Thursday, October 29, 2009

Crush of the Month (Oct Edition)

Before we get to the Crush of the Month for October, I just wanted to applaud Cliff Lee’s performance in Game 1 of the World Series last night. I’ve been a baseball fan for longer than I care to admit and can’t ever remember being as transfixed by what a pitcher was doing as I was last night.

Every single one of his pitches were top rate. The stellar Yankee lineup was confused and off balance throughout the game and even in the field Lee made things look easy (including a spectacular, behind the back grab of a grounder up the middle). He was at ease, in control and utterly dominating.

If you’re a Yankee fan, you should be worried because now your team is relying on AJ Burnett for a must win game. This could get ugly.

Alright, onto more serious matters.

This month’s BeachBum Crush of the Month is someone who has been out of the limelight recently, but someone whose work I’m just becoming familiar with. Thanks to Hulu and their archived television shows, that is.

Who?: Her name is Aahoo Jahansouz.

Uh….WHO??!: Yeah, sorry, you probably know her better as Sarah Shahi, the actress lucky enough to be born with Iranian blood while living in the good old USA. Tell you what; let’s just start with this:


Hummannahummanaahummanna


I’ll give you a minute to get your breath back.

As you well know by now, Crush of the Month is not based on looks alone. While some of you may be familiar with Sarah’s work in ‘The Sorpranos’ (she was a stripper who consoled Tony) or ‘The L Word’ (never saw it but my imagination is running wild) or even ‘Alias’ as a young journalist, the main reason I have grown to appreciate Sarah is her terrific work in ‘Life’.


Torn between terror and arousal


I’m catching up on this series (which only lasted a season and a half) on Hulu and she is surprisingly good as the hard assed, recovering alcoholic partner of Charlie Crews. She’s so good, in fact, that I was shocked to learn she's a former model. Usually that route doesn’t produce top notch actors.

My only qualm about her character in ‘Life’ is that she doesn’t smile nearly enough thus depriving viewers this stunning vision:



Smile is to the left in this picture


Probably just as well since it would distract from the complex characters and story line.

What Else?: She speaks three languages (English, Persian and Spanish), has absolutely no qualms about posing in the nude, appears to be a fitness freak, and was once quoted as saying ‘I love when guys check me out’.


Consider it done!


She was also a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader and wound up the cover girl of their 2000 calendar. Also, for those of you missing the vision of her beauty and talent, she’s just signed on for a new series called ‘Facing Kate’ about a divorced mother who quits law and becomes a mediator. It’s going to be on USA Network soon, so keep an eye out for it.

That All?: It would be remiss of me to praise Sarah without letting all you possible stalkers reading this know that she is a karate brown belt. This means she’ll have you on your back watching little cartoon birdies dance around your head before you figure out if you were sneaking up on the right lady.

She also is a new mom, having given birth to a son in July. I’m pretty sure that baby could already kick your ass simply by sharing her genes. Watch yourself.

Congratulations, Sarah, for being October’s BeachBum Crush of the Month and good luck on the new show.


Today’s distraction: New motivational posters to inspire you to new heights. Even if that simply means getting out of bed before noon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Crush of the Month (Sept Edition)

I haven’t failed you (this time). I realize I never got around to September’s Crush Of The Month, so this week I’m giving you two.

To be honest, I searched for some possibilities last month but came up woefully short. While I took that as a sad indication regarding the talent of women in show business, something deep inside me knew I would be rewarded for my patience. And, no, that something was not a large bowel movement. It was faith.

I was tempted to combine both lovely honorees as ‘Co-Crushes’ but felt that would be unfair to both of them.

Instead I’ll present September’s Crush a month late and tomorrow will be October’s Crush. It’s only fair to give each lovely lady their time to shine.

Let’s get to it, shall we? Hot chicks wait for nobody.

For your consideration, here is BeachBum’s Very Belated Crush of the Month for September.

Who?: Amazingly this actress has been in not one, not two, but now THREE of my favorite television shows. She’s been in ‘Ed’, one of the most under rated, quirky, hilarious and touching television shows of the past 20 years. She’s played Jack Sheppard’s wife/ex-wife in ‘Lost’ and now she can currently be seen in one of the funniest goddamn shows on television, ‘Modern Family’.

Ladies and gents, I present to you Julie Bowen.


She’s a beauty, no?

She’s also very funny. I’ve been on her band wagon since the early days of ‘Ed’ when she had the short hair and portrayed cute and clumsily sexy to perfection, but after her way too serious stint on ‘Lost’ I forgot how comically talented she is. Not easy to transition seamlessly from drama to comedy, but Bowen pulls it off and makes it look easy.


What Else?: Between ‘Lost’ and ‘Modern Family’ she had a recurring role in ‘Boston Legal’ as a defense attorney, but I never saw that show so that does little for me. What does, though, is her role as the love interest in what is still the best Adam Sandler movie ever made: ‘Happy Gilmore’.


I can see why his Gilmore was Happy

True, there wasn’t much for her to do, but I still love that movie and she’s a part of it so she’ll always have a special place in my heart.

She also had a recurring role in another very good series on Showtime called ‘Weeds’. Since I have Showtime now, I must admit this is an entertaining show even if I still haven’t caught up on all the characters and story lines.


That All?: Besides having one of the best smiles on television, you mean?

Fine, she also has the best last name ever. Sadly, it’s only her screen name (her actual surname is Luetkemeyer) but if she ever decided to leave her current husband and marry a certain BeachBum, the screen name wouldn’t suffer at all.

Keep that in mind, Julie. I know it’s tempting.

She’s also an east coast girl, having been born and raised in Baltimore. This helps explain her dead pan, sarcastic sense of humor and innate ability to be that damn good looking and still seem down to earth.

But what puts her WAY over the top, is her marrying a dork. I shit you not. This hot, successful actress married a software developer! The luckiest – and now coolest – nerd in the history of mankind.

Code makes me so hot!

So, join me in congratulating Julie Bowen for being September’s Crush of the Month. Being a month late doesn’t tarnish the accomplishment in the least.


Today’s distraction: Proof that Julie is a good sport, freakin’ adorable, generous and down to earth. Check out the dance in the dunk booth near the end. Too bad she wasn’t wearing white. Apologies in advance for linking to an ‘Ellen’ clip, but it’s relatively painless.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Life Time Of Experience

Hammen’s entry yesterday about growing old has spurred me to take action.

By action, I mean sitting on a comfy sofa while typing out a defense for the older generation of which I am (sadly) a member.

First of all, Hammen, I have you by at least 15 years so you’re still the young punk in these parts (‘these parts’ being my brain). Anybody younger than you is still a teeny bopper. They still use that term, right? Teeny bopper?

Secondly, there are many advantages to being more experienced in life.

Sidenote #1: I will forego use of the term ‘maturity’ due to - by any statistical measure - my being anything but. I may be older, but I’m still entirely immature.

Therefore, in my ongoing quest to educate the younger men in America (or the four that actually read this), here are the benefits to being older. These are in no order.

- We have already discovered that figuring out women is impossible and have become comfortable with that realization. There are ways we even know how to use it to our advantage, but I’m not spilling those secrets. It’s more fun if you figure that out for yourself. Come back in twenty years and we’ll talk.

- Confidence is at an all time high. You know what you’re doing, you have the ability to do it, and still look (semi) good doing it. The allure of the distinguished gent is very real. Unfortunately, I haven’t reached that level, yet. I’m more an awkward teenager stuck in a flabby 40 year old body. Pity.

- In the same vein, it helps one’s confidence when you have come to fully grasp that everyone else in the room is either a raving lunatic, incompetent or a complete idiot. Sometimes all three. This applies to where ever you happen to be at any given moment. Just wait. You’ll see.

- You can peg people as bullshit artists or someone you would enjoy hanging out with within three (3) minutes of meeting them.

- Knowledge that ‘Important conference call’ is code for ‘nap time’.

- Coffee, beer and sex are actually GOOD FOR YOU!

- Remember all those assholes and weirdos from high school? I don’t.

- You’re at the point in your relationship with your spouse where he or she literally doesn’t care if you go out for a night with your friends.

- You can still beat your kids at any sport and not hurt yourself doing so.

- The realization that if you treat women as actual people it increases your chances of getting laid by 95%. Sadly this always comes 10 years past when it would be useful.

- Knowing honesty is not always the best policy. Sometimes the best policy is to shut the fuck up.

- The relationship with your parents has never been better.

- Sex doesn’t follow hours of flirtation, spending money, social games, or dinner. Now it’s as simple as asking ‘You want to?’ and getting ‘Sure, why not?’ as a response. This saves so much more time for the good stuff.

- You know those friends that you have nearly forgotten why they are your friends in the first place? The ones that are downers at every gathering or the ones that somehow always forget their wallets or the ones that disappear when it’s their round or the ones that seem to relish when bad things happen to you? I’ve shed all those and have only true friends left in my life. You’ll see what I mean after you get married. A wedding ceremony is like a loofah sponge for friends of the couple. It scrubs out the dead ones and leaves you feeling fresh, clean, and happy. More than a few of you will realize there are friends you haven’t seen since your wedding day and most of them will be summarized with ‘Why did we ever hang around with them?’

- You can spot a bad decision the second it’s made. For example, a friend deciding ‘Rather than propose, I’ll get a tattoo of her face on my forearm. That will show her how committed I am’.

Sidenote #2: I had a friend in high school that showed up one Monday morning to proudly display his brand new Van Halen tattoo. Even at the height of Van Halen’s popularity I knew this was a bad idea. ‘Dude, they won’t be around forever.’ He laughed and said ‘But they are awesome now!’ Haven’t seen him in over 15 years and wonder how he feels about that tattoo now.

- We are completely comfortable with new technology and have the foresight to use it the proper way. For example, using a BlackBerry to keep in touch with clients and to set reminders for anniversaries and birthdays is a good thing. Posting half naked pictures of yourself puking all over a sidewalk on Facebook with your status set to ‘I’m so effing hungover’ is a bad thing.

Sidenote #3: Back when email was first emerging as a company standard, one of the cute girls I worked with decided she would come back into work after having quite a few drinks and express her feelings for me in an email. We were simply friends and nothing more due to the fact that I was married. I understood the gist of it, but it was a time consuming process to decipher the message. I was flattered, but the email read like her keyboard was slurring. While it probably wasn’t her intention, I found it hilarious. Then I deleted it and never said a word about it to anyone. To this day I’m still not sure if she remembered she sent it or if it was even meant for me.

- I have finally perfected (if I do say so myself) the art of refusal. I get invited to a questionable family gathering? ‘Sorry, can’t make it that day. Have a project I need to finish before *Insert Date Here*'. Friend need you to move? ‘Sorry, I promised wifey we would get the house cleaned before *Insert Name Here* comes to visit’. When you have kids the possibilities are endless. ‘Sorry, *Insert Kid Name Here* has *Insert Sport/Activity Here* until *Insert Appropriate Time Here* ’. I’m convinced this is the real reason couples have children. That and they have run out of things to talk about.

- Having grown up without it, we fully appreciate the wonder of the internet.

- You may actually know what you want to do with your life.

- While at the bars, you can make fun of the younger guys making fools of themselves by trying to pick up women way out of their league.

- You know quality when you see it. This goes for movies, books, television, music, food. You have seen, tasted, heard enough in your life that you recognize something legitimate and original almost immediately.

Sidenote #4: Sorry, but ‘Top Gun’ is NOT a good movie. It never has been and never will be. That’s not to say itisn’t entertaining. It’s certainly one of those movies that you’ll stop and watch for a variety of reasons, but it’s plot and acting and story are not any of those reasons.

- You have a healthy distrust regarding anyone in authority. This goes for politicians, religious figureheads, bosses, and parents. I say healthy because you are – for nearly the first time ever – thinking fully for yourself. It only took 35 years or so, but hopefully you’ve shed all the bullshit that’s been drilled into your head by everyone from your childhood.

I could go on, but this list in way too lengthy and those are the main points. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, but if it was life changing I think I would have remembered it.

Although I am getting old…


Today’s distraction: Some fun art creations from Terry Border. Pay attention to the grapes and raisins. I’m the raisin in that photo.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Week 7 Postmortem

Fantasy football can be a painful, frustrating, humbling experience.

This week I scored the third most points in my pay league but I’ll be dropping to 4-3 because my opponent will be outscoring everyone. It happens. But what makes this humbling is his team was 1-5. What makes it painful is Mr. Personality Disorder, Chad Ochocinco, is the main reason I’m going to lose.

What makes it frustrating is having not one, but two of your starters leave the game due to injuries. Andre Johnson was taken to the hospital in the middle of another kick ass performance and Jonathan Stewart missed the first quarter after hurting his hand on his first catch of the game. Good times!

Stewart did return, but I got to watch one of the more horrible coaching performances in some time. More on that in a bit.

For the record, I still really like my team. Vincent Jackson, Andre Johnson (depending on how serious his injury is), Marques Colston, and Drew Brees give me a shot every week. However, I am concerned about my running back situation. Barber hasn’t done much since he pulled up lame running for his second touchdown against the Giants, Tashard Choice is a crap shoot now that Felix Jones is back, I’ll get to Stewart in a minute and Kevin Smith is trying to run through one of the worst offensive lines in the league.

I may need to trade one of my receivers for a top line running back. May. I hate doing that, so let’s see what happens next week. After this week my entire starting lineup (with the exception of Andre Johnson) will be done with their byes. Still, the trade idea is officially on the table.

On to the games (such as they were):

- The Giants have now played two quality teams (OK, the Cardinals may simply be above average) and have lost both games. Do we still consider them a contender? The Cardinals, on the other hand, seem to be turning into the team we’d thought they be after last year’s surprise Super Bowl run. Their defense has been very good.

- Viking fans finally have the full bodied taste of the Brett Favre experience. You can blame Chester Taylor for that interception all you want, but the entire offensive side of the field sure seemed shocked the pass went to him.

- Houston is 4-3. San Fran is 3-3. I still couldn’t tell you which is the better team. Although Alex Smith looked phenomenal.

- Cleveland is now 1-6 and their season is basically over. So why does starting Derek Anderson make any sense? Shouldn’t Quinn be getting some reps and learning on the job? It’s not like Anderson gives the Browns a better chance at winning. It’s time to let the young gun take his bruises and figure out how to play before he’s labeled the dreaded B word. ‘Bust’. That’s the word I was referring to.

- Hey, speaking of BUST, JaMarcus Russell was finally benched after throwing another two interceptions and fumbling yet again. I got to see some of this game and couldn’t get over how awful Russell looked. He looks like he’s never practiced. You could throw in some random Division 2 quarterback RIGHT NOW and he would look better than Russell.

After the game, Oakland Coach Tom Cable said that Russell is still his starting quarterback. ‘That’s not an issue,’ Cable said. Uh, actually that is a HUGE issue. Your offense is an absolute joke and keeping Russell as your starter no matter how poorly he plays is most definitely an issue. Cable may be a sucky coach, but we may never know because he’s being ham strung by a senile owner and one of the worst quarterbacks I can ever remember. And, yes, I did watch Ryan Leaf play. At this point Russell is worse than Leaf.

- Hey, speaking of sucky coaches, let’s talk about the Buffalo – Carolina game for a minute, shall we? Carolina came into the game with the most potent rushing attack in the NFL. Buffalo came into the game with one of the worst defenses against the rush in the NFL. So, you’d figure John Fox – head coach of the Panthers – would have a kick ass running plan in place to take advantage of the matchup.

A game plan like…oh, I don’t know…’let’s keep running it down their throats until they prove they can do something to stop us’. Maybe I’m crazy, but that would have been my game plan if I were coaching this team.

Now, let’s add to this football soup the (major) weak link in the Panthers offense: Jake Delhomme, aka The Interception Kid. Delhomme and Fox are already on the hot seat in Carolina because of JD’s bid to break the record for most interceptions and ‘What the FUCK IS HE DOING?’ moments in one season. As it currently stands, Delhomme has 4 TD and 13 (yes, thirteen) interceptions. His QB rating is a stunning 56.5. Even Jamarcus Russell is giggling at that.

So what happens? Fox decides to stress the PASS against the Bills. Delhomme threw the ball 44 FUCKING TIMES! Carolina – I need to stress this again – owners of the best rushing attack in the league only ran 25 times. Things ended up as you would have expected. Delhomme threw three interceptions, the Panthers only managed 9 points and were embarrassed by a crappy Bills team.

I get that when teams get down early the unwritten rule is to start throwing the ball in order to get yourself back into the game, but the Panthers weren’t down by a lot and they were actually running the ball effectively. Williams was averaging nearly 6 yards a carry; Steward nearly 4 yards a carry.

Incompetent coaches panic and fall away from the strengths of their own team. It really should be called ‘How to spot an awful coach’. Fox actually helped the Bills win by abandoning the run and letting Delhomme (one of the worst QBs in the league this year) decide his team’s fate. I’m not even a Panthers fan and I was yelling ‘Why are you letting him throw the ball?’ at the television.

While you can blame Delhomme for throwing horrible picks, don’t forget to blame Fox for relying on him in the first place.

- What Fox should do this week is take a look at the Saints comeback against the Dolphins. Rather than start passing on every down, New Orleans did the exact opposite and started rushing the ball. Down 27-17 halfway through the third quarter, the Saints rushed four times in a row before ending with a 10 yard TD pass to Colston. This did two things: It brought them within 3 points and opened up the passing game for the entire fourth quarter.

Even when Miami scored to make it 10 points again, the Saints mixed it up and kept the Dolphin defense on their heels. I am liking this New Orleans team more and more. They just do whatever they need to in order to win. If you need an example, just look at Drew Brees rushing for two touchdowns in the same game.

- While there was nothing terribly surprising about the Patriots win over the Buccaneers, I will say that London stadium was very impressive in high def. That they sold out an NFL game is equally impressive.

- Note to LaDainian Tomlinson: You no longer have the right to pout and show up your coaches along the sidelines when you are removed from the game during goal line plays. Yesterday, your coaches and team mates bent over backwards to give you the ball in order to placate your massive ego and you failed not once, not twice, not three times, but four times in a row. Against Kansas City. Well done. Now take a seat so your team can score.

- Game that told us nothing about either team: Dallas 37 – Atlanta 21. Both are now 4-2.

- Statement game of the week: Cincinnati 45 – Chicago 10. As amazing as this sounds, this Bengals team could be one of the most well rounded in the league. They can pass (Palmer: 20 for 24, 5 TDs), the can run (Benson: 189 YDs, TD), they can defend (Cutler: 3 INTs, Forte: 24 YDs) and these are the things that most (if not all) championship teams do well. God help us all.

- Lost in the disaster known as the St Louis Rams is what an incredible season Stephen Jackson is having. He is basically the sole offensive weapon this team has; which means opposing defenses are focusing on one thing and one thing only: stopping Jackson. That makes his 134 yards against Indy that much more impressive. He should easily surpass 1000 yards again this year. Considering what a crap fest the rest of the Rams are, that is an amazing feat.


Holy Shit Stat Of The Week: In two career starts, Miles Austin has 16 catches for 421 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Random Monday Night Prediction: The Eagles play down to another crappy team only get bailed out by Michael Vick’s first touchdown in three years. Eagles win 17-13.


Today’s distraction: Create your own dance routine with Dancing Paul. This is actually more fun than it has any right being.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mix Up

One of the true signs of a long week is thinking – for an extended period of time – that one day is actually another.

I spent Wednesday night waiting for ‘The Office’ to begin from the time I arrived home from work right up until 9pm when I realized it was not Thursday. It was an unpleasant ‘I have to deal with another TWO days this week?’ realization and did nothing to temper my mood.

Even beer didn’t help.

When I slogged my way through my second Thursday in a row, I got home and started watching some of the Angels – Yankees game. When the home umpire didn’t call Posada out on an obvious third strike (prompting John Lackey to justifiably lose his shit), I decided it was time to head to bed.

Upon waking I see the Yankees put up six runs in that inning. Not bad for something that should never have happened in the first place. Since I didn’t see the game after Lackey walked Jeter, does anyone happen to know how many of those runs were scored with two outs? Because every single one of them shouldn’t have counted.

This kicked off another of my irrational thought processes that concluded it’s time to make some changes with baseball.

Some thoughts on how to make MLB better for everyone.


SHORTEN THE REGULAR SEASON

Considering we’re a week away from Halloween and the World Series hasn’t started yet should tell us baseball is dragging on waaaayyy too long. The other night Johnny Damon was at bat and the announcers were reminding everyone of the Game 7 grand slam he hit in the 2004 ALCS. ‘That was five years ago this very night,’ Joe Buck says.

It was Game 3 of the current ALCS. In five years, we are now four games behind schedule.

Suggestion: Cut the regular season by 12 games. Make it a nice, neat 150 games. Not sure where 162 came from anyway, but it’s too many.

Pros: A lot. Let’s run them down.

- The playoffs start two weeks early which will eliminate these ridiculous early November games in the north east. Just look at last year’s Series with monsoon’s postponing and ruining several of the games. Sure, there is still the risk in late October, but it’s less of a risk. If this keeps up we'll be seeing Christmas ads during the playoffs.

- Players will be healthier. Not all, but eliminating the wear and tear from those extra 12 games will mean a lot. Ask any baseball player and they’ll tell you the September run is the worst. Everyone has aches and pains, the weather is getting colder, and older players just want to get things over with.

- All those inflated numbers of the steroid areas that will never be touched? Now we can explain them away. ‘Of course Bonds hit 73 home runs. He was juiced and got to play 12 extra games’. Immediately, we can rationally dismiss all those steroid tainted records.

- Each game takes on slightly more importance. Especially during the dog days of August.

- Players can now tell themselves they are making more per game than ever before. This makes them feel better about themselves thus making them more motivated and happier. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Cons: Several here, too, but we can’t please everyone.

- Lost revenue. When you look at it, the teams will only be losing six home games a year, but that’s still lost cash. However, how many teams actually sell out home games near the end of the season, anyway? Other than 2-3 teams, nearly everything has already been decided.

- The previously mentioned season records. This pretty much ensures most will never be broken. Although, I highly doubt 73 home runs in one season will be reached without some pharmaceutical assistance.

- By extension, career records will be affected. A-Rod or Pujols will have fewer games to make a run at the all time home run record. Of course, fewer games could mean they wind up playing more seasons.



SPEED UP THE PLAYOFFS

If the players and owners don’t want to shorten the regular season, then let’s pick up the pace during the playoffs.

Suggestion: Make the first round best of three.

Pros: Will intensely heighten the drama and tension of every first round game. Can you imagine the Yankees losing game one at home? One more slip up and they’re out. It will also increase the number of first round upsets and make this possibly the most entertaining round of the playoffs.

Cons: Lost revenue. Again. And, yes, this is the main reason neither of the first two ideas will ever happen. Money is everything.

Suggestion #2: Fewer days off between games. I understand the travel days between east and west coast, but when both American League Division Series are over in three games, do we really need to wait four fucking days before the LCS starts? That couldn’t have been cut in half?

Pros: Fans don’t forget the playoffs are still going on.

Cons: None


CHANGE THE PLAYOFF OFFICIATING

These playoffs – more than any in recent memory – have illustrated that the umpiring crews feel playoff pressure, too. I haven’t seen so many bad or outright blown calls in my entire baseball watching life. And I’ve been watching since the 70s.

Suggestion: Keep it simple stupid(s). There is a saying in baseball: ‘Go with what got you there.’ This should apply to umpiring, too. Now that there is instant replay, there is no reason to have two more umpires down the left and right field lines. The entire reason they were put there in the first place was to help decide whether a ball was a home run or double. Now that there is instant replay to help in such matters, these extra officials are unnecessary and just clog up the works. Keep it the same as the regular season when we don’t have so many blown calls.

Besides, even when they are right on top of a play they STILL get it wrong.


"I'm on it..I'm on it..FOUL! Oh, shit! I meant the other F word"


Pros: Don’t have to pay extra officials; no worries about standard four man crews learning to deal with extra umps on the field (I’ll bet this is a bigger issue then we even know); umpires not getting tarred and feathered.

Cons: If I cared enough, I’m sure I would think of something…


NEW BLOOD

I’m sure I’m not the only one sick of listening to Joe Buck’s condescending play by play and Tim McCarver’s increasing dementia. It’s time to change things up.

Suggestion: New broadcast teams. Let’s use the Dodgers and Phillies as an example. Instead of hiring mercenaries that have barely followed the league, why not have the Philly crew do the games in Philly and the Dodgers television crew do the games in LA? This doesn’t just apply to the broadcasters, either. I’m talking about the director, producer and technical team, as well. They’ve worked all year together and when the games are more important than ever, you shouldn’t bring in strangers to run the show.

Sidenote: Anyone else completely annoyed that whoever is directing the Fox games relishes showing the reactions of everyone in the dugout though out the game? Between every pitch there are shots of each manager and random players who are simply watching the game from the dugout. Only none of them are ever doing anything! Show the action on the field, you asses! I don’t need to see Jeter getting a new piece of gum for the fifteenth time or Manny spitting his wad on the floor. This is especially disturbing in HD.

Pros: Quite a few here, as well.

- Improved chemistry. These guys have worked together since April. They know each other’s quirks and how to play to each other's strengths. Plus it allows them to reach a much broader audience.

- They are more familiar with their team than anyone. They’ve watched nearly every single game since April. Who better than to educate new comers to their team than those most familiar with them?

- No more Buck and McCarver. You, too, Joe Morgan. Don’t want to hear you, either.

- Fox saves money by not flying their own guys all over the country, setting up the production trailers and having to pony up hotel rooms for every single crew hand.

- No more Buck and McCarver.

Cons: There is the possibility that the local team would be worse than Buck and McCarver, but I’m going with the odds on this one. I guess what I’m saying is I would listen to anyone other than Fox’s current baseball announcing crew (with the exception of Joe Morgan).

That’s it for the week. TGIFF!!


Today’s distraction: According to this story, the World Series will only employ experienced umps. So, who have been umpiring so far? Guys off the street?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Week 6 Postmortem

Allow me a quick story before we get to the NFL.

It is a sad story for the man involved, but hilarious for everyone else. I believe that is the difference between tragedy and comedy, no? When it happens to you it's a tragedy; when it happens to someone else it's comedy.

Anyway, around 10 am yesterday morning a friend of mine calls to ask a favor. I’m at the gym at the time so I ignore the call and call him when I get back to my truck.

‘Dude! I’m heading to the game today! In fact, right now. I’m in the car, heading for some beers and burgers!’

He means, of course, the Patriots game. In a related weather note, it’s pouring out and 35 degrees. The absolute last place on earth I want to be is anywhere outside. I wish him luck before he gets to the point. He always has some reason for calling other than to pass along news.

‘I need you to make a change on my fantasy team when you get home.’

Without asking what the change was, I told him I would call once I was connected. We’re in the same league, so he just needed to let me know his password. I get home, call him and login as him.

‘What change do you want?’

He tells me and I pause. ‘Really? You sure?’

‘Absolutely! There is now way he has a good day in this weather. And my backup is playing in San Diego in 80 degree perfect conditions tomorrow night.’

‘Dude, I don’t know. The Titans officially suck this year. Their secondary is horrible so the Patriots should be throwing short all day.’

‘No, this is what I want.’

So I make the change. To the bench goes Tom Brady with Kyle Orton taking his starting spot.

When I submit the changes I tell him, ‘You realize you’ll be cursing every time Brady throws a touchdown today?’

‘I know, right! He won’t throw that many today, though. Weather is way too shitty for that.’

Brady’s line: 29-34, 380 yards, 6 TDs

My post game text: ‘I don’t want to hear any more complaints about you losing close games when you make moves like this.’

As I got no response back I assume he jumped off the top of Gillette Stadium by the third quarter.

Onto the games:

- While the Saints looked dominant against the Giants, I have a question. Are we sure this Giants team is any good? Look at who they played heading into Week 6: Redskins, Cowboys, Buccaneers, Chiefs, Raiders. If we suspect the Cowboys of sucking (and we do!) then the Giants have had the easiest opening five weeks of any team in the league.

- That said the Saints looked scary good yesterday. They took apart a (supposedly) very good defense and made it look easy. Note to every TV announcer everywhere - the Giants didn’t trade Jeremy Shockey because they thought he was talentless; they traded him because of his lack of work ethic and tendency to take games off. He’s still guilty of that in New Orleans, so let’s not pretend Shockey should be offended the Giants shipped him out of town. It was good for both of them.

- After the Vikings racked up 466 yards we can safely say this Ravens defense is not nearly as good as it has been in previous years. Ryan is gone as coordinator and he took linebacker Bart Scott with him. Maybe it’s a work in progress, but you can move the ball pretty well against them at the moment.

- Viking fans, I’m still not convinced your team is for real. Keep in mind you nearly blew a very comfortable lead to a mediocre team at home. Yesterday’s win shouldn’t inspire confidence. If anything, Flacco and Rice may have inadvertently set the stage on how to beat your team. Stay tuned on that one.

- Coming up on week 7 and I still don’t know what to make of this Texans team.

- The Steelers – Browns game was the definition of ugly. Pittsburgh has a tendency to play down to their opponents. Not the quality you’re looking for in a defending champ.

- Finally, the Carolina coaches have figured out how to win. Keep the ball out of Delhomme’s hands. He only threw it 17 times (yet still threw 2 INTs) while handing it off to Williams and Stewart a whopping 47 times. When you’re quarterback is a major weak link and you have a dominating running game, perhaps you should stress the running game. Just a thought.

- While we’re here, there is a painful part of watching the Red Zone channel when you’re a fantasy participant. It tends to go like this: One of your starters is running amok, bouncing off tacklers, mere yards from a touchdown. You get to your feet and start cheering. You congratulate yourself on starting a sleeper and having it pay off. Right at this cocky, self congratulatory part is where your guy fumbles the ball. Talking to you, Stewart. I saw that and was not happy. He did make up for it with a good game, but watching things like that live is unpleasant. This can also occur when your guy scores a touchdown only to hear ‘There is a flag on the field!’

- There were two war of attrition games I need to mention. The Jets and Bills overtime session was a comedy of errors. It was so bad that, after yet another false start penalty, the color guy (not sure who it was) said ‘Does either team want to win this game?’

The second was the Chiefs at Redskins which was just as bad as everyone anticipated. Washington seems to be regressing before our eyes and Zorn’s post game press conference was bizarre and embarrassing. He kept telling everyone it was on his shoulders and he needed to ‘re-evaluate everything’, but spoke in a dry, emotionless voice that was kind of creepy. It was like he was talking at his own funeral and expected Dan Snyder to come bursting in to fire him on the spot. If I was sure he had any human feelings I would have felt bad for Zorn.

- Oh, and Buffalo fans, I thought Trent Edwards was bad until I witnessed the indecisive and scrambling spectacle that is Ryan Fitzpatrick. My apologies for those choices. Where did JP Losman go?

- In a game I didn’t watch and in which nothing interesting happened, Atlanta beat Chicago. Thought you might be interested even though nobody else seems to be.

- The single most embarrassing loss of the year: Oakland 13 – Philadelphia 9. The Eagles, who boast two dynamic running backs in Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy, rushed 14 times.

- The Arizona Cardinals sure look like they got the bounce in their step back after the bye week. Seattle was out of the game before their offense touched the ball.

- Around 6:30 last night, I was watching television and laughing out loud for several minutes. Wifey comes around to see what it is I’m watching, only it’s the Patriots game. She gives me the confused look I usually get from her and I have to explain ‘This Titans team is so bad it’s funny. Watch this.’ I point to the replay of Vince Young trying to do…well, I’m not sure what he was trying to do, but he wound up falling down, losing the ball, while he and another team mate stumbled around in the snow trying to get it back. All of this happened when there wasn’t one Patriot player in a five yard radius of either of them.

Tennessee should really hire Jeff Fisher back to coach this team.


Holy Shit Stat of the Week #1: New England threw for 426 yards. Tennessee threw for negative 7 yards.

Holy Shit Stat of the Week #2: In 9 minutes and 56 seconds, Tom Brady threw five touchdown passes.

Holy Shit Stat of the Week #3: New Orleans scored 7 touchdowns, rushed for 133 yards, passed for 360 yards, and put up nearly 500 total yards against the number one ranked defense heading into yesterday’s game.

Holy Shit Stat of the Week #4: During an 8 play sequence, the Steelers and Browns combined to turn the ball over 5 times.

Holy Shit Stat of the Week #5: Mark Sanchez had a quarterback rating of 8.3. And, no, I didn’t miss a number.

Random Monday Night Prediction: Denver’s defense is exposed and tonight’s game turns into a shootout. Chargers win 35-31.


Today’s distraction: A sure sign the John and Kate phenomenon of using your kids to become famous has gone too far. As an aside, why is everyone calling this kid ‘The Balloon Boy’ when he was never actually in the balloon. Can’t we just call him ‘Future Drug Dealer’?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Boob Tube

Some thoughts on returning and new shows that I wanted to share. If you don’t watch as religiously as I, then simply skim over and be on your way. Unfortunately for me, DVR and Dish Network’s HD signal have me as addicted as ever.

Off we go.

OLD FAVORITES

House: Loved the opening episode with House wreaking havoc in an insane asylum, but once the action shifted back to the hospital it's been subpar. House still doesn’t have his medical license back and Foreman (the black dude) has been running the department. Unfortunately for us, Foreman is also the dullest, least inspired character and the focus on his struggles trying to lead in House’s shadow have fallen short.

There is hope, though, as Chase and Cameron are back on the team full time and there is a marked difference in their confidence and ability to handle House’s sarcasm and bizarre methods of inspiration. Chase, in particular, is now funny, smart, and – in a stunning move – bold and decisive enough to do what he thinks is the morally correct thing.

One of this show’s understated and under appreciated aspects is how it lets it’s characters grow and evolve. Chase in season one is nothing close to this season’s Chase. If you’ve watched long enough, these characters don’t ring trite and shallow like other medical dramas (‘Grey’s Anatomy’, looking at you!); you feel like you’re watching actual people struggle with careers and relationships and a pain in the ass medical savant who loves tormenting everyone around him.

Grade so far: B minus with the note that it’s heading in the right direction.


Bones: With Booth still recovering from brain surgery, the zing of give and take between he and Bones hasn’t been as invigorating as past seasons. It’s getting there and I like that they haven’t been making his recovery an over night fix; he’s still forgetting minor things like his favorite belt buckle and what socks he likes to wear.

That said, the show seems to be struggling to it’s feet. There are moments that remind me of the best episodes and occasional home run shots (the Amish one was stellar), but it just seems to be missing something. The first few shows seemed rushed and lacked the traditional humor. Plus, the revolving door of interns is wearing thin.

Grade so far: C plus


The Office: With the confession that I missed the season premiere and that I had major reservations about this Jim and Pam marriage/expecting a baby storyline, the show hasn’t missed a beat. Jim and Pam’s wedding last week was The Office at it’s funniest. Throw away scenes always make this show hilarious such as Michael asking Oscar what to expect from his colonoscopy because he’s gay was tear inducing (‘Do I need a safe word?’). Kevin’s dress shoes being so offensive the hotel incinerated them so he winds up wearing tissue boxes around; another dance off that results in a torn groin (‘I know way to much about Andy’s scrotum’); Dwight ranting on about Jim at the kid’s table.

I could go on, but if you’ve watched the show you know what I’m talking about.

Grade so far: A


Fringe: I’m about 2 episodes from losing all interest in this show. It goes back and forth from being an ‘X-Files’ clone to some bizarre and impossible to follow story line about soldiers from an alternate reality crossing into our world for some reason or other. There are moments of intrigue and excitement (killing off one of last year’s main characters in the season premiere was bold), but for every one of those there are two eye rolling, ‘Are you kidding me?’ scenes.

It doesn’t help that the least interesting character on the show is the lead actress, who mopes around with no humor. For a super FBI agent, she doesn’t seem very smart or witty. If they’d let her loosen up maybe this show would get some much needed spark.

Grade so far: C minus


Curb Your Enthusiasm: I’ve been a fan for a while and have often found Larry David hilarious in a brusque, thinking out loud kind of way. The appeal was he was usually right in his criticisms and annoyances and would be the voice of our inner thoughts. So far this season, he’s coming off as more of a jerk than usual. It’s still funny, but I find myself cringing at him being an asshole over something meaningless. Before you could understand why he was annoyed or pissed off. So far this season he’s just being a dick.

That said, it’s still a funny show. The Seinfeld reunion in order simply to impress his wife is genius, as is having celebrities like Christian Slater show up to get abused for things like eating too much caviar.

Grade so far: B


NEW SHOWS

FlashForward: I figured this to be right in my wheel house. Everyone blacks out for 2 minutes and 17 seconds, sees a brief flash of their futures and spends the next six months trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

Sadly, this isn’t living up to the initial premise. The first half of the premiere was great, but the slow-as-molasses investigation, as well as the touchy feely CONSTANT talking about what it all means is bogging things down.

I’m sticking with it for now, but I really hope the pace of the episodes picks up. That Charlie from 'Lost' is going to be a regular is one positive sign. By the way, Harold for the ‘Harold and Kumar’ movies is a horrible actor. His character is whiny and feeling sorry for himself because he’s convinced he’s going to be murdered. I speak for many viewers when I say just kill him off now. He’s annoying and depressing.

Grade so far: C minus


Modern Family: Far and away the funniest new sitcom since ‘Arrested Development’ came on the air. Perfect and hysterically funny work from everyone involved. There are way too many examples to give so just know that the laughs come fast and furious and often pile on top of each other as each episode progresses. Bonus points for bringing Al Bundy back where he belongs.

Grade so far: A plus


Community: Another great comedy. Joel McHale (from ‘The Soup’) plays a lawyer who learns his degree is a sham and needs to go back to school so he can get back in the game. Typical of a lawyer, he tries to scam his way through is courses. The characters are perfectly realized and the actors play off each other in hilarious ways. While watching I was wondering if there had been another show based on a college campus. It allows certain characters to recur through what classes are being taken. Several times, so far, the teachers are loonier than the students.

If you want a taste of the show you can watch it online at either NBC.com or Hulu. I recommend the one with the impromptu protest for a dead Central American reporter.

‘You can hang the piƱata!’

‘Oh. God. You know he was beaten to death, right?’

‘That’s where we got the idea!’

Grade so far: A


Cougar Town: A horribly named, yet surprisingly funny, comedy starring Courtney Cox. While this tends to be women complaining about getting old and trying to bag younger guys, it’s actually the men that make this show tick. Cox’s teenage son, ex-husband, and recently divorced neighbor are the funniest things going. At one point she witnesses her neighbor escorting a hot, blonde 20 something to a cab while telling her ‘See, the walk of shame isn’t so bad if you have someone to take it with you.’

One problem I have is wondering how they can keep this going. Cox has been with three different male model type guys in three episodes and she’s still neurotic and insecure. I picture this wearing thin as evidenced by each show being less funny then the previous. I’m hoping the ex-husband gets more time as he is hilariously good natured no matter what is said to him.

Grade so far: B plus


The Good Wife: I’ve only seen the premiere, but it was good enough to make me want to check out the other episodes. I’ll get back to you on this one.

Grade so far: Incomplete


Mercy: I’ll admit this one had promise. Sort of a MASH version of Grey’s Anatomy. I liked that the main character is clearly traumatized by her time in Iraq, but it decides to take the relationship route rather than the dark comedy, she may be really fucked up in a funny, blunt kind of way. I wonder if the creators wanted to make it edgier only to be over ruled by the execs who thought it needed to appeal to women.

If so, that’s a shame. This one had some possibilities.

Grade so far: D for Dropped from the rotation. Although wifey still watches, so it may stick around.


That’s all I’ve been up on so far. The comedies have been gold so pick up a new one if you have time.


Today’s distraction: Test your television catch phrase knowledge. I only got 10 of 18, but in my defense I never watch Full House out of principle.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Weekend of Darkness

Since I was off celebrating the spread of influenza and small pox throughout the Native American population (aka Columbus Day), I’ll forego the NFL Postmortem and run down the entire dismal weekend in Boston sports. Let us count the ways, shall we?

Red Sox

Apparently even the playoffs couldn’t light a fire under the Red Sox. The only ones playing with any enthusiasm were Ellsbury and Lester. The other mokes slept walked through the entire three games.

Note to Red Sox hitters: When one approach isn’t working, try something else. I understand that you are coached on working the count and driving up pitch counts, but Angel pitchers were on to you from the beginning. They would just throw meatballs down the middle of the plate every first pitch knowing you wouldn’t swing. Here’s a thought, maybe you should have been aggressive and swung at a few of those pitches to see what would happen. At the very least it would have given Angel pitchers pause before rifling another 88 mile per hour, straight fast ball down the middle.

Note to Terry Francona: While I appreciate your role in the last two championship teams you may want to reconsider your lineups. Managing about six hits over two games might be an indication that you need to shake things up.

Note to Jonathan Papelbon: We do blame you. Sorry, we all know you’ve been great for us in the past, but when Angel hitters started walking and hitting line drives off of you many Sox fans were yelling at Francona to take you out. You’ve been pitching cute all season and it caught up to you in big ways throughout year. Like the hitters, you seemed to have lost your aggressiveness. You used to finish off games in about 10 pitches. This year took you 30 or more on many occasions.

Note to Red Sox front office: The lineup needs some pop added this offseason. Matt Holliday would be a perfect Fenway hitter and would be a perfect DH. It may be time to cut ties or – at the very least – limit Papi’s playing time. The untouchables are Youk, Ellsbury (who’s been better than ever this last month), Pedroia and Victor Martinez. Everyone else should be dangled or dropped.

Note to JD Drew: If you check swing one more fucking time…oh, wait. The season’s over.

Pity.


Quick NFL Thoughts

- The Broncos and Bengals certainly look legit now, don’t they? Can’t tell if the Broncos defense is really that good, though, or if the Patriots – in particular Tom Brady – are still trying to get in sync.

- As for the Bengals, they went into Baltimore and pounded away with the running game against one of the best defenses in the league. Supposedly. Considering the way the Patriots and Bengals moved the ball and that Ryan is now with the Jets, do we still think this Ravens’ defense is what it was?

- By the way, if it wasn’t for that fluky Stokley catch in the Broncos game, the Bengals would be undefeated.

- Worst game of the season (so far): Cleveland 6 - Bills 3. Yeesh.

- Game that told us nothing about either team: Dallas 26 – Kansas City 20 (OT). Was this simply an improvement for the Chiefs? Or is Dallas just a bad team that played a terrible team? I still think the Cowboys secretly stink.

- I also think Detroit may be better than people think and will be wreaking havoc the second half of this season.

- While we’re here, I thought crappy teams from the year before were supposed to have easier schedules. Here is who the Lions have played after going winless in 2008: Saints, Vikings, Bears, Steelers, Redskins. Next week they play at Green Bay before a bye. That’s easy?!

- Miami has won two in a row after losing it’s first three. New York Jets have lost two in a row after winning their first three. I have no idea what – if anything - this means.

- Did Atlanta expose the 49ers as a pretender? Sure seemed that way. Let’s see how San Fran bounces back against Houston (in 2 weeks) before we decide.

The Holy Shit Stat Of The Week: The Raiders, Titans, and Rams (combined record 1 – 14) lost to the Giants, Colts and Vikings (combined record 15-0) by a collective total score of 113 – 26.


Fantasy Notes

- As if the Pats and Red Sox both losing weren’t enough, I got my ass roundly kicked in both my fantasy leagues. Things were so bad in my League That Matters, my entire roster added together wouldn’t have beaten my opponent’s starting lineup. I also have the unique distinction of having both the highest weekly score (week two) and lowest weekly score (week 5). Go me!!

- Not helping me at all was David Gerrard who stunk so badly I angrily dropped him as soon as his game ended. And, in another brilliant move, I added the Jaguars kicker because the Chargers were on a bye week. Zero points for basically anything related to the Jacksonville team. Fuck you, Jaguars! I wash my hands of all of you.

- In my other, non relevant league, I was five points down with Thomas Jones going against the Dolphins. My opponent had Ronnie Brown going. I don’t think I need to tell you how that turned out. That vaunted Jets defense couldn’t stop Brown from scoring the winning touchdown, providing both the Dolphins and my stupid opponent the win. Where was the defense when I needed it, Jets? WHERE??!!!!!

- All said, I’m in good shape heading into the rest of the season. Brees has already had his bye and after the week 6 matchup with the Giants here are the teams the Saints play the rest of the way: Miami, Atlanta, Carolina, St Louis, and Tampa Bay. If I’m doing well by St Louis, I may put in only Brees to see if he and beat my opponent’s entire team by himself. I won’t, but it would be fun to see what happens.

Off to catch up on work.


Today’s distraction: Some truly amazing pictures of Lybia’s Fezzan region.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Weekend Thoughts

Some random thoughts to consider for the weekend.

- A girl (who happens to be cute AND a huge sports fan) at work was wondering aloud how to watch last night’s Sox – Angels game without losing too much sleep over it. I offered ‘That’s what SportsCenter is for. You stay up as late as you can, then watch the highlights the next morning of whatever you missed’. We both pause for a minute before she says ‘You’re jaded’. To which I added ‘And old. Don’t forget old’.


- I did manage to make it to the fifth inning of last night’s Sox game before calling it a night. Had two impressions. 1: Lester looked good, but he still manages to get himself into jams when he should just go after guys. He needs to trust his stuff more and be aggressive. 2: The umps last night sucked. I really hope this is just playoff jitters, but there were two calls that weren’t even close they got wrong. Let’s just chalk it up to a bad night.


- How awful does Matt Holliday feel this morning? Not only does he start a game winning rally by muffing a line drive, but he took the line drive off his crotch. Double ouch. I’m tempted to say this series is over, but if the Cardinals can win the next game they throw out Carpenter and Wainwright for the last two. I can see them coming back.


- Since Yankee hating is in my blood stream I can’t figure out if I’m just nitpicking this, but I thought it was kind of a dick move for them to wait until the very last minute to tell everyone which series schedule they were going to take. Thus leaving the Twins to scramble to make travel arrangements to get to New York after playing an epic, 12 inning, season deciding game. Well done, Yanks. Way to show sportsmanship. Assholes.


- Remember my pet – and highly uneducated - theory that global warming may be partly due to the Earth warming back up to it’s original climate? If not, quick recap: Millions, perhaps billions, of years ago creatures that were basically big lizards roamed in a tropical forest climate. That we’ve found fossils of dinosaurs in North Dakota tells us that region was once warm and humid. Then some big ass meteor hits, blocks out the sun, ushers in the last Ice Age (not the cartoon movie version) and wipes out most of life on our planet. That’s the most accepted theory, anyway.

My theory is that the Earth is recovering from that cataclysmic event and is still gradually warming back to it’s original climate. That is, like a tropical rainforest.

Well, before I was just bullshitting my way through it. Now I have fucking proof. Aradhna Tripati, an assistant professor at UCLA in the department of Earth and Space Sciences, has used ice samples to analyze ancient air bubbles trapped in the Arctic Ice to come to some surprising conclusions:

1: The last time carbon dioxide levels were this high was 15 million years ago.

2: At that approximately that same time, sea levels were 75 to 120 feet higher than they are now.

3: Average temperatures were 5-10 degrees warmer than they are now.

4: There was no ice shelf in the Arctic Ocean and relatively little ice on Greenland or Antarctica.

Obviously this doesn’t mean we should ignore global warming; eliminating emissions and pollution is a good idea regardless of the final outcome. Plus, there is still a very good chance our shit is accelerating the warming process. But, it seems more and more likely that this warming trend may be - at the very least - partially a natural cycle.


- Apparently being black is a double edged sword for Obama. On one side he’s got white, southern dipshits attacking him for telling kids to stay in school and work hard and on the other he has people handing him awards like the Nobel Peace Prize. Not to be cynical, but let me ask what I asked about Ted Kennedy: What has Obama ever done to deserve this? For fuck sake he can’t even get his own legislation passed when his party controls both the Senate and The House. Maybe there is some long term result we haven’t seen as the result of his actions, but it strikes me that Obama basically got this because he’s black and got elected President. Nothing he has done in or out of office certainly deserves one of the highest honors in the world.


- For anyone who enjoys Robert Randolph (Hammen and crew, I mean you), check out Tinsley Ellis’ new release ‘Speak No Evil’. He’s not as upbeat and rocking as the Family Band, but he’s a great blues guitarist/singer who has shades of Hendrix, Vaughn, and BB King throughout his songs.


- Ever notice how the covers of some books look alike? Check this out. Turns out the same pictures are used for different covers. I’m convinced it’s done to trick people out of their money.


- Since it’s time to get in the Halloween spirit here are some new horror movies I’ve watched recently.

Halloween: This is Rob Zombie’s remake which was much better than I was expecting. I figured putting a human face to Michael Myers was going to be a mistake, but instead it makes his killing spree that much more disturbing. Yeah, it’s gruesome, but there are truly frightening moments scattered throughout. Still, that Myers being a regular dude doesn’t explain how he does some of the things he does. That would include surviving multiple gun shots, knife wounds and breaking out of handcuffs like Superman.

Feast: Put simply this was one of the most entertaining gore fests I’ve seen in a while. Starts off by creatively introducing each character with their strengths and life expectancy captioned below their faces. My favorite being ‘Dies horrible death in 70 minutes’. Then, of course, it flips those expectations on their heads in the first 10 minutes. Funny, gross, and paced like lightning.

Clive Barker’s The Plague: I’m a huge Barker fan (‘WeaveWorld’ is still in my top 10 for favorite books and ‘Night Breed’ is one of the more underrated horror movies of the last 30 years). He doesn’t direct this and I’m not sure what his association is (did he write it? Produce it?), but it’s an effectively creepy movie considering it’s low budget. Children all over the world contract some mysterious virus and go into comas for 10 years only to wake unexpectedly and start killing all the adults. A few frightening scenes (all the kids suddenly turning their heads to look at the nurse being the most memorable) make this worth it. In typical Barker fashion, the ending is a bit obscure and things aren’t fully explained but that’s why I tend to enjoy his work.


- I’m already bracing myself for another beating in fantasy this Sunday. Brees, Colston, and Vincent Jackson are all off this week. But my real problem is at running back. Willie Parker is hurt, Kevin Smith is still banged up and going against the Steelers, and my backups are Jonathan Stewart and Donald Brown. I’m actually considering starting both Marion Barber AND Tashard Choice because they’re facing the Chiefs. Now there is an indication your football team is truly horrible - that starting both running backs against them is looking like a good idea.


- Lastly, anyone interested in diverse, challenging, experimental rock music needs to pick up ‘The Incident’ by Porcupine Tree. Not sure quite how to describe it, but you can listen to a few of the tracks here and judge for yourself. If pushed, I’d have to say they’re a cross between Tool, Pink Floyd, and whatever weird band you can think of. Flaming Lips, maybe?


Today’s distraction: Boston Globe’s list of scariest movies ever made. This list actually tries to discredit itself by including the original Willie Wonka movie. Totally agree with number 1 on this list.

Enjoy your weekends!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Working It

In my ongoing quest to educate all single men on the perils, joys, and complexities of marriage, allow me to pass along lesson number 42: Marriage Is Work.

While I realize many of you have heard this particular phrase before, it usually refers to the time, effort, and – if you’re a male – money you need to put into the actual relationship in order to keep things healthy, fresh, and entertaining.

My lesson is much more literal than that.

Marriage involves hundreds of hours of manual labor. The twist being this labor of love tends to occur at the least expected and most inopportune times.

Example #1: Saturday morning I took the boys to karate with the idea that I would work out in the connected gym while they did their lessons. Instead I wound up talking to a guy I get along with (who just so happens to be one of the co-creators of the ‘Verification Weekend’).

When I get back to the house, I tell wifey I’m heading to the real gym since I didn’t have time to work out at the karate place. She is upstairs cleaning the bedroom and exchanging her summer clothes for winter clothes. It’s another of those strange female rituals that make me glad I'm fueled by testosterone. My summer clothes simply go to the bottom of the same drawer my winter clothes share. Wifey has enormous Tupperware containers full of clothing that needs to be swapped every six months.

Basically, her enormous dresser is too small for all the outfits she owns.

As I’m lacing up the sneakers, I hear wifey call down, ‘OH! Can you come up here? QUICK!’

I run up the stairs thinking her winter clothes may have toppled on top of her and she has mere seconds before being suffocating. Instead I find her in the bathroom using towels in a vain attempt to stop the toilet from leaking all over the floor. I assess that the water is running from the tank and not the toilet and quickly flush it to empty the water out while telling Wifey to hold up the bobber so it won’t refill.

I struggle with the water shut off before I get it to spin shut Wondering aloud why it was so hard to turn Wifey answers ‘It feels like it’s clogged with hair spray’. Women!

I ask her what happened and she rattles off – barely taking a breath, ‘I was trying to tighten the seat and noticed that one of the bolts underneath was really rusty so I tried to scrap some of it off and the nut broke off and water started gushing out of it’.

The damage was minor but it required heading to Home Depot, getting the properly sized screws and replacing them so the leaking would stop. A solid 2 hours spent repairing something that, as of that morning, didn't need repairing.

The lesson?

Beware when your wife/girlfriend decides to tackle a project. Chances (approximately 100%) are that project will become yours.

Example #2: Sunday (exactly 24 hours after ‘The Toilet Incident’), Wifey decides she’s going to hang the new curtains. They’re basic cream colored drapes that pull back and forth as needed. I’m a big natural light guy and want the sun coming in as often as possible, but I also understand the need for night privacy. These pull backs provide both options easily.

Sidenote: Women around the world need to understand something – guys don’t care what kind of curtains or shades or sheers go over windows. Wifey kept asking for my input so incessantly that I finally said ‘You know what? As long as they can open and close and don’t have flowers all over them, I’m good’.

Wifey went out that morning to get the new curtain rods and proceeded to get things together for her next project. I should take this opportunity to point out she decided to do this right in the middle of the Patriots – Ravens game. I should also point out that the room she was putting them up would be in the same room I was watching said game.

I know what you’re thinking, but this will become a huge benefit to me very soon. Please refer to the ‘Her projects become yours’ theme from earlier.

Things start off swimmingly. She measures, puts up the rod and marks on the wall where she’ll screw the thing to the wall. Even better, she’s not in the way of the television. We both win!!

Then comes the actual screwing into the wall part. If, at the beginning of this story, you envisioned me up on a stool, drilling sixteen holes in the wall, pausing every now and then to see what was happening with the game, then score one for you. I even wound up putting the screws in myself since she had a hard time reaching and wasn’t even close to having the strength to get everything tight.

All this for a five pound curtain. By the time I was done, I could have done pull ups on the stupid rod. You know…if I could actually do a pull up.

Today's sublesson, therefore, is to recommend all males to cordon off a block of time whenever wife/girlfriend says to you ‘I’m going to ______ today’. Your response will likely be ‘Do you need me to help?’, to which she will respond, ‘No, I can do it’.

Three to five hours should cover it.

As an addendum, when this happens in your relationship (and it WILL happen) make sure you do not say ‘Hey, why do your projects always become MY projects?’ or generally bitch about the sudden turn of events. If you keep your mouth shut, say things like ‘It’s ok, I don’t mind’ while cleaning up her messes you may find her willing to service you in other – much more pleasant – ways.


Today’s distraction: My new addiction is named Bubble Spinner. Apologies in advance.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Week 4 Postmortem

In order to take my mind off my first fantasy loss of the year (Et tu, Drew Brees?), let’s figure out what we’ve learned this past week.

- Tennessee may actually suck in a big way. When will it be time to throw Vince Young into the wild to see what he’s truly made of? Not that I blame Kerry Collins (he’s been respectable), but with the season going down the tubes, something needs to change.

- On the other hand, the Jaguars may be better than we thought. If you remove the Cardinals blowout, the Jags have only lost to the Colts by 2 in Indy. Now consider their next few games: at Seattle, home against Rams, Bye, at Titans, Kansas City. They could easily be 5-3 heading into the Jets game. All I’m saying is we may have written them off a bit early. That’s all.

- Jim Zorn can spew forth about ‘playing aggressive’ and making ‘positive things happen’ but the fact is the Redskins are horrible. Jason Campbell is atrocious, they were in over their heads against the Giants, they lost to a team that was on a 19 game losing streak and their two wins came against opponents who have zero wins. AND, they beat those two winless teams by a combined five points. They may be 2-2, but this season is going to get ugly for the DC faithful.

- The Patriots have FINALLY gone to a balanced offense. Who knew not relying on a skittish quarterback still recovering from knee surgery would be the best plan of action?

- Stop crying Baltimore. Every team has suffered through questionable ‘roughing the passer’ calls (see Patriots game 1) and will continue to do so for the rest of the season. For a team that’s supposedly in the championship conversation, you’re coming off as sore losers.

- If my fantasy league allowed enough moves, I would simply pickup whoever was playing the Chiefs each and every week. They are god awful.

- Cincinnati needing over time to beat the Browns doesn’t help me figure out if they are good or not. I’m still leaning towards ‘not’ but that could be because I associate lousy football with those Bengal uniforms.

- Matt Forte may have gained a bunch of yards against the Lions, but he sure didn’t seem like his powerful, speedy self even while he was running for touchdowns. Maybe it was an optical illusion, but I’d be concerned if I were a Bears fan. Thankfully I’m not.

- Team I still can’t figure out: Houston Texans.

- Not buying into this Steeler’s defense. Statistically they’re good, but they can’t seem to stop anyone when they really need to. I’m sure they’ll straighten things out soon, but right now I’m not impressed.

- If we take last season into account, the St Louis Rams may be one of the worst teams in history. Considering they’ve been outscored by a whopping 108-24 through 4 games (and one of those includes only giving up 9 points to the Redskins) we may see a second straight team experience a winless season.

- This Saints team is getting under my skin. In a good way. Not just because Brees is on my fantasy team, either. Their defense is surprisingly good, they can run the ball, they can pass, they can do nearly everything and do it well.

- As for the Jets, their defense looked great again, but they experienced some growing pains with Sanchez. Let’s hold off anointing them the AFC East champs.

- Either the Cowboys aren’t nearly as good as everyone keeps saying or the Broncos are much better than everyone keeps saying.

- Just curious, but what is Oakland’s Plan B if JaMarcus Russell continues to stink?

- I’m sick of the wildcat. I don’t care if it’s the only formation that works for the Dolphins. It’s boring and I’m sick of people talking about it. Someone please shut it down so we can move along.

- I hope everyone got a taste of the RedZone channel during yesterday’s free preview. I found myself watching that more than the live Pats – Ravens game mainly because they would cut to that game for all the key plays anyway. As a super bonus there are no commercials. Unlike an actual NFL telecast that has more ads than game.

- File under ‘Timing Is Everything’ or ‘Always Bring Your Cell Phone’. Wifey had to run out and get some groceries for the week and says ‘If you need anything give me a call’. Less than 20 minutes later my brother in law calls and says ‘I just got two tickets to the Patriots game. If you want to go, we can still make it in time’.

I say ‘Wifey (not her real name) just left. I’ll call to see if she can come watch the boys.’

I hang up, call my wife’s cell number and hear it going off in the pocket of the coat she is not wearing.

NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Sheepishly call back my brother in law and, sounding like a chastised six year old, tell him ‘I can’t go’.

He went without me. Bastard!

Holy Shit Stat of the Week: Rams running back Stephen Jackson combined for 87 total yards (79 rushing, 6 receiving) which was still good enough to account for nearly half of his team’s total yards.


Today’s distraction: Finally an official chart defining the seats in class. For the record, I was a back of the class guy mainly because I found it easier to sleep when I needed to. I needed to a lot.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Playoffs? Playoffs??!!

Major league baseball playoffs are almost upon us. I was tempted to simply copy and past last year’s preview and just ‘Find and Replace’ Tampa with New York, but that’s just lazy.

Besides, it looks like the Tigers will get in which sort of ruins any Detroit jokes I had in last year. Not sure if there are any, but I’m taking no chances.

Before we get started, I’ve come to the sad conclusion that baseball needs a salary cap. This is fucking ridiculous. Sox, Yankees, Tigers, Angels in the AL. Phillies, Dodgers, Rockies (not official), Cardinals in the NL. These teams sound familiar? They should as they are the same teams that have been in the playoffs the last few years.

Enough! Let’s switch things up, huh? As much as it benefits my Red Sox teams, it’s time to level the playing field (pun alert!). How many more Red Sox – Angels series or Red Sox – Yankees series or Phillies – Dodgers do we need? I feel like it’s 2007 all over again.

And if the Sox wind up meeting either St Louis or Colorado in the World Series I’m going to lose my shit. By ‘my shit’ I mean ‘any interest in baseball’. I don’t need a replay of 2004 or 2007 (except the Yankees losing part).

Say it with me, MLB: Salary Cap.

It’s time.

NEW YORK YANKEES

Summary: Considered by most to be the favorites heading into the playoffs for good reason. Solid starting rotation, killer lineup, actual defense this year, and just seem to have their shit together for the first time in several years. It’s time to give Joe Girardi his due. He did a fantastic job keeping the distractions (Hi, A-Rod) off to the side and keeping things loose. If it wasn’t for what Scioscia did on the west coast, Girardi might have won his second Manager of the Year.

That said: Need I remind the Yankees of Sabathia’s post season struggles? No? How about A-Rod disappearing until spring training? Heading into a five game series the Yankees rotation looks like this: Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte, and possibly Chamberlain. Do any of those names scare you much? Me neither. I should point out that Sabathia has pitched deep into the playoffs the last two seasons. This means he’s been shouldering (get it? He’s a pitcher?) a massive load (get it? He’s fat?) for three different teams the last three years. You can’t tell me that won’t catch up to him at some point.

Bottom line: Despite their stellar regular season, there are a lot of question marks about this team. If Sabathia and Burnett can pitch just decently expect the Yankees to make a big run. If not...


BOSTON RED SOX

Summary: As I stated before, there is an emotional void with this team. As if they’ve all channeled their inner JD Drew for every game. (That’s a bad thing, if you’re wondering). Technically proficient team with little spunk.

That said: They ARE in the playoffs. They are also a team built for the post season. Beckett, Lester (who looked great last night), Buchholz, and even Dice-K are a formidable rotation.

Bottom line: Who the hell knows. I’m hoping the adrenaline and emotion of being in the playoffs will light a fire under these guys, but it’s tough to tell how they’ll react. They have the pitching, they have the lineup, all they’re lacking is some interest in what’s actually going on.


ANAHEIM ANGELS (refusing to call them Los Angeles)

Summary: Man, considering how this season started for this team, I’m amazed they’re here. Teammate killed in accident, superstar slugger injured for majority of season, depleted starting rotation until June. Now they have a lineup in which every single player was hitting .300 or above a month ago and, in a five game series, they can throw Weaver, Saunders and Lackey at you.

That said: There’s the entire ‘Brian Fuentes’ thing lurking in the background. Sure, he led the league in saves most of the season, but he’s also a walking heart attack for every Angels fan in the country, sports a nifty 4.05 ERA, and will not be trusted by anyone when he trots into the game in the ninth inning with his team leading by a run.

Bottom line: Despite the Fuentes storm, this sure seems like a team on a mission. They’ve come together at the right point in the season, they have the pitching, they have the lineup but more importantly they’re the only team that has a theme: Win it for the dead dude. Tough to top that kind of motivation.


DETROIT TIGERS (not official)

Summary: Leyland certainly mopped up last year’s mess rather nicely. It’s basically the same team only they’ve decided to play. Miguel Cabrera has had no problem adjusting to the American League and, don’t look now, but Ordonez’ average is now above .300 and he’s been hitting the holy shit out of the ball the last month. Polanco, Granderson and Inge provide the grit and (some) speed.

That said: There are a lot of holes in this lineup; guys you wouldn’t mind pitching to with the bases loaded. That could mean Cabrera is walked. A lot. After Edwin Jackson and Verlander the rotation isn’t very intimidating, either.

Bottom line: They have a staff built for a five game series (Verlander and Jackson four times will be tough for anyone), but it’s difficult to envision this team getting to the World Series. You should all take this opportunity to bet your life savings on the Tigers. You’re welcome.


PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Summary: Last year’s champs are better in nearly every way heading into the playoffs. Cliff Lee is flourishing, Hamels is healthy, Rollins looks like himself, they replaced Pat Burrell with Raul Ibanez, got a better year out of Ryan Howard and still have Werth, Victorino, and Utley to fall back on. And! They have Pedro who has been pitching very well. Shit, man!

That said: Brad Lidge is basically the opposite of what he was last year. He actually had a 1-2-3 save the other night and it made SportsCenter highlights. That’s right, their closer didn’t give up any hits, walks or runs and it was an important story. Good luck with that.

Bottom line: The Phillies can always throw Ryan Madson into the closer spot if Lidge self destructs during the playoffs, but they can’t wait long before making that move. One blown save is crushing in a five game series. They have the fire power to hang with any team and should be the favorites to make the Series, but Lidge is the wild card.


LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Summary: Turns out Manny should have just stayed away from the team. During his 50 game suspension the Dodgers were tearing up the league; running away with the best record. Since then they’ve come crashing down so far that the Rockies could actually win the division outright if they sweep the Dodgers over the weekend.

That said: They still have a potent lineup with Kemp, Hudson, Manny, Ethier (who’s been struggling massively) and Loney. Starters Billingsley, Wolf, and Kershaw are nothing to sneeze at, either.

Bottom line: Let’s see: Good pitching? Check Powerful, patient lineup? Check. Defense? Check. Manager who’s been here before? Check. Certainly looks like everything is in place.


ST LOUIS CARDINALS

Summary: The temptation is to simply point to Albert Pujols, laugh at his name while marveling at his play. But this team is much more than just Pujols (snicker). Holliday has been a beast since arriving, Julio Lugo (are you fucking kidding me?) is hitting line drives around the park like he’s Nomar from 10 years ago, and Yadier Molina has quietly had one of the best offensive and defensive seasons a catcher has ever had. Oh, and they have not one, but TWO possible Cy Young winners in the same rotation.

That said: John Smoltz has been struggling (been there) and their third starter is Joel Pineiro who, while doing well in the NL, certainly doesn’t strike the fear in anyone’s heart. Minor weaknesses for such a loaded team, but it’s something to consider. Especially in a seven game series.

Bottom line: Between Carpenter and Wainwright dueling for the Cy Young Award and Pujols, Molina, and Holliday crushing the ball, I’m tempted to place the ‘Favorite’ label on this team. Then I remember Philly and I balk. It’s that close, though.


COLORADO ROCKIES

Summary: In 2007 the Rockies won about 33 games in a row (approximate) to squeak into the playoffs. They rode that momentum all the way to the Series before playing punching bag to the Red Sox. Since Jim Tracy took over the Rockies, they have been the best team in the National League. Tulowitzki has put up MVP numbers, Helton has found the fountain of youth and every move Tracy makes turns platinum. Amazing.

That said: Can this keep up? They have three starters with ERAs over 4 and four every day players who barely hit .250. Pitch around Tulowitzki and Helton and there isn’t much danger.

Bottom line: Even in a short series they can only throw Jiminez (3.52) and Marquis (3.95) at you. Neither are over powering and will have to face off against their opponent’s best. If that turns out to be the Phillies, it means Hamels and Lee. Which two would you bet on?


PREDICTIONS

AL: Tigers over Yankees, Angels over Red Sox
Angels over Tigers

NL: Phillies over Rockies, Cardinals over Dodgers
Phillies over Cardinals

WS: Angels over Phillies


Today’s distraction: A photo collection of the best office pranks of all time. The jello molds are great. Wonder how long it took to tin foil that cubicle.