi's in 1973, but would have not stayed manager past 1980.

But if you let Gil Hodges in the Hall of Fame, you might have to let in Don Baylor:

             OPS+   R   RBI  W   L   PCT
Gil Hodges    120 1105 1274 660 753 .467
Don Baylor    118 1236 1276 627 689 .476

Watched the CSI:NY episode "Silent Night". Marlee Matlin plays Gina Mitchum, the mother among an entirely deaf family. She senses a commotion to find her 19-year-old daughter Alexa dead of a shotgun blast. There is a one-year-old baby, Elizabeth, also in the house that Gina is claiming is hers. She is actually Alexa's daughter and the family moved from a Manhattan high-rise to a Bronx single family home just before the baby's birth.

A hearing boyfriend, Seth Wolf, was listed on the birth certificate as the father, but it was actually Cole Rowan, a deaf classmate of Alexa who recently got a cochlear implant. Cole has hearing parents and rejects deaf culture. He attempted to kidnap Elizabeth, not wanting her to be raised in a deaf household, and accidentally shot Alexa. Cole overpowers Gina's husband and forces Gina to drive to an isolated location where he will let her off and take Elizabeth. They don't get there and the police close in to defuse the situation with no serious injuries.

In the other plot, Sasha Cohen plays a star figure skater who discovers friend and competitor Mackenzie Wade dead on the ice. A chemist and physicsist scientist named Tom Howard could watch the practices from his office. He saw what Mackenzie was doing wrong between her jumps and tried to tell her that. In the scuffle, he accidentally stabbed her with a skate lacer.

February 16

Hosted the Knossos meeting. With all the snow and ice, I didn't expect we'd get many attendees but actually got ten people. I cooked a fontina and spinach white pizza. After Bob Burrows and Ellen Vartanoff arrived, I shoveled out the stairs and directed people inside through the garage.

The book was The Last Templar by Michael Jecks, which I didn't read. Some people mistakenly read The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury.

I was taken aback to find out that this guy in Godspell is the same guy from Alias and Justice. I once wore the Jesus costume at a science fiction convention. It's simple - Superman shirt, suspenders and face paint. There was a sadly misinformed soul who shouted,"It's Supermime!"

February 15

I was home again because the hump of ice in our driveway from the banks left by the snowplow was too large for my car to get by. Oh yeah, I also have to rearrange vehicles because my mother-in-law's car is in our driveway for reasons that are too complicated to get into.

In the wake of the NASCAR cheating scandal, Matt Bruce says:

Call me an anarchist but the more infractions your "sport" feels the need to define, and the more precisely they have to be defined, the less legitimacy your pursuit has.

In discussions with John Cooper, a game is more pure or elegant, the fewer rules it has. Which makes the Go the purest of games. But the brevity of rules or infractions has nothing to do with the legitimacy of the game or sport.

It's human nature to try to push the envelope of the rules of the game without breaking it. There may not be necessarily be an immoral motivation, but perhaps an attempt to simply break the game and put yourself above the rulesmakers. The Bill James New Historical Abstract had a section on how college basketball has adjusted to strategies that were breaking the game. He used this argument to advance his own proposals to combat strategies he believed were breaking baseball like endless pickoff throws to first base or continual relief pitcher substitutions.

I don't pay much attention to NASCAR, so I was thinking that the rules infractions were some esoteric engine adjustment I could never understand. But adding rocket fuel sounds pretty blatant.

Listening to NPR while shoveling the snow, I heard more than one paean on the death of the letter in the age of e-mail, instant messaging and text messaging.

Back in college, there was a bunch of us too young to get bills and junk mail who were sending bizarre post cards to each other. I still have some of them

February 14

Both snow and ice kept me from going to work. The ice left an interesting glaze on the northish windows. Our street wasn't plowed until 4:00pm.

I'm easily flattered. Brian Rostron has linked to this blog, identifying it neither as Brick Barrientos nor Eucalyptus but as Brick Barrientos Is Better Looking than You.

The three outfielders in 2006 whose fielding win shares exceeded their batting win shares by the greatest amount are Lew Ford, Amezega and Marlon Byrd. This only happens if the player's batting contribution is so anemic that the fielding performance can be better.

February 13

Watched the How I Met Your Mother episode "Mary the Paralegal". This episode took place last season when Robin received a nomination for her television work and invited Ted to the awards ceremony three months later. He thought he'd be taking Victoria, but by that time they'd broken up.

Robin is going to the shindig with anchor Sandy Rivers and Barney takes it upon himself to make his neighbor Mary, Ted's date. Barney insinuates she is a prostitute and Mary is a glamorous blonde superficially sexier than Robin. Amazingly, Ted and Mary get along great and when Robin asks what she does for a living, Barney suddenly slips in that she is a paralegal.

It appears that Robin is going home with Sandy while Ted and Mary go upstairs to a room Barney has reserved in the very hotel where the banquet is taking place. Robin just sent Sandy home in the cab and Barney reveals the plot twist that Mary is not a prostitute.

Went on to the Everybody Hates Chris episode "Everybody Hates Superstition". Chris runs out of socks and is forced to wear Julius' hideous red and gold "lucky" pair. Nice things happen to him and when he thinks he's lost them, bad things resume. His Dad gives him some speech about perseverance, all involving movie and television characters, that Chris adapts in an oral presentation for American history.

Drew and Tanya play their parents off against each as other Drew wants a new suit to perform in the talent show and Tanya wants pink carpet for her bedroom. Drew can't really sing but has all the girls swooning as he lip-synchs to "Candy Girl" by New Edition. The implication is made that Milli Vanilli were in the audience watching excitedly.

It may a continuity error, but this episode states that Julius met Rochelle in 1970. Previously, the math indicated Chris was born in 1969. Is Julius not Chris' biological father?

Finished up with the Criminal Minds episode "No Way Out". The episode opens with Gideon and Morgan confronting serial killer Frank, played by Keith Carradine, in a Golconda, Nevada diner. He appears to be history's most prolific serial killer, murdering and torturing over 300 unwanted, unremembered people down the entire stretch of Interstate 80 from San Francisco to New York.

For some reason, Frank likes to stop annually in Golconda and recently and uncharacteristically, dumped two victims in the same location. We meet the sheriff Georgia "George" Davis, played by Melissa Leo, and Jane, a madwoman played by Amy Madigan. Jane thinks she was adbucted by aliens, but it's pretty clear to the BAU that Frank took her, but did not kill her when she smiled at him.

Frank found Jane at George's house and took the sheriff into his trailer while Jane escaped. The authorities find George in Frank's trailer parked behind Jane's house. He has also abducted an entire school bus, killed the adults, and abandoned the children in a remote location. Gideon drives Frank and Jane to a place Frank directs him to and leaves Jason to walk two miles to where he finds the children. Meanwhile, Frank and Jane escape.

February 12

Got an e-mail from Yudite Simon Oliver Lockwood that New Alexandria has been around since at least before World War II as evidenced by this 1945 map. He's okay with the name. We'll have to agree to disagree here. I just think that "New" anything should not be right next to the "Old" one.

February 11

An interesting piece of gossip from baseball in Washington during the 1950s:

But as the investigation continued, "A confidential source, who has furnished reliable information in the past, advised in June 1957 that a very prominent Washington, D.C.-area gambler and bookmaker arranged dates for members of the New York Yankees baseball club at a Washington, D.C., house of prostitution" - a group including Mantle.

At least somebody was scoring in Washington during the 1950s.

February 10

Went to Hudson Trail Outfitters to buy snow boots for Whitlock and Miranda. This guarantees we will not have snow this winter.

The guy fitting them told of his six month trip up the Appalachian Trail. You always start in March in Georgia, because the northernmost 100 miles in Maine have no rest stops.

Watched the Cold Case episode "Knuckle Up". In 2005, James Hoffman, a prep school kid from the lower end of the private school socio-economic scale is being drilled by his high-pressure father Darren. Then we see James' body today in an oil drum.

James' sister Alexa shows up at the polcie station with an uploaded video of her brother getting the crap beat out of him at the Bottom, one of the worst parts of Philadelphia. Turns he was part of a prep school fight club.

One night the gang was walking through Mantua and passed a stockbroker with a disabled vehicle. Tanner Lennox, one of the crew, beat and killed him for no apparent reason. As the fight club scatters, James feels it should be reported to the police.

He returns to the Bottom where Tanner drives up with his father Arthur, who donated a wing to the school and is played by Robert Picardo. Arthur offers to put in a good word for James at colleges if he'll keep quiet. James refuses and Arthur kills him, stuffing his body in the drum. This also confirms that the biggest name among the guest stars will be the murderer.

Went on to the CSI episode "Leaving Las Vegas". Jay Finch is on trial for the murder of his mother Addie. He is defended by Adam Novak, who tried to hit on Willows in an earlier episode and is played by Marg Helgenberger's real husband Alan Rosenberg.

The jury finds Finch not guilty, but Catherine pursues two unidentified traces of DNA found on the knife used to stab Addie Finch. They belong to two related females and she hopes to arrest Jay on those other murders. Willows and Stokes find the murder of a woman and her adult daughter, but someone has already confessed to that crime.

Catherine guesses the confession might be coerced. She brings Danny Curtis, who hid in the cupboard while his mother and grandmother were killed, back to the house to see if he remembers anything. He says the killer took a cookie from the jar, which mooed every time the lid was lifted. In the jar lid, they find Jay Finch's fingerprint in the blood of the two women, which are also a match for the blood on the knife.

In order to get information from the Robert Guffey, who confessed to the double murder, Willows visits him in prison and offers to undo a button for every question he answers. Marg Helgenberger is plenty hot, but this was pretty embarassing television that I couldn't watch. When she has to convince Danny to go inside his old house I had to yell at the screen, MST3K style,"Son, for every step you take towards the house, I'm going to undo a button on my blouse."

Afterwards, Catherine gives Novak a tip about Guffey being in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Grissom leaves for four weeks to teach at Williams College. Another crime scene model is left on his desk.

February 9

Watched the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Is at Your Service". Paul Buchanan discovers that his butler Stilson is blackmailing him. He takes care of the problem by shooting Stilson dead.

At lunch with her parents, Natalie explains to Monk that Buchanan was her spoiled classmate who stalked her. Just a year ago, his stepmother died in a car accident not far away. As his father called 911, he died of a heart attack. When Natalie and Monk visit the scene, Monk is suspicious of the accident as reported and Natalie can't get a cell phone signal at that location.

Natalie sends Monk into the Buchanan mansion to investigate and instead Monk gets himself hired as the new butler. Monk takes to the new job so well, he forgets about the investigation. Natalie realizes if the 911 call was actually made at the accident location, there would have been loud frogs in the background, so it must have been made somewhere else. Monk learns the Buchanan will stipulated that whichever parent died last, their biological offspring would inherit the estate. Since the father died later, Paul inherited and kicked out his stepsisters.

While snooping around, Natalie learns the father was home and not out with his wife that night. Monk finds blood and other evidence to shock him back investigating the case. He figures out that the father really died first of a heart attack, but Paul couldn't inherit, so took his stepmother out for a ride and killed her. Then Paul took his stepfather to the "accident" location and made the cellphone call.

Whitlock noted there seemed to be too much an age difference between Sean Astin, who played Paul Buchanan, and Traylor Howard. She is actually about five years older.

February 8

The Devil Rays may be just the Rays. For real, unlike the "Jays" and the "d-Backs". Tampa Bay should have been the Rays from Day One so they could easily switched their identity between solar emanations and Steve Irwin's killer.

Anna Nicole Smith is dead and will dominate cable news for weeks to come. She seems to be the third Playmate of the Year to die young of unnatural causes.

At least Sports Illustrated got it right. The traditional subscription offer connected with a championship has the announcer saying,"The Indianapolis Colts have won their first Super Bowl."

February 7

An inch of snow closed schools in Montgomery County. By evening, the sun had melted most of it from the driveway.

Astronaut Lisa Nowak of Rockville has been charged with attempted murder stalking a woman in Orlando. The hard work and persistence she needed to become an astronaut served her in driving 900 miles straight from Houston to Orlando in a diaper, stopping only for gas.

Some folks will claim there is something wrong with astronaut training that creates an obsessive stalker. It's the same subtext when an ex-Marine commits a crime, as if being a Marine caused it. Persistence and discipline is just a tool that can be used for good or evil.

February 6

Congratulations to all the Nats bloggers who got written up this morning. And welcome to any new readers who found this blog through the featured sites. Eucalyptus began in 2001, before the Expos moved south, and has other content about television, quizbowl and anything else I can think of.

In December 2004, I started a feature noting birthdays of Washington baseball players. After I went through pretty much everybody in the 20th century and the new Nationals, I added managers and 19th century players in the second year. Now it's almost entirely current Nats. You can go back to those previous years entries and find that today is the birthday of Pelham Ballenger, Frank LaPorte and Dale Long.

And if write something really clever Basil or Chris will let you know.

Watched the CSI:NY episode "Raising Shane". An armed gunman robs a bar after closing time and shoots the woman behind the bar. The bouncer describes the assailant as an African-American man, 5-9 with darks eyes wearing a green hooded sweatshirt. A jogging Sheldon Hawkes is brought to the bouncer who identifies him as the robber.

The money from the robbery is found in Hawkes' pocket and his sweatshirt comes up positive for GSR. Bonasera remembers he was test-firing guns earlier that day which would explain the residue. Messer says Hawkes normally goes for a late-night run to unwind. Sheldon himself recalls bumping into someone at a newsstand who may have planted the money. Meanwhile, in a seemingly unrelated case, a junkie is found dead in a peepshow booth in only his boxer shorts.

The gang figures out somebody wanted to frame Hawkes and they immediately zero on Shane Casey, whose brother Ian was convicted of a similar shooting of a bartender on the testimony of an eyewitness and no other evidence. Ian has since killed himself in prison. It turns out Shane Casey hired the junkie to do the robbery and the shooting. Shane took the money and all of the junkies clothes and killed him. Later, Shane planted the cash on Hawkes.

Looking at a newspaper photo of the bartender in the robbery Ian Casey was convicted for, the CSIs notice a ring on his finger. That same ring was left behind near the junkie's body by Shane. Danny confronts Shane with the ring as evidence, that his brother Ian took the bartender's ring and was guilty of the murder.

For our annual Whitlock birthday matinee, we went to see Night at the Museum. There are certain kinds of slapstick she likes more than I do. I thought were a few jokes that fell flat and there was too much uncomfortable dead time highlighting these bombs. It's not a spoof where the gags come so quickly a failed joke is quickly forgotten.

The special effects are nice. There's a happy ending. It's worth a rental at least.

Watched the CSI: Miami episode "Come As You Are". What looks to be a firefight in Iraq is actually an urban shooting zone for weekend warrior types. Teen Derrick Perry shoots at a cutout of an insurgent when Marine sergeant Timothy Hicks falls dead from behind it.

Hicks was a recruiter who had to reject Matt Batra because of his family's Iranian origins. Heavily drugged with animal tranquilizers he got from his veterinarian wife, Hicks was pretty unresponsive when Batra confronted him. Hicks fell and hit his head on a curb. Instead of calling for help, Batra bound Hicks and left him hidden behind the cutout profile.

In the other plot, Marine corporal Kevin Kirby is briefly a suspect in Hicks' death. Kevin is home on bereavement leave to bury his brother Patrick, killed in Iraq. God knows how Horatio has jurisdiction over a death in Iraq, but his techs eventually determine Patrick was killed by a contractor who shot in panic from inside the cab of his truck.

The insurgent attack is unrealistic in that they would never make an infantry assault on a heavily fortified encampment. They wouldn't use anything smaller than a suicide truck bomb. Now a convoy, with a little help from IEDs, that would be attacked by a force equipped with small arms. However, it is clear that contractors, with no military training, have no business being armed in a warzone.

February 5

Congratulations to the Indianapolis Colts on winning your second Super Bowl. Congratulations to the boy in North Drive who watched Jim O'Brien win Super Bowl V in 1971 and had to wait 36 years until now. Congratulations to the teenage girl with the poster of Bert Jones on her wall who's now a soccer mom in Franklin.

Remember when Mike Curtis began the 500 with "Gentlemen, start your engines." Remember when Alan Ameche thundered across the Astroturf of the RCA Dome to win the first sudden death overtime playoff game in NFL history. Remember that scene from Diner where Steve Guttenberg wouldn't marry his fiancée until she passed a test on the Indianapolis Colts.

But there have been dark days as well. Joe Willie Namath guaranteed a victory for the Jets, the Colts lost their first Super Bowl and Market Street was flooded with the tears of fans. When Ken Stabler broke hearts all over Fountain Square. Frustration all up and down Indiana Avenue that winless strike-shortened season when tying the Packers was the highlight of the year.

Which makes yesterday's victory all the sweeter. In a town where Johnny Unitas is venerated as a god. Where you can find Artie Donovan holding court on a barstool in Broad Ripple. Where Gino Marchetti never had to buy a drink or a meal - the Indianapolis Colts are World Champions again.

Beyond the Box Score looks at the 2007 Nats.

The Nationals In a Nutshell:

Jim Bowden has called our bluff. It seems like every time a club signs a mid-rotation starter for big bucks, statheads cry out, "we could've gotten that kind of production from [insert Quad-A All-Star here]." The Nats will enter the offseason with only one veteran starter--John Patterson--and he's coming back from injury. The bullpen will be okay, the offense may be above average, but the difference between disaster and respectability rests with the replacement-level starting rotation...

Starting Rotation

Now this is where things get interesting. The depth chart at lists the following as Washington's starting rotation:

John Patterson
Jerome Williams
Tim Redding
Michael O'Connor
Shawn Hill

I'll try to stop laughing. I'm not laughing derisively--I'm just impressed at the guts it took for Jim Bowden to go with those guys (and Brandon Claussen and Luis Martinez, etc.) instead of resigning Ramon Ortiz and Tony Armas Jr. and picking up guys like Sidney Ponson. Seriously, Bowden has wowed me...

All Together Now...

Long story short, you can look forward to another 70-72 win season in Washington. It doesn't look all that bright for 2008, either, but if Stan Kasten decides to open the purse strings and gets serious about 2009 and beyond, nothing the Nats have done lately will get in the way. And for a team that's going nowhere, that's all you can ask.

Watched the CSI episode "Loco Motives". The death of the nightshift equipment cleaner at a chicken processing factory leads to another model like that at the crime scene of Izzy Delancey and Penny Garden. Grissom is able to enhance a security video of somebody leaving the second model and Penny Garden's house. The man has the logo of a model railroading club on the back of his shirt. When Sanders goes to the club's website, he finds Ernie Dell, a worker at the chicken plant.

In the basement of Dell's house, model trains are enhanced with landscapes of graphic horror. Izzy Delancey made an anti-cruelty video showcasing the chicken plant and including Ernie in the footage. The equipment cleaner was a co-worker who was banging the company's CEO's wife. It's never clear what his motive would be for killing Penny Garden.

Although the police have motive and Dell admits to making the models, he claims to have sold them to many people. What finally, gets him is that he adds cellphone minutes to a disposable phone used in the cases. As the police rush to his home, Dell sends a suicide e-mail and streaming video to Grissom.

In the other plot a man dumps a woman's body in wet cement, then gets stuck in it himself. He refuses to give his name until a little girl, a witness in what appeared to be another case, calls him Max. He confesses to a really bad day, starting with accidentally stabbing his wife with a piece of glass from a broken bowl. Then, in explaining it an elderly neighbor across the courtyard, accidentally killed her pushing her against the phone. Max thought he'd stage her death as a suicide in the oven. Finally, while trying to dispose of his wife's body, he got stuck in cement.

February 4

Watched the Bones episode "Headless Witch in the Woods". It's pretty much a rip-off of The Blair Witch Project where a hiker finds a headless body in the woods and Bones finds a camera with film still in it. The recording has horrific screaming and blood splashing on somebody's face.

Brian and Lori, the two students who accompanied the decapitated film student Graham did manage to make it out alive, but neither want to return to the woods to help the investigation. Lori is in a mental institution still suffering from violent episodes. Brian finished a film with his professor Nate that will be shown at Sundance and based on Graham's screenplay. Brennan forms a connection with Graham's older brother Will who lived a similar life to her brother Russ - orphaned when Will was 18 and Graham was 13 - he quit school to be a fireman and raise his brother.

When evidence points to Will as the killer, he confesses at a restaurant while Booth arrests him. Graham stole an 18th century skull from the medical school to represent the head of the decapitated witch. Will was there to help scare the other two and Graham spiked Lori's food with hallucinogens. When he saw what a monster Graham had become, throwing animal blood on Lori, Will hit him to stop him. At this point, he says the ghost of Maggie Cinders who haunts those woods, told him to cut off Graham's head.

Near the end Montenegro and Hodgins find what might be the ghost of Maggie Cinders in the video.

It's great to eat a non-sports restaurant the night of the Super Bowl. There's nobody there. But it was bitterly cold outside.

February 3

Watched the Criminal Minds episode "The Perfect Storm". A Jacksonville, Florida mother receives a DVD in the mail of her college-age daughter being raped, tortured and murdered. The BAU deduce from the camera's movements that there is a second assailant - a submissive personality is a psychotic team.

It's at this point I suggested to Whitlock that the second person was a woman. First of all, only man was ever seen on camera, which means the story needed to hide the other from view. Secondly, I think most males, even in a submissive multiple rape situation, would want to directly participate. Finally, Nicki Aycox was the first guest star, a spot usually reserved for the murderer.

Nicki Aycox plays Amber Carnado, who looks the battered wife of prime suspect Tony Canardo. Garcia makes the breakthrough when she accesses Amber's juvenile records and finds she was sexually abused in woods by her father and brother. Amber blames her mother who did nothing and sending DVDs to the mothers is part of the anger at what happened to her.

Watched the Firefly episode "Heart of Gold". It's pretty much your standard story where the good guys help out a whorehouse. The madam is played by Melinda Clarke, Lady Heather from CSI. There's nothing to beat the opening scene where the bad guy who runs the town rides a hovercraft, looking more like Luke Skywalker's landspeeder, flanked by guys on horses.

Finished off with the Numb3rs episode "Killer Chat". Someone is luring men who like teenaged girls to empty houses for sale, then recording their confessions before killing them. The murderer was the wife of the first victim, a high school computer science teacher who kept moving from school to school because of the cloud that hung over him. I guess she was trying to extract her own kind of justice.

The other plot was getting Larry into space. It ended with Buzz Aldrin driving him to the airport to the strains of "Rocket Man". I didn't even know Buzz still worked officially for NASA. It means something to us who grew up in the space program that this is not a farfetched plot development and that Larry can still communicate with his friends on Earth by phone and email.

February 2

The Examiner Real Estate section this morning featured "10 Great Things About New Alexandria". Not Alexandria. New Alexandria.

This is zip code 22307 which is already an Alexandria zip code, so it's not exactly like Kensington 20895 appropriating North Bethesda. I'm too already too used to that and North Potomac. George Carlin used to call his neighborhood White Harlem instead of Morningside Heights.

But isn't New Alexandria kind of lame? From its location, Alexandria Beach, Alexandria Cove or Alaxandria Hills would all sound so much better.

Kearns signs a long term contract while John Patterson may not be ready for opening day. At least this is one piece of evidence that Lernastan is not cheap.

February 1

The Seattle Mariners had a fanfest and Bill Bavasi faced some very tough questions:

Question: You trade for a guy like Vidro. How do you tell Ben Broussard that he's going to sit on the bench this year?

Bavasi: It's not easy to tell him that, so we haven't told him yet.

If only his response ended right here, it would have been priceless. Fortunately, for Bavasi's sake, he goes on:

At this point, that's not a foregone conclusion. He is a heck of a good player and from our point of view, we're trying to add depth.

That's exactly what the Titanic did after it hit the iceberg - add depth.

And congratulations to Theo Epstein on his marriage. I also commend him on his ability to hide from the various web wedding stalkers out there.

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