Wednesday, November 30, 2005

One Hour!

It took us one hour this morning to cover the 13 miles (!!??!!) from Bellevue to downtown Nashville with a drop off at Vanderbilt. Now, I'm no misanthrope, but if I'm going to sit in bumper to bumper traffic staring at the same people's 2004 campaign stickers, I had better see a tow truck or something in the vicinity when the traffic starts to thin out. This morning, there was no sign as to why it had taken us 45 minutes to go 5 miles. Supposedly, there was a car on fire west of us on I-40, but what would that have to do with eastbound traffic, east of the accident?

I always assume that some woman applying mascara and lipstick in her rearview mirror or some dude reading the Wall Street Journal and drinking coffee while shaving is to blame for everything.

This brings me to my main point here: Pay attention, people! You're in a metal, combustible machine hurtling across pavement at great speeds within inches of other metal, combustible machines. Take a few extra minutes to shave and put on your makeup at home. If you get fired for being late, so what! At least you're not risking life and limb while irritating me in the process.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Nashville: After a Storm

High winds, sideways rain, lightning, and black skies alternating with bright sunlight were the weather conditions in Nashville yesterday, and by the time I left work, the 73 degree high temperature had plummeted about 25 degrees. As I pulled out of the alley behind my office at Second Avenue and Lindsley, the skies had become calm, and the waning sunset light was reflecting off of Nashville's skyline in front of me. I hopped out and snapped the first picture, which doesn't do the effect justice. I turned to the left and snapped the second picture of the sun setting over some of SoBro's more derelict looking buildings. It was kind of a magical little moment in an otherwise dismal day.

Click on the photos below to enlarge.

Turkey Day Postmortem

Why do we put ourselves through this? Of all the major American holidays that call for gorging oneself (I guess that's, like, all of them), Thanksgiving is King. Fourth of July is probably a distant second because how many times have you caught yourself saying, "You know, I think I will have a second cheeseburger."

Thanksgiving has the calendar advantage: it's usually cold and you've got three to four full days to sit on the couch, watch television and eat. If it weren't for the start of the Christmas shopping season, few non-golfers would get any exercise. Of course, we'll ride this bloated wave through Christmas and then resolve to lose weight in the New Year... again.

It's not just the holidays either. As I get older, everything seems to revolve around meals.

"What did you do on vacation?"

"Well, we ate here, here, here and here."

But I digress. Jamye and I had a nice holiday at my parent's house. Yes, food was the main attraction, but the opportunity to sit back for a while and truly be thankful of the many blessings we have received since the last time we watched the Detroit Lions get beat is the thing that will linger long after the tupperware containers in our fridge have been emptied of their turkey and trimmings.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


At the Loveless Cafe, Nashville, TN. 10.29.05

Happy Thanksgiving to the Furlong's, whom we will miss this Thanksgiving Holiday, but will look forward to seeing at Christmas.
We love you!

Monday, November 21, 2005

No Bowl, but One in a Row!

November 19, 2005.

It might be one of the most bittersweet days in Vanderbilt Football history. After a 4-0 start this season the 'Dores dropped six games in a row, including a two-point loss to MTSU (when a Vanderbilt field goal was blocked in the closing seconds), a double overtime loss at Florida (when a bogus excessive celebration penalty kept the 'Dores from going for a two point conversion to potentially win the game in regulation), a 28-35 loss at South Carolina (after coming back from being down 14-28 in the 4th quarter to tie the ballgame) and a 43-48 loss to Kentucky (after Vandy trailed 34-3 in the first half). The Commodores came into Knoxville with their bowl hopes dashed and nothing but pride on the line as they attempted to end a 22-game losing streak at the hands of the Vols.

The last time they beat UT, I was nine years old. 23 years later, I was at Neyland Stadium to see the streak come to an end.

As anybody reading this knows, Vanderbilt came away from Neyland Stadium in Knoxville with a heart-stopping 28-24 win. In a series where Vanderbilt has consistently gone into games as the heavy underdog, but where six of the last 11 meetings have been decided by seven points or less, Vandy was due, and this was the team with the guts and the talent to pull it off. Granted, UT is down this season, but the Volunteer defense is still one of the most formidable in the nation. Jay Cutler and Co. put up 28 points on them with 21 of their tally coming in the first half. The Vol defense stiffened to hold Vandy off the scoreboard until their final 63-yard, 29-second scoring drive which culminated in Cutler drilling Earl Bennett on a quick slant in the endzone with 1:11 left on the clock. In an effort typical of Vanderbilt's early success this season, the defense bent but didn't break in the closing moments. Redshirt freshman cornerback Jared Fagan intercepted Rick Clausen's last gasp 4th down pass to the endzone as time expired to seal the victory.

The short-handed Vanderbilt offensive line performed admirably. Marlon White made two big touchdown catches. George Smith made one of the most incredible catches of the season pulling an underthrown ball out of the grasp of a Tennessee defensive back in mid-air. Cassen Jackson-Garrison, a Knoxville native, played one of the best games of his young career with his running back mate Jeff Jennings on the sidelines after suffering a season ending injury against Kentucky. He rushed for 60 yards and caught 3 passes out of the backfield for another 49 yards. True freshman Bennett, who came to Vanderbilt because no other program would let him play wide receiver, had another stellar game, making 14 catches for 167 yards en route to breaking the SEC record for freshman receptions with 79 (49 of which were in the final four games of the season).

As for Cutler, what can you say other than he will go down as the most prolific quarterback in Vanderbilt history. He deserved a swan song like this, completing 27 of 39 passes for 315 yards and 3 touchdowns, no interceptions, one big win and the hope of a bright future in the NFL.

UT fans will never understand what this feels like. I wouldn't trade this win for anything (although it would have been nice to have that bowl game invitation too).

Friday, November 18, 2005

What would Christopher Reeve think?

The Man of Steel is back. Click on the the S to see the teaser trailer on the official site, and make sure to turn your sound way up.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Nashville Favorites: In Memoriam I

Blue Moon Waterfront Café

This summer just wasn't the same without our beloved Blue Moon. While some complained that the quality of the dining experience had become less than consistent over the years, Jamye and I ignored the criticisms. We spent many a late afternoon wiling away the final moments of daylight at Rock Harbor Marina imagining we were somewhere else. Most of the time, we'd just have a couple of drinks at the bar and maybe devour an order of grit cakes with sun-dried tomatoes and mornay sauce, but rarely were those times any less special than the "special occasions" we enjoyed there.

Jamye and I had dinner on Thursday night before our wedding with several of our in-town and out-of-town friends who were a part of the festivities (Laura, our friend from the Bay area, was a big fan of the risotto). Jamye took her youngest sister, Linsey, and her bridesmaids there to kick off Linsey's bachelorette party. We had a wedding shower for Tracy and Jody there. The list could go on.

My brother confided to me this weekend that one of the best seafood meals he had ever eaten was Chef Dave's Siamese Cat (a pan-fried catfish filet served with hot mustard and plum sauce), and this was coming from a guy who's eaten seafood all up and down the gulf coast and the southern end of the eastern seaboard. Jamye and I would tend to agree, and we can throw the left coast into the mix.

Jamye and I heard that some months after the restaurant closed, the building itself sunk into the harbor when the outer decking was removed, but I have not verified this with my own eyes. Apparently, Uncle Bud's founder Buddy Rogers now serves catfish, barbecue and steak at the Waterfront Café at Rock Harbor Marina very near the old Blue Moon site, but we can't bring ourselves to check it out, starved as we are for local color these days (and waterfront local color at that). I'd like to believe that in that corner of the harbor our favorite summer place is just resting peacefully on the river bed. I imagine that a piece of the building is still protruding above the surface, and a gull of some sort is perched on it. It's early evening. The sun is setting, and the moon is full.

In case you hadn't noticed...

it's November 2005. The election was over a year ago. If your guy lost, get over it. If your guy won, quit gloating. This means taking that sticker off your vehicle. Granted, Jamye and I have had fun levying imaginary fines on people who still display their candidate's logo on their back windows and bumpers, but really, it's getting old... and don't think you're above reproach because you've replaced your Kerry-Edwards sticker with an anti-Bush sentiment sticker. It's the same thing.

This goes for you too, guy with the pithy political statement bumper sticker. Yes, you may say "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." I say "If you're not outraged, then you must have a nice hobby."

Finally, to the guy in our apartment complex who sports this sticker, "That's just plain lazy."

By the way, if anyone cares, I've edited the post below.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"You say it [was my] birthday..."

That's us, The O'Neal's, on Saturday, the 12th, my birthday, and coincidentally, the day the Vanderbilt Commodores bowl hopes vanished in a 43-48 loss to Kentucky … yes, Kentucky. Well, when you turn the ball over on fumbles three times on your own end of the field, allow a blocked field goal to be returned 70+ yards for a touchdown and two 50+ yard punt returns (one for a touchdown), you really can't expect to win. The 'Dores made a valiant effort to close the gap on what was once a 41-10 ballgame, but they just ran out of time.

The last time I went to a football game on my birthday (in 2000), Al Del Greco missed an extra point and a short field goal to give the Baltimore Ravens a 23-24 win over the Tennessee Titans to end their NFL record of 12 consecutive victories to open a new stadium. I might start developing a complex.

Anyway, a good time was still had by all this weekend. Jamye came through with a black and gold birthday cake from Publix (mmmm, black icing) and Mom replicated a green chile salsa recipe from Chuy's in Austin, TX in addition to providing ham rolls, something called a Rio Grande mud cake (that my brother made off with on Sunday) and Sangria made with Macaroni Grill's chianti.

Saturday night, we ate at a place called Judge Bean's. They had just relocated to the trendy neighborhood known as the Gulch from a glorified shack near the fairgrounds, and no one, including myself, really knew what to expect, other than Texas-style barbecue, which as far as I can tell just means that it's smoked and it's not pork. The food was actually really good although the presentation left a little something to be desired. I'd recommend it if you can stomach that relocated Texan vibe. You know the one I mean: "Here's how we do it in Texas." and "Don't mess with blah blah." and "Our way is not only bigger but also better."

Now we're gonna get letters.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

More Joey D.

Click his sailboat PJs to see him bigger.

Official Stats for Joseph John Disabantonio V
Born at 3:56 p.m. on October 31, 2005 at Gulf Coast Medical Center in Panama City, Florida
Weight: 7 lbs. 8 oz. Length: 19.5 inches

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Nashville Music Renaissance: Part Four

No, it's not the New Main Street Singers in the picture above. Although their number of on-stage performers rivals the number of members in the fictional band in the Christopher Guest film about folk musicians, The New Pornographers, are pure pop without the saccharine aftertaste. They're edgy without being dark, and their live act (which Jamye, Mark and I caught on October 18th at The Mercy Lounge to finish out our live music tour) is a breath of fresh air for music lovers starved for classic hooks, good harmony and loud rock and roll in an era when people say it's dead.

I actually have very little to say about the show. As usual, the venue was ridiculously hot, but for once I didn't seem to mind. In every aspect it was a tremendously crowd pleasing performance. Neko Case (the redhead in the middle of the picture above) belted out lyrics that could easily be heard over the impressive array of instruments on stage. Carl Newman (the redhead on the far right) deftly led the band through an impressive set list of 20+ songs, and Dan Bejar (not pictured), the reclusive member of the band who rarely tours but shares songwriting duties with Newman, even made an appearance for several songs. All in all it was a great night of music and an appropriate end to our concert-going frenzy.

In case you're wondering, the Vancouver supergroup supposedly got their name from the great theologian, Jimmy Swaggert, who once referred to rock and roll music as "the new pornography".

Monday, November 07, 2005

Heartbreak in the Swamp

Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler played his best game of the season on Saturday. It was arguably the best game of his college career. While Vandy repeatedly marched down the field on the Florida Gator's nationally fifth-ranked defense, a costly mishandled snap that led to a Florida score and an interception in the second overtime to end the game will assuredly be his enduring memories of a game in which he became Vanderbilt's all-time passing yards leader, thereby completing his stranglehold on every significant quarterback record in Commodore history with at least two games still to play before he bids adieu to the Black and Gold.

While Cutler and the Vandy offense engineered a miraculous 14-point comeback with 4:11 on the game clock against 13th ranked Florida in Gainesville to send the game to overtime before succumbing in the second frame 49-42, I cannot help but cry in my beer over the travesty that was the officiating in Saturday night's game. Luckily, I'm not alone in this as Sean McDonough and Mike Gottfried (the ESPN announcers for the game) and the crew on ESPN Gameday Final were very critical of the judgment shown by the officials on the field and in the instant replay booth. Read more about that here.

Granted, committing three turnovers that led to great field position and subsequently 21 of Florida's 35 points in regulation made these calls more important than they should have been, but I can still moan and wail about it for at least another 24 hours before I turn my attention to the urgency of our 'Dores winning the last two games of the regular season. Hopefully they've already done so because I'm not ready to see this team pack it in quite yet.

"It's awfully important to win with humility. It's also important to lose. I hate to lose worse than anyone, but if you never lose you won't know how to act. If you lose with humility, then you can come back." Coach Paul Bear Bryant

Friday, November 04, 2005

"You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

The official trailer for the big monkey movie is online in various shapes and sizes. Go see it by clicking on the Eighth Wonder of the World's chest.

The Nashville Music Renaissance: Part Three.two

While Jamye was apparently having a better-than-expected time at the GEC watching The Jazz Singer, Mark and I were being bored to tears at the Mercy Lounge a few blocks away by Chan Marshall. The name she performs under is Cat Power... I should have known.

I used to have a soft spot for all soulful female singers who wore their hearts on their sleeves and sang about being wounded by love; then I went to this show. I just wanted this girl to shut up. Not that I could decipher her mush-mouthed lyrics or discern one song from another, but when her set came to an abrupt end, presumably because there was quite a bit of conversation taking place during her performance, thus ruining the hypnotic trance effect she desired, another band was prepared to take the stage. In other words, they actually anticipated that she would flake out and leave early.

The band that came out next was The Bees, a fairly popular local band with a straightforward canon of pop songs. The few people remaining, including us, seemed to welcome the change. We were gonna stay a little while to get our money's worth and try to shake off the effects of Marshall's Cat Power, which, as far as superpowers go, merely robs you of the will to live.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Nashville Music Renaissance: Part

Neil Diamond: Channeling Howard Dean

What can I say? The man still has moves.
When I had obtained tickets to see Neil Diamond perform at the Gaylord Entertainment Center on October 17, Jon responded with a simple, "Please don't make me go to that." So I invited my sister to accompany me instead. She replied with an "Um, sure..." which in fact meant, "Please don't make me go to that." But I would not be dissuaded.

I mean, C'MON! How could you NOT go see the legendary Neil Diamond?? The man is a machine: four decades of entertaining, two ex-wives, four children, a couple of movies, and a countless number of hit songs encouraging karaoke singers could you not? Besides, the tickets were free. FREE! If nothing else, it would be a great light show, right? So, Kara and I went--we were both surprised at the number of songs that we actually recognized--and enjoyed the warm fuzzies.

Ever the crooner, Neil performed deftly in his black, rhinestone studded pants-suit, wooing the audience as his full band of 3 back-up singers, keyboard AND piano players, guitar, bass, horn section, drummer AND percussionist provided support. And yes, there was a light show. My favorite song of the evening was, of course, "Kentucky Woman." "Cherry, Cherry" was also fantastic. I think I saw dust rattled from the rafters during "Sweet Caroline." And did you know that Neil had penned The Monkees' "I'm a Believer"??

The real kicker of the show, though--proof positive that the man is still a force to be reckoned with--was during his performance of "Play Me," during which he was quickly rewarded with a black satin bra. And from what I could tell, of the C-cup, yeah.
What can I say? The man still has moves.

While we're being sentimental...

My dad turns 60 today. In the picture above, he's flanked by me (on his right) and my brother, who are representing in our Vanderbilt black and gold (although apparently I did not get the Adidas memo). Also notice that I am making a fashion statement that will be adopted by the hip hop nation years later and banned by the commissioner of the NBA, Daniel Stern, just last week.

All jokes aside, Happy Birthday, Dad. You mean more to all of us than we stoics care to admit.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Joseph John Disabantonio V

Joey, for short, son of proud parents, Tracy and Jody Disabantonio, was born Monday afternoon, October 31st. We send all our love to our dear friends in Florida.

"Babies are always more trouble than you thought - and more wonderful." Charles Osgood

Top 10 Acronyms to ban in 2006: 1. WMD....

Although I think my own personal politics (whatever that means) is nobody's business but my own, I did feel compelled to pass this bit along to the handful of people that read this thing. Try to ignore the silliness at the top regarding the analogy between a blogger and a wise religious woman from the middle ages.

In case you're wondering, I received it from a source operating under the condition of anonymity. Well, I assume he/she would want to remain anonymous. We never really discussed it.

"One ought never to turn one's back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half." Sir Winston Churchill

"Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events." again, Sir Winston Churchill

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

"What are you lookin' at?"

Click Kong on the nose for an exclusive behind the scenes look at the new movie (due Dec. 14th) courtesy of our friends at Apple.
The Vanderbilt University Commodores need to win two of their last three games to become bowl-eligible for the first time in 23 years. With Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee remaining on the schedule, that will be no easy task, but it's not outside the realm of possibility.

After over 20 years of losing seasons, there should be a fundamental difference between the Vanderbilt football fan and the fan of those teams that, you know, win year after year. While they spend the entire season praying their team doesn't let them down by losing the big game or slipping-up against a heavy underdog, we have the luxury of being optimists: Our team can and might have a storybook season.

Unfortunately, the "same-old-Vanderbilt" refrain is heard all too often in Middle Tennessee. Yes, we squandered the season's 4-0 start by losing the last four games to stand at 4-4 on the season, but we can still win the last three games. Seriously, we can. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people that have followed Vanderbilt football over the years do not share the same optimism displayed by the Vanderbilt student section in the above picture. In fact, these "fans" routinely file out of games when the opposition leads by more than a touchdown in the fourth quarter, presumably to beat the heavy post-game traffic that everyone associates with Vanderbilt football.

As for me and mine, we choose to believe that our team can win, which is far better than hoping they don't lose.

"The spirit, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure. These qualities are so much more important than the events that occur." Vince Lombardi