Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Most jobs are harder than they look. (Even this one.) I was reminded of that as my friend Chris did some carpentry around the house. Chris knocked down a wall and turned two tiny closets into one large walk-in. He made it look easy. I'm sure to Chris, it is, but I'm the guy who tries to assemble an entertainment center, and doesn't realize until the end that I have a board upside down and backwards. Point being, when people are good at what they do, they make it look effortless, even though it's not.

With this in mind, I tried to listen with an open mind as Wayne Morgan provided color commentary for the Big Ten Network (an Iowa game, no less). Morgan never said much of anything interesting in his years of news conferences and coaches shows at Iowa State, but you never know. Dan Marino: boring interview as a player, good commentator. Joe Montana: interesting player, dull commentator.

Morgan fell into the trap many analysts do, especially beginners, pointing out the obvious. (Yes, we know, a team down ten with a minute to go needs to score.) I say this with full knowledge that what John Walters and Gary Dolphin do is harder than most people realize. I worked play-by-play a little here at channel 13, and a lot at my former station. I wanted to be good, studied hard, and on a good night I was okay, but I knew I'd never excel. I don't have the right skills. So I'm always surprised how many people think it's easy. It's not, and it's nothing like doing it in your driveway.

I'll give Morgan another chance, but you'll learn much more listening to Todd Lickliter or Greg McDermott's post-game shows. These guys know basketball. Now if they could just get better players...

Some scattershots:

-"Frank TV" was a huge letdown. The guy can do spot-on impressions, but the show is not funny.

-I can't get enough of watching the Patriots. That's the best NFL team I've ever seen.

-Bill Belichick doesn't care that you think he's a jerk. In fact, he just tried to score again.

-Craig Brackins is fun to watch. If he learns to rebound and play defense, he's a potential All-American.

-It's fun watching the Hawkeye basketball team play like Norman Dale's Hoosiers. There's not much Big Ten talent on that team, but they'll win some games on smarts and effort.

-Nick Saban not only lies, he's insensitive. There's no excuse for comparing Alabama's embarrassing loss to what America went through on 9-11. None.

-Next time a Cyclone football player makes the cover of Sports Illustrated, Gene Chizik hopes it's not being burned by a Kansas Jayhawk. Nice picture though, and nice for KU--- a program "I-State" should emulate.

-Can you believe the snow already hit us hard?! It did get me out of Disney's High School Musical on Ice though.

-Speaking of Disney, they're making the boats bigger on the Small World ride because we're getting so fat, the boats are scraping bottom. Unbelievable. (Pointless note: I worked in the restaurant above Small World in high school. Yes, the song drove us crazy.)

-Is there a more foolish myth than the media driving Lute Olson out of Iowa? Lute left for warmer weather and a better shot at winning a national championship, among other reasons. There is no gentler media anywhere than Iowa.

-Congrats Oak Leafs.

-Don Cheadle is amazing in the movie Talk to Me. It's rated R for many reasons, but if you're looking for a mostly true story about the guy who changed, if not started, talk radio, this movie is worth your time.

-Happy Thanksgiving!


Sunday, November 11, 2007

What we need for record feedback is a good Andy Fales rumor...

Good gosh. I guess what we need for record feedback is a good Andy Fales rumor. Wow. Thank you for all the input, questions, and conspiracy theories. I enjoyed them all, some more than others.

I'm glad to tell you what I think, or what I know, but nothing more. In this case, I think Andy wants to work at channel 13 again. I know my boss wants Andy here, as do I.

A local talk radio host urged Shawn Terrell and Chris Hassel to get their resumes in order, because one of them is sure to be fired if/when Andy returns, but that simply is not true. Shawn and Chris aren't going anywhere regardless---they're both doing a great job---and Heather Burnside will continue to be a part of the channel 13 sports team, as well as SoundOFF.

As for Heidi Soliday, I wish her well. Sometimes people mistakenly think we must be enemies, but Heidi has always been nice to me, and we shared many laughs and late nights covering teams on the road over the years. I also remember being really sick with a cold in Dallas and having Heidi bring me medicine. Best wishes to Heidi. Enjoy not working nights.

I remember the '72 Dolphins. I loved that team. But these guys are getting old with their yearly celebration of the final undefeated team falling. Now Don Shula wants an asterisk if the Patriots run the table?! The Patriots got caught cheating, but it has nothing to do with the way they're destroying teams. The Patriots could show teams their game plan and still win by 20. Shula is now backpeddling and doing a damage control. He should. (By the way, I think the Pats go 19-0).

I'm glad the Iowa Barnstormers are back. I'm not sure there's enough money to go around in Des Moines for the Stormers, Stars, Energy, Bucs, and all the college and high school teams, but I hope so. I love entertainment options. I used to lenjoy taking the kids to Barnstormer games. It's perfect for the short-attention span generation. It's like a video game come to life.

I do hope head coach John Gregory slipped when he said how much he loved Des Moinez (pronounce the "s"). Gregory was here for the glory years, so he knows better. He's not like those flight attendants: "We're now making our initial descent into Dess Moinez. We should be on the ground in 15 minutes."

Good move by the Barnstormers hanging on to the basic logo and look. It's classic. If arena football can be "classic".

Iowa Stars and Barnstormers look to Iowa State for a lesson in how to sell tickets. Besides shrewd marketing---which is no small factor---Jamie Pollard has the good sense to price season tickets so low, families have trouble not buying. The result: record total for football followed by a new record for men's basketball. $99 for season tickets? To quote Sean Connery in the Untouchables: "Here endeth the lesson."

Finally saw a few movies. Bee Movie is fun, and great for kids. For adults, it's nice to hear Jerry Seindfeld's voice again. This is no classic like Shrek or Toy Story, but Bee Movie earns a grade of, what else, B.

Michael Clayton is an old fashioned drama like they used to make in the 70's. It takes its time, but it all pays off. George Clooney is terrific. The man is rich, good looking, and talented. I hate him. B+

Jenny and I went to see American Gangster Saturday night. We had to sit in the front row at the Century. Normally I know better, since I've had neck surgery, but I really wanted to see this. Even though I was in pain, and the actors looked blurry and distorted from my vantage point, it's a terrific movie. Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe in the same movie? You can't beat that. (note: do you know their first on screen teaming? Virtuosity. Not good.) A-

A sad farewell to the Sierra theaters in West Des Moines. I'll miss this place. My son, Cade, saw his first movie there at age 1 week (with Pat and Sally Dix). It was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Cade never made a peep; he crouched and hid. I was proud right away. Another time, my mother and I went and they warned us the heat wasn't working, we put on gloves and hats, bought hot cocoa and watched In America. It's a good memory. The Sierra will be missed.

Great job by Steve Loney at Drake. He stepped in at the last minute, and did a good job coaching the Bulldogs. He's not interested in more than one year---the man has coached in the NFL---and he'll be missed.

I've been watching Entourage on DVD. Man, is it funny. Jeremy Piven is priceless. Didn't he go to Drake?

Ed Wilson can flat out tailgate.