Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's resolutions for 2008

Here's how I will improve myself in the coming year:

1, No longer yell, ``If I drove like you I would kill myself'' at other motorists.

2, No longer try to go entire days speaking only lines from ``Animal House,'' because sometimes it just sounds wierd to say `do you mind if we dance with your dates?'' all the time. I may try an all``Star Wars'' day (`Where are you going with that thing?)''

3, Stopping using my poor immigrant upbringing as an excuse for all blunders, as in: ``I'm sorry I forgot your birthday honey, but the scurvy I developed as a result of my poor immigrant diet causes memory problems in adulthood.'' or ``Yes maam, I did say you have nice hooters, but in my country the word hooters denotes deep respect, as in `that woman with the big hooters must be a Supreme Court justice.'''

For the record, I have no plans to exercise more, lose weight or temper my bad habits.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Letter 2007

we're one of those families that sends a Christmas letter every year. Here is this year's version, which I wrote. I warn you this has been scathingly attacked by people who don't think these kind of missives should exist at all :

We know you’re all busy so we’ll keep this short:

1, Miranda turned 21 this year. We have spawned an adult. She spent the first semester of junior year studying economics in Florence, Italy. We got a lesson in economics as the Euro grew more powerful against the dollar, making everything she bought more expensive.

2, Kon graduated from Ferris High School this year and is a freshman at Washington State University. That means we are paying two tuitions. Kon seems to be enjoying college and is thinking of becoming a pharmacist.

3, Tom is 13, an 8th grader, and deep into tennis and football. He traveled the region playing in tennis tournaments last summer, and played quarterback, running back and linebacker on his Pop Warner football team.

4, Eli is 11 and a 6th grader. He plays AAU basketball, baseball and tennis, loves video games and reading. I still call him Our Family’s Baby.

5, Ann continues to safeguard our democracy with her work in AP elections and prep sports. With a presidential election looming, she is stressed out and constantly in need of a vacation. But she remains lovely and fashionable and we are very proud of her.

6, I continue to run the Spokane bureau of The Associated Press. I completed 25 years in the company and celebrated by starting my own blog, which can be found at: http://dickcleveland.blogspot.com

Our family spent a wonderful five days vacationing in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in April. I learned the beach is my natural habitat and that I am Mexican by nature. I want to live there.

My two brothers and I did a weekend in Las Vegas during the summer. It was our first boys weekend ever and we had a blast. I also want to live in Vegas.

I visited Kon for Dad’s weekend at WSU, where we had a wonderful time. I also want to be a college student again.

We hope your family had a good 2007 and wish you a happy 2008.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Miranda Comes Home

Miranda got home from Italy last night, and for the first time in four months all four of our kids were under our roof. It was noisy. Miranda had to travel for some 25 hours, from Florence to Munich to Los Angeles to Portland to Spokane. She brought us some fancy chocolates from the shop where she apprenticed in Italy. I ate one that tasked like pepperoncini. It was great. Her younger brothers were very excited to see her, and we woke up this morning to find she had made us coffee cake for breakfast. Delightful

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Photo


In response to overwhelming public demand, here is a photo of The Tennis Player With No Name and the Leapin O'Neill Brother. Woe to you if you ever take the court against them.

Sampras Not Only Greek Tennis God



SPOKANE, Wash. (NP) _ Nick Geranios defeated Kevin O'Neill in two sets on Wednesday night to win the coveted 3.0 singles title at The Spokane Athletic Club Members Only tournament.

Geranios, who came to the match dressed in gunslinger garb and insisted on being called The Tennis Player With No Name, took the first set 7-6 after a pulsating tie-breaker. Geranios jumped to a 5-1 lead in the tie-breaker, only to see O'Neill storm to a 6-5 advantage.


But the Golden Greek showed nerves of steel as he hung on for a 9-7 win to take the first set.
O'Neill _ who showed up dressed as Will Smith's geeky cousin from ``Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,'' and was attended by an entourage consisting of Julian Bindler _ scored aces with several of his trademark ``thunder serves.'' But neither player could serve consistently and there were numerous service breaks.

The second set was also close, knotted at 3-3 before Geranios pulled away for a 6-4 win.

It was the first singles title of Geranios' long tennis career, and comes after he posted disappointing losses in the finals of 3.0 doubles and 6.0 mixed doubles in this tournament.

``Thousands of dollars in lessons and years of disappointments went into this historic win,'' Geranios declared after the match. ``I'd like to thank my wife, Ann, and my sons Tom and Eli, for coming to bear witness.''
The match was played amidst grand pageantry, including representatives of tennis federations from many nations.
The huge crowd on hand included Bruce and Noreen Johnson, Ray Willman, and a handful of others, who afterwards pronounced themselves ``unworthy to be in the presense of such champions.''




Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Carole Zeppelin

I had to drive down to Pullman yesterday to cover the hiring of a new football coach at Washington State. At the beginning of the drive I listened to a CD of Led Zeppelin's greatest hits. Then I got into a mellower mood and put on Carole King's Tapestry, thinking the contrast between Robert Plant's swaggering Rock God and King's soulful moodiness would be nice. It was. I went from climbing the Stairway to Heaven to having The Earth Move Under My Feet (I'm not a writer for nothing).

Saturday, December 8, 2007

In Tennis, Love Means Nothing



Our annual tennis club tournament has been underway for a couple of weeks, and I know many of you are breathless to know how I did.




In 6.0 mixed doubles (that means a man and a woman who can barely hit the ball) I reached the finals with my partner Sarah, where we lost in three sets. That's because the other team was a bunch of ringers who cheated us. My partner also had to carry me like a crippled water buffalo in the third set because I couldn't hit anything that didn't go out.

In 7.0 mixed doubles (which is a slightly higher level of tennis) partner Melissa and I got waxed twice. That's largely because I was playing ``up,'' (a term that means something different in tennis than in some other walks of life) , and the other teams picked on me by hitting the ball my way all the time.


In 3.0 men's doubles (in which you play with a man of equal ability) my partner Mark and I also reached the finals, only to be gyped of victory. The other team claimed they were 3.0 players, when it was clear they were really 3.5's. I think I saw those pricks playing at Wimbledon on TV. But we took it all in good grace.

Now the tournament switches to singles, where this morning I beat a 9-year-old boy 6-1, 6-1 in the opening round. There was an emotional display after my victory, with many friends rushing onto the court and declaring they thought they would never see the day. You can enjoy a photo of the ceremony above. That's me holding the flag.


Finally, last week, my wife and two youngest sons went to watch the Davis Cup finals in Portland, Ore. The U.S. crushed the Russians and it was huge. Then we visited the Sullivan-Springhettis, friends who live in Portland and work at the Oregonian. That's me on the left, Jim Springhetti and Julie Sullivan next to me, their kids Rose and Joe, and my wife Ann, who grew up with Julie. Julie won a Pulitzer Prize a couple of years ago. Sometimes she lets me hold it. It's the size of a hockey puck, but weighs a lot more, which Julie says hurts her neck because she wears it like a necklace every day. Someday I hope to own one.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Evel and I

The death of Evel Knievel got me thinking about this great American. My wife is from Butte, Mont., and on visits there I had seen Evel in bars a few times. Don't believe we ever met. But I think he should be buried the way he lived his life. They should build a huge ramp above the giant Berkeley Pit copper mine in Butte and launch Knievel's coffin down the ramp and threw the air into the chasm, replicating his Snake River Canyon jump.

It would be huge

On a completely unrelated note, my daughter just went to the Torino Film Festival in Italy and the first film she saw was called ``A Thousand Years of Good Prayers.'' It was filmed in Spokane

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I Am Fartacus

As a professional wordsmith, I am very interested in learning new expressions. Lately I've been exposed by my sons to several new terms regarding flatulence, and cannot stop myself from sharing them here:


1, Buttercup: When you pass gas into your hand, clench your fist and then open it in someone's face.


2, Cropdusting: When you pass gas near the face of a sleeping person.



3, Arabian gas mask: Even I refrain from defining this in public. It is disgusting.


These and much more can be found at the Urban Dictionary.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Papa Bear




This is my 13-year-old son Tom, who played Pop Warner football for a team called the Bears this year. Tom played quarterback, running back and linebacker and this is his third season playing football. For Dad, football is a very exciting game to watch, and I can't help getting passionate about rooting for da' Bears.

There is a funny coincidence in this, because in 1984 and 1985, I covered the Chicago Bears while a sportswriter in Chicago for AP. Those with long memories will remember the magical 1985 Bears who Super Bowl Shuffled all the way to the championship. In 25 years, that may be the best assignment I ever had, and Tom's team brought back memories of that. Wonder if the Cougs will need him?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Dad's day


This is Sonny Boy, a freshman at Washington State. I went down to Dad's Weekend for the first time last weekend, and we had a blast hanging out together. I didn't realize what a fun time that could be.
I stunned him with my skills at Beer Pong.
However, I did not bring a camera with me, so this pix of us is actually from Mexico earlier this year. But Sonny looks about the same.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Zags Jacket


The saga of the Vegas Jacket continues. I wore it to cover the first Gonzaga basketball game of the season, and the reaction from workers and fans at the game was, as usual, overwhelming. A security guard said he hadn't seen anything like it in decades. Team officials offered me a separate chair in the press box to drape the jacket. Players took time out from warming up to stare in awe.
My fashion-challenged fellow reporters, however, were less impressed. Several asked if I had killed my couch or been attacked by a plaid monster. I warned them that I might continue to wear the jacket until the Zags lose at home (they are 41-1 there in 3 seasons). That seemed to shut them down a bit.
After the game I wore the jacket out to dinner with my tennis buddies. They suggested we adopt the jacket as our team warmup uniform. This is a great idea because I got it off the clearance rack at Ralph Lauren and there were a lot left, in many sizes, at a good price.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

More Band Names

Some additional names for future rock bands have occurred to me.

For my Beavis and Butt-head tribute band, how about ``I Am Cornholio.'' This band will play the songs from the rock videos the two high achievers critiqued on their show. This name beat out ``Are You Threatening Me,'' which seemed too obscure.

Other obvious band names from television shows I like: ``Pam or Angela?'' and ``Joy or Catalina?''

My brother suggested ``Dumpster Divers.''

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Miranda is 21!!


My daughter Miranda turns 21 today! We have spawned an adult!!
That's Miranda on our family vacation to Puerta Vallarta this spring.
She's been away at school in Europe since September, and her parents and three brothers anxiously await her return at Christmas.
Miranda is a great cook and we miss all the foods she makes us. However, it appears from the photo that I am still finding things to eat.
Miranda was born in Springfield, Ill., the Land of Lincoln, when her father was a reporter in the Illinois Statehouse. She has lived in Yakima, Wash., Sacramento, Calif., and Spokane, Wash. In high school she was an honor student and lettered in soccer, tennis and cross country. We are very proud of her.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Final Frontier


I wanted to dress up this Halloween so I decided to become Security Officer Malakas of the United Federation of Newspapers, Spokane Quadrant.
Here I am defending the office from vicious space aliens who seek to impose their editorial opinions in our pure copy.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Real World-Athens


Meet the new cast of the Greek edition of The Real World.
From left, we have Demetrious, a bouzouki player in Athens who is married to a former Spice Girl;
Athanasia, who teaches Greek as a second language to men who want to live on topless beaches in Mykonos;
Nikos, who is owner of a company that ensures that ugly British tourist women will have at least one conjugal experience in Greece;
Anastasia, marketing director for the 2010 Turkish-Armenian Goodwill Games;
and Yiorgos, who is manager of the Greek boy band ``Extra Virgin Olive Oil.''

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Dark Side of Dawn

Am I the only one who noticed that the old pop hit ``Knock Three Times'' by Tony Orlando and Dawn is one of the most terrifying songs of all time? Some poor girl is being stalked by a psycho who lives in an upstairs apartment and is demanding that she demonstrate her affection with a broom stick. What if she doesn't comply? What are the consequences? Will he break in and kill her? Just read these chilling lines:



``Hey girl what ya doin' down there
Dancin' alone every night while I live right above you?
I can hear your music playin'
I can feel your body swayin'
One floor below me you don't even know me I love you.''



Yes, Dr. Lecter, I'm sure she loves you too.



``Oh, my darling, Knock three times on the ceiling if you want me
Twice on the pipe if the answer is no
Oh, my sweetness (knock, knock, knock) Means you'll meet me in the hallway
Mmm, twice on the pipe means you ain't gonna show.''



Is that pipe reference some kind of threat? Or a veiled sexual reference?



``If you look out your window tonight
Pull in the string with the note that's attached to my heart
Read how many times I saw you
How in my silence I adored you
And only in my dreams did that wall between us come apart.''

We can all agree that the above lines are some of the most depraved writing since Mother Teresa's memoirs.

Next, I reveal the awful subtext of Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree

More Band Names


``Basically Trailer Trash''


also ``Can We Sleep On The Tramp?'' This is a reference to the trampoline in our backyard, but also has some hidden meanings.


Finally, I think it is time for another look at The Vegas Jacket!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hitler Wins Again

The U.S. House's failure to recognize the mass murder of more than 1 million Armenians by the Turks shortly after the turn of the last century is a new low in political gutlessness. Regardless of fears that the Turks would punish the U.S. by withholding aid in the war on terror, it is morally indefensible to refuse to acknowledge that genocide. Our elected representatives basically sided with Adolf Hitler, who in 1939, as he prepared to exterminate the Jews of Europe, used as one rationale: ``Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?''
Certainly not the U.S. government.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Spectacular Business Proposals




We've come up with a couple of sure-fire business ideas, and are looking for some financing. So if you have money, let us know.

Idea No. 1: Jockwives.com, a web site devoted to wives of jocks. The photos would most likely come from fans who take pictures in the stands, but also from publicity-minded wives. I think the web hits would be huge, and we would sell a slot of ads. For instance, bet the guys in the photos have hot wives.

Idea No. 2: Beautyqueens.com. this would be a repository of pix and data about major and minor beauty queens across the U.S. Everything from Miss America down to Cascade County cattle queen, Apple Festival queen, or Miss Asparagus.

COMING SOON: What exactly is a ``tool?' Also, the homicidal subcontext of Tony Orlando and Dawn

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Vegas Jacket

During my recent trip to Vegas with my brothers, we decided we wanted to dress cool. ``Clooneyesque,'' one brother called it. So we stopped at the Ralph Lauren Outlet Store in St. George, Utah, and picked out some threads. I put this jacket on, and a female customer in the store felt compelled to come over and tell me it looked great and I had to buy it. Sixty dollars poorer, but convinced of my Clooneyness, I wore this on the Strip in 107 degree weather. The reaction was awesome: Dozens of people commented on the jacket, doormen, bouncers, the dancers at Coyote Ugly, other tourists. Yea, I want to be a rock star, and this is the jacket for it. Back home, I wear it to work once in awhile. The other day I went into Talbot's to pick up something for my wife. The woman at the counter said: ``That is a cool jacket.''
This is the most powerful and important piece of outerwear I have ever owned. Some might dismiss it as the ``Fredo jacket.'' But to me, it's all about ``Viva Las Vegas Jacket.''

p.s. If you are going to wear this, it helps to be Greek.

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING DEPARTMENT: Let me get this straight: On Battlestar Galactica, they kill off the hot, blonde Amazon fighter pilot who was constantly in her underwear, constantly drunk and constantly agitated. And they leave us Edward James Olmos? Time to sell the stock in eyeglass makers.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Greek Fest

Just got done with my annual 3 days of volunteer work at the Greek food festival at my church. I run the takeout tent, where we serve hundreds of dinners per day to enthusiastic crowds. As a Greek, I find this annual jolt of restauranteering very good for my soul. However, I'm not sure everyone gets my jokes. When I tell people to make out their checks to Holy Trinity, I add that we divide the money among all three. After 9-11, I suggested that our advertising campaign include the slogan: The Greek Orthodox Church, fighting Muslim extremists for 14 centuries. It was nixed. When we raised the prices, I told customers the price of salvation had gone up. And my wife works alongside me and insists on telling everyone that they must talk only to me because she is a submissive Greek wife (she is not submissive or Greek). In the outdoor food area, we all drink wine out of paper cups and eat the fried dough goodies called loukoumades all night long, so we are bloated and blasted by the end of the night.

This has me thinking of opening a Greek restaurant in the mall. The employees would wear scarlet capes like the Spartans of old (except for those who work the deep fat fryer). We could serve meals on shields instead of trays (come back with your Baklava or upon it!) and, for a catchy display, we could have a Persian impaled on the wall with a javelin, his plastic guts threatening to drop on the grill. Our slogan: ``Spartans, tonight we dine on gyros!''

LATEST BAND NAME: a co-worker suggested an excellent band name yesterday: Enablers For Your Downward Spiral.

NEXT UP: The importance of the Fredo jacket when going to Vegas

Monday, October 1, 2007

welcome

After a long career in print media, I'm finally getting a chance to do all those things they always accuse reporters of doing: Writing down my opinions and offering them to the public.
Lets get started with some basic ground rules. I love sports. I love making fun of idiots. I love Las Vegas. I have lots of ideas I think are brilliant. For instance, my idea of a self-help book would be titled ``If You Aren't Consumed With Self-Loathing, You Aren't Paying Attention.'' This means you.

Also I like to make up band names. The default name of my band, should I ever take up music, is Swaggering Petty Dictators, and we would dress in military uniforms and sun glasses. Studly Nerds is also a possibility.

This is harder than I thought and it is late. Good night