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It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over

Yesterday I exercised my adult prerogative to do whatever I wanted to do. Sadly, I didn't actually know what I wanted to do -- directionlessness and its hideous cousin ennui chose this day to intrude upon my schedule -- so I defaulted to the usual thang: stared into space, went for walks that I pretended were "hikes," and made giant pots of food. The first was a chicken soup with homemade stock and grilled chicken and sausage, and the second was another batch of Angus Stew. I am not exactly a neatnik in the kitchen, and the industrial scale of the cooking operation resulted in so many splatters and spills that by the end of the evening you would have thought it the scene of some kind of crazed ritual sacrifice. My kitchen had the look of an abattoir.

It was a wonderful, though often brutal, day for watching football. The Redskins pulled out a miracle victory -- that was the wonderful part -- but anyone watching the game had to endure endless political ads, each meaner, less informative and more mind-numbing than the last. It's hard watching George Allen declare that Jim Webb has been making attacks on his character and then, in the very next ad, seeing Allen attack Webb for his allegedly sexist novels. Webb "refuses to be ashamed," the ads say. After seeing that ad for the 50th time I wanted to call Webb and beg him to be ashamed just to get Allen to shut up about it. (The best ads, I think, are those of Michael Steele, particularly the one with his sister, Dr. Monica Turner -- the former Mrs. Mike Tyson -- saying that he does support stem cell research and she knows because she's his little sister and she has MS. Steele could pull a surprise tomorrow in a solidly blue state.) [Update: The ad may be effective, but it is misleading, as it glosses over a key distinction. Steele supports research on adult stem cells, but opposes embryonic stem cell research in which the embryo is destroyed. More on that here. Also here.]

Allen this morning was trying to capture some of the Redskins magic. And maybe that game is a lesson for everyone in election season: It ain't over 'til it's over. I prefer to see the game as more a parable of the alleged debate over evolution. Joe Gibbs in his post-game conference thanked the Lord for what happened at the end of the game. Theologians will have to handle the sticky question of why a divine being in charge of an entire universe would want so badly for the Redskins to win (or does He just want the Cowboys to lose???). I will note merely that evolutionary theory says that improbable things can happen given enough time and enough chances.

By my count, six things had to happen, at least one of them an outright officiating mistake, for the Skins to win a game that they were about to lose. [And as we discuss this, I direct your attention to the photos on the Post website. Better yet, grab the print edition, which, though mysteriously failing to front the story, includes on the sports front a terrific four-photo display by staff photographers John McConnell, Jonathan Newton and Joel Richardson.] First, Troy Vincent has to do something he's never done in, what, 47 years of being a professional football player: block a field goal attempt. Second, the Redskins have to recover the ball. Third, with coaches screaming for him to get down on the turf rather than risk a fumble, Sean Taylor has to listen to the voice of the football gods and not only keep running but reverse field, back toward his own goal line, in a great looping dash that keeps the game going even with no time on the clock. Fourth, a lineman for the Cowboys, Kyle Kosier, has to grab Taylor's face mask in an attempt to tackle him. Fifth, the officials have to determine that this is a flagrant face mask penalty, worthy of a 15-yard penalty (and to my eye it should have been 5 yards, but it's a judgment call). With the extra yardage, and the rule that the game can't end on a defensive penalty, kicker Nick Novak has a chance to win the game from 47 yards out. And that's the sixth improbable thing. Novak had never made a field goal in the pros beyond 40 yards. He had just sliced one wide right from 49. When this final kick came off his foot, it was right again, but somehow curved left and made it inside the upright for the (improbable, bizarre, amazing, fantabulous -- oh, just call it miraculous) Skins victory.

[For more, go to Dan Steinberg's sports blog.]


[More political ad nastiness: See the Republican attack ad on Michael Arcuri, who dialed an "adult hotline" from his hotel room. From Editor & Publisher:

'The national GOP campaign office started airing an ad Friday that showed Arcuri leering at the silhouette of a dancing woman who says, ''Hi, sexy. You've reached the live, one-on-one fantasy line.'' He supposedly dialed the service two years ago from a New York City hotel room and billed taxpayers - for all of $1.25 for a one-minute call. He is the district attorney in Oneida County.

'Now the Utica Observer-Dispatch today notes that Arcuri's campaign has released records to the paper showing the call to the 800 sex line was followed the very next minute by a call to the state Department of Criminal Justice Services - and the last seven digits of the two numbers are the same.']

[Check out Michael Rosenwald's Biz-section story on an organic farmer with 2.5 acres just 8 miles from the Washington Monument:

"The country loses two acres of farmland every minute, according to American Farmland Trust. Count to 60, and there go two more acres. From 1992 to 1997, more than 6 million acres of agricultural land -- about the size of Maryland -- was converted for development. Farm and ranch land disappeared 51 percent faster in the 1990s than in the 1980s...

"And talk about paradoxes: In many instances, a big chunk of the increasing demand for local produce comes from many of the same people who buy the big houses on converted farmland or near what remains of it. This is the circle of life in the new millennium."]

[Via Romenesko we see that David Carr is reviving the first New York Times blog, The Carpetbagger. Here's a good line from a recent interview: "My blog also could end up making me look like an idiot, like the dad in the basement at the teen party." And then this:

'Back in about '98, Steve Coll, who was then the managing editor of the Washington Post, suggested that reporters would one day be walking around with "hat-cams" -- little cameras mounted on hats that record video in real time. At the time I was working for the Washington City Paper, and I wrote a column about how nonsensical that idea was. I think I called him an idiot. And now, that's essentially what I'm doing with the video on The Carpetbagger. Less than a decade later the future I ridiculed is now the world I inhabit.'

By Joel Achenbach  |  November 6, 2006; 9:39 AM ET
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