Sunday, December 31, 2006

Arrived back in Bamako last night. Another long trip, more than 27 hours door-to-door from Allyson’s parents’ home in Johnson City, Tennessee. I’ve done a lot of traveling since Thanksgiving: Bamako to Kansas City to Paris to Johnson City to Bamako. The research in Kansas City went well, and Allyson and I had a great time in Paris. But it’s good to be home again.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Out on Highway 24 near Moberly, Missouri, I saw a sign that said TRUCKS OVER 22 TONS 15 MPH ON BRIDGE. Now, if a truck might be too heavy for a bridge, wouldn’t it make more sense for it to spend as little time as possible on said bridge? Why slow down? I say the heavy trucks should floor it when they get to that bridge.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Been on the road most of the week, doing research in Hannibal, Missouri and Decatur, Illinois. Hannibal is a nice town, even if they take the whole Mark Twain thing a little too far (e.g., Huck’s Taxi Service). Decatur is just plain scary. Kind of post-apocalyptic, actually. Broken traffic lights, street signs faded beyond legibility. The parking meters downtown are covered with green and red plastic bags, presumably because parking is free during the holidays, but it just looks kind of trashy. I stayed at the Tri-Manor Motel – scariest motel I have stayed in EVER. I think Harry Truman might have stayed there when he drove across the country in 1953, but you won’t see any ex-presidents there today. The lock on the door was what you’d find on your bathroom door at home, no deadbolt, no chain. I guess I didn't shut it tight enough, because the wind blew it open at two o’clock in the morning. Scared the s*** out of me.

I’m back in Kansas City now. Plan to do some writing this weekend. Next Wednesday I leave for Paris. Allyson and I will spend a few days there, then fly back to the States for Christmas.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Nice piece about my book (for some unknown reason) in today's Jamestown (NY) Post-Journal. Click here to read it (it's toward the bottom of the page). Once again, however, a good blurb eludes me...

Thursday, November 30, 2006

There was a very nice piece on my book in yesterday's New York Daily News. (Click here to read it.) God bless you, Andy Clayton. The only problem is, while he clearly likes the book, Mr. Clayton's piece doesn't really contain a good blurb. "I wasn't disappointed" is about the best I can come up with. If any of my faithful readers can come up with something better, please let me know. Whoever submits the best blurb will get a postcard from Independence, Missouri. Good luck!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Arrived in Kansas City last night after a 26-hour journey. (Needless to say, I slept well last night!) Spent today at the Truman Library doing research. It's always interesting, going to a specialized research library. There are two other people doing research there right now, a guy about ten years younger than me and a guy about ten years older. Each of us is wondering what the other two are researching--"Is he working on the same thing I am?!"--but protocol and our natural social retardation preclude anybody from asking. So each of us spends the day in his own little universe, barely acknowledging the others. It's uncomfortable, but that's the introverted researcher's code.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Allyson and I went to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving. It was a wonderful meal, but it’s hard to get into the spirit of the season when it’s 98 degrees out. Not exactly like spending the holiday in Maine. … The new American embassy has opened here. Can’t go into much detail, but suffice it to say that it’s beautiful. The old embassy was, quite frankly, a bit of a dump. … On Sunday I’m leaving for Kansas City to do some research for my next book proposal.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Another Steagle has passed away. Jack Hinkle died at his home in Norristown, Pennsylvania, on Thursday (November 16). He was 89.

During World War II, Jack was given an honorable discharge from the Army due to ulcers. He played running back and defensive back for the Steagles in 1943. He scored three touchdowns and had four interceptions. He also led the team in rushing with 571 yards. He retired from pro football after the 1947 season.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jack and his wife Joane for my book. They were patient and kind and very supportive.

Simply put, Jack was a good guy, incapable of meanness or pettiness. I’m glad I got to know him.

Jack is the fourth member of the Steagles to pass away in the past two months. Now just four remain: Ray Graves, Bucko Kilroy, Allie Sherman, and Al Wistert.
I have discovered a comrade in arms in the war against the misuse of the word "literally." Literally, A Web Log is a blog that tracks abuse of the word in the media. Among their recent discoveries: "literally raining cats" and "literally exploding with confidence." Good stuff. Check it out when you get a chance.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Severe storms hit Alabama yesterday, causing extensive damage. Describing the cleanup effort on CNN today, Governor Robert Riley said the state is "literally a beehive of activity." I hope nobody gets stung.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Allyson and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary last night with pizza and champagne. (Da Guido, an Italian restaurant on the other side of town, actually makes good pizza – and they deliver.) … The Marine Corps Ball is this Saturday night. It’s the embassy’s big social event of the year. Allyson had a beautiful dress made for the occasion. (I’m just wearing a black suit.) … Not much to report on the book front. I’m working with Roberts Communications, a public relations firm in Pittsburgh, to place ads in a Steelers fan magazine. It’s expensive, but probably worth it: I really need to drum up sales before the football season ends. … On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I’m flying to Kansas City to begin researching the next book proposal. … Good use of “literally” on Ebert & Roeper last weekend: Roeper said Sacha Baron Cohen (a.k.a. Borat) “would literally do anything for a laugh.” Now that’s comedy!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Kudos to the Associated Press for an excellent use of the word "literally" yesterday:

MADISON, Wis. - Joe Paterno literally couldn't stand to watch as Wisconsin beat Penn State. The 79-year-old Nittany Lions coach was forced to leave the sideline for the second time this season after one of his players tumbled into his leg early in the third quarter.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

I'm reluctant to announce it, but my very sweaty interview for the Pennsylvania Cable Network's weekly "PA Books" program will air statewide tonight (Sunday, November 5) at 9. PCN will rerun the program Monday through Friday this week at 8 PM. ... According to this (scroll all the way down to the bottom), it looks like the New York Daily News will review my book later this month. (Let's hope they're nicer than Philadelphia Magazine was.) ... Forecast for Bamako today: 96 and sunny. Ah, autumn in West Africa.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

In an unusual coincidence, three old Steagles game programs are currently listed on eBay: Steagles vs. Giants, Steagles vs. Bears, and Steagles vs. Packers. (The seller of the last program erroneously places the game at Franklin Field; it was actually played at Shibe Park.)

As I discuss in my book, World War II-era NFL programs are relatively rare. Since paper was in short supply, few were printed in the first place. And of those that were, many were recycled. Anyway, I think these programs are pretty neat, but far too rich for my blood!

(For what it’s worth, two copies of my book are also listed on eBay right now, and for considerably less than the Steagles programs.)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Allyson and I had our first golf lesson Friday afternoon. It was a steamy 96 degrees, and the instructor didn’t speak English, but we still managed to enjoy ourselves. Allyson hit the ball pretty well, and by the end of the lesson I was putting the ball on the green pretty consistently from 75 yards away (much to my surprise). Our next lesson is in two weeks. … Friday night was Halloween for the kids at the American school here. We probably had a hundred or more trick-or-treaters, mostly American kids, but some Canadian, French, and Dutch as well. The Malian kids in our neighborhood seemed confused by the whole enterprise at first, but they figured things out pretty quickly, and by the end of the night they had all stopped by our house for their treats. Some had even managed to fashion costumes. … My agent has given me the go-ahead to work on a new book proposal. The story involves Harry Truman, so I will have to go to the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri (near Kansas City) to do some research, probably for two or three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If anybody knows anybody in that area who might be willing to rent me a room while I’m there, please let me know!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Last night on ESPN, baseball analyst John Kruk described the speedy New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes as "a guy who can literally fly." Yet the Mets still lost the pennant. Go figure. ... Last week I mentioned how disappointed I was that my fantastic new book failed to win the Nobel Prize. Well, one of my faithful readers has informed me that my book wasn't even eligible for the Nobel this year. It, will, however, be eligible next year. So let the campaigning begin: Last Team Standing for a Nobel in '07! ... Congratulations to my sister-in-law, Elise Kauzlaric, who is appearing in "King Lear" at the Goodman Theater in Chicago. The New York Times' review of the play even includes a picture of her. Very cool.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Yet another Steagle has passed away: Ernie Steele died at his home in Seattle on Monday. He was 88. Click here, here, and here for obituaries.

Ernie played seven seasons in Philadelphia, and he was a member of the Eagles’ first championship team in 1948. After that season, he retired from football and returned to his native Seattle, where he opened a cocktail lounge/restaurant called Ernie Steele’s. What a place that was! (I speak from personal experience.) Sadly, it did not survive Seattle’s gentrification; Ernie sold the business in 1993.

I interviewed Ernie (and his wife Jo) at their Seattle home in the summer of 2005. Ernie was a perfect gentleman, and, although he wasn’t feeling well, he answered all my questions with infinite patience and good humor. He was a good man.

Ernie is the third Steagle to die in less than a month. Just five remain. God bless them all.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

My first Customer Review has been posted on Amazon. Fortunately, it's a very positive one. Thank you, “Polymath” in Ithaca (whoever you are).

It would be great to get a few more reviews like that posted on Amazon (hint, hint).

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Well, once again, I’ve been screwed out of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Don’t get me wrong: I love Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk. After all, he deals with issues of identity and clashing cultures (much as I do), and he once faced a criminal charge for discussing some of his country’s most painful episodes. (I once faced a charge of agricultural vandalism for doing doughnuts in a soybean field, but I guess that’s different.) Anyway, props to Orhan, but, really, hasn’t the Nobel process become entirely too political when the unknown author of an obscure, minor work like mine doesn’t even stand a chance?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Well, I’m back in Bamako. Arrived last Thursday night after a relatively uneventful 25-hour trip. It’s great to be back, of course, but after the excitement of publication and the “book tour,” I am feeling a bit of a letdown. A touch of post-partum depression, so to speak. Anyway, I need to come up with a new book idea to occupy my time (suggestions gratefully accepted).

Steelers owner Dan Rooney “raved” about my book, according to his personal assistant, Jan Rusnak. Rusnak e-mailed me because Rooney wanted to send Ted Doyle’s family a note of condolence and needed an address. The Steelers really are a first-class organization from top to bottom.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Another Steagle has passed away: Ted Doyle, the team’s starting right tackle, died yesterday (Friday, October 6). He was 92. A funeral service will be held at the Presbyterian Church in Fairbury, Nebraska, on Monday, October 9.

Ted was one of the oldest living Steelers. He played eight seasons for the team. In 1938, his rookie year, one of his teammates was future Supreme Court Justice Byron “Whizzer” White, and his head coach was the legendary Johnny Blood.

In 1943, the season the Steelers merged with the Eagles to form the Steagles, Ted worked fulltime in a Westinghouse factory in East Pittsburgh, taking the train to Philadelphia on Saturday nights for home games. Ted retired from football after the 1945 season and returned to his native Nebraska. He managed a bowling alley for a time, then worked for an agricultural products company.

I was fortunate enough to meet Ted in the summer of 2005 when I interviewed him for my book. He and his wife Harriet were simply a joy to meet. Without their cooperation and support, I wouldn’t have been able to write the book.

Ted is the second Steagle to pass away in a little more than two weeks; Vic Sears died on September 21. Just six Steagles remain: Bucko Kilroy, Allie Sherman, Al Wistert, Ernie Steele, Ray Graves, and Jack Hinkle.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The interview I taped last month at WUWM in Milwaukee ran today on the station’s daily magazine program, Lake Effect. (You can listen to it by clicking here.) I thought it sounded pretty good (except for the fact that I had a bad cold at the time), and in the four hours after it ran, my book’s ranking on leapt from 32,000-something to 6,000-something. Many thanks to Lake Effect executive producer (and Close Personal Friend) Mitch Teich, not only for making the interview possible, but also for giving me a place to stay while I was in Milwaukee.

Nothing much planned in the way of promotion for the next couple days, and on Wednesday I fly back to Bamako.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Last night I spoke at the weekly meeting of the Perkasie Rotary Club. It was a good night: Not only did I get a free dinner, but I also won eight dollars in the 50-50 drawing! It was also nice to see Todd Hurley, a childhood friend--and not just for the reminiscing: Todd also bought two books!

Heard two great (mis)uses of "literally" on Comcast SportsNet last night. First a reporter said Terrell Owens' reported suicide attempt had "literally put the sports world on its ear." Then another reporter said Phillies slugger Ryan Howard had "literally carried the team on his shoulders" this season. Now that's a strong guy!

Finally, an update to an earlier post: My nephew Robert reports that Auschwitz does, in fact, have a gift shop. Just thought you should know.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Today I taped an interview for WOGL-FM (98.1) in Philadelphia. It will run on the station’s public-affairs program (“Philadelphia Agenda”) this Sunday (October 1) at 6 a.m. Better set your alarm clocks!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I am deeply saddened to report that Vic Sears, one of the Steagles, passed away Thursday night. He was 88. Click here for a brief obituary.

Vic was a true gentleman. He was always friendly and helpful, and he was one of the first people to send me a note of congratulations when my book was published.

Vic's passing leaves just seven living Steagles: Bucko Kilroy, Allie Sherman, Al Wistert, Ted Doyle, Ernie Steele, Ray Graves, and Jack Hinkle.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Bruges was great. Wish we could have stayed longer. It's a beautiful, authentic medieval town, with canals and great gothic churches. As soon as we get the pictures back, I'll post some.

I flew back into New York on Sunday night, met with my agent on Monday, then came back down to my parents' house outside Philadelphia yesterday. With all the running around I've caught a nasty cold. Ugh.

Tomorrow I'm flying to Milwaukee to tape an interview for Lake Effect, my friend Mitch's program on Milwaukee Public Radio. (We're also planning to catch a Brewers game if we can.)

Next week I'm taping two more interviews with Philly radio stations. And Philadelphia Magazine says it will review the book in its November issue. And that AP roundup of football books (including mine) has now appeared in more than 20 papers.

More later...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

AP has done a roundup of new football books, including mine. It appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Hopefully it will appear in many more papers too.

Looks like we might have an offer for the movie rights.

I'm off to Bruges, Belgium this afternoon to meet Allyson for the weekend. Returning on Sunday.

Friday, September 08, 2006

My friend Bob Kaminski snapped this photo of my book on display in the bookstore at Philadelphia International Airport. I have to admit, it is very cool seeing the book in stores. I'm still waiting to see someone actually reading it in public, so I can slide up and say, "So, I've heard a lot about that book. Is it any good?" (Of course, I might not get the answer I want...)

Good news: I went to the endodontist today and he said I don't need a root canal. Bad news: He says I need *two*. Well, he actually said I don't *need* them, but he said I should probably have them since I live in Africa, which apparently is not on U.S. News & World Report's Top 10 list of places to have a root canal. Prophylactic root canals. Nice.

Back on the book front, yesterday morning I did an interview for the morning news program on CN8, Comcast's cable TV channel in Philadelphia. They put makeup on me and everything. The whole segment lasted about four minutes and went really well. Not so much my next interview...

I walked from the CN8 studios at 12th and Market to the Inquirer building on North Broad Street to tape an hour-long interview for the Pennsylvania Cable Network's weekly book program ("PA Books"). Well, it was a warm day and by the time I got there I was dripping in sweat (of course). I couldn't cool down and sweated like Nixon through the whole interview. It was simultaneously embarrassing and amusing. At one point they actually stopped taping to give me a chance to towel off. I was disappointed because, well, when the interview runs next month, I will be on TV, perspiring profusely, for an hour. I don't think I'll watch.

Tonight I will be on WOND, a radio station in Atlantic City, at 7:20. Be sure to tune in, my A.C. homies!

By the way, my friend Mitch Teich has a blog that has been nominated for Blog of the Week at MKE Online, the website of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's weekly feature magazine. Mitch's blog is called 19 Minutes Past the Hour, and it's much more interesting/informative/entertaining/enlightening than my own feeble attempt at blogging. Mitch actually says things about people beside himself. Anyway, if you have a few seconds, click here to vote for Mitch's blog. I think the grand prize is a trip to Rome. Or nothing. I'm not sure which.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

On yesterday's post I said I thought the 1980 Phillies jersey was a zip-up. Well, my friend Scott Westcott was in Cooperstown last weekend, where he snapped this picture of a Mike Schmidt jersey that clearly is a button-up. HOWEVER, based on the sleeve patch, I believe this jersey is from 1983, not 1980, so I stand by my original assertion (for now).

Had two interviews this morning. The first was with Daybreak USA on the USA Radio Network. The second was on Hornsberger LIVE!, a cable TV show produced by WPXI in Pittsburgh. Both went well, though nobody seems to be able to get the title of the book right. The radio hosts kept calling it "The Steagles" and the TV host called it "THE Last Team Standing." Anyway, the interviews went fine and the book is holding steady around #8,000 on the Amazon bestsellers list.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

My book gets a very nice mention today on a really cool blog called Uni Watch. If you're like me and you obsess about things like whether the 1980 Phillies jersey was a zip-up, a button-up, or a pullover, you will absolutely love Uni Watch. (For the record, I think it was a zip-up.)

I'm in Pittsburgh today. I was supposed to do an interview about the book on WPXI-TV, but, sadly, the mayor died over the weekend, so it looks like I will be bumped.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

There are two nice articles about the book in the Sunday papers, one in the Maine Sunday Telegram (click here to read it) and one in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (click here to read it). Still nothing in the Philly papers. Maybe this week...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Last Thursday was "Amazon Day." I asked my family and friends to buy the book on to boost its sales rank. (The generic term for this is "cheating.") Anyway, it worked: The book cracked the Top 1,000 overall and hit #1 in the "Sports/Football (American)/Professional" category. The practical effect: minimal. But it was still very cool. Many, many thanks to everybody who bought the book!

Thursday night I held my first "signing" at the Lombard Swim Club in Philadelphia (thanks to Joan and Jim for setting it up). That, too, was a success: I sold 14 books.

There have also been a few nibbles of interest in the movie rights. Nothing concrete yet, but I'm optimistic.

On Monday I'm off to Pittsburgh to tape an interview for WPXI-TV. More details later.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The book is finally out!

I just returned from Maine, where I taped an interview for one of my former employers, Maine Public Radio. It will run sometime in the next two weeks. And the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram is planning to run something about the book this weekend. (Reviews might also begin appearing in papers this weekend; keep your fingers crossed for me.)

Last week I taped an interview with Marketplace (another former employer), which aired Monday night. (You can listen to it by clicking here.) As a result of the interview, my book hit #5,000-something on the bestseller list (and #2 in the “Sports/Football (American)/Professional” category) yesterday.

In Maine, I had lunch with my friend Colin Woodard (author of Ocean’s End and The Lobster Coast). Colin quite accurately described Amazon as “crack for authors.” I check my Amazon ranking more frequently than I check my e-mail these days!

Speaking of e-mails, I got a very nice one last night from Dick Thornburgh, the former Pennsylvania governor and U.S. attorney general. Somehow a copy of the book ended up in his hands. He said he enjoyed it very much and congratulated me on a job well done. Very cool!

And, speaking of Pennsylvania governors: Tomorrow night (August 31) I will be giving a reading/talk at the Lombard Swim Club in Philadelphia. One of the club’s members is the incumbent governor, Ed Rendell, who also happens to be a huge Eagles fans. Rumor has it that he may show up.

This weekend it’s off to Pittsburgh (and possibly Erie).

Go Steagles!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Nice column about the Steagles (and, more importantly, my book) by John Dudley in yesterday's Erie Times-News:

Steagles book has Erie link

When the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles
meet tonight in the NFL preseason, most of Erie will
give only passing notice to the team not wearing black
and gold.

It wasn't always that way.

In fact, we can thank Pennsylvania's other
professional football team for playing the only NFL
regular-season game in the city's history.

On Oct. 26, 1938, the Eagles beat the Chicago
Cardinals 7-0 in front of 12,000 at Academy Stadium -
now known as Veterans Stadium - in what amounted to a
home-away-from-home game during an itinerant period in
league history.

In those days, the Eagles conducted their training
camp on the shores of Lake Erie and developed a
formidable fan base in what would later become Bills,
Browns and Steelers turf.

"The connection was actually quite strong for a long
time," says Matthew Algeo, whose new book, "Last Team
Standing," due in stores Tuesday, chronicles the
Steagles, the patchwork team the NFL created to help
sustain the league during World War II. "I'm pretty
sure that's the only regular season NFL game ever
played in Erie."

Yes, but we'll listen to offers.

Seriously, though, "Last Team Standing" tells the
sometimes-extraordinary story of the men who played
for the Steagles during wartime.

Unable to enlist, they instead divided their workweeks
between defense department factory jobs and the
practice field, all for about as much money as Donovan
McNabb spends on breakfast.

"They were pioneers," says Algeo, a 40-year-old Bucks
County native and Penn graduate. "Hopefully this book
gives them a little recognition for what they did,
which was essentially keeping the NFL going when it
was close to suspending operations during the war."

Algeo, a freelance radio reporter based in West
Africa, where his wife, Allyson, is a foreign service
officer, began researching "Last Team Standing" a few
years ago after attending a Steagles reunion at Heinz

Before long, he realized he had a story that was equal
parts football and social studies.

In his book, Algeo describes what he calls "the most
interventionist period in our government's history,"
when the monolithic Office of Price Administration
controlled everything from the length of women's
stockings to the amount of money you could pay the
neighbor kid for mowing your lawn.

"When we compare it to everyday life today," Algeo
says, "it was incomprehensible."

Through it all, the Steagles provided some relief from
the daily news of war, and their stories help carry
"Last Team Standing."

Some of the former Steagles, now grandfathered into
the NFL's pension plan, now draw many times more each
month from the league in retirement than they did as

"The coolest thing about the book," Algeo says, "was
meeting those guys who played as far back as 1938 and
realizing how normal they are. They deserve a lot of

Now, if we could just get them to help arrange an
encore at Veterans Stadium.

Friday, August 25, 2006

My interview on The Ellis Cannon Show in Pittsburgh went well. At least that's what my contacts there tell me. I couldn't actually listen to it, since I have a Mac and the station's website only streams audio for Windows.

Yesterday I taped an interview with Marketplace that is scheduled to run next week. I was also interviewed by a WHYY-FM reporter who's doing a story on the Steagles.

Today, the Erie Times-News is scheduled to run a column about the Steagles (and my book, hopefully). And tonight the Eagles play the Steelers in an exhibition game which (again hopefully) will trigger a mention or two of the Steagles on TV.

My great "Imposing on Friends and Family" tour has moved from Philadelphia to Perkasie (about 30 miles north), so I have gone from sleeping on my sister's couch to my parent's couch.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

My scorched-earth media campaign to promote Last Team Standing begins tonight with an appearance on The Ellis Cannon Show on WPGB in Pittsburgh at 7:45. If you live in Pittsburgh, tune in at 104.7 FM. If you don't, you can still listen on-line.

By the way, I returned to the States last Sunday. The trip from Africa took exactly 25 hours and 40 minutes door-to-door.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Another advance copy of my book has been listed on eBay. The seller notes that an advance copy of a "Harry Botter" book recently sold for more than a thousand dollars. While it is indeed an honor to be compared to (with?) Harry Botter, I just hope my book gets more bids than it did the last time it was listed on eBay!

Friday, August 11, 2006

YouTube has some great old video clips. This one is the closing credits from Eyewitness News on KYW-TV in Philadelphia, circa 1977. I don't even know where to begin. The weatherman looking as animated as a face on Mt. Rushmore? The sports guy's cornea-scorching orange blazer? The music? The "massage parlor" voiceover? The shocking revelation that portions of the program were recorded? The uncomfortably long time the whole thing takes while the four of them sit there with nothing to say or do? The sports guy checking his watch? The black guy finally giving up and leaving the set? It's all so good.

Monday, August 07, 2006

“You can do anything if you set your mind to it.” That’s the point of a public service announcement currently running on AFN. Problem is, there are some things you can’t do, whether you set your mind to it or not. Run a mile in less than three minutes, for example. Or host an Arbor Day telethon. I’d like to see a PSA that says, “Let’s be realistic: Some things are impossible for you to do. Don’t waste your time trying.”

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Literally is literally one of my favorite words, especially when it’s misused. Just last week on “Dr. Phil” (Monday through Friday at 0800 GMT on AFN), a woman said of her divorce, “It’s literally tearing the children apart.” Ouch! Now that is a nasty divorce. Then, last weekend on ESPN, I happened to catch a few minutes of a bass fishing tournament (my viewing options are obviously quite limited), during which one of the announcers described one of the competitors as “literally the Tiger Woods of bass fishing.” I’m not sure what to make of that one. I mean, to literally be the Tiger Woods of anything, don’t you have to be, uh, Tiger Woods? (And the guy he was talking about was definitely NOT Tiger Woods, though I bet Tiger would be a pretty good fisherman if he tried.) But my all-time favorite misuse continues to be something I heard during a Cleveland Browns game on TV many years ago. In describing the Browns’ rabid fans, one of the announcers said: “They literally wear their hearts on their sleeves.”

Thursday, July 27, 2006

One of the galley copies of my book somehow ended up on eBay this week. The galley copies are sent to reviewers in advance of publication and are clearly marked “Not For Sale.” I could have asked the seller to cancel the auction, but it hardly seemed worth the hassle. What really distresses me is the fact that it received only one bid!

In another development, my first review was published today, in the Penn State Digital Collegian. The reviewer, one Vincent Ross, says, “The book goes into incredible detail about the lives of the players.” Or, as I will hereafter put it:

“Incredible!” –-Penn State Digital Collegian

Friday, July 21, 2006

While we were in Dakar, Allyson and I took the ferry out to Goree Island, which was one of the centers of the international slave trade from the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries. The maison des esclaves, a prison built by the Dutch in 1776 to hold kidnapped Africans before they were sold into slavery, still stands on Goree. Nobody knows precisely how many human beings set foot on the island on the appalling journey from freedom to bondage.

Goree Island is the kind of place that demands introspection. Unfortunately, introspection is impossible there, for visitors are constantly hounded and harassed by would-be "guides." Allyson and I were just hoping to walk the island’s narrow sand streets and quietly absorb the ambiance. Maybe take a few minutes to stare out at the vast, green-blue emptiness of the Atlantic, contemplating.

Instead, we were constantly approached by young men who offered their services as guides and chastised us when we told them we weren’t interested in “renting” them (kind of a weird concept, anyway, considering the locale). The vendors weren’t much better. The whole island is covered with shops selling African “art” and African “crafts” and African “jewelry,” much of which, I suspect, is made in China.

The experience was hugely disappointing. On the ferry back to the city, I wondered: Does Auschwitz have a gift shop?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Just got back from Dakar. Allyson and I went there for a weekend getaway. Not much of a getaway, though, going from one overcrowded, polluted African capital to another. We stayed right in the middle of the city, at the Sofitel Teranga (pictured above). It’s a nice hotel, complete with a swimming pool overlooking the beach, and our stay there was generally pleasurable… until we tried to check out on Sunday morning. That’s when the clerk at the reception desk casually informed us that we couldn’t use our credit card to pay our bill because it was “ne marche pas”--i.e., broken. Of course what was really broken was the hotel’s electronic credit card swiping machine, but in Africa a problem is never mine--it’s always yours. The clerk then informed us that we would have to pay our bill in cash. When we told him that, uh, we didn’t happen to have 311,100 West African Francs--more than $600--on us at the moment, he seemed a little surprised, but was unmoved: cash only.

After much arguing, the clerk--a Monsieur Diop--finally agreed to run our card through one of those old-fashioned imprint machines, then get payment authorization later. (He also insisted on having the phone number of our “bank,” so we gave him the 1-800 number on the back of the credit card. Kind of funny imagining him trying to negotiate the automated hell that is credit card customer service.)

Bottom line: Never stay at a Sofitel hotel. Or any property owned by Sofitel’s parent company, Accor, including Motel 6.

But if you must, just remember to take plenty of cash.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Pre-order Last Team Standing right now! Just click on the innocuous little ad directly above. If you pre-order the book now, it will be shipped to you as soon as it is released in September. Avoid the hordes sure to descend on book stores when it comes out! Pre-order your copy right now!

UPDATE: Thanks to a faithful reader--actually, my only reader--it has come to my attention that the ad sometimes appears as a generic ad ("Shop Now & Save") instead of an ad for my book. This is because... well, I have my theories (some conspiratorial), but I really don't know why it's happening. Anyway, if you want to pre-order my book, just go to and search for it. Using the terms "Steagles" and "Algeo" ought to do the trick.

As you were.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Steagles update: The page proofs have been sent to the printer. The galley copies have been printed. (The galleys are printed using the uncorrected proofs. They are sent to reviewers with long lead times, such as at monthly magazines.) The subtitle has been changed (again!). And the cover has been redesigned. All very exciting! Thanks to the two people (I know who you are!) who have already pre-ordered the book on, pushing it (briefly) into the Top 100,000 best sellers. As of today, sadly, it has fallen out of the Top 1,000,000. But I'm sure sales will pick up once the book is actually published!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Our house has a lot of geckos in it. Allyson took this picture of one on our ceiling recently. I don't mind them; in fact, I much prefer them to the other assorted wildlife that occasionally invade our abode: ants (of varying sizes) and roaches (of one size: extra large). But they drive the cats absolutely insane.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Last March, Allyson and I spent a weekend in Paris with our friends Phil and Jill. Phil took this picture. It's probably my favorite from the trip. While lovely Allyson gazes pensively into the distance, contemplating our future in Africa, I stare lustily at my beer.

Hey, it was a *Leffe*!

(UPDATE, March 27, 2011: Allyson insists we went to Paris in February 2006, not March.)
My first book, which is about the Steagles, is now in the copyediting stage. If all goes well (fingers crossed), it will be published in September. I know you--and by "you" I mean all humans now extant--are dying to know every twist and turn in the process of writing and publishing this groundbreaking book. Well, you've come to the right place. Stay tuned for further bulletins as events warrant.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

This is me looking slightly larger than I am up there on the upper-righthand side of the page. The photo was taken by my friend Travis Fox, who works for We took it at his office, after hours and without permission. I hope he doesn't get in trouble for it.

For your amusement, I suggest you download this photo and zoom in on my left eye very closely. I had conjunctivitis at the time and it's clearly visible. Don't worry, it's not contagious through the web.

By the way, Cunjunctivitus is also the name of my favorite European soccer team.