Is anybody listening?

Of 'fones, food, football, Flacco and the Fu Manchu

January 17, 2012|Dan Rodricks

Nobody asked me, but ...

Now that University of Maryland researchers have found a threefold jump in deaths and injuries among pedestrians who don't hear trains and cars because they're using headphones and earplugs, I'll make a prediction: Eighty percent of Americans won't hear this news because they'll be listening to music on their iPods. Of the remainder, 5 percent will take it as a warning to stop listening to music as they walk, and 15 percent will take it as a cue to stop walking.

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Wow: Increased "flush tax," higher gasoline tax, monthly surcharge for wind-energy development, and now a possible increase to Maryland's six-cent sales tax — maybe we had it all wrong about Martin O'Malley sticking his neck out for nothing and calculating every move in terms of his political career. Maybe, over the holidays, he decided that being known as Governor Tax was the price to be paid for leaving the state on sound financial footing — even if it hurt his chances of being president one day. Maybe, when his term's up in January 2015, he'll take some easy-money job with a law firm and front his band on weekends, and we'll all be spared his brand of middling Democratic "leadership."

Then again, maybe not.

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Nobody asked me, but ...

I heard an otherwise astute analyst say on NPR that, given recent financial practices and their economic consequences, Republican candidates for president and Congress ought to drop their "less regulation of Wall Street/no new taxes on the wealthy" theme. Wrong. That's exactly what the fat cats who write fat checks to Super PACs want, and Republicans need them on their side.

The world is divided between people who have a thing for salt in their food and people who have a thing for sugar in their food, and they are all bound together by fat in their food.

I also think the world is divided 50/50 into those who love cilantro and those who believe it is the basic compound of hornet spray.

Not only is "War Horse" an overrated movie (because it's a Stephen Spielberg film), but it's a war movie struggling to get in touch with its inner Disney, and it ends with a homecoming scene out of "The Wizard of Oz." Also, the young actress who plays the farm girl — Pepe LePew had a better French accent.

•••

Nobody asked me but ...

Football fans, particularly those who are evangelical Christians, must be confused by developments in the NFL playoffs: Their publicly pious star, Tim Tebow, led the Denver Broncos to a stunning overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers and their recovering bad-boy quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger: Jesus beat the devil's child. But the next week, up in New England, it was Tom "I married supermodel Gisele Bundchen after fathering a child out of wedlock with model and actress Bridget Moynahan" Brady who appeared to have God on his side. Sex defeated piety, sin triumphed over virtue. My heart goes out to Tebow disciples, God bless them, as they try to make sense of that outcome.

Given the Ravens' win over the Texans on Sunday, it appears QB Joe Flacco is stuck with his Fu Manchu. It's ugly, and the Ravens win ugly, so I guess it fits. Still, when some of us see this on a quarterback we are reminded of Joe Namath, and facial hair is about where that comparison ends.

One of the best football analysts I've heard on radio is Tommy Knight, on WNST-AM, before Sunday's Ravens game. He provided smart commentary about the Ravens (without sounding like a homer) and fact-backed assessments of the playoff teams. Mr. Knight, a retired cornerback who once played for the Ravens, accurately presented scenarios for a Baltimore win over Houston and for a New York upset of the Green Bay juggernaut.

Baltimore football fans of a certain age, who admire the Ravens running back Ray Rice, might see in him, if they think about it for a moment, a certain player from the last golden age of the Baltimore Colts. In the mid-1970s, Lydell Mitchell was not only a great runner, netting 1,000-plus yards in three consecutive seasons, but a fabulous receiver — with the help of quarterback Bert Jones, he led the NFL twice in pass receptions. You can look it up, and on YouTube there are some fine clips of Mr. Mitchell as forerunner (and fore-receiver) of Mr. Rice.

Sun columnist Dan Rodricks is the daily host of Midday on WYPR-FM, 88.1. His email is dan.rodricks@baltsun.com.

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