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.