1. Ordinarily, the Blitz receives an underwhelming, or at best, "whelming", reader response. Usually, it's just a few letters from people addressing me as "moron." Those are either from family members who don't know what they're talking about, or ex-girlfriends (who do). Yet last week's "Television City" game inspired, if not hundreds, then at least dozens of you to write.
First, thanks to all of you who reminded me that both Designing Women and Matlock were set in Atlanta (there seems to be a huge, albeit sheepish following for Designing Women ["Yeah, I like Annie Potts," Jason Glasper of Jacksonville, N.C., wrote. "So what?"]). I feel like an idiot for forgetting that Dynasty was set in Denver, though I would never have remembered that Frank's Place ("it starred that Venus Flytrap guy [Tim Reid]," someone wrote) was set in New Orleans.
Other cities I never should have forgotten: Indianapolis (One Day at a Time), Cincinnati (WKRP...duh!), Las Vegas (Vega$...again, duh), Providence (Providence...triple-duh), Honolulu (Hawaii Five-0), Buffalo (Buffalo Bill), San Diego (Simon & Simon), Pittsburgh (The Guardian) and Hartford (Judging Amy).
But, to answer the original question, "What's the largest U.S. city to never have a fiction show set in it?", the answer appears to be San Antonio. As one reader wrote, "An REM video (Everybody Hurts) doesn't count."
Faithful -- and by faithful I mean charmingly deranged -- correspondent Marianne "Moose" Moore has compiled a list of drama or comedy series that were set in each one of the 50 states. See how many you can figure without consulting the Web. I'll have the complete list next week for anyone who cares. A hint: in one state, only two shows have been set, and both took/take place in its pre-statehood era.
2. Interesting recruiting story by former SI reporter Teddy Greenstein in the Chicago Tribune last week. Seems that blue-chip wideout David Nelson (6-foot-5, 4.45 speed, 3.8 GPA) of Wichita Falls, Texas, informed incoming Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis that he would not commit to the Irish unless Weis made a face-to-face home visit. Weis, who has placed more than 500 phone calls to recruits, parents and coaches (apparently Notre Dame has a really good "any-time minutes" package), explained that there was the minor matter of preparing for the Super Bowl (he remains the New England Patriots' offensive coordinator for one more week) that would render him unable to do so. Weis offered to send seven assistant coaches -- the maximum allowed by the NCAA -- to Nelson's house to impress upon the young man how dearly he wanted him.
"Anybody can say on the phone: `We will take care of you,'" Nelson told Greenstein. "For my Dad to be comfortable sending me somewhere, he needed to be able to look a head coach in the eyes and say: `This is my son. What are you going to do for him? What do you stand for?'"
Well, David, the school does rank third (behind only Duke and Stanford) in male-athlete graduation rate, and Weis, I imagine, stands for loyalty. See, he promised his current boss he'd remain with this little project they've been working until it is completed Sunday.
Nelson appears headed where everyone who spurns the Irish seems to wind up these days: Gainesville, and the University of Florida.
3. Tom Fussaro of Cleveland writes, "PLEASE! John! Tell the people at SI.com that the (Wake Forest) Demon Deacon doesn't have black hair! All your graphics for the Deacs have this "Just for Men" Deac and it is just plain WRONG." Tom, remember in The Cable Guy when Steven (Matthew Broderick) asks the serving wench (Jeanine Garofalo) at Medieval Times how there can be no utensils but there can be Pepsi? And she just replies, "Dude, I got a lot of tables."
4. Colleague Mark Bechtel had a fun blog on sports movie Oscars. I'd submit a category for "Best Cameo by a Famous Athlete Portraying Himself in a Non-Sports Movie." Off the top of my head (hey, these blogs are pro bono work) I'll nominate: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Airplane Xavier McDaniel, Singles Brett "Fav-ruh", There's Something About Mary Lance Armstrong, Dodgeball Howard Cosell, Bananas
Any other nominees I forgot?
5. Are you like me? Do you get your jollies reading cnn.com headlines? For example, today I spotted "Nepal's king sacks government" and "Finger IDs victim thrown to lions, court told".
6. Do I sound like an old man if I ask, "Since when did popping a wheelie on a motorcycle off a snow bank become a sport?" I got no problem with the X-Games, really. I just wonder why they don't include events such as "Team Snowball Fight" or, to borrow the climactic scene from Hot Dog: The Movie, "Chinese Downhill." You know, the event in which everyone starts simultaneously and it's every man for himself down the slope? Who wouldn't want to watch that?
7. Last week I got to hang out with Amanda Beard, which is something I mentioned here, but I just wanted to gloat a little longer, whose father, Dan, played hoops at Washington State. Amanda told me that she and her dad bet a car wash every time the Cougs play at Arizona (where she is a student), which had been a safe bet since the Wildcats last lost to Wazzu in 1983, when Amanda was one. That is, until last Saturday when the Cougars upset No. 11 Arizona in Tucson. The SI jinx strikes again.
8. I love the Australian Open because it's on at odd hours of the night and unlike, say, a certain show about poker players in Las Vegas, it isn't hyped to death. The Serena Williams-Maria Sharapova match was a classic and you had to stay up past Jimmy Kimmel's bedtime to watch it. I love that 70 year-old Dick Enberg, one of the masters, was calling the match. It was Enberg's first Australian Open. Guess he too was going for a career grand slam.