Tuesday, May 09, 2006

"Golden Girl" Cal's Olympic Star Natalie Coghlan and Writer Michael Silver and Talk About The New Book

My friend Michael Silver spent much of his life litterally dumped into the pool of water that is the culture of the Cal Women's Swimming Team. He dived in to write about Seven-Gold-Metal Champion Swimmer Natalie Coghland, and came out with a great book called "Golden Girl."

I took a video of their book presentation held at The Book Passage In Corte Madera in Marin County.

Here's the video.

Stephen Colbert In "The 1 Second Film" Made At Sundance 2005

These guys are attempting to raise $1 million by making one second film clips but all tied together. Their video making the rounds is funny, and has an even higher level of relevance because Stephen Colbert carved out a great role in the film.

Check it out:

The NFL Playbook: The Poorly Written Document A Rookie Faces - The Mike Martz Playbook

It's rookie mini-camp time, and like your third date with that girl you always liked it marks the time to get excited all over again -- only this time about the upcoming football season.

But for a rookie it's a hard time, especially because they have to memorize the contents in the playbook they're given. If they're Detroit Lions first year offense players under offensive coordinator Mike Martz, they're forced to absorb the contents of a playbook that's over 400 pages -- and poorly written.

How do I know? Because I'm reading the St. Louis Rams offense playbook from 1999 -- there's little different from the offense shown in this playbook and what the Lions and Washington Redskins players will learn this year.

This is what the Lions' Wide Receiver Mike Williams has to remember:

"We will number our holes according to the points of attack with EVEN numbers going to the right and ODD numbers going to the LEFT."

"Numbering of Backs: QB is #1, R is #2 regardless of set; H is #3 regardless of set."

Williams has to remember not only what a "Zero" route is (a shallow pattern into the short middle of field just five yard deep) but how to run it against "Retreat Zone", "Retreat Man" ,"Cloud" , "Trail", "Bump" , and vs. "Quads" -- all are types of defensive coverage approaches.

He has to know the difference between "Trade Deuce Right" and "Trade Double Right" (the fullback is next to the weakside tackle in the former and in the slot between the weakside tackle and the split end in the latter), and that's just in the "D Variations"

The what?

But hey, I'm reading the playbook. He's got to remember this stuff.

What ads to this is the playbook itself is so poorly written. There's not an extensive table of contents. The plays are not well organized. Indeed, there should be a chapter for each kind of pass there is. And each play should have it's own page and segmented so that each offensive player knows what they're supposed to do in that play. Kind of like the Cal offense.

I've got that playbook too. It's the best organized playbook I've ever seen. Each play has it's own page. There's a page on special strategies. For eample, Cal calls it's two minute offense "Bonzai" -- who can forget that? There are also special chapters on screen passes.

How do I know this? Because I'm looking at Cal's offensive playbook, too.

In fact, It's clear to me that some NFL teams should study their college counterparts for playbook design ideas. The 2005 Notre Dame Offense playbook is well-segmented, yet detailed and there's no play that's simpler than what's ran in the NFL. Moreover it' reveals a varied offensive attack that has just one weak spot: an apparent vulnerability to defenses that play multiple-fronts and zone blitz.

But heck, if you've got to get to that level of complexity to beat Notre Dame, that's saying something for their playbook. The only other answer is to have better athletes, but that's another story.

Rookies coming into the NFL have to learn a new playbook and absorb a lot of information. Since the concepts in the NFL are really not more advanced than those at colleges like Notre Dame and Cal, why not make the playbooks easier to read?

There's no sense in fooling your own players.

24 Star! - Pernell Harris Is Agent Harris Of Fox TV's "24" - Video

If you remember the scene in 24 where Jack Baeur crash lands on an island, then you may remember an African American FBI agent on that plane. You may also remember him as the person who asks Baeur to "stand down" with his gun pointed at Mr. Baeur.

That man is "Agent Harris." His real name is Pernell Harris and lives and works in Oakland, California. He's currenly Assistant GM at Gold's Gym in Oakland. In my next video, we'll include scenes from 24 featuring Parnell. But for now, here's the video interview of Parnell Harris:

Damon Connolly For Assembly - Marin County

My good friend Damon Connolly's running for assembly in Marin County, California. I took this brief video at one of the many house parties thrown for him this year. Ever the gracious host stopping to talk to all of the attendees, Damon managed to give me some of his time to encourage you to vote June 6th and to explain who he is and that his main concern is getting the state to give kids -- he's a father of two girls -- the best education possible.

Here's Damon Connolly:

Stephen Colbert's "Attack" On Bush - Two Views: Richard Cohen and William Rivers Pitt

Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert has more than caught the Zeitgeist with his blog-and-You-Tube reported lampooning of President Bush. It's also pitted journalists against bloggers, or is it blogging journalists versus non-blogging journalists. Hmmm...

I got the article by William Rivers Pitt from a friend and decided to post it and the Richard Cohen article here on my blog as a kind of comparison. I dispensed with the links because I don't know how long they're going to be active.

My take is that to a degree Cohen's spot on...about the online anger, I mean. I disagree with his take on Colbert. What made him funny was the simple fact that he had the guts to do it.

Here's William Rivers Pitt attacking Cohen:

An Open Letter to Richard Cohen
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Tuesday 09 May 2006

Greetings! I was inspired to write you after reading your missive in today's Post regarding all the nasty emails you have received of late. Personally, I found Colbert's performance hilarious and timely, the kind of satirical backhand so desperately needed these days. I don't begrudge you your opinion that he wasn't funny, and I agree with your belief that it wasn't your opinion on his performance that motivated such an angry response.

It wasn't. You yourself nailed the reason: "Institution after institution failed America - the presidency, Congress and the press. They all endorsed a war to rid Iraq of what it did not have."

The fact that your Colbert commentary became the flint against this rock doesn't mean that Colbert, or your opinion of him, is to blame for the resulting firestorm. The fact is that people are angry - brain-boilingly, apoplectically, mind-bendingly so - at what has happened to this great country. I am, quite often, so angry that my hands shake. Yes, a former high school teacher from New England here, so filled with bile and rage that I sometimes don't recognize my face in the mirror.

You, sir, should not be asking why so many of your email friends are so angry. You should be asking why you yourself are not with them in their rage. I have admired a number of your articles over these last years, and know that you are no fool regarding our situation in Iraq and here at home. It isn't your grasp of the issues that concerns me, but the absence of outrage. Do you really care about the things you write about, or is all this merely grist for the mill that provides you a paycheck?

"I have seen this anger before," you wrote, "back in the Vietnam War era." No, sir, you have not.

You hearken back to rock-throwing days in Vietnam, and lament hatred and rage. But you do not see that those days are quaint by comparison given our current geopolitical situation. Johnson and Nixon, whatever else their faults may have been, were internationalists who understood the need for connection to the wider world. The war in Vietnam, barbaric as it was, did not inspire tens of thousands of Vietnamese to join martyr's brigades. It did not threaten to unleash chaos in a part of the world that holds the economic lifeblood of our whole existence. It did not threaten to shake loose nuclear weapons from quasi-rogue states like Pakistan.

You speak of the angry mob because you got slapped around via email, but your characterization of the anti-war crowd tells me you have not spent a single moment out in the streets with them. I have. I have covered dozens of protests, large and small, in cities all across this country before and after the invasion of Iraq. Millions upon millions of Americans participated in these, and never once, not one time, was a rock thrown.

No violence was offered anywhere, unless it was violence offered to old ladies by riot-garbed police, as was evidenced in Portland several years ago. I have the photographs to prove it. If you want to see anger, enjoy this picture of a 60-year-old woman holding an anti-war sign while being placed in a hammer-lock by a riot cop:

"The hatred is back," you say, as if such hatred is beyond justification. It is interesting that you make so many allusions to Vietnam; the comparison is apt, yet not on point. This is not a situation of "Then" and "Now," but "Then" and "Again." The two issues are joined by a common theme: official malfeasance, presidential lies, administrative fear-mongering and horrific body counts in a faraway land. The lesson of Vietnam was so searing, many believed, that it would never have to be learned again.

Why the anger? Because that lesson didn't take, at least with this crowd. Why the anger? Because millions of people are staggered by the idea that, yes Virginia, we have to go through this again. We have to watch soldiers slaughter and be slaughtered for reasons that bear no markings of truth. We have to watch the reputation of this great nation be savaged. We have to watch as our leaders lie to us with their bare faces hanging out.

Why the anger? It can be summed up in one run-on sentence: We have lost two towers in New York, a part of the Pentagon, an important American city called New Orleans, our economic solvency, our global reputation, our moral authority, our children's future, we have lost tens of thousands of American soldiers to death and grievous injury, we must endure the Abramoffs and the Cunninghams and the Libbys and the whores and the bribes and the utter corruption, we must contemplate the staggering depth of the hole we have been hurled down into, and we expect little to no help from the mainstream DC press, whose lazy go-along-to-get-along cocktail-circuit mentality allowed so much of this to happen because they failed comprehensively to do their job.

George W. Bush and his pals used September 11th against the American people, used perhaps the most horrific day in our collective history, deliberately and with intent, to foster a war of choice that has killed untold tens of thousands of human beings and basically bankrupted our country. They lied about the threat posed by Iraq. They destroyed the career of a CIA agent who was tasked to keep an eye on Iran's nuclear ambitions, and did so to exact petty political revenge against a critic. They tortured people, and spied on American civilians.

You cannot fathom anger arising from this?

I wrote a book called "War on Iraq" in the summer of 2002. That book stated there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, no al Qaeda connections in Iraq, no connections to 9/11 in Iraq, and thus no reason for the invasion of Iraq. It is now almost the summer of 2006. That book was right then, and is right now, and the millions of Americans who agree with the facts contained therein have shared these four years with me in a state of disbelief, shock, sorrow and yes, anger. None of this had to happen, and the fact that it was allowed to happen inspires the kind of vitriol you got a taste of via email.

If you want anger, you should try reading some of the emails I get on a weekly basis. The mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, wives, husbands and children of American soldiers killed in Iraq write to me asking why it happened, what can be done, how this is possible. They write to me because I wrote that book, because somehow they think I have an answer to that bottomless question.

I am sorry you were so wounded by the messages you received. I wish that hadn't happened; I am personally from the more-flies-with-honey school of journalistic correspondence. But in the end, truth be told, I don't feel too badly for you. It isn't an excess of outrage that plagues this nation today, but an abject lack of it. Instead of castigating those who take an interest, who have gotten justifiably furious over all that has happened, I suggest you take a moment within yourself and ask why you don't share their feelings.

This isn't Vietnam, Mr. Cohen. This is a whole new ballgame, and the stakes are higher by orders of magnitude. It took almost ten years of Vietnam for people to reach the boiling point you are so apparently horrified by (and worthy of note, that rage may have elected Nixon, but also served to stop the killing in Southeast Asia). Should those of us who are angry today wait until 2013 to raise hell?

At a minimum, I suggest you head down to your local hardware store and buy a few sheets of 40-grit sandpaper. Apply it liberally - pardon the pun - to any and all parts of your body that may be exposed to the scary anger of the anti-war Left. Toughen up that hide of yours, and greet the coming days with a leathery mien impervious to a few angry emails.

Afterwards, you could perhaps figure out why the anger of those who see this war as a crime and this administration as a disaster is so terribly threatening to you. Anger is a gift, after all, one that inspires change. If you don't think we need a change, real change, I can only shake my head.

P.S. Another reason for the anger you have absorbed can be laid, frankly, at your own feet. There are enough of us around who can still remember your words from November of 2000: "Given the present bitterness, given the angry irresponsible charges being hurled by both camps, the nation will be in dire need of a conciliator, a likable guy who will make things better and not worse. That man is not Al Gore. That man is George W. Bush."

Locate a mirror, Mr. Cohen. Stare deep within it. Know full well that today, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, will recast all your yesterdays as having passed like a comforting dream. Your ability to remain within the safe bubble of the beltway clubhouse, drifting this way and that in some meandering, rudderless fog, has ended. Al Gore invented the internet, or so we are told, and some bright-eyed editor decided to staple your email address to the bottom of your works. Welcome to the age of electronic accountability.

Here's what Richard Cohen wrote:

So Not Funny

By Richard Cohen
Thursday, May 4, 2006; Page A25

First, let me state my credentials: I am a funny guy. This is well known in certain circles, which is why, even back in elementary school, I was sometimes asked by the teacher to "say something funny" -- as if the deed could be done on demand. This, anyway, is my standing for stating that Stephen Colbert was not funny at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. All the rest is commentary.

The commentary, though, is also what I do, and it will make the point that Colbert was not just a failure as a comedian but rude. Rude is not the same as brash. It is not the same as brassy. It is not the same as gutsy or thinking outside the box. Rudeness means taking advantage of the other person's sense of decorum or tradition or civility that keeps that other person from striking back or, worse, rising in a huff and leaving. The other night, that person was George W. Bush.

Colbert made jokes about Bush's approval rating, which hovers in the middle 30s. He made jokes about Bush's intelligence, mockingly comparing it to his own. "We're not some brainiacs on nerd patrol," he said. Boy, that's funny.

Colbert took a swipe at Bush's Iraq policy, at domestic eavesdropping, and he took a shot at the news corps for purportedly being nothing more than stenographers recording what the Bush White House said. He referred to the recent staff changes at the White House, chiding the media for supposedly repeating the cliche "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic" when he would have put it differently: "This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg." A mixed metaphor, and lame as can be.

Why are you wasting my time with Colbert, I hear you ask. Because he is representative of what too often passes for political courage, not to mention wit, in this country. His defenders -- and they are all over the blogosphere -- will tell you he spoke truth to power. This is a tired phrase, as we all know, but when it was fresh and meaningful it suggested repercussions, consequences -- maybe even death in some countries. When you spoke truth to power you took the distinct chance that power would smite you, toss you into a dungeon or -- if you're at work -- take away your office.

But in this country, anyone can insult the president of the United States. Colbert just did it, and he will not suffer any consequence at all. He knew that going in. He also knew that Bush would have to sit there and pretend to laugh at Colbert's lame and insulting jokes. Bush himself plays off his reputation as a dunce and his penchant for mangling English. Self-mockery can be funny. Mockery that is insulting is not. The sort of stuff that would get you punched in a bar can be said on a dais with impunity. This is why Colbert was more than rude. He was a bully.

I am not a member of the White House Correspondents' Association, and I have not attended its dinner in years (I watched this year's on C-SPAN). The gala is an essentially harmless event that requires the presence of one man, the president. If presidents started not to show up, the organization would have to transform itself into a burial association. But presidents come and suffer through a ritual that most of them find mildly painful, not to mention boring. Whatever the case, they are guests. They don't have to be there -- and if I were Bush, next year I would not. Spring is a marvelous time to be at Camp David.

On television, Colbert is often funny. But on his own show he appeals to a self-selected audience that reminds him often of his greatness. In Washington he was playing to a different crowd, and he failed dismally in the funny person's most solemn obligation: to use absurdity or contrast or hyperbole to elucidate -- to make people see things a little bit differently. He had a chance to tell the president and much of important (and self-important) Washington things it would have been good for them to hear. But he was, like much of the blogosphere itself, telling like-minded people what they already know and alienating all the others. In this sense, he was a man for our times.

He also wasn't funny.

...And here's what Cohen wrote in response to the emails he got:

Digital Lynch Mob

By Richard Cohen
Tuesday, May 9, 2006; Page A23

Two weeks ago I wrote about Al Gore's new movie on global warming. I liked the film. In response, I instantly got more than 1,000 e-mails, most of them praising Gore, some calling him the usual names and some concluding there was no such thing as global warming, if only because Gore said there was. I put the messages aside for a slow day, when I would answer them. Then I wrote about Stephen Colbert and his unfunny performance at the White House correspondents' dinner.

Kapow! Within a day, I got more than 2,000 e-mails. A day later, I got 1,000 more. By the fourth day, the number had reached 3,499 -- a figure that does not include the usual offers of nubile Russian women or loot from African dictators. The Colbert messages began with Patrick Manley ("You wouldn't know funny if it slapped you in the face") and ended with Ron ("Colbert ROCKS, you MURDER") who was so proud of his thought that he copied countless others. Ron, you're a genius.

Truth to tell, I peeked into only a few of the e-mails. I did this because I would sometimes recognize a name I thought I knew, which was almost always a mistake. When I guilelessly clicked on the name, I would get a bucket of raw, untreated and disease-laden verbal sewage right in the face.

Usually, the subject line said it all. Some were friendly and agreed that Colbert had not been funny. Most, though, were in what we shall call disagreement. Fine. I said the man wasn't funny and not funny has a bullying quality to it; others (including some of my friends) said he was funny. But because I held such a view, my attentive critics were convinced I had a political agenda. I was -- as was most of the press, I found out -- George W. Bush's lap dog. If this is the case, Bush had better check his lap.

It seemed that most of my correspondents had been egged on to write me by various blogs. In response, they smartly assembled into a digital lynch mob and went roaring after me. If I did not like Colbert, I must like Bush. If I write for The Post, I must be a mainstream media warmonger. If I was over a certain age -- which I am -- I am simply out of it, wherever "it" may be. All in all, I was -- I am, and I guess I remain -- the worthy object of ignorant, false and downright idiotic vituperation.

What to make of all this? First, it's not about Colbert. His show has an audience of about 1 million -- not exactly "American Idol" numbers. Second, it marks the end of a silly pretense about interactive media: We give you our e-mail addresses and then, in theory, we have this nice chat. Forget about it. Not only is e-mail too often a kind of epistolary spitball, but there's no way I can even read the 3,506 e-mails now backed up in my queue -- seven more since I started writing this column.

But the message in this case truly is the medium. The e-mails pulse in my queue, emanating raw hatred. This spells trouble -- not for Bush or, in 2008, the next GOP presidential candidate, but for Democrats. The anger festering on the Democratic left will be taken out on the Democratic middle. (Watch out, Hillary!) I have seen this anger before -- back in the Vietnam War era. That's when the antiwar wing of the Democratic Party helped elect Richard Nixon. In this way, they managed to prolong the very war they so hated.

The hatred is back. I know it's only words now appearing on my computer screen, but the words are so angry, so roiled with rage, that they are the functional equivalent of rocks once so furiously hurled during antiwar demonstrations. I can appreciate some of it. Institution after institution failed America -- the presidency, Congress and the press. They all endorsed a war to rid Iraq of what it did not have. Now, though, that gullibility is being matched by war critics who are so hyped on their own sanctimony that they will obliterate distinctions, punishing their friends for apostasy and, by so doing, aiding their enemies. If that's going to be the case, then Iraq is a war its critics will lose twice -- once because they couldn't stop it and once more at the polls.

Rumor: Houston Texans GM Charley Casserly Fired - Profootballtalk.com

According to today's Profootballtalk.com, Houston Texans GM Charley Casserly has been fired. Here's their report, with a link to it at the title of this post.

A league source tells us that the Texans and G.M. Charley Casserly officially have parted ways after a six-year relationship, which preceded by more than two full years the team's official arrival to the NFL.

For now, we don't know whether the move is being characterized as a resignation or a termination. Our guess is that it will be described to the media as voluntary.

Several weeks back, we reported that Casserly would be fired after the draft. Our report prompted a strong denial from the team and from owner Bob McNair. Our prediction at the time was that all parties were hoping to preserve the appearance that Casserly's ultimate departure was not in any way forced.

His name has been mentioned as a potential replacement for Art Shell in the league office, but we've heard that the rumors of Casserly's candidacy for that specific position trace not to the Park Avenue, but to Casserly himself.

And based on things we're hearing it now appears that the Texans will make a run at Broncos assistant G.M. Rick Smith before moving on to other candidates. Some league insiders believe that the Broncos would never give Smith permission to leave, and other league insiders believe that the Texans don't (or at least shouldn't) want Smith given his close relationship with new head coach Gary Kubiak.

Randy Moss Fires His Agent Over Drug Charges - AP

Moss drops agent facing drug charges

Associated Press and Fox Sports

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Oakland Raiders wide receiver Randy Moss has dropped an agent who is facing drug charges in Florida.

Charleston lawyer Dante DiTrapano, his wife Teri, and three others were arrested March 14 at a St. Petersburg, Fla., hotel. Police there said they recovered 73 pieces of crack cocaine and 21 grams of powder cocaine. All five were charged with felony possession of crack cocaine.
Moss signed an agreement on April 20 designating another Charleston lawyer, Tim DiPiero, as his sole agent, the NFL Players Association told The Charleston Gazette for a story in Tuesday's editions. DiPiero confirmed the agreement on Monday but he told the newspaper that he would not comment on the reasons.

DiTrapano and DiPiero are members of the same law firm, DiTrapano, Barrett & DiPiero PLLC. The law firm has removed DiTrapano's name from the sign outside its Charleston offices.

DiPiero has represented Moss as an agent and attorney since 1995, when Moss was accused of kicking a classmate at DuPont High School. Moss later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery.

Seahawks, A&M reach deal on 12th man phrase - AP

Seahawks, A&M reach deal on 12th man phrase
Associated Press

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) - The fight over the "12th Man" is over and both Texas A&M and the Seattle Seahawks will be able to use the phrase.

Texas A&M and the Seahawks said Monday they had reached a deal settling the university's lawsuit over the nickname for their fans.
As part of the agreement, the Seahawks acknowledge Texas A&M's ownership rights of the trademarked phrase. However, the NFL team may continue using it under license. Neither side admitted any fault or liability.

The Aggies hold a federal trademark rights to "12th Man." They wanted to halt Seattle from using "12th Man" earlier this year.

In February, the university filed a lawsuit in Brazos County over the Seahawks use of the trademark. Days before Seattle faced the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl, a restraining order was issued calling on the Seahawks to halt any usage of "12th Man," or "12th Mania."

Origins of the term "12th man" aren't exactly clear, but the traditions in Seattle and College Station date back decades.

The Aggies trace their use to 1922, when an injury-plagued roster led the team to pull E. King Gill from the stands and suited him up to play. Gill never took to the field, but the legend strengthened campus-wide commitment to support the team. The words "Home of 12th Man" adorn the stadium and the entire school is considered the 12th Man.

The Seahawks retired the number 12 in 1984 to honor fans who made the old Kingdome one of the noisiest stadiums in football. It hangs alongside Hall of Fame receiver Steve Largent's No. 80.

David Blaine - Why Do I Care?

Look. Why do I care that this David Blaine is off doing some weird stunt? It's all just another way to get noticed. I've never known of this guy until last week. I'd prefer he just go into investment banking.