Trappy Valley

Tonight the Ohio State Buckeyes travel to Beaver Stadium in Happy Valley to play the Penn State Nittany Lions.  Penn State has struggled this year, but this is a game that concerns me.  It’s one of those classic “trap games” that can reach up and bite you when your opponent gets pumped up because they can salvage their season with a win..

Since the Virginia Tech loss, Ohio State has racked up a lot of yards and put a lot of points on the board.  Many members of Buckeye Nation think Ohio State’s offense is an unstoppable juggernaut and terrific redshirt freshman QB J.T. Barrett is the second coming of Peyton Manning.  Let’s take a deep breath, people!  Ohio State’s recent performance is all well and good — but it has occurred against defenses that really aren’t comparable to Penn State.  As is always the case, Penn State has a lot of tough, hard-nosed athletes on the defensive side of the ball.  Statistically, the Nittany Lions are the best defense in the Big Ten, and they are especially good against the run.

With a huge home crowd behind them and roaring on every play, it’s not hard to imagine Penn State’s defense stopping the high-octane Buckeyes and keeping the score down.  Sure, Penn State’s offense has not been impressive, but Ohio State’s defense has given up a lot of big plays.  If the Nittany Lions can break through for a long score or two, and their defense keeps Ohio State out of the end zone, this game could turn into a close slugfest — and the longer the game is close, the more the crowd will become a factor.

As Ohio State knows all too well from the very successful Jim Tressel years, you don’t need to lead the nation in offense to win a lot of college football games.  Careful game management, a solid defense that doesn’t give up long touchdowns and keeps opponents off the scoreboard, and good fundamentals in the kicking and punting game can go a very long way to make up for a weak offense.  Tonight Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes might see some Tresselball from the opposing team, and Tresselball isn’t that easy to beat.

2008 Time Warp

IMG_3471In 2008, the President Obama “Hope” t-shirts and posters were everywhere, so popular that the image became iconic.  You don’t see the image much anymore, with President Obama’s approval ratings sinking in the direction of the 40 percent level, according to the Real Clear Politics average.  However, the “Hope” t-shirts are still being sold at a souvenir stand at Reagan National Airport for $12.99 apiece — although they don’t command nearly as much shelf space as brightly colored, generic “Washington D.C.” hoodies.

Friday Night Pizza

Driving home from the airport tonight, the road was clogged with pizza delivery vehicles.  Jet’s Pizza, Donatos, Papa John’s . . . the pizza armada was out in full force, brutishly hogging the thoroughfares and (literally) feeding America’s insatiable appetite for that boxed, lukewarm combination of crust, tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings.

IMG_3482It seems like Friday night is the biggest night for pizza delivery, in Columbus at least, and the “fun facts” section of pizzadelivery.com supports that hypothesis.  It states that half of all the pizzas sold in American are sold on Friday and Saturday night.  (Super Sunday is the biggest pizza delivery night of the year, of course, but that’s a Super Special Occasion.)

Why is delivery pizza so popular on Friday night?  I’m guessing that most of that pizza is eaten by families.  Mom and Dad are exhausted by the time Friday night rolls around, the idea of fixing some kind of sit-down meal is anathema, and pizza at least allows the family to do something together.  Mix in sleepovers, football games, and the other activities that command the activities of kids these days and you end up with a night where a food option that people can slam down on the go makes sense.

I’d also bet that Saturday morning is the biggest time for consumption of cold pizza.

America Then, America Now

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Yesterday morning in Washington, D.C., I walked past Ford’s Theater.  A small, quaint red brick building among the modern concrete structures of downtown Washington, the theater looks as it did 150 years ago, on that terrible night when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth.

It’sdownload wonderful that Ford’s Theate still exists; so much of American history has been erased in our never-ending quest for bigger and better that it’s gratifying to see a place that played such an important part in our history has been preserved.  So, too, has the house across the street where our greatest President died, and Edwin Stanton aptly said “Now he belongs to the ages.”

America being what it is, however, you won’t be surprised to learn that, among these sober living memorials to a dark chapter is a cheesy souvenir shop called Honest Abe Souvenir, which was having it’s grand opening as we walked by.  Because, after witnessing the place where American history took a grim turn and a great man breathed his last, who wouldn’t want to buy an Honest Abe mug or T-shirt?

Found Lamb

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I like it when the people setting up a business dinner meeting pick a really good restaurant. So when the hosts of a meeting in Houston tonight said we were going to Hugo’s, I was a happy caballero.

Hugo’s is a place that will change your conception of south of the border cuisine. The food is exceptionally good and willing to bend the rules a bit, and the sauces are delectable. Tonight I had the shredded suckling pig appetizer with a punchy habanero sauce, and the entree was this beautiful combo of little lamb chops and lamb sausage. Wash it down with a glass of Amarone, and you’ve got all the ingredients of a great business meeting.

It beats a PowerPoint presentation and a Danish any day!

Smell Not Covered

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We got a laugh out of this painfully earnest sign on the inside of a rear passenger window of a D.C. taxi that took us to the airport today.

I’m not quite sure how a cabbie would determine “marital status” or “family responsibility” or “political affiliation” or “source of income” or other non-visible qualities. I do know that if one asked me about any of these topics he wouldn’t need to discriminate against me — I’d never get into a taxi with a complete stranger who asked me such intrusive personal questions. (It’s nerve-wracking enough to trust that complete stranger to drive you to your destination without incident, without wondering whether the personal inquisitiveness means he is a complete nutcase, if not an axe murderer.)

Although the list of protected characteristics is long, it is not exhaustive. It appears D.C cab drivers could still refuse to transport someone who smells awful, or displays visible signs of complete insanity, or is brandishing a hand grenade.