Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Last of Twenty Ought Two: I don't know if I'll get a chance to post again until the new year. Redundantly speaking for only for me, myself and I for one, I'm not particularly sad to see 2002 go. The highlights were my trips to Vegas and Naples (FL), and there were lots of little pleasures along the way, but mostly I found it frustrating. I should have been published again; at the very least, I should have written more fiction than I did. For that matter, I should have written more non-fiction for this site. I could make excuses for that all day long. I should have gotten more accomplished at work, which makes me wonder whether I'm losing focus in my old age. Which makes me further wonder whether I ever really had more focus, or it's just selective memory. I feel as though my life is filled with half completed accomplishments and promises delayed. My prevailing feeling is that my life should be somewhere other than where it is.

And, of course, I should be wealthier than I am.

If any of you say, "At least you have your health," I shall find you and throttle you with your computer power cord.

Who am I kidding, though? It's all just a self-indulgent, pensive whine. I have nothing to complain about except myself, so the means of improving things are immediately at hand. When viewed from afar, I have no doubt 2002 will be fondly remembered. Here's to an even better 2003.

Speaking of which, maybe I should institute annual DAMMY awards for the Best and Worst This or That of the year. Lemme give it some thought.
Moving Pictures: I hate it when I'm suckered by hype. I rented Minority Report because the DVD cover said "Reminds us of why we go to the movies. A masterpiece! - Ebert & Roeper at the Movies". It was nothing of the sort. Oh, it was a solid thriller. The production was impeccable, as one would expect from Spielberg/Dreamworks. Tom Cruise was not entirely offensive. Some of the rest of the cast acted quite well. The effects were pretty cool. To me, it was just another in a long line of well crafted and mildly entertaining action-thriller-dramas that seem to come up a bit short in the inspiration department. A cut above Schwartzenegger, but not even close to a masterpiece.

Anyway, to my way of thinking, the last action flick that had any creative merit was The Matrix, so I find I am susceptible to the hype surrounding the upcoming sequels.

I don't think it qualifies as an action film or a thriller, but if you are looking for a truly entertaining movie, check out Ocean's Eleven, which is currently in rotation HBO. The plot is entirely implausible (but no more so than Minority Report), it is essentially free of any deep philosophical issues (in contrast to Minority Report, a cautionary tale), it has a sense of humor, especially about itself (unlike the grim, solemn tone of Minority Report), and frankly it's just a whole lot of fun. The acting is uniformly delightful, with Andy Garcia as the standout in the role of the bad guy casino boss. It's hard to imagine anyone not smiling through this from start to finish. Plus, it's set in Vegas with many scenes in the Bellagio itself; what could be cooler? (Did you know they're filming a sequel?)

Here's a prediction: In thirty years we will think of Minority Report the way we think of now think of Logan's Run, and we will think of Ocean's Eleven the way we now think of The Sting. The Sting is still a good movie, entertaining and worth watching. Logan's Run on the other hand...do you even remember Logan's Run?

Oh, and one more thing. A commercial just came on TV for the movie Chicago, based on the Broadway musical I saw with HRH Miss Anna and Miss Kate. The voice over said, "Nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Picture! Opens Friday in select theatres!" It's not even released and it's up for a Best Movie award. Huh? Is anything so blatantly Hollywood? All you've got to do is release it in select theatres by the end of the year and you get your shot at a Golden Globe. I suppose it's not so bad, I'm sure the folks who vote have seen it in preview, or at least had the opportunity to. Why does it bother me to hear that? I'm not sure - hype is a fact of life, and you can ignore it if it bothers you. But it just seems like a dirty backroom deal somehow. I have no doubt I'm in the minority, but if anything that will make me predisposed to be cynical about the film.

Good Lord, am I cranky lately.

The musical on Broadway was pretty good, by the way.
Michael Moore Needs Your Help: Last time I checked Michael Moore was falling behind Jimmy Carter for Idiotarian of the Year. I'm not sure what an Idiotarian is, but I think it probably translates to something like 'one who has adopted a philosophy of idiocy'. Michael Moore should win this. He must. Please click the vote button and punch Michael Moore for me. If you do, you don't have to buy me anything for Christmas. I'll even dispose of your fruitcake in an environmentally conscious manner.

Saturday, December 21, 2002

Year-End Sale on Links: I have no idea where the last week went - devoured by locusts, perhaps. Luckily I've got a large garbage bag full of miscellany to entertain you while you are struggling to digest that fruitcake.
  • Whoa! Junior High flashback! Powers of Ten, the classic of educational filmmaking is available on-line. All I need is a little carton of milk, dried out fish sticks, and a spitwad in the eye to make the experience complete.

  • I don't remember having any professors like John Cleese. I hope he's teaching hotel and restaurant management. Or maybe classical Spanish. Que?

  • According to this long essay by author David Brin, Tolkien/LOTR is an enemy of democracy, technological advancement, and progress in general. I would have to agree, think of how much productivity will be wasted watching the INTERMINABLE movies in this series.

  • Obviously inspired by the refrigerator magnet word games, a "poet" in England has received a grant to do something similar with sheep. This, she claims, is an exercise in quantum mechanics. Um, no, it's an exercise in fuddleheadedness (would that word fit on the back of a sheep?). Now if the sheep were to spontaneously form the phrase Mutton is Murder or Wear Synthetics, that would be something.

  • Speaking of odd research, < ahref="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/12/20/wbunny20.xml">a multi-national study of the anatomical dimensions of Playboy centerfolds just concluded and was published in the British Medical Journal. Someone paid these people to examine Playboy centerfolds in detail. That's pretty stupid. I would have done it for free.

  • Apparently they have now mapped all the shipwrecks that have ever occurred in the Hudson River - not just some, all of them. But they won't release the map because their afraid the Discovery Channel will be overrun with documentaries about raising 19th century barges and recovering the cargo of bowler hats and mustache wax.

  • 99 years ago, as of December 17th, the Wright brothers made their historic flight, which has enabled such contemporary miracles as the Untied Airlines bankruptcy. Back in the '30s, John Dos Passos wrote this intriguing, stylistically creative account of the brothers and the event.

  • If you, like me, despise the CAPS LOCK key because it makes you type stuff like, "wELCOME TO THE hOUSE OF sTUPID," PC Magazine has a free utility that can remap your keyboard as you see fit, including disabling the CAPS LOCK key. kUDOS!

  • If you are Lions fan (or anti-fan) don't miss this deal. (Thanks to The Legendary KK for the link.)
A Mutual Misunderstanding: From the usually annoying Michael Kinsley in Slate.com, we have the definitive quote about writing.
Agreeing to be a judge of the National Book Awards, nonfiction division, was especially hypocritical because two things I have long claimed to oppose in principle are books and awards. Nonfiction books are especially regrettable. There is too much nonfiction going on in the world already without writers adding to it.

Many years ago, I conducted an experiment of placing a note in copies of several briskly selling books in a local Washington bookstore. The notes had my phone number and offered $5 to anyone who saw them and called me up. No one called. Though hardly scientific, this tended to confirm my suspicion that people like buying books more than they like reading them. And of course, in the famous formulation (credited to Gloria Steinem, among others), writers don't like writing - they like having written. They like having written under the impression that this means they will be read. The whole book thing is thus based on mutual misunderstanding.
No wonder it feels so futile.
A Practical Mona Lisa: Anyone who is interested in graphic art or the visual representation of ideas has probably encountered Minard's Map. It is a graphical depiction of Napoleon's invasion of Russia and retreat from Moscow. It is generally thought of as the Mona Lisa of graphic data depiction. You can read this article about it for more background. But start by taking a look at this readable graphic to get a sense for how information-packed, yet perfectly clear, it is. If want to look even deeper, this site has many variations and rethinkings of the map.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Celebratory Links: In honor of the completion of my Christmas shopping I present you with some linkage to distract you from your egg nog.
  • If you are frugal, you want to keep an eye on Google's new shopping search, Froogle.Google.com. It's just a beta test but it's already killer.

  • Who knew you could actually make a profit by making vinyl records anymore. OK, maybe that's not all that interesting, but it's a good segue into these two album cover sites. First show and tell offers categorized pictures of the odd sorts of cover art from albums you might find in thrift stores, thumbnailed for convenience. Second, we have 317X, wherein a fellow has scanned the covers of his record collection, nearly all of the lounge/swank/shagadelic variety. I love retro-graphic art. What I want to know is how'd they get this picture of my place last Friday night on an album cover.

  • Speaking of Lounge, one of the funnest sites on the Web, that went out of business a year or so ago, appears to be ready to make a comeback: LuxuriaMusic.com.

  • That nasty old spammer who lives in my corner of the world; the one that preened and bragged in the Detroit Free Press about how much money he was making. He's getting his comeuppance. Allow me to quote Nelson: "Ha Ha."

  • As if we didn't have enough to worry about here in Michigan, what with spammers roaming free, now we have to worry about Emus. They suggest you should call the police if you see them, but I can't see that ending up in anything but a breathalyzer test.

  • I have argued in the past that Satan's primary agents in the sporting world are the New England Patriots. My logic in this analysis was undeniably correct as anyone who read my football analysis would agree. It now seems, however, that the only reason Satan has agents on the football field is that he is so busy playing right wing in the NHL himself. If the best Satan can do is Player of the Week, hockey players must be as tough as everyone says. Some NHL team needs to draft a player named Jesus (Hay-soos). Satan gets five for fighting and Jesus scores on the power play. That just has to happen.

  • OK, here's one for your next six degrees session (that is to say, next time you get in the time machine and head to the late nineties, Dr. Evil). George Clooney and Marcia Brady (Maureen McCormick): one degree of separation. How much you want to bet Clooney put the moves on her and got shot down when he accidentally called her Marcia? I know I would have. Here's a smart-arsed summary and review (warning: includes profanity).

  • For the last, and funniest, word on Christmas gifts, I give you Dave Barry's annual gift guide.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Hasselling Hasselhoff: Oh my! This is one of the funniest things I've ever run across. You have to read the reviews of David Hasselhoff's Best Of CD at Amazon. Some choice quotes:
The thought of missing out on David Hasselhuffer's melodic voice during those short car trips to my therapist have caused me to purchase two of these delicious CDs.

Where else, on a single CD could you find the demented gruntings of a jeaned and jacketed 80's throwback who talks to his car?

Just when you though that the greatest hits of John Tesh and Wiliam Shatner, could not be out done, Hasselhoff pulls this miracle out.

What really makes David Hasselhoff stand apart from his contemporaries is his magnificent voice. Some critics have compared his resounding tenor to that of Mario Lanza or Johnny Hartman, but I would compare it more to a wounded jackal getting whipped by a screaming pornfilm fluffer.

"Everybody Sunshine" is the clarion call that awakes us from our nihilistic ideals and existential slumber. As it washes into "I Believe" you can't help knowing what is now right and wrong and yearn for the times when "Knightrider" taught us that the love between man and a mechanical object was not morally wrong but a beautiful and natural thing to behold.
There's like 40 pages of reviews like that. I'm still laughing.
Life Imitates Satire 5: This is old now, but known cannibal, avowed child-eater, convicted rapist and serial buttocks fondler, Mike Tyson is ready to turn his life around, saying "I'm tired of being stupid." That's nice Mike. We're tired of you being stupid too. In fact, we're just plain tired of you. Kindly just go away forever, and take the headliner of your undercard, convicted criminal conspirist and white trash ice queen Tonya Harding, with you.
Yahoo Review: Yahoo has posted it's Picks of the Year, the 25 best of it's site picks for 2002. Some real gems in there, quite a few I've linked up before.
Snakebit: This is a guaranteed guffaw.
Little girl walks into a pet shop and asks in the sweetest little lisp:

"Excuthe me, mithter, do you have wittal wabbits?"

The shopkeeper gets down on his knees, so that he's on her level, and asks: "Do you want a wittle white wabby or a soft and fuwwy black wabby or maybe one like that cute wittle brown wabby over there?"

The little girl in turn puts her hands on her knees, leans forward and says in a quiet sweet voice: "I don't think my python weally givth a thit."

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Hello, It's Me: OK, I've spent the last week(ish) in San Diego. I don't know if I'll write an extended essay about it; I've done that before (I've been to SD three times). And let me say up front that SD is one of the best places in the world. Of the two places I would re-locate, should I ever get motivated to leave my warm and freindly home in Dexter MI, San Diego (specifically LaJolla) would be first one my list and Naples FL would be second. But for some reason I couldn't get out of my anxiety ridden skin while I was there this time.

I had the same wonderful Southern California moment that I have had each time I've visited - the hop in the rental car, hit the freeway in the sunshine, crank the radio moment - but the rest of the time I was still fretting over my life like I always do. Part of the reason for this is that I am suffering from a injury that is beyond annoying. Head's Up: Piss and Moan and Whine and Snivel Alert.

I have a problem with my foot that comes and goes; actually it never goes, just eases up from time to time. It may be a stress fratcture. It may be a bone spur. It may be Plantar Fasciitis. You can look them all up on foot.com if you have some sort of foot fetish. Whatever it is, when it flares up I can't walk for more than say a couple of hundred yards and I can't run at all. I have no doubt that this was a long time coming, owing to spending eight hours a night on my feet while tending bar through most of my 20s, and more recently, owing to the fact that I am pathetically addicted to exercise - primarily high impact sorts of stuff. Bottom line: I spent a few days in Coronado (most wonderful beaches in California) and I could barely take a walk up the shore. As I sit and type this, however, I am in no pain at all. I'll get up in the morning and be in pain, by the time I get to work it's not bad, half way through a workout in the evening it flares up.

However, it seems the worst thing is walking - presumably due to the longer time extended pressure is put on the foot. If you think about it, you'll realize that when you are travelling, an enormous amount of walking in involved. Walk the beach. Walk the Gaslamp District. Walk around the mall trying to squeeze in some Christmas shopping. Walk from one end of the airport to the other to make your flight.

As a result, I was measuring everything I did by how well my foot would hold up. On the flight out, I was resolved to drive up to Newport and catch the ferry to Catalina Island, after a day or so I realized that would involve a lot of walking around once I got there - nope, better write that off. Another thought I had was to spend a day wandering around Tijuana. Oh wait - bad word: wandering. That won't do. So basically I spent a lot of time in the hot tub and in bars. And despite what you may have heard, that's not how I usually live my life. You see, if you are not a workout maniac like yours truly, you have no idea what it means to be deprived of your endorphins for any length of time. It means depression, anger and all those other nasty emotions that the endorphins usually cover up. Woe is the 90 year old driver who happens to get in front of me, or one of the slothwitted simpletons at Taco Bell. Luckily I can still vent to you on the Web.

I don't want to go to a doctor about it because I have no doubt the diagnosis will end with, "Stay off it for a few weeks. That'll be $200," or something to that effect. But still, I had better do it just in case there is something they can actually do for me. Like a foot transplant.

Do I sound like some kind of decrepit old man or what? End Piss and Moan and Whine and Snivel Alert.

In other news, I've decide to sack doing football picks. It was a misguided plan, as I realized this weekend. I spent so much time trying to hunt down enough superficial information on games I didn't see, that I didn't get a chance to enjoy the ones I did. This weekend I saw the Chargers/Raiders game amidst a bunch of rowdy Chargers fans, and the Fins on Monday. (I would have picked both correctly, by the way.) Both were a lot of fun to watch, at least partially because I watched them in Coronado at the Costa Azul where they claim to have the best Margarita in the world. Not strictly true; but they use a homemade sweet & sour mix which is somewhat less offensive than the highly toxic chemicals most places put in their Margaritas.

There are only a few weeks left in the season anyway. I may take a different tack next year - I was thinking of picking three or four teams and just following them, picking and commenting on their games, and maybe tracking hypothetical wagers. We'll see.

The primarily reason is that I suspect all of you were bored stiff with it.

One good thing that came out of San Diego is that I got a minor revision of A Pleasure Doing Business With You sketched out. I'm also back to the Hope side of the interminable Hope/Disappointment cycle of trying to get a publisher. I have set a goal to have a contract in place by July 2003. If not, drastic measures will have to be taken.

By the way, if any of you webloggers out there are willing to make a commitment to read Apple Pie and, if you like it, say nice things about it on your site, I can probably see that you get a review copy. Drop me a line and we'll make arrangements.

I owe TAD Chrissy and apology of sorts. I had thought about giving Lord of The Rings another viewing in response to her shock at my dismissive comments of it. Then Miss Kate (who, like me, felt it was interminable and tedious) scared me away. Apparently the DVD edition is EVEN LONGER - which I find unimaginable. Sorry, Chrissy, I couldn't work up the courage. Maybe someday there will be a condensed version.

I did see Attack of the Clones on the hotel tube. Chrissy was quite correct about that one. It was a startlingly stupid movie.

I'm off to bed. More on SD this weekend. And some links. Thanks for waiting so patiently.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Can't Think...Head Exploding: OK, I need a week or so away from this site again. I've got too much going on in the 3D world to keep up for the moment, so I'm afraid I'm going to have to take a few days to catch back up. No picks this week. As know from my previous breaks - I'll be back.

And yes, Christmas shopping is partially to blame.
Life Imitates Satire: Clearly the most absurd occurrence of late has been the Miss World riots - just try to think about that phrase and not shake your head in disbelief: Miss World riots.

The pageant decides that a hellhole like Nigeria, where Muslims treat women like dogs, is an appropriate place for the contest because, in the finest tradition of multiculturalism, we should respect their cultural right to misogyny.

Several contestants protest, and some wisely decide it's not worth it, naivete takes the day and the contest continues.

A Nigerian journalist, while commenting on the contest, says something about how the Prophet Mohammed would have wanted these women in his harem - or whatever it is called to make it Islamically correct.

In truth, that betrays a deep ignorance of beautiful women. Clue about beautiful women: They tend to shun smelly, ill-groomed, religious zealots who berate them for not wearing black from head to toe, when everyone knows that it's all about hip-huggers, cute little capris, and tarty tank tops with sparkly designs. And 400 pairs of painfully ill-fitting shoes.

Never, I mean never - even with a childhood image of women borne of cheesy, Austin Powers-esque retro spy flicks - even in the most misguided moments of hormonally enraged adolescence - have I ever been so thoroughly ignorant of women as the Islamicists are. These guys are like the He-Man Woman Hater's Club with automatic weapons.

So the Muslims start slaughtering Christians, or anyone who looks like a Christian, or anyone who isn't helping them slaughter Christians. A Fatwa - which sounds like a Star Wars character - is declared against the journalist who made the comments.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Miss World delegate gets all, like, whatever and says "I'm out-ee," and hops a plane home. The pageant summarily disqualifies her for leaving, and then a couple of days later, decides to take the whole thing "out-ee" and decamps for London, where the pageant officials blame the media for the whole thing rather than the ass-headed stupidity of the troglodyte Nigerian Muslims.
Life Imitates Satire 2: Saddam is well know to have a policy of torturing women, or anyone else for that matter (which the Miss Worlders would probably deem culturally valid), so it's probably just as well that among the members of the vaunted team of U.N. weapons inspectors is one Harvey John "Jack" McGeorge, whose primary qualification appears to be running S&M sex clubs. From the Washington Post:
McGeorge is a former Marine and Secret Service specialist who offers seminars on "weaponization of chemical and biological agents" for $595 a session. Since 1983, he has been president of his own firm, Public Safety Group Inc., which sells bioterror products to governments. One online ad promotes his role as a "certified United Nations Weapons inspector."

McGeorge does not possess a degree in one of the specialized fields -- such as biochemistry, bacteriology or chemical engineering -- that the United Nations says it seeks in its inspectors. U.S. and U.N. officials said a background check apparently was not conducted on McGeorge or any of the inspector applicants.

An Internet search of open Web sites conducted by The Washington Post found that McGeorge is the co-founder and past president of Black Rose, a Washington-area pansexual S&M group, and the former chairman of the board of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. He is also a founding officer of the Leather Leadership Conference Inc., which "produces training sessions for current and potential leaders of the sadomasochism/leather/fetish community," according to its Web site. Several Web sites describe McGeorge's training seminars, which involve various acts conducted with knives and ropes.
Stop. You're killing me.
Life Imitates Satire 3: In this case actual existing satire. Christopher Buckley wrote a satirical novel entitled Thank You For Smoking concerning the various farces and shenanigans perpetrated by the government and special interests in the name of public health and safety. I haven't read it yet, but I'd be willing to bet there is subject matter along the lines of this article at the NYT about how States are banking heavily on the money from the Big Tobacco settlement. Get this:
Eight states are using proceeds from the tobacco settlement to reduce state budget deficits, and six more are considering it, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Five of these states have already had their credit ratings lowered by the three main credit agencies or have been placed on alert about the possibility. New Jersey and Wisconsin have been downgraded, while California, Oregon and Washington are on the alert lists. When ratings are lowered, states have to pay more when selling bonds to compensate investors for the additional risk, raising their costs of capital by millions of dollars for projects from roads to schools.

To generate revenue now, these states are selling municipal bonds tied to some or all of the first 25 years of expected payments from the tobacco companies, under a pact signed with 46 states that has been valued at $206 billion. The rating agencies are concerned that states may be opting for a one-time infusion to help reduce a deficit and that such borrowing is a sure sign of fiscal distress.
How could anyone ever doubt it was all about the money from the start? Thank you for smoking, indeed.
Life Imitates Satire 4: This is beyond description. You have to read it. No, it is not comic book fiction.
Football Results - Week 13: 9-6, not too shabby, but I'll count it as a big victory after last weeks disaster. Just for the sheer, unadulterated pleasure of seeing how totally stupid I can be. I've decided to publish this week's results in context with what I initially wrote about the games. I have to ask, is there no humiliation I would not suffer for my readers.
  • New England -6 at Detroit Pick: Evil Minions cover. A Winnah! Minions win 20-12 Normally I would pick the Lions, just because it's time for them to unexpectedly win another game. But they couldn't win unexpectedly because that's just what I would be expecting. On the other hand, since Marty and the Lions seem to be determined to give games away, any demonic curses the Minions cast to upset the Lions plans could end up making the Lions win. You see, it's all very complicated. Of course. Did you notice the play where the ball ricocheted off a lineman's helmet and into the arms of the Patriots. Tell me that was not the work of Satan.

  • Washington -pick 'em- at Dallas Cowboys win. A Winnah! Cowboys win 27-20 On a hunch. The Cowboys beat the Jags last week when there was no earthly reason for them to do so. I'm thinking there is something going on there that I don't see, plus they will be pumped to salvage their season with a victory over the hated Potatoes. I was going to make some kind of vapid allusion to Mashed Potatoes and Thanksgiving, but I can't force myself to do it. Again, I was right (I love saying that). There is something going on with the Cowboys they are playing well, with a lot of desire. I have no idea why.

  • Miami -2.5 at Buffalo Pick: Dolphins cover. Wrong! Bills win 38-21 The Bills are back-sliding and I'm back on the Fins bandwagon. Actually, I meant to write that I was under the Fins bandwagon. I have the treadmarks on my back to prove it. Said bandwagon was carrying was weighted down with the Dolphins defense since they had some much time what with not bothering to play and all.

  • Chicago +9.5 at Green Bay Pick: Cheeseheads cover. A Winnah! Cheese wins 30-20 It's interesting to see how Green Bay has dealt with the whole Sapp thing. Outrage and righteous declarations of vengeance. I think the Cheese coaching staff is trying to create a crisis atmosphere to pull the team out of it's funk. At home against the pathetic Bears, it should work. Just barely. This should have been a cheesewalk for the Cake - er...a cakewalk for the Cheese. I officially declare the Cheese to be Swiss. (Full of holes for those who missed the allusion.)

  • Baltimore -2.5 at Cincinnati Pick: Ravens cover. A Winnah! Ravens win 27-23 With a strong defense, I'm counting on the Ravens to restore my faith in science. Again, just barely. The Bengals led by 9 in the 4th and blew it, which validates all scientific theories and conjectures.

  • Carolina +7.5 at Cleveland Pick: Browns cover. Wrong! Panthers win 13-6 The problem I have with a spread like this is that it's really easy for the lesser team to sneak in a last minute score, when the leading team stupidly goes into a prevent defense. Because of this, I actually typed 'Panthers beat the spread'; then I remembered how the Browns are fighting to get in the playoffs and how truly bad the Panthers are. Obviously, not bad enough. They didn't even have to sneak in a score at the end of the game. They led the whole way. The lesson here is to be as general as possible when predicting outcomes. But that only applies to people who want to maintain a modicum of dignity.

  • Pittsburgh -3 at Jacksonville Pick: Steelers cover. Wrong! Steelers win 25-23 The Steelers still have something to prove now that their first stringers - Stewart and Bettis - are back. Beating the Bengals last week doesn't count. Meanwhile, judging from last week's folly, the Jags may have packed it in for the season. What I said above about the lesser team sneaking in. It applies here. I must have meant to write that here. Maybe it was a bug in my text editor. Yeah, that must've been it.

  • Arizona +10 at Kansas City Pick:Cardinals beat the spread. Wrong! Chiefs win 237-0 The Chiefs have such an atrocious defense anything can happen, so I'll go with the Cards and a 10 point head start. The spread wouldn't have mattered, and the Chiefs defense was flawless. I could not have been more wrong.

  • Atlanta -3.5 at Minnesota Pick:Falcons cover. A Winnah! Falcons win 30-24 The Vikings just plain stink. The Falcons should have romped, instead they got dragged kicking and screaming into overtime. Perhaps they were distracted by the stinky odor. Apparently Rhymes with Sick was wearing nose plugs and was able to save the game.

  • Tennessee +3 at New York Giants Pick: Titans beat the spread. A Winnah! Titans win 32-29 I'm fairly surprised the Giants are favored after their dismal display last week. Another OT contest. Schroedinger's Cat is now permanently dead. Any victory from this point on qualifies as a dead cat bounce.

  • Denver -3 at San Diego Pick: Chargers beat the spread. A Winnah! Chargers win 30-27 Another possible outcome is that the Broncos demolish the Chargers. The point being: I have no clue. But other things equal, I'll go with the home team and the 3 point spot. One man's cluelessness is another man's Zen wisdom.

  • Houston +11.5 at Indianapolis Pick: Texans beat the spread. Wrong! Colts win 19-3The Colts should cruise, but no way can I pass up 11.5 points. Two spreads in the double digits this week. Both covered. So much for that theory.

  • St. Louis -2.5 at Philadelphia Pick: Eagles beat the spread. A Winnah! Eagles win 10-3 I'm truly surprised the Rams are favored. The Eagles are at home and don't seem to have lost a step without McNabb. Marshall Faulk is still questionable. Nailed this one cold. The real human interest story here is Kurt Warner. Talk about a crash from the heights. One of the most revered quarterbacks in the league, he has now lost seven straight games going back to last year's Super Bowl. Meanwhile, his understudy is undefeated with the same team. Next week we get the third stringer. Imagine the horror for Warner if he wins. On the other hand, if Warner has enough fortitude and grit to survive this and come back strong, there will be no stopping him.

  • Seattle +9.5 at San Francisco Pick: Seahawks beat the spread. A Winnah! 49ers win 31-24 The 49ers looked a bit confused last week and the Seahawks proved they could score a lot of points. And that spread is nice and fat. Spot on correct again. The 49ers should actually be a lot better than they are. (How's that for self-contradiction in the span of a single sentence?) Good chance they will be on top by next year.

  • Tampa Bay -1 at New Orleans Pick: Buccaneers cover. Wrong! Saints win 23-20 One lousy point. Should be a gimme. Turned into a tookme. Obviously the Saints have the Bucs number, considering they got the best of the league's number one defense for the second time this season, despite a gimpy running back and losing their QB. No explanation.

  • New York Jets +6.5 at Oakland Pick Jets beat the spread. A Winnah! Seniors win 26-20 Seniors are a better team, but not by that much. I've stopped disbelieving in the Jets. The outcome was about right. Seniors win but don't cover. The Seniors are a remarkable team to watch. They carve up opposing defenses like a hot knife through a goose. Um, yeah, that would work if the goose in question was some sort of fancy serving of butter that was carved into the shape of a goose at some pretentious restaurant. So that's what I meant.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

So What Else is New?: Well, I got far enough on the redesign to where I was actually going to try it this weekend. Then suddenly I realized that although it formats properly in IE6, in Mozilla it's a mess. I really thought I was doing nothing so complicated where cross-browser incompatibility would be a problem, but apparently not. Here's the template. Looks OK in IE; open it in Mozilla and the right-hand nav bar is a mess. (I have no idea what it would look like in Opera.) There are some minor problems with standrads validation, but nothing that would cause that problem that I can tell. This is me taking anohter two steps backward. Suggestions are encouraged.
Plastics: The Graduate was running on Bravo last night and I got caught up in it. I have never been enamored of Dustin Hoffman and this viewing didn’t really change my mind. But that fact doesn’t change that it's a great movie. There are so many good things about the production and direction. An old hobby horse of screen-writers is that action should drive a movie. If dialog and exposition are being used as a plot summary or to explain the movie, you have failed. If the themes of a story are "discovered" by viewers, they are much more powerful that if the viewers are told what's going on like they were children. The Graduate is stellar in this respect. In fact, the concept is extended to a risky point – think of the sequence where Ben is wallowing in the pool in full scuba gear.

But a story laden with complex and subtle emotions can’t move forward through action without exceptional actors to portray those emotions clearly, but without going overboard. The real winner here was Anne Bancroft, who hit a home run with her portrayal of the cooly self-hating Mrs. Robinson. By the end of the movie, when she turns to Elaine and says "It's too late," and Elaine replies, "Not for me," you already knew that without it ever having been spoken.

The other thing that stuck me is how close the themes of the movie are to Apple Pie (written nearly 30 years later). Young men adrift in the world never change, I suppose. I could easily see somebody writing an updated version of The Graduate as a sequel to Apple Pie.
Lies, Damn Lies, and Michael Moore: From an article at Forbes.com (you may have to register, but it's a freebie), we see the time honored tradition of Michael Moore getting praise from the media, only to be found to be lying like Bill Clinton in a whorehouse. Here's some highlights.
MISSILES: Moore wonders whether kids at Columbine might be driven to violence because of the "weapons of mass destruction" made in Lockheed Martin's assembly plant in Littleton. Moore shows giant rockets being assembled.
ACTUALLY: Lockheed Martin's plant in Littleton doesn't make weapons. It makes space launch vehicles for TV satellites.

BANK: Moore says North Country Bank & Trust in Traverse City, Mich., offered a deal where, "if you opened an account, the bank would give you a gun." He walks into a branch and walks out with a gun.
ACTUALLY: Moore didn't just walk in off the street and get a gun. The transaction was staged for cameras. You have to buy a long-term CD, then go to a gun shop to pick up the weapon after a background check.
Moore is utterly despicable for proffering twisted lies about the Columbine massacre for his own profit. Maybe it's too much to hope for someone to produce a movie called Michael and Me.

Friday, November 29, 2002

Football Picks - Week 13: This hasn't started well. I spent the afternoon writing up my picks and I stupidly did not save them before I connected the laptop to the port replicator while it was on stand-by instead of hibernate. This always causes me to have to shut down and this time was no exception. Picks lost. Start over. The temperamental nature of my laptop matches well with the unpredictability of the NFL this season, yet here I go back into the swirling chaos.
  • Miami -2.5 at Buffalo Dolphins cover. The Bills are back-sliding and I'm back on the Fins bandwagon.

  • Chicago +9.5 at Green Bay Cheeseheads cover. It's interesting to see how Green Bay has dealt with the whole Sapp thing. Outrage and righteous declarations of vengeance. I think the Cheese coaching staff is trying to create a crisis atmosphere to pull the team out of it's funk. At home against the pathetic Bears, it should work.

  • Baltimore -2.5 at Cincinnati Ravens cover. With a strong defense, I'm counting on the Ravens to restore my faith in science.

  • Carolina +7.5 at Cleveland Browns cover. The problem I have with a spread like this is that it's really easy for the lesser team to sneak in a last minute score, when the leading team stupidly goes into a prevent defense. Because of this, I actually typed 'Panthers beat the spread'; then I remembered how the Browns are fighting to get in the playoffs and how truly bad the Panthers are.

  • Pittsburgh -3 at Jacksonville Steelers cover. The Steelers still have something to prove now that their first stringers - Stewart and Bettis - are back. Beating the Bengals last week doesn't count. Meanwhile, judging from last week's folly, the Jags may have packed it in for the season.

  • Arizona +10 at Kansas City Cardinals beat the spread. The Chiefs have such an atrocious defense anything can happen, so I'll go with the Cards and a 10 point head start.

  • Atlanta -3.5 at Minnesota Falcons cover. The Vikings just plain stink.

  • Tennessee +3 at New York Giants Titans beat the spread. I'm fairly surprised the Giants are favored after their dismal display last week.

  • Denver -3 at San Diego Chargers beat the spread. Another possible outcome is that the Broncos demolish the Chargers. The point being: I have no clue. But other things equal, I'll go with the home team and the 3 point spot.

  • Houston +11.5 at Indianapolis Texans beat the spread. The Colts should cruise, but no way can I pass up 11.5 points.

  • St. Louis -2.5 at Philadelphia Eagles beat the spread. I'm truly surprised the Rams are favored. The Eagles are at home and don't seem to have lost a step without McNabb. Marshall Faulk is still questionable.

  • Seattle +9.5 at San Francisco Seahawks beat the spread. The 49ers looked a bit confused last week and the Seahawks proved they could score a lot of points. And that spread is nice and fat.

  • Tampa Bay -1 at New Orleans Buccaneers cover. One lousy point. Should be a gimme.

  • New York Jets +6.5 at Oakland Jets beat the spread. Seniors are a better team, but not by that much. I've stopped disbelieving in the Jets.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Football Results - Week 12: I knew it was going to be tough. Quarterbacks are dropping and recovering at a furious pace. Teams are more unreliable than anytime in recent memory. Still, you know those cartoons where the characters get flattened by a steamroller? Or better, you know that episode of the Sopranos where Tony belt-whips the congressman? Or even better, you know those "You Gotta See This" type shows where someone bungee jumps from a bridge and the cord breaks? Well, that'd be me. In all cases. I am ashamed to even type the numbers. 4-12.
  • Minnesota +7.5 at New England Pick: Evil Minions Wrong! Minions win 24-17 What could be more evil than just trouncing the Vikings? Easy answer: trouncing the Vikings by just enough to not cover the spread. That way, not only do the Vikings lose, but so do I. Pure evil.

  • Tennessee -2 at Baltimore Pick: Titans Wrong! Ravens win 13-12 Just when I think the Ravens aren't as much better than everyone else thinks as I thought, they prove to be slightly less not better that everyone else thought. You figure it out.

  • Atlanta -3.5 at Carolina Pick: Falcons A Winnah! Shower him with glory! Rhymes with Sick attains a new level of greatness by handing the woeful Panthers their eighth straight loss. What an achievement.

  • Detroit +5 at Chicago Pick Bears. Wrong! Bears win 20-17 Remember what I said last week about the Bears being a potential late season sleeper? Fuhgetaboutit. They were on the verge of losing this game until the Lions, true to form, found a way to let them tie it up in the final seconds of regulation. Then, also true to form, the Lions took the most direct possible route to lose the game by winning the coin toss and giving the Bears first possession in sudden death overtime. Pay attention to that: winning the coin toss and giving the Bears first possession in sudden death overtime. There's a new sheriff in Stupidville and his name is Marty Mornhinweg. It was interesting to see the Lion's player's reaction after the game. Impressively diplomatic. Stuff like "I'm not paid to make those decisions. That's up to the coach. Once it's made we just give it everything we got." Nothing to read between the lines there, eh? The only one who came out one hundred percent behind the decision was Joey Harrington who saw that the only hope was to try to put any resentment toward the coach behind them and move on. The fact that he would go on record in support of such inanity for the sake of holding things together shows what a good leader he is. Nice try Joey, but I think Marty just lost the confidence of everybody and he's as good as gone. Matt "devout cowards" Millen too.

  • Jacksonville -2.5 at Dallas Pick: Jags Wrong! Cowboys win 21-19 Think about it. The Cowboys have absolutely no reason to hit the field. They haven't played like they wanted to hit the field all year. Emmitt's been causing a fuss in the papers about not being given playing time. Even the Jags, the masters of mediocrity, should have taken them. I can think of no plausible or implausible explanation.

  • San Diego +3 at Miami Pick: Chargers Wrong! Fins win 30-3 I am officially off my three week long pack-it-in-and-worry-about-next-season kick I was on regarding the Fins. The defense is unreal; Ricky Williams is everything he's cracked up to be; and now that Ray Lucas (Jekyll) has replaced the abysmal Ray Lucas (Hyde), things are falling into place again. These guys well positioned to be post season monsters now.

  • Cleveland +6 at New Orleans Pick: Browns A Winnah! Browns win 24-15 I shall hold on to this pick as a work of startling insight, despite the utter decimation I experienced otherwise. beat the spread. I thought the Saints were running out of steam and I was so completely right it isn't even funny. The Saints may be my anti-sleeper for the remainder of the year.

  • Buffalo +3 at New York Jets Pick: Bills Wrong! Jets win 31-13 Ok, I wasn't ready to believe the Jets were for real, but now I am. They are a very good team (as was expected of them early in the year before they mangled the proceedings early on). The opposite is true of the Bills - a strong start and now looking lame. How poetic that teams going in different directions should cross paths and produce a palindrome score. (Picture two drunks guys watching Sportcenter highlights in some sports bar, stupefied by the deeper meaning of it all.)

  • Cincinnati +10.5 at Pittsburgh Pick: Steelers Wrong! Steelers win 29-21 The foundations of science have been shaken. I'm going to have to re-evaluate the nature of the universe before I go any further. Hold my calls.

  • Green Bay +3 at Tampa Bay Pick: Cheeseheads Wrong! Bucs win 21-7 I think Brett Farverer is struggling with his vision. Has he been checked for color blindness? He seems to be throwing to folks in the wrong jerseys. You know, despite everything that was said, I don't think the hit Warren Sapp made was all that awful. That's what you do. You block out as long as the whistle hasn't blown. It was a clean hit. Where Sapp blew it was his reaction. He could have showed a little concern for the guy he sent off the field on a stretcher. He could have not reacted like he did when the Green Bay coach mentioned it to him. Nope, not Warren. He goes off and acts like a thug, swearing up a storm and getting in the face of a couple of grey haired old guys. Class act.

  • Kansas City -3.5 at Seattle Pick: Chiefs Wrong! Seahawks win 39-32 I don't know what to say. In my own defense, just ask yourself this. If someone told you Priest Holmes would get 300+ yards; KC would get 550+ yards, 32 first downs and only one turnover, would you have picked the Seahawks to win? Apparently the Chiefs D was so bedazzled by the all-blue Seahawks uniforms that they just watched them go by. Whatever outside shot KC had at the playoffs is pretty much gone now.

  • Oakland -8.5 at Arizona Pick: Seniors A Winnah! Seniors win 41-20 The Seniors pretty much did whatever they wanted, as expected. Let me just say that despite the presence of the abhorrent Bill Romanowski, I've really gotten to like the Raiders. At the moment - my choice for AFC champs.

  • St. Louis -5 at Washington Pick: Rams Wrong! Potatoes win 20-17 What a mess. Exactly how is one supposed to make a reasonable pick when the Rams are playing. Again, in my own defense, I'll say that when I posted this I fully expected Marshall Faulk to play (he didn't). Where does that leave Kurt Warner? Well, Bulger won the previous week without Faulk. So, with Faulk, Warner lost 5 and Bulger won 5; without Faulk Bulger won one and Warner lost one. You do the math. Warner is hanging by a thread.

  • New York Giants -5.5 at Houston Pick: Giants Wrong! Texans win 16-14 Schroedinger's Cat didn't just die. It got squashed by a sixteen-wheeler, and the carcass was devoured by scavenging birds, who then flew north and dumped on my car just for good measure.

  • Indianapolis +6.5 at Denver Pick: Colts A Winnah! Colts win 23-20 It took two 50+ yard field goals in a snowstorm. The Colts are rocking. Once again, I wonder will I have to sacrifice them as my sleeper?

  • Philadelphia +7 at San Francisco Pick 49ers Wrong! Eagles win Jeez Louise! The QB named for a pond fish makes everyone say 'McNabb who?' He gets hurt and replaced by third stringer A.J. Feeley (What kind of name is Feeley for a QB? That's not a QB, that's a porn star.) And still the 49ers can't get it done. Not even close. Ah well, why not cap the week with one last slap in my face.
Here's a point of interest. One would think that point spreads are set such that there would be about a 50-50 likelihood of a victory by either the favorite or the underdog. So in 16 games you figure the favorite is likely to cover about 8 times. Not this week. This week, the favorite failed to cover 11 times and lost outright 8 times. So it would seem like the odds makers had just as bad a week as I had.

Of course, it doesn't actually work that way. Point spreads are not really set based on expert evaluation of the teams. They are set so that an equal amount of money is wagered on either side of the spread. The points are adjusted over the course of the week as wagers are made. So what it really means is that the collective expectations of the betting world were seriously trounced last week. That makes me feel better. Misery loves company.
Football Picks - Thanksgiving Day: Lots of hemming and hawing goes on about who has the advantage on these weird mid-week games. Statistically, the home team gets an even larger boost than usual (although not much larger), but these statistics are misleading. Usually what you get quoted is something like Dallas (or Detroit) has won 54% of the time on Thanksgiving versus, 51% of the rest of the games. That's all poppycock. First, to do this properly you would have to control for all sorts of things, not the least of which is to compare only home games, or compare versus home games in the same year, or games versus opponents with similar records. Suffice to say that, outside of baseball, sports statistics are so horribly misguided they are little different than superstition. I never pick winners because of any silly statistics. I pick based on what the voices in my head tell me.
  • New England -6 at Detroit Evil Minions cover. Normally I would pick the Lions, just because it's time for them to unexpectedly win another game. But they couldn't win unexpectedly because that's just what I would be expecting. On the other hand, since Marty and the Lions seem to be determined to give games away, any demonic curses the Minions cast to upset the Lions plans could end up making the Lions win. You see, it's all very complicated.

  • Washington -pick 'em- at Dallas Cowboys win. On a hunch. The Cowboys beat the Jags last week when there was no earthly reason for them to do so. I'm thinking there is something going on there that I don't see, plus they will be pumped to salvage their season with a victory over the hated Potatoes. I was going to make some kind of vapid allusion to Mashed Potatoes and Thanksgiving, but I can't force myself to do it.
Scam Alert - Seriously: For those of you who connect to the web through Earthlink, there is a scam email going around. It reads like this:
Subject: Important information reguarding your Secure Earthlink Mail!
Date: Tue, 26 Nov 2002 23:11:58 -0500
From: securityemail@earthlink.net

Dear Valued earthlink member,
We have noticed that you have not been reading your Secure ELN Mail.
This is a new feature we have recently added to our system, and have been sending important account information to your Secure Earthlink Mail! Please be advised that we need you to log into your Secure Mail within the next 72 hours to keep the Secure Account information in our database.

Below is the site to log into your account
HERE link omitted, or if your EMail client doesn't support HTML You may go to HERE link omitted

Thank you for your time on this matter
Do not respond to this. It is a scam designed to steal your login and password. You login and give your password to the site that is linked and you expect to get something called Secure ELN Mail, but instead you have just given your login and password to a bunch of crooks. If you get one of these, please forward it to this earthlink address: joez@corp.earthlink.net.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Holiday Links: Just some stuff to read when you get tired of Aunt Ethel asking why you're not married yet.
  • A world famous dirtbag. Almost within firing range of me. Just a little closer and you're spam in a can. SIC SEMPER SPAMMERS!

  • The official web site of Joan Jett is just what you'd expect. But scroll down and read the open letter to Rolling Stone magazine, by Maya Price, (note to Joan, you need to provide links to specific posts).
    Jewel and Mandy friggin' Moore have full page features as Rock Icons...Meanwhile Joan Jett gets one line. ONE LINE. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, who have never stopped touring, recently did 10 days in the Middle East playing for the troops stationed in Afghanistan. In AFGHANISTAN, Joan would come onstage wearing a birkha, which she ripped off and stomped on before blazing through the purest and nastiest rock show ANYWHERE.
    Chortle. Whatever you may think of Joan Jett, it's a perfect dismantling of Rolling Stone magazine, which is one of the few things in the world more hurl-worthy than MTV. And that's saying something.

  • Nasa has a fascinating site where they post relatively current information on any natural disasters going on in the world, including satellite images. Nifty.

  • These young kids have it too easy today. What I would of given for this on-line library - tons of free books, journals and articles, with suggestions for term papers. Why, when I was in school, we had to write term papers with lumps of charcoal, and when you didn't have charcoal you used blood, and when your little brother started to turn white, you went out in the snow in bare feet hunting for possum droppings. And we were grateful.

  • Tee-hee-hee. You know what TIVO is, right? The digital TV recorder that can pause live shows and store and untold amount of recordings. Well, it turns out that one feature of TIVO is that it tries to figure out what type of shows you like based on what you've recorded in the past, then it records things it thinks you will like. This guy's TIVO decided he was gay. He fought back by ordering trashy sex farces. Amazon does similar things. Of course, Amazon doesn't differentiate between what you buy for yourself and what you buy as gifts. Thanks to a couple of purchases I made for HRH Miss Anna a couple of years ago, Amazon thinks it's good salesmanship to offer me H.R. Puff'n'Stuff videos.

Monday, November 25, 2002

Scoopage, Wearily: I am resolved to throw up the redesign sometime over the Thanksgiving weekend. (By "throw up" I don't actually mean regurgitate, thanks for asking) So if you check in and things look weird - patience please. I'll have a lot to say about it once it's in place. You may be thoroughly underwhelmed.

This week, Football Friday will fall partially on Wednesday due to there being games on Thanksgiving day. I'll posts picks for Thanksgiving day and results from last week - the horrible, horrible results from last week - and then I'll post again on Friday with picks for Sunday and Monday.

I've actually been thinking of renting a couple of DVDs over the weekend and maybe getting a review or two up for you. I promised TAD Chrissy to give Lord of the Rings a second chance. Maybe this would be a good opportunity.

Speaking of reviews. I don't know what to make of the Sopranos this year. The portrayal of Tony has been remarkable. They managed to make him more human and more of an animal at the same time. A good deal of this has to do with what a phenomenal actor James Gandolfini is. There's been some exceptional humor - Christopher's intervention was a hoot. But they have been dwelling on two plot lines that are pointless and boring. The Furio and Carmella situation (I'm being careful not to spoil things for those who get by on rentals after the fact), is as far as I can tell, totally unmotivated. Janice and Bacala is another one that perplexes me (although the manipulative Janice is a terrific character). There are two shows left and traditionally the second to the last show is the big one. Maybe they can sort it out.

One last thing. If you are a blogger, think about visiting the Blogger User Support Group over at Yahoo. It's a good spot to get help. I quickly got an answer to why the spacing screwed up when I put a table in a post. Bookmark it.

I have more, but I'm exhausted. Maybe I'll slip you some links tomorrow night.

Friday, November 22, 2002

Football Results - Week 11: Tasteful is how I would describe it. Unassumingly tasteful, in fact. 9-7. On the plus side, but tastefully so. For the year, that makes me a somewhat more gaudy 31-24-3, mostly owing to my phenomenal, season-making performance in week 10. (Do you realize I was 10-3-1 last week? Amazing.) Still, one doesn't want to make like Terrel Owens with a Sharpie, so a bit of restraint was in order this week.

Please note that I have begun including the final score in my comments. Generally, in fine literature, it is thought to be good to have a certain context for your action. In this case, it causes eveything I write to make sense without having to go to ESPN.com to find out what I am going on about. It's a technique thing.
  • Green Bay -6.5 at Minnesota Pick: Cheeseheads Wrong! Vikings win 31-21 -- The almighty Cheese fail to come through. This should have been a gimme. And don't give me any of that Brett-Favererer-doesn't-play-well-in-the-Dome nonsense. What sort of irrational twaddle is that? If there is anything I dislike about sports reporting it's that silliness like that passes for wisdom. Mind you, this isn't a commentary about how the Cheese are relatively more comfortable in bad weather - that would at least be plausible. Except that the Cheese play just fine when they are down South. This theory hinges on the dome itself. And not all domes, that specific dome - Favererer does well against the Lions in a dome. So come on now. Does anyone besides me ever question this sort of outrageous conventional wisdom? The obvious answer is that Brett Favererer doesn't like how I spell his name and this was his juvenile, immature way of getting even.

  • New Orleans +2.5 at Atlanta Pick: Saints Wrong! Falcons win 24-17 -- I refuse to say his name. From now on I will refer to him as "Rhymes with Sick."

  • Cleveland -3.5 at Cincinnati Pick: Browns A Winnah! Browns win 27-20 -- Cosmologists and metaphysicians are using the Bengals as proof that we live in a perfectly deterministic universe.

  • Dallas +6.5 at Indianapolis Pick: Colts A Winnah! Colts win 20-3 -- Yep. The Colts have been a great sleeper team (a team that is much better than their record) for me. After this trouncing of the Cowboys they won't be under the covers anymore.

  • Buffalo + 3.5 at Kansas City Pick: Bills A Winnah! Chiefs win 17-16 -- Weird game. Should have been a triple digit affair, but scoring was fairly reserved. My guess is that there is deep meaning in that for the rest of the season, but I have no idea what it is.

  • Baltimore +4.5 at Miami Pick: Ravens Wrong! Fins win 26-7 -- No excuses here. I was way off. I had written the Miami season off, and thought the Ravens were underrated. Wrong on both counts. I was glad to see the Fins win and Ray Lucas play well. Sadly, it will make next week's picks for these teams all the more difficult.

  • Pittsburgh -3 at Tennessee Pick: Steelers Wrong! Titans win 31-23 -- Tommy Maddox, whose story of perseverance has been touted all year, deserved better. He deserved to finish out the year with success, if not a Super Bowl victory, and be able to go through the off season knowing he was solidly entrenched as an NFL starting QB. Did you see the interview with him? He is clearly shaken to the core - as I would be if I spent some time lying in the hospital unable to move my legs. Anyway, I wouldn't blame the guy for a second if he never wanted to see another football again in his life. Of course, the remaining Steelers may never want to see another football in the hands of Kordell Stewart again for the rest of their lives.

  • Washington +3.5 at New York Giants Pick: Potatoes A Winnah! Giants win 19-17 -- Countering the deterministic, fixed state metaphysics of the Bengals we have a probabilistic existence exemplified by the Giants. I predicted Schoedinger's Cat would die this week. I'm not sure whether I meant the Giants would lose or jsut not cover. Perhaps we need a four-state Cat for the Giants - Live, Head Cold, Coughing Up Blood, and Dead; corresponding to Win, Beat the Spread, Fail to Cover, and Lose. Of course we'd have to re-do Schroedinger's experiment with two slits for the photon to pass through. I actually think about this sort of stuff. The conclusion you are racing to (correctly) is that I am some kind of weirdo.

  • Arizona +11.5 at Philadelphia Pick: Cardinals Wrong! Eagles win 38-14 -- McNabb fractures his ankle and then throws 4 TDs - best game of his career. First observation: Note what the Football gods had to go through for me to lose this one. Second observation: Another back-up QB gets a big shot at leading a top level team. Bulger, Maddox, even Pennington have succeeded in this situation. Koy Detmer? - possibly, I'll be suspicious until it happens; after all, like the Dolphins before them, the Eagles have made inquiries about Troy Aikman's status. (What kind of a name is Koy, anyway? That's not a quarterback, that's a mutli-colored pond fish.) Third observation: A little perspective is in order for McNabb's injury. Certainly it took a good deal of grit to play that kind of game when injured, but the fact is the ankle didn't even bother him enough to get it X-rayed at halftime. When it got really bad at the end of the game he left. That level of courage would almost qualify him to play hockey.

  • San Francisco -2.5 at San Diego Pick: Chargers A Winnah! Chargers win 20-17 -- I'll admit this one was a coin toss. Sometimes you get lucky.

  • Carolina +9 at Tampa Bay Pick: Panthers Wrong! Bucs win 23-10 -- On paper this was the NFL's best chance to get a 2-0 game in history. Since when did the Bucs get an offense?

  • Denver -4.5 at Seattle Pick: Broncos A Winnah! Broncos win 31-9 -- Yet another QB goes down. Has anyone thought to call Troy Aikman yet? Prediction: At the end of the season, Holmgren will call a tear-filled press conference to announce that he has fired himself.

  • New York Jets -3 at Detroit Pick: Jets A Winnah! Jets win 31-14 -- Low hanging fruit.

  • Jacksonville -6 at Houston Pick: Jaguars Wrong! Jags win 24-21 -- Is a mediocre team one that can only beat less than mediocre teams, or one that can only win or lose in a mediocre fashion? The Jags seem to think the latter. Am I even making sense?

  • New England +4 at Oakland Pick: Seniors A Winnah! Seniors win 27-20 -- Why does everything seem to go the Pats way? You could develop some sort of conspiracy theory. You know that episode of X-Files where in the Cigarette-Smoking man dictates to his cabal of shadowy puppet masters that "Buffalo will never win the Super bowl. Not while I'm alive." You are never given the reason. Of course, in the conspiracy theory you develop Paul Tagliabue plays the evil doer and the referees are the cabal. You can't think of a reason, but you don't really need one. I don't buy it. I can't imagine so blatant a conspiracy on that level going on for over a year and nobody speaking up out of fear of reprisal. Not a referee for martyrdom, no front office lackey looking for 15 minutes fame, everyone keep perfectly quiet. Nope, I don't buy it. Even Tony Soprano can't keep his people quiet. In the fiction business, we call that implausible.

    The only plausible explanation I can think of is that the Patriots are a bunch of soul-selling Satan-worshippers. It started with the now-so-infamous-it's-a-cliché tuck last year, the Super bowl victory, and then the Pats come out of the box like gangbusters this year. Suddenly, they slip up and lose four in a row. This, I believe, corresponds with a brief falling out with the Dark Lord. It could be that the Pats just got too big for their britches, thought they could win like mere mortals do, slacked up on the incantations, drew their pentagrams a little crooked, did a few too many good works.

    So they pull themselves together, rededicate themselves to the Prince of Darkness, double up on the ritualistic sacrifice of small furry mammals, and so forth. Listen to Tom Brady's audibles backwards and you will hear things like, "Satan is your buddy, Satan is a cool guy, send Satan a fruit basket...", you get the picture. What a turnaround. They get a victory over Drew Bledsoe, against a Bills team that plays worse than humanly possible. (I am of the opinion that Bledsoe was ousted from the Pats primarily because he never bought into the devil-worship thing.) At least two provident calls late in the game (the bumbled interception and the generous first down spotting) enable their last minute comeback over the Bears. And you can't tell me they weren't the beneficiaries of the influence of the Evil One against the Raiders - and not just the "duck" which saved them from a fumble. A Gannon pass bounces off the foot of a defender into the arms of a defensive lineman who waddles in for a touchdown. Who's kidding whom? That's clearly the result of some sort of arcane demonic curse, or perhaps Bill Belichick was carrying a Rich Gannon voodoo doll. Check the game tape closely.

    And still the Seniors won. They can now lay claim to having Beat the Devil. "The Devil went down to Oakland, He was looking for a game to steal..."

  • Chicago +10 at St. Louis Pick: Chicago A Winnah! Rams win 21-16 -- The question is "Is it indicative of a weakness if a team doesn't beat the spread?" Probably not. But I can't help but think the Rams should have won by more. Interesting. Chicago pushes the Patriots to the limit last week, and maintains respectability against the Rams. Could they be my new sleeper? This question and more will be answered in an upcoming episode of As The NFL Turns.
Football Picks - Week 12: The new offical name for the Patriots is the Evil Minions, or Minions for short. As mentioned above, the Falcons QB will be reffered to as Rhymes with Sick - sort of like an Indian name or something. With QBs dropping like passes to the Lions receivers, this was a tough week. Troy Aikman is the new Waldo.
  • Minnesota +7.5 at New England Evil Minions cover. I think the Minions want to beat up on someone. Their demonic deity owes them.

  • Tennessee -2 at Baltimore Titans cover. The Ravens are not as much better than everyone thinks as I thought they were. Re-read that. It makes sense.

  • Atlanta -3.5 at Carolina Falcons cover. How long before Rhymes with Sick gets tossed on the burgeoning QB rubble heap? It ain't gonna be the Panthers that do it.

  • Detroit +5 at Chicago Bears cover. This is one of the very few times you will see Chicago favored this season. Just for the record, this does NOT offcially make Chicago my new sleeper. It's just that they are playing the Lions.

  • Jacksonville -2.5 at Dallas Jags cover. Even a mediocre victory would cover that spread. The Cowboys have already called it a season.

  • San Diego +3 at Miami Chargers beat the spread. Sorry to the Fins, but one victory does not make you what you were. Cruel fate: I keep picking against the Fins - favorite team - and betting with the team of Rhymes with Sick. At least no one can accuse me of betting my heart instead of my head.

  • Cleveland +6 at New Orleans Browns beat the spread. I'm going out on a limb, but the Saints looked completely listless in their loss to Atlanta. Although that was only the second bad game they played all year, I'm rolling the dice and guessing they are running out of steam. At least running out of enough steam to win by a touchdown.

  • Buffalo +3 at New York Jets Bills beat the spread. Two very evenly matched teams. I'm not ready to go full force into beleiving the Jets are for real.

  • Cincinnati +10.5 at Pittsburgh Steelers cover. They could have fired-up for this game with cries of "Win One For Tommy!" but they don't have to. It's the Bengals. Kind of a shame for the Steelers that it worked out this way. They waste their once-a-season injured collegue inspriation since science is on their side. Also bad for Kordell Stewart since he really needs to prove himself, and slaughtering the Bengals proves nothing. How much you wanna bet that if Kordell makes a hash of this, the Steelers start considering Troy Aikman. (For the record, I hate going with the favorite on a big spread.)

  • Green Bay +3 at Tampa Bay Cheeseheads beat the spread. A lot on the line here: a leg up on home field advantage in the playoffs; the Cheese can clinch if they win and Minnesota loses (I think). I really have no idea what's going to happen. I think the Cheese are the better team, but they are away and the Tampa defense matches up well against them. My hopes are riding on the 3-point head start.

  • Kansas City -3.5 at Seattle Chiefs cover. All Seattle has left to prove is that it was all about Brett Favererer after all.

  • Oakland -8.5 at Arizona Seniors cover. I'll be suprised if the Seniors can't pretty much do whatever they want, however they want to do it. It's a fat spread, I hope they want to cover it.

  • St. Louis -5 at Washington Rams cover. The Potatoes were showing some promise but in his inexorible quest to screw things up, Spurrier decided it was time to mess with the QB again. Has he thought of calling Troy Aikman? Of course, the Rams QB situation isn't without question either. But with Marshall Faulk back (probably) they should win be able to win by a TD.

  • New York Giants -5.5 at Houston Giants cover. This should become the fourth win in a row for the Giants. Schroedinger's cat may have escaped.

  • Indianapolis +6.5 at Denver Colts beat the spread. A tough call with the Broncos at home. Denver is the one team that lost a QB last week and probably won't feel much adverse effect. But the Colts are really hitting stride, so I'll go with the 6.5 point bonus and hope my sleeper isn't fully awake yet.

  • Philadelphia +7 at San Francisco 49ers cover. This would have been tough for the Eagles even with McNabb. For that matter, this would be tough for the Eagles with Troy Aikman.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Two Quick Notes: 1) I have no idea why an ad banner is appearing at the top of the page. Some confusion between me and blogspot. I'll sort it out. Bear with me. 2) Football Friday is tomorrow (but you knew that already).
Assorted Linkage: Some curious links to chase away your boredom.
No Moore, Please!: Well, once again Michael Moore has oozed up from bowels of Flint, MI and subjected the human race to another movie. This one is called Bowling for Columbine, which is supposedly a scalding critique of the horribly sick culture we live in that forced the a couple of depraved maniacs to slaughter their classmates. I haven't seen it, and I have no intention of seeing as I refuse to contribute to Moore's obvious Krispy Kreme addiction, but it contains such clever humor as taking one of the Columbine victims, who still has a bullet lodged inside him, to Kmart to ask for a refund on the bullet. Moore's fans find this to be the height of comedy. This suggests Moore's fans skew heavily toward college freshmen who sit in coffee houses and laugh through their noses at Bill Maher.

As always, as soon as Moore puts anything out for public consumption it is quickly demonstrated to be noting but lies and innuendo. In Bowling for Columbine he goes to a Wal-Mart in Ontario to show how easy it is to purchase ammunition. In the movie, the clerk just hands it to him - but wait! It seems the Canadian Department of Justice wouldn't tolerate that; they investigate, but Moore will provide no details. Could it have been staged? I'm shocked!

Once again, Ben Fritz over at Spinsanity.org puts Moore's boundless mendacity on display for all to see.

Best ever description of Moore (I wish I knew where I heard it): Michael Moore puts the hippo in hypocrite.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Like Nelson Says, "HA HA": As you probably know by now, I hate spammers. I think they should all be drawn and quartered. No - drawn and sixteenthed, just for good measure. Equally evil are their spiritual forefathers, telemarketers. There is a $50 device called the Zapper which theoretically sends a signal back to the telemarketer over your phone line that automatically removes you from the calling list. Interesting, but it sounds kind of suspicious, doesn't it? Well, here's how it works and how you can duplicate it for free. (I got this via email, but I think it came from Wired.)
Junk mail can be tossed and spam can be filtered, but telemarketing has always had a technological edge. At least until the TeleZapper. The device - AS SEEN ON TV! - promises to erase you from telemarketers' lists and stop the unsolicited solicitations. And it works, at least until the industry devises a workaround. But why spend $50 for uninterrupted evenings? The fledgling Telemarketing Resistance has banded together online to help you do it for free. Just follow the steps below.

1. Get the Audio: The TeleZapper fools telemarketers' autodialing equipment by emitting the ascending three-note special-information tone you hear before, "We're sorry, the number you have reached has been disconnected." You can download this tone from the Web. Do a Google search for "sit.wav" to find one of these audiofiles.

2. Chop It Down: Open sit.wav in an audio-editing program like Microsoft Sound Recorder. Edit out the second and third notes. (You don't actually need those, and they're sure to annoy family and friends.) Save the WAV file.

3. Press Record: Play that one note on your computer and record it as the first sound on your answering machine's outgoing message. Follow with an oh-so-witty greeting.

4. Enjoy the Silence: Now sit back and screen those calls. Over time, telemarketers will get the "zapping" tone and take you off their lists.
My Apologies In Advance: Sorry to do this to you, but I felt it was necessary to pass this along. I have deemed it the Stupidest Joke Ever and I think you will too.
A Russian scientist and a Czechoslovakian scientist had spent their lives studying the majestic grizzly bear. Each year, they petitioned their governments to allow them to go to Yellowstone. Finally, their request was granted. But at Yellowstone, rangers told them it was mating season. It was much too dangerous. But this was their only chance, so the rangers relented. They were told to report in daily.

For several days they called in, and then nothing was heard from them. The rangers mounted a search. They found the scientists' camp ravaged, with no sign of the missing men. They followed the trail of a male and a female bear. They found the female and killed her. Cutting her open, they found the Russian's remains.

One ranger said, "You know what this means, don't you?"

(Are you ready for this?)

(Get ready!)

(Here's the punch line!)

"Of course," said the other ranger, "the Czech is in the male."
I feel terrible now. I'll do penance somehow, I promise.
It Gets Worse: What could be more depressing? I'll tell you. Howard Stern is planning to remake the movies Rock and Roll High School and Porky's. Note this.
Stern is waiting to see the completed scripts before deciding whether he'll play any onscreen roles in the movies.
Seeing as Stern stole his "look" directly and blatantly from Joey Ramome, he should be ashamed. Of course, that would be like a serial killer being ashamed of littering.
Ya Think?: I don't follow basketball too closely, but this comment, in Charlie Rosen's Page 2 column, from a Dallas Mavericks coach kind of stuck out.
Next up is one of Dallas' posse of assistant coaches, Del Harris. He explains that the Mavericks' overall philosophy is based on the concept that the team that scores the most points always wins the game.
I'm stunned. I can think of no snide comments regarding Captain Obvious that are worthy of that quote. Del Harris is also credited with the discovery that a player's height is directly proportional to how tall he is. In related news, scientists today announced the remarkable discovery that higher temperatures always occur when there is an increase in warmth. I could go on, but I don't want to make your head explode.

Friday, November 15, 2002

Football Results - Week 10: There was once a female stand-up comic named Judy Tenuta. Her signature line was to shout, "Worship me, pigs!" at the audience. And there was once an animated comedy called The Family Guy wherein a super-genius infant named Stewie plotted to take over the world. Stewie made liberal use of the imperative and would loudly inform everyone he met that "You will bow before me!"

Let me just say that those two have nothin' on me this week. 10-3-1. I repeat with gusto: 10-3-1. I'd be willing to bet that in the annals of game picking, you could count the number of times anyone has done that well without removing your shoes. Ah yes, that glow of victory has given me a nice bronzed skin tone this week. Strangers in the street involuntarily genuflect as I pass.

Did I mention that I was 10-3-1.
  • Indianapolis +9.5 at Philadelphia Pick: Colts - A Winnah! Let's see, including the 9.5 point bonus, Indy won by about 300 points.

  • Cincinnati +5.5 at Baltimore Pick: Ravens - A Winnah! There's really no point in bragging about this one. It's like picking the sun to rise tomorrow.

  • Detroit +10 at Green Bay Pick: Lions - Wrong! Bill "The Sports Guy" Simmons over at ESPN Page 2, who has forgotten more about picking football games than I will ever know, has an immutable rule: Never bet against Brett Favererer. Michele, blogmistress extraordinaire of A Small Victory, dropped a line before the game to guarantee the Packers would cover. It seems everybody was in on this but me. Understand: my expectation was that the Pack would run up a lead and then maybe slack a bit and let the Lions come within 10. When the halftime score was 30-7 I figured I was in good shape. The Pack could ease up, maybe even rest Brett Favererer, and let the Lions gut out a couple of ugly touchdowns for a 30 to 21 final and redemption for me. Sadly, even when slacking, the Packers could not help but outscore the Lions in the second half. That's the last time I pick the Lions for anything. Ever. (Unless the spread is big enough.)

  • Minnesota +1 at New York Giants Pick: Giants - A Winnah! "Meow," said the cat in the box.

  • Atlanta +5.5 at Pittsburgh Pick: Falcons - A Winnah! Lots of people are up in arms about the overtime rules - they want to get rid of sudden death, or at least assure that each team gets one chance on offense once OT begins. I'm fine with sudden death, I just wish they'd play until someone scores. Baseball and basketball go on until someone wins. Football and hockey don't (until the playoffs). What's the reasoning? Some of the most memorable games in history are those marathon sessions that occur in the hockey playoffs. Sister-kissing should be outlawed.

  • San Diego +5.5 at St. Louis Pick: Chargers - A Winnah! Poor Chargers, decidedly trounced by the Jets a week prior, then they blow it in the 4th Q. I'm glad they had the presence of mind to beat the spread.

  • Houston +10 at Tennessee Pick: Texans - A Winnah!. Thanks to the Titans for not distastefully running up the score.

  • New Orleans -5.5 at Carolina Pick: Saints - A Winnah! The most perfect example of how charmed I was last week. New Orleans was up by 3 in the last few seconds of the game. Now, if the Saints had possession, they would have just taken a knee and walked off - don't wanna run up the score or anything - without covering. But wait! On the final play it's a turnover! The lineman who recovers for New Orleans is so delighted to have a clear path to the end zone he doesn't think about the propriety of running up the score, he just goes for it. New Orleans ends up winning by 10. It is unlikely anything so provident will ever happen again in my lifetime. Like I said, 10-3-1.

  • Washington +3 at Jacksonville Pick: Potatoes - Wrong! Spurrier had appeared to be developing the first vestiges of a clue how to operate in the NFL, then he comes up with this. A big issue was made that Spurrier threw his visor to the ground in disgust. It's just throw, throw, throw with that guy.
  • Seattle +3.5 at Arizona Pick: Seahawks - A Winnah! I have it on reliable authority that Mike Holmgren had long talk with himself regarding the direction of the team an his future. Holmgren made it clear that Holmgren needed to win this game and that his job was on the line.

  • New England -3.5 at Chicago Pick: Patriots - Wrong! Wouldn't you know it? This was the one I picked as a no-brainer. This shoulda been a gimme, yet the Pats barely eek out a victory. What's more remarkable is that if they didn't benefit from some seriously friendly calls late in the game, they wouldn't have even won. How can they steamroller the Bills then have to luck out to beat the Bears? Why do I ask unanswerable questions like that? Do you picture me with a confused look on my face, kind of like A.J. Soprano?

  • Kansas City +6 at San Francisco Pick: Chiefs - A Winnah! All that whimpering for close games paid off. I feel young again. Like a child who can get whatever he wants just by whining.

  • Miami +3 at New York Jets Pick: Jets - Push! I kind of pity the Fins. I would guess they really put their best game on the field here. Talk about star-crossed, they go to all that trouble to try to get Cris Carter playing - a dubious decision in my book - and, sure enough, he promptly gets himself hospitalized. There are still two or three games until Fiedler returns. The temptation will be to try to do something to salvage the season, like pinning their hopes on the aging and heavily concussed Troy Aikman. Forget it. Ain't gonna happen. Let Lucas try to play his way through it. Give your rookies some field time. Experiment. If you manage to only lose one of the next three games, great, maybe you still have an outside chance at a playoff berth. But whatever happens, when Fiedler returns win every remaining game. Even if you don't make the playoffs, you'll build a sense that you were robbed by fate so that next year becomes your destiny. (Pretty good speech, eh? Enough stirring "wait 'til next year" speeches and you give the Red Sox a run for their money.)

  • Oakland +5.5 at Denver Pick: Raiders - A Winnah! Not bad for a bunch of old farts in a low oxygen environment. Gannon (age 73) completed 29 straight passes - yes, the one that was called out of bounds was actually a completion so I'm counting it - and used the 3-4 yard pass like Woody Hayes used a cloud of dust. Rod Woodson (age 86) had the game breaking interception, and Jerry Rice (age 112) caught two TDs. Afterwards they held interviews at the local Bill Knapps.

Football Picks - Week 11: I've decided to start implementing specialized nicknames for certain teams. Green Bay will be the Cheeseheads, or the Cheese for short; the reasons are obvious. I realize it's a cliche to refer to Wisconsinians (Wisconsinites?) like that, but the fact remains they are adults wearing cheese shaped headgear, so really, you owe it to them. The Raiders will be the Seniors, in honor of the discount they get at McDonalds. Washington will be the Potatoes, in deference to racial sensitivities. I thought about the Washington Burn Victims or the Washington Guys-Who-Are-Blushing-From-Embarrassment, but neither of those has the right ring. (Besides, aren't the Washington Burn Victims a minor league baseball team or something?)

Along similar lines, why in the world do they call them New Potatoes at Boston Market. What's New about them? Do they think if they call them Redskin Potatoes they will offend any Native Americans standing in line? Or would they convey a message of implicit support for Washington football, which wouldn't play well in Dallas? Look, they have RED SKIN, that's why they are called redskin potatoes. I mean, NEW as in what? Fresh? "Yes, these NEW potatoes arrived just recently, when they get old and rotten and mildewed, we'll mash 'em." Yum.

Oh, and speaking of comic ethnic food moments, you know that scene in the Godfather where Sollozzo and McClusky are meeting with Al Pacino. They drive to an Italian restaurant called Louis in the Bronx. As soon as they sit down, McClusky asks loudly, "How's the Italian food in this place?" Sollozzo tells him to try the veal. But that isn't the right answer. The right answer is "It's an Italian restaurant. It doesn't matter how the Italian food is here because that's all there is to eat. Idiot." One suspects that was in the script but changed at the last minute to preserve the weighty drama of the scene.

Am I rambling?
  • Green Bay -6.5 at Minnesota Cheeseheads cover. A touchdown margin of victory over the hapless Vikings should be a cakewalk. Still, the theme of the season is for teams to put together strings of impressive victories followed by head-scratching defeats to lamers. It could be the time for the Cheese to experience a head-scratcher, but I don't think so.

  • New Orleans +2.5 at Atlanta Saints beat the spread. Falcons won their last meeting - a seriously competitive game in New Orleans - despite the Saints playing well. That could either be indicative of the Falcons superiority, or it could be incentive for New Orleans to get revenge, or it could mean nothing. I still think the Saints are the better team, they have played only one bad game this year (an inexplicable loss to the Lions) whereas Atlanta only managed to come out of Pittsburgh with a tie thanks to inept play calling and place-kicking form the Steelers. And I (wishfully) sense the league closing in on Michael Vick.

  • Cleveland -3.5 at Cincinnati Browns cover. Scientifically speaking.

  • Dallas +6.5 at Indianapolis Colts cover. Indy is has momentum after body-slamming Philly and I think Peyton Manning knows what to do with it. Besides, the Cowboys really have no reason to play, and haven't really wanted to all year.

  • Buffalo +3.5 at Kansas City Bills beat the spread. This is a toughie. Buffalo failed miserably against New England a couple of weeks ago, but I'm hoping the bye last week works to get Bledsoe's head back on straight.

  • Baltimore +4.5 at Miami Ravens beat the spread. It wounds me to keep picking against Miami, but I get the sense that the Fins put everything they had out there last week against the Jets and came up empty. I see no reason to suspect they have turned anything around. Interesting: Miami loses QB and WR and end up in a deep hole and starts trolling for TV personalities to replace them. Steelers lose QB and RB and somehow manage to pull a better QB and RB off the bench. Just not the year of the Fins.

  • Pittsburgh -3 at Tennessee Steelers cover. The Titans are a solid team, but the Steelers who were erroneously picked by many for the Super Bowl before the season, would be a correct pick now that their offense is centered around second stringers.

  • Washington +3.5 at New York Giants Potatoes beat the spread. Giants are too unreliable, Schroedinger's Cat dies this week.

  • Arizona +11.5 at Philadelphia Cardinals beat the spread. The Eagles have faltered the last two weeks. How can you not take 11.5 points? I'd even be tempted to take the Bengals +11.5 over Philly. Just tempted, though.

  • San Francisco -2.5 at San Diego Chargers beat the spread. San Diego slipped up in the fourth quarter last week. Niners were not overly impressive in beating Kansas City. Basically what I'm saying is I have no idea.

  • Carolina +9 at Tampa Bay Panthers beat the spread. Kind of out on a limb here, but last time they played Tampa Bay won 12-9 in a snoozer. Also, although Carolina has lost it's last 6 straight, five of those losses have come in the waning minutes of the game. With a 9 point bonus I'll take the risk.

  • Denver -4.5 at Seattle Broncos cover. Here's to last week being a fluke for both teams.

  • New York Jets -3 at Detroit Jets cover. Should be an interesting battle between two talented young QBs whose last names end in -ington. I don't know which of the -ingtons is better, I do know the Harr- plays for the Lions.

  • Jacksonville -6 at Houston Jags cover. Jacksonville pretty much defines average. But that should be a touchdown better than the Texans.

  • New England +4 at Oakland Seniors cover. The defending Super Bowl champs with a four point bonus is tempting. But New England is hard to figure. They flatten the Bills one week, in a game they should have lost, then the next week comes around and they barely squeak by the Bears in the last minute. The Raiders Retirement Community absolutely owned the Broncos last week, after four straight losses, but can they beat the Pats by more than a field goal? I'm thinking the crotchety old geezers have one more win in them.

  • Chicago +10 at St. Louis Bears beat the spread. Back at the start of the season, the Rams got it in their heads that they didn't need to run Marshall Faulk constantly to win. That clever strategy landed the sheep at 0-5. Since then Faulk has been the center of the sheep herd and they are 5-0. With Faulk out this week, a ten point head start to the Bears is too good to pass up. What's that you say, Faulk might play after all? That makes this a nasty pick. I'll stick with Chicago on the odd chance that even if Faulk plays he's not 100%. My fearless prediction: this is the game where it becomes clear that the Rams want Warner instead of Bulger. I count on you to forget about that if it doesn't come true.