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Nominal Me

I'm falling in love with my camera and taking photos everywhere I go. That, combined with my passions for politics, sports, religion and other things we all agree on, makes this blog persist.

My Photo
Location: Astoria, New York, United States

I'm born in Manhattan and raised in Queens.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Monday Morning Musings (2/28/05)

We know that Million Dollar Baby won the Oscar for best picture, but did you think Clint Eastwood's movie had more "Christ" in it than the Passion of the Christ? This writer thinks so.

Here's the future of America.

Here's the top five secrets black people keep from white people.

What would Jesus bomb?

What could possibly happen if you put a light bulb in a microwave? Now you know.

More Monday Morning Musings

Friday, February 25, 2005

NFL Tragic Moment #1: Wide Right

To finish off the top ten most tragic NFL moments, we go to #1: wide right.

I was one of the 73,813 people in Tampa Stadium on January 27, 1991, watching my beloved Buffalo Bills play the "New York" Giants in Super Bowl XXV.

The Giants played ball-control offense, having possession for an ungodly 40 minutes, 33 seconds, a Super Bowl record. The Bills, who scored 95 points in their previous two playoff games leading to Super Bowl XXV, had the ball for less than eight minutes in the second half and just 19:27 for the game.

Giants defensive coordinator Bill Belichick used only two defensive linemen against the Bills, sending as many as nine men at a time into pass coverage. This gave Bills quarterback Jim Kelly had nowhere to throw the ball, and they barely converted any third down plays.

Down by one point, Kelly would get his chance at his own 10-yard line with 2:16 remaining. Kelly guided the Bills to the Giants 29, leaving eight seconds for placekicker Scott Norwood to win the Super Bowl.

It was a 47 yard field goal attempt, and Norwood had never kicked one that far on grass in his career.

Adam Lingner snapped the ball, holder Frank Reich placed it, and Norwood kicked it. Many Bills players and coaches held hands and knelt in prayer...to no avail.

It was "wide right". No good. The Giants would win the game.

"I hit it solid, but I guess I tried to kick it too hard," Norwood would say. "I needed more follow-through; I should have brought my hips into it quicker to make the ball draw.

"I'm down right now, way down, but I'll come back from this. It won't scar me."

It scarred me.

This was my first exposure to post traumatic stress syndrome. Every January for at least ten years I dreamt of that kick.

Sometimes my mind would mess with me and Norwood would make it.

Then I would wake up and realize...it didn't happen.

Why do I even bother watching sports? Nothing but pain, I tell you.

The other nine:

Numbers seven through ten are here, and number six is here. Number five is here.
Number four is here.
Number three is here.
Number two is here.

Enjoy...and try to forget.

More sports.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

NFL Tragic Moment #2: The Fumble

To continue the top ten most tragic NFL moments, we come to #2: The Fumble

In the AFC Championship game the Cleveland Browns met the Denver Broncos on Jan. 17, 1988. In the previous year, the Broncos quarterback John Elway has broken the heart of Cleveland fans with “the drive.”

This year, Cleveland wanted its revenge.

Browns running back Earnest Byner set a Cleveland Browns single-game playoff record with 187 yards from scrimmage (67 rushing and 120 passing). Save for one play, Byner had a spectacular game.

The Browns had a first down on the Denver eight yard line with 1:05 left and the Broncos leading 38-31. A touchdown would have tied the game and given new life to Cleveland.

Byner received the handoff, and ran to the left side of the line to the Denver three, where Jeremiah Castille stripped him of the ball and recovered it.

The play, known simply as “the fumble” will not be forgotten in Cleveland.

The Broncos took a safety and won 38-33, and the Browns lost their chance at going to the Super Bowl.

Byner, a good running back with a long career, eventually won a Super Bowl ring four years later with the Washington Redskins.

“As an individual, I probably played the best game of my life that day," Byner said. “Unfortunately, the one play stands out and it should. At that particular time, I felt I had let everybody down.”

The other eight:

Numbers seven through ten are here, and number six is here. Number five is here.
Number four is here.
Number three is here.

Enjoy...and try to forget.

More sports.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Good, The Bad, The Angry

[From time to time, we will have guest posts. The very first guest post on Nominal Me's blog is from Angry Dan. Enjoy!]

Is good to be angry?
There’s a commonality in historic societal transformations: people who are reeeeally pissed off. It takes really angry people, sometimes in groups, to stop doing the things the rest of us consider normal. It takes angry people to decide rather than watching an award winning film or sitting with the family I am going to spend my time turning my animosity into a reality. I’m angry and everyone’s going to know it whether they want to or not!

A man is not an island.
Even the most reclusive of us are still social creatures. We crave interaction with others, just like anger! Anger begs for validation and when it finds approval it strikes up the bellows and tries to spread it's furious embers. When successful, this is called Social Activism. Bunches of like minded angry people can get together, complain, and then try to change the world to their fiendish plans. Sometimes it good, like the American Revolution. Other times it’s bad like for the British during the American Revolution. But regardless of who benefits from the Angry Club’s organized catharsis, anger will continue to be a driver of human fate. As many kung-fu films has taught us, you must focus your anger! It can be the steam that turns the turbines of change. The fire in belly of the dragon!

Love is all well and good. Some would say it’s necessary to our emotional health and a cornerstone of our humanity. While it may sustain us as individuals who make up society, its that sustaining nature that limits it. It only takes one angry monkey to shake the tree and force change on the lovely complacent, eating lice off each other, below in the shade.

Love creates complacency. Anger creates history.

More Looking At Things

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Photo Essay: My Recent Move

Moving is a bitch. Here are some photos of my recent move.

Walking out the door.

Grandpa's painting goes with me of course.

A mover packs up my stuff.

There's my bed.

The finishing touches of the move.

My stuff is out.

A view of my old home.

Nothing is left.

Other Photo Essays

Monday, February 21, 2005

Monday Morning Musings (2/21/05)

Nissan Motor's CEO Carlos Ghosn and COO Toshiyuki Shiga seem happy to see that I'm back blogging.

Here's the future of America.

Was Rush Limbaugh Right?

Check out the new Star Wars trailer.

This has to be the oddest post from a blog I've ever read. This guy found random people from a dating website and gave them sex change operations.

Discovery goes off to war.

Check out a parking lot demolition derby.

Take the slut test.

Other Monday Morning Musings

Sunday, February 13, 2005

No Posts This Week

This week I am moving to a new address (that's physically, not virtually), and won't be able to post anything for the next few days.

I'll be back on the 21st!

Thanks for checking in.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Photo Essay: My Building Evacuated

There was a "suspicious package" in my office building Wednesday, leading to some people being evacuated. Here are some photos (taken by a gainy Treo 600).

Building security has been a concern for some time in midtown Manhattan. The stone barriers on the streets are designed to prevent car bombs.

The NYPD Hazardous Unit was there to inspect the package.

People in the building waited for over an hour, with little incident.

Just another day in New York City.

Other photo essays.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Random Quotes

Former Buffalo Bills head coach Marv Levy at a recent book signing.

"The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary."
-- Vince Lombardi

"Four little words sum up what has lifted most successful individuals above the crowd: a little bit more. They did all that was expected of them and a little bit more."
-- A. Lou Vickery, writer

"He should sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street-sweeper who did his job well.'"
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

"I never wanted to be famous. I only wanted to be great."
-- Ray Charles

"What it takes to win is simple, not easy."
-- Marv Levy

Other Random Quotes

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Q&A with Oscar McCloud, Pastor

J. Oscar McCloud

J. Oscar McCloud is Associate Pastor for Administration at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. He is a graduate of Berea College with a B. A. in sociology and psychology, and Union Theological Seminary in New York City with an M.Div. He previously served as General Director, Program Agency, Presbyterian Church (USA), and Executive Director, The Fund for Theological Education. He has been a member of the pastoral staff at Fifth Avenue since 1995. The Rev. Dr. McCloud has announced he will retire in June.

He is the subject of our next Q&A.

How Close should politics and religion be put together.

I believe that whatever concerns humanity is a concern of the Christian religion. Note: I have said “Christian” religion because I cannot make that statement on behalf of all faiths, and I did not want to quibble with you on what you mean by religion. I also believe that the Christian and the Christian community (church) have a prophetic role to fulfill in every society and in every age. Failure of the church to fulfill this prophetic function is to risk becoming irrelevant. I think the church as church and politics as politics must remain separate. The church and the government can and should cooperate where appropriate, however, the church must be extra careful not to be co-opt by the state or nation. Nor should the church ever seek to dictate what the government should do except that its policies and practices must be just and equitable.

What inspired you to become a pastor?

I became a pastor because growing up in the rural South I saw the need for an education clergy. I came to believe very early in my life that God does not like ignorance, and that God desired and deserved the best that human being can offer in response. In some ways I saw “my people” (Moses in Egypt) in need of spiritual and religious leadership in the midst of a situation where they were in danger of become “drunk with the wine of the world” (The Negro National Anthem). I was inspired to become a pastor when I realized the good that could be done for all people through service as a minister of the Word of God.

What did the civil rights movement mean to you?

It was the greatest awakening of the 20th Century for social justice in the USA and world wide. I was the time in America when this nation showed it best side and some segments showed their worse sides. It was a time of hope and expectation when the nation was for a short time tempted to come to terms with centuries of deprivation and discrimination.

What are your first hand experiences from it?

I was a pastor in Raleigh, NC in the early 1960s when the black college students were actively involved sitting in at lunch counters (this had started in Greensboro, NC in 1960). I was involved in the picketing of segregated theaters, restaurant and hotels. During most of the 60s I lived in the South, including Atlanta where I became involved with Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. I was present in Washington for the Great March of 1963 and the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968. I joined marches in Mississippi and Alabama, including the March from Memphis, TN to Jackson, MS, and in Selma, AL. I could go on and on, but that is enough.

What was your favorite sermon?

This is not an easy question since the hearer is a better judge of my sermons than I, but I would lean toward the following two: “The Only Reliable DNA” and “A Fortune the Stock Market Can’t Match”

What do you do with your free time?

What free time? I prefer warm weather since my favorite hobbies are deep sea fishing and gardening (vegetables). I also like to read, especially mysteries like The Third Twin.

Do you have a favorite moment as a pastor?

When I finish a sermon and am able to put it aside.

I'd like to thank the Rev. Dr. McCloud for his time.

Other Q&As.

Other thoughts on Religion, Science, and Philosophy.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Monday Morning Musings (2/7/05)

Today is a special post-Super Bowl edition of Monday Morning Musings.

Bill Belichick has won another Super Bowl championship, and with his team's defeat of the Philadelphia Eagles the New England Patriots are an official dynasty.

Before the game, many previews said the game was in Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb's hands. It was. His turnovers, and inability to run a two minute drill at the end of the game, cost Philadelphia a chance at a title. For all the hype that McNabb and coach Andy Reid have gotten over the years, I was shocked at the mistakes the team made in the end. The game shouldn't have been that close.

Here are my other thoughts:
- there were reports that the Eagles went out to bars throughout the week after practice. During the game, they were tired, perhaps dehydrated, in the fourth quarter. Maybe they should have stayed in.

- the Patriots used the same five-man line to stop Donovan McNabb that the Eagles used two weeks prior to stop Falcons running QB Michael Vick. In other words, the Eagles told the Patriots how to beat them on defense.

- Freddie Mitchell, you've had your fifteen minutes.

- Patriots RB Corey Dillon really wanted this. You could see it on the field.

- No one in Philly should complain about Todd Pinkston's unwilingness to catch a ball up the middle again.

- The Fox announce crew did a great job during the game...especially Troy Aikman. The Fox camera crew and direction left a lot to be desired. Sometimes I thought I was watching an XFL game, not a Super Bowl.

- Terrell Owens showed a lot of heart last night. On the field he is worthy of respect. This of course is tempered by his "I told you so" press conference after the game. T.O., you guys lost...your team showed us nothing.

- Was that Donovan McNabb pouting with a minute left in the game on the sideline? There's still time on the clock, and the ball is in your hands. You're only down by three. Pump up your team. You can win this thing.

- The Patriots offensive line was pushing back the defense. Incredible.

- I didn't see any commercials that really won me over last night.

- The Patriots killed the Eagles with screens and draws. I don't think I've ever seen a team run a draw play pinned deep into their end zone. The Pats coaching staff really is that good.

- With the Patriots top two assistants leaving, is this the end of the dynasty?

- With the Patriots in my favorite team's division, the Buffalo Bills, I'm supposed to dislike them. But they are a class act, a true team, and worthy of fans not in the AFC East to like them. Even after winning three Super Bowls, they were humble.

- Love them or hate them, the Super Bowl is always good when the Tom-Brady-Patriots are playing.

Here are some great photos of the game.

Here's some other thoughts on Super Sunday:
Airing of Grievances

Here are some non-football-related Monday Morning Musings:

Here's the future of America.

Can you place the states?

Other Monday Morning Musings

Other Sports

Friday, February 04, 2005

NFL Tragedy #3: The Oilers Choke

Most fans had no idea who Frank Reich was.

The previous week, the Houston Oilers had dominated the Buffalo Bills in the last regular season game, using backups to easily beat the Bills starting lineup. At one point in the game, Bills hall of fame quarterback Jim Kelly had his leg twisted in a gruesome fashion, and would not be able to start today.

A week later, in an AFC Wild Card playoff game, Buffalo Bills backup quarterback Frank Reich started for his team.

The proud Buffalo Bills franchise, who at the time had gone to two straight Super Bowls and had been setting attendance records, did not sell out the playoff game.

The game did not start off well. By early into the third quarter, Warren Moon and the Oilers had a 32-point lead, capped off by a Reich interception returned for a touchdown.

This game was over friends.

Except that the Oilers coaching staff decided to play softer zones. The ball started bouncing Buffalo's way, and the Oilers offense started making a lot of mistakes.

Reich began to make the game respectable, then close. In the fourth quarter, Bills fans started coming back to the stadium -- many had left in the third quarter -- to see if the Bills could come back.

The Bills kept scoring touchdowns.

Four of the Bills' 5 TDs came on Reich passes (3 to WR Andre Reed), setting up a dramatic sudden death overtime field goal attempt by Bills kicker Steve Christie.

Christie kicked the 32-yard winning FG creating the best memory a Bills fan could have.

While great for Buffalo, it was without a doubt the worst thing ever to happen to the Houston Oilers. The franchise would move out of town a few years later, and have to watch the same team that move go to a Super Bowl.

To make matters worse, and make Oilers fans more mad at the state of New York, Houstonites seem to have a grudge about the Mets-Astros NL series in 1986. New Yorkers can't seem to remember anything about this, but boy if you bring this up, they will remind you of it.

Sometimes, with all the tragedies that come with it, it makes you wonder why we watch sports.

Numbers seven through ten are here, and number six is here. Number five is here. Enjoy...and try to forget.

More sports.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

NFL Tragedy #4: One Yard Short

Super Bowl XXXIV, between the St. Louis Rams and the Tennessee Titans, came down to the final play.

This Super Bowl wasn't supposed to be close. The Rams, led by NFL MVP Kurt Warner, was the "greatest show on turf". They were going to rack up points, and by halftime the audience was going to shift gears and start to focus on watching commercials.

The Titans on the other hand, were a team that was so talented and well coached, that they were sure to go to a number of Super Bowls in the near future.

Both teams were so good, the average fan at the time expected to see one of them become a dynasty.

That's why they play the game.

Up until the start of the second half, it was a defensive struggle. The Titans defense played masterfully, and kept their team in the game.

Titans FG kicker Al Del Greco kicked a game-tying 43-yard field goal with only 2:12 left to play. The drama is on.

Finally, the greatest show on turf arrived. One the next play from scrimmage, Rams quarterback Kurt Warner hit a deep pass to WR Isaac Bruce, who caught the ball on the Titans 38-yard line, made a great move on Anthony Dorsett, and ran into the end zone to take a 23-16 lead for the Rams with 1:54 remaining in regulation play.

But the Rams defense was tired. Even though they had a hard time scoring, the Titans had pounded St. Louis, and it was starting to catch up to them. Titans QB Steve McNair had his best drive of the game, leading them to the Rams 10-yard line with six seconds left and no timeouts remaining.

The Titans needed a touchdown to tie the game. This was the play. It was all on the line. Would Steve McNair become the next Joe Montana?

The ball was snapped, and McNair completed a quick slant to Kevin Dyson at the three yard line.

Rams LB Mike Jones threw his arms around him and stopped him on the one yard line.

The Titans were one yard short.

They have never been back to a Super Bowl.

In reflection, McNair, Eddie George, and co. were either over-hyped or underachieved. Yet if they made it one yard further, all might have been different.

Previous NFL Tragid Moments:

Numbers seven through ten are here, and number six is here. Number five is here. Enjoy...and try to forget.

More sports.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Q&A With Joe Tantalo, Artistic Director, Godlight Theatre Company

Our new Q&A is with Joe Tantalo, who recently opened a stage version of "A Clockwork Orange" with the Godlight Theatre Company.

Why A Clockwork Orange? What are you trying to get

The loss of individuality, and at what cost, is the central theme in Anthony Burgess's novella. Additional realities in the journey that our young narrator, Alex, and other the characters take are: over bearing government, censorship, drugs, violence and essentially losing their humanity. Begging the question again: And at what cost do we allow these things to happen? It doesn't take me to point it out, as I'm sure that an audience can see that Anthony Burgess's world of Nadsat, evil government, the old Moloko, and religion and faith in politics is clearly to be seen as it weighs heavily on our 2005 minds.

What are the challenges in bringing a classic movie to live theater? Do you feel you have to walk a fine line between staying true to the movie and doing your own thing?

It is a fine line, isn't it? The expectation is the movie and there is no real effective way to get around that. But I don't mind it. The movie served and continues to serve its purpose as an important piece of cinema. However, for the theatre, we are dealing with an entirely different beast. The play is based on the novella, not the movie. We stay true to the intention of the author/playwright (Burgess) and really dive into the raw material that is very available to present as live, edge-of your-seat theatre. We have had a blast working on A Clockwork Orange. You just don't see this type of theatre out there and I think it's refreshing as an artist and as a patron to allow yourself these types of experiences that you really can only find the world of theatre.

What's your favorite Stanley Kubrick film?

I really enjoy Full Metal Jacket the best. I remember watching it with my father for the first time when was I young and it scared the shit out of me. Vincent D'Onofrio? C'mon, he is extraordinary as Private Pyle. But going beyond my first response and seeing it again some years later, I was struck by how haunting Kubrick's direction is. Although, that same idea can be found in many of his films though. Especially A Clockwork Orange.

Tell me about your background. How did you get into theatre?

I grew up in Connecticut with my parents and younger brother. I went to public grammar school and Catholic all-boys high school at Notre Dame. After high school I went to Southern Connecticut State University and studied theatre. My background in theatre begins "officially" during my senior year of high school (but really it began in second grade when I played the dancing mummy in a production of The Monster Mash...). Economic times had forced the high school to make some cut backs and of course drama was one of the many things to go. I didn't want to lose the opportunity to be in the school play as my high school career was coming to an end, so I went to the principal and headmaster and asked if I could direct the school play. No student had made such a request before, so for whatever reasons, they let me do it. I assembled a cast from Notre Dame and our sister (all-girls) high school Sacred Heart and we went into rehearsals for Agatha Christie's The Unexpected Guest.

What a year. The high school custodian built our amazing set (an interior of a mansion) and we spent so many hours on that stage just being happy that we were actually going to pull it off. And well too. I had never directed a play before, but everything came naturally to me. I really enjoyed it. I almost knew what I was doing. And so, now cut to the performances, and it was magical. We had done it. So, from there onward it was in me and my course was set.

Godlight Theatre Company began in 1994 as I broke away from Southern's theatre dept a bit and wanted to do my own work. We had humble beginnings in a church basement in downtown New Haven. Sounds like cliché, but there is something extraordinary that Godlight began that way. Since then the theatre company has worked at some amazing places and not so amazing places. Every circumstance was different, but it built our character.

What are you most proud of in your career?

Continuing to build Godlight Theatre Company and working with people who challenge and inspire me.

What advice would you give a actors and directors trying to make it in New York?

To make your own way. No one will hand you anything. Work for the sake of the work and all else will follow. Too often I've talked with people who are guided by other reasons and it just doesn't work that way.

How does one get involved in your productions?

The best way is to see one and see if you want to get involved. I have found some of my best and most respected collaborators that way...because if you don't like our work, then why bother?

Thanks to Joe for taking the time for the interview.

Here's my previous interview, with former presidential candidate Mike Dukakis.

Also check out my interview with Good Day Live correspondent TJ Allard.

Check out my other Q&As

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Things To Do In New York: A Clockwork Orange

Randy Falcon as Alex in Godlight Theatre Company's production of Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange

New York theatre used to be about big and unimaginative productions...it's not anymore. The Godlight Theatre Company (and they spell "theatre" right thank you very much) is proving itself to be and creative and resourceful troupe that's giving city theatregoers something to cheer about.

The Godlight Theatre Company has put together another great production: a stage version of Anthony Burgess's "A Clockwork Orange," which runs from now until February 27 at 59 East 59 Theatres (between Park and Madison).

Tickets for the play, directed by Joe Tantalo, may be purchased at Ticket Central. Shows on Tuesday through Saturday start at 8 PM, Sunday's shows start at 3 PM.

Here's what you'll see if you catch the play:
Alex and his vicious teenage gang revel in horrific violence, mugging and gang rape. Alex also revels in the music of Beethoven. The gang communicates in a language which is as complicated as their actions. When a drug-fuelled night of fun ends in murder, Alex is finally busted and banged up. He is given a choice: be brainwashed into good citizenship and set free, or face a lifetime inside. Anthony Burgess's play, based on his own provocative 1962 novella of the same name, gets a vivid and intense new production from the award winning Godlight Theatre Company.

Here are what the reviewers are saying about the show and the company:

Barbara & Scott Siegel, theatremania.com:
"You'll be astonished by the sheer audacity of the Godlight Theatre
Company's tiny but intense take on A Clockwork Orange…Under the dynamic
direction of Joe Tantalo, a dozen performers enact this violent,
postmodern tale. Check your memories of the movie at the door, enter the
theater with an open mind, and prepare yourself for a visceral experience.
There are times when you'll want to reach out and try to save the
characters from the brutality that takes place right in front of you; this
wildly physical production unfolds with astonishing intimacy."

Helen Shaw, The New York Sun:
"Talk about an Orwellian experience. Godlight Theater Company is one of the more inspiring stories in the New York theater world. They started out struggling to make work in a church basement; 10 years later, under the direction of Joe Tantalo, they've started to garner attention and awards, to get their name out there, and to raise their heads a bit above the pack."

Martin Denton, editor, nytheatre.com:

"An intense, chilling 75 minutes of claustrophobic drama...A Clockwork Orange is a play worth coming back to, because it's loaded with stuff that, though hard to take, is absolutely necessary for us to see and hear...and if you're new to this company or this play, well, you've got a terrific, involving theatre experience to look forward to."

Show Business Weekly:
"Joe Tantalo's production of A Clockwork Orange is effectively disturbing and thoroughly convincing..."

nytheatre.com, Martin Denton:
"With A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, Joe Tantalo and Godlight Theatre Company firmly establish themselves in the front ranks of New York City's theatre community...Tantalo's remarkable visionary staging remind us that less is almost always more in the theatre. The resultant experience is as vivid and intense an evening of drama as can be found anywhere in town right now...their work needs to be seen."

"The play (A CLOCKWORK ORANGE) was superbly, and stylishly staged...spectacular and incisive playing by members of the ensemble, extraordinary lighting and a ravishing sound design...terrific theatricality...quite an accomplishment, this won't be forgotten."

Backstage, Elias Stimac:
"The Godlight Theatre Company has a potential cult hit on its hands...Joe Tantalo's production is bold and indelible...an in-your-face approach to Burgess's taunting, timeless material."

Make sure you check it out!

Other Things To Do In New York