Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Open Season

Since it’s the new television season and while ‘Lost’ doesn’t start for another 425 days (or so it seems) I wanted to run down what I’ve watched so far. Feel free to offer any insights, opinions or shows I should check out. Always looking for new material and DVR makes my life worth living.

Fringe: The new show by the JJ Abrams (‘Lost’ dude) had me gung ho from the beginning. That a lot of it is supposed to take place in Boston (which looks more like Vancouver or Toronto pretending to be Boston) gave me high hopes.

Sadly, this doesn’t look like a keeper. I enjoy the interplay between the characters and there is an underlying sense of menace with certain events (the disturbing opening plane scene still haunts me), but there is a tremendous amount of belief we need to suspend in order to buy into this show. Out of the gate, we’re expected to believe that certain operatives of whatever is going on would sacrifice a plane load of innocent passengers (one being his own twin brother), that somehow a secret society has developed a ‘Ghost Network’ that works because they can communicate telepathically with each other, that a combination of LCD and a lengthy stay in a water tank can get you into another person’s dream and that dead people can still be interrogated.

On top of all this is a sinister (at least that’s what we’re led to believe, so far) corporation called ‘Massive Dynamics’ (which, admittedly is a great name for a company) that is marketing ‘fringe’ science in the name of human progression and evolution.

But wait, there’s more. Turns out the great twist at the end of the premiere episode involved one FBI agent, who conveniently was also the lover of the main female character and who – also conveniently – was saved at the last minute by a recently released mental patient. This mental patient just happened to be the one to convince the female FBI agent to get naked, pop acid and sit in a water tank in order to talk to her comatose lover. Don’t worry, it makes even less sense when you watch it.

In a nutshell, this plays like ‘The X-Files’ with sexual role reversal. Only less credible.

I’m hoping that this turns around and starts paying more attention to the underlying ‘Pattern’ and foregoes all this nonsense about psychic networks. Allow me one spoiler to prove my point and describe my problem with the show.

In the second episode they decide that whatever a dead girl last saw would be retrievable if they hooked up her eyeball (dead eyeball) to some transmission device (which, of course, only Massive Dynamic owns). This way they could see the last thing she saw before she died. No really. So they manage to see what she saw last, which was a bridge, which just happened to be in the home town of the FBI agent sitting in the same room, who just happened to recognize it right away and who just happened to be a room which had some new fangled GPS system that let them configure the bridge point of view so they could figure out which direction the girl was looking. They then pinpointed the building she was killed in, raced to the scene (without calling for backup, of course) and saved another girl from the same grisly death.

Now, besides the entire ‘eyeball hooked up to machine’ stuff, my main problem was that the last thing the girl saw before she died wasn’t even the fucking bridge! It was the guy that killed her coming at her with a scalpel. If you really want to get technical, the last thing she probably saw was her own nose, as the guy had the tendency to slice open the women’s lip and pull their faces up over their heads so he can extract their pituitary gland. They never explained why he needed to do this while they were still alive, but we’ll just assume he had a good reason.

I’m giving it a few more episodes before I bail on this show, but if they’re already going to these extremes so early on, it can only get more ludicrous.

One other thought. I get the impression this show is taking place in the future, but there has been no overt mention of this. If it were happening 20 years into the future I might have a better time buying into the concepts. Just a suggestion.

The Office: I’m always concerned about my favorite shows biting off more than they can chew and ‘The Office’ seemed to be heading in that direction with the entire Jim and Pam engagement. Fear not. This is still the funniest show on television with the new HR woman thinking Kevin was ‘mentally challenged’, the office weight loss challenge that had the Indian girl passing out and looking like shit from her all liquid diet, Pam being passed around the office when she attempted to video conference in from NY on her laptop (‘Can you show the new girl where the stationary is kept?’) and the return of the previous HQ hot shot and coke addict returning as a reception temp. Looking forward to another stellar season.

Bones: Last season ended with many, many questions. Not the least of which was ‘What the flying fuck???!!!’ Reports are out that the writer’s strike messed up an entire story line about one of the most likable characters being the inside man for a cannibalistic serial killer. So instead it seemingly came out of nowhere and made little sense, especially considering that character was Zach – the most rational, intelligent, yet naïve person in the group.

I was letdown by the two hour season premiere that took place in London, but the last few shows seem to have their groove back. The interactions between the characters is funny, real and surprisingly emotional. Even Zach made an appearance that raised even more questions about last season’s twist. I won’t give too much away, but I will tell you that even wifey is hooked. Give it a shot if you haven’t already.

House: Leave it to House to yell ‘crybaby’ to his friend who, at the end of last season, watched his girlfriend die in front of him. ‘You sure are milking this bereavement leave’. Well, hell, it’s why we watch this show in the first place. House is an asshole and says whatever we are thinking but afraid to say. He’s our Id. Or is it Ego? I forget. What I love about this show is how it reflects real life. Relationships change, people leave for better jobs, people die for absurd reasons yet life goes on. House and Wilson’s friendship is on the brink and in his dysfunctional, fucked up way House is trying to find a way to get things back to normal. He even hires a private investigator (who I hope sticks around as he’s a perfect foil for House) to dig up some dirt on Wilson so he can blackmail him into coming back. In summation, ‘House’ is still one of the funniest, most intelligently written and thought provoking shows on television.

Generation Kill: This was more a mini series on HBO and I’ve mentioned it before, but I can’t say enough about this program that follows the exploits of a Marine Recon unit that is one of the first to enter Iraq during the over throw of Saddam. We watch and at times experience first hand the initial gung ho camaraderie that slowly but surely sours into confusion and frustration when it becomes apparent the military had no firm plan, inadequate supplies and no common sense in the higher commands (at one point a team is ordered to search a mine field at night resulting in predictable maiming). Alternately depressing, hilarious, disturbing, hopeful, charming, horrific and rage inducing. It’s brilliance is reflected in it’s conclusion, which ends like most wars: with no clear resolution and even muddier and bloodier rationale as to why we were there in the first place.


Two other quick notes:

1: The White Sox host the Twins for the final playoff spot tonight at 7:30pm (think it’s on TBS). There is nothing more exciting than a one game playoff, except March Madness. I will be GLUED to the set tonight. Enjoy, baseball fans.

2: As far as Wall Street and the failed government bailout I have four simple words for everyone: CALM THE FUCK DOWN! This is what capitalism is all about. The market goes through fluctuations and corrections all the time. Everything is cyclical in our society except the over reaction of the media to any crisis. This isn’t the worst thing that’s ever happened Wall Street. Yes, the DOW went down nearly 700 points and as a number that is largest. But as a percentage (keep in mind the mind boggling 12,000 average the DOW has been keeping the last few years) it’s only the third biggest drop.

Capitalism rewards the smart, efficient companies and punishes those that use poor judgment (and possible fraud). This happens all the time and it will happen again. Yes, things are looking rough and it’s probably going to get worse, but things will turn around. They always do and they will again.


Today’s distraction: Hey, look! Someone is actually talking some common sense about this financial ‘crisis’ for a change. Even Lou Dobbs is cheering this turn of events. What am I missing here? If most economic experts are against this bailout, why was it even considered?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Week 4 Postmortem

My best buddy and I decided to mix things up this past week. Both of us were struggling in our fantasy league (I was 0-3, he was 1-2 and sinking fast) and needed help in the worst way.

See, my buddy happened to be the poor bastard that picked Tom Brady with the number three pick. I was reminded yesterday that one of my predictions has already come true. Being a wise ass, I told him on draft day that Drew Brees would have better stats than Brady by the end of the season. Go figure.

In order to shake things up, I offered him Aaron Rodgers for Plaxico Burress. He, being a complete technological moron, couldn’t figure out the simple process of hitting the ‘Accept Trade’ button on the website. So, that trade never happened. Thankfully.

As it turned out Plaxico had a bye week the following week, then got suspended for another game. I wasn’t giving up one of the best QBs in the league for a head case. So, I reoffered for his other top receiver Chris Chambers. He quickly accepted and we decided to celebrate our trade by hitting a bar and watching the festivities.

Oh, and it just so happened our fantasy teams were playing each other. Needless to say, things worked out amazingly well for me. Chambers didn’t do much, but even with Westbrook sitting, I had a great game from Edgerrin James, Desean Jackson, Roddy White and Drew Brees. I’ve already kicked his ass and McGahee doesn’t play until tonight.

For those of you who watched the Green Bay game, you know there was another hilarious subplot to this trade. In the third quarter Aaron Rodgers threw a laser touchdown pass and instead of celebrating, gingerly jogged to the sideline holding his arm close to his side and all the team’s trainers quickly ran over to him. Yeah, looks like Rodgers is hurt. Poor bastard (I told him that should be his official team name) has Tom Brady for one quarter, finally gets another good QB for his team and watches him for 3 quarters before losing him.

Unbelievable.

That’s not even the best part. The best (and to me funniest) aspect to this was him deciding to keep Matt Ryan (THE Matt Ryan) on his fantasy team and dumping Matt Schaub. What does Schaub do yesterday? Only 307 yards with 3 TDs. Great move!

So, I’m no longer winless in my pay league (or as I refer to it ‘The only league that matters’) and my team is looking quite good. I have depth at every position and four of my guys just had their bye week. Westbrook has had his annual injury already and I picked up his backup just in case he goes down for any extended period of time.

My roster as it currently stands is as follows:

QBs: Drew Brees, Jay Cutler

RBs: Brian Westbrook, Edgerrin James, Willis McGahee (bye week done), Tim Hightower, Correll Buckhalter

WRs: Desean Jackson, Chris Chambers, Roddy White, Santonio Holmes, Wes Welker bye week done), Marvin Harrison (bye week done)

TEs: Dallas Clark (bye week done) and Vernon Davis (AKA, the soon to be dropped Vernon Davis).

Defense/Special Teams: Buffalo

Kicker: Matt Prater (Denver’s kicker)

Must admit, I like my team. Jackson and Chambers are my must every week receivers now. Welker is still good for 7-15 points a game even with Cassel throwing it at his feet and I’m hoping that Indy picks things up after the bye week so Harrison and Clark increase their production.

Other notes:

- My brother in law offered me Brett Favre in a trade last week and I scoffed at him. This is the non monetary league so I don’t really care that much. Still, he threw for 6 TDs yesterday while Carlson Palmer was a last minute scratch. Fucking figures.

- My how things have changed. A friend who spent the weekend in Vegas IMed me this morning asking how the Patriots did yesterday. I replied ‘Great! They didn’t play so there is nothing bad to say.’

- While we’re on the subject, my buddy and I were talking about the most devastating fantasy injuries of all time and have decided Brady’s knee is far and away the winner of that sad prize. Not only has it had ripple effects through every fantasy league, but it’s more and more apparent that Randy Moss is virtually useless now and Wes Welker will remain on my bench unless I have overwhelming evidences Cassel can do the job. That doesn’t even take into account all the panic fantasy trades Brady’s injury kicked off. I would never have Chambers on my team, that’s for sure.

- One of the best parts of watching football at ‘The Skybox’ in Tewksbury is getting to experience DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket. We were watching every 1pm game simultaneously. It was beautiful!

Some thoughts on said games:

- Denver’s defense is horrible. The Chiefs – THE CHIEFS!! – were doing what ever they wanted on offense.

- Drew Brees is fucking fantastic. Considering he was missing two of his top receivers and his tight end, his 363 yards and 3 TDs is that much more impressive.

- Nothing scarier than seeing a player carted off the field after a violent collision. I hate seeing players gathered in a circle while the backboard is rushed onto the field. That I have a soft spot in my heart for Boldin because he kicked ass for my fantasy team last year, made it especially worrisome. It sounds like he’s fine, but that is horrible television. Besides that moment, though the Jets – Cardinals game was one of the more entertaining of the season. Just non stop scoring from beginning to end.

- After watching San Fran for the first time all year, I am not convinced they have fully turned it around. They’re better (hell, how could they not be?), but still have a ways to go before I can take them seriously. Maybe it was just a bad game.

- Buffalo, on the other hand, looks damn impressive. I know, they’ve had a cake walk schedule, so far, but they sure are playing with confidence. That’s half the battle for most football teams.

- One team has me believing: Tennessee. Defensively, they are relentless. Offensively they simply beat you into submission. They don’t need a top notch quarterback with that offensive line.

And finally, this has nothing to do with football, but I need to note another New York Mets collapse. For the second straight year the Mets entered the final two weeks of the season in first place and for the second straight year they failed to make the playoffs. Johan or not, there is a major problem with this team. They seem to expect to fail and put way too much pressure on themselves. Both Reyes and Wright looked constipated every time they showed them on television and now they’ll have to spend another winter wondering what happened.

Think they’ll break up this team? Would love to see Wright playing at Fenway.

What? Just saying.

Today’s distraction: Looks like the bailout bill for all those shitty loans has failed. Corporate executives 4, taxpayers 1. We’re inching closer.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Overseen and Overheard

Work is going to be crazy for the next week or so. As a result I won't have much time to write, so I figured I would throw together some quick shit posts like this one. Beggars can't be choosers, I believe is the saying.

- Fantasy football update. Here are the three QBs I have on my roster: Drew Brees, Jay Cutler, Aaron Rodgers. I know!! After my bitching about Rodgers going off last week, Cutler went even MORE off. As it turns out Cutler and Brees are playing each other this week. So the question is who do I play? Cutler or Brees (more on Rodgers in a sec)?

I really can't go wrong with either, but Brees is on the road without Colston, so I'm going with Cutler at home. New Orleans secondary is horrid and he should have another 300+/2TD game.

As for Rodgers, I just dangled him in a trade in order to get Plaxico Burress. I'll let you know how that turns out. I desperately need a solid receiver to get me big numbers and the guy who currently owns him had Tom Brady. He now owns Matt Cassell, Matt Schuab and Matt Ryan. I told him that's the Matt Trifecta of Shittiness.

I tried using Rodgers to get Matt Forte, but the dude never responded to the offer. This means he didn't know how to push the 'Reject Trade' button or never checks his email. Either way, I lose.

- I just took my afternoon constitutional and while I was in the stall heard another gent arrive, go the urinal, fart LOUDLY, then proceed to tell his own asshole to 'Shut the fuck up'. And he said it angrily, too, like his own asshole just won't listen to him. Stupid asshole. Do you think he asks it advice or says good night to it? Very odd.

- Lastly, consider this for your weekend. I had to drop both boys off at school this morning which meant me taking the truck to the train station. While I was in traffic I noticed an elderly lady driving in front of me. I caught a glimpse of a book. At first I wasn't sure, but she then pulled into the next lane and I managed to get in front of her. Sure enough, she was READING WHILE DRIVING! I shit you not. In fact, I took a picture of it. Check it out!


"Damn kids and their texting while driving!!"

For the record, I was not moving while this was taken, but she was. This was her while the car was in motion. She wasn't going fast, but she was moving at least 10-15 miles an hour with other cars directly in front of her.

Consider this your Friday ‘What The Fuck?!!’.

Enjoy your weekends, folks.

Today's distraction: As a follow up to the Chalmers - Arthur post, it seems Michael Beasley was indeed involved in that same incident. He's been fined $50,000 for his part. I wonder if he was the dude flushing the toilet while locked in the bathroom.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fiscally Sound

Don't have much time to write today, but wanted to pass along a few links regarding yesterday's entry. Consider these enhancements to my rant.

This article explains what's on the line for us. By us, I mean American taxpayers. Besides the bailouts I mentioned yesterday, there is also $150 billion earmarked for other mortgage companies that put all their eggs in the subprime mortgage basket.

If you're wondering what the subprime mortgage crisis is all about, this article by Glenn Beck uses Tickle Me Elmos to crystallize things for the layman. Bottom line is these mortgage companies put all their time, effort and money into the variable mortgages that lower income families couldn't pay off when the rates (and payments) went through the roof. Go figure.

Here is a timeline of the subprime implosion. While hindsight is 20/20 and I'm certainly no economic expert, the writing was on the wall fairly early with this. Honestly, did these banking professions really think nothing bad would happen when they kept approving loan after loan to people they knew wouldn't be able to pay things off when the rates went up? Really?? Really really???

Finally, here's the reaction to the AIG bailout. I love Bush's comment that they did this to prevent 'a severe disruption in our financial markets and threatened other sectors of the economy'. Uh, what the fuck do you think is happening anyway, dipshit?? Honestly, has there been a more intellectually deficient President in the history of this country? Does he think everyone else is as stupid as he is and will just believe whatever he says because he's President? Holy FUCK! Everyone is saying how Bush is now trying to cement his legacy during the last year of his term.

Here is that legacy:

-An expensive, never ending war that was planned poorly, executed worse and may have never been necessary

- an economy in disarray and possibly in it's worst shape since the first Bush was in office

- a stifling of scientific research and exploration that began with the limiting of available stem cells

- a penchant for being the most close minded, black and white ('You're either with us or against us') administration since.....well....I don't even know. Ever?

- a nasty habit of telling the American public anything they want and thinking we will take it at face value (actually, this is sadly true)

- gas and oil prices rising to all time highs

Bush's legacy is simply this: Historically he may go down as the worst President we have ever had. If you think I'm exaggerating, then wonder why he never showed at the Republican Convention (it wasn't because of the hurricane) and why McCain is back tracking away from his own party's sitting President.

Today's distraction: In case you missed it here is the SNL skit with Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. Classic stuff.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Buck Stops There

As of September 17, 2008 the national deficit in the United States was over $10 trillion dollars. Not with a ‘B’, with a ‘T’. Ten trillion dollars that will have to be paid for by us, our children and our children’s children.

To put a stamp of ‘WHAT THE FUCK’ on this, here is the official definition of ‘national deficit’: ‘The total amount of money owed, from all previous years, that a country's government has on its books.’

While I try to stay out of the political realm (other than unofficially running for President, of course), here is what the national deficit was when George W Bush took office: 3.2 trillion dollars. Again, with a T. Granted 9/11 made us push money into defense and rebuilding, but there is something much deeper going on here.

To over simplify things greatly, we – as in Americans – are simply used to owing money. Debt is now our way of life. We now expect to owe until we die, at which point we hope the 401K (or whatever is left of it), our life insurance policy, and what sparse savings we managed to scrape together will pay off most of our IOUs so our families can get on top of things.

Don’t forget to factor in your own funeral costs. That can take a chunk out of your cache.

The rich cats now running our government – and make no mistake; they have all been raised with that proverbial silver spoon sticking out of their asses – have no concept that loans need to be paid off. They have spent their entire lives knowing that money can be always be had. While one project may not be successful, another may be a bonanza. All you need is some more capital and suckers to finance your dreams.

Well, my friends, look in the mirror because we are now those suckers.

Yesterday the Fed (Federal Reserve Board - the nation’s central bank run by our government) agreed to ‘loan’ AIG $85 billion dollars in an unprecedented effort to save the mismanaged, financially troubled insurance clusterfu….uh….company.

85 billion dollars. This coming on the heels of ‘loaning’ JP Morgan $30 billion as an ‘enticement’ to buy Bear Sterns after they mismanaged that company into bankruptcy.

I put the word ‘loan’ in quotes because there is remote chance of getting this money back to the American public. Yes, my friends, these federal notes of debt are being footed by us – the American taxpayers. You can label them loans all you want, but there are provisions in all of these bailouts that favor the corporations. Shocking, considering who is running this country into the ground.

Examples? Ok, let’s take a look at the JP Morgan loan. The company is getting the loan at a ridiculously low 2.5 percent. Something we can’t get when we try to buy a car. The loan also means that JP Morgan takes over the mismanaged assets of Bears Sterns, which, if they are worthless (an entirely plausible possibility) means the Fed is out $29 billion. JP Morgan would have to pay off the first billion of any losses. The rest? Yeah, that bill will be in the mail to each and every one of us.

The AIG bailout is less risky, as the Fed is actually taking a controlling interest in the company (79.9% to be exact, although where that number comes from is beyond me). Since AIG still has over a trillion dollars in assets (or 10% of our current deficit) and a shit load (official term on AIG’s website) of clients around the world, there is solid chance we could get most of that money back. You know, if – IF – the Fed can actually manage things better than the dipshits at AIG. I have my doubts.

Still, the Fed saying taxpayers are protected ‘because the loan is backed by the assets of AIG and its subsidiaries’ is misleading. See, before bailing AIG out the government tried getting private investors to pony up $75 billion in a sort of AIG community bail out fund. Only nobody wanted to bite. So, if private companies who know what assets and clients AIG has wanted no part of this, then why should we be so confident we’ll be getting any of this money back?

Sadly, I’m not even done with the amount of money the Fed is tossing around like confetti. Let’s not forget the $200 billion bailout of Freddy Mac and Fannie Mae (which is more understandable) as well as Federal help with bad mortgages.

Look, I know times are tough, but having the government bail out incompetent businesses is against everything the capitalist market stands for. Survival of the fittest. Do you happen to know the one bank not having a mortgage crisis? Quicken Loans. You want to know why? Because they screened and approved all their applicants and would not approve loans unless they were sure they would be paid off in time. Shocking, I know. They would only loan money to people they were sure could pay it off.

We’ve reached a saturation point with bailouts today. AIG is just the latest and you can probably bet there will be more to come. The American auto industry is already holding out their hands for help, claiming they need loans so they can meet the stricter MPH requirements due in 2020. No, I’m not kidding.

My question is how can the Republican party – the one currently bailing out companies to the tune of half a trillion dollars and counting; the one that has spent 800 billion dollars to date in Iraq and Afghanistan; the one that keeps passing friendlier and friendlier tax cuts to companies that still outsource jobs to India – keep calling themselves the party of less government?

Let’s look at it another way. If the government calls each of us today and says ‘Hey…um…the loan shark is threatening to break our thumbs if we don’t pay off this deficit. We need your share by Friday.’ Each of us – my two sons included – would have to fork over approximately $175,000.

Better cash in those pennies.

Today’s distraction: Not to be a total downer, but here is how Wall Street is reacting to the AIG bailout. Fucking fantastic.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Week Two Postmortem

There are times during my fantasy football season that I over think myself, take the safe way out by going with the norm and ignoring my gut instincts, then kicking myself as I watch the guy I wanted to play run up stats while my active guy has an average day.

Such was yesterday when I kept thinking I should play Aaron Rodgers against a truly shitty Detroit Lions defense, but instead stuck with Drew Brees. Rodgers then proceeds to throw 3 TD passes in the first freakin’ half. Meanwhile, Brees is outplayed by Jason Campbell of all people.

Bastard!

Matt Cassel for his part was adequate. I noticed the Pats kept things fairly simple, allowing him to get comfortable and confident. Wasn’t anything spectacular (please refer to Brady, Tom), but he didn’t hurt the team and the running game looks fantastic. Maroney (who may be hurt – AGAIN), Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, and even LaMont Jordan had their way against the Jets. Even more important was the re-emergence of Wes Welker who I don’t have to sit for the rest of the year now.

It’s the little things.

By the way, I’m writing this from home today. I got home from the gym yesterday and noticed a water stain on the kitchen ceiling. Went upstairs and the faucet for our tub was dripping, ever so slightly. I went back downstairs and went to drill a hole in the ceiling to drain the water. Well, didn’t even have to. It was so soft and wet I just pushed a screwdriver through and water came dripping down. At this point I uttered a quiet ‘fuck’ (the boys were near).

Two phone calls, one overtime plumber later and we learned that shutting ALL the water to the house was the sure way to stop the leaking. He’s back here now replacing the entire faucet and showerhead. Sometimes a simple, universal symbol will suffice: $$$$$

So, week two is done. Let’s stock up on what we’ve learned.

BETTER THAN EXPECTED

Buffalo Bills: Two wins, no losses and looking quite impressive in the early going. Can run, can pass, great special teams, and solid defense. Yeah, it’s early but this team looks like they’ve got that special chemistry; team that wins unimpressively until you realize they’re 11-2.

Arizona Cardinals: I know, they’ve had San Fran and Miami, but their passing game is deadly. I should have gambled on Boldin when I had the chance.

Carolina Panthers: They beat the Chargers in SD and the Bears (who manhandled the Colts in Indy last week) at home yesterday. Everyone kept expecting great things from them last season but were disappointed. Maybe this is the year they finally put everything together.

Green Bay Packers: Wow, the team really does know what they’re doing. Go figure.


WORSE THAN EXPECTED

Indianapolis Colts: Despite the win yesterday, they looked like shit for the first seven quarters of the season. Maybe it’s because Manning missed the preseason with injury and they start getting in sync in the next week or two. Or maybe time is taking it’s toll.

Seattle Seahawks: Defense looks abysmal, offense is injury riddled and Holmgren’s last season could be a long one.

San Diego Chargers: They’re still putting up numbers, but it looks like you can do whatever you want on that defense. Jay Cutler throwing for 350 and 4 TDs? Really?

Cincinnati Bengals: Maybe they weren’t supposed to be good, but were they supposed to be this bad? How many wasted an early round pick selecting Carson Palmer in their fantasy leagues?

Cleveland Browns: Too many problems to mention at this point. If things don’t turn around soon, old friend Romeo will be enjoying the season from a television booth.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Don’t know what’s going on here. Maybe last season was a fluke.


TO BE DETERMINED

New York Jets: The team they beat was the Dolphins. The team they lost to was the Pats sans Tom Brady.

New England Patriots: Let’s just say I’m not convinced.

San Francisco 49ers: Offense looked good yesterday. Is it an anomaly or a sign of things to come?

Chicago Bears: Could have caught the Colts on a bad week. Could have caught the Panthers on a good week.

Tennessee Titans: Yeah, they’re 2-0, but they’ve also got a potentially suicidal quarterback as their leader and they haven’t looked real impressive in either win.


POTENTIALLY AWFUL IN HISTORIC WAYS

Kansas City Chiefs: How long does this go on before Herm Edwards takes the fall? This team is regressing every year under Mr. Bail On My Current Contract.

Detroit Lions: I don’t feel bad for this team, any longer. They keep Matt Millen in charge of things despite the past 5 years, what do they expect but more of the same.

The remaining teams all fall in the realm of what most people thought they would do.

As always, we need to keep in mind that it’s still early. Many Super Bowl champs have started slow before gaining momentum as the season goes along.

So there’s still hope, Chiefs fans.

Maybe not.

Random Prediction for Monday Night Football: Brian Westbrook goes OFF! 3 TDs, 200 + total yards, me getting my first fantasy victory of the year. Currently 12 points back with Westbrook and the Eagles tight end, LJ Smith going against Marion Barber. It’s coming down to the wire.

Today’s distraction: Check out Peter King's summary of Matt Cassel. He can rub me the wrong way at times, but this one is dead on.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Contenders!

We’re heading down the final stretch of baseball’s regular season. That can only mean one thing, dear readers - time to rundown the contenders for each league. I'm using color and everything for this year's list. Hey, I spare no expense for your reading enjoyment.

Right. Enough chit chat. Off we go.

NOTE: All stats as of 9\11\08 as a tribute to 9\11\01.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

AL EAST

Tampa Bay Rays (87-57): Who the hell knew taking the ‘Devil’ out of a team name could have this much impact. Thought for sure the Red Sox were going to sweep them out of Fenway and take over first, but this team is tough as nails, resilient and relentless. I kept expecting them to tumble back to earth, but this last week has made me a believer.

Playoff Chances: Young with great pitching, which is a great makeup for a playoff team. Their hitting with men in scoring position (something like 2-36 in the Fenway series) better improve or they’ll have a hard time getting past the first round.

Fun Fact: It was odd rooting for the Yankees when they played the Rays last week. I didn’t feel good about myself at all.

Boston Red Sox (86-20) 2.5 GB: Two red flags rose to full mast during the Rays series. First, the Sox bullpen needs to get their shit together. Second, Papi’s wrist must really be bothering him for him to attempt not one, but two bunts in the same game. One in the bottom of the 14th when the Sox were down by 3 runs. What the hell was that about? He’s the most feared and clutch hitter in baseball and he fakes a bunt?

Playoff Chances: Should make it to October, but if everyone isn’t healthy and Papi’s wrist is more fucked then we know, this won’t be a repeat champion. However, is there a more fearsome playoff pitching rotation then Beckett, Lester and Dice-K? Beckett looked great in his second start back and Lester has been the team’s best pitcher since June. As noted above, the bullpen better get their shit together.

Fun Fact: While everyone is hoping JD Drew is fully healed from his back injury, a majority of fans have been hunting down Julio Lugo to make sure he NEVER heals.


AL CENTRAL

Chicago White Sox (81-64): Yeah, I know they play in a tough division, I know they have good pitching and a solid lineup. Yet, I’m not afraid of this team. At all. They stunk out Fenway two weeks back and just don’t seem to have much fire about them.

Playoff Chances: Should get in one way or another, but look for a first round exit if the bullpen doesn’t improve. Drastically. I thought my Sox team was bad. Boston hammered them during their trip to Fenway. It was ugly.

Fan Fact: Ozzie Guillen does NOT take medication to regulate the chemicals in his brain.

Minnesota Twins (80-65) 1 GB: This is a team that scares me. I really hope they miss the playoffs because they are BUILT for October. Young, fast, hitters throughout the lineup that can hit to any part of the park, over looked MVP candidates, solid starting and bullpen pitching. Imagine what this team would have been like if Santana stuck around.

Playoff Chances: If they get in, don’t be surprised to see them make a run all the way to the World Series. Really. They’re that good. Fundamentally sound, very good defense, nice mix of experience and youth and to top it all off, Liriano is back and healthy and rested. C’mon, White Sox. Hang in there.

Fun Fact: My eight year old calls Joe Mauer ‘Joe Mama’ all the time now. SportsCenter showed Mauer hitting a home run and he said ‘Joe Mama hit a home run? Joe Mama?’ Principal should be calling any minute now.


AL WEST

Los Angeles Angels (88-57): It’s September 12th and the Angels have already clinched their division. One of the two teams that seem to have very few weaknesses (MN is the other). Still, these are the Angels and they way they celebrated Wednesday night after clinching the division seemed a bit over the top. Almost like they expected it would be their only chance to celebrate this year.

Playoff Chances: Actually, very good. Another fearsome AL lineup, one of (if not THE) best rotations in baseball and great defense. The big question will be how spent K-Rod is after chasing the saves record all season. My biggest complaint about previous Angels teams have been their road records. This year they are 43-28, so far. Not good for the rest of the league.

Fun Fact: I just ate a cupcake and feel disgusting.


WILD CARD EXTRAS

Toronto Blue Jays (78-67) 7 GB in Wild Card: Coming on strong at just the right time. Just won 10 in a row but don’t expect them to stick around too much longer. We can only have one Colorado Rockies run in our lifetime, right?

Um….right?

Fun Fact: By trading David Eckstein to the Diamondbacks, the Blue Jays broke up the All Has-Been Duo that was formed every time Eckstein and Scott Rolen took the field together. Pity.

New York Yankees (77-69) 8.5 GB in Wild Card: I know, they’re still here. You’d think with their puny payroll they wouldn’t have hung in this long. Gotta love their grit and determination when facing such long odds.

Fun Fact: The torch for picking up other team’s aging, useless players was officially passed from the 1988-2000 Boston Red Sox to the 2007-2008 New York Yankees when the Yanks signed Richie Sexton followed by trading for Ivan Rodriquez.


NATIONAL LEAGUE

NL EAST

New York Mets (82-63): With their easy schedule coming up (four against the Nationals, four against the Braves) the Mets are in prime position to clinch their division by the end of next week. Of course, they were in prime position last year, too. However, this year is looking much different. Santana is still Santana, Wright and Delgado are hitting the shit out of the ball, and Reyes is still wreaking havoc.

Playoff Chances: I dunno. The bullpen is scarily inconsistent. Wagner is done for this year and probably next and nobody knows what to expect from Pedro any more. Hey, maybe they should make Pedro a closer!!!!!! Christ, I’m a genius! Pedro still gets the glory role he craves and he only has to pitch an inning a game. I’m changing this blog to Idea Man’s Daily Diversions.

Fun Fact: Pedro still wants someone to bring back Babe Ruth so he can drill him in the ass.


Philadelphia Phillies (79-67) 3.5 GB: Figure this: Ryan Howard is batting at .241 yet has 42 home runs and 126 RBIs. This effectively means Howard only gets a hit when there is a man in scoring position. Amazing.

Playoff Chances: Not trading for another starter is going to kill this team. They have Hamels, a fairly effective Moyer, then who? Brett Myers is ok, but do you think any Philly fans are comfortable with him as your third starter?

Fun Fact: Imagine what this team would look like had they landed Sabathia. Yeah, I enjoyed rubbing that in.


NL CENTRAL

Chicago Cubs (87-58): Quite possibly the best Cubs team of our lifetimes. Have outscored their opponents by a ridiculous 176 runs, are deep enough to withstand injuries and, hell, even Kerry Wood is still pitching. The stars seem to be aligning. Figure if the Red Sox and White Sox can do it, so can the Cubs.

Playoff Chances: Let’s all hope some bizarre play doesn’t cost the Cubs a series because there will be 32 different television specials about some curse.

Fun Fact: The ivy in Wrigley Field hides over 300 lost baseballs one of which will pop out at the exact wrong moment in Game 7 of the 2008 World Series.

Milwaukee Brewers (83-63) 4.5 GB: Here is the biggest problem for the Cubs. Let’s say both teams get into the playoffs (and it’s certainly looking that way) and the Cubs have to play the Brewers in a 5 game series. They’ll have to face Ben Sheets and CC Sabathia twice. Each. If that turns out to be the case, the drought may indeed continue.

Playoff Chances: Ben Sheets (healthy), CC Sabathia and his crooked cap are the cream of the crop. Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, JJ Hardy, Cory Hart and old friend Gabe Kapler make for a tough lineup. The volatile bullpen (featuring the All Steroid Duo of Mota and Gag-Nee) is the only concern with this team.

Fun Fact: I still have to look up how to spell ‘Milwaukee’. Sad, I know.


NL WEST

LA Dodger (75-71): How do you think the Yankee fans are going to react when Joe Torre takes yet another team to the playoffs and their team doesn’t make it? You think it would get ugly? Since the Manny trade, this team has been playing much better. Not only did Manny seem to inject some life into the lineup, but injected some much needed levity. They seem to be looser and having more fun.

Playoff Chances: Let’s see. You’ve got Chad Billingsly, Derek Lowe and Hiroki Kuroda as your front line starters. Not bad, but can they compete with the Cubs or Brewers? Doubt it.

Fun Fact: Manny has played 38 games with the Dodgers and only has 6 fewer home runs than their team leader – Andre Ethier – who has played 128 games. This is actually true. Ethier has 20, Manny has 14. Fuck me!

Arizona Diamondbacks (71-74) 3.5 GB: Not sure what happened with this team. They made the playoffs with east last season, seemingly improved with the addition of Dan Haren, started off like they would clinch the division by July, then went into a free fall from which they have yet to recover. The talent’s there: Brandon Webb and Haren make a formidable duo; Mark Reynolds, Orlando Hudson, Stephen Drew and Conor Jackson bring it every night; they even added Adam Dunn for the stretch run. So what happened here?

Playoff Chances: Not good. They don’t win the division they don’t get in. Plain and simple. The Dodgers seem to be peaking at the right time while the ‘Backs are slinking away (just lost 6 in a row).

Fun Fact: Eric Byrnes has only played 52 games this year. Wonder if that has anything to do with the current record.


WILD CARD EXTRAS

Houston Astros (79-67) 4 GB in Wild Card: No shit! The Astros are here. Lance Berkman, the unheralded Carlos Lee, Hunter Pence, Ty Winnington, and even Miquel Tejada have gone above and beyond this year. If you remove Roy Oswalt (is there a more over looked pitcher in either league?) the Astros throw Randy Wolf, Wandy Rodriguez (who just hurt something), Brian Moehler, and Brandon Backe at opposing teams. What the fuck? How are they even in this conversation?

Fun Fact: Roy Oswalt’s career record is 140-3 in September. OK, not really, but it’s close I’m pretty sure.

St Louis Cardinals (78-67) 4.5 GB in Wild Card: Another team that seems to be put together with chewing gum and tape. I used to think Tony LaRussa was overrated, but I’m beginning to believe he actually knows what he’s doing. Every year his teams are in contention and it doesn’t matter who’s hurt or under performing. Maybe it’s all the booze.

Fun Fact: LaRussa is addicted to plastic surgery.


Florida Marlins (74-72) 9 GB in Wild Card: I’m putting them here solely out of respect for their ability to win games. They’re under .500 on the road, they’ve been outscored by 29 runs over the course of the season, their best starter is Ricky Nolasco yet here they are. I know the Rays are getting all the publicity, but let’s acknowledge what’s happening a bit further south. Both feats are impressive.

Fun Fact: The Marlins’ home run leader – Mike Jacobs – was a batboy for MC Hammer.


What’s that? You want a prediction? Fine.

Cubs and Angels in Series. Cubs lose controversial Game 7 after Frank Drebin takes over as home plate umpire to stop the assassination of the Queen of England.


Today’s distraction: Take the CNN Quiz of the Week. What? I spent enough time on this useless rundown. Didn’t have time to find anything original. What do you want for nothing?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bear Minimum

A friend of mine emailed me a link to this article about a Montana teacher that ran across, over and under a 300 pound black bear. He was biking to school and couldn’t stop in time to avoid the bear. Both he and the bear went tumbling down the hill, ala Tom and Jerry, before the bear scampered (if anything 300 pounds can actually scamper) off into the woods.

According to the article, the teacher claims to have been moving at 25 MPH which is pretty damn fast to be moving on a bike. He also says that he first spotted the bear about 10 feet in front of him and didn’t have time to react.

I won’t second guess the guy….

Fuck that, I will. 10 feet is a lot of space. Even if you’re traveling at 25 MPH you have nearly 3 seconds to react. And I’ll bet the reaction of seeing a big ass bear in your way is innately more swift than seeing a chipmunk in that same path. If anything throw yourself off the bike. It’s better than any other scenario. Including the one in which a 300 pound bear rolls over your head, which is what happened to this guy.

By the way, I really like how the guy is holding his ribs in the picture. As if to prove he really is hurt. ‘Oh, ow, god I am so sore’. We get it. Save the drama for your mama.

Below the link to this article, my friend writes ‘I’m not sure if this is worse than running into a parked car or not…’

Which, of course, got my idle brain revving into gear.

What would be worse, running into a car or a bear?

In order to make an informed decision, let’s consider all the factors.


IMPACT SURFACE

Car: Unyielding steel. Lots of it. If you’re lucky you might run into one of those Saturns that have the flexible fiberglass panels on it, but that could also increase your bounce on the ricochet and cause you more damage when you hit the street.

Bear: Lots and lots of fur. Considering the bear is probably priming itself for hibernation this time of year, it would also be quite blubbery with fat.

Advantage: Bear. NOTE: The advantage is for whoever happens to be riding the bike.


IMPACT REACTION

Car: None

Bear: Strong possibility it will tear off your arms because you bruised it’s ass with your helmet.

Advantage: Car


FRIENDLINESS

Car: None. A car is an inanimate object. If you can’t avoid a car you, your bike, and any number of your bones are fucked.

Bear: Since bears are becoming more and more accustomed to sharing space with humans, you could luck out and find a Boo Boo Bear type that would stand up, catch you gently and cradle you like a big baby while licking any scrapes or wounds before placing you carefully on the ground, fixing your bent front wheel and giving you a push on your way. I'm not saying it would happen, just saying it could.

Advantage: Bear


LACERATION FACTOR

Car: Lots of safety glass that thankfully poses little threat to major arteries.

Bear: Claws, teeth, and a bad disposition after getting hit by an idiot on a bike.

Advantage: Car


POST IMPACT MOVEMENT

Car: Won’t move after being hit (NOTE: unless you are WAYYY too heavy, in which case you most likely wouldn’t be riding a bike)

Bear: If you’re lucky, the bear runs into the woods; more frightened than you are. If you’re unlucky, all 300 pounds of it will tumble over your stupid head. If you’re really, really unlucky it will rip off your head because you got it’s morning off to a rocky start before heading back into the woods to forage for berries and to show off his new human head trophy to all it’s bear friends.

Advantage: Car


SAFETY LESSON

Car: Bike helmets really do prevent serious head injuries which is ironic since you look friggin’ retarded wearing the thing.

Bear: Bike helmets really do prevent serious head injuries leaving you horrifically aware you’re being torn to shreds by a massive, pissed off black bear.

Advantage: Car


WORST CASE SCENARIO

Car: Concussion; a few broken bones; humiliation of being brought to the hospital still wearing your helmet; perhaps a pissed off car owner who adds in a few kicks to your ribs because you scratched his new Lexus.

Bear: Body parts scattered all over the woods; your head being used as the ball in a game of bear soccer; little cubs using your intestines for jump rope; family thinking you have simply disappeared because you were unhappy and possibly suicidal; life insurance never paying off because your body was never found.

Advantage: Car.


Bottom Line: If you’re going to hit something with your bike, hit a car. Or take the bus.

Case closed


Today’s distraction: Washington Post article detailing the alarming rise of bear attacks on humans in Alaska. What’s more interesting is that most of the survivors have ignored the long approved ‘play dead’ tactic and fought back. Uh, no, they don’t always win.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Movie Reviews

The Dark Knight: Excellent. Easily the best of the Batman movies. Even the ones with Adam West and Burt Ward. Yeah, it’s that good. Very dark, very well acted and unpredictable. Forget the PG-13 rating on this, by the way. There is some very disturbing (often hilariously so) scenes that include every scene with Harvey Two Face, the Joker and his disappearing pencil trick and his escape plan that involves a fellow prisoner, a cell phone and amateur surgery. Gross.

That said, there were some major plot holes in this thing. Yeah, I know it’s a comic book movie about a billionaire that fights crime as a bat. But….BUT….how could the Joker keep getting all these goons to help him when it was well known he kills nearly everyone he works with. Why didn’t one of the other mafia guys just shoot Joker in the face? How would Harvey Dent be so easily swayed? Did Batman really go to save the girl and Joker tricked him into rescuing Dent instead or was there a scene missing that explained things better? Who is Joker’s explosive provider and does he give bulk discounts?

One more note, there is a scene near the end where Joker is hanging upside down where he says ‘I have a feeling we’ll be doing this for a very long time’. Considering Heath Ledger’s death, that line was more poignant than even the filmmakers had intended.


The Spiderwick Chronicles: Extremely well done, fast moving, exciting, at times very scary and emotional family movie. I never read the books this is based on, but if they’re half as good as this movie I may pick them up and start reading them with my eldest.


Vantage Point: A multiple point of view movie that starts off gang busters and slowly dissolves into a mushy mess. The more you learn about what’s going on the more improbable it becomes. I can only dream there were PDAs that could remotely control a sniper rifle and see where everyone is at any point in time. I kept waiting for the assassin to stop, look at his gadget and have to wait while it reads ‘Searching for signal’ with the double arrows flashing back and forth. Another ending that’s an absolute joke, too.


Hancock: This is nothing, I have another still in theater movie to get to, as well. A record for me. The first half of this movie is one of my favorite superhero movies of all time. I laughed out loud (LOLed, if you will – wait, should it be L’edOL?) so many times my sides hurt. Will Smith is cast perfectly in this and Jason Bateman is proving ‘Arrested Development’ was no fluke. I wish they had spent longer on the drunk superhero aspect and less on the convoluted origins of him. Still, there was a certain heartfelt and noble ending with one love sacrificing for another. Also, there is a completely unexpected plot turn that is surprising in that in genuinely surprises.


WALL-E: See? Another new release. Unfortunately for Pixar, they’ve set the bar so high for themselves that a very good movie like WALL-E can’t compare to their past classics like ‘Monsters, Inc’, ‘The Incredibles’, or – one of my personal favorites – ‘Ratatouille’. There is also a disturbing critique of the natural tendency of humans to be wasteful and lazy. It portrays a future humankind that is obese, lazy and catered to by robots of all kinds. We are so pampered we don’t even walk anymore. Oh, and we’ve also trashed Earth so completely nothing lives there any longer. Except WALL-E, of course, who is still packing all the trash we’ve left behind into neat little cubes. Yes, it’s deserved, but it’s also extremely cynical and off putting for a kids movie. I’d recommend it, but it’s not nearly as good as their past stuff. I’d also like to point out that the boys have seen it and haven’t expressed any desire to buy it or have even talked about it. A true sign that a family movie has missed it’s mark. In comparison, they loved ‘The Spiderwick Chronicles’ and talk about it all the time.


The Hammer: This is the Adam Carolla movie that he’s been pimping nearly everywhere he shows up. He promises that you will like this movie. You know what? I’ll second that. It’s funny, warm and heartfelt. Carolla actually does a good job and is quite convincing as an aging boxer thinking he has one more chance at glory. Even wifey enjoyed it. There were moments where we were both laughing hysterically. One moment in particular where Carolla is jumping rope and thinks he’s impressing his love interest had me in tears. This is another one of those below the radar flicks that turns out to be better than a lot of the crap that makes millions. I don’t get it.


1408: A creepy horror movie with actors far beyond what was needed. John Cusask plays a skeptic, haunted house author who learns of room 1408 that has supposedly been the scene of many mysterious deaths and suicides. Moves right along and has some memorably frightening moments; the most impressive being the deconstruction of a post office building that reveals a depressing reality.


Fido: A strange, one joke movie that isn’t nearly funny enough to pass for a good comedy nor gory enough to pass as a good zombie movie. The setup seems to be the joke as zombies have been domesticated and made to perform all the menial tasks that humans don’t want to do themselves. Delivering the mail and the daily papers, collecting trash and mowing the lawn are all done by zombies. Even more bizarre is the decision to set the movie in the 1950s and take on the ‘gee whiz’ attitude of ‘Leave it to Beaver’. This contrasts greatly when one zombie decides he’s going to start eating the neighbors. Didn’t hate this, but it’s never a good sign when you’re more interested in when the movie is going to end rather then how it will end.


Stardust: A fairly tale movie that is funny and original. This is a tough one to describe, but if you liked ‘The Princess Bride’ than you’ll probably enjoy this one. Great turns by Robert DeNiro as a sky faring (no really, his ship flies) pirate who collects lightning and Michelle Pfeiffer as an aging witch frantically trying to hold on to her beauty by any means necessary.


Dan In Real Life: Steve Carrell as a likable, widowed father of three girls who falls for the exact wrong woman. Nothing terribly original or earth shaking with this one, but it was pleasant enough and I didn’t even mind that Dane Cook plays a major role. I guess that’s saying something.


Sunshine: A futuristic, sci fi movie by the same gang that made ’28 Days Later’. The sun is dying and we’ve sent a second team to go restart it. The first team went missing and this is humanity’s ‘last chance’ to be saved. Yeah, one of those. This was actually quite interesting and creepy until a character is introduced and the movie then proceeds to make absolutely no sense whatsoever. No explanation is given as to how this character got on the ship or what his purpose is other than to prevent the second crew from fixing the sun. Very confusing ending. Would have been better if they had just stuck with the logistical problems of trying to save the solar system rather than turning it into a monster movie. A lame one at that.


I know I’m missing a bunch more. If I remember them I’ll tack them on another post later. Although, if I’m forgetting them, they couldn’t have been that good.


Today’s distraction: The Top 10 Teen Movies from the 80s. One they missed that is completely underrated is ‘Three O’Clock High’. I also never got the appeal of ‘The Breakfast Club’. Just never liked that movie for some reason.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Crash Course

There are days when I wake and I can’t think of anything to write about. Today I thought, ‘Everything about Brady has been said or written already, nothing interesting is going on in my life (standard operating procedure at this point), and I have nothing brilliant to pass on. Maybe I should skip the blog today’.

Then something pops up right in front of me and I have material.

This morning that something happened to be a silver Chevy SUV with a driver who’s eyes get as big as cereal bowls when my truck bears down on him.

I was heading to the gym around five this morning. Yeah, 5. As in AM! I’m dedicated (and tired), what can I say.

My new gym is a bit further down the main road than my old one. This road has approximately 152 sets of traffic lights on it. While that may be an exaggeration, it’s not far off. At this time of the morning, it’s still dark so the traffic lights are obvious from far away. You can see three to four intersections ahead of you at times and what the light is set to.

This morning I made good time, hitting mostly green lights. I was approaching my third green light in a row when Mr. A. Dipshit either didn’t notice his light was red, didn’t care, was trying to save some time or was completely distracted by the woman in the passenger seat and went right through his red light and into my path.

I was about 100 feet from the green light, traveling around 40 when he just appeared in front of me. Instantly two things happened:

1: I nearly shit my pants.

2: Mr Dipshit realized what he had done and stopped. I understand this is just basic human reflex at work, but if he had kept moving and cruised through the light I would have barely recognized what had happened before we would both pass through the intersection. It would have been one of those ‘Wait, did that dude just blow through a light?’ after everything had transpired and I was traveling on my confused way.

People in crisis always refer to that moment just before an accident or traumatic event where ‘time stops’ or slows down. While this may not be accurate, many things happen in a very brief period of time. This happened to me before when I was traveling to New Hampshire and I noticed a huge rock bouncing down the highway directly in front of me. I had the first half of the thought ‘Well, if it stays low to the ground I can clear it’ formed in my head before the thing bounced funny, launched itself 20 feet in the air and came straight at my windshield. I had mere seconds to judge whether I should change lanes (couldn’t as there were cars on either side of me), jam the brakes on or speed up to get past it before it landed. If I was lucky it would land in the bed of my truck and I’d have a souvenir of the rock that nearly killed me.

I did neither as the rock came down much quicker than I anticipated. I made a last minute attempt to speed up, but that just forced the rock up and smashed my windshield wiper flat and sent the rock up and over my truck to whoever was behind me.

That entire decision factored in how many cars were around me, what would happen if I slammed on my brakes on a major highway while traveling at 70 MPH, the speed and angle of the rock while it was in the air and even what part of the truck would best take the brunt of the impact. This all happened in less than 5 seconds from the time I first spotted the rock.

It isn’t that time slows so much as you brain speeds up. Decisions and possible options are considered and discarded in milliseconds. Details are magnified and left imprinted on your brains for years; often the rest of your life.

Such was this morning. The sequence of events went like this:

My realization that an SUV had suddenly appeared in front of me.

The look of absolute horror on Dipshit’s face when he turned to find my truck bearing down on him.

That he had pulled nearly all the way into the intersection, which gave me three options:

1: Jam the brakes on (which I had already started doing by this point) and hope I stop in time.

2: Attempt to miss him by going in front of his car. Unfortunately the vehicle’s momentum still was pushing him forward.

3: Go behind him and jump the curb. The sidewalk I would be going over was one of those handicap accessible ramp ones. So the corner curb was low to the ground with the wheel chair ramp sloping right to the level of the street.

All of these factored into my head in less than two seconds. Yes, I even noticed the low curbs during this process. I can’t explain it, I just know that my brain processed everything at warp speed. I even noticed who I assume was Dipshit’s wife or girlfriend repeatedly punching him in the arm as she launched into full panic mode.

Option 3 was the best bet. I took my foot off the brake since it was quickly obvious I wasn’t going to stop in time, anyway, and aimed for the back of the SUV. I passed so closely to the back of the truck I nearly lost my side mirror.

After bumping over the slight curb, I got back in my lane and slowed enough to make sure Dipshit wasn’t crushed by the truck that had been following me. He was quickly backing out of the intersection and out of harm’s way so I continued on my way.

I will say one good thing about Dipshit and his absent mindedness: He certainly woke me up for my work out. Yeesh.


Today’s distraction: State Farm’s list on what to do if you are in a car accident. Strangely, ‘kick the shit out of other idiotic driver’ isn’t on the list.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Week One Postmortem

I thought of this running title last week and never could have conceived how mournfully appropriate it would be.

In the first quarter of the first week of the new NFL season, Patriot fans uttered a collective ‘oh…shit’ as Tom Brady went down with a knee injury. Down and out, it now appears. While the Patriots are keeping mum until they get more information (like always), reports are circulating that Brady is done for the year.

With him goes the Patriots’ Super Bowl chances. No disrespect to the rest of the team, but does anyone think the Patriots can even reach the Super Bowl without Brady? Love him or hate him, you must admit he’s the engine that makes this team go. Sure they still have a ton of talented players on both sides of the ball and a great coaching staff, but Brady was the one irreplaceable.

Then again, maybe Cassell can carry the load. He looked pretty good yesterday and the similarities between him and Brady are startling. Both were primarily backups in college, both were picked in the later rounds and both spent a lot of time on the sidelines before being thrust into action when their team’s starter went down with a major injury.

The difference, of course, is Cassell is replacing last year’s MVP and three time Super Bowl winner.

I think I speak for all New England fans when I say FUUUCCCKKKKKK!!!!!

Sadly, even that doesn’t make me feel better. If Brady really is done for the year, you’ll hear a deafening clap of thunder when the window for this particular team slams shut.

What a lame way to go out.

Other News:

- During our fantasy football draft, there was open ridicule when one of the guys took Michael Turner in the first round (late, think it was number 10 or 11). 220 yards and 2 touchdowns later, he showed us. Damn!!

- As soon as Brady went down, my cell starts ringing. Brady was still on the field when I answer. It’s my buddy who selected Brady with the third pick in our draft. Didn’t even have to say hello when I hear ‘There goes my season’. Poor bastard. Not only has his team’s season gone down the toilet, but so has his fantasy season. All in one knee buckle.

- Speaking of FF, my receivers sucked yesterday. Santonio Holmes and Wes Welker combined for a whopping 6 points. If it wasn’t for Drew Brees I would have been blown out. As it stands, I’m still up by a point with my opponent playing Donald Driver tonight. Unless he doesn’t play, I’m toast.

- Just wondering, but has there been a more dually devastating injury from both a fantasy and NFL perspective than losing Brady in the first quarter of the first game? Ever? I can’t think of one, can you?

- Buffalo 34 Seattle 10. Does this mean Buffalo is better than we think or is Seattle that bad?

- Maybe it’s a fluke, but Matt Forte looked impressive last night. The Colts? Not so much.

- Shit, I just realized that Brady going down is probably going to bring Welker’s stats down, too. If that's possible. I thought my receivers were in tough shape already.

- Just found out Dallas Clark (my FF tight end) left last night’s game with a knee injury. What the fuck?

- Quick note on how I verified with complete certainty BrickBreaker cheats like a MOFO! While I was putzing around (taking a shit) I picked up in the middle of a game I had paused. Turned out I got on a major roll. I was at my highest level ever and approaching my high score of 15,320. I have 6 lives left and feeling real good about not only shattering my record, but finishing the entire game. I was at level 31 of (I believe) 34 levels.

What happens? The ball fucking disappears! It bounced to the top of the screen and vanished. This happens on occasion, but what made this particularly annoying was I still had 6 lives left and my score was 15,320. That’s right. The game made the ball conveniently disappear just as I hit my high score. On the button.

Not enough? I was so angered by this I made it my mission to beat the high score before the weekend was up. I made it all the way to 16,020 at least. I say at least because this was the score I saw when I started my last level. I lost two balls and when I went to look at my final score it read 15,700. Fucking game!

- It seems the worst team in the league is the St Louis Rams. Did you see what McNabb did to them? Yeah, I know, McNabb’s finally healthy, but man alive it’s never that easy.

- Dallas looked good yesterday. Real good.

- I know, only the first week, but it’s going to be tough to top that Chargers – Panthers ending. Games like that are why the NFL is so entertaining. More! I want more!!

- While the Sox are gaining rapidly on the Rays, Ortiz admitted his wrist is still bothering him. That’s just what we want to hear. Thanks, Papi. You couldn’t have kept that to yourself a few more weeks?

That said, who knew the Sox – Rays series coming up would be so huge? In September!! The world has been turned upside down!

- If you haven’t seen it, yet, I highly recommend the HBO miniseries ‘Generation Kill’. It takes an episode to catch up on the characters, but once it gets going there is no cutting yourself loose. Unflinching in it’s portrayal of antiquated commanders and a war plan so inadequate you can’t help but wonder how we’ve been even this successful in Iraq. A clusterfuck from the get go.

- The company that’s hell bent on taking over the world turns 10 today. Happy Birthday! I’m assuming your five year plan includes knowing everything about everyone and creating a false sense of security and friendship among the human species only to turn on us when we least expect it. Card’s in the mail.

- And finally, my random Monday night prediction. Not sure if this will be a running thing or not, so let’s see how tonight goes.

Prediction: Adrian Peterson goes down with a knee injury. Hey, the knee injuries are on a roll, so let’s go with it.


Today’s distraction: Yup, it’s official. Goddammit!!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Rookie Rules

Found this on ESPN and wanted to share. It's an insider view on the ins and outs of the rookie orientation week.

Later, folks. Enjoy the weekend.

(Dis) Orientation

Two or three years back, David Stern and company (known to most as ‘The National Basketball Association’ or NBA) set an age limit on players. Stern was apparently perturbed by the number of NBA scouts and general managers attending high school games and wanted to put an end to kids skipping college.

Ignoring the success of Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady and others, Stern thought it would benefit the NBA to have players at least see what college ball is all about. After all, maybe they’ll mature a bit, learn more of the fundamentals of the game, learn about life. And maybe – just maybe – they’ll take advantage of the educational system and stick around for a degree.

Riiiigght…..

On Wednesday, two of the NBA’s more heralded and likable rookies – Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur - were kicked out of the yearly NBA Rookie Camp for having women in their rooms. Or more specifically, in Arthur’s room. This was a blatant violation of the ‘no visitors’ policy (or, as it’s known in NBA circles, ‘the no pussy rule’).

More concerning to all involved was the apparent use of marijuana in that same room. Yes, indeed!! Chalmers and Arthur were not only attempting to get an orgy going, but were smoking weed…..

….at the NBA ROOKIE CAMP!!!!

If you’re not familiar, the NBA rookie camp is a mandatory week of orientation all new NBA players attend. Here they are given strict code of conduct rules, given lessons on how to handle women groupies, the risks of casual sex, and how to invest and handle money properly.

There was something else, too. What was it?

Oh yeah. They are warned they could be drug tested at any point during the season beginning NOW!

Let’s assume Chalmers and Arthur aren’t complete fucking morons (a big assumption at this point) and that the drug class hadn’t yet been given. Did they still somehow think it was worth risking their NBA livelihood for one night of sex and drugs? Were they really so hard up they couldn’t wait until the Rookie Camp was over before toking and getting toked? Jesus Christ, the camp is a week long. Not an entire week, either. Five days. Monday through Friday!

They couldn’t wait?

As details emerge, so does the image of Chalmers and Arthur. These are the same two that helped Kansas finally rid itself of the curse of Roy Williams. They won the National Championship less than 4 months ago, for fuck’s sake!! Did they think they were still in college where everyone would cover for them? You’re in the NBA now, retards and you’re rookies to boot. Everyone is the same and nothing is overlooked.

Sources are saying David Stern was in a rage when he found out. So furious he called the hotel personally to inform them not to let Chalmers or Arthur back into their rooms. He even named them to the other rookies in attendance during a speech. While I have never met Stern I’m fairly confident he’s not someone you want to have angry with you. Chalmers and Arthur haven’t played a single NBA game and they’ve already been fined $20,000, will most definitely be drug tested any day now, and are facing suspensions.

Even worse, they’ll have an enormous bull’s eye on their backs with David Stern behind the sniper rifle watching their every move.

Genius!

But does this really have to do with intelligence?

No, the two Jayhawks will never be recruited by Mensa (especially now), but you have to assume they are functionally coherent (at least when they’re not high). They knew enough to not let security in when the smoke alarms started going off in the room. They also were sharp enough to flush their drug stash when police were called to the room. No drugs were found, but there was ‘a strong stench of marijuana in the room, and one person was in the bathroom with the door locked, repeatedly flushing the toilet’.

That’s not subtle at all. If anything, it sounds like they really did think they were still in college. Certainly sounds like a night in the dorms, no?

The issue isn’t intelligence or lack thereof. The issue is entitlement. What do we expect from athletes who have been catered to and pampered since they were in junior high school? They’ve been allowed to do what they want, when they want, with whoever they want for nearly half their lives. Sorry, Hammen, but being a Jayhawk doesn’t change that. If anything, it enforces it.

Big time college ball is a billion dollar business. Coach Bill Self, who predictably defended his two ex-players, has millions and millions of dollars on the line when it comes to how well his team does. The school itself needs to put a good team on the court to cash in. You think the coach or the school or the board of trustees care what the players do with their own time?

As long as they get grades juuust good enough for them to stay on the court, as long as they stay out of trouble (or trouble that doesn’t make the papers, anyway), as long as they put on the ‘appearance’ of being respectable members of society (read: don’t look like you’re a gang member) then it’s all good.

You want to sleep around with hundreds of co-eds? Feel free, just use protection. Don’t feel like taking this class? We’ll get you a waiver. Having trouble with testing? Let’s get you a ‘tutor’.

College basketball – hell, college sports in general – is big business plain and simple. To pretend there is some other noble cause behind it because it’s technically considered ‘amateur’ is naïve. When a division 1A school puts a good team on the field or on the court, they reap millions upon millions of dollars. Besides the obvious national exposure (especially those beautiful television contracts), there are student enrollment increases, more funding from trustees, jersey and hat sales and a number of other income sources I probably don’t even know about.

Chalmers and Arthur are idiots for doing what they did, but they are simply the result of the system. How many other players have done something similar and just never been caught? I wonder how many current NBA players are reading about these two and thinking ‘man, they should have gone to the girl’s houses like we did’?

I have nothing against these two guys. I’ve done things like this in the past and I wasn’t pampered or catered to in any way. I can only imagine the trouble I got in if I had my way and was looking at millions of dollars at the age of 20. Hell, I’d probably be dead or living in a cardboard box under a highway somewhere.

Still, you have to wonder about two ‘student athletes’ who smoke weed and have girls in their rooms while David Stern is right down the hall. It’s like snorting coke off the mirror in the vice principle’s office. Sure you may get away with it, but why not use the bathroom down by the wood shop instead.

Um….not that I’ve ever done such things.


Today’s distraction: Interesting stats on graduation rates. Please note where Kansas and Memphis rank on the list (you have to scroll down).

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Macho Macho Man

Last week Indiana University released findings from a study that asked men what constituted their idea of the term ‘masculine’. Published in the highly erotic Journal of Sexual Medicine as well as their own website, the study interviewed more than 27,000 men from eight countries (Spain, U.S., Britain, Germany, Mexico, Italy, France and Brazil).

Before we get to the results (which seem to shock everyone that isn’t a man) I would like to toot my own horn (since nobody else does it) and point out that I covered a lot of this already. These guys think they’re all cool because they spent more than an hour putting it together and involved multiple continents.

Show offs.

After rummaging through the 27,000 emails or papers or however they got their responses, it seems the entire concept of ‘masculinity’ isn’t at all what experts thought it was. One more reason not to trust experts.

The assumed definition of being a manly man was basically summed up as ‘more pussy + big dick + lots of money = real man’. Hard to argue with that math, actually.

Not so fast. According to this study, men place more importance in honor, respect and self reliance then on being attractive, sexually active or a chick magnet. While this doesn’t explain 'hair replacment procedures' or 50 year old men buying expensive cars, it does resolve with what most men feel creates happiness and contentment. Myself included.

Now, let’s not kid ourselves. Having sex with lots of beautiful women and being attractive is nothing to sneeze at. I should know. But there is something much more fulfilling about succeeding at ‘being your own man’ (or as my high school guidance counselor called it ‘having a problem with authority’) and gaining the respect of others.

The problem I have with this study (as I do with most) is it ignores some basic premises about being a man. This conclusion, for example:

‘Regardless of age or nationality, the men more frequently ranked good health, harmonious family life and good relationships with their wife or partner as more important to their quality of life than material, self-fulfilling or purely sexual concerns.’

While this is true, there is a cause and effect here that is not mentioned. See, the reason men value good health is because good health means more sex. Yes, good health is more important than ‘purely sexual concerns’ but it doesn’t mean the two concerns stand alone. Yes, having a good relationship with your partner is very important, but it’s because if we have good relations we have more sex.

As stereotypical as it seems, men care about sex. Deeply. No, it isn’t our primary concern. We want to be successful. We want and crave a satisfying monogamous relationship (or two as long as they don’t find out about each other). We want good health. We want happy, well adjusted children who enrich our lives. We are multifaceted creatures who want it all. Like women without the shopping gene and good smell.

That said, the impression this study gives is that men would RATHER be honorable and respected then have lots and lots of sex is misleading. Respect comes from both genders and, sorry, guys, we have all done something dishonorable in order to get laid at least once in our lives. At least. For most of us, it’s more than that.

There is also several mentions of erectile dysfunction scattered throughout. An example:

‘Compared to men without erectile dysfunction, the experience of erectile dysfunction neither increased nor decreased the importance men placed on having an active sex life or having success with women, although men with erectile dysfunction reported less satisfaction with their sex lives’ (Duh!)

Or

‘Men who seek treatment for erectile dysfunction do not differ in their views of masculinity from those who do not seek help’.

You like how that’s phrased? ‘Do not seek help’ implies that all men have ED but not all go to the doctor to report it. Nice. We’re all impotent, but we don’t all want to admit it and have to pop blue pills.

The mention of ED throughout makes me wonder if Viagra or Cialis has funded this study.

I could be wrong, of course. It could be a joint venture.

Speaking for most men (those without ED, we swear), I just wanted to say that while we do agree with the results of this study, we still enjoy having lots and lots of sex.

So there.


Today’s distraction: I had to pass this along. I stumbled across this study that claims over a third of American ex-football players have had sex with another man. The hilariously small sample, however…well...let’s let the article say it for me.

‘The 47 men, aged 18-23, were all American Football players who previously played at the high school (secondary school) level but had failed to be picked for their university’s team and were now cheerleaders instead.’

That’s right. This study only focused on ex football players who weren’t very good and became male cheerleaders. Considering the sample, I’m shocked it’s only a third.