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January 13th, 2006

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09:57 am
A topic for a Friday:

What do you want to know?

I'm not speaking metaphysically, now. What are the factual (perhaps historical, or legal, or technical, or even trivial) questions that lurk in the back of your mind? I've got two examples, both things that bother/boggle me:
  • In college football, why defer when you win the coin toss? The logical position, to me, is that of the pro game, where the team that wins the toss takes the ball. In college, however, nearly every single team that wins the coin toss will put off taking the ball until the second half (Iowa, under head coach Kirk Ferentz, is about the only one I've noticed that doesn't). Is this some kind of tradition/honor thing? What's the story?
  • What's the connection between Peru and Japan? The president of Peru during the '90s was Alberto Fujimori (who's now in more than a little legal trouble, but anyway), I've heard tell of a (now dead) leader of the Shining Path named, if I'm remembering correctly, Shigetoshi Watanabe... It just strikes me as odd, is all.
Now you have examples. What do you want to know?

(16 points | Discuss)


Date:January 13th, 2006 04:37 pm (UTC)
during the summer after my freshman year of college, some people came to my house late one night and asked my mother if i wanted to come out with them. (i never even heard the doorbell ring; having taken an office job for the summer, i had changed my sleep schedule back to the way it had been in high school and was completely dead to the world when they came, which my mom estimated to be around 11pm.) she told them i was asleep and they went away, and when she told me about it the next morning and i asked her who they were, she said she didn't know. nobody ever called me to say, "hey, we came by, but you were asleep," or even, "SUCKER! you have to work this summer!" nothing. i've always wondered who it was, since anyone who would have known me well enough to come by that late would have known me well enough to have met my mother at least once. it's super-trivial, but it's probably the only non-philosophical thing in my whole life to which i've wanted to find the answer and wasn't able.
[User Picture]
Date:January 13th, 2006 04:44 pm (UTC)
I don't have a question, but I do have an answer to a question that was bubbling beneath the surface of your first question: Because Iowa rules, that's why. I also have an imperative: Go Hawks.
[User Picture]
Date:January 13th, 2006 05:22 pm (UTC)
In baseball, are the detrimental effects of using amphetamines so much less than those of using steroids to warrant the wide difference in public condemnation of the two offenses? That is, is it justifiable to love Willie Mays and hate Barry Bonds?
[User Picture]
Date:January 13th, 2006 05:27 pm (UTC)
What makes you think Barry wasn't also using amphetamines?
[User Picture]
Date:January 13th, 2006 06:57 pm (UTC)
He may have been. Mays may have been using steroids, for that matter (though not as likely in the 1960s). But this doesn't really answer my core question.

Barry isn't publicly burned for amphetamine use. Nor was Mays. Nor has anyone been. Why, I wonder, is there is a distinction? I assume it arises from the level of damage it does to the body. I want to know if it's true that amphetamines do less damange. And if it is true, do steroids do enough damage above and beyond amphetamines to warrant the difference in public criticism of the use?

Further: the new drug agreement explicity prohibits amphetamines for the first time, despite very few people even talking about it. Was this due to pressure from congress? Or MLB?

Finally: was there an explicit loophole planned so that HGH use can go on as is? Currently, it is not being tested, nor am I sure a test exists. Would the owners and players end their decades-old policy of looking the other way at performance enhancers at the drop of congress' hat?

This is what I think about at "work".
[User Picture]
Date:January 13th, 2006 05:50 pm (UTC)
I don't know for certain if this is true, and I was unable to specifically corroborate this by digging around online, but my understanding of the college football situation is:

In the NFL, the winner of the coin toss can pick:
A) Whether to start the game receiving (playing offense) or kicking (playing defense), OR
B) Which goal to defend.
The loser of the coin toss picks the other. The kickoff for the second half then automatically goes to the other team.

In the NCAA, the winner of the coin toss can pick:
A) Whether to start the game receving (playing offense) or kicking (playing defense), OR
B) Which goal to defend, OR
C) To defer their choice to the second half.
If the winner picks A or B, the loser picks the other; if the winner picks C, the loser picks A or B, and the winner picks the other.
But if the winning team picks C, then when the second half rolls around, the team that won the original coin toss gets to choose A or B then.

So if a team chooses to defer, and during the first half they realize that there are really tough winds going in one particular direction, they can choose in the second half which goal to defend, or if they're really far in the lead because their defense is reaping turnover after turnover, they can choose to kick off… so basically, it's a way of delaying your decision on strategy until you have a better idea of what you need.

That's my understanding, anyway.
[User Picture]
Date:January 13th, 2006 06:04 pm (UTC)
And I want to know if there is a place I can go to identify actors in commercials. For years, I've been able to watch commercials and say, "Oh, there's that guy who was in the FedEx commercials; now he's doing ads for a Glade puff-thing."

The only two I've ever successfully identified have been Steve Carrell, who rocked in FedEx commercials; and Nate Torrence, who has been in lots of notable ads, including:

Golden Grahams -- the college boy who wanted his Grahams.
Volkswagen -- the guy who goes nuts while cornering.
Energizer -- the guy who won't shut up about inane things while his buddies are trying to tune him out with headsets
Capital One -- the new employee working with David Spade
NFL -- the guy hiding in a tackle dummy so he can steal gear
etc etc etc

There are three particular advertisement actors I've really hoped to identify. One is a blond woman who has been in ads for Orbitz, Geico, Fazoli's, and some supposedly healthy snack food; one is a dark-haired guy who was in about twelve simultaneous commercials back in the late 90's, including an unbelievably crappy one for Riunite; and one is a guy I think of as the Couch Slouch, who is currently in two ads -- a McDonald's ad in which a second guy throws a necktie at a third guy, and a Swiffer Toilet Cleaner ad; in both ads, he does nothing but slouch on a couch, watch TV, and talk.

I'd love to do a website tracking them, just for the hell of it, but I don't know how to identify them.
[User Picture]
Date:January 13th, 2006 07:44 pm (UTC)
Nate Torrence is the little brother of one of our ensemble members, Jay Torrence. Jay did one of his funniest plays ever about it, in a semi-bitter, but tongue-in-cheek manner. It's hard to accurately express it, except to say it involved Jay yelling "THAT'S MY LITTLE BROTHER! HE'S FAMOUS!" while shoveling great spoonfuls of cereal into his mouth.

[User Picture]
Date:January 13th, 2006 07:54 pm (UTC)
LOL... so, I suppose it would be rude to see if Jay could get me an e-mail interview with Nate? (Not that I'd know what to ask, really, but I've long thought of doing this thing about tracking TV ad actors.)
[User Picture]
Date:January 13th, 2006 08:18 pm (UTC)
You know, I'm not sure how he'd react. If this becomes some kind of formal project, though, I'll get the two of you in touch.
[User Picture]
Date:January 13th, 2006 08:32 pm (UTC)
Well, thanks! I have a feeling it's more of a velleity, though.

(One of my favorite words that's no longer in common usage.)
[User Picture]
Date:January 13th, 2006 08:33 pm (UTC)
In fact, Velleity would be an excellent title for the autobiography I'm probably never going to write. Much better than my alternatives, But I Didn't Ride In On a Horse or The Great Repression.
[User Picture]
Date:January 13th, 2006 09:03 pm (UTC)
Since posting this, I have been able to learn the identities of two more of the TV ad actors I've wondered about.

One is an actor named Joe Narciso; he's apparently a very good stage actor -- he's the guy who was in the FedEx commercials with Steve Carell.

The other is an actress named Rachael Harris. She's the blond I referred to above -- and it wasn't Orbitz, it was Expedia. And I don't find any specific reference to the Fazoli's commercial I know she did, or the snack food. But it turns out she's moderately famous, too. She has a LOT of credits, including the TV shows "Fat Actress" and "The Daily Show." I had no idea.
[User Picture]
Date:January 14th, 2006 12:08 am (UTC)

probably pointless information

It's tough to find out which actors are in which commercials, largely because actors tend to keep the lists of commercials they have appeared in under wraps. The general rule, at least in Hollywood, is that when you are submitted for commercial work, you do not list your commercials on your resume--instead, you have "list available upon request" on your resume. The idea behind this is simply that, if you're going out for a Coke commercial, you don't want them to look at your resume and see "Pepsi" on it--it's an automatic strike against you before you've even gotten in the door to audition. The information is possible to obtain, but you'd have to know the casting director of the commercial or someone affiliated with the ad agency that created it. You may be able to get information off of commercial casting director websites--a lot of them will provide lists of campaigns they've worked on...I'm not sure if they'd list the actual cast & crew breakdown, though.

As a result, it's hard to nail down the names of actors in commercials, unless you happen to have seen them on an actual program/show/film/etc. Or unless you know them, which happens a lot out here--case in point, my friend Kevin is very good friends with a guy that is in a lot of national ads...I've met him a few times, so every now and then, I'll look up and see Shannon on tv. He's probably most well known for his Dell commercial, which had him dancing around in front of his computer, in his study--near the end, his wife comes in and admonishes him, I think having something to do with paying bills online, but I can't remember. At any rate, that commercial was so well known that when Shannon went to Vegas, a doorman at a club recognized him and let him in for free. It's an odd feeling to look up and see a friend on tv, hocking shave gel or face wash or Bud Light (all things I've seen friends do), that's for sure.

I'm not sure there was any point to that story.
[User Picture]
Date:February 5th, 2006 07:02 am (UTC)
Nate Torrence is also in commercials for Pringles, Sprint, and Enterprise rent-a-car...I think there are some others too. This guy is in so many commercials!
[User Picture]
Date:January 13th, 2006 06:21 pm (UTC)
Beethoven's 5th

The creator of the paint that makes the stealth bomber 'stealthy' was my chemistry professor in college. He said that when he was designing the paint, he didn't know why he was making it. And the people who were making the paint were doing it wrong, that every last drop of the chemicals needed to be mixed in order for the combinations to be correct. So, measure very cafefully when you do experiments with chemicals.

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