Friday, January 29, 2010

Dr. Tiller's assassin convicted of first-degree murder

After arguing that he was trying to save lives by killing a doctor who performed abortions, Scott Roeder has been convicted of first-degree murder in Kansas.
Roeder testified that he shot Tiller in the head May 31 in the foyer of Tiller's church in Wichita because he believed Tiller posed an "immediate danger" to unborn children.
Click here to read the entire AP story.

So much for the bizarre defense concept of "assassination-lite."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A new Harvey memorial

Writing for STYLE Weekly Chris Dovi reveals a plan to make a bridge in Forest Hill Park a memorial to the Harvey Family, a mother, father and two daughters who were murdered on New Year's Day in 2006.
“The park is the place where the family played and learned,” Graziano says, “and a memorial for lives cut short can help, in some small way, to heal the pain we all still feel.”
Click here to read the entire story.

Click here for background on the Harveys.

Five of a Kind: Anti-war songs

With the upcoming State of the Union address on my mind, I know most people want him to talk about pressing domestic issues to do with money. But I'm hoping President Barack Obama will say something about how America is getting its military forces out of Iraq. And, South Korea. Afghanistan. And so forth. Bring 'em home!

So, I've got anti-war songs running through my head. I wish I could beam them into Obama's head, before he speaks tonight. With American troops strewn across the planet, where have all the anti-war songs gone? Here is this week's Five of a Kind:

1. "Fortunate Son" by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

2. "Ohio" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

3. "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" by Pete Seeger.

4. "The Ballad of Penny Evans" by Steve Goodman.

5. "The Call-Up" by The Clash.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Trusting Fox News

Here's a bitter dose of what passes for reality -- a poll says Fox News is the most trusted news network in America.
A Public Policy Polling nationwide survey of 1,151 registered voters Jan. 18-19 found that 49 percent of Americans trusted Fox News, 10 percentage points more than any other network. Thirty-seven percent said they didn’t trust Fox, also the lowest level of distrust that any of the networks recorded.

Giving Death to Patrick Henry?

Last week ran a piece I wrote about what is planned to be Virginia's first charter elementary school -- Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts. Applications are currently being accepted from families that want their children to be enrolled when the new school opens in July at 3411 Semmes Ave.
Charter schools are not to be confused with private schools. Thus, they are not part of the debate over vouchers. Charter schools are public schools granted some degree of autonomy to operate outside the ordinary guidelines, while still adhering to certain standards of academic achievement set by the public education officials.
Click here to read the article, which offers a brief look at the school's background and purpose.

Well, now comes bad news for PHSSA from Carol Wolf at Save Our Schools.
Even if the school had all the money it needs to hire a staff, purchase proper educational materials and satisfy the demands of Virginia charter school law, the stalwart group of true believers in the PHSSA appear to be on a collision course with a school system that is perversely using its own flagrant violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act to kill the competition it fears, thus denying hope and change to yet another generation of Richmond schoolchildren.
Click here to read Wolf's entire post.

To read Norm Leahy's post at Tertium Quids, which comments on the possibility that PHSSA will go belly-up on Feb. 1, click here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

SLANTblog's VA Top Five: Jan 25

Each Monday morning during the rest of the men's college basketball regular season, SLANTblog will publish its new Virginia Top Five. For the third consecutive season it will attempt to rank what seems at the moment to be the best five teams from among the 14 Division I programs in the Commonwealth. Only games against Division I opponents are counted in won/loss records.

SLANTblog's VA Top Five

1. ODU (16-5, 8-1 in CAA, No. 36 RPI)
2. Richmond (15-6, 4-2 in A-10, No. 41 RPI)
3. VCU (13-5, 5-4 in CAA, No. 49 RPI)
4. Va. Tech (15-3, 2-2 in ACC, No. 69 RPI)
5. Wm. & Mary (13-5, 6-3 in CAA, No. 44 RPI)

Note: Since the last Top Five (Jan. 18): ODU went 2-0; Richmond went 1-1; VCU went 1-1; Va. Tech went 2-0 to rejoin the group; W&M went 0-2; UVa. went 1-1 to drop off the list.

-- RPI numbers, which are updated frequently, from CBS Sports

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Corporate personhood absurdity

The notion that a legal contrivance, a corporation, could/should be granted the same constitutional rights as a citizen is absurd. Still, that let's-pretend notion granting a corporation equal footing to a living person has made Wall Street fat cats a lot of money over the last century. So, it already had some traction.

On Jan. 21, 2010, “corporate personhood” just got more traction.

The Supreme Court strengthened the underpinning for the premise that corporations are entitled to the same constitutional rights as those guaranteed to individual Americans. In its ruling in the Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission case, the Supremes appear to have said a corporation is entitled to the same degree of Fourteenth Amendment equal protection, when it comes to political speech, as any voter.

The popping sound you just heard was America’s most hustling lobbyists and political spin doctors opening correctly chilled bottles of properly dry champagne … here comes the gravy train.

Speaking of trains, how did we get here?

The concept of a business group being seen as a citizen in some ways goes back for centuries. However, a key event happened in 1886. The Supreme Court’s decision in Santa Clara vs. Southern Pacific suddenly allowed for constitutional rights a citizen enjoys to be extended to corporations, as well. The court agreed with the railroad company that it should only have to pay certain taxes in its home state.

In that way a constitutional amendment, the 14th, originally intended to help protect former slaves’ rights from being truncated was retooled by creative lawyers to serve the interests of railroad barons. Since that fork in the tracks citizens’ rights granted to corporations have expanded and contracted according to subsequent decisions.

People are creatures with animal instincts. Moreover, people have families; they have parents, siblings, children and friends. They have business associates and colleagues. Those are ties that bind to form a collective sense of duty and morality that comes to bear on most people.

Untethered from such connections to life itself, rather than being born corporations are invented. The purpose of their existence is to make money for the stockholders, while the corporate veil conveniently shields those owners from certain responsibilities and liabilities.

As close as a corporation with thousands of stockholders -- such as those outfits listed on the New York Stock Exchange -- gets to being human is to maybe be like a Frankenstein monster on cocaine, lumbering about the countryside.

An apparent consequence of this ruling will be that politicians of all stripes will become even more beholding to the largess of huge corporations. It’s difficult to imagine many of the founding fathers would have seen a modern multinational corporation as the same thing as a humble citizen. Thomas Jefferson, in particular, seemed fearful of the potential of corporations.

While lovers of unfettered capitalism enjoy extolling the virtues of free markets and fair competition, too many of them actually prefer the rigged game -- corruption of the system to gain an advantage. In corporate-speak such audacity comes under the heading of "risk management."

Any modern society with roots in reason and justice knows it must oversee/regulate corporate capitalism to some degree. Honest people can disagree on how much regulation is needed where. For instance, there’s quite a debate over how to properly regulate banking and other financial services right now.

However, keeping far-flung corporations from dumping advertising zillions into state and local elections, to overwhelm all else, has been seen by many -- including yours truly -- as a reasonable way to limit the activity of corporations.

If mammoth drug companies, insurance companies, etc., are going to be able to throw unlimited money at every political contest they target, in many cases that kind of focused tactic will spawn ad campaigns that will swamp the paltry efforts of the locals.

This decision seems likely to expand the power of lobbyists over legislators, which will take away from the power of individuals. Yes, by upping the ante on what it will cost to wage political campaigns the Roberts Court just threw another log on the fire that is burning up the individual’s right to be heard.

When the Constitution says I have a right to freedom of speech that can’t just mean I have the right to express myself -- to howl at the moon. “Speech,” implies communication -- a speaker and a listener.

This new decision seems to say it’s now going to be OK for a corporation to spend billions of dollars to make sure nobody can hear what I’m trying to say.

The people who are applauding this decision, as if it is striking a blow for everyone’s freedom of speech rights, are playing a game. Many of the smart ones are saying it because they truly believe rich people ought to run everything, including the government. And, they generally think the wealthy ought to be able to buy anything they like, but they are usually smart enough to know better than to say it.

The rest of them, the obedient foot soldiers -- Dittoheads, et al -- are mostly cheering because they are for anything the Democrats are against. They are so wrapped up in beating liberals at every turn, they are living proof of what repetitive propaganda can do. It can make an everyday person act against his best interest, while claiming the very salesmanship that shaped his thinking had no effect on him.

How else can you explain why so many in America’s working class are happy to carry water for duplicitous billionaires? How else can you explain why millions of blue collar conservatives, currently struggling to keep from losing their homes, are now happy to hand over more power to lobbyists who work for penthouse dwellers who live like little kings?

-- 30 --

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Supreme Court bolsters corporate personhood rights

Since I’m convinced that the concept of "corporate personhood" is more the root of all evil than is money or capitalism, then I suppose I’ll just have to go Church Lady on the Supreme Court’s far-reaching decision in the so-called "Citizens United" case that came down today.

The Court seems (imagine Church Lady’s raised eyebrow) to have sided with SATAN.

It seems the more things change, the more they don’t. While aggressive capitalists love to extol the virtues of free markets and competition, too many of them actually prefer the rigged game when they can arrange it. "Risk management" is what they like to call it.

Back in 1886 The Supreme Court’s decision in Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific let the genie out of the bottle, by suddenly allowing for the constitutional rights a citizen enjoys to be extended to corporations, as well. According to a court reporter Chief Justice Morrison Waite said from the bench, but didn‘t write, "The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment...applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does."

Thus an amendment originally intended to protect the rights of former slaves from being truncated by former Confederate states was allowed to be shanghaied by railroad barons.

The corporation isn’t human, it’s more like Dr. Frankenstein’s monster … run amok on cocaine.

The let's-all-pretend notion that a corporation even could be the same as a person is absurd. But it has made some Wall Street cats a lot of money over the last century. This new decision is thus being applauded by politicians who believe that corporate America will now be allowed to funnel even more damn money their way.

As much as the loss of Teddy Kennedy’s U.S. Senate seat is making Democrats suffer this week, the Court’s decision to re-validate corporate personhood at the expense of the rights and best interests of real people may actually be a more important setback.

The propaganda machine that hobbled the heath care reform process this year was restricted in ways it will no longer be.

Now drug companies and insurance companies will be able to throw unfettered money at any and every political contest they target. In many cases that kind of focused maneuver will likely swamp the efforts of the locals.

This decision is going to expand the power of lobbyists over legislators. It will take away from the the power of individuals. Which means the elements of the rightwing working class that will applaud this decision, because Rush Limbaugh tells them to, will be surrendering more of their say-so to lobbyists, too.

Furthermore, it is going to mean my freedom of speech, which includes my right to have a chance to be heard, can be made meaningless by corporations that can simply drown out the sound of my voice.

When the Constitution says I have a right to freedom of speech, that can’t just mean I have the right to express myself. It says “speech,” which implies communication. This decision seems to say it’s now going to be OK for a corporation to spend billions of dollars to make sure nobody can hear what the hell I’m trying to say.

So, read this while you can … before you know who (raised eyebrow) sends a devil dog over to eat my keyboard.

-- 30 --

-- Art and words by F.T. Rea

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Smart's first big test

The biggest game of Shaka Smart's coaching career, so far, will take place tonight at the Siegel Center. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. for the rematch between longtime rivals, the William & Mary Tribe (13-3, 6-1 in CAA, No. 1 in SLANTblog VA Top Five) and the VCU Rams (12-4, 4-3 in CAA, No. 4 in SLANTblog VA Top Five).

VCU leads in the overall series between the two schools 50 miles apart, 31-12. This is Smart's first year as VCU's head coach.

On Dec. 5 VCU lost to W&M in Williamsburg, 75-74, after holding a 15-point second half lead to The Tribe. Now, with just 12 games remaining on the Rams regular season schedule this tilt represents more than just a payback opportunity. At this writing it is one of just three games left with teams rated higher than VCU, RPI-wise (CBS Sports). W&M currently sits at No. 32 and Old Dominion is at No. 43. VCU is at No. 48.

VCU's opponent in its ESPN BracketBuster game, to be played on Feb. 19th or 20th, has yet to be announced. So, winning all eight of their other games yet to be played, they are all CAA games, won't do all that much to improve VCU's RPI. Of course, from here on a bad loss is likely to be a killer to any at-large hopes the Rams might have, should they not win the CAA tournament.

Any loss at home will be a BAD loss.

Tonight Smart will show the sure-to-be sell-out crowd just how well his team has adjusted to what the coaches and players should have learned in their loss to W&M. I'll be there and will post a story on the game at the Fan District Hub after the press conference that will follow the game.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Move over Sarah Palin

What's the chance that Scott Brown's win in Massachusetts will cost Tim Kaine his position as Chairman of the Democratic Party? Doesn't it look like a bunch of people who report to him were asleep at the switch?

It says here that accepting that job was one of Kaine's biggest mistakes. It hurt him in Virginia. It hurt Creigh Deeds. Now it seems Kaine has presided over a humiliating defeat for the Democrats that will not fade away quickly.

Of course most of the blame should be heaped onto the candidate, Martha Coakley, and the Democrats in her state. But don't be surprised if the bitterness splatters outside that state. Democrats will be hard pressed to knock down the idea that Brown's win wasn't/isn't part of a burgeoning national trend.

So here he is: Senator-elect Scott Brown, the GOP's newest fresh face -- move over Sarah Palin -- he's the man who will soon be the front-runner to win that party's presidential nomination in 2012.

In politics, it's always the unexpected that happens when you least expect it, except for when it doesn't.

SLANTblog's Five of a Kind: No. 1

This post will begin a new feature at SLANTblog. It will consist of five videos that I think are related. The videos will be selected primarily for the music. In some cases the pictures, the visual aspect of the video, will also be worthwhile.

To launch the venture I'll start with five selections that have to do with craziness. Click and listen to the set of Five of a Kind.

Gnarls Barkley "Crazy"

Joy Division "She's Lost Control"

The Boswell Sisters "Crazy People"

Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks "I Scare Myself"

Madness "One Step Beyond"

Tha', tha' that's all folks!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Unvarnishing Virginia History

Originally published by STYLE Weekly, Feb., 2007

Having grown up in Richmond, I've been steeped in its dual sense of bitterness and pride over matters to do with, and stemming from, the Civil War. Perhaps thinned out somewhat by time, it remains in the air we breathe at the fall line of the James River.

Most of my life has been spent in the Fan District, which is home to four statues honoring heroes of the Confederacy. Beyond monuments, to know what it was like in Richmond in the past, we look to history. It comes to us in many ways — stories told, popular culture and schooling among them.

In 1961, my seventh-grade history book, which was the official history of Virginia for use in public schools — as decreed by the General Assembly — had this to say about slavery at the end of its Chapter 29:
Life among the Negroes of Virginia in slavery times was generally happy. The Negroes went about in a cheerful manner making a living for themselves and for those whom they worked. They were not so unhappy as some Northerners thought they were, nor were they so happy as some Southerners claimed. The Negroes had their problems and their troubles. But they were not worried by the furious arguments going on between Northerners and Southerners over what should be done with them. In fact, they paid little attention to those arguments.
In 1961 I had no reason to question that paragraph's veracity. Baseball was my No. 1 concern in those days. Now those words read quite differently.

Living through the Civil Rights era, with its bombings, assassinations, marches, sit-ins, boycotts and school-closings, did much to show me a new light, to do with truth and fairness. However, for me, there was no moment of epiphany, no sudden awareness I was growing up in a part of the world that officially denied aspects of its past. More than anything else, it took time. Life experience taught me to look more deeply into things.

Now I know that dusty old history book was a cog in the machinery that made the Jim Crow era possible.

Nonetheless, that same history book's view of how it was for those enslaved is one that some Virginians still want to believe. It's probably what they were taught as children, too. Some call it "heritage." Many of this persuasion also cling to the bogus factoid that since most Southerners didn't hold slaves, the Civil War itself was not fought over slavery.

Which is preposterous.

Of course poor Southerners, those who weren't plantation owners, had little to do with starting the Civil War. Generally speaking, poor people with no clout don't launch wars anywhere; rich people with too much power do.

So, for the most part, the men who fought in gray uniforms were doing what they felt was expected of them. As with most wars, the bulk of those who fought and died for either side between 1861 and 1865 were just ordinary Joes who had no say-so over declaring war or negotiating peace.

In Virginia, many who chose to wear gray did so to reverse what seemed to them to be an invasion of their home state.

Yet, if the reader wants to understand more deeply why Virginia eventually left the Union, to follow the secessionist hotheads of South Carolina and Mississippi into war, here's a clue from Chapter 30 of that same history book, which opened with this:
In 1790 there were more than 290,000 slaves in Virginia. This number was larger than that of any other state.
Those 290,000 slaves were worth a lot of money to their owners.

Thus, the largest part of the real blame for the bloodshed of the war, and the subsequent indignities of the Reconstruction era, probably rests with wealthy slaveholders who would not give up their investments in cheap labor without a fight.

Readers interested in how much the official record of the Civil War has changed over the decades since the Civil Rights era should pay a visit to the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond. Its telling of the story of the Civil War is now based on the unvarnished truth.

Moreover, I am proud to be a Virginian. There's plenty of Virginia history that has nothing to do with picking sides in the Civil War. My ancestors go back to the 1600s in this commonwealth. But I will not stand with anyone who chooses to stay the course with the absurd denials of history — to do with slavery — that were crammed into that old public school textbook.

Even the Museum of the Confederacy, for now still housed in what was the Richmond home of the president of the Confederate States of America, is apparently poised to change its name to reflect its modern mission — telling the history of that time accurately, rather than to simply memorialize the Confederacy.

As for my friends in Richmond who haven't had a fresh thought on matters racial since they were seventh-graders, well, I don't want to pick a fight with them. So mostly we talk about other things — baseball still works.

All that said, Robert E. Lee, whose spectacular monument I see every day, remains a Virginian I admire. The dual sense of tragedy and dignity his statue conveys is striking. In his time and place, Lee clearly did what he saw as his duty. How can an honest person not respect that?

After the war Lee urged his fellow Virginians to let it go — to move on. That was good advice in 1865. It still is.

-- 30 --

SLANTblog's VA Top Five: Jan 18

Each Monday morning during the rest of the men's college basketball regular season, SLANTblog will publish its new Virginia Top Five. For the third consecutive season it will attempt to rank what seems at the moment to be the best five teams from among the 14 Division I programs in the Commonwealth. Only games against Division I opponents are counted in won/loss records.

SLANTblog's VA Top Five

1. Wm. & Mary (13-3, 6-1 in CAA, No. 29 RPI)
2. Richmond (14-5, 3-1 in A-10, No. 30 RPI)
3. ODU (14-5, 6-1 in CAA, No. 40 RPI)
4. VCU (12-4, 4-3 in CAA, No. 45 RPI)
5. UVa. (11-4, 3-0 in ACC, No. 100 RPI)

Note: Since the last Top Five (Jan. 11): W&M went 2-0; Richmond went 2-0; ODU went 2-0; VCU went 2-0; UVa. went 3-0 to crack into the Top Five; Va. Tech went 1-1 to fall out of the list.

-- RPI numbers, which are updated frequently, from CBS Sports

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Playoffs through a prism of burgandy and gold

Today was a good day for bitter Redskins fans. The always-hated Cowboys got shellacked by the Vikings. Then the team that former Washington head coach Norv Turner was coaching, the Chargers, lost to the Jets.

The talking heads are raking poor Norv over the coals as I’m typing this. Yes! This Turner is the same former Dallas assistant coach who drove Redskins Hall-of-Famer Art Monk off the team.

Next week I’ll be pulling for the Jets over the Colts, and the Saints over the Vikings. Hating the Colts, for old Redskins fans, goes back to before the Cowboys existed.

Why the Saints? It has no Redskins connection I can think of ... I just like ‘em. The Saints haven’t ever been to a Super Bowl.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Grayson cracks back

When will we see the hilarious GOP-basher Rep. Alan Grayson on Saturday Night Live? His video clip on "exceptions" is a bull's-eye!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Stop Taxing Tickets

A few years ago a friend told me that without a cause she wasn't herself.

The remark struck me then as the plain truth about myself, as well. When I was a young dreamer it seemed I had limitless interest in being drawn to supporting causes. But in recent years I've been so poverty-stricken that I've used that as an excuse to avoid such pursuits.

Like that friend, now I have to admit that being personally involved in some push to make the world a better place, in some way, is necessary for me to be me. But there are so many situations that cry out for attention.

So, for 2010 I've decided to keep it local and go with something I know about from personal experience: Accordingly, be it resolved that in the year ahead I will do what I see fit to convince the City of Richmond's powers that be we'll all be much better off when Richmond's show biz-stifling, living in the past, seven percent admissions tax is gone.

For background on this issue please click on the links - one; two; three.

If you are on Facebook you can become involved right this minute by clicking here and joining the Facebook group called Stop Taxing Tickets. Soon there will be news of an event to focus the public's attention to this worthy effort to unshackle the entertainment industry in Richmond.

Monday, January 11, 2010

SLANTblog's VA Top Five: Jan 11

Each Monday morning during the rest of the men's college basketball regular season, SLANTblog will publish its new Virginia Top Five. For the third consecutive season it will attempt to rank what seems at the moment to be the best five teams from among the 14 Division I programs in the Commonwealth. Only games against Division I opponents are counted in won/loss records.

SLANTblog's VA Top Five

1. Wm. & Mary (11-3, 4-1 in CAA, No. 23 RPI)
2. Richmond (12-5, 1-1 in A-10, No. 26 RPI)
3. ODU (12-5, 4-1 in CAA, No. 40 RPI)
4. VCU (10-4, 2-3 in CAA, No. 55 RPI)
5. Va. Tech (12-2, 0-1 in ACC, No. 71 RPI)

In the last week: W&M went 2-1; Richmond went 1-1; ODU went 3-0; VCU went 1-2; Va Tech went 0-1.

-- RPI numbers, which are updated frequently, from CBS Sports

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Remembering Zeke

In this 1997 water color, ink and pencil piece Rebus (standing) and Zeke are out on the Frisbee-Golf course. This piece was done shortly after my cat named Zeke died. This was another time in which I used making art to take my mind off of pain. Sometimes it works!

In 1994 I moved from one side of the Fan District to the other. Zeke, my cat, came with me.

However, Zeke apparently didn’t like moving, so he ran away as soon as I let him go outside. Once he’d been gone a week I began to accept he was probably gone for good. As he’d always been a free spirit -- he was still holding -- I figured he probably got lost, or found a better home, in the pursuit his agenda.

Then again, I wondered if he might have found his way back to his old haunts, however it is animals manage to know their way across totally unfamiliar turf back to what they consider to be their true home. So, I went back -- about 20 blocks away -- and looked for him, and called out for him for at least a month, every few days. Finally, I gave up.

After all, Zeke wasn’t a cat I’d ever wanted in the first place. The girlfriend who’d moved out from our shared flat a year before my own move had insisted we needed a cat, so she got him as a kitten. Then, when she flew the coop, she left both of us for greener pastures in the suburbs. Maybe I told her I wouldn't mind if she left Zeke with me ... I'm not sure.

About 10 weeks after the cat disappeared, in a conversation with my daughter, I admitted I missed him more than I thought I would. She offered a suggestion: "Make one last attempt to find him -- why don’t you make some handbills and put them up in your old neighborhood? What can it hurt?"

The handbill thing goes way back with me, but that‘s another story. Anyway, I promised her I’d do it. So, mostly as a lark, I drew a quick black and white sketch of Zeke, in a herring bone jacket, below a Lost Cat headline, wrote out a description of how he actually looked, and added my phone number. A couple of days after I had stapled several of them up on the utility poles within three blocks of my old pad, in each direction, I got a phone call from a former neighbor.

From having seen SLANT regularly, she recognized the cartoon drawing as one of mine and she also remembered the cat, too, which she told me she thought she might have seen earlier that day, under her porch.

So, I drove straight over and sure enough it was Zeke under the porch. But he looked different. He was skinny as hell and all beat up. He had a nasty gash in his head, and his front claws were worn down to the numbs. Plus, he was sick.

When I took him to the veterinarian I was told the cat was half-dead from an infection. Anyway, when Zeke left the vet's he was full of antibiotics and some of his natural urge to wander into trouble had been removed. Ever the stoic, Zeke never told me what happened to him during his absence.

Well, I was so delighted to have him back that I used the same pose of the cat in a coat from the handbill -- this time with color -- to create a new piece of art to celebrate Zeke's return, which I later used on a 1996 SLANT calendar.

Zeke died about three years after this incident and is buried on the 8th fairway of an unmarked Frisbee-golf course I still frequent. So, I say "hey" to Zeke each time I pass the spot.

Another effort to allay the loss was to write about it. Click here to read a short story I wrote about a cat dying. It's called "Maybe Rosebud."

Zorn out; Shanahan in

According to an AP story and their own web site the Washington Redskins are going to introduce Mike Shanahan as their new head coach at 2 p.m. today (Wed.). Shanahan is best known for his years as head coach of the Denver Broncos, which included two Super Bowls victories in the '90s.

Meanwhile, at the Washington Post, Dan Steinberg remembers Jim Zorn's worst six moments in the two-year soap opera that was his tenure as head coach.
3. The Maroon and Black: There was a culture problem throughout Zorn's tenure, and it cropped up immediately. He was talking about his family in that introductory news conference back in February of 2008, and then he said this.

"They all got their gear all ready, and so they're gonna be all colored up in the maroon and black and yellow."

Maroon and black!? In retrospect, Zorn (who looks more like comic strip coach Gil Thorp than any living coach) should have been canned on the spot.

Click here to read Steinberg's piece.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Grace St. Game

Upon quitting my longtime job as manager of the Biograph Theatre, over 26 years ago, my first sitting at the newly independent cartoonist’s drawing board resulted in a dark vision of the West Grace Street neighborhood I had just fled.

(Click on the image to enlarge)

Times were changing and I had turned the page and moved on, or so I thought. In truth, I may have been sitting still, pen in hand, while all else moved on. Maybe it was all just a bad mood.

Monday, January 04, 2010

SLANTblog's VA Top Five: Jan. 4

Each Monday morning during the rest of the men's college basketball regular season, SLANTblog will publish its new Virginia Top Five. For the third consecutive season it will attempt to rank what seems at the moment to be the best five teams from among the 14 Division I programs in the Commonwealth. Only games against Division I opponents are counted in won/loss records.

SLANTblog's VA Top Five

1. Wm. & Mary (9-2, 2-0 in CAA, No. 2 RPI)
2. VCU (9-2, 1-1 in CAA, No. 14 RPI)
3. Richmond (11-4, 0-0 in A-10, No. 22 RPI)
4. Va. Tech (12-1, 0-0 in ACC, No. 60 RPI)
5. ODU (9-5, 1-1 in CAA, No. 39 RPI)

Update: In the newest AP Top 25 Poll, three state schools received votes: Wm. & Mary (37th with 37 pts.), Va. Tech (41st with 20 pts.), VCU (47th with 5 pts.).

-- RPI numbers, which are updated frequently, from CBS Sports

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The last Redskins blackout

The Redskins at Chargers game today is not being carried by Fox, the network with the rights to broadcast it. Don't know if that decision was made locally, or further up the line at the Fox headquarters in an undisclosed location. Instead, the Eagles at Cowboys game will being televised as the late game on WRLH in Richmond.

The last time I remember Washington fans suffering such an ignominious fate on the season's last Sunday was 34 years ago. If it has happened since, it didn't leave a lasting memory like the game between the Eagles and the Redskins on Dec. 21, 1975. Although the game then had no bearing on the playoffs, it was Charley Taylor's chance to set a new record for pass receptions; he needed two to establish a new NFL standard.

When we couldn't get the game on my TV Ernie Brooks and I went over to the station's offices on Broad St. to see what the deal was; the station's phone line was busy. The late John Shand (I believe he was the general manager then) came to the door and told us the network had pulled the game and there was nothing he could do. We asked if the game was still being carried by the affiliate in Washington. He said it was.

With a snowstorm underway, Ernie and I drove to Fredericksburg. We rented a room at a motel that featured DeeCee television stations. Long story ... short: We saw Taylor break the record in the second half.