A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Friday, September 30, 2005

Friday's List: Stupid Advertising Campaigns

Not the stupidist of all time-- I don't have the time or energy to check that much stuff. But both myself and Jennifer have noticed that there are an awful lot of really stupid advertisements out there these days. It strikes that maybe the inflation of the English language, where nearly EVERYTHING is dramatic, unparalleled and fantastic, has left the ad execs without a way of expressing how their particular product is dramatic, unparalleled and fantastic. It is no longer sufficient for a product to be new, or even improved. It must be new and improved with super ingredient Zigby to provide unparalleled protection and indisputable coverage.

And that's for toilet paper.

Anyway. Twenty-five recent ad campaigns that are bad, annoying, or just plain stupid:

17) The stupid Fed Ex commercials that use real NFL players to ridicule business people with a problem for using hackneyed sports cliches. The concept seems like it should be clever, and a subtle dig at the very expression inflation I site above-- but somehow they are just dumb.

16) Orbit gum ads where somebody does something stupid and gets dirty except for their shiny teeth. Then some sort of 1970's Scandanavian clonebot girl pops up and talks about how clean Orbit will get your teeth. Again, the ads have the potential to be clever... and they just aren't.

15) The Cialis commercials where the man and the woman are hanging out in bathtubs at what appears to be a scenic overlook on the Pacific Coast Highway. What this has to do with anything, much less an erectile dysfunction drug, is beyond me.

14) Totinos Pizza Rolls. Kids sneak down to have surreptitious pizza rolls while parents sleep, but the pizza rolls apparently give you tourette's syndrome as the kids start shouting uncontrollably about theirs "tastes like tacos!" The annoyance factor is high indeed.

13) Kay Jewelers. For their prostitution promoting ad campaing Every Kiss Begins With Kay. Got that guys-- no kisses without a little bling. Women, hold out for some jewelry before you give out any public displays of affection. Nice.

12) Nissan's stupid Shift advertising campaign. I know where I'd like to shove the stick shift-- but I don't think the idiots that dreamed up these ads would like it much.

11) Chrysler's Lee Iaccoco bits-- with the exception of the one with Snoop Dogg. The rest are really dumb.

10) The Clairol Herbal Essences commercials. While I appreciate the When Harry Met Sallyesque moaning, these ads are just dumb. Showering in the court room? Huh?

9) Every Old Navy ad. Ever.

8) The Snickers ads where hunters pelt a deer with Snickers. Admitedly, I was intrigued when I first saw the ad-- but once I realized what the point, such as it is, actually was, my basic reaction was: Well, that was pretty stupid.

7) Captial One ads. Though this may be at least partly due to the fact that I am dreadfully tired of getting their crap in the mail.

6) Skittles ads advocating I "taste the rainbow." Apparently, it is best to do this while be pelted with small pieces of candy. What fun.

5) Pretty much every cell phone ad out there-- except maybe the ones with Joan Cusak. Those are kinda clever.

4) The new Target ads that seem intent on bombarding us with as much loud music and eye jarring crap as possible in as short a time as can be achieved.

3) Every single "cross over" ad. Why in the hell would I want to listen to Geena Davis talk about her new show on Monday Night Football? Or hear all about the newest American Idol "news" while trying to watch the news on my local Fox affiliate?

2) The Old Spice ads that "celebrate" rednecks at NASCAR races. I'm fairly confident those aren't the ONLY people that go to NASCAR races, but even if they are, why in God's name would I want to see their armpits, and why would I care what they smell like?

1) Pepto Bismol ad where a bunch of fat guys do the "Nausea, Heartburn, Indigestion, Upset Stomach, Diarrhea" dance. Oh. My. God. The last part of the dance involves the people grabbing their butts and gyrating with a scrunched up face-- presumably trying not to crap their pants. Amazingly, the Pepto Bismal people thought this was SUCH a grand idea, that you can make up your own dance. No I'm not kidding (click on the dance machine link in the bottom left corner). God help us all.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I Feel Safer Already

Remember Sandy Berger? Former Clinton National Security Advisor who was caught stealing classified documents from the National Archives by stuffing them in his socks and pants? The dude who committed a felony and should be in jail for a long, long time?

Well, he's not. Instead, he is on the advisor board of the Partnership for a Secure America, an organization " dedicated to recreating the bipartisan center in American national security and foreign policy by bringing Americans of all stripes together to make our country, and our world, safer." Which certainly sounds good.

But do we really want a thief and a felon on the advisory board? As is often the case, the excellent Chris Muir cartoon Day By Day pretty well nails it.

Anyway, perhaps the PSA will help. Certainly, less bitterness and rancor and more cooperation on the national level would be nice. Particularly when it comes to an overriding issuing such as national security. And there does need to be other voices heard than those of the Bush Administrations and the far-looney left. Perhaps this will be a start. Though the fact that I hadn't even heard of the thing for nearly two months isn't terribly encouraging.

And speaking of the far-looney left, as usual Matthew Yglesias gets it nearly completely wrong. I particularly like the part where Yglesias lists the PSA's goals of:
bolstering the commitment to justice and civil liberties around the world; reforming the United Nations and re-engaging with allies; halting the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons material; enhancing homeland-security preparedness; reducing the national debt; gaining energy independence; and addressing global poverty, disease, and underdevelopment.
and then makes the perposterous claim that only Democrats want to achieve these stated goals. Yeah, every Republican I know is completely against halting the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons material. And they just revel in global poverty, disease and underdevelopment-- makes 'em happy as pigs in slop. National security enhancement? Nah, not for Republicans.

What a maroon.

Sports Kudos

I meant to post about this on Monday, but I forgot and ran out of time. A big Huzzah! to the American team for their victory in the President's Cup. Those were some gritty, if not always beautiful, performances down the stretch.

I love the match play format, and to see the best players in the world face off against each other is fabulous-- especially in a team format, and even more so when you are playing for your country. The pressure on the leaders on Sunday of a major is probably comparable, maybe greater, but even then, if you f-up it's just you that you hurt. In the Ryder Cup, the Solheim Cup and the President's Cup, if you mess up, you hurt the team's chances, maybe cost your team a shot at victory. Incredible pressure. Love it.

Special huzzah's to Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco, the final two players, for not folding after Angel Cabrera and Stuart Appleby made some fantastics shots on the closing holes to take 1-up leads late. Mickelson played an absolutely magnificent shot into 18 to earn a tie in his match after 18 holes, and, as far as he knew, his birdie got the U.S. the half point they needed to win. Only after the putt dropped did he find out that no matches are halved until after the winner of the cup was decided. He still had to play sudden death holes with Appleby. Which made for a truly comical look on his face when he was informed that he hadn't secured the victory after all. Long gone are the days when Lefty seemed to fold under the heavy pressure golf sometimes brings to bear on its best players.

As for DiMarco-- I think we can now safely say he is clearly the best player to never have won a major. His drive on 18 was dreadful, but his second shot was one of the most money shots I've ever witnessed. The kind of recovery from a bad drive that you expect Tiger to hit. Brilliant. But he still had to make the putt, a testy little side hiller from 15 feet with the hopes of an entire team riding on it. Drilled it. Never a doubt. He was following it in celebration at three feet out because he knew it was good. Total money putt after a totally money approach.

Man that was fun to watch.

Okay, also a quick shout out to my Milwaukee Brewers for finally-- finally!-- winning the game following the one when they got to .500. Five times previous they had clawed back to .500 only to lose the next game. Last night, they won to move to 79-78. Two wins out of five snaps a 12 year string of losing seasons. Three wins in their final five gets them their first winning season in 12 years. We don't suck!

Go Brewers!


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Fantasy Football Update, Week Three

v. 11 #3


Pina Colada Division
1. Hairballs, 3-0, 162.2
2. Renaissance Men, 2-1, 169.5
3. Metal Mayhem, 2-1, 154.7
4. Stumbling Alcoholics, 2-1, 139.5
5. Diamond Boys, 1-2, 146.9
6. Motor City Cheeseheads, 1-2, 130.0
7. Knights Who Say Ni, 0-3, 138.0

Brandy Alexander Division
1. Dimestick Cowboys, 2-1, 159.6
2. Fearsome Canines, 2-1, 156.2
3. Centurions, 2-1, 155.5
4. Chocolate Foam, 2-1, 132.5
5. Snowmobilers, 1-2, 135.4
6. Barkeeps, 1-2, 99.8
7. Posts, 0-3, 134.9

If the playoffs were today…
1. Hairballs, 3-0, 162.2
2. Dimestick Cowboys, 2-1, 159.6
3. Renaissance Men, 2-1, 169.5
4. Fearsome Canines, 156.2
5. Centurions, 2-1, 155.5
6. Metal Mayhem, 154.7

On the outside looking in:
7. Stumbling Alcoholics, 2-1, 139.5
7. Diamond Boys, 146.9

If the Barrel Bowl were today…
11. Motor City Cheeseheads, 1-2, 130.0
12. Barkeeps, 1-2, 99.8
13. Knights Who Say Ni, 0-3, 138.0
14. Posts, 0-3, 134.9

On the edge of ignominity...
10. Snowmobilers, 1-2, 135.4

Stat of the Week I: During the draft, GM Frank of the Diamond Boys joked not once, not twice, but at least four times that GM Nick of the Hairballs had selected the third best Smith (Steve) early than two other, better, Smiths (Jimmy and Rod). After three weeks: Steve Smith, 34.2 (3rd best WR to date), Rod Smith, 25.3 (12th), and Jimmy Smith, 22.0 (20th). Given that all three are in the top 20, you can safely say that all three are very good. Granted it is very early, but to date, GM Frank’s claim that Steve is the least of the three Smiths doesn’t seem to carry much freight.

Stat of the Week II: C.J., Scott and Jim all started three guys that were outscored by players on their bench—so they got half of their team wrong—and all three teams won! John started three players that were outscored by players on the bench and lost. He is clearly not as good a coach as C.J., Scott and Jim.

Stat of the Week III: C.J. started three guys that were outscored by players on his bench and he still had the highest point total of the week. He would’ve scored 76.4 if he had started the right guys. In a pointed twist of sheer irony, one of the bench players that would’ve outscored the starter was Amani Toomer.

PICKUP ALERT: There are weekly pickups. Pickups are in inverse order of record with points as the tie-breaker for teams with the same record. You can enter your choices on the web site, or email/call them into me. Please do so before Wednesday, 9:00 PM Central Time.

TRADES: No trades, good or bad, this week.

Game Capsules

Hairballs Sole Undefeated Team After Monday Night Nailbiter
The weekend started with five undefeated teams, but as the dust settled on Denver’s blowout of Kansas City on Monday Night Football, only one team was left with an unblemished record. Trailing by 5.6 points going into Monday, the Hairballs had Jake Plummer going against Metal Mayhem’s Larry Johnson. And Plummer’s 8.5 was just barely enough for the Hairballs as the Broncos stuffed Larry Johnson in a sack and stomped on him, giving the spittle covered ones a hard fought 58.9 to 57.3 victory. Both teams played without their first round draft pick, but instead of the defensive struggle one might have expected, both teams put up big numbers from their receiving corps, and the Hairballs superior backfield was just enough to compensate for a breakout performance by Mayhem QB, Daunte Culpepper.

Dimestick Cowboys Continue Winning Ways Despite Disparagement
They’ve been ridiculed, they’ve been laughed at-- by this publication, by the other owners, heck by strangers on the street-- and now they are the ones laughing, as the Dimestick Cowboys moved into first place in the Brandy Alexander Division. This week, they racked up the week’s highest point total and edged the previously undefeated Centurions, 59.8 to 55.4. The Cowboys currently have the #2 seed and the third highest point total in the league-- this despite not having anybody who’s any good on their team. Okay, that’s an exaggeration-- that Cadillac kid is pretty good, and Shaun Alexander might not suck. And Hasselbeck is good. Courtney Anderson. Chris Chambers. Hey, hang on a second-- these guys are good! Well, okay, but can we still make fun of the fact that Amani Toomer was picked in the fourth round?

Bourgeoisie Stomped by Proletarian
There was reason to suspect that Coach Tony’s first victory would be long in coming. #1 pick Priest Holmes was underperforming, the second RB spot was a question mark despite the presence of 42 running backs on Tony’s squad, and the coach seemed to have a knack for starting the wrong wide receivers. But faced with condescension from the bourgeoisie “ruling class” Renaissance Men, the salt of the earth workers that are Bartenders everywhere rose up and won a stirring victory for the... errr... alcoholic beverage servers of the world! Viva le Revolution! The Bartenders used strong games from Terry Glenn and Thomas Jones and then relied on the Ren Mens tendency to slip into 16th century habits, namely, forgetting that the forward pass is allowed. Despite a ground game that generated 29.3 points between Brian Westbrook and Ahman Green, the Ren Men got only 11 yards from their wide receivers and tight end. The shortcoming was enough to allow the Barkeeps to secure their glorious victory over the oppressive overlords of the ruling class, 47.0 to 43.2.

Poodles Ride L.T. to Victory
Heading into Sunday night’s game, things didn’t look good for the Killer Franklin Poodles, as they trailed the Knights Who Say “We Give Up” 49.8 to 23.5. Fortunately for Coach Scotty’s well-coiffed pack of poodles, the Sunday night game featured #1 overall pick Ladanian Tomlinson and superstud tight end Antonio Gates. They combined for 32.5--23.3 and 9.2 respectively-- and the attack beagles went on to victory, 56.0 to 49.8. With the win the Killer Collies moved to 2-1 and are a mere 0.7 points behind the division leading Dimestick Cowboys. With the loss, the Knights Who Say “We’re not very good!” fell to 0-3 despite having more points than four teams with better win/loss records.

Foam Take Advantage of Stumbling Alcholics’ Bye
Coach Jim’s Foam caught a break as they got to play the druken ones with #1 running back Clinton Portis on his bye week. The loss of Portis proved disastrous for the previously undefeated Alcoholics, as they managed only 7.7 from their backfield in a close 41.1 to 44.3 loss. Give credit to the Foam, however, as they, too, were without their #1 running back, Domanick Davis, because of the bye week. Fill-in Foam RB Frank Gore responded with 4.7 points, substantially more than fill-in Stumbler RB Moe Williams, who gained a mere 6 yards. With the win, the Chocolate Foam moved to 2-1 despite having the third lowest point total in the league after three weeks. Which, of course, allows me to drag out that old “defense wins championships” cliche. I should add that I do think that if the Foam can continue to hold their opponents to an average of 35.1 for the rest of the season, they will be playoff bound.

Diamond Boys Win Despite Inability to Operate Computer
So, late on Sunday I get a call from Coach Frank of the Diamond Boys. Long story short, he apparently tried to sub in Reggie Wayne for Nate Burleson on Saturday, but the move didn’t take. Which is a bummer for him, as there really isn’t much I can do about that-- there is no way to track a transaction that didn’t occur. For some reason the computer doesn’t keep track of things that don’t happen. Go figure. At any rate, despite playing 5 on 6, the Diamond Boys still won fairly easily, 49.9 to 38.7, as the Snowmobilers managed only one double digit performance (Jake Delhomme, 14.2) and that fine Irish lad Donovan McNabb had a silly good game (19.0) for the sparkly ones. Here then is the lesson: Make sure to double check that any move you make has been accepted and updated by the web site. There is nothing I can do if you make a move and, for whatever reason, the computer does not complete it.

Well, Somebody had to win
In a match up of 0-2 teams, the odds are good that somebody will emerge from the game 1-2. They could have tied, true, but that was a pretty long long shot. At any rate, this week, the 0-2 Motor City Cheeseheads faced off against the 0-2 Posts and the Cheeseheads used a strong running game to prevail, 54.1 to 44.8. Willis McGahee lead the way with 14.0, while Reuben Droughns kicked in 10.8, Peyton Manning added 11.4 and tight end Jason Witten, 8.5, finally had a good game. The Posts could have had a strong running game if they had started Corey Dillon (8.4) and Mike Anderson (9.8), but instead they started Lamont Jordan (7.2) and Willie Parker (5.5). I guess that’s the downside to have four running backs. To date, the Posts are the hardluck team of the league, as their opponents are averaging a whopping 58.5 against them. Yikes. Maybe GM John should trade one of those four running backs to GM Jim for some of that defense of his.


Monday, September 26, 2005

Libertarian Librarian Idiotarian Athlete Award

Perhaps this will need to be a weekly feature. Certainly that much alliteration deserves more space than I have given it in recent weeks and months. And I should note up front-- this week's winner is not anywhere close to the level of a Kenny Rogers. But he did almost single-handedly cost the Pittsburgh Steelers a victory against the New England Patriots yesterday, and the loss may come back to haunt the Steelers come playoff time.

My friends (and I use that term loosely), I give you: Antwaan Randle El.

The sitch: Early in the second quarter in Pittsburgh, the Steelers have rolled off 10 straight points to take a 10-7 lead, and now they have recovered a Patriots' fumble deep in Pittsburgh territory and run it back to the Pittsburgh 35. Run no gain. Okay, so that's the set up. Pittsburgh up 10-7, just dodged a bullet recovering a Patriots' fumble, and it's 2nd and 9.

Roethlisberger drops back and hits Randle El in stride as he zooms down the left side. Randle El makes a couple of nice moves, and he's down to the Patriots' 15 before a Pat defender can zoom in on him. Game breaking play! Steelers go from staring a 10-10 tie or 14-10 deficit into at least a 13-7 lead and maybe a 17-7 lead.

Except that Randle El tries to lateral the ball to Hines Ward, his fellow Steelers' wide receiver who is running up behind him on the play! Are you KIDDING ME?!!

Naturally Ward, who has no reason to suspect that his teammate will have a sudden secession of all brain activity and attempt to throw the ball to him, dropped the lateral and the Patriots recovered. Instead of first and ten on the Patriots' 15 with the home crowd roaring at experimental refrigerator decibal levels, the Patriots take back over on offense, and the Heinz Field crowd is stunned into nearly complete silence.

What a maroon! Who knows how the game would've played out if Randle El had just fallen down on the 15 instead of trying a crazy, half-assed lateral, but I think the odds are good that Pittsburgh punches it in, takes a 17-7 lead, and suddenly has the champs on the ropes. Randle El later compouned his idiotic play with really lousy play by dropping several balls at key points in the game.

In the end, the Steelers lost the game on a last second field goal on a beautifully executed drive during which none of the Patriots' receivers dropped the ball OR tried to lateral it to teammates.

Close runner up to Randle El for the LLIAA is "genius coach" Bill Parcells. The Cowboys missed the extra point on their first touchdown, and when they scored their second touchdown in the 2nd quarter, the Cowboys WENT FOR TWO! Stupid, stupid, stupid. Late in the game, if your team is trailing by a lot or the numbers are right you should go for two, but before the 4th quarter, it almost never makes sense to try for 2. There are simply too many permutations for the score to risk the guarenteed 1 for the 60-70% 2. It's stupid. Plain and simple. Lucky for Parcells that he's a genius, and that his team managed to win despite his poor decision making process. I more and more wonder if a whole lot of the Parcells' "legend" wasn't a product of having Bill Bellichek as his defensive coordinator.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Friday's List: Best Looking Women Athletes

Been a little to football/politics heavy of late. Not enough appeal for traditional male readers. So, alright-- let's combine attractive women and sports. What a country! For diversity purposes, I am including billiards and racing as sports.

Here goes:

Kristi Yamaguchi. I'm not sure why but I always liked her better than Michelle Kwan.

Danica Patrick. She single-handedly revitalized a sport-- and she goes 200 miles an hour!

Anna Rawson. An Australian import to the U.S., she's working on getting her LPGA tour card.

Amanda Freed. Softball player-- not as well known as Jennie Finch.

Katarina Witt. A fine German lass.

Paula Creamer. Yes, that really is her name.

Rachel Wacholder. Women's pro beach volleyball seems a good source for this list.

Denise Marston-Smith. She gets bonus points for playing hockey.

Amy Acuff. Olympic caliber high jumper.

Almudena Cid Tostado. Olympic rhythmic gymnast. Very flexible.

Jennifer Barretta. Might be a little distracting to play against her.

Tara Dakides. A very good snowboarder from all reports.

Tatiana Grigorieva. Olympic pole vaulter.

Lokelani McMichael. She's a triathlete. Yikes.

Jeanette Lee. I did say I was including pool as a sport.

Jennie Finch. There's a reason she's the best known softball player ever.

Gabrielle Reece. Yes, women's pro beach volleyball is a good source for this list.

Kristi Leskinen. One of the world's top freestyle skiers.

Amy Taylor. Played for the Australian Women's Soccer team.

Anna Kournakova. I like Sharapova better, but Anna is not exactly hard on the eyes.

Natalie Gulbis. She's a golfer, just in case you were wondering.

Veronica Kay. I'm not sure surfing is actually a sport-- but I'm including Veronica regardless.

Maria Sharapova. Better looking than Kournakova and she actually has game.

Misty May. Pro beach volleyballer. Yow.

Amanda Beard. Olympic swimmer. I guess swimming is good for your body.

So, there you have it. Me risking my marriage to bring you louts some late Friday entertainment. Did I miss anybody? Let me know, as I'm sure you will.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Jim Doyle: Out of touch with EVERYBODY

Jim Doyle, Democratic governor of the once proud state of Wisconsin, opposes the implementation of a Voter ID requirement for our state. He opposes it over strong evidence that the public supports such a provision. He opposes it despite several compromises made by the Republican controlled legislature to make the ID requirement as equitable as possible. And he opposes it despite clear evidence that there was voter fraud in the 2004 elections.

His reasons have included disenfranchisement of minorities, and claims that the Republicans were merely "playing politics" with the issue. I strongly suspect that he also opposes it because the voter fraud that plagued Wisconsin in 2004 all happened in strongly Democratic districts. Had the fraud occured in a heavily Republican district, I think he might have been more receptive to change. But I can't say that for certain-- it's just speculation on my part.

Regardless, comes now a report from former President, and Democratic party revered elder, Jimmy Carter that states that a national voter ID system would help solve voting problems across the country. AND that it would not disenfranchise minorities or the elderly.

So, will Jim Doyle now admit that his opposition to Voter IDs is misguided and NOT veto the ID provision the next time the legislature sends it to him?

I hope so, but I'm not holding my breathe.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Fantasy Football Update, Week 2

The Update
v. 11 #2


Pudge Division
1. Renaissance Men, 2-0, 126.3
2. Hairballs, 2-0, 103.3
3. Stumbling Alcoholics, 2-0, 98.4
4. Metal Mayhem, 2-0, 97.4
5. Diamond Boys, 0-2, 97.0
6. Knights Who Say Ni, 0-2, 88.2
7. Motor City Cheeseheads, 0-2, 75.9

Mudge Division
1. Centurions, 2-0, 100.1
2. Fearsome Canines, 1-1, 100.2
3. Dimestick Cowboys, 1-1, 99.8
4. Snowmobilers, 1-1, 96.7
5. Chocolate Foam, 1-1, 88.2
6. Posts, 0-2, 90.1
7. Barkeeps, 0-2, 52.8

If the playoffs were today…
1. Renaissance Men, 2-0, 126.3
2. Centurions, 2-0, 100.1
3. Hairballs, 2-0, 103.3
4. Stumbling Alcoholics, 2-0, 98.4
5. Metal Mayhem, 2-0, 97.4
6. Fearsome Canines, 100.2

On the outside looking in:
7. Fearsome Canines, 1-1, 100.2
7. Dimestick Cowboys, 99.8

If the Barrel Bowl were today…
11. Posts, 0-2, 90.1
12. Knights Who Say Ni, 0-2, 88.2
13. Motor City Cheeseheads, 0-2, 75.9
14. Barkeeps, 0-2, 52.8

On the edge of ignominity:
10. Diamond Boys, 0-2, 97.0

Stat of the Week I: During the draft, GM Frank of the Diamond Boys joked not once, not twice, but at least four times that GM Nick of the Hairballs had selected the third best Smith (Steve) earlier than two other, better, Smiths (Jimmy and Rod). After two weeks: Steve Smith, 17.2, Jimmy Smith, 17.9 and Rod Smith, 17.3. (Yes, this will be a running item)

Stat of the Week II: The top two wide receivers in the league are named Moss. Randy: 25.7, Santana: 25.5. My Moss is clearly better—and that two yards is well worth the 2nd round pick I spent on him compared to the 9th rounder Russ spent on Santana.

Stat of the Week III: Things that make you go Hmmm…. The #2 QB after two weeks? Trent Dilfer. The #1 RB after two weeks? Willie Parker. #2 WR is Santana Moss, and #4 is Larry Fitzgerald. #2 TE? Steve Heiden (but I’m not sure this really counts—he doesn’t get to play the Packers again).

PICKUP ALERT: There will be weekly pickups starting THIS WEEK. Pickups are in inverse order of record with points as the tie-breaker for teams with the same record. You can enter your choices on the web site, or email/call them into me. Please do so before Wednesday, 9:00 PM Central Time.

TRADES: There were two bad trades this past week. I know this because I made one of them and because the other involved Rod. I traded Donald Driver and Ladell Betts to Troy for Chester Taylor and Reggie Brown. Given the struggles of Jamal Lewis (maybe he isn’t even 90% healed yet), it is my feeling that Taylor may wind up being the guy, and if so I need him. Driver was expendable, and I’m not sure he doesn’t get shut down a lot now that he’s the #1 guy. But I have to admit that, right now, the trade definitely helped Troy more than me.

As to the other trade… well, Tony traded Michael Bennett to Rod for David Patten. Why? Beats me. Tony does need WR help, but I’m not sure how the #2/3 guy in Washington fits the bill. Bennett may not be more than a 4-8 point back this year (though there is still the potential for him to be a 10-12 point back), but even that is worth more than Patten. Heck, I might have traded Driver for Bennett. At any rate, there it is.

Game Capsules

Renaissance Men Back Up Big Talk
They billed themselves as the “ruling class”. They belittled the Diamond Boys as just ambitious hunks of coal. They ridiculed their opponent this week as well. Then the old rusty dudes went out and racked up a whopping 73.4 as four starters hit double figures and Ahman Green (9.9) just missed. The Snowmobilers had no chance, as only Steven Jackson hit double figures for Coach Dave’s crew in their 45.9 effort. With the win and monster point output, the progressive thinkers from the 16th century stand atop the Pudge Division and have staked an early claim to being the best team in the league. The Snowmobilers, meanwhile, are left to spin their treads in the mud and dust of late September as they eagerly await the arrival of the harsh Wisconsin winter.

Centurions Uphold “Old Rusty Dude” Honor
Despite the turmoil of a threatened lawsuit, the Centurions were able to focus on the field and put up a solid 51.6 point effort against the Diamond Boys (46.5). The 1st Century old rusty dudes win leaves them atop the Mudge Division and, were the playoffs to start today, left the #1 and #2 seeds in the hands of old rusty dudes. Coach Adam dismissed worries over an ACLU lawsuit that claims that the slightly daffy looking Centurion that graces his teams’ helmets is degrading to old rusty dudes everywhere. “It’s preposterous,” said Coach Adam after the game. “Is our mascot any sillier than the Knights Who Say Ni’s? Absolutely not. Big honkin’ coffee can with some deer horns on it. Please. This is just jealousy over the deep pockets of the Roman coffers.”

Hairballs Win Despite Sucking
“It was ugly,” said Coach Nick after his Hairballs hung on for a 38.2 to 29.4 victory over the Motor City Cheeseheads, “but really, what do you expect from expectorated globs of furr?” The game “featured” only two double digit performances, one by Hairball Randy Moss and one by Hairball Jake Plummer, and a hole lot of suckitude. In total, seven of the two teams’ twelve starters failed to break 5 points. Coach Bill, et al, praised his squad’s effort despite the loss, “Hey, we had several bench players step up and post big numbers that made no difference at all. Just imagine if we actually made use of those guys. Heck, we’d be mediocre!” Way to stay positive! The ugly win left the Hairballs tied for the top of the Pudge Division, while the Cheeseheads will face off with fellow 0-2 squad the Posts next week in a battle of inepitude.
Alcoholics Stick to Mantra in Victory
“Before the game, we came up with a simple mantra we wanted to follow,” said Coach Troy in a slightly slurred voice. “Slow and steady means you won’t fall down as much. That was it. I figured if we stuck to that, it would greatly increase our chances, since falling down a lot is inversely correlated with victory under normal circumstances.” Well, at least, that’s the best interpretation the Update could come up with, since the actual quote went roughly like this, “sunch fallink dow lot ish vershly latted with vicory undue ortal shmirc… eanshes.” Regardlesh…err… less, the game plan worked, as a superb game by Brett Favre (19.0) and solid games from the rest of the squad lead to a 56.4 to 48.2 victory over the Posts, who fell to 0-2.

Rookies Role Over Kanniggits to move to 2-0
Apparently the “Silly English Kaaaaniggits” schtick has lost its magic as the Knights Who Say Ni fell to 0-2, losing to the Metal Mayhem 45.2 to 51.8. The victory leaves rookie Coach Steve and his long-haired metal freaks at 2-0 and in the middle of the scrum that is the battle for the Pudge Division lead. After the game, Coach Rod blamed his team's inability to score on the blinding headaches most of them suffered upon listening to “that howling devil music all the young people seem to be listening to these days.” Asked why star Kanniggit wide receiver Terrell Owens managed to put up a big game (14.3) in spite of the Mayhem’s jangling power chords, Rod replied, “Well, that’s just Terrell. He doesn’t listen to anything or anybody.”

Canines Nip Dimestick Cowboys for First Win
Nip… get it? Hah. Now that’s good writing. Despite a second straight sub-par performance from Ladainian Tomlinson (5.2), the Fearsome Canines used a strong air game to edge the Cowboys, 56.9 to 55.8. Kurt Warner (16.3) lead the way for the pups, while receivers Chad Johnson (13.9), Larry Fitzgerald (9.5) and Antonio Gates (8.0) compensated for L.T. and Ronnie Brown. Irony alert: Repeatedly ripped by this publication in light of his inexplicable choice of Amani Toomer in the 4th round, Coach C.J. of the Cowboys benched Mr. Toomer for Andre Johnson. Toomer outscored Johnson by 1.1 points this week—the exact margin of victory for Coach Scotty’s Canines over the Cowboys. That much irony is gonna leave a mark.

Foam Wins Over Already Death Spiraling Barkeeps
Usually, it takes at least five or six weeks before the Update can confidently predict the advent of a death spiral. But the Barkeeps have redefined the time honored sports tradition of crashing and burning. They scored 20, yes 20, out of a possible 56.9 in losing to the Chocolate Foam’s 44.9. And all six players in the Barkeeps' starting line-up played an entire game. Actually, 56.9 would be a very respectable score (more, it must be noted, than the Barkeeps have managed to accumulate in two weeks of scoring), so maybe Coach Tony just needs to start the right guys. So, maybe it’s not too late, Tony! Pull up! Pull up!


Monday, September 19, 2005

Well... It's Not Our Usual Image

But I'm not quite sure this is the way to go to make librarianship seem less... boring. Still, why not, I guess, and it is for a good cause. The headline to the article does make me cringe, I'll admit-- must any item about libraries or librarians that appears in a newspaper have a headline containing the phrase "check this out"?

The Wisconsin DNR: Turds or Fireworks?

Last year, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewarage District (MMSD) dumped over 4 BILLION gallons of untreated sewage into Lake Michigan in May 2004 alone. The fact that MMSD is the largest single polluter of Lake Michigan is pretty much incontrovertible. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) is the state agency which is:
dedicated to the preservation, protection, effective management, and maintenance of Wisconsin's natural resources. It is responsible for implementing the laws of the state and, where applicable, the laws of the federal government that protect and enhance the natural resources of our state. It is the one agency charged with full responsibility for coordinating the many disciplines and programs necessary to provide a clean environment and a full range of outdoor recreational opportunities for Wisconsin citizens and visitors.
Water cleanliness and safety are part of that mission. Yet the WDNR has taken little or no action against MMSD since the 1970s, and has done nothing at all in the wake of MMSD's unprecented waste dumping last year. You'd think that working with, perhaps threatening, MMSD to prevent further dumping of BILLIONS of gallons (I picture Dr. Evil saying that) into Lake Michigan would be a priority.

But I guess the WDNR is too busy with this, to have any time left for all those turds floating in the lake. And the fact that the hundreds of thousands of people enjoy the fireworks may be SOL because there MAY be a few folks inconvenienced by closing the park early a handful of days out of the year is irrelevant to the WDNR. The DNR understands the problem but doesn't have any leeway-- rules are, after all, rules.

Except when the rule breaker is MMSD.

Turds in the lake? Acceptable. Beaches closed due to contaminated water in the lake? Acceptable. Cryptosporidium outbreaks due to contaminated drinking water? Unacceptable, but not really that big a deal.

Fireworks displays enjoyed by countless thousands of festgoers spending money to support the local economy? Unacceptable, because a few folks who wanted to walk along the turd encrusted beach on Lakeshore Island Park would be inconvenienced.

Ye gods could government have its priorities any more screwed up?

Dave Wannstedt: Worst Coach in History?

Last week, Peter King of Sports Illustrated opined that he felt sorry for Dave Wannstedt. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why-- and I still can't. The man has a great job, that most folks who enjoy football would love to have, despite the fact that he has repeatedly proven he is incapable of fulfilling that job's responsibilities.

To whit: Wannstedt was hired to coach the Chicago Bears in 1993. He compiles a glowing 41-57 record in six seasons before being fired. For reasons unknown, and quite likely unknowable, the Miami Dolphins hire Wannstedt as an assistant head coach in 1999 and then elevate him to the head coach position in 2000 when Jimmy Johnson retires. 11-5 in his first and second year, Wannstedt's Dolphins trend steadily downward from there, concluding with Wannstedt's resignation after a 1-8 start in 2004.

A record that, naturally, means he's qualified to be head coach at a major NCAA football program. And so he came to Pittsburgh in 2005, where he has compiled a glowing 0-3 record despite a pre-season ranking in the top-25. This Saturday, Pitt lost to Nebraska 7-6. Now, in years gone by, losing to Nebraska by one would not be considered a bad result, but these Cornhuskers are not your grandfather's Cornhuskers-- they are a middle of the pack Big 12 team.

So, after three weeks as the head coach of a major NCAA football program-- one that was ranked in the top 25 preseason poll-- Dave Wannstedt is 0-3, having lost to Nortre Dame, Ohio (not Ohio State-- Ohio University) and Nebraska. Which leads me to suspect that some Pitt alumni will contacting this guy soon.


Friday, September 16, 2005

Friday's List: Best Presidents

Totally subjective, of course, and limited to 10 because 25 would be over half and that would be silly. I think most people would agree with at least eight of the top 10, though maybe not the exact order I picked. And I throw out an honorable mention to John Adams, because I admire him and can't imagine what it must have been like to step into the huge, gianormous shadow of Washington and his presidency:

10) Truman. Many of his social programs were ill-fated, and began the transformation of FDR's social safety net into an entitlement mentality, but the creation of NATO, the Marshall Plan, the Berlin airlift and the establishment of the U.N. were all significant achievements.
9) Wilson. Lead the U.S. during the first world war, and was a strong advocate of states' rights. Child labor laws were enacted during his administration as were a number of anti-trust acts.
8) Polk. Not terribly well-known, but he got off to a fine start by gaining the Democratic nomination despite not seeking to be the party's presidential nominee. A consistent proponent of westward expansion, his administration saw the addition of what would become Oregon, Washington and Idaho to the country's holdings, and also faced down Mexico in the Southwest to add the California territory-- what is now California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and parts of New Mexico and Colorado.
7) Kennedy. Might well be higher if his tenure hadn't been tragically shortened. Also if he hadn't been so blatantly unfaithful in his marriage. But he embodied old school Democrats-- pro-defense, pro-government safety net while being anti-government bureaucracy. I personally believe every time Ted Kennedy opens his mouth, the spirit of JFK winces.
6) F. Roosevelt. Big kudos for rallying the country during the depths of the Great Depression and for his continued support of Britain and France against Germany despite much public and Congressional opposition to involvement in "Europe's" fight. And though Social Security has become a warped and pale reflection of its original intention, the blame lies with future Congressional and Presidential interference-- not with Roosevelt.
5) Jefferson. Possibly the best political writer of all time, he often lived his private life quite differently than his public declarations-- ie., opposing slavery vehemently and often in his writings, yet maintaining a large slave population at Monticello throughout his life. The Louisiana Purchase alone gets him into the top-10, and on top of that used the country's new naval forces to end the threat of the Barbary Coast pirates.
4) Reagan. The Iran-Contra affair and the supporting of the Sandinistas clouds his Presidency some, but he actually cut the size of the Government, accelerated-- likely precipitated-- the death spiral of the Soviet Union, and brought back a sense of optimism to the country after the malaise of Watergate and the oil shocks of the late '70s.
3) T. Roosevelt. Only 43 when he became president after McKinley's assassination, Roosevelt reinvigorated the office and the country. He oversaw the breaking of the railroad monopolies, the creation of the National Park System and the creation of the Panama Canal.
2) Lincoln. The top two probably won't invoke a lot of argument, though during my time in public school-- which would be the late '70s through the '80s-- I don't recall hearing a lot about either of them. Old, dead white dudes were already becoming passe. Not that there's anything wrong with studying the history of the civil rights movement, or of our considerable mistreatment of the native tribes of this country. But. There is a bit of good to our country's history as well, and Lincoln held the line in starting the whole civil rights movement. That Emancipation Proclamation thing, if memory serves.
1) Washington. The first, and still the best. He set the standards for so many things and he did it with grace, humility and wisdom. You could make a pretty good argument that without all of the Founding Fathers, this country would not exist-- certainly not in anything approaching its current incarnation. But the one person the fledgling U.S. of A. absolutely had to have was Washington. Because he was the one that rallied the people and embodied all the hopes for their future. Read his farewell address here, and then wonder if his words of caution regarding partisanship and the need for unity don't ring presciently true 209 years later.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Joe Biden has completely lost it

Does Joe have no idea just how petty, ingnorant and pathetic he looks during the Roberts' confirmation hearings? He must not, because he just keeps going and going-- taking any presidential aspirations he might have straight down on the rocket sled to hell. His questions are poorly structured, ramble, often circle back on themselves and are usually delivered in a petulant, whiny little tone. And then, when he finally does splutter out his inane little observations and questions, he won't let Roberts' answer.

Most likely because when Biden does let Roberts answer, Roberts makes Biden look like an ingnorant lout with little or no understanding of the Constitutional structure of our country. All of which is Biden's right as a member of the Judiciary Committee, but I can't imagine it's playing very well with any but the most far-left constituencies-- most folks can spot a bully and a pretender pretty easily.

Then, of course, there's the not so small matter of Biden's complete hypocrisy. He wants specifics from Roberts about how Roberts would rule on different issues. When Roberts says it would be inappropriate to respond with specifics about issues that were likely to come before him as a Supreme Court Justice, Biden angrily claims that Roberts is being unresponsive. Yet 12 years ago, when the same Sen. Joe Biden was the chair of the Judiciary Committee, he had this to say early in Ruth Bader Ginsberg's confirmation hearings:
"[Y]ou not only have a right to choose what you will answer and not answer, but in my view you should not answer a question of what your view will be on an issue that clearly is going to come before the court in 50 different forms, probably, over the next -- over your tenure on the court." (Sen. Joe Biden, Committee On The Judiciary, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 7/22/93)
Joe, Joe, Joe. You are such a disingenuous putz. How is it possible that the good people of Delaware keep re-electing your hypocritical, narrow-minded, petulant little ass to such a prestigious position as U.S. Senator?


OTIT: Conservatives Suck, MAN!

Or at least that seems to be the opinion of at least one professor at Marquette University. Now, don't get me wrong, this guy is entitled to his opinion, and he can vote that opinion just like anyone else-- but how exactly is this rant appropriate for a classroom?

In particular-- why is that seperation of church and state is very, very important to most liberals when that religion is in any way honored or revered, but it's perfectly okay to rip one of the oldest, largest and most revered religions on the planet? Somehow, I have little doubt that if a fellow professor at MU went off on a rant about how critical the orthodoxical nature of the Catholic church is to help allay the continued deterioration of modern society, Dr. Rick Jones would being screaming bloody murder that a professor had brought religion into the classroom.

Celebrate diversity! As long as everyone conforms!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Fantasy Football Update: Week 1

Week 1 Update


Ick Division
1. Hairballs, 1-0, 65.1
2. Renaissance Men, 1-0, 52.9
3. Metal Mayhem, 1-0, 45.6
4. Stumbling Alcoholics, 1-0, 42.0
5. Diamond Boys, 0-1, 50.5
6. Motor City Cheeseheads, 0-1, 46.5
7. Knights Who Say Ni, 0-1, 43.0

Crud Division
1. Snowmobilers, 1-0, 50.8
2. Centurions, 1-0, 48.5
3. Dimestick Cowboys, 1-0, 44.0
4. Chocolate Foam, 0-1, 43.3
5. Fearsome Canines, 0-1, 43.3
6. Posts, 0-1, 41.9
7. Barkeeps, 0-1, 32.7

If the playoffs were today…
1. Hairballs, 1-0, 65.1
2. Snowmobilers, 1-0, 50.8
3. Renaissance Men, 1-0, 52.9
4. Centurions, 1-0, 48.5
5. Metal Mayhem, 1-0, 45.6
6. Diamond Boys, 50.5

If the Barrel Bowl was today...
11. Chocolate Foam/Fearsome Canines, 0-1, 43.3
12. Knights Who Say Ni, 0-1, 43.0
13. Posts, 0-1, 41.9
14. Barkeeps, 0-1, 32.7

On the outside looking in:
7. Dimestick Cowboys, 1-0, 44.0
7. Motor City Cheeseheads, 46.5

On the edge of ignominity:
10. Fearsome Canines/Chocolate Foam, 0-1, 43.3

Stat of the Week I: During the draft, GM Frank of the Diamond Boys joked not once, not twice, but at least four times that GM Nick of the Hairballs had selected the third best Smith (Steve) early than two other, better, Smiths (Jimmy and Rod). After one week: Steve Smith 13.8, Jimmy Smith, 13.0 and Rod Smith, 9.0.

Stat of the Week II: This week’s top RB, Willie Parker (20.2), top TE, Chris Baker (12.4) and #5 WR, Frisman Jackson (12.8) were not played. Indeed, Baker and Jackson aren’t even on a roster at this point.

PICKUP ALERT: There will be weekly pickups this year, BUT—they will not start until after next week’s games. The reason for this is to get a better barometer of which are the best, and worst, teams. Pickups will be in inverse order of record with points as the tie-breaker for teams with the same record.

Game Capsules

Hairballs No “Ninnies” on the Field
After being stung in print by accusations of ninnyhood, Coach Nick challenged his spit covered group of round hair to prove their worth. All but Jamal Lewis resoundingly answered the challenge as the Hairballs rolled up the week’s highest point total, 65.1, in a thorough thrashing of the Posts. Jake Plummer, despite looking lost, confused and completely incompetent during much of the game, still rolled up 14.3 points to lead the Hairballs, as Steve Smith chipped in 13.8, Randy Moss 13.0 and Warrick Dunn, 11.7. Ernie Conwell—you can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him—had a career day for the Hairballs, putting up a gaudy 7.1 points from the TE position, and outdueling the Posts’ perennial all-pro TE Tony Gonzalez, who netted 5.1. Kerry Collins and Keenan McCardell were solid for the Posts, with 13.4 and 12.3 respectively, but Mike Anderson got hurt, Roy Williams plays for the Lions, and Corey Dillon was below average, leading to a lackluster 41.9 point total for the defending league champs. After the game, Hairball QB Jake Plummer commented, “I was dazed, confused and completely incompetent during most of the game, but I knew I had to keep chucking the rock around for Coach’s sake. I mean, some of the other coaches were calling him a ninny and stuff, and while he may be the slowest drafting GM in the history of sports, he’s no ninny. The whole team felt a need to play well to make those other loudmouthed coaches shut their yaps.” The Posts wasted outstanding performances by running backs Willie Parker (20.2) and Lamont Jordan (11.0) and, for reasons unknown to anyone with a brain, Coach John elected to start a Lion not named Kevin Jones.

Snowmobilers Welcome Rookie to the League
Balanced scoring was enough for the Snowmobilers to edge past the freshman Motor City Cheesehead squad, 50.8 to 46.5. The Snowmobilers, picked—for the six millionth time—by this publication to miss the playoffs, began yet another playoff run behind Tiki Barber’s 12.2 and Jake Delhomme’s 12.3, and got solid contributions from Steven Jackson, Drew Bennett and Alge Crumpler. Willis McGahee, Reuben Droughns and Peyton Manning all performed well in the Cheesehead’s league debut, but the air game let the rookies down, as big name receivers Marvin Harrison, Hines Ward and Jason Witten managed only 10.6 points combined. After the game, the three-headed weirdness that is the Cheeseheads’ coach had the following statement: “We live in Detroit, and thus it will take us a little while to realize that it isn’t illegal to complete a forward pass. Having watched Joey Harrington for a number of years, it is hard to break free of the conception that forward passes must clang harmlessly to the turf or be thrown to defenders. But we are working on changing this mindset and believe that the passing game will improve as the season progresses.” The fact that the statement was chanted in three-part harmony was truly, truly disturbing.

Renaissance Men Disdain Diamond’s “sparkiliness”
“The Diamond Boys are all glitz,” said Russ, the coach of the Renaissance Men. “Sure, they sparkle and shine real purtylike, but it’s all just surface deep. No substance. We old rusty dudes are all about substance. And sharp metal objects that can hack off other people’s appendages.” While no appendages were hacked, the Renaissance Men did hang on for a win, 52.9 to 50.5, as the Diamond Boys’ quarterback—that fine Irish lad Donovan McNabb—came up just short on Monday night. The Diamond Boys’ coach was unavailable for comment, though this reporter did overhear him muttering what sounded like, “Late picks, late picks. End of every freakin’ round. What were the odds?!”

Centurions Win Despite Kanniggit Taunting
Despite being called a “smeller of other people’s bottoms” by Coach Rod of the Knights, the Centurions went stoically about the business of kicking Kaaaaaaaniggit behind. Coach Adam’s crew was lead by Marc Bulger’s 18.9 and a workmanlike 11.4 out of The Edge. They were also helped out by the fact that #2 Kanniggit running back J.J. Arrington plays for the Cardinals (2.7 pts.) and that stud-muffin Kanniggit TE Chris Baker (12.4) was riding Coach Rod’s pine (Yikes! That’s a nasty visual) while craphead, always injured TE Todd Head was starting and getting only 3.8 points. Claims of parental elderberrihood were insufficient to stop the Centurions, though claims of hamster maternity did seem to trouble Centurions’ Tight End, Heath Miller who caught only one pass for three yards (also for a TD, but who care about those, right?).

Long Haired Freaks Tame Puppies
The newly minted Metal Mayhemese opened their rookie campaign with a tight 45.6 to 43.3 victory over the Fearsome Canines. Most independent observors believe the Mayhem benefited from the ear-splitting power chords that accompanied the Mayhem players’ performance and which left many of the widdle pups of Coach Scottie’s crew covering theirs ears with their paws in a rather comical fashion. #2 wide receiving pup Ashley Lelie seemed especially susceptible to the “music” of the Metal Mayhem, as she caught only two balls for a pathetic 17 yards (1.7 points for the mathematically impaired). On the other side of the ball, the Mayhemese got a strong game out of Deion Branch-- and that really is a heavy metal sort of name, don’tcha think?-- and solid performances from Duante Culpepper, Kevin Jones and Darrell Jackson. “Hair rules, man! Hair rules!” said head Metaler, Coach Steve after the game while forking his index and pinky fingers at us in the traditional sign of warding against the evil eye.

Dimestick Cowboys Win Despite Absence of Talent
During the draft, everyone wondered what GM C.J. was thinking taking Amani Toomer in the fourth round. Did he know something the rest of us didn’t? Did Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey both die in a tragic man-love murder-suicide? Was he using a list from 2001? Turns out, C.J. didn’t know anything about anything in regards to Toomer, but started his 0 catch, 0 yard ass anyway and still won by seven yards, 44.0 to 43.3, over the Chocolate Foam. Now that’s sticking to your guns, C.J. Well done. We here at the Update strongly believe you should continue to stick to your guns and play Toomer every week-- or at least against the Hairballs. That’ll show us. Meanwhile Coach Jim is left to wonder how Dallas Clark could catch for 419 yards last year, with Marcus Pollard around, but can’t catch a cold now that he’s gone. Clark’s big, beautiful goose egg at the TE position left the Foam 0-1 and scratching their collective heads.

Stumbling Alcoholics Take Advantage of the Barkeeps
Typically, it’s the guys behind the bar that have the edge over the drooling, vertically challenged lushbombs on the other side, but in Week 1, it was the Alcoholics who staggered away victorious in an ugly, 42.0 to 32.7 contest. Clinton Portis turned in a good performance, 12.1, and the rest of the drunken ones managed to not suck too badly-- which was enough to defeat the Barkeeps’ sadsack lineup. On the plus side for Coach Tony is the fact that his second round pick of Tatum Bell is looking much better now that Mike Anderson broke himself in the season opener. In Bell and Priest Holmes, the Barkeeps might have a very good backfield. Things don’t look quite so bright for the stumbling ones, as they lose #1 wide receiver Javon Walker for the season-- though if the first week is any indication, Rod Smith will fill in for him at least adequately.


Monday, September 12, 2005

Were you ready for some football?! Part II

Peter King is a Favre-lovin' idiot. For those of you unfamiliar with King's work, he is a football columnist for Sports Illustrated. Every Monday, he files a column called Monday Morning Quarterback for SI.com, and in previous years, I have found his work interesting, edifying, and well-written.

Not so much with his first regular season installment of MMQB in 2005. Well, it's still well-writing, but not all that interesting and certainly not edifying. King opens with a letter to Tom Benson, the owner of the New Orleans Saints, begging him, for the good of the city of New Orleans, to firmly and convincingly state that the Saints will never, ever, leave the city formerly known as below sea level. A nice thought, certainly well-intentioned, but here's a little tidbit that King conveniently ignores-- the Superdome, home of the Saints for the past thirty years, may have been damaged beyond repair. Even if it were repaired, or a new venue built, the questions remain-- how long will that take, and who's left to go watch? I mean, I don't mean to be callous here, but there's a fair chance the city of New Orleans will never be rebuilt-- at least not to its previous level. I suppose Benson could just say that he will never move the team, for the sake of morale, but that statement would be disingenuous at best, and I doubt very many people would believe him. But, okay, it was a nice thought.

Then you read the last sentence of the letter:
And right now these people need you, Tom. Lead this city back. You can do it. What's more, you have to do it. No one else can.
And it's a thing that makes you go Hrmmm? No one else can, Peter? I mean, I know the mayor of New Orleans has been nigh onto useless during the catastrophe, and the Governor not all that much better, but seriously-- no one else can? What a stupid and condescending thing to say. There are stories galore coming out of the disaster zone that already prove this statement false. If there is enough desire, enough potential, enough infrastructure left to make it viable, New Orleans will be reborn-- but I find it difficult to conceive that the pivotal piece of the puzzle will be whether Tom Benson says he's keeping the Saints in town or not. No, I take that back. I find it impossible to believe, and I find the implication-- that no one else is capable of bringing the city back to life-- to be incredibly insulting to... well... everyone else connected with the city.

So, moving on. Next page, King actually starts talking about the Thursday and Sunday games. Well and good. He hands out some awards, and while I don't entirely agree with his selections, they can be justified-- until you get to the Goat of the Week. Which was Chad Pennington, quarterback of the NY Jets.

Now, I'll grant you Pennington was not good, but doesn't some of the blame have to fall on the offensive line? Wasn't Brett Favre equally as terrible against a, arguably, inferior opponent? Wouldn't you have to say that Jake Plummer's two interception, one fumble performance against Miami was also as terrible, if not more so? But above and beyond that, King also maintains that no team was as disappointing as the Jets in their opener. Which is absurd. Houston was, the Packers were, the Broncos were, the Vikings were, and I think you could probably argue that the Titans were. But okay, you can only pick one goat, and King "liked" Pennington. Whatever.

Moving on. Aggravating/Enjoyable Travel Note of the Week. This is a standard in the MMQB column and it used to be interesting-- King would talk about some of the behind the scenes things reporters experience to get to games and to interview players and/or coaches. In this column, he drops this lovely pearl of wisdom on us:
I'm all for the Starbucks empire expanding to the New Jersey Turnpike ... with real Starbucks stores, not the phony ones with poorly trained, shoddy baristas. But Saturday morning, at the central Jersey rest area with the real Starbucks just off the parking lot, I got fleeced for a triple grande hazelnut latte to the tune of $5.37.

Think of that, Seattle: a 12-ounce mixture of espresso, milk, foam and hazelnut syrup, heavy on the foam, costs more than a 24-bottle case of Poland Spring water at the grocery store.
To which I say: Think of that, Mr. King: Starbucks wouldn't be able to charge $5.37 for a 12-ounce mixture of espresso, milk, foam and hazelnut syrup if idiots like you didn't pay for them! It's called the free market, Peter, and if Starbucks can get coffee nerds like you to fork over enough for an entire meal-- albeit a somewhat cheap one-- for one 12 cup of java, who's really the maroon in the equation?

Right: King's Ten Things I Think I Think (Also a standard for the MMQB column).

#1 is that he thinks Kerry Collins play against the Patriots was stunning in its badness. Errr... huh? I'll grant Collins was fantastic-- I don't see a bust in Canton heading his way-- but "stunning in its badness"? Please. Collins was 18 of 40 for 265 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. He did not fumble the ball, and the Raiders were in the game until late in the third quarter. On the road. Against, arguably, the best defense in the league.

How can you possibly classify that as "stunning in its badness"?

Deep breath. Okay-- under #2, King's "quick-hit NFL thoughts of the week" (I place that in quotes, but virtually every one of the "quick hits" is longer than the standard Ten Things entries. Which, to me, makes them unquick) King says "You've got to like the Lions on defense." Now, setting aside the lousy grammar, why exactly do we got to love the Lions on defense? Because they held a lousy Packers team, who lost their best receiver, to three points in a dome-- a place where Brett Favre is almost always poor to lousy? Possibly, the Lions' defense is good-- but equally possibly, the Packers are just that bad.

Right. #4: "I think Drew Brees has reinvented himself about as well as any quarterback can. Excellent job against the Cowboys, with the new Dallas pressure coming from everywhere." Um... Peter? The Chargers lost. At home. On a late interception by Brees. His totals were 18 of 35 for 209 yards, two TDs and two interceptions. Which, by my reckoning, is worse than Collins' stats. And Brees' performance was at home (where, presumably, it should be lot easier to succeed) and not against the defending Super Bowl champions and, arguably, the best defense in the league. Yet Brees did an "excellent job" and Collins was "stunning" in his "badness"? Wow.

#5 is okay. #6... oh yes, #6. Things about the weekend King didn't like. These included: Culpepper, Jets readiness, Tennessee's run defense AND just about everything Tennessee did, Matt Hasselbeck, David Carr, Jake Plummer and the Oakland penalties. I don't disagree with anything on that list, though I'd cut Hasselbeck a little slack, but does anybody see a glaring omission? I mean, how do you NOT include anything about the Packers or Brett Favre? I'm a huge Packers fan, and I will say without question that pretty much everything about the Packers was something I did not like this weekend. Three points. Two interceptions. Four fumbles (losing one). 14 penalties for 100 yards. FOURTEEN penalties! Yikes.

And finally, under his non-NFL thoughts of the week (also a column staple), King writes, among other things, "Poor Dave Wannstedt." Which, literally, made me laugh out loud. What a stupid thing to say. Dave Wannstedt has failed miserably at every head coaching job he's ever held, and now he has managed to take a Pitt squad-- which has enough talent to have been a pre-season top-25 squad-- and lose to Notre Dame, at home, and Ohio (please note-- not Ohio State. Ohio University. A school with, roughly, 17,000 students.) on the road. Wannstedt is a lousy coach, something which has been demonstrated time and again. Yet, somehow, he continues to get high-profile, well-paying head coaching gigs. Why should we feel sorry for him is beyond me. Personally, I feel sorry for the students and alumni of Pitt.

And, finally, King picks Philadelphia to win tonight. Which means the smart money is on Atlanta.


Were you ready for some football?! Part I

I was. What a whacked out opening NFL weekend. Totally nuts. First off, it started with me in Vegas, which was quite the trip. You really haven't felt your head spinning completely off your neck until you've tried to watch eight different early NFL games at the same time. While running on half your normal sleep. And slightly hung over.

I highly recommend it.

Secondly, what in the Blue Blazes is going on with Miami beating Denver and San Francisco beating St. Louis? Are you kidding me? Good thing Mike Shanahan is a genius, or you'd have to start to wonder if he's really a very good coach or if he just got lucky by getting John Elway and Terrell Davis together for that two year run to the Super Bowl.

Thirdly, what in the Sam Hill was going on with Miami beating Denver and S.F. beating St. Louis. Oh wait, I already said that. Well, that's okay, it was so bizarre and hard to conceive of, that it bore repeating.

Fourthly, good for the Saints, even if their win did kill my shot at winning my weekly football pool. As Gym Jim noted, the LSU/Saints parley was a winner this weekend. Both catching points, both winning a tight but well-played game on the road. Of course, the entire year is going to be on the road for the Saints, and possibly for LSU as well. How much of an effect that will have longterm remains to be seen, but for this weekend, anyway, they both came up aces.

Speaking of aces-- I love the poker room at The Mirage. I like the poker room at the Stardust as well, but the action at The Mirage was just awesome. Lots of young college punks who think they know how to play poker. Gotta love it.

The blackjack dealers at the Imperial Palace, however, were not so grand. But you can't win them all.

Fifthly, the only consolation to us Packer fans, after Green Bay's miserable performance up in Detroit this weekend, is that Minnesota and Chicago looked nearly as inept as we did. Not much of a consolation, but there it is. The NFC North is the early favorite to be the worst division in football.

Finally, and completely unrelated to football, there really is nothing quite like wandering the Strip in Vegas at 6 in the morning just as the sun is coming up over the mountains. Cool enough to be comfortable, zero humidity, a soft, reflective light lending a golden glow to the water in front of the Bellagio and the soaring towers of the Venetian. And, of course, the crowning touch of a new dawn rising on the hundreds, nay thousands, of discarded nudie girl cards that had been distributed, then discarded, the evening before.

Vegas, baby!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

E,S,L: Sports Edition

Eats, shoots, leaves by way of reminder-- not English as a Second Language. I've ridiculed sports web sites for having dangling participles, misplaced modifiers and one sentence paragraphs. Comes now the time when they disregard coherence and, apparently, just write down random words. From today's CBS sportsline.com article on the Brewers' 14-5 win over the Cincinatti Reds:
Jenkins also singled and doubled, and Clark also had three Brewers got 17 hits.
Anyone want to guess how this sentence is supposed to read? Because I'm really not sure.

On a non-grammatical note, it is awesome to see J.J. Hardy-- the Brewers' rookie short stop-- starting to hit for both average and power. After going 4 for 6 today, including a grand slam, he's at .235 for the season. Still awfully low, but that's up from .165 only a month or so ago. The Brewers aren't good-- but they are showing legitimate signs that they might be good next year.

For this year, I'll settle for mediocre-- .500 or bust!

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Of FEMA, Brown and Bush

Ye Gods what a mess. It has been noted here that FEMA is nigh onto worthless when it comes to doing what it is supposed to do-- you know, help manage things in an emergency of national scope. If the past week has taught us anything, it is that FEMA is not just incompetent, it is often counter-productive. FEMA knew this was coming-- they were warned significantly in advance, and they did nothing but cross their fingers. Then, when the worst-case scenario happened, they dithered. They worked to cross purposes. They placed blame on others and they dithered some more.

And people died because of it. Of this, I have no doubt. Does all the blame for all the death and destruction from Katrina lie with FEMA? Of course not-- there is plenty of blame to spread around to the state and local authorities. There is plenty of blame to spread around to the thugs and delinquents who made the dispersal of desparately needed water, food and medicine difficult or impossible.

But emergency management is FEMA's one, and only, job. It's what they do. Or what they are supposed to do. Michael Brown is incompentent and the agency he heads is nigh onto worthless. He should be fired and lets start from scratch with FEMA the way we're going to have to start from scratch with New Orleans. Don't believe me? Check out this site, then get back to me.

Which brings me to the President. Okay, first off-- the hurricane was not his fault, Michael Moore, and good work giving the right wing pundits some cover from having to accept responsibility where it is actually warranted. Keep blathering this kind of crap-- Rush, Rove and the boys love it.

But. President Bush has a long, and very disturbing, track record of NOT holding anybody accountable for anything. George Tenet blows the intelligence on Iraq, calls WMD's there a "slam dunk" and the biggest terrorist attack on U.S. soil EVER occurs on his watch. Fire him? Reprimand him? Nah, give him a commendation and a friggin' medal. Donald Rumsfeld comes up with a post-invasion plan that leaves too few troops on the ground, does not safeguard important military and cultural targets, and then refuses to admit there's a problem. Fire him? Reprimand him? Nah, give him a commendation and let him keep denying we need more troops.

The lack of accountability and the high levels of cronyism in this administration are disturbing and repugnant. And inexcusable. So, will Bush hold Brown accountable for the disaster after the disaster? Will Brown be fired, and the entire FEMA organization either disbanded or completely reorganized?

Well, we can hope-- but I'm not going to hold my breath, I'll tell you that much.

Oh, and just so you don't think I've suddenly reconverted to the liberal side, please note that a number of conservative pundits are calling for Brown's dismissal as well. Including Michelle Malkin. Of course, there are other conservative pundits rallying to the President's-- and by association, Brown's-- defense. Including Hugh Hewitt. I find his analysis unconvincing.

RIP: The REAL Gilligan

TBS can tout their "reality" Gilligan's Island show all they want, there was always only ONE real Gilligan: Bob Denver. The world lost a... well... a goofy but good-hearted castaway. Pleasant sailing up there with the angels, you mighty sailing man, you.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Friday's List: Top 25 Sports Venues

In honor of this glorious time of year when football is starting, baseball is approaching the playoffs and the NBA and College hoops aren't far away, I give you my top 25 sports venues. I have not been to all of these-- actually, I have not been to most of these. So, I guess its more a list of the top 25 sports venues I'd like to see before I die. Unfortunately, some of them no longer exist-- so I guess I'll never get to all 25. Sigh.

25) Williamsport, PA. Home of the Little League World Series. This event is getting commercialized, sadly, but it's still sports at close to a pure level.
24) Binion's Horseshoe. For the World Series of Poker, of course. I've been to the Horseshoe but not during the WSOP. And, of course, I never will, as it has become so big they now hold it at the Rio. Vegas, baby!
23) Daytona International Speedway. I am not a huge racing fan, though I do see the appeal of NASCAR and have been following it a bit this last year, and if you're going to a NASCAR event, the Daytona 500 would have to be the one.
22) Candlestick Park. Not called that any more, of course, but it's still Candlestick. The echoes of Willie Mays, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Steve Young still bounce around in that place, I bet.
21) Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame. It's only one team-- but it is the most storied and one of the oldest. Plus, it's my home team. A pilgramage all Packer fans should make. I have.
20) The Orange Bowl. The old stadium, not necessarily the bowl game. Would've loved to see Marino to Clayton and Duper, or Csonka rumbling up the middle there.
19) TPC at Sawgrass. Great course, but mostly it's just this hole. Though any Pete Dye design is going to be fun-- and frustrating-- to play. I would love to play it, and I would love to watch the pros play it at The Players' Championship.
18) Yankee Stadium. I really don't like the Yankees at all. But... well... it's the Bronx Zoo. Ruth, Gehrig, Dimaggio, Mantle. Gotta go once if you can.
17) Fenway Park. I really don't like the Red Sox, but I dislike them less than the Yankees. And Fenway Park has a bit more "atmosphere" with the Green Monster and all.
16) Madison Square Garden. Timeless and all that claptrap. One of those must see places.
15) The L.A. Coliseum. So much stuff happened there-- the Olympics, the Rams, USC football, and, yes, da Raiders. Plus, it's huge. I've driven past it, but I don't think that counts.
14) Dodger Stadium. Beautiful location, nicely maintained structure. Lots and lots of history, and I don't have any particular dislike of the Dodgers the way I do the Yanks and Bo Sox.
13) The Great Western Forum. Wilt, Magic... the duels against Bird and the Celtics in the finals. So many concerts there. Actually, I did get there in the late '90s for a Rush concert. By then, it was a tad rundown-- but seeing all those world championship banners and retired numbers was still pretty awesome.
12) Boston Garden. Gone, but not forgotten. Parquet floor, six zillion championships. Bird, Russell, Auerbach. So much history and glory in those old wood slats.
11) Wrigley Field. The Cubs haven't been so loveable just lately, but they're still losers, and Wrigley Field is still the coolest baseball park in the land. The field itself, the neighborhood its in, the lack of lights until very recently. And oh so many losses.
10) The Rose Bowl. It's the granddaddy of 'em all. It's set in the gorgeous ravine. And, until the BCS screwed pretty much everything about college bowl games up, it was the promised land for Big Ten schools. The parade is awesome too-- particularly in person.
9) Baseball Hall of Fame. I came to my enjoyment and admiration for the game of baseball a bit late in life-- I was quite disparaging of it until... oh... maybe ten years ago. Now, I would love to go to Cooperstown and drink in the whole experience.
8) Churchill Downs. During the Derby, of course. I don't follow horse racing at all... but the Kentucky Derby, mint juleps... yeah, all that crap would be good to be part of once.
7) Pro Football Hall of Fame. The NFL is always the big daddy of all professional sports. Heck, all sports period. So, Canton is a bit of a pilgramage for folks of my ilk.
6) The Indianapolis Motor Speedway. During the 500, preferably, with half a million of my closest racing buddies. Much like Churchill Downs and the Derby, there's just something special about this place. Plus, I'd be there right around my birthday.
5) Lambeau Field. Lifelong Packer fan. This is the promised land for us. And it is a really cool stadium and atmosphere during a Packer game. Had I not already been several times, this might be at the top of my list.
4) All England Club. During Wimbledon, natch. Strawberries and cream, whistling vollies-- heck, you might even see a few royals. Plus, it's a fortnight. Gotta a love an event that's a full freakin' fortnight long.
3) Pebble Beach. Glorious course, glorious setting, some of the richest history in all the long years of golf. To play it would be grand on so many levels. Just walking it during a U.S. Open, or even the Pro-Am would be very, very cool.
2) St. Andrews. Royal and ancient indeed. The birthplace of modern golf, and probably the most storied links in the world. I've used pilgramage in other entries. This is another. If it's not Scottish, it's crap!
1) Augusta. Not the oldest. Not the hardest. Not even the prettiest. Simply the place to be if you love golf-- which I do. I would love to go there for the Masters, and to play that lay out-- to walk over Rae's Creek, to play Amen Corner. That would be blissful.

So, there you have it. My bias towards football and golf is evident, but I don't think I missed any huge sporting events that are held in one place. Obviously things like the Olympics would be great to go to, but since they travel, they didn't really fit the list. If I have missed a monster sporting venue, let me know.

And also, just so you know, I did consider volleyball-- but it didn't quite make the cut. If it had, however, I would've included shots like these:

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