Cast–Bottom Line

The bottom line with Bottom Line is that everything comes down to the bottom line with her.

She’s an accountant, so that explains her bottom lineness in matters financial. The company she works for makes the yellow tape that police use to cordon off a crime scene, so we’re always happy for her when we see cime on the TV news. We’re often happy for her.

That singular trait of those with financial acuity is not restricted to matters of money with Bottom Line.

In conversation, she hones right on in on the most salient point. She’s got a healthy and entertaining sense of sarcasm which she’s never afraid show and which requires a certain bottom lineness of perception.

She had a reputation for disliking "nice guys," which is ironic, since she married the poster boy for Nice guys, Delicious.

Cast–Pixel Grrrl

Pixel Grrrl was born and raised in Minnesota but moved to California to pursue a career in animation. After working on a handful of high-profile films, she moved back to Minnesota.

Nothing in her personality betrays her religious upbringing, as she is outgoing and fun-loving, exhibiting none of the pinched uptightness often found in those raised on moral certitude.

She’s got a quick wit and a touch of sarcasm which she ocassionally sprinkles throughout conversations.

She’s decided to settle in Minnesota, buying a house and negotiating a job with a leading video games company that allows her to work remotely via the Internet.

Cast–Delicious

I met Delicious through The Veteran. Delicious was playing football with The Veteran before Vet invited me to play.

The story, as The Veteran relates it, is that Delicious started appearing at The Vet’s pickup basketball games. Delicious arrived on in-line skates.

When angry with his play, he would yell out "Jimminy Christmas!" instead of swearing because there were children nearby.

Delicious and I developed somewhat of a rivalry–solely at my instigation. I needed someone to challenge me to get up to speed and Delicious was the fastest guy so when we all went out for happy hour the Fridays before our Saturday pickup games, I would trash talk him, telling him he was going down tomorrow.

The next day, he usually beat me a few times but it helped me improve my game.

Delicious is usually the only person left on the field who, after four hours of playing football, will still be running his routes at full speed. He runs the sharpest routes of any player I know.

Delicious acquired his nickname one day when we were playing Saturday pickup football. It was during the Winter and he was wearing a bright yellow windbreaker-type sports jacket. He was lined up wide and The Natural was at quarterback.

Natural completed a pass to Delicious and afterward explained that he couldn’t help but throw to him because in his yellow jacket he "looked so delicious."

Natural meant, of course, that he looked like such a delicious target but that was lost on The Clamp. "You can’t call a grown man Delicious," The Clamp declared indignantly.

It occured to me that Delicious may well be wearing bright colors intentionally, so as to present a more obvious target for his quarterback and therefore, get more balls thrown his way.

Being perfectly willing to steal a great idea when I see one, I promptly bought a bright yellow shirt.

In Minnesota. we have a cultural icon by the name of The Menards Guy. He pitches for the Menards hardware stores in cheesey, low-budget TV commercials. Being a Wisconsin boy, you’d think that Delicious would like cheesey commercials. But you’d be wrong–Delicious doesn’t like cheesey commercials, not these commercials, anyway. And to be fair to cheese, it’s not so much the cheesiness of the commercials that Delicious objects to as it is the fact that they are advertisements for Menards, which he hates.

Well, he doesn’t really object to the stores so much as the man behind the stores, whom he hates with a passion.

Delicious is married to Bottom Line.

Cast–The Veteran

The Veteran had been an acquaintance of mine for some time prior to us becoming friends–I had met him through a nonprofit organization we both volunteered for.

We became fast friends, though, after working on an Internet-related project together. At the end of the project we had to go to DC to meet the foundation heads for whom we did the work.

I drove our team to the airport. When I opened my trunk to load everyone’s luggage, The Veteran noticed my football and was suddenly beaming.

"You play football," he said.
"Um-hm," I confirmed, not realizing that my deninition of playing was tossing the ball to my nephews while they ran routes. The Veteran actually meant playing football.

He subsequently invited me to happy hours he’d organized and, once, to a party at his house. It was there that I discovered what he actually meant when he asked if I played football.

I was listening in on a conversation between Surfer Dude and The Veteran. They were talking football and it became apparent that they played on the same team in an organized league. When that significant fact dawned on me, I literally raised my hand and asked how I could play.

The Veteran diplomatically avoided inviting me to play on their team (and for good reason, I later realized, because there are a ton of politics involved in organized football). Later that week The Veteran did, however, invite me to play some pickup football.

And, of course, I accepted. We played at Como Park on Minneapolis’ Northeast side. We played with a bunch of college kids from the nearby University of Minnesota. I wore jeans, smoked at the time, and was entirely winded shortly into the game. I hadn’t played an actual game of football since high school. But I slogged through the day and came back again and again and eventually worked myself into shape.

The Veteran, of course, had no such problems. He’d been playing football at least weekly since he was practically born. Thus, he is The Veteran.

From the looks of him, you might guess that he could play some football but nothing about his physical appearance suggests that he is an outstanding player in the way that some athlete’s mere physique suggests abundant talent.

The Veteran has a body as stout as an Irish beer–which makes sense because he’s of Irish descent and he loves beer. When he played tackle football, he excelled at bowling people over and that, too, makes sense because he looks like a power fullback.

The Veteran doesn’t have blazing speed but he’s faster than he looks. He usually doesn’t make astounding highlight reel catches, but he’s so sure-handed that he pretty much catches everything that’s thrown in his vicinity.

What makes The Veteran such a great football player is not so much his natural talent–of which he’s got plenty–but the abundance of experience which has taught him to master the details of the game. He knows when to put his hands out to the opposite side from which the ball is coming, for example, so as to convince the defender to cover the wrong side.

It is that experience that makes him an excellent quarterback, too. He reads denfenses well and knows where to put the ball so that it is out of reach of a defender.

Conveniently, The Veteran nickname applies to more than simply his football experience–it applies to his life experience as well, because though a relatively young man, few things surprise him.

The Veteran is married to Phone Assasin, which is a match made in football heaven because she’s a damn good football player herself; so not only do they have that in common, it’s happily not a source of conflict for them.

Cast–Phone Assasin

I first met Phone Assasin at The Halftime Rec, a smoke-infested hole-in-the-wall bar that features live Irish music and Hammerschlagen upstairs–a game where the first person to pound a nail into a tree stump wins–and Bocce ball downstairs.

It was a happy hour sponsored by Minnesotans for a Democratic Majority–a young Democrat organization.

At that time, Phone Assasin was a roommate of a friend, Mr. Democracy. I was fascinated to discover that night that she worked as a tobbaco cop, busting retailers for selling cigarettes to minors. What a job!, I though–kinda undercover, kinda cop.

Phone Assasin is about the most competitive person I know–and I know a lot of competitive people–so it’s a good thing she subsequently married The Veteran, who will keep her competitive fires burning.

Phone Assasin earned her moniker by dunking my cell phone in a glass of beer.

Maureen Dowd

New York Times columnist and unofficial Bush family psychologist Maureen Dowd is out selling her new book, Bushworld. I saw her on Real Time with Bill Maher and, man does she look uncomfortably out of her element; she seems very awkward and almost at pains to answer interview questions. For someone who has been reading her clever and elegant writing for years, her interviews are an abrupt and startling contrast.

Dowd’s interview presence, however, is not the point of my present musings. Rather, it is who I discovered is reading Dowd’s book and what that may mean for the presidential contest.

On Saturday I found myself hanging out with a guy I have had drinks with on occasion and who is not in the least bit political. He’s a normal blue collar guy who voted for Jesse Ventura in 1998 because Jesse "told it like it is" and who rarely talks politics, and certainly doesn’t bring it up on his own accord.

On Saturday, however, I was fascinated to hear him bring up the fact that he’s reading Dowd’s new book on GW. Dowd’s readership are by and large liberal-leaning political junkies, not this friend of mine. Further, he was also talking about how he was trying to "turn" co-workers to vote for John Kerry.

It is yet another anecdote that would seem to indicate the President Bush is creating new Democratic voters.

Michele Tafoya – Monday Night Football’s Female Sideline Reporter

The Star Tribune’s Judd Zulgad gives plenty of a laudatory ink to local-girl-made-good Michele Tafoya, who will debut this season as Monday Night Football’s female sideline reporter. Tafoya will most certainly be an improvement over last year’s Lisa Guerrero, whom she replaced.

One thing is clear when you look at Tafoya, Lisa Guerrero, and Guerrero’s predacessor, blonde hottie Melissa Stark, is that beauty is a prerequisite to stalking the sidelines for the MNF crew. And judging from Guerrero’s performance last year, talent is optional.

Tafoya, however, has got tons of talent and for that reason, you gotta wonder if she has any misgivings about the gig. Monday Night Football is a wonderful vehicle for becoming a household name and if you have higher ambitions in television, that’s what we scientists do in fact call, A Very Good Thing.

On the other hand, it ain’t exactly the perfect role in which to showcase your blinding talent. The position, frankly, is pretty much useless. And that doesn’t just go for Monday Night Football. Watch Joe Schmit‘s dispatches from the sidelines during the Vike’s preseason games: Nine times out of ten, you learn absolutely zilch about the game. The only benefit that I can think of from having a sideline reporter is for injury updates. But, of course, you don’t need a sideline reporter to get those updates.

So don’t expect to be blown away by Tafoya.

Bill Schneider Phones It In

When you decide to do a weekly segment on television news, you’d better be prepared to stretch your credibility on occasion when there is no news that fits your formula.

And so it is with CNN’s alleged "political analyst" Bill Schneider‘s Play of the Week on the news channel’s weekly Inside Politics show.

Today Schneider awarded the Political Play of the Week to Hurricane Charley. He justifies bestowing the award on the force of nature pounding the Florida coast by making the point that "People said this election could turn on events: a terrorist attack; a sudden upturn or downturn in the economy; the capture of Osama bin Laden," but nobody suspected one of those events could be a hurricane.

According to Schneider’s penetrating insight, "The outcome of this election could be in Charley’s hands" because "Voters all over the country will be paying attention to how the government responds" and that could affect the political fates of both Bushes, George and Jeb.

Well, I guess it could, Bill, but it requires more suspension of disbelief than I’m capable of. It assumes that Hurricane Charley will be disastrous enough to have political ramifications. That, of course, remains to be seen.

More importantly, it assumes that both Jeb and George Bush don’t understand basic politics. If you remember your Politics 101 class, you’ll recall that a fundamental tenant of keeping your constituents happy is by pulling out all the stops in the wake of a natural disaster.

I’m not normally that generous to either Bush but I’m willing to give them this much: I’m confident that there’s a 99.9 percent chance that the Bushes will pull out all the stops if they need to in Florida.

Unfortunately, this sorry excuse for analysis is far too common for Schneider but, hey, it’s a good gig if you can get it.