Wednesday, January 30, 2008

System Failure

Since my daily life revolves around the inner workings of computers and networks and other technical gizmos, I have an intense distrust of any new technologies. Not that they are useless, I'm just wary. It could be the greatest technological innovation ever, but I'll still think of ways it could destroy the world or, at the very least, inconvenience everyone when it craps out. And, believe me, it will crap out eventually.

Let's take the iPhone as an example. Granted it's cool and sleek and trendy, but you ever think what that touch screen is going to look like after a month's worth of use? Let's just say Windex probably isn't going to be of much use. Now let's consider that the iPhone will most likely have all your contacts, music, email, etc on it. You might want to keep things backed up just in case. And, let's face it, how many of us do that on a regular basis? I do, but I'm a professional and have learned the harsh lessons of others.

It is with this skeptical mind set that I rolled my eyes when my wife informed me our town had setup a 'reverse 911' calling system. If you aren't familiar, it's an automated system that calls parents and teachers to tell them of school closings, snow emergencies, water main breaks, and takes your coffee orders. That last one was made up, but would be much more useful.

When wifey asked - and I quote - 'what's your problem?', I informed her that this all sounds great in theory, but just wait until it 'forgets' to call you and you show up with everyone else when school has been called off or someone figures out how to hack it and manages to send out fake no school announcements. 'You are so negative' was the gist of her answer, although I'm fairly sure there was a curse involved.

With this in mind, allow me to pass along a little story that will probably make the news tonight. It involves my seven year old, who was dropped off at school this morning by my mother in law. My mother in law is what you would call 'anal retentive'. She will stand in line with my eldest and watch until he walks in the door of the school; whereas I barely come to a stop as he jumps out of the car and runs to the line.

Around 11:45 this morning I get a call from wifey saying that the school's reverse 911 system just called our house saying my son was absent from school. My mother in law, who was watching my youngest at our house, was in a full fledged panic and was heading to the school. I tell her I will call the school and see what's going on, but to keep calm.

I attempt calling the school and instantly get a busy signal. I hit redial and same thing. Suspicions are arousing. I have to hang up and hit redial ten times before I get through and when I do, only get someone's voice mail. I leave a message asking someone to confirm that my son is actually in class and to call my cell when they figure out what's going on.

I call wifey back to tell her what I think is going on and before I even get words out of my mouth she says, 'The fucking automated system screwed up! It called all the parents telling them their kids were absent'.

Normally, you could shrug and bitch about ghosts in the machine, but this was preying on every parent's worst nightmare. I confess to getting that nauseating knot in my stomach when my wife told me the school couldn't find our son. Being in Boston, there wouldn't be much I could do even if this was a worst case scenario. I had my coat half on - ready to bolt - while I attempted to call the school; standing at my desk, shoving what I needed in my pockets, repeatedly hitting redial.

But as bad as this situation seems, it was even worse. See, the automated system called every parent of EVERY CHILD in the school system saying they were not in school. That's a whole, hellavalot of parents. You can imagine the rest. Every school in my town had parents flocking to the school in the middle of the day in a panic, wondering and imagining what had happened to their child.

My mother in law drove down with my youngest and was met with traffic gridlock, parents leaving their idling cars in the middle of the street and running down the street to the school, police arriving with screaming sirens. It was insanity on a major scale. Parents dropped what they were doing at home, left work early, took cabs or had friends drive them from Boston all convinced someone had kidnapped their child. And it happened at every school in town.

In two words: Holy shit!

Oh, look, it's in the news already. Let the good times roll!

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go get a shot of Jack Daniels to calm my nerves.

Today's distraction: A fantastically addicting game. Just collect the green balls, hit the blues to save what you have and avoid the reds. Simple, yet relentless.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Non Stop Weekend

Most of my weekends are spent catering to the boys and whatever they happen to have going on. This past weekend was all about me. Well, not all about, but mostly about. Quick recap.

Friday Night: A buddy of mine called at the last minute saying he was heading into town for a few drinks. We met at Sullivan's Tap, which probably wasn't the best idea since every bar in that area was packed with people waiting to head to the Celtics game. If you've never been, Sully's Tap is a long narrow bar that is nearly impossible to navigate through. Luckily, they have $3.75 beers there, which is cheap for Boston. So we hung out there for a bit, the game crew left and we had nearly half the bar to ourselves. That was until we went to order another round and were told we needed to move down to get drinks. Apparently the bartender we had been ordering from shuts down when it gets slow. Normally this would be fine, but he was standing there doing nothing. Propped up on the back shelf with his feet on the bar.

Collectively we shrugged, said 'fuck this' and went to The Sports Bar which, despite the completely unoriginal name, completely rocks. There are no walls in this place, just television sets EVERYWHERE! Celtics game on some, Pistons game on others, Winter X Games on still others, and the Australian Open on others. It was sports nirvana. Plus I stole a glass that had the Celtics logo on it. Good times.

One of the recurring themes from the night was our Scottish friend, Matt, potentially becoming a new citizen of the United States. We kept quizzing him on certain things he would need to know. Things like 'The Top 100 Movies' and 'Best Boston Teams Ever' and the hottest female tennis player of all time. I think we have him fully ready for his exam. We also went over the top 100 Scottish films of all time and, as far as I could tell, 'Braveheart' occupied spots 1-99. I asked if he thought it strange that Mel Gibson - who was born in Australia and raised in New York city - was playing the role of one of the biggest icons in Scotland and he replied 'We choose not to think about that too much'. Alrighty then.

Saturday: Seven year old had to go through something called 'Penance' in preparation for his First Communion. If I ever needed proof that the Catholic Church was completely fucked, this would be it. Basically six and seven year old children are required to memorize a prayer that claims they love God above everyone else (I added an addendum that it does not super cede his father) then confess their sins. That's right. My seven year old needed to confess his sins to a priest who probably had more in the 15 minutes before the mass than my boy has had his entire life. Just a bizarre requirement.

My son kept asking me what he should say to the priest during his 'confession' and I just said, 'Tell him you lied to your parents'. He seemed ok with this, but when he came back from actual confession I asked what he said and he replied 'I told him I lied and that I didn't share my toys with my brother'. 'But,' I said, 'you do share with your brother.' 'I know, but I needed to say something'.

Perfect. Make impressionable young children find it necessary to make shit up in order to meet an appropriate 'sin quota'. Not only is the entire ceremony a complete joke and waste of time, but now my son is LYING TO A PRIEST about sins he didn't commit. What kind of twisted logic is this?

By the way, the priest invited adults to come up and confess, as well. My wife nudges me and says, 'Go ahead. I'm sure you have some sins to confess'. I answered, 'We don't have that kind of time.'

Saturday Night: That's right. I went out twice in two nights. We scheduled a baby sitter and hit the town with my buddy, his wife, and another couple. We spent some time at their place watching a honeymoon video (of Aruba, not that kind!). Strange thing about married couples, they seem to think everyone else is interested in their happiness. We're not! Just because you're still in the 'swoon' phase of marriage doesn't mean we want to be submerged in it. To my friend's credit, he kept things short and sweet, telling his new wife 'They don't want to watch this!' He was correct. Although one funny moment was them deciding to film themselves in their hotel room after they had a bit too much to drink. My buddy decided they needed more ice, went running out into the hallway and smacked straight into a wall. Preserved for all time.

We wound up at a place called 'The Emerald Rose' in Billerica (I think). Nice place with plenty of room and good beer prices. Strange thing about people that live in more rural areas. They have a completely different definition of 'It's just down the street'. In this case 'down the street' meant driving for 15 minutes. Down the street for us city folks means it's a five minute walk.

Anyway, we were drinking and laughing and having a good old time when my friend decided to share this little tidbit with me: 'Hey, every Monday is Blow Job Monday for us!'. I turned to wifey and said 'Now THAT is a great idea'. She just rolled her eyes like she always does and mumble something about my dreams.

Somehow this led to an inexplicable and unnecessary description of how often my friend shaves his balls. This, in turn, led to his wife confessing that she had never seen hairy balls. I asked how this could be so and she said 'I don't know! I just haven't seen hairy balls!'. I can only assume that every guy she's been with shaves, is hairless, or she's a pedophile. (On the ride home, my wife figured she hadn't been with many guys before she got married, which made me wonder what that said about my own wife). My friend then proceeded to talk about how he takes a comb and shaves his sack 'every other day'. I wanted to ask what else he uses that comb for, but declined as things were quickly getting out of hand.

Look, I like to keep things neat down there, too, but every other day? Isn't that a bit extreme or anal retentive? A little trim is needed, but there is a fine line between being neat and obsessive compulsive. The other guy there - Andy - agreed with me; keep it neat, but let's not get carried away. I should note that the friend who shaves his ball sack every other day was photographed getting a pedicure, has monthly facials and massages and could - quite possibly - be bisexual.

I finally managed to end this topic by pleading 'I'm not sure what to change the subject to, but can we please stop talking about his balls?' I should note that our conversation was in a public place and loud enough that several women in a booth near us were giving us strange looks. That made it all the funnier whenever we said 'balls'.

Sunday: Recovery day. Nothing makes me feel all of my 40 years than two straight nights out drinking. Not as young as I used to be.

Monday: Nothing gets a week off on the right foot than taking an extra day for yourself. Not that I would know. My youngest woke up in a panic because he couldn't open his eyes. That's right, a lovely case of conjunctivitis had glued his lids together. For those without kids, this means getting a prescription gel, applying it to his eyes three times a day (while he writhes and fights with you) and washing every pillow case and blanket that might have touched him. It also means him missing school until it clears up and washing my hands every time I touched something he might have touched. Considering it's winter and the air is cold and dry, the skin on my knuckles could burst open and spray blood across the room every time I make a fist.

As I told my buddy after he told me about his Blow Job Mondays: 'Wait until you have kids, man. Everything changes.'

Today's distraction: Some cool 'Just the right second' photos for your viewing pleasure. The whale and dolphin shot must be one of a kind.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Oscar Rundown


Since the nominations for the Oscars were released this week, let's do a quick rundown of the picks. I'm going with 'Atonement' for everything because it's one of those historically based, ultra serious movies that the Academy loves.


BEST PICTURE

Atonement
No Country for Old Men
Juno
Michael Clayton
There Will Be Blood

Prediction: Atonement. See comment above. Type of movie the old fogies love to vote for.

Outside Shot: No Country for Old Men. Could be too violent and I hear the ending leaves much to be desired, but the buzz could carry over.

Just Happy to be here: Juno

BEST DIRECTOR

Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
Jason Reitman, Juno
Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Prediction: Joel and Ethan Coen. They want to reward 'No Country...' somehow, so if they give the Coen's this, it will excuse the 'Atonement' award for Best Picture.

Outside Shot: Jason Reitman. Juno is still being raved about so he might get thrown a bone here. Besides, he should have been nominated for directing 'Thank You For Smoking'.

Happy to be here: Julian Schnabel.

Random Rant: How does a movie get nominated for Best Picture, but that director not get nominated here? He was the director of the fucking movie!! He oversaw every detail of the film you are considering one of the five best all year. How does he or she not get nominated? I never understood this.


BEST ACTOR

George Clooney, Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises

Prediction: Daniel Day Lewis.

Outside Shot: Johnny Depp. A favorite for his versatile work. If he wins, consider it the equivalent of a career acheivement award.

Happy to be here: George Clooney.

Who I Hope Wins: Viggo Mortenson. I haven't seen any of the other performances, but you can't tell me any of them have had to master a foreign accent, display vulnerability and detached hatred, AND fight nude for their role.


BEST ACTRESS

Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie, Away From Her
Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose
Laura Linney, The Savages
Ellen Page, Juno

Prediction: I don't have a clue. Could be any of them. I'll go with Ellen Page since everyone seems to like her.

Outside Shot: Julie Christie for sentimental reasons

Happy to be here: Marion Cotillard. Um....who?


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James
Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson’s War
Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton

Prediction: Javier Bardem who only created one of the most manacing, complex characters in movie history. This is the only runaway.

Outside shot: I dunno, maybe Philip Seymour Hoffman, but it's a very long outside shot.

Happy to be here: Hal Holbrook who I didn't even know was still alive. How many years has it been since Dirty Harry blew him up? A man's got to know his limitations.

Disappointment: No nomination for Andy Griffith. That would have been nice.

Random thought: Do you think Casey Affleck wants to win this more than any other nominee in history in any category just so he doesn't have to listen to brother Ben endlessly brag about his win for 'Good Will Hunting' any longer?

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There
Ruby Dee, American Gangster
Saoirse Ronan, Atonement
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

Prediction: Cate Blanchett. Consider this a combo award for her work as Bob Dylan (no really, she plays Bob Dylan) and in Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

Outside shot: Amy Ryan. This isn't that much of an outside shot as this category is completely up for grabs. Don't be surprised if Saoirse Ronan wins, either.

Happy to be here: Ruby Dee.

That's all I got for now. First weekend without football is going to be a problem for me. I may watch 10 movies this weekend just to kill time.

Today's distraction: Some Oscar trivia. Beat a 78% and you beat me! Damn you!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Movie Reviews

I've got absolutely nothing to say today. I'm sleepy and groggy and feel like I've been out drinking (I haven't, unfortunately). So here are some movies I've seen recently and a quick note about a new show that I caught on Fox last night.

Eastern Promises: Another stunner from David Cronenberg. Seedy, depressing, violent, and hopeful. Viggo Mortenson gives the performance of the year and his career as a Russian chauffeur/hitman who menaces, helps, kills, and tutors. As a bonus, it contains one of the more disturbing fight scenes ever filmed. Both from a violence aspect and a 'I really didn't need to see Viggo Mortensen's naked ass in that position' aspect. A movie that's going to stick with me for a long time.

The Guardian: Another damaged, older man (this time Kevin Costner), tutors rebellious, arrogant younger version of himself (this time Ashton Kutcher) and they both become better men because of it. Enough already. We've seen this movie in about 50 different variations at this point. That said, this wasn't that bad. Both actors do a decent job (Costner is becoming the expert at playing the quiet, intense, older guy) and the story certainly made me respect the Coast Guard more than ever. Oh, the very ending is a groaner. Just thought you should know.

Bridge to Terabithia: I watched this with my seven year old thinking it was some sort of fantasy movie like 'Chronicles of Narnia' but, man alive was I wrong. It has a nice anti-bullying story, but - without giving too much away - there is a dramatic turn of events that makes this cute, engaging, best friend's forever story much darker and more thought provoking. Seven year old had many, many questions about it, but I'll take that as a good thing. Not often a movie initiates conversations between father and son regarding the meaning of life and death.

Shooter: Not bad. A bit implausible plotwise, but it was diverting and violent enough to make the over long length (2 plus hours) bearable. Would have worked better as a 90 - 100 minute nonstop action flick. I liked how they got into the specifics of being a sniper, as well. One distraction: I don't know if he got new dentures or was just being creative with his character, but Danny Glover plays his character with a noticeable and distracting lisp. No idea what that's all about, but it was hard to take him seriously listening to him. Well done, overall, though.

Last night Fox unveiled one of the most hype shows in recent memory. It was that lie detector show 'Moment of Truth' where people have to answer embarrassing, potentially damaging questions to win money. Needless to say I wanted to see how this turned out.

Here's the idea. Contestants take a lie detector test before they come onto the show. They are asked over 50 questions and their answers are analyzed. Then they come on national television where they are asked those same questions in front of a studio audience, friends and family. If they answer the first 6 questions 'truthfully' they get $10,000. If they answer the next 5, $25,000 and so on, up to $500,000.

Last night they had on a personal trainer who they kept calling 'an ex pro football player' but they never said what that meant. No NFL teams were ever mentioned. The first questions were entertaining enough; 'Did you ever sneak a peak at a teammate in the showers?', 'Do you think you're the best looking of all your friends', but when the second round began there was a noticeable shift in comfort. Questions ranged from 'Have you ever suspected a friend of making a move on your wife?' (Yes) and 'Are you delaying having children because you aren't sure your wife will be your lifelong partner?' (Yes - and OUCH!).

These questions quickly became squirm inducing because his wife was SITTING RIGHT THERE!!! Whatever. I'm ashamed to admit I was sucked in by this show, but two things bothered me.

First, even on the stupidest question, there is an overly long dramatic pause before some woman's voice says whether his answer is true or false.

Second, this is a lie detector we're talking about. It isn't foolproof nor is it reliable. There is a reason the courts don't let results into trial. The question the first guy lost on was this: 'Have you ever touched a woman more than necessary when training her?' He answered no, but it was decided he was not telling the truth. That question is open to all sorts of interpretation. What is considered 'more than necessary'? Are his definitions the same as the person asking the question? I think what threw me was how honest this guy was with other questions. His wife was not happy at all, so this question was not the worst he had already answered.

The producers have given themselves an out for nearly every show. They can just say 'Nope, you're lying' and get out of giving anyone any money. How will the contestants know any different?

I'm recommending some changes. First, pick up the pace. We don't need a three minute pause to find out if he ever checked himself out in a mirror. Second, make it so if they answer the first 6 questions they are guaranteed $10,000. As it stands now, if they continue and are found to be dishonest they leave with nothing. They should at least get the ten grand for having the balls to get out there in the first place, especially with something as questionable as a lie dectector deciding their fate.

Verdict: It could be an entertaining diversion until the writers get back to work, but most likely you'll feel like showering when it's over.


Today's distraction: How to become a human lie detector. I'm practicing this on my boys this weekend.

Hey! Just found out Mortenson was nominated for Best Actor for 'Eastern Promises'. Well deserved.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Run, Run, Run

I have been struggling to create the perfect workout playlist for my routine. It's been a work in progress for the last three weeks and every time I think I have it done some song comes on at the worst possible time.

I think the problem may have to do with my actual workout. I run for 15-20 minutes, then hit the bike for 30, followed by the Body Trek thingy (stair master + arms) for another 20-25. The running portion, in particular is a stickler. I like to have music that makes me want to move. Kind of like music that inadvertently makes you drive fast.

Here's what I have to work with.

Equipment: 30 GB Video iPod

Length of playlist needed: I'm figuring 90 minutes. I'm getting in better shape and my workouts will be getting longer, however 90 minutes will be the max if I want to get the kids to school and me to work on time.

Number of songs to choose from: 1118 (more should be coming soon). Figure an average of 3 minutes a song making the list about 30 songs. I'll make it 35 just to be sure.

Criteria: Songs that imply propulsion, yet have some melody. Not always, just most of the time. Basically those toe tapping tunes that make you want to move.

Limitations: I only want one song per artist on each list. For example, I don't want more than one song from Green Day on the playlist unless I'm really running low on options. Besides, if you want songs that make you move nearly any Green Day song will work. It's just a cop out.

Here's what I've come up with so far. Keep in mind this is a work in progress; constantly evolving as I get new material. I'm going to create two lists, so I don't have to listen to the same music every time.

List 1: (Song - Artist - Album)

In Pieces - Linkin' Park - Minutes to Midnight (great warmup song)
Whole Lotta Rosie - AC/DC - If You Want Blood You've Got It
Sang Real - Dredg - Catch Without Arms
D Is For Dangerous - Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare
Please Please Please - Shout Out Louds - Howl Howl Gaff Gaff
Stillborn - Black Label Society - Kings of Damnation
Reckless Adandon - Blink 182 - Take Off Your Pants and Jacket
Life Begins At The Hop - XTC - Upsy Daisy Assortment
Dirty Thief - Diamond Nights - Once We Were Diamonds (EP)
Taper Jean Girl - Kings of Leon - Aha Shake Heartbreak
The Wolf is Loose - Mastadon - Blood Mountain
Audit In Progress - Hot Snakes - Audit In Progress
Go With The Flow - Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf
Fashion Victim - Green Day - Warning
Damn This Foolish Heart - StellaStar - Harmonies for the Haunted
Don't Leave Me - All American Rejects - All American Rejects
Helicopter - Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
Why Don't You Do It For Me - 22-20s - 22-20s
Friends Like You - You Am I - Convicts
Flag and Family - Cursive - Happy Hollow
A Town Called Hypocrisy - LostProphets - Liberation Transmission
Our Bovine Public - The Cribs - Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever
Baby Fratelli - The Fratellis - Costello Music
Spring And By Summer Fall - Blonde Redhead - 23
1845 - One Minute Silence - Buy Now...Saved Later
This Is Your Life - Dropkick Murphys - Blackout
Help Us Out - Futureheads - News and Tributes
Blind Truth - AutoPilot Off - Make a Sound
The Road Leads Where It's Led - Secret Machines - Now Here Is Nowhere
Misuse Their Bodies - Beep Beep - Business Casual
Midnight - Rock Kills Kid - Are You Nervous
Apply Some Pressure - Maximo Park - A Certain Trigger
Take The Long Road And Walk It - The Music - The Music
Feel Good, Inc - Gorillaz - Demon Days
Rooftops - Alkaline Trio - Remains



List 2:

Mojo - Peeping Tom - Peeping Tom
House of Doom - Black Label Society - Kings of Damnation
The Well And The Lighthouse - Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Massive Nights - The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America
I Predict A Riot - Kaiser Chiefs - Employment
I Need More Love - Robert Randolph and the Family Band - Unclassified
Turn Up The Night - Black Sabbath - The Dio Years
She Moves In Her Own Way - The Kooks - Inside The Inside Out
Rubidoux - Cold War Kids - Robbers & Cowards
Old Yellow Bricks - Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare
DeathTrain - AFrames - Black Forest
Film Maker - Cooper Temple Clause - See Through This and Leave
Hold On To This Coat - The Rosebuds - Night of the Furies
New Pin - OceanSize - Everyone Into Position
Satellite - Catherine Wheel - Adam and Eve
Youth Overrided - Cave In - Antenna
It's A Cure - Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen
Shake A Leg - AC/DC - Back in Black
In This Home On Ice - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
A Finer Feeling - Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Nate's Song - The Lashes - Get It
Smuggler - LadyFinger - Heavy Hands
Heavy Lifting - Ambulance LTD - LP
Tonight I Have To Leave It - Shout Out Louds - Our Ill Wills
Wolf Like Me - TV On The Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain
Original Fire - AudioSlave - Revelations
Reptilia - The Strokes - Room on Fire
Amphetamine - Everclear - So Much for the Afterglow
Hard To Beat - Hard Fi - Stars of CCTV
Out of Routine - Idlewild - The Remote Part
Poser Psychotic - The Ponys - Turn the Lights Out
Also Ran - French Kicks - 2000
Happy Alone - Kings Of Leon - Youth and Young Manhood
From the Ritz to the Rubble - Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, I'm Not
Going Against Your Mind - Built to Spill - You in Reverse
LetterBomb - Green Day - American Idiot

For the record, 'Going Against Your Mind' may need to go. It's fucking 8 minutes long and I could not wait for it to end yesterday. I was dying.

Carry on, everyone. If anyone has any good running/workout songs, let me know and I will check them out.

Today's distraction: 10 benefits of workout music. The Internet officially has every web site imaginable. This is to a website dedicated to workout music. I'm highly skeptical about the claim that certain music can boost your immune system.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lost Thoughts

Random thoughts from the past weekend.

- I wonder if any of the Super Bowl analysts will mention the collective groan of the rest of the country when the Giants beat the Packers? Not only is it New York vs Boston AGAIN, but the Giants could be even more unlikable than the Patriots. Or more specifically, Eli Manning is extremely unlikable. He acts like a 6 year old on the field, throwing his arms up in frustration at the slightest bit of bad luck, looking like he's on the verge of tears, often showing up his receivers even if his throw is 10 yards over his head. Maybe it's just me, but watching the guy just makes me want to punch him in the face. And this is after he demanded not to play in San Diego when he was first drafted.

- Speaking of draft day, nobody mentioned that both Eli and Phillip Rivers were in their respective Championship games. Considering they were basically traded for each other (along with Merriman and whoever the kicker is on SD), you could only imagine the hoopla if those two wound up in the Super Bowl. Let's just all say our thanks that didn't happen.

- Back when Derek Lowe was pitching for the Red Sox, the team hired someone to work with Lowe on his body language. He was notorious for sulking on the mound and generally looking like he was contemplating suicide any time anything went wrong. I can see the Giants trying the same thing with Manning. It can't hurt, right?

- Looks like Roger Clemens' boat of denial has as many holes as a cheese grater. It seems waaaay back in 2004, McNamee met with Clemens' representatives to express concerns that Roger may test positive for steroids. With the new testing starting that year, McNamee was worried Clemens may still have traces left in him and would get caught. Here's what makes this interesting: McNamee only claims he injected Clemens 16 times - in 1999, 2000, and 2001. Considering it was 3 years later he expressed concerns, did that mean he suspected Roger was still using? I doubt steroids stays in your system for 3 years after you stop using.

- I am so sick of these two already. Here's hoping John Edwards and his $400 hair climb back into this thing. You know, since they won't let me take part in the debates.

- If you're wondering, yes, I did see that picture of Tom Brady in a foot cast. Like someone I know changing their cell phone number to the 310 area code, I'm just choosing to ignore it and hope it means nothing.

- Check out this video from CNN. Fulton, NY got literally crushed under 3 feet of snow. I link to this not because I need more proof why winter sucks, but because the ad before the story is kind of rubbing it in. In case you get a different one, it's for Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and shows a family romping on the beach having a grand old time.

- Like we need one more thing to worry about. New research from Oregon State University suggests the dinosaurs may have been wiped out by an insect attack. The meteorites and other catastrophic events contributed to their decline, of course, but the insects may have been the final straw for these lovely reptiles. Considering there are about a billion insects per person alive, this will not help me sleep well.

- I can't link to it for financial reasons, but a new study shows that women's skulls are thicker than men's. This in turn means women have fewer brain injuries growing up then men do. Sometimes a simple piece of information can explain eons of behavior.

- I finally got around to watching the series finale of 'Extras' on HBO and was not disappointed. The final 15 minutes or so was a bit sappy for my tastes, but it was a funny, intelligent look at fame and the price someone has to pay in order to achieve their dreams. The cameo of George Michael on the 'queer bench' was one of the funniest fucking things I have ever seen.

- Since I'm going 'green' with my next car, I found the perfect solution for my global concerns and my natural coolness. If you're nice I'll give you a ride. Although there may be only one seat in this.

- Finally (since I need to do some actual work), there is this interesting study from the University of Utah that suggests humans are evolving faster than ever before. The problem is, according to the research team leader, is we are not evolving into a singular human species. It seems people are evolving differently depending on which continent they live on. Africans, Europeans, South Americans, North Americans are all evolving away from each other. This means within a few generations Americans will be the 'Fat lard' species, the Europeans 'chain smoking, arrogant bastards' and Africans 'marathon winners with no shoes'. Researchers aren't sure about the South Americans yet, but there is a good possibility they'll sleep through the whole thing.

Today's distraction: Place the 50 states. Much harder than I expected, but I'm a guy and have had extensive brain damage.

Monday, January 21, 2008

No Guts, No Glory

Every team that goes far into the playoffs experience a singular moment that - whether deserved or not; whether positive or not - defines their entire season. Both losing teams had such moments on Sunday.

Let's check things out.

Patriots 21 - Chargers 12: You knew the Chargers were doomed when they had to settle for field goal after field goal following some impressive drives through the Pats defense. I will admit I was nervous watching this game.

But then Norv Turner reminded everyone he's Norv Turner. The defining moment of this Chargers season came with less then 9 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter. The Patriots had just used an impressive running game to score a touchdown and make it a two score game. The Chargers were again moving down the field, crossing into Patriot territory. It comes down to 4th and whatever. The season is on the line. The Chargers need at least a field goal to keep hope alive. So what does Coach Turner do? He punts.

No, really. He sent in his punting team with about 9 minutes left in his season, in Patriot territory, possessing one of the better power running games in the NFL, and needing two scores. Anyone who saw the game knows how it turned out. The Chargers never touched the ball again. The Patriots kept the ball, the clock running and the Chargers from moving on.

Look, I know the odds were against the them, but this is your entire season. The months of training camp, the pre-season, the 16 grueling regular season games, the two previous playoff games. It all came down to one decision and Turner elected to not even try. He never gave his team a chance. I feel bad for the Chargers' players (well, except Tomlinson who we'll get to in a minute). They played their guts out and were undermined by a coach who didn't want to look bad and never gave his players a chance to decide things for themselves. Sad.

As for the Patriots, it says a lot about them that they still won despite 3 Brady interceptions and Randy Moss again being a non factor. Is there a type of game this team can't win? They can air it out, grind it out, come from behind, crush the opposition, win with defense, win with offense, win the close ones and win ones when they aren't playing their best. The question is no longer the same. It used to be 'How do you beat this team?' now it's 'Can you beat this team?'

As for LT2, I could not be more disappointed. Pre-game conversation between Phil Simms and whoever the play by play guy was (Jim Nance, I think) involved how Tomlinson would be playing no matter what. As Simms recounted, he was told by LT2 that as long as he could walk he would be out there playing. After two touches he was on the bench for the rest of the game. I know he was hurt and this was reported as a 'coaches decision' but he had a bruised knee. MRI revealed no damage and his QB was out there giving his all and playing well despite having a more severe injury to his knee. So, is Tomlinson a baby? Was this really a coaches decision or was Turner covering up for him. I don't know Tomlinson at all, but the things he has been saying to the media since last year and the actions he takes certainly question whether he is a team player. Enjoy the rest of your winter, LT2. Here's hoping your bruised knee feels better.

Giants 23 - Packers 20: Holy shit! I mean HOLY SHIT, did anyone see this coming? Eli Manning and the Giants in the Super Bowl!! Read that again. Eli Manning will be playing in the Super Bowl. I don't think I can get my feeble mind around this. I may need the entire two week hype machine to actually believe this happened.

I know everyone is applauding Eli and saying what a great job he did, but there sure were a lot of 'old Eli' throws yesterday. Some sailing 3 feet over open receivers' heads, others landing by their feet, still others winding up 10 yards past the sideline. Yeah, he pulled it off and no, he didn't throw any interceptions, but he only completed 21 of 40 attempts so I'm hardly intimidated by him.

That rookie running back on the Giants, however, does scare me. That guy is a rocket on legs. Just barreling through anything or anybody in his way. He could be a MAJOR problem for the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Love that kid. Also have to say kudos to the Giants' defense for playing their balls off. They had Favre off balance all day and completely shut down Grant on the afternoon. Impressive is the word.

Even with that, the Giants needed not one, not two, but three field goal chances to finally put the Packers away. Lawrence Tyne, by the way, should thank his lucky stars his two lame field goal misses were erased by his OT winner. He wouldn't have been able to show his face in New York ever again. Phew!

Meanwhile, the Packers sure seemed to abandon the run in a hurry yesterday. Yeah, they weren't having much luck, but you have to keep trying for, if nothing else, it keeps the defense guessing. It sets up the play action fakes and keeps things honest on the other side. Instead they ran the ball six times in the second half. Six times!! It wasn't like they were way behind, either. I don't get it.

As the saying goes, you live by the pass, you die by the pass. Green Bay's season will now be defined by two plays. First will be the interception thrown by Favre in over time that setup the winning field goal. The second, and more infuriating if I were a Packer fan, was the fumble that should have been recovered by the home team. However, instead of falling on the ball, the idiot Packer tried to pick it up and run with it. Needless to say, he couldn't hold onto it and the Giants got the ball back.

Nice try, Packers, but enjoy your winter. Maybe you can massage LT2's knee for him.

Today's distraction: I'm not bothering with the Super Bowl rundown since they'll be more than enough to cover every minute detail in excruciating detail. In fact, here is an initial look at the matchup. I'm not talking about football until after the big game.

Oh, by the way, unsurprisingly, some Charger players are saying the Patriots play dirty. What a shock, they're complaining about another team.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Peyton Manning - ACTOR!

Considering how many commercial Peyton Manning has done (my wife not-so-lovingly refers to him as the 'Ad Whore'), it is well past time to rate his finest performances. I know I'm going to miss some, so feel free to point out any misses.

I just realized my biggest problem is going to be identifying which product he's pimping. I know the ads, but not sure what the hell it is he's trying to sell. Doesn't that defeat the purpose of having him in the commercials?

In no particular order -

The Fan Ads: I think this was for MasterCard. It's where he goes around cheering for people doing every day jobs. Getting high fives from Stan in accounting, chanting the cook's name in a small diner, cheering on a coffee shop employee.

VERDICT: His best work. I'm convinced his performances in these are what paved the way for his over exposure. Still, these are highly entertaining. Too bad they don't show them anymore. 'Cut that meat! Cut that meat!'

DirecTV: There are several different ones for the Sunday Ticket. One he is in a game and starts talking to the viewers. Another he comes home to find his father in the backyard with Matt Leinart.

VERDICT: I liked the one with Leinart better, which was made more entertaining by the doofus look Eli displayed throughout. Do you think Peyton required Eli in some of these ads? 'Look, my brother wants to get some exposure. Can we throw him into these spots? He won't talk, just stand there.'

SportsCenter: Case in point. Eli, Peyton and their parents are taking a tour of the ESPN studios. Eli and Peyton are lagging behind and acting like 12 year old boys; exchanging wet willies and pushing each other into walls.

VERDICT: Slightly amusing the first time I saw this, but after it's 1,947,368 airing I was ready to ram my head through the screen.

????: Not sure what he was selling here, but he was wearing a wig and fake mustache while talking about some phone. This may have been Sprint as he's done stuff for them before. It's basically him being a fan of himself.

VERDICT: This was a good one. He was funny and creepy at the same time. Just like every real Manning fan out there.

Gatorade: The one where he gives a lesson on how to throw a perfect pass. Step 1: Wipe the windshield. Step 2: Elbow your brother. Step 3: Flick the booger from your finger.

VERDICT: This is one of my favorites. The booger line is great, but what makes it is Peyton watching his own pass and ending things with 'Ooo, that's pretty'. Good stuff.

Pep Talks: I think these are MasterCard commercials, too. They're titled 'Another Priceless Pep Talk With Peyton.' He talks to the camera about balding, gaining weight and driving a minivan.

VERDICT: Queer. Seriously, putting flames on a minivan isn't cool, it's just dorky, Peyton. Maybe that's the point, but these ads seem like they're trying too hard.

Peyton's Mind: Sprint again (I think). He's in what looks like a hotel hallway with some mammoth defensive end running at him. He looks in one door and finds Marvin Harrison swimming in pool being circled by sharks. There's a little boy that's behind him who whispers 'Clark'.

VERDICT: Um, what exactly is this trying to sell? It's a bit nightmarish and disturbing. I always thought the point of an advertisement was to make people remember your product. I have no idea what this is for or what the point of it was. Nice work!

Double Stuff Oreos: Again with Eli and his father, Archie. This time Eli has a few lines. He and Peyton are at a press conference announcing they are becoming two sport athletes and joining some new league. Cut to the two brothers in an empty stadium licking Double Stuff Oreos like crazy.

VERDICT: The bottom of the barrel. I'll leave out the stupid shots of Archie Manning shaking his head in disgust and the stiff dorkiness of Eli. What really got me was Peyton looking up from his Oreo licking training session and having cream on his chin like he just got a facial from his homosexual lover. Not only has it made me disgusted with all the Mannings, but I don't think I'll ever be eating an Oreo again.


That's all I got. Just thinking of that stupid cookie commercial is making me queasy.


Enjoy your weekends and Go PATS!!!



Today's distraction: The 10 best athlete commercials according to The Sons of Sam Malone. Totally agree with number one. Still one of the best ad spots of all time. By the way, the one with all the 86 Celtics was something Bill Walton mentioned during one of Simmons' podcasts. Turns out they did that ad for the condition that anyone of them and their families could eat there for free.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Year in Review - AFC

I'm officially pumped for the games this weekend. Especially when I discovered the Pats game is the early one for a change (3pm). Now my seven year old can watch an entire playoff game while his father gets drunk and screams at the television. He'll be a real man by halftime.

Again, just the teams who are finished for the season. Will deal with the other four later.

AFC EAST
Buffalo Bills (7-9): Granted Marshawn Lynch looks like a solid running back and their defense was decent, but they need to decide between Losman and Edwards (talk about choosing the lesser of two evils) and figure a way to score points. Managed a paltry 252 total points which was fewer than their divisional doormat Miami Dolphins.

Highlight: Winning 4 in a row early in the season; Lynch's reliability.

Lowlight: Either of the Patriot games.

2008 outlook: Not bad, actually. Maybe a new offensive coordinator to get things moving, but they have a decent core to build around.

New York Jets (4-12): Hard to tell what happened here. After last season's surprise playoff appearance, many thought there were big things in store for the Jets. Basically the AFC version of the 49ers with the same lost season.

Highlight: Making news by being the team the Patriots were video taping.

Lowlight: Turning out to be the team that didn't need to be taped.

2008 outlook: Confusing. Is this the team Mangini runs or was it last year's?

Miami Dolphins (1-15): Historically abysmal. The Jets, Raiders, Falcons, Chiefs, and Rams all had better years than this team and that is saying something.

Highlight: Yeah, I got nothing. Even their lone win was ruined by them celebrating like they won the Super Bowl.

Lowlight: Besides the entire season, how about hiring a new coach that looks like a cross between an ex military instructor and a child molester.

2008 outlook: Can only get better, right? Um....right?

AFC NORTH
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6): Better than average season, but this team never seemed THAT good. There were decent, just never reached that elite status. Other than that, it seemed like the same old with this team. Had all the right pieces, just couldn't quite put them together.

Highlight: Willie Parker and Hines Ward having great seasons.

Lowlight: Willie Parker breaking his leg; that god awful Dolphins game.

2008 outlook: If Parker is fully healed expect another solid season.

Cleveland Browns (10-6): The surprise of the 2007 season. Not only do they pull Derek Anderson out of their ass but he becomes one of the most exciting finds since Ben Roethlisberger. Still puzzling over how this team missed the playoffs. Sadly, their defense was close to lousy.

Highlight: Anderson's 3700 yards and 29 touchdowns.

Lowlight: Wasting a pick on Brady Quinn.

2008 outlook: Brilliant! If they can improve their defense, they may actually contend for a ring. No shit.

Cincinnati Bengals (7-9): The dramatic decrease in arrests coincided with the dramatic decrease in wins. I suggest Marvin Lewis frame a few players in an attempt to recapture that lightning in a bottle. Spotty offensively and defensively. Spotty all around! Don't Bengals have stripes?

Highlight: Chad Johnson pulling on that 'Future Hall Of Famer?' jacket.

Lowlight: Someone switching this team with the Cleveland Browns. Was this like a 'Freaky Friday' phenomenon?

2008 outlook: Highly suspect. Wouldn't be surprised is they go 12-4 or 4-12 next season.

Baltimore Ravens (5-11): Such an utter collapse from their 2006 campaign, it cost Brian Billick his job. The so called 'offensive genius' sure spent a lot of time trying to find an offense for this team. What killed them was their normally potent defense slowly but surely deteriorating over the course of the year.

Highlight: Coming oh so close to beating the Patriots.

Lowlight: Coming oh so close to beating the Dolphins.

2008 outlook: Rebuilding. Chances are Troy Smith will be the full time QB next year and with a new staff expect major changes.

NFC SOUTH
Indianapolis Colts (13-3): Boy, if the Colts didn't win the Super Bowl last year you can bet the press and the state of Indiana would be all over Manning and Dungy this week. Could it be that the Super Bowl was a fluke and this is the true nature of the Colts? Or maybe Dungy was too busy moving to Tampa Bay to prepare his team properly.

Interesting note: All the teams that rested their starters during the end of the season (Indy, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville) are gone. Meanwhile, the Patriots, Giants, Packers, and to a lesser extent Chargers - who played their starters on week 17 like it was every other game - are still standing. Just saying.

Highlight: Becoming the first team in history to win 12 or more games 5 seasons in a row.

Lowlight: Being unfortunate enough to do that during the Brady/Belichick era.

2008 outlook: Status quo. Even with a potential coaching change, don't expect much to be different with this team.

Jacksonville Jaguars (11-5): An intimidating, relentless team on both sides of the ball. Any other year they probably would have won the whole thing. Too bad...so sad....

Highlight: Hosting the Fred Taylor Revival Tour.

Lowlight: Playing in 2007 and not 2006.

2008 outlook: Rosy all around. Gerrard has a full year of seasoning, Taylor (if he stays healthy) and Jones-Drew will form the most potent 1-2 running attack in either league, and the defense should be stellar again.

Tennessee Titans (10-6): Quite possibly one of the worst playoff teams ever. How this team got in while the Browns did not is still being investigated. Just a travesty of justice. Speaking of justice, the jury is still out on whether Vince Young can be a good QB, but things are not looking good. If it weren't for one of the best defenses in the league, this team would have rivaled the Dolphins for futility.

Highlight: Making the playoffs.

Lowlight (for the fans): Making the playoffs.

2008 outlook: They desperately need offense if they're doing anything at all next year. I have a feeling that relying on Young will be the death of them.

Houston Texans (8-8): Until injuries hit, this was a good looking team. Despite the two game separation, I would have much rather seen this team in the playoffs than the Titans. At least these guys were sort of fun to watch.

Highlight: The first 2 weeks and last 4 weeks of the season.

Lowlight: The sad realization they traded for a female quarterback.

2008 outlook: Not bad. If Schaub can stay on the field (a HUGE 'if') they should be a good team next season.

NFC WEST
Denver Broncos (7-9): Defensively, one of the worst teams in the league. Gave up more points than any team except Miami and that is not good. Not good, at all. Cutler showed some signs of life and they have a keeper in Brandon Marshall. Still, need some more weapons if they want to hang with the big boys in the AFC.

Highlight: Travis Henry actually winning his steroid appeal.

Lowlight: Having it make no difference at all.

2008 outlook: Not a clue. They could be great, they could completely shit the bed. Flip a coin.

Oakland Raiders (4-12): Even when the Raiders decide to rebuild they still can't decide how to go about doing it. There is a distinct lack of direction with this team that starts with Al Davis and filters down through the organization. Jamarcus Russell could be good. He could be a bust. We probably won't know for another year because the dolts running this team thought it would be better to have him come off the bench for a few games rather than start him. Look, everyone in the league knows you're rebuilding. Just throw the youngsters into the fire. It's the only way to learn.

Highlight: Justin Fargas coming out of nowhere and getting everyone talking about one of the greatest characters in television history: Huggy Bear.


Lowlight: Russell's pointless holdout.


2008 outlook: Not good. Expect another year of futility while they figure out Russell.


Kansas City Chiefs (4-12): Let's see, you choice for QB is either Damon Huard or Brodie Croyle. This makes the Chiefs the only team in the NFL jealous of the Chicago Bears.

Highlight: Starring in HBO's 'Hard Knocks'.

Lowlight: Every game after their bye week which they entered at 4-3. Yeah, take a look at that final record again.

2008 outlook: Poop on a stick.


Today's distraction: A fantastic article about Phillip Rivers. He knows you're jealous, brah!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Year in Review - NFC

Yes, I know we haven't finished the entire season, yet, but I figured why not take a look back at all the teams that are done for the year. I'll leave out the Final Four. NFC today.

NFC EAST
Dallas Cowboys (13-3): Even when they were 12-1, there was a sneaking suspicion this team wasn't nearly as good as their record indicated. Then Jessica Simpson entered the scene and it all went to shit. See what happens when you girly up a football jersey?

Highlight: Knocking off Green Bay 37-27 to take top seed.

Lowlight: Nearly everything since that game.

2008 outlook: Another solid regular season followed by an early playoff loss and TO crying. Not necessarily in that order.

Washington Redskins (9-7): Winner of this year's roller coaster award (edging out the Detroit Lions). Got the living shit kicked out of them in Foxboro, won their last four games to squeak into the playoffs, then completely fell apart against Seattle and lose their coach to retirement. The amount of drama this team went through in 8 weeks is more than most teams go through in 5 years.

Highlight: Coming together and making a run at the exact right time.

Lowlight: Sean Taylor's murder.

2008 outlook: Undetermined. Need a coach and you can be sure Dan Snyder will bring in a bunch of over priced, over rated free agents to muck things up.

Philadelphia Eagles (8-8): Despite what seemed like a lost season, Andy Reid probably did his best coaching job this year. Finishing at .500 after the first half this team had was a major accomplishment. There is also a remote possibility that Donovan McNabb may be around next year. He looked pretty good his last few weeks. Maybe his knee really wasn't healed properly. I'm also wondering which doofus in my fantasy league will be suckered into taking him next year.

Highlight: Nearly toppling the Patriots in Foxboro; destroying the Supreme Being and the Lions 56-21 in week 3.

Lowlight: Any game I started McNabb in my fantasy league. Ugly.

2008 outlook: Depends on McNabb's health, location (if he's with the team) and contract (if he has one). Expect a bounce back from a mediocre 2007.


NFC NORTH
Minnesota Vikings (8-8): I thought this team was going to suck this year. Turns out they were average. If they can get a decent quarterback they might move up to good next season. Big if.

Highlight: Adrian Peterson

Lowlight: Adrian Peterson's knee injury

2008 outlook: Bright. Peterson should be back to 100% and everyone's first pick in the fantasy drafts and the defense was solid throughout. If the QB can get things together they may be a tough team next year.

Detroit Lions (7-9): They were 'God's team' for about 8 weeks, then God either died or lost interest or something. This team folded like a cheap lawn chair over the last half of the season. Sadly I can't blame their collapse on Jon Kitna having impure thoughts or not praying hard enough. It was the defense that left town. Over the first 8 games they gave up a shade over 19 points per game. That includes the 56 points they gave up to the Eagles in week 3. The last 8 games? 32 points per game. Ouch.

Highlight: Having the media actually pay attention to them the first half of the season.

Lowlight: Firing their offensive coordinator after the season despite the defense caving. If it was anyone other than Mike Martz I would have felt bad.

2008 outlook: Questionable. A new offensive coordinator may cause things to take a step back this year. Need to improve the defense if they want to be taken seriously.

Chicago Bears (7-9): Last year's trip to the big game is a distant memory. Previously defined by their defense, which decided to take the year off. This year they were known for having the wrong Adrian Peterson and a hotly debated quarterback controversy. Unfortunately, the debate was which quarterback sucked more.

Highlight: Knocking around Green Bay 35-7 in week 15.

Lowlight: Nearly every play that involved Rex Grossman.

2008 outlook: Since they still have Grossman at QB I'll just say 'depressing'.

NFC SOUTH
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7): Granted their defense was pretty good, but what business did this team have hosting a first round playoff game? It's time to get rid of the conference leaders when the NFL seeds the teams. Keep them to see who makes the playoffs, but seed the teams by record after that. A playoff team that was completely unimpressive in nearly every way.

Highlight: Yeah, I've got nothing here. They didn't beat one good team all year.

Lowlight: Basically tanking their last two regular season games because they had their division wrapped up. That worked well.

2008 outlook: More of the same.

Carolina Panthers (7-9): 2-1 when Delhomme went down with a season ending injury. By season ending, I meant for the entire team. They used Carr, Testaverde and the immortal Matt Moore the rest of the way. Looking at those names it's a miracle they managed 7 wins.

Highlight: Providing grandfather jokes for every announcer by starting Testaverde.

Lowlight: Getting crushed by the Jaguars 37-6. Check out the offensive stats on this one when you have a minute. UGLY!

2008 outlook: Dangerous. Delhomme should be back, which means an improved Steve Smith.

New Orleans Saints (7-9): This was a hard team to figure. They looked great at times; they looked atrocious at times. Some of those times were in the same game and from series to series. Let's just mulligan this season.

Highlight: Winning four games in a row...

Lowlight: ...after starting 0-4

2008 outlook: I'm chalking this up to an off year for this team. Expect them to be back in the hunt next season.

Atlanta Falcons (4-12): How was this season a total disaster? Let us count the ways. They hire a mercenary coach who quits on them after 13 games, their franchise quarterback is jailed for two years for being a Godfather type leader of a dog fighting ring (shouldn't we call him the Dogfather?), having to depend on Joey Harrington and futilely snagging Byron Leftwich out of desperation.

Highlight: Emergence of Roddy White.

Lowlight: See anything listed above.

2008 outlook: Dismal.

NFC WEST
Seattle Seahawks (10-6): Team was better than many thought. Their defense was solid, if a bit unspectacular and Hasselbeck is still one of the top 10 QBs in the game. Too bad they had receivers that consistently drop the ball and a running back that should have retired 2 years ago.

Highlight: Knocking the Redskins and Sean Taylor's memory out for the season.

Lowlight: Imploding in Green Bay the following week.

2008 outlook: Undetermined. Is Holmgren retiring? Is Alexander going to get new legs? Will Hasselbeck join the Hair Club for Men?

Arizona Cardinals (8-8): One of the most spectacularly average teams in NFL history. I don't even have anything to say about them. The entire team constitutes one big shrug and sadly, that's an improvement from years past.

Highlight: Kurt Warner's rise from the dead.

Lowlight: Kurt Warner's rise from the dead.

2008 outlook: Questionable. Need to shore up their defense to take the next step. Offense should be imposing even if Leinart is back at full strength.

San Francisco 49ers (5-11): Everyone expected them to be contending this year, but they took an enormous step back that was more like falling down a well. Every part of this team regressed despite an improvement in personnel. Odd year for them.

Highlight: Preseason expectations.

Lowlight: Actual season.

2008 outlook: Unknown. Will the real Frank Gore, Alex Smith and 49er team please standup?

St Louis Cardinals (3-13): Tough year. Once their offensive line was decimated by injuries, things quickly fell apart. The offense showed slight improvement towards the end of the season, but they need to shore up their O line if they want to stay close next year.

Highlight: Steven Jackson's Nike commercial.

Lowlight: Steven Jackson's offensive line in week 8.

2008 outlook: Whatever.


Today's distraction: As a tribute to how the Cowboys and Colts will be spending their Super Bowl weekends, it's Mini Pool.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Playoffs! - Championships

Considering the two match ups we have this weekend, the Super Bowl may turn out to be the best game of these playoffs. As opposed to the last, oh, dozen years when the AFC Championship was actually the Super Bowl and the SB seemed like a consolation game. If things play out the way they should, this could be one of the most entertaining Super Bowls we've ever witnessed.

One step at a time, though.

San Diego Chargers at New England Patriots: Raise your hand if you think the Chargers have a chance in this game. Anyone? Bueller? Ok, maybe there are a few that are thinking about it. The Chargers have a good running game, they have a hyperactive defense that managed to shut the Colts down, but let's take a quick look at these teams.

Patriots have Bill Belichick as coach. Chargers have Norv Turner. Remember Norv Turner? I think he went 4-84 when he coached the Raiders. Although, in his defense, he was coaching the Raiders.

Patriots have Tom Brady at quarterback. Chargers have Phillip Rivers who may be hurt, is definitely a full sized turd and may not even play. In which case they have Billy Volek. Yeesh. Before you jump all over me, yes I know they both looked good against Indy, but considering how the Colt defense played, my seven year old would have looked good.

Patriots have Suck Fuck Maroney who no longer sucks, thus rendering my buddy's impromptu nickname irrelevant. The Chargers will have Tomlinson who will most likely be playing at half speed due to a boo boo on his knee. Poor baby.

One thing this year has illuminated is what an utter pansy Tomlinson appears to be. He was whining at the end of last season about the Patriots being poor sports, he was whining at the beginning of this season about not getting enough carries even though he was averaging less than 3 yards per, he got in Rivers' face after a botched play, and now he bruises his knee and sits the rest of playoff game that was nip and tuck the entire way. A bruised knee. I can see if there was major damage, but we saw him walking around the sidelines without a limp. If you aren't limping and your team is facing elimination you should be playing. Suck it up, man, this is The Playoffs!

One other thing. I heard on Simmons' podcast last week that the Chargers seem to be having gripes with nearly every team they play; calling other teams dirty or cheap or poor sports (Pats, Broncos, Colts, Raiders were all bitched about). One of his guests pointed out that no other team had issues with those teams and that maybe the problem is with the Chargers. Personally, I don't know either way, but I found the reaction of the normally mild mannered Dallas Clark interesting. It was third and long for the Colts, Manning drops back and fires a laser to Clark for the first down. Clark gets up, tosses the ball to the ref, looks directly at the guy that made the tackle and emphatically screams 'FUCK YOU!' while pointing a finger in his face. I don't know what the Chargers are doing to get opponents so riled up, but you can bet it's something special to get that reaction out of Dallas Clark.

Anyway, I can't see any scenario that has the Chargers coming into Foxboro and winning this game unless Brady blows out his ACL and separates his throwing shoulder in the first quarter. The Patriots just made mince meat out of the Jaguars and that team had a much, much, much better defense than San Diego. Congrats on beating the Colts, but this is the end of the road.

Prediction: Patriots by 20; Tomlinson complaining about someone hurting his feelings in the post game press conference and one bench clearing brawl near the end of the game.


New York Giants at Green Bay Packers: I can't figure out what's more perplexing - That Eli Manning is playing for a trip to the Super Bowl or that I'm seriously thinking the Giants can win this game. Considering the 'Road Warrior' mentality of this Giants team, is going into Green Bay really that daunting for them? Besides, this Giants defensive line is capable of shutting down Grant and putting a hurt on Favre. Yeah, he's having a great season, but remember Favre is almost my age and a few hits from the Giants' linebackers and he may wind up gingerly walking around wearing a truss by halftime.

Also, consider this: The Packers were mentally preparing themselves for a trip to Dallas when the Giants did them (and everyone else) a favor by knocking out 'America's Team'. Now the Packers must be thinking 'Sweet, we get to stay at home and play a team that's not nearly as good as the Cowboys'. Green Bay may already be looking past the Giants towards the Super Bowl.

But, then I look at the starting quarterbacks and I'm shocked back to reality. Would anyone take Eli Manning over Brett Favre playing at home and for one last chance at a ring? There is a chance all of the above could happen, I just don't see Favre letting his team fall into that trap. He's on a mission and with Grant the best running back left in the playoffs (sorry LT2, it's true), the Packers will be heading to...um...where is the Super Bowl this year? Arizona?

One more thing I meant to mention yesterday. During the Giants - Cowboys game I nearly had a stroke when the Giants punted when they were at the Dallas 45 yard line (across midfield into enemy territory that is) in the first quarter. They were up 7-0 and had the Cowboys back on their heels when they faced 4th and 1. This is the perfect opportunity to show this team you are taking it to them. You're on the road, up by a touchdown, only have 1 yard to get when you have Jacobs and Bradshaw and you fucking punt??!! I couldn't believe it.

So what happened, you ask? Dallas takes the ball 96 yards for the tying touchdown, then scores another touchdown to make it 14-7 Cowboys. Yes, I know the Giants wound up winning, but it was no thanks to this boneheaded decision. It was a cowardly coaching move and cost the Giants momentum and the lead.

Pull that shit against the Packers and you'll be better off not showing up.

Prediction: Packers by 7


Today's distraction: A few pep talks for Peyton Manning courtesy of DJ Gallo. This guy makes me laugh out loud at least once when I'm reading his articles. Usually it's when I'm at work and people look at me funny, but I'm used to that.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Final Four

Quick Boston note: I hate winter.

As for this past weekend, allow me to say 'Now THAT is what I'm talking about!'

Only one of the playoff games was a laugher (thanks, Seahawks) and two went down to the final second. Allow me a quick recap before we get into next weekend's games.

Patriots 31 - Jaguars 20: Does anyone need any more proof? Jaguars played their balls off and they still couldn't beat this Patriot team. Brady is quickly becoming a legend. 26 for 28??!! And one of them was Welker dropping one that would have hit him right in the numbers. Randy Moss had one catch and Gerrard played the game of his young career (as well as two other QBs we'll be discussing), yet it STILL wasn't enough.

As for this supposed powerful Jaguars defense (and they were impressive) check out the Patriot possessions for the game: TD, TD, missed FG, end of half, TD, TD, FG, Punt. The punt came with 3:25 left in the game, too. Holy shit! And Randy Moss had ONE CATCH!! WHY DO I KEEP USING CAPS!!????

Bottom line: The Jaguars were probably the biggest threat in the AFC and the Patriots put them in a full nelson and slammed them face first into a brick wall. How do you beat this team?

Chargers 28 - Colts 24: Let me get this straight - the Chargers lose Tomlinson AND Rivers (who was playing out of his mind, I might add) and the still march down the field for the winning touchdown? Indy's defense sure looked like it relaxed way too much once they saw Rivers was out. Too bad. I was actually looking forward to the Colts getting their asses kicked in Foxboro this weekend. Oh, well.

One thing I did notice, as an impartial observer: It sure looked like the Colts were getting some highly questionable calls their way. Three in particular standout. The first was a phantom pass interference call that sustained an Indy TD drive. The replays showed no contact at all. The second was a 'Wait, where was it again?' holding call on the interception return for a TD at the end of the first half. Just a joke of a call. The third was yet another pass interference call where there was minimal contact, but the ball was thrown into the ground about 10 yards ahead of where the receiver was standing. I always thought one of the requirements for pass interference was that the ball had to be 'catchable'?

Anyway, it didn't matter in the long run, but I could feel the frustration of Charger fans everywhere.

Bottom line: New champ this year and Norv Turner is rewriting his legacy. Implausible as that sounds.

Packers 42 - Seahawks 20: Man alive, did things turn around for both teams in this game. Seattle goes up a quick 14 - zip, then Green Bay does this the rest of the game: TD, TD, TD, TD, TD, TD, punt, punt, punt. Favre looked good again, but the story here is Ryan Grant who, after fumbling, ran for 201 yards and 3 TDs in the snow. Just a force of nature in this game.

As for Seattle, they seemed to get way too complacent after going up by two touchdowns. They did realize there was more than 3 quarters left to play, right? Seemed like they went into 'Don't lose' mode, rather than 'play to win'.

Bottom line: Packers look like the favs for the NFC and Shaun Alexander is getting released this off season.

Giants 21 - Cowboys 17: Christ on a cracker, I think hell has frozen over. Not only does Norv Turner have his team in the AFC Championship game and playing their best ball of the year, but Eli Manning is in the NFC Championship game while brother Peyton Manning is sitting at home. Remember two weeks ago I wrote 'Does anyone think Eli Manning is really taking the Giants to the SuperBowl?' Um, yeah, let's just pretend that didn't happen.

As much as it pains me, Eli did look good against the Cowboys. Don't think I saw one mistake from him all game, which just boggles my mind. Plus their running game is more then adequate for the playoffs. I really like Bradshaw and have marked him down for next year's fantasy draft.

As far as the Cowboys go, Tony Romo is now officially the new Peyton Manning (now that Peyton has won the SuperBowl) in that he puts up great regular season stats, then shits the bed in the playoffs. I don't care about Jessica Simpson or his mini vacation, but everyone in Dallas will be talking about it all offseason. Nice job, putz.

Quick sidenote: Everyone always bitches about athletes not caring about winning and losing, but when they truly show their emotion and frustration with a playoff loss everyone makes fun of him. Yeah, I'm talking about TO and his tearful defense of Romo. Say what you will, but nobody cares more about the game then Owens.

That said, it was still pretty funny. He has some issues, I believe.

Bottom line: 10 years and counting since the Cowboys last won a playoff game. Yikes!

Let's save the previews for tomorrow. I might try an all football week. Let's see if I can find enough to talk about.

I'm always up for a challenge.

Today's distraction: A frustrating difficult quarterback game. Click on the Play This Game to the right.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Primary Failure

Apparently the television analysts and candidates learned nothing from the 2000 Florida election debacle. At 8:30pm on NBC, they showed a solemn Mitt Romney addressing his supporters with a 'we will move on from here' speech. I said to wifey, 'Wait, did he lose already?' At the bottom of the screen it showed the voting results for the New Hampshire primary. Romney was in second place by less than 3,000 votes.

Want to know how many precincts had reported at 8:30?

Try 8%. Eight fucking percent of the precincts had given their results and already Romney was waving the white flag. Are you kidding? I'll tell you this, if Romney wins the Republican nomination I will not be voting for him. He'll be handing the keys to the White House over to Al Queda if they threaten to key his Mercedes. What a putz.

At few minutes before 9:30, 'House' was interrupted (you're damn lucky it was a repeat, Fox!) in order for Obama to give his 'Darn it, we just couldn't do it' speech. At the time he was down by less than 4000 votes with only 25% of all precincts reporting in. My math sucks, but making up 4000 votes when there were 75% of the precincts yet to clock in didn't seem impossible. Hell, it wasn't even improbable.

In fact, at 9:50 or so on the Fox News channel still wouldn't predict a clear winner on the Democratic primary. Hillary - as we all know - won a narrow victory but it was down to the wire. Why would Obama, who only lost by around 3% declare a loss with plenty of time for the trend to turn?

Why would Romney declare defeat a mere 30 minutes after the polls closed? Even worse, why would Fox, MSNBC and CNN declare McCain the Republican primary winner at 8:10pm? That's right. McCain was the predicted winner 10 minutes after the polls had closed.

Why?

Because of exit polls. Exit polls are used to get a feeling for how people voted as they are leaving the voting areas. The problem with polls - as Obama so sadly learned - is they are accurate only some of the time. For example, polls taken in the weeks leading up to (including the day before) the primary showed Obama leading Clinton by 5%. Whoops. Guess a lot of people changed their minds. Silly us.

When analysts saw those pre-election poll numbers they jumped all over the Obama band wagon; calling his campaign a 'juggernaut' and 'unstoppable' and gushing over how charismatic he is during his speeches. It might have been true, but it's irrelevant to the actual votes.

On the flip side, the news people and election analysts took great pleasure slamming Clinton's campaign. Saying she was losing momentum and had lost touch with the voter. When Hillary had an early lead one Fox analyst said 'The statistical models are not yielding a clear winner'. Great. Don't rely on the votes, rely on a statistical model to declare a winner. My statistical model predicting you being a fucking douchebag turned out to be dead on! I must have used the new Chicago math.

Hillary Clinton's victory in New Hampshire is being labeled 'a comeback' and 'surprising', but it's neither of those things. Just because the analysts - and in some cases that candidates themselves - trusted the poll numbers didn't mean those trends were true. Christ, if anyone should know that it's the talking heads on TV. I still remember every single national news program going back and forth about who won Florida in 2000. Tom Brokaw declared Bush the winner at 11pm, then had to backtrack to it being undecided, then declared Gore a winner, then backtracked again. It was a joke. And it wasn't just him. Every news channel was riding the same seesaw.

It happened again with Ohio in 2004.

Look, I know that with all of these news channels and all of these experts they need to find things to talk about, but don't label your inaccuracies or bad predictions a 'surprise'. It's only surprising to you because you were the one trying to sell us your ideas in the first place.

I have my own idea. Don't declare winners anymore. It only makes everyone look foolish when things don't play out the way you are expecting. Why not wait until all the results are in and use the facts. You remember those things, don't you? It's what makes things true. You can still report on the trends that are developing (example: 'We have John McCain leading by 2,591 votes with 8% of the precincts reporting') but hold off on 'declaring' anything.

Elections are not for you to call. It's for the people to call. That's why we call it a democracy.

You are reporters. Just report.

Today's distraction: Check out Jack Cafferty's half assed defense of the polls following the primary, including insulting the New Hampshire voters by claiming 'less-educated New Hampshire voters may not have wanted to admit to pollsters that they wouldn’t vote for Obama, a black candidate'. Just admit you got it wrong. Take the high road for once. Please.


Bonus distraction: Interesting question asked by Katie Couric to a number of different candidates. The question is 'What was your biggest mistake?' Take a minute and read through the answers and tell me those in the political process don't talk like robots. They've been programmed to work in their political ideas and beliefs into every answer. I am going to vote for the first guy (or girl) that answers 'Oh, man, in college I had sex with this girl and she turned out to be a psycho of the first order. Couldn't get rid of her. The sad part was she wasn't even that good looking.'

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Excess Baggage

Some random thoughts for your consideration.

I don't feel good admitting this, but I'm hooked on 'Deal or No Deal' again. I don't watch it because of the game, I watch it to pinpoint when, exactly, the player should take the deal. Of all the games this season, my seven year old and I have marked the exact offer the contestant should have taken the deal before things start falling apart. That's right, my seven year old has better sense than the people on the show. One woman, who happened to be a pig farmer by trade - had an offer of over $200,000 and refused. She left with a penny. No really - one cent. It was fantastic! Greed is a horribly entertaining thing.

I tested my hypothesis with my son, by the way. We went online and I had him play Deal or No Deal. He did surprisingly well and the lowest amount he left with was $177,000. Not bad. Should get him on the show.

I didn't think it was possible, but I like Roger Clemens even less than I did before. Turns out the phone call he recorded was in response to his old friend asking that Clemens call his terminally ill son as a way of motivating him to get better. Clemens instead used the email request to call his former trainer, McNamee (shouldn't he be on 'Grey's Anatomy' with that name?) and record the conversation without McNamee's knowledge. Clemens never called McNamee's son. Class guy.

By the way, some details are emerging from Clemens' interview on '60 Minutes' that make Roger seem...um...well...less than truthful. You can brush up on the inconsistencies here. McNamee, for the record, has not changed anything about his story. Even during a call that Clemens recorded and played for the world. Found that interesting.

Prediction: Some other evidence will be coming out about Clemens and drugs within two weeks.

I have a suspicion that Britney Spears really isn't crazy. After her supposed 'breakdown' and standoff with the police (was it out of the question for a sniper to take her out from the house across the street? Should have been their first option) I'm convinced her mother called and asked her to take the heat off her little sister. What better way to take the spotlight away from your pregnant 16 year old sister than an impromptu hostage situation and belated bi-polar diagnosis? It's genius!

One of my Presidential opponents, Mike Huckabee - whether serious or not - wants to have Stephen Colbert as his running mate. "The only reason I'm the front-runner now is because of the Colbert bump," said Huckabee. Think I like Huckabee more now.

Every now and then someone performs a singular act of unselfishness and sacrifice that gives me hope for this race of humans. Here is one such act. Brought tears to my eyes. Not because the girl was nice, but because Hannah Montana has become this much of a phenomenon.

Speaking of which, I walk into my parent's house and witness my 6 year old niece in full Hannah Montana gear (blonde wig, head piece microphone) dancing on some pad and singing along with a video playing on the television. What are we doing to our children?

Remember my rant about the music industry and their insane obsession about music sharing? Well, Sony just became the last of the four major music labels to get rid of their Digital Rights Management (DRM) software. This basically means Sony, EMI, Warner, and Universal will be making their music available in MP3 format on their own sites. Why should you care? Because once you buy music you can do whatever you want with it. Burn it to cd, put it on multiple MP3 players, put it on your computer. You listening Apple? This may be the beginning of the end for iTunes.

Reason number one we will no longer be viewing Ethanol objectively: GM CEO Rick Wagoner thinks we need 10 times more Ethanol fueling stations than we currently have. Why would he think this? GM is banking on their 'fuel flexible' cars, which run on E85 and standard gas, to become a huge hit and more E85 fueling stations increases the odds GM will make money. Never mind this study that just came out (along with many others lately), that claims these new biofuels may do more harm than good. I've been saying all along, when corporations invest billions into something rational thinking goes out the window.

Also, turns out corn ethanol may also be promoting deforestation of the Amazon. Fucking fantastic!

I know I bitch about trivial things, but I really do consider myself lucky in that my friends and family are healthy and not too much of a pain in my ass. Still, reminders of my charmed life can be a horrible thing. A friend of mine gave birth to a baby boy on December 23rd and he has been in intensive care at Children Hospital in Boston for the past week. She woke in the middle of the night to find her son rigid and not breathing. He is suffering seizures and the doctors aren't sure what is wrong with him despite a battery of tests. Speaking as a parent, there is nothing to make you feel more helpless than being unable to make your own child get better.

Here's hoping new baby gets well and enjoys a long, healthy life.


Today's distraction: A cool sketching game to kill some time. Got a bit bored with this after a bit, but I may have ADD.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Heated Debates

A work friend (hey, I have a couple) forwarded me some bar debate questions I wanted to share. Below are the questions and how I answered. One of them was very thought provoking and I still couldn't come up with an answer. Feel free to offer any thoughts on any of the questions.

1: If you had to sleep with every member of a band, which group would get lucky?

This is a tougher question for a guy than a girl, I think. A lot of the hot girls tend to be in bands with guys. Since I'm not into gay sex, I needed to mentally inventory all girl bands. I initially went with The Bangles since they were the first hot chick band that popped into my head. Always had a thing for the lead guitarist and Hoffs is nothing to sneeze at. Then I considered the Spice Girls, but that would have meant having sex with Scary Spice. Thanks anyway. Pussycat Dolls were another option, but I'm not convinced they're actually a band.

Finally decided on Destiny's Child. Can't go wrong with any of those three.


2: You're in the water. Would you rather see an alligator or a shark?

Went with shark for two reasons:

A: Sharks don't like the taste of human and they are easier to scare away.

B: When an alligator is in the water it usually means it's hunting. You're screwed!


3: With a million dollars at stake, would you rather shoot a free throw or flip a coin?

This was an easy one. With a coin it's simply 50-50. I'm a good free throw shooter and could hit 7 out of 10 on a bad day. I'd take the free throw.


4: Who would win a war: Texas or California?

I actually had to think this one out a bit. My first instinct was to pick Texas since they have more guns and its population is better trained with firearms.

But then I thought that if Texas people invaded California, they would be charmed by the laid back atmosphere and the lovely ladies that are EVERYWHERE! Plus, there is no doubt that the natives would welcome them with a fine wine and top notch weed. I would bet the Texans no longer attacked, but decide to relocate.

I'm convinced California would win any war with any other state nonviolently.


5: Of all the U.S. presidents, who would make the best drinking buddy?

Kennedy. He was Irish Catholic (read: alcoholic), his father was a rum runner back in Prohibition and he hung out with Sinatra and his cool friends. Plus there would have been an above average chance I could have scored with Marilyn Monroe.


6: How many dates can pass before it's awkward not to have had sex?

Two


7: Televisions will be restricted to only three channels. Pick them.

ESPN, HBO, and Discovery. Pained me to leave out Comedy Central, but I could only pick three and I don't need 5 episodes of 'Scrubs' a day.


8: If you could collect royalties from any single invention, which would you choose?

I wanted to go with something simple, like the paperclip, but those are cheap. So I figured something that nearly everyone uses and costs more than $20. Conclusion: cell phone.


9: Would you rather get a 20 percent raise or work a four-day week?

The four day week. 20 percent of shit is still shit.


10: Which would you rather give up for six months: sex or alcohol?

Here is the Mount Everest of decisions. My nose started bleeding while I considered this. Personally, I don't think I would make it six days without either one, nevermind six months. I went back and forth about this and finally decided I would probably do better giving up alcohol. Either way I'm going to be cranky and irritable (if not homicidal) by the end of this. Sex would make me less so, but not by much. Might be time to re-evaluate things.

NAHHHH!

Today's distraction: Teach yourself some origami. I managed to pull off the crane which is not a euphemism for something dirty.