Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Falling Off the Wagon

Gimme another hit, doc. Oh, that's good. Ah, I'd forgotten the sweet, sweet sensation, the laser-lock focus, the blissful transportation of the mind . . .

. . . that hits every time I watch "24."

It has been too long since we finished watching the second season. The third season finally showed up on Netflix, and our first dose, er, disk showed up yesterday. I defy you to watch just one episode. I'm powerless to stop.

When we discovered the first season last year, we went through six episodes in one sitting, and four or five episodes in other stretches. The show can push the boundaries of credulity at times, but what a rush.

Plus, I can just nail Keifer Sutherland's gravelly opening ("the following takes place . . ."), especially in the evening, when I have cold.

Monday, December 13, 2004

There Is No Joy in Mudville

The surprisingly powerful UCSB men's soccer team took Indiana, the defending NCAA champs, through overtime, eventually losing on penalty kicks. The Gauchos summarily dismissed Duke 5-0 in the semifinal, and had beaten Indiana earlier in the season. Gaucho fans were in fine form, flinging tortillas to the field at the Home Depot Center during the Duke game, and chanting "Let 'em score" during the blowout.

Congratulations to the Gauchos on a great season. Next up: the rise of UCSB football ... oh wait, my era voted the football team out of existence. Oops.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Go Gauchos!

The UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team has become a national power. They merited a mention in Sports Illustrated recently, and are now in the NCAA final four tournament.

The value of my degree grows and grows.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

"... and I Feel Fine ..."

Mysterious portents afoot. Major earthquakes. Prospects for peace in the Middle East. Locusts. And of course, this. Clearly, the end is nigh.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Good News on the HD Front

Finally, positive news on the pressing issue of the day. It appears that the world is significantly closer to having a single format for high definition DVDs. Whew!

Actually, I didn't realize that DVDs were not HD until recently (thanks, Andy). Still far better than VHS, though.

We seem to be getting into the era, long-promised, in which HD-ready TVs are not significantly more expensive than ordinary sets. If you haven't gone HD yet, you will, and you will love it. On a large widescreen TV, the image clarity is noticably sharper. Football games, in particular, seem to be made for this format.

My one complaint: I've been an early adopter, grabbing Charter Cable's HD box as soon as it was available, then trading it in for the all-powerful cable box/DVR for which I had pined for years. Unfortunately, I picked it up before the advertisement blitz hit, so we missed out on all the free inducements made available to everyone else. I probably could have asked for the same treatment, but really, who wants to spend extra time on the phone with the cable company?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

MNF Furor -- Oh, That's Right, It's My Fault

We are being told by our betters that anyone who has a problem with Monday Night Football's pre-show skit is an uptight red-stater. Every time there is an "edgy" program shown on TV, the inevitable adverse reaction is dismissed as reflection of an increasingly moralistic government in the thrall of right-wing evangelicals. I'm more than a little tired of that kanard. Entertainers are constantly pushing the boundaries of social acceptability (which is not the same as good taste), and there is always going to be a segment of society pushing back. That segment is always going to lose. "Sex sells" has been the entertainment industry's mantra since, what, Elizabethan times? This has nothing at all to do with today's "cultural climate," which is usually code for "Bush's jackbooted oppressors." Remember, NYPD Blue came out during 1993, under Clinton's watch. The now-automatic excuse of blaming everything on "W" didn't exist then, yet the loud complaints existed. Does anyone remember Elvis, or The Beatles? Those cultural battles seem quaint now, as I'm sure today's concern about Janet Jackson will seem 30 years from now. But if that's so, what are we going to be watching on broadcast TV then? Will the Playboy Channel be irrelevant?

The MNF skit, for what it's worth, was mildly amusing, poorly acted on both sides, depended on a single, obvious punchline, and probably would not have made the cut on SNL. More importantly, it would have been ignored on SNL, airing late at night. The problem is that the risque lead-in aired at 6 pm on the West Coast. Our betters seem to automatically believe that there was nothing there that kids couldn't handle. Excuse me? It is not within the experience of my 7 year old daughter for women to drop their towels in front of men. Was there depiction of naughty bits? No, but the nudity was obvious nonetheless. Plus, try explaining the point of the skit to a second grader. I don't know what your primary grade kids are watching, but I would imagine it doesn't involve "adult situations."

Thankfully, I got home too late to see the beginning of the game, so it wasn't an actual issue for my family. I think I'll wait a few minutes to turn on the game in the future, though. I just want to see the game, not a crass cross-promotion (thanks, Fox, for leading us down the rathole on that one).

And this is what I thought even before I heard about Tony Dungy's remarks. Dungy, the African-American coach of the NFL's Indiannapolis Colts, was offended by the skit's perpetuation of the stereotype of African-Americans as sexual predators. Interesting point.

Then there's the hypocricy of the league and network apologizing, sanctimoniously condemning the skit, when they provide hours of commercials featuring nubile young women and beer, usually in the same ads. C'mon, NFL, you may not have good taste, but for the sake of credibility you could at least at least own up to it.

Just call me a conscientious blue stater who believes that his daughter is entitled to a few more years of childhood.

Monday, November 15, 2004

The Quietest Place on Earth?

That would be Legoland on a Friday in November. A lovely little park, but a little sad. It seems to want to be a big boy amusement park, but if you are over the age of 9, you probably will be bored. Unless you are a parent, in which case you will spend too much of your day trying to corral your kids to care one way or the other, just like at any other amusement park. It's a nice place for little kids, though.

To its credit, Legoland has the single coolest attraction I've ever seen in an amusement park (this is a very personal preference, mind you), one that would have made it a season pass must-have when I was 10: the "driver training" area. Kids get to drive underpowered go-carts (festooned as Volvos, of course) around a little "city" grid, complete with lane lines, stop signs and traffic signals. Since the park was basically empty, the kids got to use the ride every other cycle. That's a solid hour of fun. You couldn't have pulled me away from that for all the world's treasures when I was that age. Too bad I came along about 25 years too early.

Aaaaand, We're Back

So, if any of my four readers are still there, thanks for checking in. It's been a little hectic lately, so extracurricular writing suffered. Regular blogging will resume momentarily . . .

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Red and Blue -- It's All Wrong

I'm incredibly frustrated with this whole Red State/Blue State thing. I keep hearing about California being a "Blue" state, and it just rubs me wrong. Now I know why. As Keith Olbermann reports, until just days prior to the 2000 election, Blue corresponded to Republican, and Red corresponded to Democrat. For reasons unexplained, the networks switched that convention four year ago. I remember it the old way, and I don't think I'll ever get used to the reversal. Just one more reason to hate politics. Or mass media, take your pick.

You see, rather than taking unilateral action that would disturb the peace of millions of Americans, I would have built a coalition of focus groups, reached out to those who advocated overturning decades of tradition . . .

Friday, October 29, 2004

First Hot Stove Rumor of the Winter

There is some speculation that free agent Pedro Martinez may be interested in going to the Giants ... to be their closer. Petey is tight with Felipe Alou from their Expo days, which might explain the desire to come West. I don't think Pedro-as-closer is a viable option, though. Pedro has been a starter for too long, and being so fragile needs to protect his routine too carefully to be successful as a closer. John Smoltz made a remarkable transition to become a lights-out closer, but Pedro seems to require more time to prepare than most relievers. Evidence: Game 7 of the ALCS, and Game 3 of the World Series. The Yankee game, in particular, was instructive. Pedro was knocked around hard by the first few batters he faced, but what the announcers failed to point out was that after Pedro made about 15 pitches, he suddenly became unhittable and closed out the inning quietly. Similarly, against the Cardinals, Pedro was wild in the first couple of innings, then shut them down for the rest of the game.

Based on very recent performances, then, Pedro is still a top-flight starter when properly motivated, but he is unlikely to be a successful closer. Of course, it's pretty unlikely that anyone would ask him to be a closer. Even if the Giants still had to toss Herges out there to close games, they would prefer to have Pedro as a starter.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Why I Started This Blog

I was reminded last night of the reason I wanted to embark on this little venture; it's so I can say things like this:

Fellow driver, you know that light on your dash? That pretty blue one? That pretty, bright blue one? Guess what: it is not, contrary to your apparent belief, an indicator light advising you that you have turned your headlights on. No. Oh no.


I don't feel better yet. Drat.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

If I Had to Have a Pickup

... I'd want room for five

... and 500 horsepower.

I guess this would be my choice. Rock on.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Murphy's Law, Quantified

Thanks to the fine folks at British Gas who commissioned a study on the topic (gee, isn't high taxation great?), the world now has the formula for Murphy's Law (as reported by the New Yorker). Pencils ready? Good:

Let U, C, I, S, and F be integers between 1 and 9, reflecting, respectively, comparative levels of Urgency, Complexity, Importance, Skill and Frequency in a given set of circumstances. A, which stands for Aggravation, must apparently be set to 0.7. The likelihood of Murphy's Law applying under any particular set of circumstances, on a scale of 0 to 8.6 (no, I don't know why) is:

[((U + C + I) x ((10 - S))/20] x A x 1/(1 - sin(F/10)).

According to the New Yorker article, the study was based on a survey of 1,023 mishaps, and found that bad things happen at the most inopportune time at a statisitically significant rate. The shower will turn cold when you're covered with soap rates a 6.0, whereas the likelihood that you will be stuck in traffic when you're already late rates a 7.3. The likelihood that the Sox will screw up? 7.4.

I leave it to you to find new applications for this stunning breakthrough.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

For the Sake of Accuracy

Following the various conflicting accounts in the debates, go here for an explanation of Mr. Kerry's accomplishments in the Senate. Make of it what you will.

You Wanna See Me Lose It? Try This.

Here's something I posted this morning with the web group I belong to, made up of owners and aficionados of ... a certain car marque. Anyway:

Before you remove those lumpy US-spec rear bumperettes in search of the last few ounces of weight savings, consider this (if you drive your car on city streets):

So I'm on my way to work this morning, in a line of cars at a stop sign. As we creep forward, the guy behind me apparently picks that moment to adjust his latte or something and gives my car a 1 mph love tap on the rear bumper. I've had this happen once before in another car, and 1 mph certainly doesn't sound as low impact as it actually is. With dollar signs dancing before my eyes, I scream a couple of uncharitable remarks about my fellow commuter's parentage at my disinterested windshield as we pull to the side of the road. Thankfully (and here's the point), there was absolutely no damage of any kind to the car. There was a tiny mark on one bumperette to show that the guy's car had been there, but nothing else. Nothing dented, deflected, folded, spindled or scraped. Without the bumperette, I'd surely have at least a gash in the paint (as I said, I've been through this before in another car and know of what I speak).

At the almost negligible speed involved, it's really no surprise that there is no damage, although I wasn't quite thinking clearly in the instant after the bump and feared far worse. Without the bumperette, though, I definitely would have been left with an annoying scrape in the paint. Just something for you all to consider as you ponder body mods.

Okay, adrenaline is bleeding off nicely. I feel better now.

Maybe Not the Result You'd Expect

I'm suffering from poll fatigue (believe me, it doesn't take much), but I found the results of this mock election to be rather interesting. I'm not sure quite what to make of it, other than to note that this doesn't track with the MTV party line, that it involves a pretty significant sample size (although I cannot vouch for the sampling methodology), and that the geographical distribution of voting trends continues to be stark.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Martha Stewart's (New) Living

The comedians, it appears, weren't far off the mark -- that ever-resourceful Martha is at it again. Those lucky inmates; is there any doubt that they will be having the best big-house Thanksgiving feast ever?

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Jon Stewart: Brilliant, Annoying, or just Brilliantly Annoying?

If you're like me, you just might have missed last Friday's Crossfire (I can't figure out why my DVR is not set on "record all"). Jon Stewart of The Daily Show conducts an epic takedown of Crossfire's hosts. The sites hosting the video clip have been crashing at record rates, but the transcript tells all. Beware to all who would have Stewart on their show in the hope that he would bring his presumably younger, hipper audience to your punditryfest: he can be a lousy interview, and he really doesn't care. He knows better than you, and you're going to hear all about it. Good theater, though.

Harsh Weather Alert

I've had my car since April. I used my wipers today for the first time. Three swipes.

And they say California has no seasons.

Friday, October 15, 2004

California Dreamin'

For those of my readers who have UCSB connections (I think that's all three of you), here's a little taste of what used to be home.

Also, in other UCSB news, that which was long feared has finally come to pass: several homes/apartments/overpriced hovels on DP have been condemned due to bluff erosion. A bunch of juniors and seniors, who thought they had finally scored the cool pad they had been waiting for through their first four or five years in school, have been evicted. Bummer, dude.

I jest because I love. Actually, UCSB is burnishing its newfound reputation as a top notch institution with two more Nobel Prizes -- UCSB's fourth and fifth since 1998. Go Gauchos!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Thumbnail Movie Review: "Friday Night Lights"

At Cheryl's request, we went to see "Friday Night Lights." On her birthday. I swear I had nothing to do with that choice ... other than 14 years of watching sports on TV, reading about sports in the newspaper, subscribing to Sports Illustrated, participating in (dare I say, dominating) fantasy football and baseball leagues.

Anyway, here's the bullet: it's no Hoosiers, but that's okay. The movie is filmed as the documentary it essentially is. From the opening frames, director Peter Berg uses the jumpy, continuous motion camera style that will someday be identifiable as a distinctively late 20th/early 21st century cinematographic style, one that is usually used to convey as sense of "this is really happening." (Incidentally, the movement of the camera was so constant that there were only a few moments during the film that I was able to tell that the projector was not in focus. Really; the camera never stayed in one place long enough to allow the moviegoer to concentrate on any particular element on the screen sufficiently to see that the whole thing was out of focus. Thanks for putting my $11 to such good use, Universal City Cinemas.) Berg also employs the kind of washed-out exposure that Steven Soderbergh used to such great effect in "Traffic." Rather than a mere stunt, the dry look of the film fits the West Texas setting.

The football scenes are excellent and believable, with none of the hokey lighting effects and shot-from-a-cannon player movements that made "Any Given Sunday" unwatchable as a sports movie. Ultimately, though, the documentary style lets the story down. Although this true story is rich with dramatic potential in the lives of its key players, the film merely skims the surface, focusing instead on the inexorable chronological march of the games. The core drama of the games is certainly gripping, but I get that rush nearly on a daily basis on the TV. The pathos comes from the lives of the players, and it is in this area that the film does not reach the full potential of the book. After all, "Hoop Dreams," a true documentary and quite possibly the best sports movie ever, wasn't a stellar film and story because of the games William and Arthur won or lost.

All in all, an easily enjoyable movie. I have no idea how to interpret Andy's movie rating scheme, since he has yet to follow through on his promise to explain it, but it seems to be based on an unusual numbering system with verbose prose correspondents. Okay. Here's my take: I give this a 13.8375/16.00762, which obviously means "a truly great time was had by all, especially since the evening included dessert at the Hard Rock Cafe."

Pulling a Grady

Are you like me? As Francona left Timlin in to face lefty Matsui with lefty Myers sitting in the Boston bullpen, couldn't you just hear Beantown-o-phile Simmons screaming at his TV? He must have been like Cameron trying to resist a day out with Ferris, banging his head against the back of his sofa: "He'll keep leaving pitchers out there, and leaving them out there ..." And was there any doubt that Manny wasn't going to catch Bernie's drive in the eighth? Not enough is being said about this.

[That, in case you are woefully uninformed, was a pitch-perfect Simmons tribute. It is hilarious. Trust me.]

Actually, plenty is being said about Manny, and Pedro, and the Babe, and the Curse. Can we please be spared one of these years from the narcissitic self-flagelation of BoSox fans? Enough! No, you're not the most deprived pro franchise (see Cubs, Chicago). You're dedicated fans, but by no means more knowledgeable or loyal than anyone else (Nomar who?). Just .... enough. Please.

Just Because

A guy in my neighborhood has one of these. Very sweet.

Monday, October 11, 2004

A Leader in the Making

Mark Prior is the rightful focus of attention for his pitching prowess. He has completed only his second year and yet has been considered the ace of the Cubs staff nearly all of that time. Now he is taking firm control of the reins in Chicago. He had the temerity to call out superstar Sammy Sosa for Sosa's sulking non-participation in the Cubs' last game of the season. Slammin' Sammy showed up an hour before first pitch and left before the game began without putting on his uniform. For somebody who describes himself as a warrior, that's a poor showing, especially when he receives 1/162nd of $17,000,000 for his trouble, and Prior was right to call him on it. Sammy had been untouchable, even weathering his corked bat episode (i.e., he was caught cheating) without long-term damage.

If he can stay healthy, Prior is going to be one of the all-time greats. All that, and he got his college education.

One Website You Don't See on Cereal Boxes

For some reason, this makes me laugh. Winning hearts and minds, one little kid at a time.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Happy Birthday!

It's that fun day for my lovely wife, who turns . . . well, that really doesn't matter, now, does it?. What matters is that for her birthday, she wants to go to a movie -- "Friday Night Lights." Yep, a sports movie, her choice. Is she cool or what?

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Here's a Shocker

Is anyone still truly surprised by this?

If you don't want to jump, here's the key block:

Saddam Hussein bribed senior politicians and businessmen around the world to secure an early lifting of sanctions, according to the Iraq Survey Report.

Focusing his attention in particular on France and Russia, both permanent members of the UN Security Council, Saddam awarded oil exploration contracts and financial inducements to individuals.

The bribes were at first funded by the Iraqi government, but later derived from Saddam's illegal misuse of the oil-for-food programme, which was supposed to provide food for the poor and medicine for the sick.

Some US estimates have suggested that the Iraqis siphoned off $10 billion (£5.6 billion) from the scheme.

"He [Saddam] targeted friendly companies and foreign political parties that possessed either extensive business ties to Iraq, or held pro-Iraq policies," said the report.

A statesman and a patriot, then! Well, maybe not:

Saddam Hussein believed he could avoid the Iraq war with a bribery strategy targeting Jacques Chirac, the President of France, according to devastating documents released last night. Memos from Iraqi intelligence officials, recovered by American and British inspectors, show the dictator was told as early as May 2002 that France - having been granted oil contracts - would veto any American plans for war.

Although they found no evidence that Saddam had made any WMD since 1992, they found documents which showed the "guiding theme" of his regime was to be able to start making them again with as short a lead time as possible." Saddam was convinced that the UN sanctions - which stopped him acquiring weapons - were on the brink of collapse and he bankrolled several foreign activists who were campaigning for their abolition. He personally approved every one.

So, no WMDs in 2003? Perhaps, although nobody has looked in Syria's sofa cushions yet. Is it wrong to prevent someone from following through with a clear intention to commit a wrong? As one notable commentator says:

If a man says he has a gun, acts like he has a gun, and convinces everyone around him he has a gun, and starts waving it around and behaving recklessly, the police are justified in shooting him (even if it turns out later he just had a black bar of soap). Similarly, according to the Duelfer report, Saddam seems to have intentionally convinced other countries, and his own generals, that he had WMDs. He also convinced much of the U.S. government. If we reacted accordingly and he turns out not to have had WMDs, whose fault is that?

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Is There Anything More Pathetic . . .

. . . than trolling one's own blog looking for comments?

Answer: probably, but I'd have to think pretty hard to come up with it.

Monday, October 04, 2004

The Next GTA Controversy is Coming

The fawning gamer magazines somehow manage to ignore the elephant sitting squarely in the middle of the room: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is going to send the non-gaming world into a tizzy. This time, it's going to be more than the usual promotion of crime as the primary game function. This time, there are going to be some serious questions about the wisdom of portraying California gang life from the inside. Like the other GTA titles, the gameplay does not culminate in social redemption. Unlike the others, though, the latest game draws on a very real, very violent, and (it has to be said, and will) very race-specific segment of society. How many white gamers will want to suit up as a black gangbanger? More importantly, how many black citizens of Compton or other communities riven with violence on a daily basis even now will welcome gamers of any color virtually participating as one of their own in "missions" that are actually crimes that afflict them every day? Exploitation has a new interface.

A friend of mine recently observed a criminal trial in Los Angeles involving a gang killing. What he learned about the gang world is chilling to those of us who prefer to shut out reality. There are streets in LA, right now, on which you must not travel unless you are of the correct affiliation. In daylight. If you go at night . . . well, chalk up another victory to natural selection, and thank you for removing your foolish self from the gene pool.

Is it, dare I say, insensitive to create a game based upon a tragic subculture in which extreme violence and disregard for human decency is played out on a daily basis (whatever the cause might be)? Sure, drug runners ruled Miami for a while in the '80s, so Vice City was a fun little romp. But gang warfare seems to me to be far more serious. Gang life is based inherently on family or family-like relationships, which is specifically recognized and used by the new game. Unlike drug running, or perhaps even the Mafia activities that are now the standard fodder for suburban crime life voyerism, SoCal gang life is not business, it's personal. It's a part of everyday life for just about everyone who lives in those communities. In games of this sort, it is usually possible to demonize, or at least marginalize, both the protagonist as well as the "enemies." I have a hard time dismissing the crime-committing, posse-building protagonist n the new game. He represents thousands of struggling young men and women living and, unfortunately, dying, right now in South Central. The little bit of humor injected into the storyline that leavens the anti-hero nature of the other GTA titles is going to be hard to come by in the new game.

As I noted at the top, the gamer magazines have not commented on the anti-social gameplay; given the path blazed by GTA in its other guises, that is no longer newsworthy. Watch the news when the game is officially released later this month, though. Along with the usual complaints about the anti-hero motivation, I think there will also be a more serious examination of the setting of the game. It's too close in time and temperament to reality to get a free pass.

And what is most disturbing: Rockstar is too savvy at promotion to not know this.

The Ponycar Wears No Clothes

May I be the first to say this? The new Mustang is ridiculous. All of the aerodynamic expertise for which Ford became rightfully known over the last 20 years has been utterly discarded. The interior similarly disregards years of improvements in human factors engineering, returning to hideous, unreadable gauge markings. Also, hasn't anyone figured out that when you go retro, you have nowhere to go with styling revisions? Dropping itself into its own late '60s styling loop, I guess in a few years we can expect the return of the Mustang II.

I guess once the design departments are no longer in the thrall of nostalgic Boomers (take Pontiac's GTO ... please), we can look forward to the Gen X phase of retro. I can't wait for an updated Fiero ("And we've almost fixed that overheating problem!"), Chevy Celebrity and Honda Prelude.

Actually, a new old Prelude would be a great idea. C'mon, fellow Gen Xers, climb those corporate ladders and bring back the '80s!

I Wish We Made Shows Like This

My life changed when our local cable company added Speed TV to the lineup. Now, I get to enjoy the coolest car show on the tube. Great cars, tons of personality, a willingness to savage cars that deserve it, and a fearlessness in utterly abusing cars on the track (as I type this, I'm watching Tiff hang out the tail of a DB7 sideways while dismissing it as a bit of a poser). It's a British import, of course.

I've watched somnabulent John Davis on Motorweek for twenty years, since back in the day when it was the only auto show on TV, hiding in the nether reaches of the weekend PBS schedule. Mr. Davis is clearly a nice man, who has put out a pleasant product for a long time, but let's face it: his show is just another arm of the manufacturers' marketing departments. It operates on the "Home on the Range" method: seldom is heard a discouraging word.

How Do You Say "Conflict of Interest" in French, Russian or Chinese?

Search out this developing story in the coming weeks. It should be above-the-fold news, but then, it should have been a front page story for years. It's not like this scandal has gone unnoticed; some people have been on the trail for years.

This story deserves more world attention as well, not just publicity.

It's sad, really. The UN is not a bad organization, in theory. Like too many other large bureaucracies, corruption runs rampant. Unfortunately, there are truly needy people in the world with whom the UN has broken trust.

Godspeed, Gordo Cooper

We have lost another pioneer.

Thankfully, that spirit of adventure seems to be coming back.

More Manning Happy Feet: I'm Not Howling in the Wilderness

I'm not the only one to be irritated by Payton Manning's micromanager routine. Check out Brian Murphy's column today:
"Sometimes, when Peyton Manning is telling all 10 members of the offense about his next audible, making a big show of it, going to each guy on the line, maxing out his TV time, don't you just wish an O-lineman would turn and knee him in the groin with the admonition: "Just run the freakin' play we called and stop
showing off, teacher's pet!" Maybe it's just me..."

Nope, it's not just you.

The Meek May Inherit the Earth, But They Make for a Lousy Baseball Team

I hate the Rockies. 'Nuff said.

Al Michaels' Best Line of the Night

As ABC showed admitted murder investigation obstructor of justice Ray Lewis pumping up admitted drug ring participant prior to the game, Lewis (R.) exhorting Lewis (J.) to put the pressure of the federal drug case "on your shoulders" (presumably to use it as motivation to excel):

"Well, he ought to know."

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Rob Nenn, Phone Home

Four relievers, one out. That's all the Giants' bullpen could accomplish, up three runs going into the ninth. Ugh.

Go Rockies!

Angels Take Care of Business

So, Mr. Beane, how does Moneyball work when your Big Three starting pitchers, who have masked the deficiencies in your team's lineup for years, all have terrible Septembers? Not so well, apparently.

Now if Hermanson can just finish off the Dodgers ...

(Man I love picture in picture.)

Time is Running Out

The A's are watching their season go down the tubes. Macha's walk out to the mound to yank Rincon after giving up a game-tying double (that missed being a home run by a foot) to Erstad, the only batter he faced, was the trudge of a beaten man.

In the Giants game, I love the energy of Cararra spiking the ball after retiring the Giants on a double play in the eighth. I can say that because the giants are up by three, having given up only two hits.

Wasn't Tomko the guy who call Pierzynski a cancer earlier this year? I guess all is forgiven; Tomko's throwing a gem, and the shadows at home are starting to be a factor. Although I wonder what Tomko thought when A.J. called time in the middle of Tomko's windup.

Friday, October 01, 2004

One Down, Two to Go

Neat synchronicity just now. Within the same minute that Hermanson struck out Shawn Green to end the Giants' victory over the Dodgers, Andres Galarraga (yep, he's still around, making another comeback) hit a homer for the Angels to continue their beatdown on the A's. A pretty good evening all around.

No, I'm not an A's fan. I'm a Giants fan, remember? One cannot serve two masters.

Now FSN is showing a highlight of Gibson's homer against Eck in 1988. Boy, the Dodgers need some new memories.

Greg Floyd Is The Man

Warning: Fantasy football geekiness coming ...

Greg Floyd, fantasy sports impresario, suggested, cajoled, and finally begged us to draft Thomas Jones. He predicted that this unknown would flourish in the offensive system that was to be installed in Chicago by the same coaches who had turned Priest Holmes from an anonymous backup in Baltimore to an All-Pro in Kansas City. Pridefully, I resisted Greg's entreaties. I knew there was a pretty good chance he was right; his theory made sense. But I didn't want to look like a suck-up to the master (even though I was the reigning league champ, and had nothing to be ashamed of). Also, I hadn't prepared at all for the draft and felt more vulnerable to draft day screw ups than usual.

Next time, I'll check my pride at the door and follow Greg's advice. Jones, picked in our ninth round, is the top running back in the league, and is the fourth most prolific fantasy point scorer, behind such luminaries as McNabb, Culpepper and Manning. Crud.

Could the Dodgers Miss the Playoffs?

Everyone around here says that the Dodgers are one win away from the NL West crown. Fine. But the Dodgers are also a few losses away from missing the playoffs, I think. Consider: the Giants are three games back with three to play. If the Giants sweep, the teams play again to determine the NL West winner. But Houston is tied with the Giants for the wildcard lead. What if Houston sweeps Colorado? Considering the Rockies' sorry bullpen performances of late, that's a likely scenario. If Houston sweeps, and the Giants sweep, then those two teams would be tied with ... the Dodgers. Hmm. How does this work? I'm guessing a playoff to determine the NL West champ. Then another playoff to determine the NL Wildcard team would follow, I presume. So if the Dodgers lose their last five games (regular season and two special playoffs), LA could be out of the postseason. Nobody is talking about this.

See, as a Giants fan, I'm not just looking to get into the playoffs. I need to find a way to keep the Dodgers out, and I think it can be done. 5% chance of coming to pass, maybe, but a guy's gotta dream.

UPDATE: I was right. The schedulemakers have thought this all out, even if nobody has written about it yet. A Giant-Dodger playoff would be in San Francisco; if the Giants were to lose, they would stay there and play the Astros. If the Dodgers were to lose, a coin flip would determine whether the playoff to become the Wildcard team would take place in Los Angeles or Houston. Let the games begin!

Thank God for Picture in Picture

As they say, it just doesn't get any better than this. NoCal v. SoCal, in both the leagues. Giants-Dodgers, A's-Angels. Playoffs on the line in the last three games of the regular season. You will find me parked in front of my teevee this weekend, unless the Giants fall out of contention. Then you will find me bashing old nails into scrap wood, just for theraputic reasons.

Mt. St. Helens, Live

The Volcanic One has her own webcam. The picture was feeding yesterday, before the Instalanche, and before today's eruptions. Very interesting stuff. Somewhere in the many boxes I continue to drag around with me from my childhood I think I still have a little clear plastic envelope of St. Helens ash from the first eruption. My grandparents' farm in Oregon was covered in the stuff.

Debate Roundup, Round 1

It will be rare that I wade into political waters here, but in the last weeks before a monumental presidential election, it is difficult to stay completely dry. So ...

After the most partisan voices cancel each other out (or are thrown out, like the high and low scores in Olympic diving), we are left with what seems to be a general consenus that the debate was basically a draw. Interesting, and perhaps troubling if you are pulling for Bush. The topic on the table last night was terrorism/safety. Even with the profound differences of opinion over the war in Iraq, this figured to be Bush's strongest area (powerful response to terrorism is required, with moral certitude to match) and Kerry's weakest (waffling on support for the armed forces; vague notions of alliances [multi-lateral or bilateral? Ah, it depends]; he didn't have to make the tough decisions). This is the basis for the sharp divide between the camps, and there is probably little Kerry can do to change the minds of those who believe the Administration's military actions were correct because this is, after all, a war. Thus, Bush operates from a position on strength on these issues; notwithstanding the vehemence of the opposition, that opposition is countered by at least an equal amount of support. Bush stands to be much more vulnerable on domestic issues, which have flown under the radar for the most part, and are also more likely to be where the Administration's support erodes even among the party faithful, who aren't going to be pleased with the increased governmental spending we've seen over the last four years. Mixed economic numbers (or at least the impression that the numbers are not positive) don't help, either.

The difficulty in forecasting all of this is that the shrillness of the most partisan supporters on both sides tends to overwhelm a considered debate of issues, particularly those issues that don't pertain to 9/11 and military action. That's why I believe the debates that look beyond the war on terror will be the most revealing.

Of course, I fully anticipate that unless Kerry throws up on his shoes (figuratively or literally), he will be hailed the victor in the next debate by most media outlets because of Bush's perceived weaknesses on domestic concerns. You read it here first.

We should all do ourselves a favor: read the transcripts and track down the facts. Sadly, just because Dan Rather says it's so doesn't mean much any more.

Best Amusement Park Ride Ever

I would gladly wait in line for an hour to go on this ride.

[Editor's note, June 2008: this link used to go to the Michael Vick simulator commercial, in which the rider is transported up and over the line of scrimmage in a wild, twisting leap. For obvious reasons, I suppose, all evidence of a connection to Vick has been expunged from Nike's servers. For less obvious reasons, this post has received some hits recently, and those visitors have undoubtedly been confused and/or disappointed with what they found. Sorry; blame Ron Mexico!]

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Okay, About the Name

Here's the theory. You see, there's this famous guitar player in an Irish rock band whose innovations and style became the soundtrack to the latter days of my youth, and continue to this day, really. I'm not that guy. I do, however, share his given (as opposed to chosen) name. Just so there's no confusion, I wanted to make clear that this isn't written by him. So stop snooping around my garbage cans.

Ironically, I hear that he lives in Malibu now, so actually, I am a little near the Edge, some of the time.

Then, of course, there is the Yes connection. I'm not one of those guys either. I may sing high on occasion, but, c'mon. That's ridiculous.

Also, I'm a pretty cautious, middle-of-the-road sort in many ways. I would not describe myself as being "out there" in most respects. More importantly, nobody I know would describe me that way, even if in my own head I thought I were a wild and crazy guy. See? So it works on multiple levels. I went to college for four years to achieve that level of sophistication.

So, prepare yourself for entry after entry of non-controversial pablum!

Payton Manning's Happy Feet

Sub-par NFL quarterbacks are often criticized for their "happy feet," their inability to stay composed in the pocket. Payton Manning is one of the two or three top quarterbacks in the game today, undoubtedly headed for Canton if he stays healthy and productive for a few more years. He is also a big part of my fantasy league success over the last three years, so I love the guy. But in the name of all that is holy, could he please take a snap under center, just once, without all the wild gesticulations that seem to accompany every play? I know he is a head coach on the field, I know he is successful at what he does. Is it so wrong of me, then, to be driven to distraction by his chicken dance routine on every snap? Isn't it distracting to his teammates? They have to know that whatever was called in the huddle will be changed at the line. I've heard that the Colts actually call three plays in the huddle, then Payton selects one at the line. I find it remarkable that all 11 men can execute their assignments as demonstrably well as they do when they have no more than a couple of seconds to process the orders Manning shouts at them over the roar of the crowd and taunts of the opposition. It's evidently an effective system, but it certainly isn't elegant. The Colt offense always has the appearance of being threatened by imminent chaos, a system that might or might not hold together in time to run the play. Please, Payton, just once, come to the line of scrimmage, look over the defense, give two quick "huts" and be done with it. Is that too much to ask?

Yeah, Me Too

So here I am, several years behind the curve. I was introduced to blogs by Lileks, and had to actually Google the term "blog" to figure out what it meant. That's how long ago it was, long before blogs had become so mainstream that they had become the object of derision, as well as a prominent force in a Presidential election.

I could have been on the vanguard, blogging before anyone knew what it was about. I faced a fundamental problem, however: I really didn't have much to say. So many people say so much about so many things, and some say it so well. Why bother? I get plenty of enjoyment out of reading others' ruminations about the lofty and mundane.

Recently, however, I've had thoughts. Not necessarily profound thoughts, but thoughts that I didn't see expressed elsewhere. And if there's one thing the internet accomplishes, it is that no thought need go unexpressed, for good or ill. So I'll throw my hat in the ring. I'll probably close up shop within three years, which will probably be 18 months after the blog boom will be declared officially over. So be it. If anyone other than me and Andy read this thing, I'll be happy and surprised anyway.