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January 30, 2005

What it's like to be at the bottom of a fumble pile-up in the NFL


Who better to tell us than those who do it for a living?

The current (January 31) issue of Sports Illustrated has a feature entitled "How Does It Feel? The Report From Down Under."

It isn't pretty.

Man, it's downright scary.

For example:

    Alan Faneca, Steelers Guard

    "At Tampa Bay, I had the ball at the bottom of the pile. It was away from my body, and I was trying to pull it toward me. Two guys were pulling my arms apart. A guy was digging into my ribs. Another guy was digging into my ear. The only way you'll keep the ball in that situation is if you have a teammate helping you and you can get it into your body and cradle it. Anyway, I lost the ball. There were still four people on top of me, including that ear guy. I said, 'I don't have the freaking ball anymore, stop digging in my ear.'"

    Ike Reese, Eagles Linebacker

    "When we played the Patriots last year [Eagles running back] Brian Westbrook fumbled a punt, and we were all down there scrambling for it. [Patriots linebacker] Mike Vrabel had my testicles in his hand, and he was squeezing them. Where the football ends up depends on who has the strongest will or the strongest hands. Guys reach inside the face mask to gouge your eyes. But the biggest thing is the grabbing of the testicles. It is crazy."

    Marco Rivera, Packers Guard

    "I've had guys go for the privates, guys try to put their elbow in my neck, guys reaching inside my helmet. It's really violent down there, trying to get that ball. It's dangerous. In my third year at Penn State, there was a fumble in the end zone. I dived for it with my arms outstretched, and five guys landed on me. Blew out my shoulder. I had to have surgery. That was the closest I've come to scoring a touchdown."

    Cornell Brown, Ravens Linebacker

    "The worst part is when the fat guys pile on top of you. All the wind is gone out of you, and you're still trying to fight. It scares you. You feel like you can't breathe, and you want everyone to get off you. I don't want people doing me wrong in there."

    Dan Wilkinson, Lions Defensive Tackle

    "There is no such thing as honor in there. You're talking about a possible game-winning or -losing situation. The ball generally changes hands only once. You have trouble breathing in the pile, let alone having enough room for the ball to be moving around. There's usually one thief able to take it away from somebody, and that's the end of it."

January 30, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The fish with a human face


No, I'm not reading from the latest issue of the Enquirer.

Rather, it's a story I just glanced at while I was looking for something else.

In Chongju, South Korea, a fish with a face resembling that of a human has recently been noted.

At first, I thought that the South Koreans, whose expertise in cloning makes their scientists among the groups most likely to create the first human clone - that is, if they haven't already done so in secret - had somehow released one of their experiments.

But reading more closely, I see where the fish (above), a female carp, is 19 years old.

So that rules out cloning.

The fish is, however, the result of genetic manipulation: it's the product of artificial insemination between a carp and an ayu sweetfish.


If you want to see what it might be like to live in a world where experiments like a fish-human hybrid actually happened,


read Margaret Atwood's magnificent novel, "Oryx and Crake."

January 30, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Classical File: Blue Oyster Cult and 'More Cowbell'


Paul Farhi wrote a hilarious story for yesterday's Washington Post about Blue Oyster Cult, still touring and playing their signature 70s song, "(Don't Fear) The Reaper."


Ever since April 9, 2000, when Saturday Night Live broadcast a skit written by Will Ferrell parodying "Reaper's" recording session, with Christopher Walken portraying "legendary" record producer Bruce Dickinson repeatedly pleading for "More cowbell" and Ferrell (below)


banging away on the cowbell in response, a cult has steadily grown, centering on the skit and the two magic words.

Here's the transcript.

Walken said in the article that the six-minute sketch was "career-defining."

Whenever he goes anywhere, people come up to him and say, "More cowbell."



The actual members of Blue Oyster Cult (above) love the skit.

Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser, co-founder and lead guitarist of the group, said, "We all thought it was phenomenal. I've probably seen it 20 times and I'm still not tired of it."

I must admit, I only saw it for the first time a year or two ago, and it cracked me up.


Oh, yeah, you wanna see the skit now, don't you?

OK, just go here. (requires Windows Media Viewer)

Can't see it?

No problema: listen to it, then; it's almost as good as the video.

January 30, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack



Here's an entertaining website, just launched earlier this month.

The things one hears....

On an unrelated note, I recall back when I was at UCLA and the late Alfred Bloomingdale - yes, that Alfred Bloomingdale - was in UCLA Hospital, dying.

One night I shared an elevator with his wife Betsy who, elegant as always, was bringing him flowers.

She didn't know me from Adam but as I was an avid reader of Andy Warhol's Interview magazine, she was instantly recognizable to me.

What amused me was that a girl I was going out with happened to work in the ICU Bloomingdale was in.

They'd arranged to smuggle in his mistress, Vickie Morgan (below),


dressed as a nurse, so that Bloomingdale could enjoy his last days.

January 30, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A cardinal by any other name is still - in the case of the NFL team - a turkey


The Arizona Cardinals have decided that what they need to jumpstart their moribund football team (6-10 last season) is a new logo.

So they've jazzed up the profile of the cardinal that's been around since 1960 in favor of a fiercer, more contemporary look.

Coach Dennis Green said the old bird had a kind of questioning look, whereas the new one seems more focused and fierce.

Safety Adrian Wilson said, "I think it's a more determined look."

All well and good - but when I saw an unlabeled picture of the two birds - old and new - side-by-side, I couldn't figure out which was which.

Not a good sign.

Todd McFarlane, an Arizona resident and the creator of "Spawn," designed a version (below)


which I think's better than either the old or new official versions.

Maybe they should focus more on who they're gonna choose in the upcoming draft and less on the artwork.

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot - the new one's on the right in the picture up top.

January 30, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Internet Explorer has a case of the 'dwindles'


One of the most amazing graphics I've seen in a long time is right in my statistics package, buried there among all the features anyone with any sense would look at every now and then.

Anyhow, inspired by redferret, I decided to have a look at the web browsers people use when they visit bookofjoe.

The last time I did this, sometime last year, it was almost all blue, maybe 95% Internet Explorer.

Last evening (graphic above), Internet Explorer was down to 72%, with Firefox - which didn't even exist when I last looked - at 15%.

That is incredible.

Nice to see that Safari, the one I use, is up to 6% from around 1% when I last looked.

Things are definitely moving in the right direction - unless, that is, you're reading this in Redmond.

January 30, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Kangoo Jumps


From Switzerland, the country that brought me my exercise ball desk chair, now come Kangoo Jumps, a "revolutionary exercise product."


What are they?


They look like ski boots mounted on miniature tank treads.

The attachments are actually patented springs, which allow you to bounce along in what the inventor, Dennis Naville, calls the "world's lowest-impact" form of aerobic exercise.


Fooey on all that: I'm wondering if they wouldn't make standing behind my drape in the O.R. a little more entertaining for moi.

At $229 a pair they're a fairly pricey experiment, but not all that much more than these Z-Coils,


which set me back $160.


The Z-Coil website opens with a testimonial from one Sandi Vosburg who says, "the moment I put the shoes on, I felt relief."

That wasn't quite the experience I had.

They seemed comfortable enough in the store, so I bought a pair.

After wearing them around the house for a half-hour both my knees started to hurt, toward the outside of the joints.

I took the shoes off and the pain went away.

The next day I tried 'em again: same thing.

I tossed the shoes into the attic, where they rest quietly, in peace, even now, as I type these words.

A shame in a way, because they're so horribly ugly, it'd be fun to wear 'em around just to see the looks on people's faces.

It's hard to believe someone actually decided they were ready for the world just as they appear.

If they did gene splicing experiments on shoe DNA this outcome would, without any question, go into the recycle bin.

January 30, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Virginia's State Bat


Yes, our legislators are very, very dedicated, spending our tax dollars down in Richmond.

On Tuesday of this week, out of the State Capitol emerged House Bill 2579, sponsored by Delegate Jackie Stump of Buchanan County.

For you outsiders, here we pronounce it "Buck-hannon."

The bill makes the Virginia big-eared bat - Corynorhinus townsendi virginianus - the official state bat.

There's a picture of Delegate Stump holding a picture of our state bat-to-be at the top of this post.

We have lots of other great state stuff.

For example, there's our state shell: the oyster.

Then there's our state fossil: Chesapecten Jeffersonius.

And not to forget the state boat: the Chesapeake Bay deadrise.

You'll be delighted to learn that in 1991 square dancing was declared the state folk dance.

So you see, we really don't have a whole lot of time to waste on nonsense around here....

January 30, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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