Rivers to miss Pro Bowl

Phil Rivers, Chargers wonderboy first-year starter quarterback, apparently re-injured his sprained foot in the team’s loss to the Patriots a week ago.

He’s not going to the Pro Bowl, but who cares? The Pro Bowl is the lamest exhibition game in sports. What’s more interesting to me about this story is this line:

According to the source, Rivers would not have been able to play in the AFC Championship Game had the Chargers gotten past the Patriots.

If that’s true, it makes me feel a lot better about the Chargers yacking such a winnable game in the division round. The Chargers were the best team in football in 2006, but I’m not sure I’d consider them the favorites against the Colts with Billy Volek driving the bus, even if they were playing at home.


This is Billy Volek. Doesn’t he inspire confidence?

One final thought on the Patriots loss: it was all the more of a yack because Fate ganked back the $1600 I stole from it.

Tighty Whities and Golden Showers

Aaron, my freshman year roommate at Davis, was an interesting cat. He was a native San Diegan like myself, and we were evidently roomed together in 1992 because we would be able to split transportation up to Davis easily. Aaron didn’t need to split nothin’, though, because he was one of the cool people in the dorms who had a ride–in his case, a recent-model Nissan pickup.

Other than our origination point, we didn’t have all that much in common. Aaron was a football jock type guy, which isn’t surprising considering he was a lineman on the UC Davis football team. He was very big into keggers and the frat scene, which made us not that much alike. All in all, he wasn’t the type of guy I generally ran with in high school.

I don’t really mean for that to sound like a dig. I couldn’t have hung out with Aaron in high school even if I wanted to. Gompers’ only sports were cross country and volleyball, and he couldn’t have hung with the racketball club on the hardwood, so there’s no way he’d have ever gone to school there.

He was the biggest party animal I had ever met.
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Restraint

Woody and I were visiting Uncle Felix at Scripps Memorial tonight at around 10. We were hanging out in his coolio hospital room admiring the upgrades he had installed when we heard a ‘hello? anybody here?’ from down the hall.

We stopped talking for a second before deciding the nurses probably heard him if we did and that the experts could handle it. We resumed conversation but were quickly interrupted by more calling. I decided to see if I could assist, cause I hadn’t really done anything I could call a good deed for the day thusfar.
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Dorm Days

I don’t know what we were under the influence of*–and I wasn’t even drinking back then, except for those one or two times, so maybe we weren’t under the influence of anything–but I remember my freshman year roommate, Aaron, and I coming up with the idea that my goldfish was playing dead one day.

See, I had this goldfish–a big one, the size of those Asian goldfish with bigass weird eyes, but without the weird eyes part. (Oh, look, Erin posted a picture of the type I’m comparing the size of my goldfish to.) Why I bought it is a long story, but the gist is I didn’t expect to have it long and it turned out the operation that led to the procurement of the fish didn’t go through so I ended up with this goldfish. I got a cheap bowl for it and raised it through senior year in high school, doing a real nice job in the process if I do say so myself. The fish swam in clean waters and was fed regularly. I’ve probably never taken better care of a pet, I’m sorry to say.
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Chargers 21, Patriots 24

That field goal Kaeding didn’t line up for on the predictably failed fourth and 11 in the first quarter would have come in useful–especially given the poor clock management in that two-minute drill.

So would the INT that McCree tried to return, and got stripped.

So would the time out Schottenheimer wasted on challenging the McCree INT.

I hate sports. Remind me not to follow them anymore.

The Romany Malco Rule

After about 24 hours in the air and in airports (and one ‘special services’ body cavity check) i’m back from China. Thanks for all your kind comments on our updates. It was an amazing trip until the travel back. Unfortunately, I think I’ve conclusively proved that I can’t sleep in an economy seat no matter how tired I am.

Anyway, I saw part of The 40 Year Old Virgin today while sitting around recharging from that wonderful experience and and I was reminded of the Jeff Daniels Rule:

the movies wouldn’t even need a Bill Pullman if they’d just wise up and realize that Jeff Daniels would be at least as good, and frequently much better, than Pullman in every role Pullman has ever had.

I’m thinking about what a good job Romany Malco is doing in this movie, and how much I like his work in Weeds, and it occurs to me that The Romany Malco Rule is an update to the concept.

There’s no role that Omar Epps has ever filled that Romany Malco couldn’t have done bigger and better.


Pretty Similar, except talent-wise

Great Wall

As threatened, we stormed the Great Wall of China like a Mongol horde today. We took the bus from Beijing proper to Badaling in the morning (which looks like the name of that stripclub from the Sopranos, but isn’t pronounced that way). After about an hour on the road, we were dropped off a few hundred meters from the wall itself, and it was on.

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About halfway up.

While we were in the courtyard below the entrance to the wall, an Australian family and I were brought together by our shared amazement at the tenacity of all the trinket-sellers in the area. They hustled, they worked hard, they understood ‘no’ to be a negotiating position, and there were a ton of them. The family had just come from the Great Wall, and the father remarked that to the north it was a treacherous climb, his daughter ended up tweaking her knee and getting a nosebleed, people were slipping and falling over on the ice, and that they’d made it about as far as the fifth of eight towers before they had to turn back to rejoin their tour group. I looked up at the Wall above and got a little nervous at that point.

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“Hey, tourist asshole with the hat! Want to pay 10 yuen to get your picture taken with the camel?”

Turns out Australians are wimps–or at least this family was, anyway. The climb was a little challenging in places due to the ice and snow that was still hanging around from the weekend’s storm, and it was pretty cold, but by far my biggest problem turned out to be heat dissapation. Having heard that it’d be cold and windy on the Wall, I was sporting many layers and was sweating like an idiot by the second tower. Other than that, it was a piece of cake.

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This is about as crowded as it got up there today. I hear it’s much worse at more reasonable times of the year to visit.

There’s a rollercoaster-style cable ride down the Wall from about halfway up to the parking lot that I wanted to take on the way down. Michelle made the point that real hackers will walk down the Wall the old-fashioned way. I said I thought we proved our manliness (or womanliness, as the case may be) by walking up. She said we ought to save the money. Not having a good response to that, we ended up avoiding the ride, but I think I won in the end by blowing most of the money we saved on a palpably fake Rolex on the way down.

Next time, we’ll take the ride.

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The steepest part of the wall we climbed.

Obviously, the wall’s an amazing feat of civil engineering. Beyond that, I was struck by how short the amenities were. I hit my head in the archways in some of the towers. It was like the shower stall in Andres and Vivan’s guest bathroom. Ha ha. Also, check out the handrails in these two pics. Michelle and I are in more or less the exact same place. I had to squat down to use the railings most places–although upon reflection the handrail placement was probably less for convenience and more to avoid a metal railing extending above the crenellations on the wall.

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“Anyone know where the adult-sized handrails are located?”

As if I needed any more reason to think I’m Shaq, a couple more people wanted photos today. Here’s my new buddy–I didn’t catch his name but he was a monk from India. Because he was a man of God, I forgave him for asking me to take off my hat before the photo was taken.

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I’m the one with the hat in his hand.

We ended up not going south, which was a longer walk but with much less of a climb, as we could see everything from the top of the Wall in the northern direction. We headed back to the parking lot where the bus let us off, but the busses going back to Beijing were arriving full and the lot was full of people looking to catch the same bus we wanted. Instead, we hopped in an amateur unlicenced taxi–these are all over the place in Beijing–and headed the opposite direction to Yanqing, a town a few miles away where the bus route we wanted originated. It was easy to get a seat on the bus there.

It turns out Michelle knows all the cool tricks in the area because her family had lived in Yanqing for years and she grew up there. Thank heaven, or we’d probably still be fighting with the milling crowd to get a seat on the bus.

Forbidden City

Forbidden City? F that. We’re VIPs. We’ll make it past the velvet rope no matter who the bouncer is.

We went to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City today. The scale of these attractions is spelled out in guidebooks and whatnot, but I still didn’t expect them to be as enormous as they were. The Forbidden City seemed to go on forever. I’m unused to seeing buildings and spaces of this sheer size outside of Las Vegas. Also, my feet hurt.

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Michelle and a couple of random people in front of some cool statuary.

We didn’t actually go into Mao’s mausoleum–dead bodies have never really interested me, no matter who they were when they were alive–but the revolutionary statuary flanking the mausoleum almost inspired me to convert to socialism. Pretty inspiring stuff.

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Yeah, it’s OK, I guess.

Here’s the Monument to the People’s Heroes. I didn’t really mean to look like I was too cool for school in this picture. Sorry about that, People’s Heroes. Michelle tells me one used to be able to go up to it and get a real close look, but now the structure’s barricaded off at the bottom of the steps.

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dasvedanya, comrade

We headed over to the Forbidden City next, which is accessible through Tiananmen Gate. Mao’s picture is gigantic, and it was interesting to see in the gate’s historical exhibit how the portrait was changed over the years to reflect Mao’s age. Entering the gate itself (versus just going through and into the Forbidden City) was a separate ticket, but I was glad we did it. In addition to the exhibit, one gets a great view of Tiananmen Square across the street.

With a minimum of negotiating, the swell hat was four bucks from a street vendor.

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Tourists at the Gate

The Wu Gate was the most outstanding building in the Forbidden City. It’s way back there in this picture. Beyond the gate are more gates, more halls, and… I have to say, it got to the point where I was kind of rolling my eyes at each new structure we got to, because how many fricking gates and halls does this Emperor dude need to do his thing? He largely governs from one gate, he meets up with his advisors and visiting dignitaries at another, he picks his concubines and presumably gets busy with them in this hall and when that isn’t happening he houses them in another hall. Then we’ve got the Hall of Middle Harmony, which best I could tell seemed to be the place he occasionally hung out at and blew the foam off a cold one or two when he got tired in the middle of the long walk between the working gate and the hall he lived in.

Again, I don’t mean to sound like an agrarian reformer, but it sure got to seeming like an awful lot of building stuff just to build stuff.

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Cannons

There were cannons, though. Weaponry is always cool.

A different cannon display elsewhere in the Forbidden City had wads of red silk in the barrels of some of the larger-bore weapons. It took me a minute to figure it out, but I bet that was to keep people from throwing their trash down the barrels.

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Manufactured hill

Towards the back of the Forbidden City was something I really enjoyed. Artisans brought in various interesting rocks and boulders to build a 10 meter high artificial mountain, cut a path up it, dug a cave through it, and then dropped a little pagoda on top. It was every six year old boy’s fort idea writ large. You’ll get an idea of it’s general composition from the background of this image. Admittedly, it had much more interesting nooks and crannies than any natural hill or mountain I’ve seen.

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Millions and millions served

We finished the day at the Quianmen Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant, which is the most famous and long-lived Peking duck joint in Beijing. I really like Peking duck, and the duck here was quite good. Michelle thinks the sauce is what really separates a great Peking duck from the pack, and upon reflection I think she’s right. Quianmen Quanjude makes a very good Peking duck sauce.

The menu was pretty funny here. I’ve gotten used to the Beijing resturant menus, which are like picture books–they’re about thirty pages due to the fairly large pictures of each dish they have–which makes sense, I suppose, considering the tourists who know nothing about Chinese food. Quianmen Quanjude used some of the extra space next to the dish’s photo and below its name to spell out a range of improbable health benefits for the dish, with stuff like “Soybeans are thought to aid mental development of youths and increase effectiveness of night vision for everyone”.

The digital numbers reflect the number of ducks served since the resturant opened. We got a certificate with our duck’s number on it during our meal, which was a cute touch.

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“I ate what?”

Finally, this is afterwards outside the restaurant, with the mascot. I don’t know how to explain the expression. It’s like someone just told me that duck #115,085,211 was this dude’s brother.