Sunday, April 20, 2008


That was Danica Patrick's relieved and jubilant exclamation about an hour ago, after she became the first woman to win an IndyCar race. Finally, indeed. I'm not an auto racing fan, but I am a big sports fan. As such, I like to watch all the biggest events, even if it's a sport I'm not really that into or don't know that much about. So although I don't really follow IndyCar racing, I do watch the Indy 500 almost every year. I watched every minute of it in 2005, when Patrick, then a rookie, started on the first row and damn near won the whole thing. It was absolutely thrilling. Since then, I've made it a point to check in on races every now and again, because I knew she would win one at some point, and then many more. The rest of the season passed, then the next, and the next ... and nothing. I got apathetic, I admit it. So when I got home from work tonight, knowing full well the race was going on in Japan and I could watch it if I wanted to, I read a book instead. A couple hours later, I thought, "Oh, I wonder if it's over?" So I flipped on SportsCenter to see Patrick and her family celebrating in pit road. Damnation! I missed out on history to take a bath and read a book. Ninety-nine percent of the time, that's an evening well-spent. Tonight, it turned out to be a stupid move. But I'm still thrilled, even though I didn't get to see the victory as it happened. No matter how one feels about auto racing in general, this is a tremendous milestone for women in sports.

I'm still not too crazy about the grody, almost-spreadeagle photos she did for FHM, but whatever. Danica Patrick is hot and a hell of a race-car driver, and this is her day. Congrats, Danica.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Long live Lahbib!

The TV gods, they are smiling on me this weekend. First, season four of Battlestar Galactica begins on Friday. (Insert fangirl squeeee! here.) I just watched the season three finale the other day, and have pretty much been in constant OMG mode since. In a way, I'm thankful I just started watching the show a couple of months ago. If I'd had to wait a year to find out what the frak is going on, I don't think I could handle it.

The other exciting TV development this week is that BBC America will start airing season five of Wire in the Blood on Sunday. Oddly, they're starting with an episode titled "Prayer of the Bone," which actually aired in the UK after season five, as a precursor to season six. But since it's a one-off episode, I guess it's no big deal. Unfortunately, "Prayer of the Bone" is built solely around Robson Green (who plays Dr. Tony Hill, the brilliant but odd psychologist), so it is sadly devoid of Simone Lahbib, the show's co-star and this blog's patron saint. Lahbib plays Detective Inspector Alex Fielding, an intense, skeptical sort. She's kind of a Scottish Scully to Hill's occasional wackadoo Mulder-ness. The show is not an X-Files ripoff, but their dynamic is kind of similar. I don't know much about the structure of UK police departments, but it seems to me that Alex is the head of an SVU-type investigative unit. If you haven't seen the show, it can be quite good at times. There are only four or five episodes a season, but each one is about an hour and 20 minutes long, so you get pretty invested in the story. Lahbib's character is kind of frowny and stressed out, but you better believe she still looks good.

One more thing: Although there's no LaBabe in "Prayer of the Bone," and it's not a terribly great episode, it's still worth watching because it's set in Texas, and it's so cute to hear some of the "Texan" characters recite dialogue written by Brits.

Hoops heaven

Wasn't March a magnificent month? The long, mother-effin' winter is finally over, the daffodils are blooming, and the smell of postseason college basketball permeates the air. I have watched so much basketball the last two weeks, it's ridiculous. My favorite thing is the first weekend of the men's and women's tournaments, because for six straight days, Thursday through Tuesday, there is basketball happening at just about any given hour during the day.

And, OK, let's be honest — women's hoops is total lesbo eye candy. Young, fit, sweaty women running and pushing each other around? Good stuff. I'm not going to get specific and talk about individual players, because it was all well and good to have college hoops crushes when I was 25, but now it seems kind of gross. I mean, I'm not old, but I'm old enough that I shouldn't be crushing on 20-year-olds. Coaches, however, are fair game. This weekend was weird, because Gail Goestenkors' team was not in the Sweet 16. Goestenkors took Duke to the Sweet 16 the last 10 seasons. Now she's at Texas, where she has some rebuilding to do. They made the tournament, which looked iffy for quite some time, but got mauled by UConn in the second round. I don't have very many coach crushes (head coaches, anyway), but Coach G is always welcome on my TV. In the last couple of years she's been looking a bit, shall I say, pinched. But she's still a total cutie.

Anyway, the women's Final Four gets set tonight; LSU and Stanford are already in. Stanford's back in the Final Four for the first time since 1997, a year that lives in infamy for Stanford fans. The Cardinal lost a heartbreaker to Old Dominion in the semifinals, 83-82 in overtime. My first major hoops crush, Kate Starbird, had 21 points in the first half, then disappeared in the second half. I was a huge Stanford fan back then, and that game was one of the biggest sports letdowns of my life. I have it on tape, and I've never watched it. Kristin Folkl fouls out on a totally bogus call, Vanessa Nygaard misses a chippie that would have won it, Jamila Wideman (my second major basketball crush) misses a contested three at the buzzer ... It just suuuuuuucked. (Saddest post-game photo ever: Jamila and her mom. All these years later, I still want to give her a hug.) Of course, Old Dominion then laid an egg against Tennessee in the championship game. Not that I'm still bitter or anything. The last 10 years, I've been a fan, but each year it seems I've been less and less invested. Last year, when the Cardinal, as a No. 2 seed, got bounced out of the second round on their own home court, I decided I'd had enough. So when Monday night came around, I wasn't stressed out. If they lost, no big deal. Naturally, they pulled out a completely awesome win over Maryland. Just when I thought I was out ... they pull me back in! Damn. I'm actually going to the Final Four in Tampa, so it looks like I need to dig my Stanford gear out of the closet. Fair-weather fan? Guilty.