Friday, December 28, 2007

Resolutions

One of our strange customs is making 'resolutions' at the beginning of every new year in the hope that we'll somehow buck our natural tendencies and become better people. Right! Like January 1st means your nicotine cravings are miraculously going to stop or Jack Daniels won't be beckoning you despite a life of misery.

Good luck with that.

Luckily, it's not the new year, yet, so I can be mean and sarcastic. I'm jumping on the resolution bandwagon and committing myself to a new, clean, destined to fail lifestyle.

My resolutions for a better year. Please note all of these will be long forgotten by January 15th.

Be a nicer person: Considering this is fighting every strand of my DNA, there's no way this makes it past day 2.

No cigars: Until the snow melts and temperature hits 70. Well, maybe 60.

Recycling more: By this I mean drinking more beer so there are more empties to recycle.

Bettering myself through education: Well past time to get my G.E.D.

Giving other people the benefit of the doubt: Despite everyone being lying assholes.

Showing Wifey more respect: Fine, I'll wear clothes around the house. Man alive!

Getting along better with my coworkers: The ones I like, that is.

Promoting good cheer: Nothing promotes good cheer than alcohol in the work place. This actually ties in with the above item.

Becoming more of a role model to my kids: WOOO AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, man I crack myself up sometimes.

Annoying everyone around me with extra loud music: Done and done.

Monthly card games: Beginning this weekend. I figure last Saturday of every month. This may be in direct conflict with 'Respecting Wifey More' and 'No Cigars', but I'll figure it out as I go.

Watch more TV: This may not be humanly possible, but let's give it a whirl.

Increase exercise routine: This would mean doing ANY exercise. Baby steps, my friends, baby steps.

Respect the elderly: True story - some dope dropped off a huge batch of flowers to our house instead of our elderly neighbor down the street. I don't know this neighbor at all, but figure I'll be the good guy and bring them to her. I ring the bell, she answers (still in her nightgown despite it being 3pm) and I say 'Hi, these were delivered to us by accident'.

She responds 'OH! It is so hard getting old and having to depend on other people for everything. I'm in pain all the time!'.

I stare at her for a few seconds and finally say 'Sorry to hear that. Um, you want these flowers?'

'Yes, thank you. Why did you bring them to me?'

'They were delivered to our house by accident.'

'oh, thank you,' she reaches over and pats me on the chest 'You take care of yourself while you're young so you don't end up like me. I'm in pain all the time and have to depend on other people for everything.'

What's that saying? No good deed goes unpunished? A three minute visit left me feeling suicidal.

On that lovely note, hope everyone has a great New Year's Eve. I'll be lucky to make it until midnight. Getting old and abusing alcohol at the rate I do tends to make you very sleepy.

Today's distraction: Tips on making good on your resolutions. It shouldn't surprise anyone that I followed only one 'Remain Flexible'. I'm assuming abandoning every single one after a week is being flexible.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town


I'm desperately trying to get into the holiday spirit, but it's tough with everyone acting like complete dickweeds. Why does the holiday season bring out the worst in people? They're rude, inconsiderate and selfish. But, hey, they need to get their spoiled 5 year old daughter that new Bratz doll so it's all in the name of giving.

Jesus must be so proud this is how we celebrate his birth. He might be even more proud if we celebrated it on his actual day of birth. Some time in September, is the best guess. Think that made him a Leo.

Anyway, my naughty and nice list for the year.

Naughty: Virginia Tech/Mall shooters. Perfect gift - roasting slowly over an open flame for eternity.

Nice: CNN for their tribute to all the victims of the VT killer. Perfect gift - highest ratings of the year.

Naughty: The Spears sisters, Britney and Jamie Lynn. Perfect gift - intense rehab for Britney. Condoms and lessons on how to use them for Jamie Lynn and her boyfriend. Quick question: will any charges be filed against the boyfriend since he's 18 and she's 16? Isn't that statutory rape? Whoops, look what just came out! Guess his perfect gift will be soap on a rope. You know, so he doesn't drop it in the shower.

Nice: Firefighters who worked tirelessly to put out those California wild fires. In fact, firefighters every where. Perfect gift - enough funding to get them the best equipment.

Naughty: Lisa Nowak, our astronaut friend who drove 18 hours in an attempt to kill a romantic rival. Perfect gift - lifetime supply of Depends.

Nice: American voters who voiced their displeasure with the Bush administration by handing control of the House and Congress to Democrats. Perfect gift - quality candidates to choose from (still waiting).

Naughty: The Democratic party who still wilted when confronted by Bush. Perfect gift - testosterone injections in an attempt to grow some balls.

Nice: Barry Bonds (I know!) who showed rare class and dignity while breaking the all time home run record. Perfect gift - public good will.

Naughty: Barry Bonds. Indicted on perjury charges and still he won't admit to doing anything wrong. Perfect gift - integrity.

Nice: Josh Beckett. Putting together a kick ass regular season, then trumping that with a stellar postseason to lead the Red Sox to the title. Perfect gift - Johan Santana as his rotation mate.

Naughty: Minnesota bridge inspectors who somehow missed major structural compromises that resulted in the death of 13 people. Perfect gift - increase in state budget so they can hire more help.

Nice: Larry Craig for providing us the most entertaining story of the year. Perfect gift - his and his matching stalls.

Naughty: Michael Vick. Perfect gift - cat.

Nice: Karl Rove for finally going away. Perfect gift - immunity from upcoming obstruction of justice charges.

Naughty: Alberto Gonzalez for repeatedly lying....er....not remembering who ordered the firing of several attorneys in his own office. Perfect gift - The BrainMaster.

Nice: Apple for providing the public with a cool, smaller new iPod and THE gadget to have this year, the iPhone. Perfect gift - billions in sales.

Naughty: JD Drew who slogged through the first year of his massive contract with the Red Sox. Perfect gift - a huge hit in the playoffs with the bases loaded to eliminate all those negative vibes. Wait....

Nice: John Henry, Larry Luccino, Theo Epstein, Terry Francona, etc for providing Red Sox nation another World Series trophy. Perfect gift - permission to build a new ballpark and move out of cramped, useless, cost ineffective Fenway Park.

Naughty: Mattel who had to recall thousands of toys that were made in China due to lead paint and other dangerous flaws. Perfect gift - factory in United States with built in quality control department.

Nice: Tom Brady for taking the high road when it was apparent to everyone his ex-girlfriend pulled a fast one (and her diaphragm out) on him. Perfect gift - several top notch receivers and a fourth Super Bowl ring. Oh, and a super model new girlfriend.

Naughty: Alec Baldwin for leaving a nasty voice mail for his young daughter and being stupid enough to think his bitter ex-wife wouldn't make it public. Perfect gift - having to deal with Tina Fey on a regular basis.

Nice: Bobby Brown if only for proving he's the sane one in his marriage. Perfect gift - already got it in the form of a divorce from Whitney Houston.

Naughty: Don Imus for attempting humor and failing miserably. This is no way refers to the Rutgers women's basketball team, by the way. Perfect gift - being trampled to death by his own horse.

Nice: Jordan's Furniture for making good on a deal to give out free furniture if the Red Sox won the World Series. Perfect gift - free publicity and returning customers.

Naughty: Thomas Finneran, who pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice charges after redistricting Boston's political areas. Perfect gift - public humiliation and a seldom listened to talk radio program.

Nice: Wes Welker for being a fantasy stud for my team and keeping my wife interested in Patriot games. Perfect gift - weekend with Tom Brady's girlfriend.

Naughty: TJX Corporation 'losing' a few hundred million credit card numbers. Perfect gift - new head of IT security.

Nice: Mother Nature for providing Boston one of the nicest summers in recent memory. Not too hot, little rain. Perfect gift - our undying gratitude.

Naughty: Mother Nature for dumping more snow, sleet, ice and rain on Boston during the month of December than we've had in the past 2 years. Bitch! Perfect gift - major attitude adjustment in the form of torrid sexual affair with Zeus.

Nice: All my loyal readers who have put up with my inane, juvenile, misinformed, illogical ramblings. Perfect gift - cash payments; but since I'm broke you'll have to settle for another year of this blog. Suckers!

I'm off next week, but will post if anything strikes me as worth while.

Until next year!

Today's distraction: Find out if you're Naughty or Nice. I wound up with a Naughty rating, which isn't surprising at all.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Falling Stars

With the fallout from the Mitchell Report still raining down and the bigger picture still coming into focus I was going to hold off on commenting, but Roger Clemens has forced my hand. I can't sit idly by while he continues to use the Barry Bonds method of defense and deny, deny, deny through his lawyer.

It's no secret Roger Clemens isn't my favorite athlete. Brush up on my true feelings here if you want, but to summarize, he doesn't seem to have an allegiance to any team unless it's run by Ben Franklin (that was a money joke). It was inevitable that he and the Yankees would become soul mates.

These accusations are a completely different matter. This isn't selling out to the highest bidder, this is selling out his own legacy and selling out the game itself. Look, I'm no purist. There have and always will be players trying to gain some sort of competitive advantage. From Ty Cobb sharpening his spikes to spitballs to amphetamines to steroids to these new eye drops I heard about players using this past season.

This is about integrity. No, not of the game - this is about his integrity; his respect for the fans and anyone that followed his career. I admit I had my doubts about the accusations until Andy Petitte came forward and claimed he had used HGH in an attempt to recover from an injury. Then Brian Roberts. Then Fernando Vina, Gary Bennett and other players who were named in the report. Suddenly, this didn't seem so far fetched.

Not that it was really that far fetched to begin with. During Clemens' last few seasons with the Red Sox (and I lived this, so let's not try to rewrite history) he wasn't exactly a fitness guru. He prescribed to the Shaq routine: take the winter off and try to play himself back into shape. We can take a look at Shaq this year and see how well that works out. Every Bostonian knew spring was near when that yearly 'Look How Fat Clemens Is This Year' article came out in the Boston Globe. He was constantly and disturbingly out of shape every spring training.

So, the Sox let him go into free agency. He signs with the Blue Jays and proceeds to win two Cy Youngs in a row. Stories begin filtering out about his 'legendary' off season work out routines. At the time I thought, you know what, maybe Dan Duquette's infamous 'twilight of career' (which really needs to be historically reconsidered if his steroid use turns out to be true) remark lit a fire under his ass. Maybe he needed some sort of motivational tool to reach that next level.

I never considered those tools might be steroids and HGH until he won yet another Cy Young after the age of 40.

I'm not here to judge. I'm about as cynical a guy you can find. I think the use of steroids was more prevalent than we will ever know. As big a douchebag as he is, I think Canseco may have been close when he estimated 80% of the players at one time or another had tried steroids. It certainly explains the dramatic increase in home runs and pitching speeds we saw in the 90s.

My point isn't that Clemens took HGH or steroids. My issue with Clemens is his staunch denials. I think many of us already believe he took performance enhancers; the details seem too accurate, the dates too specific. That Petitte verified his own use is the worst thing that could have happened to Clemens. It validated their personal trainer's account to the Mitchell investigators. Up until then everyone had him painted as a slimeball selling out his big name clients in an attempt to minimize his own jail term.

Petitte, Roberts, Vina all did the correct thing. They fessed up. Fans don't care that players took steroids. Hell, a majority probably think all players in the 90s were doing it at some point. We just want them to be straight up. Don't treat us like idiots. If you're caught, admit it.

It says a lot that the three players who have most angrily denied taking steroids are turning into the poster boys for the entire era: Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, and now Roger Clemens. Meanwhile, Andy Petitte, Brian Roberts, Jason Giambi will get standing ovations when they are introduced to their home crowds next year. It's not that we've forgiven them - we never cared that much in the first place - it's that we appreciate their honesty. Hiding from it and treating the public like morons just creates ill will.

There is a small chance this isn't true. That his old personal trainer is repaying some old grudge, but I doubt it. This stinks like Barry Bonds' lame 'I thought it was flax seed oil' half denials. When the story first broke, Clemens' lawyer held a press conference in his office that same night and did some lawyer speak that talked around the subject. I said to my wife, 'Huh, he didn't really come straight out and deny it'.

Well, he's making up for lost time now. Denying up, down and all around. Sorry, Roger, we ain't buying it and now it's too late. If you had been honest with us, we would already be getting over it. It isn't really that hard. All you needed to say was 'You know what, I did take steroids for a little while. I thought my career was over and needed something to prove. Since I saw everyone else doing it, I felt I needed to keep up with the competition. Obviously I regret that decision and stopped when I considered all the long term consequences. To my body and my reputation.'
See? It's easy. I just made that up on the fly. The media would have been eating out of your hand.

Instead you're arrogantly playing the 'don't you know who I am?' card and asking us for patience while you hide behind your lawyer.

That, in a nutshell, is why Bonds and Clemens will be the fall guys for this era. Not that they took HGH or 'roids, but that they are treating fans like their retarded step brothers. Saying 'I would never do anything like that. Have I ever lied to you? Why don't you go back to playing dominoes while I inject this vitamin supplement. That's a good boy'.

I guess we can only blame ourselves. We treat these athletes like gods from such an early age they are instilled with the belief they can do and say anything they want without question. They are so used to spoon feeding us what they want their image to be, they get confused and angry when we don't slurp up whatever is spilling out of their golden bowl. When things take a turn they can't control, they just revert back to their same behavior. 'I said I didn't do it. Why isn't that good enough? It was good enough before'. Logic and facts be damned. It's not true if they don't say it's true.

They'll keep trying, too. Bonds still won't give it up even though he's been indicted for lying under oath. Palmeiro is a walking joke now after pointing his finger at Congressional members. Now Clemens.

Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Today's distraction: Play some penguin baseball. Not nearly as fun as I remember it being.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Fine Tuned

Last night I was watching the 'Seinfeld' episode about Kramer starting his 'make your own pizza' shop and realized two things:

1: You could apply nearly every episode of Seinfeld to every day life. Monday morning coworkers were coming up to me and telling me how much fun they had with wifey and I. More then one suggested socializing after work. Immediately George Constanza's voice popped into my head: 'World's are colliding!'

2: Nearly every section of my life can be identified by what television show I was hooked on at the time. This is a more depressing realization, but one I wanted to share.

Here is a glimpse of my entire life via television. Keep in mind, I realize how pathetic this will look when it's done.

Early Childhood (ages 2 - 4): 'Sesame Street'. Just like every other kid in America. My mother told me I liked Oscar the Grouch more than any of the other characters. Guess one's predisposition is genetic, after all.

Young Childhood (ages 5-7): 'Speed Racer'. I loved this show!! I have a vivid memory of me and my brother having to go to some event after school and being a complete bastard to the people because Speed Racer was on at 3 and I was going to miss it. I can never remember what I was doing there, but I remember it was making me miss my favorite show and therefore could be no good. I think I was 5 or 6 at the time. Not a good sign.



Middle Childhood (ages 7-9): This was the easy one. 'The Six Million Dollar Man'. This was one of the greatest ideas for a show ever. I can guarantee that every boy my age did that 'Da na na na na na' sound while pretending to punch someone or imagining a pillow was a huge rock you lifted over you head. Steve Austin, Oscar Madison, that doctor who's name I can never remember, 'we can rebuild him'. One question: Is this being shown in reruns anywhere? I would watch some old episodes if it were around.

Fun fact - those incredible jumps he used to make up over walls were actually stunt men who jumped backwards off the wall. The film was then reversed to make it look like he was jumping up. Ah, the low tech days.

Another fun fact - I had the Steve Austin doll...er...action figure that you could roll up the skin on his arm to see the mechanics and could look through the back of his head and through his bionic eye. You can't tell me this wouldn't make a great movie with the special effects they have today. I smell James Cameron all over this.



Older Childhood (ages 9-11):'Looney Toons' and 'Starblazers'. The 'Looney Toons' was a Saturday morning staple. I was especially fond of the Chuck Jones cartoons which seemed a bit more sophisticated.

'Starblazers' was a Japanese cartoon that was always on as soon as I got home from school. It was basically a battleship or submarine looking thing that cruised around space. They had this massive weapon that always stopped working or they couldn't use for some reason or other. Needless to say they got it working at the last minute every episode and blew away their enemy.

Follow up here: My friend I used to watch this with just found this entire series on DVD and bought it. One catch, he tells me, it's in Japanese. 'Are there subtitles?' I ask. 'Uh....no.' Fucking great. Now I can relive one of my childhood shows in a different language.

There was also another show on just after this I used to watch all the time, but I can't remember the name of it. It was based around a bunch of bizarre superheroes like a baby who would use it's bottle to beat the bad guys. Can't remember the details and it may have been just a part of an overall program.

Early Teens (12-14): 'The Incredible Hulk'. Loved the theme of the gallant loner traveling the country trying to cure himself and failing miserably. Nobody watching wanted him cured anyway. I think I also related to it because I was going through puberty was hoping I was transforming into a massive, muscle bound beast. For the record, I only lasted two seasons before I bored of it. Think there was a stupid Spiderman show on around this time, too, that I briefly watched. I know there was more, too, but I can't remember any. Was the 'Muppet Show' on during this time? If so, that would be another one.



Mid Teens (15-16): This is where I started getting into the more adult shows. Really enjoyed 'St Elsewhere' and 'Hill Street Blues'. I also started playing more sports around this time, too, so most of my shows were prime time as I didn't watch any of the afternoon shows much any longer. I think this is how I missed the whole Transformers era. I'm not complaining.

Upper Teens (17-college): Ok, I have absolutely no memory of watching much of anything during this stage of my life. I think 'Cheers' began during this time and really enjoyed that, but not much else sticks out. If you're assuming this time was spent discovering girls, drugs and beer....well then.....

Post College (21-25): Man alive! Looking back I can't recall anything. I know 'Cheers' was still on so I watched that and I think this was when NBC created it's 'Must See Thursday' lineup, but nothing else sticks out about this time. Needless to say, this was my full fledged alcoholic stage of my life. A friend and I managed to get jobs at the same place and would take 2 hour liquid lunches, work until 8 at night, then go back out and booze until 1 am. The next day we'd do the same thing all over again. Then we would hit the Boston bars on the weekends to blow the rest of our money. Believe 'The Simpsons' and 'Married With Children' were on Sunday nights during the tail end of this phase, so I watched those regularly after football was over.




Early Adulthood (25-35): 'Seinfeld'. Might throw in the first two seasons of 'Friends', too. Only those first two seasons though. The rest were dreadful. Think the very first season of '24' (meaning the best) sneaks in here, too.


Current Old Timer (35-40): Too many to count. 'Lost' could be my favorite show ever, but I'll reserve judgement until it runs it's course. 'House', '24', 'The Office', 'Family Guy' (when I remember it's on) and nearly everything on 'Discovery Channel' is on my watch list.

Shows I Couldn't Place: I watched these at one time or another, too, but wasn't sure when they were aired. 'Dukes of Hazard' and 'The Fall Guy' I think fell into the 12-16 age. Maybe 'Charlie's Angels' too, but I only watched the Cheryl Ladd era. She was the most under rated hottie of our generation. Also, I watched the first two seasons of 'Chips', but have no idea how old I was at the time. I would guess early teens. Seems to me 'Chips' and 'The Incredible Hulk' were on about the same time.

One more notable issue. During my mid to late teen years was the Larry Bird era, so any night the Celtics were on I was watching. This was a lot in the winter months, so it might explain why I don't remember too many series.

There you go. My life of television. 'Speed Racer' is being made into a live action movie and couldn't be more disappointed. No way in hell they're doing it justice and judging by the trailer you can watch here, it could be a disaster.

Today's distraction: One movie that could turn out better than it's original television show. Watched the show once and a while in reruns and always enjoyed it, but it seemed to wear thin after a while. Perfect casting choice for the movie, by the way.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Fruit Fly and You



Before being exiled to a new floor, my office had two things my current one does not. It had a great view of Boston Harbor and it had fruit flies. The first one I miss terribly. Used to love watching the people hustle in and out of South Station and foul up traffic by intentionally cutting across the intersection when they knew they didn't have the walk signal. Every now and then one would come very close to getting creamed by a cabbie who was taking no prisoners. I rooted for the cab, just so you know. Boston traffic would run much smoother if pedestrians didn't bolt out into the street whenever they felt like it. A topic for another time.

The fruit flies I don't miss at all. My old office had one of those green plants that hung limply, grew rapidly and tried to take over any area it occupied unless it was trimmed on a weekly basis. It was one of those that didn't need much sunlight, looked like a vine and attracted fruit flies by the hundreds. I hated those things. They would hover around the periphery of my vision; bouncing around like optical illusions and were nearly impossible to catch while in flight. Every now and then one would land on my desk or monitor and I would squash it with my thumb.

Turns out I should have been more considerate. The fruit fly, it seems, is invaluable for research. Or so they say.

Who's they?

They is University of Illinois researcher David Featherstone and his team who have discovered a 'previously unknown regulator of synapse strength' that determines the homosexual tendencies of the fruit fly. Suddenly their name makes sense! Featherstone's team discovered that with genetic manipluation and/or drugs they could turn the regulator on and off. That's right. The sexual orientation of fruit flies was found to be genetic. Conservative Christians around the world must be salivating.

According to Featherstone, his team first became interested in that gene (named 'genderblind' or GB) because it did something or other. I would explain but it's all gibberish to me. What they noticed was that all the fruit flies that had the GB gene were courting other males. Says Featherstone, 'It was very dramatic. The GB mutant males treated other males exactly the same way normal male flies would treat a female. They even attempted copulation'. Frustratingly, Featherstone doesn't get into whether both flies were GB positive, who asked who out first, whether buying dinner was mandatory or how the fruit fly parents reacted to the news.

They is also Nilay Yapici who is mentioned in this press release which explains how things change after the fruit fly mates. Seems the female will lose interest in further sex after mating - a process we humans call 'marriage'. After studying 22,000 female flies, Yapici may have discovered a 'molecular receptor' called SPR that, when manipulated, alters the females mating habits. Why does this matter? Because this discovery could lead to birth control for various agricultural pests. Rather than spraying pesticides onto the foods we eat, we just alter a few SPRs and send the insects on their merry way. Nothing like a little genetic alteration to make our foods taste even yummier.

Wait, we're already doing that, right?

Last, but not least comes this story about how fruit flies may be the perfect model for studying a common side effect of stroke victims and organ transplant recipients. Scientists at UC San Diego and UNLV have figured out how to replicate 'reperfusion injury - a condition that occurs when an organ is starved of oxygen, then exposed to oxygen again' in fruit flies, thus letting doctors research the problem in an inexpensive, convenient method.

Think twice next time you go to squash one of those annoying little mites. You could be killing the cure for cancer.

Today's distraction: Play fly concentration (turn down your volume if at work). I always sucked at this game and this time was no different.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Weekend Thoughts

Every single muscle in my upper back/shoulder area is screaming in pain today. No, I didn't start working out again - wait, let me rephrase that. I didn't VOLUNTARILY start working out again. I merely had to move approximately one ton of snow off my driveway, sidewalk and walkways Sunday morning.

I fucking hate winter. I'm done with it already and it's not even officially winter yet. Still, I'm toughing it out (it hurts just typing) for all my loyal readers out there. My official count has it up to five now, so I'm making progress.

Some random stories/thoughts from this past weekend.

- Holiday party was a blast, believe it or not. Wifey and I made fun of people and I even told off one of the pompous assholes I work with. Great fun! Only complaint was there wasn't nearly enough food. You need solid food if you're having an open bar. Surprisingly, very few drunken fools which was sort of disappointing.

- My wife leaves before me in the mornings and today was no different. I can tell there's trouble, when after leaving, she immediately calls from her cell. This morning was very icy, so I thought she was calling to tell me she slid down our steep hill and totalled the car. Not quite. Instead I have this conversation:

'Can you do me a huge favor?' (For all you unmarried men out there, when your wife starts any conversation this way you are about to be inconvenienced in a major way. One of the main differences between men and women is when a man needs a 'huge favor' it's usually getting him another beer from the fridge)

'Ummmm....OK'

'Can you write a note and stick it on the car across the street?'

'Sure, can I write anything on it or is there something specific you need it to say?'

'I backed into it when I was leaving.'

I've just added another way to have a morning ruined. I write the note and run across to put it on our neighbor's car and notice that wifey didn't just back into it, she basically rammed it. Huge dent and scrape on the back driver side door. Yeesh. There goes Christmas.

- Apparently the Patriots can win in any fashion and in any weather. Although it could be that the Jets just suck this year.

- Did you catch Miami Dolphins celebrating like they won the Super Bowl yesterday? My how the mighty have fallen.

- The Jaguars went into Pittsburgh and beat the Steelers yesterday. What I can't figure out is if this means the Jaguars are that good or the Steelers have been over rated. In the last two weeks, the so called 'best defense' in the league had no answer for two of the three best teams in the AFC.

- Enough with the hypocrisy, already! A big stink was raised when Barack Obama confessed to experimenting with drugs as a teenager. I particularly like the 'inhaling was the whole point' line he used. Some other campaign camps (Hi, Hillary) went after him for it while the general American public shrugged their shoulders. C'mon, now, do any of us think Hillary never experimented with any sort of drugs or under age drinking when she was a teenager? How about John McCain who did tours in Vietnam where drugs were rampant? Personally, I respect Obama more now. His honest confession was much more authentic and sincere then Bill Clinton's ridiculous 'I didn't inhale' story. Just be straight with us, candidates. We know you're just people, even if you don't want us to think so.

- Personal note: I wouldn't vote for a candidate that did not experiment in some way with drugs. It's a normal part of growing up and finding out what kind of person you are. I have instinctive distrust concerning anybody that doesn't have some sort of vice. Everyone has one and I would rather it be in the open than have to wonder about it. If you would like examples, please see Gary Hart, Larry Craig, Marion Berry, and Bill Clinton.

- This includes the current President, by the way. We still have yet to figure out his vice and it will come out eventually. And, no, stupidity is not a vice; it's a personality trait. I'm betting he still boozes. Or maybe he's a pathological liar. That seems to fit.

- OK, my fantasy football story. Two weekends ago I was head to head with the guy tied for fourth place with me. Winner goes onto the playoffs (only the top four teams go). Well, it just so happened he has Tom Brady as his QB. Right. They guy scores like 56 fantasy points on me. Also turns out my old reliables like Wes Welker, Justin Fargas and Dwight Clark have shitty days. Between the three of them I only got about 20 points.

So here was the deal. Monday night's game was the Saints at Falcons. I have Drew Brees and Marques Colston both going, but I'm down 80 points. I figure, there is a slight chance that I can pull this off. Both need big games. Guess what? In the first half Brees throws a pair of touchdown passes to Colston and I'm suddenly right back in this thing. Third quarter starts and Brees throws another touchdown pass. Holy shit!

I get an email from my opponent that reads simply 'Fuckin' Brees!'. So Saints are up 28-7 or something and the Falcons have the ball. I think 'the worst thing that can happen is an interception return for a touchdown, since that will put the game out of reach and they'll stop throwing the ball.' Three plays later - yup, interception return for a touchdown. Un-fucking-believable.

Sadly, the play I'll be relieving the rest of the winter will be the touchdown pass Brees threw right into the hands of his tight end....only to have him drop it and force the team to settle for a field goal. Why will I be reliving that play? Final score 180-174. Dammit!

Today's distraction: Play Catch 33. Addicting and carpal tunnel inducing game.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Nutmeg and Vodka

Tonight is a special night.

Tonight everyone I work with will get all gussied up, try to put the best face on their significant other and trek through the snow to our company's 'Holiday Party'. Yeah, it's that time of year again.

I skipped last year's party (for reasons much too convoluted to get into) but figure the slate has been cleansed enough that I can venture forth. Normally, I'm not a 'company guy' and one of the few people I get along well with at work isn't actually going this year. I'm disappointed, but I completely understand.

Think about it. If you eliminate sleep, we all spend more time with the people we work with than the people we live with. I average 50 hours a week at my job. I spend an hour or so in the mornings with my boys and maybe 30 minutes with my wife (which she spends getting ready for work, so I actually SEE her for maybe 10) before heading to school/work. When I get home it's close to 7pm and my youngest goes to bed between 8 - 8:30. My oldest between 8:30 and 9. That gives me an 60-90 minutes at night.

On an average work day, I see my kids for 3 hours. Tops.

Meanwhile, I spend 10 hours are spent commuting back and forth to work with people I don't particularly like. Sure, there are a few I enjoy seeing and chatting with, but for the most part my coworkers annoy the living shit out of me. I always tell my wife that if it weren't for people, my job would be great! She just rolls her eyes, takes another sip of wine and goes back to watching 'Intervention'.

So why would we want to spend what little free time we have socializing with people we already see all day, every day?

Well, several reasons:

- Open bar

- Free food (better be good, too, dammit!)

- Opportunity to relate to coworkers in a different environment. Considering the office is supposedly a 'professional work place', the holiday party is an acceptably casual event to relax and joke with people you normally wouldn't.

- To show off boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse. This can often lead to disaster, but it's fun to watch someone else's significant other make a complete ass of him/herself. This actually leads us to...

- Afraid of missing something. Since I missed last year's, I only got to hear second and third hand about some questionable dancing, inappropriate touching of a married woman, and general drunken behavior. I don't want to hear about those things, I want to see them first hand. Nothing like one of the big wigs behaving like a buffoon and leveling the office playing field. He may still be in charge, but I witnessed you making a pass at your coworker's wife and can bring it up any time. Now, about that raise.

So, I'm going. Going to soak up as much free booze I can, gather as much dirt as I can, and, if lucky, have some fun.

Wish me luck. I'm going to need it.

Today's distraction: Eleven 'DONT'S' of a company holiday party. Completely disagree with 'Don't take advantage of open bar'. It goes against everything I believe in.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

AFC Blitzkrieg!!!

This title gets more exclamation points since it's the better league. Just stating facts.

Hey, you know that green dot on the back of all the quarterback's helmets? Well, it's been driving me crazy, but I finally have an answer. Seems NFL rules have specified that only one person on the field can have sideline communication in their helmet. The green dot signifies which player has the comm gear. See? I can edumacate, too!!

I would think this means one defensive player would have a green dot, but I have yet to see one.

Onward.

AFC EAST

New England Patriots (13-0): What's left to say? They are an absolute force of nature right now. Only question now is whether they sit the starters for entire halves the rest of the way. What are they playing for? We may not see a meaningful game involving the Patriots until the second round of the playoffs.

Buffalo Bills (7-6): This team isn't nearly as bad as they show at times. Solid defense, good running game with Lynch. They just have no quarterback and I don't think JP Losman is the answer. Edwards? Jury, as they say, is still out.

Hey, despite only giving up 291 points so far this year and being over .500 the Bills have lost both games to the Patriots by a combined score of 94-17. Ouch! The Pats have scored a third of all points against this team for the ENTIRE SEASON! You getting the picture with this Pats team? Note: I may add a Patriots tidbit with every team in this rundown. It's fun!

New York Jets (3-10): A colossal step backwards this year. Just horrible. Defense has regressed and, besides the names on the back, can anyone really tell the difference between Clemens and Pennington? Both seem slightly above average to me.

By the way, they're playing the Pats this weekend. Did you know that? I wonder if Mangini will burst into tears at some point.

Miami Dolphins (0-13): Lost amid all this Patriots talk is the fact that the Dolphins may be the first team in history to finish 16 games out of first place. At least their first year coach didn't bail on them with three games left.


AFC NORTH

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-4): I wasn't sold on this team even before the Patriots crushed them like a bug. They lost to the Jets for crying out loud and almost lost the Dolphins in one of the worst games I can ever remember. And people thought this was the team to beat the Pats?

Note: The Patriots put up 399 yards passing and 34 points against the league's best defense.

Cleveland Browns (8-5): Derek Anderson single handedly saved my fantasy season. I had McNabb and after week 5 benched his ass in favor of Anderson. I haven't lost since. Needless to say I like this team. Besides being coached by Romeo, they are one of the few teams that seem like they're enjoying themselves. They have no defense (which is ironic, considering the rep of the head coach) and will probably be bounced in the first round, but no team wants to take any chances with these guys in the playoffs.

Note: They lost to the Patriots 34-17 in week 5 when Derek Anderson threw 3 interceptions.

Cincinnati Bengals (5-8): What the holy hell happened with this team? Everyone expected them to rebound into 2005 form and, defensively (again with a head coach who made his name in defense) are one of the worst. Offensively, they've been spotty, as well. Looking great one half, horrible the next. Might be time for some fresh blood in the head coaching chair.

Baltimore Ravens (4-9): I had to be reminded that this team was 11-3 last season and nearly beat the Colts in the playoffs. Is Adalius Thomas that good?

I know this is two weeks late, but found it fascinating that the Ravens bitched about the referees after the Pats loss when they spent the entire game holding and grabbing the Patriot receivers and not getting one flag. It took an absolute mugging in the end zone in the fourth quarter for the refs to finally call it. At one point, they showed a shot of Wes Welker and Tom Brady conferring on the sideline after another sputtering drive and Welker angrily pointed to the field, violently grabbed the front of his own jersey then pointed to the field again. While I can't read lips, I'm pretty sure I know what he was saying.


AFC SOUTH

Indianapolis Colts (11-2): One of the two main threat to the Patriots (see below). The most well rounded of all the teams in either league. Can run, pass, defend. However, I can't see them going far without Harrison. What's going on with him?

Jacksonville Jaguars (9-4): This team seems to have it all, but just can't seem to get over the hump. Have lost twice to the Colts and somehow managed to get manhandled by the Titans the first week of the season. Appear to be peaking and getting healthy at the right time. Will be trouble for a lot of teams.

Pats Note: This is the team that could knock off the Pats if they meet in the playoffs. Tough defense, over powering running game and a QB that rarely makes mistakes.

Tennessee Titans (7-6): Vince Young still hasn't convinced me. He shows signs of brilliance only to make some stupid decision the very next play. Oh, and this team has defeated one team with a winning record all year. That would be the Jaguars on week one.

Houston Texans (6-7): I actually like this team more than the Titans. Think if they had stayed semi-healthy they would have been formidable. As the Texans' fans are used to hearing, maybe next year.


AFC WEST

San Diego Chargers (8-5): You tell me if this team is a threat. They lost to New England 38-14. They beat the Broncos 41-3. They beat the Colts and lost to the Chiefs. Considering they play the Lions, Chiefs and Raiders their last three games, they could end up the most unconvincing 11-5 team in history.

Denver Broncos (6-7): Even with the Chargers around, the Broncos are runaway winners of the Jekyll and Hyde award. They got killed by the Chargers 41-3, then beat the Steelers 31-28 the very next week. Two weeks later they lose to Detroit 44-7, then beat the Chiefs 27-11 the following week. Flip a coin.

Oakland Raiders (4-9): Well at least they have more wins then last year. They also have the best white running back in Justin Fargas. At least I think he's white. Still, a decent quarterback would be nice.

Kansas City Chiefs (4-9): I don't even know what to say about this team. They're not nearly as bad as the record indicates, but not nearly as good as you would think they would be. Let's just scratch this year and check win with them next August. Agreed?


Random, Useless Prediction: Patriots and Jaguars in AFC Title game. Winner beats the snot out of whichever half ass team comes out of the NFC.


Today's distraction: Some New England Patriots trivia. Hey, I am from Boston and they are the talk of the league. Just going with the flow.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

NFC Blitzkrieg!!

I've been ignoring football long enough. Now that my fantasy season is over (will explain later; still recovering from a tough loss) I can focus on the overall picture. A rundown of the entire league. Today will be the NFC, otherwise known as JV.

NFC EAST
Dallas Cowboys (12-1): A lot of 'experts' are calling the Cowboys the team to beat in the NFC. So be it. I just want to point out something. The Cowboys have played the following teams this year: Giants (twice), Eagles (twice), Bears, Rams, Bills, Patriots, Vikings, Redskins, Jets, Packers and Lions. Combined record 75-68. However, if you take out the Patriots - who crushed 'the best team in the NFC' in their own stadium - the record falls to 62-68. In fact, take out the Packers and it falls to 51-66. Make of that what you will. Let's just say I'm not convinced any of the top 3 teams in the NFC can hang with any of the top 3 teams in the AFC. Can you see Dallas beating any of these teams in the Super Bowl - Patriots, Colts, or Steelers? How about the Jaguars? Alrighty then.

New York Giants (9-4): This year's edition of the 2006 Chicago Bears. Tough, relentless defense that is undermined by a shaky quarterback nearly every time he takes the field. On the flip side, love the new Eli commercial that calls him 'unstoppable'. Wonder how many TVs Strahan has busted upon seeing that commercial.

Washington Redskins (6-7): Even before one of their best defensive players was murdered in his own home, there was a strange vibe about this team. They get absolutely humiliated in New England and barely bat an eye. Seemed like the fight was long gone. Any self respecting team would have at least tried to cheap shot someone in a game like that.

Philadephia Eagles (5-8): The less Donovan McNabb plays, the more evident it is he is a hindrance to the rest of the offense. Kind of like Kobe and the Lakers. Everyone seems to stand around and wait for him to do something. Only he isn't capable of doing it any longer. Maybe Terrell Owens was on to something, after all.

NFC NORTH:
Green Bay Packers (11-2): I was highly skeptical of this team until Grant turned into a Pro Bowl running back. Where the hell did he come from? Now they have all the ingredients every successful playoff team needs: solid defense, good running game, playoff tested quarterback. Despite the loss, this seems like a better team than the Cowboys.

Minnesota Vikings (7-6): Even with the anemic 3 yards rushing last week, Adrian Peterson has transformed this team. He's infused an attitude that I'm convinced originated with a week 2 play. Peterson gets the ball, runs 3-4 yards and is hit head on. Instead of going down, he lowers his shoulder, digs in and drives the defender up and back. First down Vikings. No quit in this team and it starts with Peterson. He has this team on both sides of the ball believing in themselves. Every NFC team is hoping they miss the playoffs.

Detroit Lions (6-7): Five weeks ago this team was the surprise of the year; sitting at 6-2 and dubbed 'God's Team'. Guess God turned his attention elsewhere, because this team is falling faster than the ratings for 'Heroes'.

Chicago Bears (5-8): Rex Grossman or Brian Griese. Brian Griese or Rex Grossman. Guess which team is picking the best available quarterback in the first round of next year's draft. And second round. And fourth round....

NFC SOUTH
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5): Seem to be winning this division by default. Nothing at all impressive about them and dreadful to watch. Still, if they get a good match up in the playoffs (Hello there, Cowboys!!), they could surprise many.

New Orleans Saints (6-7): What the hell happened here? Injuries have helped (or hurt), of course, but they've still shown signs of life during the season. Seem to take two steps back for every one forward. That Brees was my fantasy QB just made it that much more infuriating.

Carolina Panthers (5-8): Another disappointing team decimated by injuries to nearly every quarterback on their roster. Steve Smith must be so happy.

Atlanta Falcons (3-10): An atrocious offensive team. Are you shocked they've managed to win 3 games while scoring a total of 171 points? You should be. Christ, even Miami has scored more than 210! Guess which other team is drafting a QB this off season? No, really. Guess! Now guess which one just had their coach quit on them? What a guy!

NFC WEST
Seattle Seahawks (9-4): Don't look now, but the Seahawks have already clinched their division, Alexander is getting healthy, Morris is a more than capable backup and the defense is under rated, if a bit spotty. Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't these guys in the Super Bowl two years ago? Hmmmm. On the other hand, they've played all of the teams below twice this year.

Arizona Cardinals (6-7): Since they're on the verge of yet another losing season, wouldn't it be better to just rename the team, change uniform colors and start fresh? It can't hurt, right? Can cardinals actually live in the desert? I'd like to suggest the Arizona RoadRunners. They're indigenous to the area and they could play the Looney Tunes theme song before each game or after each touchdown. Or that 'beepbeep - zip - dang' sound after a sack. The options are limitless.

San Francisco 49ers (3-10): Let's just chalk this up to growing pains and be done with it. I have no other explanation for how a team that looked so good last year, can look so bad this year. Unless Alex Smith really isn't that good.

Saint Louis Rams (3-10): Anyone who says the offensive line isn't important needs to take a look at this team. As soon as their main offensive linemen are lost with injuries, the entire offense grinds to a halt. Wonder if Steven Jackson wanted to hire the actors that played his linemen in that Nike commercial?

Random, Useless, Most Likely Incorrect Prediction: Seahawks make the Super Bowl.

Today's distraction: Take a football test. I got 6 out of 10 correct. Was surprised at numbers 5 and 6.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Reverse Thinking

You've heard about this global warming thing, right? That little problem about us pumping too many greenhouse gas emissions into the air thus causing a cataclysmic, end of the world scenario for our kids. You know about that right?

For those living in a cave, thus using little electricity and helping save the environment (kudos to you!), here is some useful data courtesy of the Worldwatch Institute to help feed your nightmares:

- In 2006, the world used 3.9 billion tons of oil. Fossil fuel usage in 2005 produced 7.6 billion tons of carbon emissions, and atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide reached 380 parts per million. (Care to guess which country leads the world in carbon emissions?)

- More wood was removed from forests in 2005 than ever before.

- Steel production grew 10 percent to a record 1.24 billion tons in 2006, while primary aluminum output increased to a record 33 million tons. Aluminum production accounted for roughly 3 percent of global electricity use.

- The rise in global seafood consumption comes even as many fish species become scarcer: in 2004, 156 million tons of seafood was eaten, an average of three times as much seafood per person than in 1950.

What does this all mean? It means with more carbon emissions, fewer trees to recycle it into oxygen, and our hearty appetite for energy and lobster rolls, we're heading toward the Shit Creek rapids with no paddle, life preserver or helmets.

Are you properly alarmed? Let's hope so. Not that I'm here to depress you. Far from it. I'm here to entertain, enlighten, inform and insult. I've got one of those four perfected, so it's time to practice the other three.

The WWF (no, not Hulk Hogan's thing) recently published a report stating it's not too late to reverse the trend. The six step plan includes such basics as improving energy efficiency, reducing forest loss, accelerating alternative energy development and developing flexible fuels. I believe the name of the report was titled 'D for DUH!'

Personally, I find it sad that such basic measures for saving our own planet have been delayed for such a long time. We've had the technology (electric car, anyone?) for decades, but the politicians in charge of forcing such change basically have no balls. God forbid they pass legislation that would force those billion dollar car companies to improve their fuel economy and reduce emissions that their vehicles produce. Sure, they have to an extent, but not nearly as much as is needed. Instead we have more horsepower for bigger and bigger SUVs. Check out this son of a bitch and try to figure out why the MPG is listed as N/A. Really? My mileage is not applicable? It will be when I try to pay that gas pump bill. Oh, it will be very applicable then! On the plus side, you're only paying $51,000 for it.

We aren't giving up, however. As a country we'll fight to the death to find an alternative way to rid the environment of excess carbon dioxide rather then giving up our cool cars. Check out this plan to fertilize the world's oceans with iron to promote algae blooms. The phytoplankton will then eat up the excess carbon dioxide as it grows and - wah la - instant fix. Don't worry about the cost, though (only an estimated $100 billion), we will spare no expense if it means we can keep our Hummers and Navigators.

Hold on! Put away your wallets. No need to contribute to the billions of dollars needed to run this venture. Turns out new research has shown that not all algae blooms transport the carbon dioxide to the deep ocean (called 'Biological Pump' - which better not be like a breast pump) as previously thought. Blooms occurring in the summer don't push the carbon to the deep, rather it uses shallow waters. This means the carbon goes right back into the air.

Just as well, anyway. I can just imagine what fields of artificially created algae blooms would do to the ocean. Bad enough we've screwed up our own air, but can we agree to not introduce anything new into the ocean. I'm sure our ruining the world's coral reefs and polluting Shamu's home are enough for now. Besides, that excess carbon still goes somewhere, right? Just deep down in the ocean. What happens then?

Back to the drawing board.

Still, there are legitimate ideas showing enormous promise. Check out these new fangled discoveries:

- Princeton, NJ based Syrdec is developing a material that will generate electricity from 'ambient room heat'. The long term plan is this new material being made into a laptop. The laptop will then draw heat from whatever room it's in (needs to be 72 degrees or above) and convert it into electricity to power itself. Now imagine this material made into cars, television sets, ovens, washing machines...you get the point. Hell, one summer in Florida should be enough to power the entire country for 10 years.

- Scientists in Pennsylvania have created a fuel cell that creates electricity from coal pollution. No kidding! How cool would that be? No idea how it would work, but imagine cleaning the air while creating energy.

- MIT has developed a process that converts garbage into alternative ethanol fuel. And the process uses virtually no energy. Unlike another alternative fuel I've vowed not to mention again.

- Sandia's researchers may have found a way to convert solar power into 'carbon neutral liquid fuels'. The researchers intend to 'chemically “reenergize” carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide using concentrated solar power. The carbon monoxide could then be used to make hydrogen or serve as a building block to synthesize a liquid combustible fuel, such as methanol or even gasoline, diesel and jet fuel'. That's right. Take carbon dioxide (of which we have too much) and make it into liquid fuel (of which we don't have enough).

- The University of Calgary has discovered a new 'methane eating bacteria' in the hot springs area known as Hell's Gate. This new bacteria could fight global warming by 'reducing methane gas emissions from landfills, mines, industrial wastes, geothermal power plants and other sources'. Perfect! I'm sure nothing can go wrong by introducing a new bacteria into the environment.

All of this doesn't include me installing my own wind powered turbine in my backyard. I'm high enough up and have lost enough shingles on my roof to make it feasible. Hell, I've looked into solar panels but they're too expensive to get installed.

Don't worry if all of the above fail miserably. We can always genetically engineer some sort of 'Mighty Mouse' to save the world. Maybe it can run fast enough to reverse the earth's rotation and bring us back in time.

Today's distraction: A sneak peak at the next Ice Age. Looking at this and experiencing an early New England winter makes me think global warming really isn't so bad. Can we wait a few years before we take any corrective action?

Monday, December 10, 2007

R.E.M.

The most complicated relationship in any person's life will inevitably be with the person they marry. This isn't to say you won't love that person. In fact, the love you feel for that person tends to be the reason things are so complicated. If you didn't love them, you would most likely murder them in some gruesome fashion.

Allow me to demonstrate. Saturday was set aside to put together the new bunkbeds for the boys. Two year old has been banging around in his crib and seven year old's mattress is older than I am (and that's saying something), therefore we killed two birds by buying a bunkbed and combining the boys into one room.

We bought a solid, discontinued model at Jordan's Furniture for less than $500. Not a bad deal. And, since I'm a cheap mofo (by necessity), I refused to pay $100 for delivery and assembly. I can put it together myself, I thought. How hard can it be?

Doubts began surfacing when I picked up the bed and wound up having to make two trips because there were WAAYYY too many boxes. Whatever. I'm capable and semi-handy and I will succeed. However, considering the number of boxes I set aside the entire day to get this done. I'm thinking I'll have to put together the beds, the ladder, stack them up, install the mattress support slats, etc.

Plus, if wifey insists on helping the unexpected can happen. This is where our relationship gets complicated. And by complicated I mean she drives me fucking crazy and I want to choke the life out of her at times. Example? I was looking at the wall where we were going to place the bunkbeds and noticed that there were two things hanging on it. Thinking aloud I mentioned that one of them was probably going to have to come down.

Wifey pounced on that and started peeling a Red Sox picture down. I told her to wait because that might not be the one to take down. 'I'll just take it down now. Will just take a second.'

'Just leave it!'

'I got it,' she says and gives a yank. With the picture comes a huge chunk of plaster from the wall. Really, now. Before things even get underway an unexpected wrinkle. I just stand there and stare at the big hole in the wall wondering how exactly that picture was important.

Wifey sheepishly hands me the picture, 'Those adhesives weren't supposed to do that. It said it wouldn't take the paint off.'

'Well', I answer, 'technically it took the plaster off, so I guess it isn't false advertising'.

I'll give her credit, though, after that she took the boys downstairs and stayed out of my way. I patched the wall (still need to paint it), got the beds together and was done by 1:30. The beds were mainly together, I just had to screw the main pieces in place. Wasn't nearly as horrible as I thought it would be.

The best part? Apparently the old beds were so uncomfortable it would wake the boys up. Since they've been in the new beds both are sleeping like the dead. I haven't been this well rested since...well...since I've had kids! And yesterday, my two year old actually walked himself upstairs and put himself to bed for a nap. No shit! Didn't even realize he was gone until my seven year old came down to tell me he was asleep. I thought he was just playing quietly in the playroom.

Things are looking up.

At least until the next project I need to initiate: Toilet training the two year old. Yeah, I know!

Today's distraction: Capturing that special moment. I may be cynical (ok, I'm definitely cynical) but some of these look doctored.

Friday, December 7, 2007

2007 News Awards

I didn't want to put list this as a 'Best Of' since some of these stories shouldn't be considered the best of anything. So, just the more noteworthy news stories from the past year. Again, in no particular order.

LEAST SURPRISING
Runner Up
Marion Jones Admits Using Steroids: She was married to a guy who tested positive and was stripped of his medal. She trained at BALCO. There have been rumors about her doping for years, yet we're supposed to be shocked when she finally comes clean (pun intended)? Her attempt at forcing the tears out at the press conference proves there is no acting career in her future.

Winner
Britney Spears Enters Rehab: Even before she shaved her head, we all knew something was up with the baby dropping, pussy flashing, ex-Mouseketeer. She even had that bloated look to her. Nothing like marriage and kids to bring out the alcoholic redneck in a girl.

MOST ENTERTAINING
Senator Larry Craig Arrested: Let's run down everything this story had to offer (and might not be done, yet!).

- Republican, anti-gay, holier-than-thou Senator coming on to a male undercover police officer in an airport men's room

- A national lesson into anonymous, gay sex body language

- Debates on what constitutes a wide stance

- Craig pleading guilty in the hopes this didn't become public. Craig then saying he only pleaded guilty to keep it from becoming public but really didn't do anything. Craig resigning from the Senate, then potentially un-resigning, then wanting to take his guilty plea back.

- Craig's indignant, vehement denials of being gay.

- The stall where the incident becoming a tourist attraction.

JERRY BRUCKHEIMER AWARD
Tanker Truck Rolls Over in Everett, Mass: Amazingly nobody is hurt, but nearly 10,000 gallons of gasoline spills, ignites, and rolls down Main Street setting fire to buildings, sewers, and causing as many as 40 cars to explode. Check out the destruction here. For those of you not from this area, Everett didn't look much better before the fire.

PERSON I WOULD MOST LIKE TO PARTY WITH AWARD
Lindsay Lohan: Arrested twice this year. Once while in possession of cocaine. She rocks! Note: This is being renamed The Lindsay Lohan Award.

HEAD UP THEIR ASS AWARD
Conservative Christian Leaders Endorse Prenatal Procedure To Prevent Homosexuality: They'll stomp out this monstrosity once and for all!! Well, if being gay is biological, that is. Here is the article from King Head Up His Ass, Albert Mohler. Keep in mind he's referring to a study about rams, which, considering we're discussing gay sex, is an entirely new level of irony.

'AS THE WORLD TURNS' AWARD
Anna Nicole Smith: Her son dies under strange circumstances, her own inevitable and unsurprising early death, paternity tests, autopsy results, the final unveiling of the father - who responds like he won some sort of award, and her mother emerging from the muck all make for the most muddled, depressing, unintentionally hysterical story of the year.

DOUCHEBAG OF THE YEAR AWARD
Runner Up
Alex Rodriquez and Scott Boras: Announcing ARod is exercising his opt out clause right in the middle of the World Series, over estimating the market for him, then crawling back to the Yankees trying to make nice.

Winner
Hank Steinbrenner: Despite all of the above, he signs ARod for MORE than he was making before when no other team was knocking on ARod's door. Then publicly announces he's trying to trade for Johan Santana, tells Twins he's giving them a deadline on the deal he's offering, which, in effect, takes the Yankees out of the running. He might pull himself out of this if he can still pull off a deal for Santana, but I'm betting he makes some other bizarre, ill conceived trade. Can't wait!

NEVERENDING STORY AWARD
The Iraq War: Nothing more needs to be said.

MOST PROMISING
FDA Approves New Birth Control Pill: Why is this exciting? Because this particular pill eliminates menstruation. No more cramps, headaches and - could it be? - PMS. Now if we could invent a pill that eliminates women's irrational insanity...

DREAM JOB AWARD
The Vaginal Laser Rejuvenation Institute: Three words - sign me up!

NO SHIT AWARD
Runner Up
Exercise Study: Results show that people who run are in better shape than those that don't.

Winner
NBA Study: Finds black players are whistled for more fouls than white players. The five white players in the NBA disagree.

That's all for the week, my friends. Coming next week: The saga of the bunkbeds. Not nearly as exciting as it sounds.

Today's distraction: Create and pack some factory balls. Much more entertaining and challenging than it sounds.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Best of 2007 - Movies

I noticed a trend this past year regarding movies - they're taking chances. Not all of them, of course, but major studios seem to have discovered that backing and mass distributing movies that don't have a mass appeal may actually be good for business.

Sure, there will always be the 'Spider-Man' sequels or 'Transformers' with their built in audiences and megabucks budgets Hollywood churns out year after year. But take a look at the these movies and their gross take so far this year.

300 - $210 million
Wild Hogs - $168 million - do we know consider this John Travolta's 42nd 'comeback movie'?
Knocked Up - $148 million
American Gangster - $121 million
Superbad - $121 million
Hairspray - $118 million

Besides 'Knocked Up' and 'Superbad' could there be six wildly different movies on that list? Yet, all of them cracked the top 20 in domestic gross earnings. I'll let you in on a secret. While studio executives and producers think they know what they're doing, all of them - off the record, of course - would admit they have no idea which movies will become hits and which won't. If any of them thought 'Wild Hogs' or 'Superbad' would make over $100 million COMBINED, they were either involved in the movie or coming off a weekend bender.

They take their best guesses, try to get as many stars involved as they can, make it a brand name (read: sequel) and pump as much money as they can at it to make people want to come see it. But it doesn't always work out. For every 'Shrek the Third' (a whopping $321 million) there is a 'Hannibal Rising' ($27 million) or 'Hostel 2' ($17 million). For every 'Transformers' ($319 million) there is 'The Reaping' ($25 million) or 'The Invasion' ($15 million).
It's a billion dollar crap shoot and woe to the one who rolls snake eyes. Yes, I'm talking to you Justin Timberlake. 'Alpha Dog' made $15 million, which is still $12 million more than 'Crossroads' made.

In no order, the best movies I've seen this year. Like the music entry, these movies may not have been released this year, but it's the first time I've seen them.

Children of Men: A bleak, depressing view of a future where women have stopped becoming pregnant. Contains the single most impressive 30 minutes of film near the end.

Brick: A teen murder mystery that has some of the best dialogue on film. Think of it like a teenage film noir.


The Departed: I never thought Scorsese would match 'Goodfellas' for sheer intoxicating film making, but with this he comes damn close. A master at the top of his game and finally a great Boston movie.

Pan's Labrynth: Haunting, frightening and disturbingly violent (though not for the reasons you would think). Does what a truly great film will always do: let you draw your own conclusions.

300: Macho, violent, and surprisingly resonant

28 Weeks Later: Yeah, it's gory. Yes, it's scary at times. But what makes this stick out is it's unflinching examination between doing a good deed and doing the right thing. Sadly, they aren't always the same.

Ratatouille: You're all rolling your eyes at me for including this, but you'll be doing yourself an injustice if you dismiss this as being a kid's movie. More intelligent, entertaining and thought provoking than most adult movies.

Casino Royale: James Bond as a dark, relentless, damaged, at times doubting super spy. Just as Ian Fleming imagined him.

The Descent: I was already engrossed in the story and relationships between the women even before the monsters were introduced (rather abruptly, I might say).

Lady Vengeance: While it doesn't live up to 'OldBoy', a subpar Chan-Wook Park is still better than many at their best.

BIGGEST SURPRISES

The Boys: I had never even heard of this movie which is a shame, because it's a good one.

Mission Impossible 3: Easily the best of the three.

Just Friends: Caught this on HBO and laughed out loud several times. Story is ordinary, but the little details - brother leaving the car windows open on the coldest night of the year, Anna Faris slowly appearing over someone's shoulder in a vicotin stupor - are hysterical. Wife and I were in tears, laughing at parts of this movie.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS

Shrek The Third: Wasn't terrible, but seemed thrown together.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Both movies actually. Saw both 2 and 3 and they were confusing, strained and, sadly, not funny.

Volver: Again, not horrible, but it's Almodovar's most half hearted.

Little Children: Complex, disturbingly funny book turned into complex, disturbing film.


Today's distraction: What is your Hollywood IQ? I did horribly on this. Maybe half of them I got right.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Now What?

Taking a break from the Best Of today so I can focus on truly important matters. Namely the potential Sox trade with Minnesota for Johan Santana. I've been sitting at work wearing out the refresh button on the ESPN web site for the past two days. I can't take it any longer. I need something to happen.

Well, something monumental did happen and I can't figure out if this is good or bad for the Red Sox. Last night the Florida Marlins traded two of their star players to the Detroit Tigers for a bunch of woulda, coulda, shoulda players. I haven't heard of any of them, but I'm guessing they are supposed to be good. Who knows.

The official line is the Tigers getting Miguel Cabrera (.320, 34 HR, 119 RBI) and Dontrelle Willis (a subpar 10-15, 5.17 ERA but who has much better stuff than that indicates) for Mike Rabelo, Andrew Miller, Cameron Maybin (?) and the deluxe pu pu platter of prospects. Supposedly, Willis was thrown in as a cost cutting measure. Kind of like how the Red Sox did the Marlins a favor and took Mike Lowell as part of the Josh Beckett deal. Man, we're still paying for that one.

For those keeping score at home, this is fire sale number 3 for the Marlins. A team that has won two World Series titles in the past eight years, at which point they trade or sell off all their stars and start from scratch. Hey, whatever works. I'm sure Hanley Ramirez is thrilled this morning. More staggering is Willis is only 25 and Cabrera is only 24. Detroit could have both these guys for the next 10-12 years!

This trade is going to have ripple effects throughout the league.

For starters, Detroit is now an instant contender. Check out this rotation: Verlander, Kenny Rogers, Willis, Jeremy Bonderman, and a pitcher of your choice.

Now check out this lineup: Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco, Edgar Renteria (who will be in the ninth spot by July), Magglio Ordonez, Gary Sheffield (remember him?), Miguel Cabrera, and Pudge Rodriguez. Did I miss anyone? Does it matter? Christ, I could hit in that lineup and they'll still score 900 runs. With this trade, they are officially the scariest lineup in the American League; which means they are the scariest team in either league. Remember, this is a team that made the Series two years ago.

What about Brandon Inge? Seems like they'll have to trade or move him to a new spot. Considering the demand for third basemen, I would bet trade.

What about the Angels? They were aggressively after Cabrera and now have zip. Do they make a deal with Detroit for Inge? I would try if I were them. Solid hitter and fielder to have on your team. Do they deal for Scott Rolen? Long injury history with him makes it a gamble.

What about the Yankees? Will this spur them to up their Santana offer? Will they panic and make some poorly designed mega trade? One can only hope.

As for the Red Sox, two things could happen with the Twins; one good, one very very bad.

Good: With this trade the Twins decide they can't compete with the Tigers for the next season or two anyway and this pushes them to clean house and trade Santana and a few of their other soon to be free agents and begin rebuilding. This would be very good for the Sox....unless.....

Bad: Now that they've been burned on the Cabrera, do the Angels make a bid on Santana? There are basically four teams that can afford Santana for the long run - Sox, Yankees (who seemed to have shot themselves in the foot with this one), Mets and Angels. Do the Angels offer whatever they were offering for Cabrera to the Twins? Is that deal better than what the Sox are offering?

It's all speculation at this point (which is why it's fun!) and anything could happen, but let's hope this doesn't snowball into the Red Sox giving up Ellsbury, Lester AND Buchholz then spending $100 million in extending Santana. I like Johan and combined with Beckett they would make a devastating 1-1a combo but, as Cleveland showed us last year, you need more than two front line starters to make an impact.

My two cents - Keep Ellsbury and either Lester or (preferrably) Buchholz. Throw in Crisp, some top line prospects and sign Santana to 5 years and $100 million. Going more than that isn't worth the cost.

Today's distraction: Keep current with the winter meeting blogs. I've been hitting this at least once an hour in hopes the Sox trade becomes official. It would make a great present!

Bonus: Quote for a National League Executive. "If the Red Sox get Santana, they might be the best team in the history of the frigging universe." If this deal gets done, I'm printing that out and hanging it on my wall.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Best of 2007 - Television



I have absolutely no funny, quirky or thought provoking introduction for this entry. This makes it perfect since I'll be discussing television shows.

In no order.

BEST TV OF THE YEAR

2007 World Series: Yeah, there was no suspense and very little drama (other then ARod's ill timed opt out announcement), but fuckin' A, the Sox are World Series Champs! Doesn't get better then that, my friends. Not even a close second.

'Lost' - Season Finale: Quite simply the best, most mind bending, perspective changing episode in television history. And, no, that's not an over statement. No single show has challenged and twisted viewers' preconceptions and expectations more effectively. Besides, there is one sure fire sign a finale has done it's job: I can't wait for the new season to start.

'House': The best written show on television. Intelligent, rude and funny, often at the same time. House is a complete dick, but I relate to him. Still haven't figured out if that says more about me or the quality of the show.

'Bones': I dismissed this show because I thought it was another 'CSI' ripoff. It is, sort of, but it's funnier, warmer and more intelligent than any of those. The key is not the mystery or the science, but the relationships (especially between Bones and Booth) that make this show click.

'Carpoolers': Granted this isn't the most original or creative show, but it does something that very few sitcoms have done lately - it makes me laugh. Jerry O'Connell is a surprisingly good comic actor and the older married couple (always liked Faith Ford) and their son, Marmaduke, provide funny stuff. At least two laugh out loud moments an episode.

'Heroes' - First Season: Original and involving, if a bit over the top and melodramatic at times. You know, just like a real comic book.

'The Office': Funniest and most consistent comedy since Seinfeld.

'Baseball Tonight': Lost a bit of it's shine this year, but when Kruk, Gammons and Phillips are together, it's still the most informative and entertaining baseball show on the air.

'Planet Earth': Besides being the exact show HD was invented for, this is beautiful, educational (in the best sense of the word) and intoxicating. Even my boys love to watch it.


BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

'24': By far the worst season of the usually high octane, suspenseful series. That said, the previews for the upcoming season look fantastic. Let's hope it doesn't fall apart like last year.

'Heroes' - Second Season: How badly does a show need to be botched that I've stopped watching? Judging by the millions of other people that have done the same, pretty bad.


WORST TV OF THE YEAR

'Grey's Anatomy': Forget the trite, routine love triangles (exactly how many can you have?), forget the lame story lines. This show sucks for one reason only: The main character is one of the most self absorbed, whiny television characters in history. Every time she comes on the screen I want to punch her in the face. Needless to say, wifey doesn't like it when I watch with her.

'Don't Forget the Lyrics': Or whatever the hell it's called. There are actually two of these on and both are pure torture. I can almost hear the meeting for this show. 'You know, everyone loves those horrible 'Idol' auditions and 'Deal or No Deal' is getting huge ratings. Let's combine the two!'

BIGGEST WASTED OPPORTUNITY

'Big Shots': Four wealthy, male friends and their ongoing pursuit of happiness. Reams upon reams of material that I was hoping would be the anti-'Desperate Housewives'. A chance to be subversive and edgy winds up being predictable and sappy. Just a chick show with male characters.

MOST FRUSTRATING SERIES

'Jericho': Moments of disturbing images and story lines are riddled with unnecessary (and boring) subplots. After the umpteenth 'community coming together' ending, I wrote this one off. Too bad, as it showed - and at times followed through - a ton of promise. If they had just focused on the main story and not everyone's love lives, this could have been great.

Today's distraction: Find out if you're addicted to television. I only scored an 8, so I'm 'moderately addicted'. On NFL Sundays and when March Madness starts, I'll be 'seek help immediately'. Can't wait!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Best of 2007 - Music

I'm beating everyone to the punch and putting together the list of all my favorite things from this year. Today is music. Later this week will also be movies, television, news stories and whatever else I can think of.

We're in December, people! It's a sprint to Christmas, New Year's and my annual February depression.

One note here - not all of these entries were officially released in 2007. They are just bands or LPs I discovered this year and can't stop listening to. Therefore they make the list.

In no particular order, the best music I've heard this year.

The Kooks - 'Inside In The Inside Out': Rocking and catchy, but more than both of those reasons, this music is fun. You remember fun don't you, rest of music industry? Besides, if you have a song on your album titled 'Jackie Big Tits' you're already one of my favorites.

The Cribs - 'Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever': A potent combination of intelligent song writing and improved musicianship is putting these guys at the top.

Arctic Monkeys - 'Favourite Worst Nightmare': Innovative punk rockers who really rock. Far and away better then the first release, which was impressive.

Peeping Tom - 'Peeping Tom': Mike Patton, the hidden genius behind Faith No More, recruits his friends and creates a complex, funny, eclectic album for the ages. Worth it just to hear Norah Jones sing dirty. By the way, this was apparently inspired by a movie by the same name. Going to have to see if this is around and rent it.

The Fratellis - 'Costello Music': Most of us know them as the band behind one of the iPod commercials, but these guys take the traditional British rock sensibility and twist it into their own, slightly demented, more free wheeling rock fest. Close cousins to the Arctic Monkeys, by the way.

Spoon - 'Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga': May have missed a 'Ga' in that title, but it really doesn't matter. Spoon continues to amaze with it's originality and consistency. Between this and 'Gimme Fiction' they have released two of the best albums in the last 5 years. Stupid title, though.

Alkaline Trio - 'Remains': Surprisingly this is their best stuff. I say surprisingly, because this is supposed to be one of those B-Side, rarity, alternate take releases that are usually just trying to fulfill a record contract. While they stay true to their punk roots, the pop takes a stronger hold on some songs and it opens up possibilities never considered before.

Blonde Redhead - '23': Alternately beautiful, haunting and upbeat. No song is like any other while every song is great. No small feat.


BEST THROWBACKS: AC/DC - 'Back In Black; Black Sabbath - 'The Dio Years'


BEST OF THE REST:

Arcade Fire - 'Neon Bible'

The Hold Steady - 'Boys and Girls in America'

You Am I - 'Convicts'

The French Kicks - '2000'


Album I really wanted to like, but just couldn't commit

Cold War Kids - 'Robbers & Cowards: One of the more creative and offbeat releases of the year, but too many misfires like 'God, Make Up Your Mind' and 'Saint John' (maybe they should stay away from religious topics). Still, 'Passing the Hat' and 'Robbers' nearly make up the difference.

Biggest Disappointment

Irving - 'Death in the Garden, Blood On the Flowers': One of my favorites puts out a experimental, seemingly half assed effort.

On another, non musical note (Get it? Note? Music?) this is no way to start off the week:

Snow...

followed by rain...

followed by my shoveling the heavy white evil at 6:30 in the morning...

followed by my seven year old coming out to help and accidentally locking us out of the house...

followed by me climbing onto our wet, snow covered roof and breaking into my own house...

followed later by getting onto the subway and having to smell a fat, stinky, sweating man in close proximity to me for the entire ride.

On the bright side, it can only improve from here. Right?

Um, right??

Today's distraction: Play one of the more addictive games I've stumbled across lately. It's Juggler and be prepared to set aside at least 30 minutes for this graphic piece of crack.