Thursday, January 31, 2008

What Chicagoans Can Look Forward To...

At least when it snows, you can build a snowman. You can't build a rainman when it rains.

We're supposed to get about 8" of snow today. Get your shovels, ready. And bring whatever lawn furniture you have to keep your parking space reserved. It comes at a premium in times like these.

I'm working with some designs and re-designs, learning, making mistakes and calling it wisdom.

I'm trying to enjoy this mundane activity now. Later, I'll be shovelling out the back porch, stairs and my car.

Now leave me alone as I dawdle and dote on 'the baby'.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


The 16th hole at the TPC of Scottsdale (Stadium Course) is not that intimidating when you look at it on the scorecard: A 162-yard, straightaway par 3, with birdie opportunities available for precise shots.

Most notably, Tiger Woods’ 9-iron ace at the 16th in 1997 at the FBR Open was dubbed “The Shot Heard ‘Round The World”, as Thousands of screaming, proudly pickled fans cheered loudly and showered the tee box with every last drink from the bar. Woods made history and so did the fans at the 16th. It’s a highlight that is easily You Tube-able.

Ever since then, the drama has increased. Like Stadtler, Waldorf and the rest of the Muppets, the fans at the 16th have become so ornery that even the approach shots get assessed. Approach shots that find any space other than the dance floor are most certainly subject to a murmuring displeasure from the TPC faithful. A missed birdie putt from inside 10 feet may elicit a more annunciated response.

Not even an Arizona rattlesnake will have as bad a bite.

It’s a little chilly in Scottsdale, though. Looks like some below average temps in the Desert for this week’s FBR Open. For the 16th Hole fan, might I suggest a little Peppermint Schnapps to go with that hot chocolate? Or some Bailey’s for that coffee.

After all, you need your strength. You’ve got about 144 golfers to holler at tomorrow.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Of course it's on FOX

We (JP & I) had friends over for dinner the other night and we took to watching a new game show, “The Moment of Truth”, where contestants reveal their closeted skeletons for dough.

"Oh, joy!", we all exclaimed. "Let us shine our noses and prepare to thumb them at those poor deluded souls."

Another bastion of quality entertainment brought to you from the manure fields of the Murdoch ranch.

The New York Times can probably do the program’s description better than I can, but I’ll do my best.

Before the show is taped, the ‘contestant’ is asked 50 questions while hooked up to a polygraph (lie detector) machine. 21 of those 50 questions will be asked again once the ‘contestant’ goes on stage and sits in the proverbial ‘hot seat’. The 21 questions are designed to elicit as much embarrassing information about the contestant as possible, ranging from personal habits and hygiene to marital strife and addictions.

Across from the ‘contestant’ sits 3 ‘friends’, one of whom is usually a spouse or significant other.

The prize format is like that of ‘Who Wants to Be A Millionaire’. The more questions that are answered correctly (contestant’s answer matches the answer they gave on the polygraph), the more you move up the ladder towards the grand prize of $500,000.

I haven’t seen anyone get to the $500,000 question… THANK G-D.


For me, the whole ruse was revealed when… I’ll let the Times explain it:

Ty, a personal trainer, said yes when he was asked if he has delayed having children because he is not sure that Catia, his wife of two and a half years, would be his “lifelong partner.” After he replied, a disembodied female voice delivered the verdict. “The answer is — ” (long, dramatic beat) “true.”

The camera panned to Catia, who stopped smiling and murmured, “I’m dying here.” Her friend April turned to her and asked in a semi- whisper, “Is it worth $100,000 to learn that?”

Sure, the money earned on “Moment” from the appearance and per diem can go to a few counseling sessions. The prize money can reach to 6-digit figures, which can more than cover any counseling, therapy, personal loss from tragedy, etc…

But April, in this instance, was correct to ask this because ultimately the answer is “No.”

April understands the notion that money ultimately does not buy happiness, nor does it erase the fact that perhaps Catia doesn’t trust her spouse, Ty. The prize money is just another item to argue over and hence, a liability. After all, whom do you think was more embarrassed by the polygraph? Ty or Catia?

“The Moment Of Truth” does a disservice to both the contestant and the viewer. As far as Catia & Ty are concerned, they could have saved their embarrassment for the privacy of a licensed marriage counselor.

The outcome probably would have lasted longer than a 6-digit payout.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Eldrick vs. FIGJAM...hmmmm

The annual Tiger Woods/Phil Mickelson stroke play event starts today in La Jolla, CA at Torrey Pines GC.

Whoops! Make that the Buick Invitational. I certainly wouldn’t want to sell an American car manufacturer short. That happens on the NYSE every day.

But Woods and/or Mickelson may as well just assume victory this year. Between the two players, they’ve won this event 8 times (Woods-5, Mickelson-3) and has been won by either player 7 out of the last 9 events, with Tiger winning the last 3 years in a row. Aside from his Buick victories, Mickelson knows this course like the back of his hand, having grown up in the San Diego area. Woods has made Torrey Pines his launching pad, as he makes his annual pilgrimage for a Grand Slam.

This is what the New York Times wants you to focus on.

They made a mention of KJ Choi, who will be teeing off at Torrey Pines this week, too. Choi, to his credit, has notched a Tour victory already this year (Sony Open in Hawaii).

But let us all keep in perspective that even though their s*** don’t stink; Woods & Mickelson are still human. And there’s still 100-some odd dudes gunning after them each week. Dudes who are first time Tour cardholders. Dudes struggling just to keep their card again for another season. Dudes with names like Bubba, Boo, Rory and Charley.

Don’t get me wrong, Woods/Mickelson is as good a rivalry as Ali/Frazier, Michigan/Ohio State, Bird/Magic…hell, maybe even Lincoln & Douglas. But there are 100 some-odd stories playing on tour. Woods/Mickelson is just one of them… and it’s overplayed.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Heath Ledger -- We Hardly Knew Ye

It's been a while since I've posted here. I keep reminding myself that I have this thing called a 'blog' that needs attention.

Unfortunately, what beckons me to write this morning is tragedy. Actor Heath Ledger, 28, was found dead at his NYC apartment yesterday. The cause of death is still unknown and I could care less as to how his death transpired (this is the part where the media-journalists do their job, finding every last sensational, hyped-up angle.)

Because no matter what the cause of death was... we've lost a 'gamer'. For those that don't know what a 'gamer' is, let me explain:

A 'gamer' comes to work everyday, shows up on time and is ready to work. A 'gamer' goes about their job with nothing less than their full attention and effort. Even though the 'gamer' may not be comfortable with some parts of their job, they swallow their pride and continue to act like a professional. A 'gamer' will do whatever is in their power to make the 'team' a success.

As an outsider to Hollywood and movie-making, I am not privy to the 'buzz' or any sort of inside dope regarding an actor's performance, how they were on the set, etc... However, as an avid movie watcher, it is easy to see which actors showed up on the set ready to work (ready for the 'game', hence 'gamer') and which actors were simply there for the paycheck.

Look at the resume and watch his performances. He immersed himself into the roles he chose which made it very easy for us suspend disbelief (which for those that didn't realize, is the crux of movie-watching). Very few actors have or have had such prowess. Between a character like the gay cowboy Emmit in "Brokeback Mountain" to the burn-out surfer turn skateboard maker Skip in "Lords of Dogtown", Ledger proved that he had the range and versatility to be one of the best (if not, the best) actors in movie-making.

Make no mistake. Heath Ledger was a 'gamer'... and he will be sorely missed.

(side note: I am starting to supplant the term 'movie-making' in place of Hollywood because the former is more inclusive, whereas you have to give everyone in Hollywood a hand-job before you can even dream about being successful. Oh, and quite frankly, Hollywood is no longer about making a film, it's about franchising).

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Can't Miss BBQ, Don't Miss BBQ

The County Line BBQ
5204 RR-2222
Austin, TX 78731
(512) 346-3664

(photography by J. Polacheck)

Take a drive through the rolling hills of Austin and find yourself at a true bastion of sloppy, gristle-ridden Texas sustenance.

You may, if you wish, fault the author here, as he clearly ignored the “COUNTY LINE” neon roadside sign with the timed flicker of little pigs, as well as the large yellow script “RIBS” sign (also in neon) over the entrance. So before we go any further, I cannot vouch for the ribs (Beef or Baby Backs) because I didn’t order them. Sue me.

I ordered a combo platter of chicken, brisket and beef sausage with plenty of beans, Cole slaw and potato salad and a side of BBQ sauce to wash it down with… I mean, dip into. All meats at the County Line are slow cooked, juicy and tender on the teeth, making for some rib-stickin’ chompin’ goodness.

Even if you’re a Yankee, you’ll still be treated like a Texan. If you’re nice enough, they’ll give you a little sample of something if you’re curious about a certain cut of meat. It’s a good place for parties of 6 or more and they have daily “all you can eat” specials.

Bottom line: Go there and go there with an empty tank. And if you can, let me know how the Baby Backs taste.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Texas Tea to Green

Wildcat Golf Club ($$)
12000 Almeda Road
Houston, TX 77045
(713) 413-3400

Sitting on an old trash heap, amongst the empty lots and sleepy Houston oil wells of yore lies Wildcat Golf Club, an undervalued 36-hole, links-style gem. As a precaution, the reader should always know that golf courses built on trash heaps tend to be windy
(See “South Side – Scottish Style”-

Good luck on the Highland’s 7th hole, a deceptive par-4 with an island-like fairway and a raised green at the top of a 90-yard, 45-degree slope. A Driver off the tee can put your through the fairway, so choose your club wisely on the Highland’s hardest hole.

The 7,000-yard Lakes course looks plush and enticing to play, but not when a 2-club wind is a factor. Less-experienced players will probably shoot a little better on the shorter, wider and more manageable Highlands course.

Most of all, Wildcat is a perfect example of one man’s trash being another man’s treasure. The clubhouse and practice facilities are first-rate and for the price ($75 Fri-Sun, $63 Mon-Thu), it is the perfect golf destination for the single-digit handicap and/or the plus-30 hack.

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