Sunday, October 31, 2004

Snivel: The last couple of days I have been laid low by a cold. And I mean really laid low-- like sleeping for 15 hours a day. Plus, having placed Apple Pie with a new publisher I am now doing the same with Business As Usual, so all the reviewing and editing has to be redone. Between that and blowing my nose and coughing my brains out, I haven’t had time for much else.

New Orleans soon, I promise. I'll be back when I recover.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Housekeeping: The latest on my New York trip is up. It took a while because I ran out of free space provided by my ISP, thanks to my silly new habit of taking pictures. So I had to hunt around for free places to store pictures -- yes that's right, I pay through the nose for pointlessly luxurious hotels but I try to find free web storage. I didn’t find anything that I liked so I had to register a new site,, to hold all the future pics and travel articles.

As I write this, there is a lunar eclipse going on outside and the Boston Red Sox seem poised to win the World Series. Spooky.

Some quickies:
  • Back on 9/29 I flippantly predicted Marion Barry would be involved in the new baseball stadium in DC and, whaddaya know: "The agreement requires the council to act by Dec. 31. That deadline has a secondary importance because three council members who support baseball are expected to be replaced in January by three who aren't sold on the idea. They include former Mayor Marion Barry."

  • Speaking of being right, I made nasty comments about the state of the Flamingo Hotel in my write-up on my previous Vegas excursion. Now employees and patrons are contracting some sort of bizarre disease. Step aside, Miss Cleo. Of course, the contrarian in me figures they should be dropping prices to regenerate business any day now...

  • Speaking of hotels, this blogger describes the Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, DPRK (North Korea): "The Ryugyong Hotel is, in my opinion, the single most unsettling structure ever erected by the hand of man. It's 1,082 feet tall, has 105 floors, and encloses 3.9 million square meters of floor space. And it is completely empty. It doesn't even have windows." But is it worse than the HoJo's in mid-town Manhattan?

  • Speaking of the Far East, in what must be multiculturalism's greatest triumph, there is a Hooter's opening in Shanghai. As HRH Miss Anna would say, "Good, cheap wings."

  • Speaking of paradigmatic restaurants, it appears Ronald McDonald dolls are the new version of crop circles. Exceedingly creepy.

  • Speaking of creepy, I'll just quote this article and leave it at that. "At around 11 p.m., authorities said police responded to a report that Schulz, who was dressed like Elvis Presley, was having convulsions after falling down stairs outside the hall. When officers arrived to help, they said Schulz jumped up, said "Praise the Lord, Viva Las Vegas," then started singing show tunes." Thank you; thank you very much.

Next up, New Orleans.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Mangle Minor: I am trying a minor redesign in an effort to de-emphasize the blog and highlight the travel writing and critiques. It looks a little awkward and needs some tweaking, but I should get it cleaned up soon.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Back in the Saddle: In the past couple of weeks I have been to New York City and New Orleans. Truly fine trips, but damn -- the other night I woke up from a nightmare where I was stranded in the middle of this enormous city when a hotel where I had a reservation turned out to be closed for business, so I was standing in the street trying to call Travelocity to sort things out and, oh wait…that really happened. More on that to come.

While I'm on the topic of travel I should make another special travel related note. In my piece on Savannah and Hilton Head, Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season, I slammed Northwest Airlines over a bad bit of interaction. I also mentioned that I sent them a scathing email and they had not responded. I was wrong. They had responded but I just missed seeing it in my inbox. And they were very conciliatory and even gave me 5000 miles for my trouble. In the service industry, that's called a "save". Northwest is back in my good graces.

Not ready to get back to football picks just yet. In fact, I have an idea for a new method of picking based on the work done at Football Outsiders. With any luck I will have something ready for that by next week. Like everything else, more later.

As soon as I got to New Orleans I planned to drop some cash on Sunday's games. I printed out the latest spreads and made my picks on the way down. Naturally, when I arrived, I quickly discovered there is no sports book at Harrah's Casino in the Big Easy. Turns out I was lucky because my picks would have been losers. (Instead I did my part to finance the casino through craps and blackjack.) Whatever made me actually believe, however briefly, in the Lions? Since I didn't officially make the picks, they don’t count against my record. That's the rule.

I was really more interested in following the Yankees-Sox drama anyway. An amazing thing to see. I was actually grateful not to be from NY or Boston because I probably would have spent the better portion of the week staggering around like Fred Sanford having the big one.

Also, I'm in the process of reading a remarkable novel called The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy, set in the late fifties in New Orleans, which is where I bought it (in New Orleans, not the late fifties, Einstein). I'm only about halfway through, but I have never encountered a character more like me than Binx Bolling, or at least how I think of myself. I'm sure a complete review will be coming.

For now, I'm writing as fast as I can. I will work like a speed freak this weekend and with luck I'll have more on everything this early next week.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Back on Hiatus: In record time, we have my travel article on Savannah and Hilton Head, entitled Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season.

Also, I am once again 3-1 in my football picks. So far I've been 3-1, 4-1, 3-1, 3-1. 13-4. I rule, clearly.

Unfortunately there will be no picks for a little while, or any other posts. Maybe as long as a month. I have to deal with my difficult and troublesome personal life before I get back to this. A shame when I'm on such a winning streak, but reality bites.

You can always email me if you are so moved. I have not forsaken you completely, just for the time being. Later, gator.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Football Picks, Week 4: Once again 3-1 last week and now 10-3 for the season. Obviously, my planted assumption that the early season games are a crapshoot was way off. Either that or I am just so freakin' intelligent and perceptive the laws of chance do not apply to me. It's important to remember, we all have a daddy; Pedro's is the Yankees and I am yours.
  • New York Jets - 6.5 at Miami -- Neither of the Florida teams should be 0-3 at this point. Fiedler is back at QB and maybe his little vacation motivated him a bit. The defense is still very strong. And in case I haven’t mentioned it before, the Fins are not as bad as everyone thinks they are. (I've gotten real good at hiding my meds.) Pick: Dolphins

  • Denver -3.5 at Tampa Bay -- If Miami shouldn’t be 0-3, then Tampa Bay really shouldn’t be 0-3. Seriously, the D is solid and if you looked at this team and I told you they would be 0-4 to start the season you would have laughed at me -- then told the nurse about me hiding my meds. Pick: Buccaneers

  • Washington -3 at Cleveland -- A truly difficult pick, but the 'Skins and Gibbs looked completely confused last week. It was a poorly coached game which is a shocker. True, the Browns aren’t worth a damn, but they are at home and have 3 points to give, and there ya go. Pick: Browns

  • New York Giants +7 at Green Bay -- This is an interesting match-up. In week 1 the Packers looked invincible and the Giants were an outright disaster. Since then Green Bay lost to Chicago of all teams and then lost the shootout with the Colts. Meanwhile the Giants seem to be putting it together. If the Giants can stay on the straight and narrow and show up early for their meetings, and the Green Bay that played Chicago shows up, and if they don’t win by at least a touchdown…Pick: Giants