November 22, 2004

A Little Randomness

Today's Musical Selection: "Kid Charlemagne" by Steely Dan

Hi, everybody. I don't really have it today, for whatever reason. But a couple quick thoughts I wanted to share with the world.

- On Saturday, I succumbed to Pepsi's advertising bltz and tried their new Holiday Spice cola, available for a limited time.

Ordinarily, I'm only marginally susceptible to soda flavor-tweaking trickery. Yes, I bit on Vanilla Coke (though not the Pepsi counterpart), and I used to drink Cherry 7-Up by the gallon when I was a kid. But I've yet to try any of the 7500 varieties of Mountain Dew that have come out in the last couple years, mostly on the grounds that they probably taste like Mountain Dew, which I despise with a startling passion.

However, when I saw the ads for the Holiday Spice cola, I was intrigued. For one thing, I like holiday spices, whatever those might be. For another, I like the idea of spiced cola (it made me think of home-brewed root beer, which is one of my great pleasures in life). And, well, some commercials just catch your eye. That's what they're supposed to do, after all. And I'm just as suggestible as the next guy. So when I spotted the Holiday Spice display at my local grocery store, I snagged a couple bottles.

I invited Papa Shaft over to share the tasting experience with me. We uncapped our bottles and sniffed to get a sense of the bouquet. It was slightly fruity, insouciant with a hint of apple-cinnamon candle. We both took a slow, contemplative swallow. It tasted like... regular Pepsi, with a slight cinnamony edge on the finish. Decent first impression.

The problem arrived on subsequent swallows. As I got about a quarter of the way through the bottle, the soda developed an unpleasant celery aftertaste. I had to keep stopping and putting the bottle down. Pepsi says that the "holiday spices" are cinnamon and ginger, so I'm guessing that the accumulated ginger got to me. Whatever it is... bleargh.

I asked Papa what he thought of the Holiday Spice experience. He said, "It was... interesting." Which I presume to mean he hated it. Personally, I won't be buying any more of it the rest of the year. What a rip-off. It's like regular Pepsi, only bad. I deserve it for being suckered in by those commercials. Something about elves driving a truck gets me every time.

- Pretty much everything has already been said about the Friday Night Fights in Detroit, but a couple points are worth emphasizing. First of all, it would be nice to have an open and honest dialogue about the role of alcohol in idiot fan behavior. It's the 800-pound elephant in the middle of the room that no one wants to talk about. Fans will defend to the death their right to get as plastered as they want, and as long as they're willing to pay $10 a cup for it, the owners are willing to supply them. But are we going to wait until someone gets killed before we start talking about cutting the beer sales off at halftime, as Michael Wilbon proposed today, or outlawing beer sales altogether? We've got a serious issue here that no one's willing to do anything about.

A few people have been willing to talk, very gingerly, about basketball's relationship with the hip-hop culture and its glorification of violence. But what really strikes me is the number of current and former players who have been making remarks on the order of, "It's about time someone went after the fans." We're reaching a distrubing pass here... a number of players really seem to hate the people who pay their salaries. And it's hard to blame them, given the fact that fans seem to think it's okay to hurl beer and bottles and scream the vilest things imaginable at the players. In what other line of work would this be tolerated? And how much longer can a league survive with such mutual hatred between fans and players? Factor in the fact that some of these fans routinely fans the flames of their vitriol on sports-talk radio and think drinking themselves stupid is a fine idea, and some of these players routinely travel with firearms and rap-star-like entourages, and a meltdown like the scene in Detroit is almost inevitable.

Wilbon had some good thoughts on this in his online chat today:

Raleigh, N.C.: I agree that the year suspension that the NBA gave Ron Artest is appropriate given the damage that Artest's attack will have on the relationship between the NBA players and fans. I suspect the NBA will come up with some kind of campaign to repair the relationship and hopefully it will be more substantive than the lame "I (still) love this game" slogan they tried after the strike. Question: what kind of steps need to be taken to address the damaged relationship? And if there is to be a rebuilding, what role does the Players Association need to play?

Michael Wilbon: Great question...And I wish I had the answer. I'm still trying to figure out how the relationship went to hell so quickly. There have been signs, probably as far back as Latrell choking P.J. Carlesimo, then his coach. There have been other signs, like the resentment directed at the U.S. Olympic men's basketball team this summer in Athens. I think the league, as Antonio Davis of the Chicago Bulls stated very eloquently, is lacking in professionalism because there are too few professionals. The league is overrun with young punks who know neither know how to play nor how to relate to the fans that pay their salaries.

Wilbon hit the nail on the head... too many NBA players are simply not fit to conduct themselves as professionals on a public stage. When these "young punks" collide with fans who are not fit to conduct themselves as human beings... well, we saw what happened.

- Our baseball team here in Washington now has a logo. Presenting... your 2005 Nationals!


Personally, I like it. It's a modern freshening of a classic old name. It's crisp and classy without being too boring. It's appropriate for the city. And it's red, white and blue, which is the most important thing. (Sorry, Grays backers.)

Someone came up with the idea of adding the Capitol dome to the logo:


I really like this. It makes the logo look grander and adds balance. Obviously, we'd want a stylized Capitol, rather than sticking an actual picture of the dome on top as was done here, but I like the concept.

That's all for today. I'll try to do better tomorrow. See you then!

Posted by Fred at November 22, 2004 10:01 PM

First, I really liked the Holiday Spice Pepsi, but I have bad taste in such things. I loved Crystal Pepsi, remember?

I like the logo. I still would have gone with Grays, but I can live with the look.

Why i give a damn about a baseball team 3000 miles away, but I'm odd that way.

Posted by: frinklin at November 22, 2004 10:21 PM

I agree with everything that you said, except the part about hating Mountain Dew. That is when I realized that you are completely insane and that I don't like you at all.

Posted by: Richard at November 23, 2004 02:51 AM


Isn't it suprising how stable the soft drink flavor market is? For the most part, the successful "new" flavors merely recycle old ones.

For example, the Mountain Dew Orange is pretty much a good orange soda. The red is good punch.

Pepsi Blue, on the other hand, was VERY vile. Uggh. A watered down generic berry flavor.

Even Pepsi Twist was done before as Pepsi Lite. I've always liked a little citrus (lime more than lemon) with my cola.

The new "vanilla" stuff tastes like Creme Soda to me. I think they've exhausted all the good tasting soft drinks, which is suprising when you think of it.

Posted by: Tripp at November 23, 2004 02:48 PM
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