Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving From Florida

Hello all. The missus and I are in Florida, visiting my parents. My aunt and uncle are also in town. We're having a great time, this being the first opportunity to see the folks' new house near Tampa. The men played golf yesterday, while the ladies went out to shop and eat. We started drinking and playing pool around three in the afternoon and kept going till one.

I've convinced my knees to call back the hit they put out on me for running the marathon. Little do they know I'm considering a run later today. We'll see what happens.

I hope everyone enjoys their holidays and time off from work. And I wanted to thank everyone that showed up for the Chat on Monday night. A good time was had by all.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Knees Are Calling Me All Sorts of Names...

...which I won't repeat here, because this blog has been rated PG-13.

The Philadelphia Marathon was absolutely brutal. A half hour before we started, the temperature registered at 24 degrees. Roughly 18,000 people crowded and rushed about near the Art Museum, up and down the Ben Franklin Parkway, in futile attempts to keep warm and find an unoccupied Port-O-John. The announcer's voice squawked incomprehensibly over the PA system, so most people had no idea where to go or what to do.

Crowd control wasn't even theoretical. Runners filtered into the corrals when they weren't supposed to; others waited in the back, unsure of where to go. Supposed to go off in the second wave of marathoners, I missed it and somehow ended up in the third wave. More than twenty minutes passed between the start of the race and when I took my first step past the Start Line.

But none of that really matters. The little things tend to lose any significance when 26.2 miles stretch before you.

The first half of the race was fantastic. Down the Parkway, Arch, and Race to Columbus Boulevard (I still don't know why they changed the name from Delaware Avenue). Several groups of brave souls huddled on the street corners to cheer us on. It was cold enough for us runners, but it must have been the final circle of Dante's Inferno for the spectators.

On Delaware Avenue, the horde of runners got a chance to thin. Planes lazed across the sky, headed for Philly International. Everybody was happy. It was still early. We'd reached our first fluid station. All was well.

We spent too little time on Front Street--the locals had hilarious signs everywhere to cheer us up: one reminded us that the average temperature on November 23rd in Philly is in the mid-40s; others called into question our sanity for running.

We spent some time on Chestnut Street, and by now, the spectators had multiplied. I'm still amazed by the sheer number of them that braved the elements to cheer us on. Everyone's always saying that Philly fans are the worst in the country, but I beg to differ.

We plodded up 34th Street, so I got to run through Drexel University's campus. I haven't been through there in a few years now. Fraternity Row was relatively quiet, except for one or two houses. I don't blame them though. They were probably just going to bed when my wife was driving me to the marathon.

We started encountering our first major hills of the race. Everyone I was running with slowed noticeably. Everything was still going fine, though.

Mile 13 and all was well. People were finishing the marathon as I reached the halfway point, but I knew that was going to happen so it didn't bother me. My good friends Nate and Jess Green, who ran the 8K, magically appeared and offered encouragement and a bottle of water. I took the bottle greedily, nearly drank it down in two gulps.

The wheels started coming off at Mile 15. My pace was off, and my stomach was pitching with nausea. That sometimes happens during a long race, I don't know why. I fought through it and kept going.

We headed up Kelly Drive into Manayunk. It didn't make it any easier that there were runners headed in the opposite direction, nearly finished with the race.

By Mile 17, my left foot wasn't cramping so much as it was seizing up. I'd come too far to stop though.

Someone offered me a beer at Mile 18. I was too tired to answer verbally, but I managed a weak smile and shook my head. She laughed and said, "I know you want one." Had it been Mile 8, I would have indulged. At that point, though, any alcohol would have sent me straight to the hospital or the morgue.

I somehow managed to reach the top of the hill on Main Street in Manayunk and turn around at Mile 20. Now the real pain. I didn't think it could get any worse, but it did. A diffuse hurting everywhere. I waited for the numbness to come, but it didn't. I could feel my heart beating, working overtime. The left foot fooled me, seemingly getting better, before getting worse. Those last six miles were as much running as they were walking.

Still the crowd cheered us on. They were great. They were all my new best friends. I even managed to high-five a few of them. It was ridiculous how much effort it required to raise my arm.

Eventually, I saw the Art Museum looming on the Schuykill River. It was a beacon. It took forever to grow, tantalizingly close and infinitely far away. Of all the things to think of, I remembered Zeno's paradox, of being able to travel halfway to an object, then half of that, then half of that, and never being able to reach it. Goes to show how little good some philosophy offers in the real world.

I heard the roar of the crowd. By now, it felt like I was running with knives in my legs. My left foot refused to function anymore. I saw the Mile 26 marker and kept running. Of all the arbitrary distances ever conceived by man, why in the hell is a marathon not just 26 miles? I know of the derivation of the race, but still, is the extra .2 miles all that necessary in today's world?

Jenna took some "action" photos, for lack of a better word, as I neared the end of the race. Through the Finish Line. As Apollo Creed said at the end of Rocky, "Ain't gonna be no rematch." And as Rocky responded, "Don't want one."

Congrats to everyone else who ran on Sunday! I'll be back next year, but maybe I'll do a shorter race and focus on time instead. Or I'll just cheer on the runners and drink beer. Or I'll just stay home and drink beer. We'll see :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Live Chat on Monday, November 24th!

I'll be participating in a live chat on Monday night! Fellow Lyrical Press, Inc. author Rita Vetere was kind enough to ask me to join her and Grayson Reyes-Cole to discuss our work.

Join us for Chatting in the Dark on Monday, November 24th from 8:00 to 9:00 PM EST.

Rita will be discussing Ancient Inheritance, recently released and electronically available here. Grayson will also be discussing Bright Star as well as her other work. And I'll be there to talk about The Unearthed.

Hope to see you all there!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Literary Skeletons In The Closet

As a serious reader, I've got a few literary skeletons in my closet. I'm not proud of them. These skeletons are the "great books" I either:

a) haven't read and am kidding myself into thinking that I will read someday;
b) haven't read yet but actually might; and
c) have tried to read and stopped (some of them more than once).

Rather than provide an exhaustive list, I'll just give a few of the more egregious examples.

In category a), there's Faulkner. Yes, I know. He's great. Or so everybody tells me. I've heard about The Sound and the Fury, etc. I have an inkling how he writes, and it's the style that I'm not interested in. Maybe I'm not giving him a fair shake. Practically speaking, there are an infinite number of books already produced or that will be produced that I want or will want to read, so he keeps getting relegated to the back of the line. But still, every time someone brings up Faulkner in conversation, I feel compelled to explain that yes, I'm going to get to him someday, even though I probably won't. Sorry, Will. Loved your adaptation of Chandler's The Big Sleep.

Category b) is just as bad. We've got: Thoreau, Heller, Huxley, Vidal, Henry James, Proust, Emerson, Pynchon, Dos Passos, Sartre, and several more. Looking at the list is exhausting and a bit overwhelming.

Category c) is appalling. I'm a huge fan of Heart of Darkness, but I've never been able to finish Conrad's Nostromo. Then there's James Joyce, who many consider to be the greatest Modernist writer ever. I love his short stories, but I put Finnegan's Wake in the unreadable category. Thankfully, I'm not alone in that opinion. And I've tried, oh I've tried, with Ulysses but to no avail.

There are plenty of other examples of my skeletons, but I have to stop here. This was painful enough.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

JJ Abrams and Co. Boldly Went...

...for it and succeeded with the new Star Trek trailer. Check it out here. The film looks great. I was fortunate enough to see it in the theater so I also had the surprise factor working in my favor.

I've been worried about this movie since day one. Not because I doubted Abrams or his cadre of writers working on the picture, but because it has so many reasons to fail. Fans of the original series versus fans of the movies versus fans of Star Trek as a whole versus the general movie-going public. Everyone has an opinion on what Star Trek should be, so I was worried that it was doomed from the start because there'd be no way to reconcile the various concepts of Star Trek.

But the trailer's quieted some of those concerns for me. Could this film be what Star Wars in '77 was?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Book Is Better Than The Movie

For starters, I'll go off on a tangent and talk about novelizations. The general rule that "the book is better than the movie" is untrue when you're talking about novelizations. I haven't read too many, but most seem kind of pointless. (If you're reading this and are a publisher and thinking of asking me to write one or several, I'd be happy to change my opinion without shame, of course.)

Novelizations might offer some deeper insight into what the characters of a film were thinking, and in some cases, that actually makes the characters' motivations more plausible and consistent. But from what I've gathered, the ironclad rules of a novelization are to remain faithful to the screenplay, flesh out the story but only a little bit, and make sure the style doesn't get in the way of the story.

And there's also another strange phenomenon I've observed with novelizations. Whenever I discover that a book I've read is being made into a movie, 99% of the time, I'm interested to see how the story will play out on the big screen. With novelizations, again, the rule is reversed. I'm usually never interested in seeing how a movie is translated into a novel. Maybe if novelizations were given more leeway and were more adaptation, less paint-by-numbers, then that wouldn't be the case. That would be an interesting experiment, though, adapting a movie into a novel.

So let's put novelizations aside, unless of course you want to comment about them below ;)

Most people say (I know this is very scientific) that "the book is better than the movie."

Of course, there are always exceptions. The first one that springs to anyone's mind is The Godfather, with which I'd agree. The only other example I can think of is Lawrence of Arabia. It source material, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, is one of the few books I've never been able to get through. But with the case of Lawrence, the comparison of book to movie is unfair (see my apples to oranges disclaimer at the bottom of this post).

Aside from those two stories and a few other obvious ones I'm probably missing, it's been my experience that the general rule holds true. The book is better than the movie.

Why is that?

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. So then shouldn't the movie be better? A movie is a collection of carefully-chosen pictures. And after all, a movie is not just pictures, it is also language, sound, music, movement, and probably most importantly, it is acted. Unlike a novel, a film doesn't have to rely solely on language to tell its story.

A four second establishing shot is much more vivid than a paragraph describing a house. Or at least, it should be, if a picture really is worth a thousand words. A film wraps itself up, on average, anywhere between 80 and 180 minutes. If you're not blessed as a natural speed-reader (like my wife), then chances are a movie is going to tell its story much more quickly, more pointedly, than a novel. So it should be much more powerful.

A lot of people say that books are better because you're forced to imagine things for yourself. You have to create the characters and the setting as much as the author does, essentially filling in the gaps, or the gaps as you perceive them. I've never understood why that would make a book better than a movie. If you have to do more work to understand a novel, then surely it's not as powerful a medium as film.

So...why then?

Perhaps the statistics are skewed. Only the people that have read the books which are being made into movies are the ones saying that the books are better, after all. The people who enjoy going to the movies but don't like to read will never say, "The movie was better than the book," because they haven't read the book. And let's face it, there are probably a lot more people that enjoy going to the movies but not reading than there are people that enjoy going to the movies and reading.

For those of us that do read a lot, we usually read the book before we see the movie. So chances are we're naturally inclined to like the book more because that's what we encountered first. There has to be a fancy psychological concept for that.

So...why? There must be a good, scientific reason for this.

My theory is three-fold.

1) A film can only sustain itself for so long. In some rare cases, a four hour movie works, but usually, an audience can only sit for close to two hours. No matter how sweeping or epic the story might be, a film is constrained by simple logistics. But not so with a novel. Some books require a week's worth of reading, or more, to finish. You can take a break when you need to. You enter the story when you can. A novel is more of an escape, a full immersion. You become friends with the characters; their journeys become your journey. You see a movie, but you grow with a novel. A book paces itself, you play along at the same beat. A novel, while it must have a major story arc, is permitted to have several minor arcs as well that can reinforce, subvert, or add complexity to, the bigger picture. They're not as "simple," for lack of a better term, than movies.

2) Novels are better at psychologically penetrating characters. You understand the players better in a book. In that way, novels become much more personal adventures than movies are or can be, even if the story being told is grand in scale, big in scope. You know what a character's hopes and dreams and quirks and faults and good qualities are--they are fully-realized, fully human. They are you, or some part of you, or who you used to be, or who you want to be.

3) Novels are better means for discussing, challenging, and revealing universal truths. This is really an off-shoot of points 1) and 2). When done right, a novel can be longer and more complex, and is peopled by more fully-rounded characters than a film. So naturally it follows that a book is better suited to exploring the age old questions of what it means to be human, the nature of good and evil, our place in the universe, etc.

Of course, there is always the apples to oranges argument to make. The two media shouldn't be compared, because different rules apply and different tools are used. Who knows. Probably someone smarter than me.

What does everybody think?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Eight Days

I'll be running the Philadelphia Marathon in 8 days. While scanning the Internet for an appropriate image, I accidentally stumbled across this one. I fully expect to need a stretcher when I'm done, but let's hope I don't need the O2 as well.

You see all manner of folks during a marathon. I ran one down the Jersey Shore in 2004. I encountered a 70-plus year old man running in a tuxedo with tails. Early on, as I was reaching about three miles, the then leader of the race zipped by going in the opposite direction (he'd already done seven miles). He zoomed by in a sprint that looked tireless and effortless. Three miles in, and somebody had already more than doubled my distance! Incredible.

I lucked out with the weather my first time around. It hovered between 45 to 50 degrees the whole time, beginning with the sunshine and ending with overcast skies. It drizzled, once or twice, but only for a minute or two.

Along the way, the fans were awesome. At mile 10, some lady was nice enough to say, "You don't look tired at all." I assured her that it was my finest moment of acting. My wife was kindly waiting at mile 11 with a bottle of Gatorade and an energy bar. I sucked down the Gatorade, ate half the bar, and kept the other half for later. Around mile 13, I passed a house that was blasting Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run." Perfect timing. I felt great. I was halfway there.

And then it hit me.

The wall.

It was bad. I wanted to stop. I wanted to never run again for as long as I lived. Around mile 15, a live band was performing in front of somebody's house. I hardly heard them. Somehow I managed to reach the energy station at mile 17, where I proceeded to scarf down pretzels, candy, gatorade, and water. I rounded the circle at mile 19, headed back the way I came. That same band was still playing; I still barely heard them. Each step was painful, becoming borderline excruciating. I kept my head down and tried to think of something to take my mind off the agony. It was a weird feeling, trying to get myself to think and not being able to.

Then the pain ceased for awhile. My body had gone numb. That was fine by me. When I reached 23 miles, I realized I was going to make it, and from there, I ran the rest of the race on adrenaline.

The day or two after the race, I must have looked like Frankenstein's monster when I walked around, hobbling, lumbering, awkward.

Don't marathons sound fun?

Good luck to everybody running the Philly Marathon! I'll see you out there next Sunday.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Cure for AIDs?

Check this out if you get a minute:

While it might be a little impractical, it does show that there are scientific solutions out there. Whoever said it is right: man finds a way.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Supporting My Habit

My name is Brian O'Rourke, and I'm a bookaholic.

(Quiet, respectful applause from the other addicts.)

Yes it's taken me too long to come to terms with my addiction to books. But by first acknowledging my problem, I'd like to think I'm taking a step in the right direction. I'm on the road to recovery.

Couple of weeks ago, I went through our "library" for something to read. I couldn't count the number of books on two hands that I bought and have not read yet. And no, that's not just because I have a problem counting (damned base ten system). When I ran out of fingers and toes, I grabbed the abacus and tried to figure out how the hell anyone ever used one of those for simple math. Anyways, there were a lot of books waiting to be read, some of them purchased more than TWO YEARS AGO.

Despite having so many tomes in the bullpen, I feel a compulsion, almost daily, to drive to a bookstore and spend money I don't really have on more books. I've only recently forced myself to start using the library. My "re-read rate" is less than one percent, so you'd think the library would make all the sense in the world, but no, the gluttonous capitalist in me must own everything he's ever read. And I've even figured out a way to rationalize my uncontrollable spending: I tell myself it's my literary duty to purchase books because very soon, I hope that people will buy MY book.

Not sure if you're a bookaholic? Here are some signs:

1) You tell yourself that you can stop buying books any time you want.
2) You tell yourself you can be a few days late paying the mortgage because Ken Follett's latest just came out.
3) You have at least five books waiting to be read, but still, the first idea you come up with for something to do on a weeknight is drive to Barnes & Noble.
4) You have a book in the car with you while you're driving, and you read while stopped at red lights.
5) You have a book in the car with you while you're driving, and you try to think of ways you can read and drive at the same time.
6) When every time someone buys you a book as a birthday gift/holiday present, you say: "Thanks, but I've already read it."

I'm thinking of pitching a new celebreality TV show about us bookaholics. I've heard that Gary Busey likes to read. Matter of fact, it doesn't matter what the theme of the show is as long as Gary Busey's in it. Put that man in front of a camera and you've got gold.

My latest literary addiction is a Northern Irish author by the name of Adrian McKinty. I won't go into great detail here about his work, because I'll probably end up writing a short review on one of his books in the near future. The guy's damned good.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A (Short) Review of The Dogs of Babel, by Carolyn Parkhurst

Carolyn Parkhurst, author of The Dogs of Babel, knows her way with words and knows her way with emotions. But even more importantly, she's able to use her words to explore emotions in all their ugliness, beauty, and ultimately, their humanity.

The Dogs of Babel is a fascinatingly strange book. The hook of the story can be a bit misleading: a recently widowed man sets out to teach his dog to speak, so she can explain to him how his wife died. Picking it up, I thought I'd be reading more about a man's scientific adventure and an exploration into the nature of language and communication.

While The Dogs of Babel is about that, it's really about something more: how each one of us grieves in our own stupid, humorous, and touching ways when dealing with something terrible.

Parkhurst does a great job at balancing the seemingly disparate elements of her story. It is part mystery, part memoir/love story, part dog tale, and even part suspense thriller. Sounds like a strange brew, and I'll admit it is, but the narrative works, and the oddity of the mixture makes the story all the more unique.

The Dogs of Babel is an easy read because of Parkhurst's command of language; but it is also a very difficult read, because Parkhurst's prose takes us to dark and sad places. And though it would have been easy, not once does her story become a sentimental journey. It's an unflincing portrait of a grieving man, deceptively simple in its execution, profound in its message.

If you're tired of reading the same old thing, I'd highly recommend picking up this book.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

RIP Michael Crichton

The world of fiction is a lesser place without Michael Crichton.

I have enjoyed Mr. Crichton’s fiction ever since I was thirteen years old, when I first picked up The Andromeda Strain. I read it nearly in one sitting, and considering my age and lack of attention span at the time, that says a lot about the book. But unlike other authors, I never “grew out of” his stories. With each new release, no matter how old I was, I found myself enjoying his fiction as much for its entertainment value as for its educational value. I felt I learned something, something important and fundamental to the universe we live in, each time I read one of his stories.

It wasn’t until I started studying literature in college that I became aware of two contradictory things: many of the literati didn’t even deign to consider him a good writer; and yet, he was the 20th and 21st centuries’ living embodiment of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, and Jules Verne (who were all revered in academic circles). Where these authors dared to go, he dared to go farther, while lending scientific verisimilitude to his stories. He strived first and foremost to entertain and thrill his readers, and he succeeded with every book he produced. But he considered it just as important to explore ideas and challenge conventional thought. Few other “popular fiction” writers ever caused as much controversy as he did with State of Fear, and to a lesser extent with other stories like Disclosure and Rising Sun.

Why the academic and literary snobbery directed at Mr. Crichton? (I’m sure he was crying all the way to the bank.) He certainly didn’t deserve it. Many decry his characterization, or purported lack thereof. Mr. Crichton plumbed the depths of human nature just as well as anyone else when it was important to the story he was telling. Case in point, if you haven’t read any of his works, I suggest you start with Sphere. It’s my personal favorite of his stories.

It also appears to be fashionable to ridicule him for his depiction of women. Disclosure caused quite a stir when it was released. I don’t know if and how he ever responded to these criticisms. But most of the criticisms leveled at Mr. Crichton seemed to be politically-motivated, or just as bad, were borne out of arbitrary aesthetic principles—heaven forbid he make a woman the antagonist of one of his stories! That' s just not right! (By the way, wasn’t the main character/protagonist of Airframe a woman?) Apparently, it's only literarily acceptable for a woman to be the antagonist if she's a femme fatale in a noirish type of story.

I’ve read my fair share of novels and have enjoyed many different types of stories. But his are some of the very few that I would call interesting. He knew how to move a plot, and he knew how to integrate weighty intellectual concepts into the narrative that (gasp) actually enhanced the story he was telling.

Above all else, Mr. Crichton believed that the masses would enjoy a story that was both entertaining and intelligent. And he proved himself right every step of the way.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

More Bars In More Places...For More Idiots

These new AT&T commercials rankle me.

You know the ones. Some guy is in a foreign country, about to have a very important meeting (usually business-related), and he doesn’t get the most earth-shattering voicemail of his life from his boss because he doesn’t have AT&T. Some marketing genius, or probably some marketing genii, or even more probably some marketing genii and some market focus group(s), thought this would entice us idiots to buy more AT&T cellular phones.

Has anyone out there actually purchased an AT&T phone directly in response to these commercials? If so, you’ve just been duped by this brilliant one-two marketing pitch:

a) At some point, you’ll be in an area with bad service, and when you are,
b) that’s when you’ll miss the most important phone call/voicemail of your life.

Yes. And to make matters worse, said would-be message deliverer, KNOWING FULL WELL THAT YOU’RE IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY OR SOMEWHERE ELSE WHERE THERE’S A GOOD CHANCE YOU WON’T GET RECEPTION FOR THE CALL, will just leave you this life-changing voicemail, expect you to get it, and go on about his business. He won’t try to reach you by other means, and he won’t follow-up to ensure you received the message.

Do you know how small the chances of this happening are? How many times will this ever happen to most people in their life? Once, maybe. Or twice if you have my luck.

So by all means, buy AT&T. Because you need to allow for the incredibly non-fortuitous, disastrous event that has .01% chance of happening. (I did the math for you.)

What’s more insulting—the marketing pitch itself, or the fact that they thought they could entice you with it?

Speaking (obliquely) about intelligent consumer spending, this reminds me of another commercial I saw, promoting LifeLock. At some point in the ad, one potential customer wants to sign up because LifeLock promises to cut down on your junk e-mail. Yeah. Let’s pay someone to do that for us. Great idea.

I’m really not an angry person…

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Curse of Superstition

I would have thought that the Phillies' 2008 World Series victory would have ended these ridiculous superstitions surrounding William Penn. But alas, reason might not have won the day.

Apparently, a tiny statue of William Penn was placed atop the new Comcast Building, currently the tallest skyscraper of Philadelphia. So now Mr. Penn once again reigns supreme over the City.

For those of you unfamiliar with "The Curse of Billy Penn," here's my abridged version. William Penn, Jr. was the founder of the Province of Pennsylvania. A 37 foot statue of Penn was placed atop Philadelphia's City Hall at some point, and for many years there was a "gentleman's agreement" that there would be no building taller than this statue EVER erected. Human shortsightedness knows no bounds, apparently.

In 1987, One Liberty Place opened, the first structure to rise above the statue. Since that time (actually, since the Seventy-Sixers' NBA championship in 1983), no Philadelphian sports team had won a title. Looking for any explanation that would exculpate the professional organizations and athletes in question, someone somewhere came up with this brilliant idea that Billy Penn was pissed about his statue not being the tallest thing in Philadelphia and exacting his revenge on ALL of Philadelphia (not just the builders of One Liberty Place or the Commission that approved its height) by denying its sports franchies (actually, only the four major professional sports--other area sports have won several championships during the curse) professional titles.

No, he didn't avenge himself by spreading a pox, by killing the first-born child of every family, by poisoning all the soft pretzels and cheese steaks, etc. Penn focused his energies on the Sixers, the Flyers, the Eagles, and the Phillies. I guess that was supposed to be more poetic or something.

Anyways, for some reason, Penn thought a curse of 21 years was long enough, and the Phillies were permitted to win the World Series. Or, he was placated by the placement of a tiny statue atop the new Comcast Building. Who knew that Penn suffered from short man's syndrome?

As it turns out that Billy Penn was not a vindictive man ( He was a Quaker, who founded Pennsylvania and instituted free and fair trial by jury, freedom of religion, freedom from unjust imprisonment, and free elections. The Count of Monte Cristo he was not.

There are plans for a new skyscraper, the American Commerce Center, that would be 500 feet taller than the Comcast Center. I'll try not to be disappointed if someone puts a statue of Penn atop that.

If I played for the 2008 Phillies, I would have been a little bothered by all of this. After all, it wasn't all the hard work they put in as a team or the skill and talent they brought to their sport that got them a championship--it was someone's placement of a Penn figurine atop the Comcast Center.

But seriously, congrats to the 2008 Phils!