Sunday, December 26, 2010

What I Got for Christmas!

Quite a haul for me this year. Definitely a Cincinnati Reds themed Christmas. What did I get? Starting with non-Reds stuff:

A very nice long sleeved casual shirt
An electric carving knife (no more wrestling the turkey with a dull knife for me!)
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (can't get an e-version for my Kindle)
The latest FourFourTwo and World Soccer magazines
The Zen of Zombie by Scott Kenemore (to satisfy my need for more Zombie fiction)
Several Moleskine Notebooks
The 2010 APBA Baseball Game Card Set
Sour Patch Kids
Lifesaver Gummies

And now for my Cincinnati Reds themed gifts:

The Wire-to-Wire Reds by John Erardi and Joel Luckhaupt (story of the 1990 Reds)
The Comeback Kids by Mark Schmetzer and Joe Jacobs (story of the 2010 Reds-autographed too!)
A game-used Orlando Cabrera bat
A trip to the Reds Hall of Fame/Team Store to pick out an authentic Reds jersey of my choice! (Thanks to my wife! What should I get? A Joey Votto or a classic Johnny Bench?)

And pictured here...a framed replica scorecard from the game Jay Bruce hit the bottom of the ninth home-run to clinch the 2010 National League Central Division title. Includes a picture of Jay reaching home plate. Thank you to my brother and sister in-law!

Off to the Happiest Place on Earth tomorrow with the family! Disney World through New Years!
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Saturday, December 25, 2010

My Dad's Christmas Note!

I had to share this. My Dad lives near me in West Chester, Ohio. He was with us this morning to open presents and will be over this evening for dinner. Both my brothers went to their in-laws this year. Very funny!


Although no one will be at my house this year, I have decided to observe "Festivus for the Rest of Us" for it is truly a more spectaculas event and contains less mysticism than that other holidays. I will prepare the traditional meal of baked spam, turnips, rubarb, and for dessert raisin upside-down-cake and chicory coffee.

I will enunciate for each member of the family, in their absence, an Airing of thr Grievences, except for Dylan, who is to young to have any - not counting potty training. After dinner and before partaking of dessert, I will have the traditional Feats of Strength, which since I will be the only competitor will consist of getting out of a chair the quickest, carrying the heaviest load of laundry and getting to the bathroom dash. Other events may be added later.

This year the Festivus pole will be aluminum and not the artifical plastic pole being sold for strictly commercial purposes. The pole will have a place of honor by the fireplace.

While you will not be here, you will all be in my thoughts as I look at the Festivus pole.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Restaurant Review-Bruno's Pizza, Liberty Township, Ohio

Bruno's Pizza in Liberty Township has become my "go-to" pizza place. We are fortunate in the West Chester/Liberty Township, Ohio area. We have some quality pizza places to enjoy; Dewey's, LaRosa's, Raymond's, Jet's, Uno's, Donato's, Cassano's (Monroe), Big Dog's, Fratelli's.

I have tried them all. And I enjoy them all. However, Bruno's is my favorite. I have some background with Bruno's, but a little different than many who live in the area. I regularly ate at Bruno's while I attended Purdue University. According to the story on Bruno's Liberty Township Website, the West Lafayette, Indiana location was the original, opened in 1955. Most people in this area know Bruno's in Oxford, Ohio, opened in 1963, but ultimately gaining it's fame for selling pizza by the slice in the early 1970's.

The Bruno's in Liberty Township definitely knows their clientele. The decor is pure Miami University, with pictures of the University, it's sports teams etc. I'm thinking I'll bring in some Purdue swag the next time I visit!

The pizza here is outstanding. When you arrive, you order at the counter. They give you a number and they serve it to you at your table. Bruno's has beer and wine. They also serve subs, sandwiches, hamburgers and salads in addition to a wide selection of appetizers. Spaghetti and lasagna are specialties

The secret to Bruno's success in my opinion is the tomato sauce. I would describe it as tangy, with the just the right amount of spice. If you decide that you are not in the mood for pizza, I highly recommend the lasagna.

When a pizza order arrives at the table at Bruno's, it definitely requires a knife and fork, unless you are one of those folks who doesn't mind burning the roof of your mouth. Patience is key. Wait a couple of minutes for the pizza to cool down, and dig in!

The dough is hand tossed, and the pizza is always perfectly cooked, light brown crust, not too crispy, not too doughy. Cheese and toppings are ladled on generously. They have several specialty pizzas, and a wide amount of toppings to choose from. My family goes pepperoni all the way, but my personal favorite is sausage and mushroom.

We usually get the house salad, with the special house dressing (a very good red wine vinaigrette) as a starter.

My absolute favorite item on the menu is the Bruno Dough. It is possibly one of the most original and delicious appetizers I have ever enjoyed. Bruno's takes small dough balls, deep fries them, then rolls them in garlic, butter and Parmesan cheese. They serve it with a side of their tomato sauce. Delicious!

Bruno's delivers to their immediate area, but eating at their restaurant is my preference.

Bruno's Liberty Township also serves their pizza by the slice and that makes the Miami of Ohio graduates in the area (and Lakota East High School students) very happy. A generous slice of cheese pizza is only a $1.50 and you can add items to it for .25 cents each. They put the slice in the oven for about 2-3 minutes, and it comes out hot and ready to eat!

As I mentioned at the top of this article, we have a lot of very good pizza choices in the West Chester/Liberty Township area. My choice is Bruno's!

Bruno's Pizza
6752 Cincinnati-Dayton Rd
Liberty Township, OH 45044
(513) 777-8333
Bruno's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Movie Review-True Grit (2010)

Just got back from the theater after seeing True Grit with my Dad, my two sons and a friend of theirs. I'm a big Coen Brothers fan (Raising Arizona, Fargo, No Country For Old Men), and was really looking forward to seeing their new work.

I haven't seen the original True Grit (but I DVR'd it tonight on TCM), nor have I read the book. I knew a little about the plot going in.

Typical for the Coen Brothers, the screenplay was outstanding. There is definitely action in this movie, but it is the dialog that is the highlight. In addition, Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn and Barry Pepper as Lucky Ned Pepper are outstanding in their roles. The best performance has to go to Hailee Steinfeld, who plays Mattie Ross, the girl intent on avenging the death of her father.

I learned something in True Grit by the way. When camping and sleeping outdoors, surround yourself with a rope. Snakes won't cross a rope!

I use Flixster to rate movies, and I gave True Grit 4 out of 5 stars! Go see it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Urbanspoon Rocks!

If you have been reading my blog, you may have noticed links in my restaurant reviews and on the right side of my blog to I really depend on this site for restaurant suggestions, as it combines individual consumer reviews with professional restaurant reviews in an easy to read format. My blog links default to Cincinnati area restaurants on Urbanspoon, as that is where I live, but Urbanspoon covers restaurants all over the US!

Be sure to check it out the next time you are looking for a place to eat!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Moleskine Infatuation!

Brand New!
Is there anything better than a Moleskine notebook! I have some kind of weird inanimate object love for these things.

I have been using these for over 5 years, first for keeping a journal as I was trying to lose weight (What I ate on any given day, exercise etc.) and later just to track random stuff. I write down things like Columbus Crew soccer matches and Cincinnati Reds baseball games I attend, my son's high school soccer matches and results, and random stuff that seems worth documenting.

 There is something cathartic about writing and journaling. Maybe it is the sense of accomplishment I get on any given day writing things down. Maybe it's the thought that someone a long time from now someone will discover these notebooks in a random drawer when they find my desk at a garage sale. There really isn't anything provocative in my journals, unless you find the 2010 Columbus Crew home match results and attendance of real interest.
Moleskines in Use

I have started moving beyond just journaling (I use the 3 1/2"x 5 1/2" hardbound version for that purpose) and now keep the hardbound 5" x 8 1/4" version to write down ideas for my blogs and short stories. The small one is always with me, I keep it in my work backpack. The larger one stays at home, or in my bag if I'm traveling. (If you want to see one of my short stories, click on the "writing" label in the cloud on the right side of this blog. I am also writing a story using a blog as it's "medium" called the Johnny Dog Journal.)

The highlight of my relationship with all things Moleskine had to be the day I received my Amazon Kindle. I love my Kindle (maybe a subject for a future blog), but it is my Moleskine Kindle cover with the slot to hold the Moleskine reporter notebook that really makes it the most useful electronic device I own.
Kindle with the Moleskine Cover!

When you open a new Moleskine, the first thing you do is fill in the "In case of loss, please return to:" section. But then, just below, you get to put a value on the notebook. Your Moleskine has a section that reads, "As a reward: $__________". What is this jewel of a notebook worth to you? I wrote $10.00 in my current Moleskines. If I actually lost one, and got an email or a phone call from a good Samaritan who found it, I would ask, "Did you read it?" They probably would say no. But if they said yes, then I'd want to buy that person a cup of coffee and ask, "Did you find it interesting?"

In the back pocket of every Moleskine is a printed history of the Moleskine notebook (in 8 different languages). The claim is that Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway used these notebooks. It also documents that the British author Bruce Chatwin was the person who coined the name "Moleskine". It follows by saying Chatwin's book "The Songlines tells the story of these little notebooks. It is this history that, for me, gives Moleskine's a unique quality that can't be duplicated.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Book Review-Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk (2010) by David Sedaris, Illustrated by Ian Falconer

I started posting the books I have read on the right side-bar of this blog a couple of weeks ago. I thought I would write a review of the latest book I read, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, by David Sedaris with Illustrations by Ian Falconer.

I have never written a book review before, so I don't expect to provide some kind of brilliant literary prose. This will be pretty simple for me. Did I like the book? Why?

Saw this book mentioned in The New York Times Book Review a couple of weeks ago. It intrigued me as it was a collection of animal based fables, with a modern spin. I was also was interested as I had always thought that Ian Falconer's illustrations in the Olivia children's book series were pretty cool. Lastly, my son had written a fable for a class he took at NYU last winter that I absolutely loved and posted on this blog.

I haven't read David Sedaris. But based on this collection of fables, I'm going to. They are funny, interesting and disturbing. There are 16 different fables in all, each with a different theme. My favorite? "The Crow and the Lamb".

I started this post writing that I would keep it simple. The thing about a good book is-do you have trouble putting it down after you start reading it. For me, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk is one of those books. I like this book!

Unrelated, but on the subject of books and reading:

I have owned a Amazon Kindle for about 6 months, and love it. I own the electronic version of this book. I thought I was a pretty avid reader before I purchased the Kindle, but since I have owned it I have rediscovered my love for reading.

One of the favorite things I read on a weekly basis on the Kindle is the New York Times Book Review. It helps me discover what books I would like to read in the future and load up my Kindle "Wish List".

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest BestiarySquirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary by David Sedaris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great concept. Reviewed on my blog December 12th, 2010.

View all my reviews

Friday, December 10, 2010

Restaurant Review-El Meson, West Carrollton, Ohio

The NCAA Women's Volleyball Championships 1st and 2nd rounds were being held on the campus of the University of Dayton this past weekend. After watching a great match between Ohio State and the University of Dayton (Ohio State won in 5 sets) our group was looking for a place to have dinner.

My wife and I have been to El Meson in West Carrollton, Ohio several times, but my mother-in-law and boyfriend had not, but were very willing to try based on my recommendation.

I have difficulty describing El Meson. I think the best way to describe it is a Hispanic style restaurant, featuring tapas (small bites) and entree's from multiple hispanic cultures, including Spain, the Caribbean, South America and Central America. El Meson features a full service bar and a decent wine list.

I like the decor inside. It is a Spanish theme with a gift shop featuring jewelry and arts and crafts for sale, and outdoor seating when the weather is nice.

The menu is extensive, almost to the point of being overwhelming. There must be at least a hundred different choices of tapas and entree's. But the wait staff is very knowlegable. There are a couple of items that I have tasted that I like to order every time I visit, the Empanadillas (both beef and salmon) and the coconut shrimp served with a Dijon sauce. But I always like to try something new, and look forward to the wait staff's recommendations.

On this particular evening our table decided to go with tapas to allow for a variety of tastes. We, of course, had the Empanadillas and coconut shrimp. In addition, based on recommendations from the staff, we had Lumpia Shanghai, described as Filipino style egg rolls, filled with beef. These were a table favorite, served with a spicy sweet and sour style sauce. We also tried the chicken, rice and cheese quesadilla (it was huge by the way) and the homemade spanish chorizo sausage sauteed in red peppers and shitake mushrooms. I found the chorizo to be a little tough, but I was the exception at our table as others thought it was delicious.

It might seem a little strange, but my favorite item at El Meson is the homemade Columbian dipping sauce called Aji' that is served with bread at the beginning of the meal. It is a mixture of tomato, green onions, cilantro and vinegar (and other ingredients). I spoon it on just about everything served at El Meson!

One of the small treats that I enjoy at El Meson is the yellow rice and black beans. I like to order both as side and mix them together. And of course add some Aji'!

Our table had a delicious meal on this night. We also pledged to come back, as the variety of items on the menu is so diverse it would take several visits to try them all. In addition, large groups would have a great time due to the festive atmosphere at El Meson!

El Meson Restaurant and Catering
903 E. Dixie Dr.
West Carrollton, Ohio 45449
(937) 859-8229
El Meson Restaurante on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 6, 2010

RedsFest 2010 (Professing My Undying Love For All Things Reds!)

RedsFest 2010 Program Cover
This past Saturday my wife and I decided to go to the annual Cincinnati RedsFest held at the Cincinnati Convention Center.

I grew up in Las Vegas. I remember listening to Dodger games and Vin Scully on a local radio station. It would have been 1972, when I was nine years old. At the time the Western Division of the National League had the Dodgers, Braves, Padres, Giants, Astros and the Cincinnati Reds. For some reason I remember liking the Reds; Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Tony Perez. I think it may have been that at the time there was only two baseball games on TV a week, the NBC Saturday game of the week and a Monday night game. It seemed as though the Reds played in more of those games than any other. I listened to the Reds on the radio when they played the Dodgers (at that time 14 times a year). I also played the APBA baseball board game with my friends, and always used the Reds team cards.

Of course, the seventies was the Reds' decade. I remember Pete Rose and Bud Harrelson of the New York Mets fighting in the 1974 playoffs, the Carlton Fisk World Series game 6 home run, but the Reds clinching in game 7 in 1975 and the 1976 playoff and World Series sweeps.

in 1979 our family moved to Cincinnati, and although the Big Red Machine had been dismantled by then, my favorite Red, Johnny Bench, was still here.

Fast forward to today. Baseball is still my favorite sport (although I blog more about soccer) and the Reds are still my favorite team. This past summer I went to 10 games, including my first opening day, the game Steven Strasburg of the Nationals pitched, the brawl with the Cardinals, and the home playoff game against the Phillies. The rest I either listened to on the radio (Marty Brennaman and Jeff Brantley have to be the most entertaining radio pair since...Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall!) or watched on TV.

I don't think any other team holds an event like RedsFest. $17 admission included a voucher for a view level ticket for a game this summer, a Reds mug and a Reds string bag. There was an opportunity to get free autographs and photos with the players (and it seemed as though all the players were there). There was lots of memorabilia to peruse, Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame displays to see, and entertainment for kids. Joey Votto walked right by my wife and me on the RedsFest floor (bigger than I thought) and I bought a Yankees Flex 4-pack of tickets (Yankees coming to Cincinnati this year). I even got my picture taken with George Foster!
A Blurry Picture of Me and George!

I understand a record 21,000 people attended RedsFest this year. Optimism is obviously running high in anticipation of another National League Central Division Championship!

Nothing could be better for a Reds fan like me to get ready for the 2011 season!

Cincinnati Reds Website

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Qatar!?!?! Really?!?!?

Disappointing day today. FIFA decided to award Qatar, a country with a population of about 1.6 million people, the physical size of Connecticut and a National Soccer Team ranked 113th in the World, the 2022 World Cup.

I am not naive enough to think that the decision-making process that FIFA uses is clean. In fact, two members of the Executive Committee at FIFA were suspended for improprieties prior to the vote. But there is a real stink hovering over this decision.

No World Cup has made more money or had higher attendance since the United States hosted in 1994. Yet, by even FIFA's own analysis, they chose the bid with higher risk than the US bid for 2022.

I'm all for FIFA's mission to spread the "gospel" around the World. I also get the fact that the World Cup has never been held in the Middle East. But this decision was horrible. I'm sure we are going to hear a lot more about the decision-making process over the next few months. My guess? If a country is willing to pay (as reports about Qatar indicate) Zinedine Zidane $15 million to endorse them in the decision process, it is then logical to assume that this was just a great big money-grab by FIFA.

Postscript: At least FIFA's choice for the 2018, Russia, has a soccer culture, but I would have rather seen England or the Spain/Portugal bid to win.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Restaurant Review-The Wildflower Cafe & Coffee House

A couple of weeks ago we were looking for a good place to go to a family dinner for the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We would have 8 people, my wife, our children (ages 22, 20 and 17), my father and my brother and sister-in-law. We live North of Cincinnati, in Liberty Township, Ohio.

8 is a tough number to go to dinner with during the holiday season. We wanted a place that took reservations, and would be a treat for everyone. My wife had heard about the Wildflower Cafe & Coffee House located in Mason, Ohio, so we decided to give it a try on Saturday night, November 27th, 2010.

What a great place. It is very small (located in a former private home). They took reservations. It has a very quaint and casual feel about it, with the menu posted on chalk boards.

Wildflower boasts a great selection of wines and craft beers. What is most unique about this place is that they strive to use locally sourced and/or organic ingredients in all of their dishes.

With 8 people we were able to try multiple dishes. We started with the Organic Cheese Board (cheeses, olive medley etc.) and the Shrimp Fonduta, served with crusty grilled bread. Both were absolutely delicious.

Two of us had the soup of the day, a white bean and cilantro soup which we enjoyed very much.

Of the entrees we had as a group, the consensus was that the hamburger (served on a pretzel bun and rated #1 in Cincinnati by Cincinnati Magazine) lived up to it's billing. In addition, the quiche served with homemade potato salad and crusty bread with a raspberry jam and the spinach and walnut ravioli were excellent. I very much enjoyed the grilled chicken breast with walnuts and a champagne sauce served over risotto. My father had the Apple Pork chops with potatoes and sauteed vegetables, which he would recommend. My sister-in-law had the Gourmet Grilled Cheese, which for her tasted just ok. My brother had the short rib special, which he enjoyed very much.

Service was very good. They have a very nice patio in the back of the restaurant which I imagine would be very nice to dine at in the summer.

I highly recommend the Wildflower Cafe & Coffee house. You can go and enjoy a very casual sandwich and soup, or try one of their higher-end entree's. My experience on this particular evening is that both are excellent. I look forward to a return visit very soon!

Wildflower Cafe & Coffee House
207 E Main
Mason, Ohio 45040
(513) 492-7514
Wildflower Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Major League Soccer Can Improve It's Product! Part 3

My worldwide blog readership of 17 is starting to have an impact.

Maybe not, but these two bloggers get it:

The One in a Million Bird

Late night in New York City. Had taken the New Jersey Path train in earlier in the evening to get a bite to eat at the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park and get couple of table tennis matches in at SPIN, a local table tennis club.

My roommate (Jerold) and I didn't anticipate that SPIN would be closed to the public that night due to a private party. After stopping at a local bar for a couple of beers we decided to call it a night and head back to our apartment in Harrison, New Jersey.

After taking the NYC Subway to the New Jersey PATH station, we boarded a train heading to Harrison. As it was late at night, we would be waiting for about 15 minutes in the station before the train would leave for New Jersey stops.

Jerold and I were the first who boarded the car, but as we waited, the late-night crowd heading back to New Jersey started filing in. Best part of public transportation is the people, usually an eclectic crowd consisting of people going home from late shift jobs at hotels and restaurants in the city and the full-on drunk social crowd looking to let loose on a Saturday.

On this night, we were treated to some new characters on the New Jersey PATH. First to join us was a well-dressed young man with a Tumi backpack. My guess is that he had worked on this Saturday, but as he reached into his backpack, pulled out a 40 ounce bottle of Colt-45 Malt Liquor wrapped in a paper bag and started drinking, I wondered how he had actually spent his day.

Second to join us was a middle-aged man with a scraggly beard, wearing a raggedy grey Columbia University sweatshirt and bike shorts, carrying his 1970's vintage bicycle. He had saddle bags attached to his bike, so I assumed he was a bicycle messenger who worked weekends in the city.

Finally, the most unique of the characters joined us. Another middle-aged man, wearing high-top converse shoes, khaki pants that were cut at the calf, "gaucho" style and a rugby shirt. What set this guy apart from the others was an aquamarine colored parakeet sitting on his shoulder.

He sat next to "Colt-45". Colt-45 barely looked up, but the bike dude definitely noticed the bird. Interestingly, the parakeet would walk along his owner's shoulders, curious about his surroundings, but perfectly content to hang out there.

Bike dude was the first to speak. "That's quite a bird you have there..."

"Oh yeah. Had him for 3 years. Goes everywhere I go. Stays on my shoulder. He's a one-in-a-million bird."

Colt-45 perked up. He sat up quickly, startling the bird. At this point we had not left the station, so the train car doors were still open. The bird took flight, but stopped short of the open door and landed on the handlebars of the bicycle.

"Shit, that was close."Said the bike dude.

"Ahh, nothing to worry about. As I said, he's a one-in-a million bird. He's ridden the subway hundreds of times. Never had a problem."

The bird flew back and landed on it's owners shoulders.

"This bird props me up when I'm feeling down, sings when he senses I feel sad and even whistles when pretty girls walk by." said the bird's owner.

Suddenly, a ferret jumped out of Colt-45's Tumi backpack. It grabbed the parakeet and skittered under my seat. Just as suddenly, the parakeet burst into flames startling the ferret. Scared, it scampered back into the Tumi bag. Colt-45, acting quickly, doused the flames with his malt liquor.

The train had still not left the station. Bike dude, Jerold and I sat stunned. Colt-45 was beside himself. "I'm sorry! Oh, I'm so sorry!" he lamented.

Interestingly, the bird's owner remained calm. "Watch."

The wet pile of ashes began to spark. Yellow, green, blue and turquoise! Within seconds, a parakeet rose from the ashes, identical to the one that had burst into flames moments before. It stretched it's tiny wings, and took flight. After doing a circle around the train car, it landed on it's owner's shoulder.

Colt-45 sobbed quietly. Bike dude, taking a deep breath, exclaimed, "It's a Phoenix! It rose from it's ashes!"

The owner of the bird stood-up and quietly walked off the train, with the Phoenix still on it's shoulder, chirping happily. Within moments, the train doors closed and the train left the station.

The Harrison, New Jersey station was only 10 minutes away. Jerold and I got off the train and walked home silently. I was trying to figure out the meaning of what I had just witnessed...

I couldn't sleep that night. A Phoenix! Symbol of renewal! Of life! OF IMMORTALITY!

The next morning I wandered into the kitchen. Grabbing a Red Bull out of the refrigerator, I noticed Jerold sitting at the kitchen table, head in hands. He obviously had not slept either. I think he had been at the table all night.

"Jerold,"I said, "are you ok?"

"I couldn't sleep." he replied. "I just can't stop thinking about last night, what we saw on the train..."

"I know." I sighed. "I can't believe it!"

Jerold looked up. Eyes bloodshot, his face becoming red with emotion..."I can't believe that guy with the bike didn't have a helmut!"

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Major League Soccer Can Improve It's Product! Part 2

Just watched the MLS Cup on ESPN. Colorado won 2-1 in overtime on an own goal by FC Dallas. Match was a little ugly by soccer standards, but very exciting!

ESPN did a good job covering the match. The best move they made was bringing in Ian Darke for match play-by-play.

Building on my previous post, here are some additional recommendations for MLS:

Play the MLS Cup Championship at the home field of the team with the best seed coming into the MLS Cup Playoffs. It is obviously nice to reward BMO Field with the Championship match, but the neutral crowd is taking away from the atmosphere that would be much better in one of the team's home field.

Also, Don Garber, MLS Commissioner, announced at half time that the MLS would play a balanced schedule next year (18 team league with the addition of Vancouver and Portland). This means that each team will play a home-and-home against every other team for 34 matches total. Good move.

Now the bad news. Mr. Garber also announced ten teams would make the MLS Cup playoffs next year, further diluting the regular season. Bad move.

I still would advocate for a single table, rather than two divisions. Top 8 make the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Best Multitasker Ever! (As reported by my brother Mike)

All credit goes to my brother Mike on this one.

"So, I’m taking care of some important business in a Seattle Airport restroom a few minutes ago and the guy sitting in the stall next to me, I notice, is talking on the phone.   Okay, kind of unusual, but I roll with it; besides, I’ve got other things to do.

Then I hear something down by my foot.  I look and see that he’s set down a cup of coffee.  Okay . . .

His voice starts getting kind of odd at this point, kind of mumbly.  I’m done with my business, but decide I’ll take my time washing my hands.

Guy comes out cradling his phone between his ear and shoulder, cup of coffee in his hand, bag slung over his shoulder, munching on a bagel sandwich.  I guess he was in a hurry because he walked out of the restroom without washing his hands.

Best multitasker ever, just not too into personal hygiene."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Support Your Domestic Soccer League-MLS Cup 2010

This is pretty much a shameless plug, but having a relevant domestic soccer league is important to the USA's standing in International soccer.

Tomorrow night (Sunday, November 21st) at 8:30pm EST on ESPN the 2010 MLS Cup will be played between Colorado and FC Dallas. Watch it. It won't be the quality of an EPL or La Liga match, but it will be exciting!

Here is a link to everything you would want to know about the match:

MLS Cup 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

US Soccer Development Academy Begins To Pay Dividends!

Juan Agudelo and Gale Abossoumonde were the first players to get capped with the US Men's National Team who played in the US Soccer Development Academy Program. Juan Agudelo scored the winning goal in a 1-0 defeat of South Africa. Looks like the program is starting to pay dividends!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Sad Day For The Columbus Crew

Looks like the Columbus Crew declined to pick up the options on Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Frankie Hejduk and Gino Padula among others. These guys were the heart and soul of the 2008 MLS Championship team. It's not unexpected, but still a little sad. I loved watching Schelotto orchestrate play from his attacking midfield play, and Hejduk's energy making runs from the right back position.

Here is a link to a great article on Schelotto's place in Columbus Sports lore:

Bob Hunter, Columbus Dispatch

Also, an article supporting bringing Schelotto back:

Mike Arace, Columbus Dispatch

Monday, November 15, 2010

My DVR List

Thought I'd share the TV shows I currently DVR and actually watch:

Boardwalk Empire
Modern Family
The Walking Dead
ESPN College Gameday
Major League Soccer Playoffs
Survivor: Nicaragua
Eastbound and Down
Real Time With Bill Maher
Friday Night Lights

Now the books I have recently read:

I also just read (on my Kindle) "The Last Boy" (the new Mickey Mantle Biography) by Jane Leavy and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter S. Thompson.

Finally the movies I just saw:

The Social Network (outstanding) and Up In The Air (very good)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Great Weekend!

What a great weekend! My wife and I were able to go to Columbus and meet our great friends Beth and Jon McIntyre for the Ohio State/Penn State football game.

A little background. Jon and I graduated from Lakota High School in West Chester Ohio in 1981. Tammy, my wife, and Beth graduated from the same High School in 1982. Tammy and Beth graduated from Ohio State together, while Jon and I went to different schools.

Both of us got married in 1986. We have stayed friends ever since! It's hard to get together as much as we used to, with all of our kids being older (we each have three). In addition, we live in the Cincinnati, Ohio area, while Jon and Beth have recently moved to Connecticut.

Living so far apart is what made getting together this weekend so special! We all arrived Friday afternoon, had dinner at Haiku (in the Short North area of Columbus) and then went to the Big Bang Piano Bar and Gordon Biersch (where my daughter, Mallory, a senior at Ohio State met up with us and brought along her friends).

Saturday was breakfast and off to campus to check out ESPN Gameday and then to the game.

Of course, Ohio State won (not without a battle in the first half from Penn State). After the game we went to Rubino's Pizza in Bexley, and had a little carry out desert from Mitchell's Steakhouse.

It was such a nice weekend. We were able to catch up on our kids, our jobs, quotes from our favorite movies ("that's a YP, not an MP" guess the movie), and our families.

It is great to have friends like Beth and Jon! Just wish we could get together more often!

Go Bucks!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Walking Dead!

AMC Channel has hit another home run! I have been a huge fan of Mad Men ever since it's premier in July of 2007. I didn't think another show could live up to the outstanding writing and the great characters in the show.

Now comes The Walking Dead.  Based on the graphic novels/comics of the same name and written by Robert Kirkman, this show follows several characters in a post apocalyptic world where zombies rule. Just two shows have aired and I am hooked. Oh, and by the way, I have subscribed to the comics via the Image Comics App on my Ipad, and I highly recommend them too!

AMC 10pm EST on Sunday nights!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Major League Soccer Can Improve It's Product!

Yesterday I had a great time attending the second leg of the Columbus Crew/Colorado Rockie Eastern Conference semi-final.  The Crew were down one goal after the first leg in Colorado, won the second leg 2-1, making the aggregate 2-2. After 30 minutes of overtime, the game went into penalty kicks, with Colorado ultimately winning 5-4 and advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The match was exciting, the Crew Supporters Group (Nordecke) was in full force and although the result was disappointing to me as a Crew fan, I still had a great time.

I woke up this morning thinking that the MLS needs to make some fundamental changes next season to capitalize on it's recent success. Vancouver and Portland expansion teams will be added to the league next season, there will be a 34 game regular season, and the product on the field has improved dramatically!

But here's the thing. It's time to get in line with the rest of the World regarding the make-up of the league table, the importance of the playoffs and the MLS Cup, and the fixture congestion that happens in September and October for many of the clubs:

1) Two of the best clubs in the regular season were upset in the Conference semi-finals, the Columbus Crew and Real Salt Lake. What do these two teams have in common? They both prioritized success in the Concacaf Champions League, and advanced out of their respective groups to make it to the knock-out stage beginning in February 2011. Each team not only played a full slate of MLS matches in September and October, but also played six Concacaf Champions League matches. Both teams looked tired in the MLS playoffs and lost to fresher teams.  Neither team now has a chance to qualify for the 2011-2012 Concacaf Champions League.

2) Although the MLS Cup has traditionally been the trophy to win in MLS, it now seems as though more emphasis should be placed on winning the Supporter's Shield, given to the team who has the most points in MLS play at the end of the season (Los Angeles Galaxy this year). The rest of the World, with the exception of Mexico recognizes the regular season winner as Champion-time for MLS to do the same.

3) Of course, how does it work out that Colorado and San Jose are competing for the Eastern Conference championship, yet neither is located East of the Mississippi?

I propose:

1) A single table format for MLS. The regular season champion will be given the Supporter's Shield and be recognized as League Champion.

2) The MLS Cup will be played as an end of season tournament, with the top eight teams qualifying and playing. The first two rounds will be two leg aggregate goal knockout rounds (1st vs 8th, 2nd vs 7th, 3rd vs 6th, 4th vs 5th etc) with a single game MLS Cup Championship Match played at a neutral site.

3) MLS will lift the restriction on charter planes for travel to away matches in the Concacaf Champions League.

4) Expand rosters.

5) To emphasize the importance of winning the regular season Championship, the first and second place teams will automatically qualify for the Concacaf Group Stage. The MLS Cup end of season tournament winner and US Open Cup winner will be put into the Concacaf qualifying stage.

6) Place emphasis on local rivalry trophies, like the Trillium Cup and the Rocky Mountain Cup. Add a cup for the regular season points leader for the Pacific Northwest Teams (Seattle, Portland, Vancouver) and a little cash prize to go with them for the players.

The changes above won't change the fact that there will be a lot of games in September and October for those teams that qualify for the group stage of the Concacaf Champions league, but those same teams will be able to manage their season to prioritize winning the Champions League and the MLS regular season (and the rewards that go with it), rather than coming into the late October/November MLS Cup worn out, with less of a chance than weaker teams who didn't play so many games.

Commissioner Garber, what do you think?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Opening Day Haiku's!

Cincinnati Reds
Opening Day. Father and
Son, Living a Dream!

A Parade With Grand
Marshall, Johnny Bench. Driving
In Style Down Race Street!

Pete Rose, Where Are You?
Cincinnati Has Left Seats
at Will Call For You!

The Harangotang
Striking Out Pujols, For An
Opening Day Win!

And This One Belongs
To The Reds! Another Win
Broadcast by Marty!

Pete, Ken, Joe, Johnny,
Tony, George, Davy, Cesar.
Best Line-Up Ever!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My Favorite Fable

I haven't blogged in several months, but thought I would start again, but lead off with my favorite fable.

What do you think?