Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Fresh Meat: has been completely revamped in the style of, including a free preview of the first four chapters. If you haven’t read Apple Pie, you should of course, but you can get a feel for it at the site, and although it is not technically available yet, you can pre-order it at Amazon. Hopefully it has found a permanent home with the new publisher.

Yet another terrific week for my football picks, but more on that in a couple of days. Speaking of football, here's a couple of good articles: This one from Football Outsiders is a recounting of a road trip to Ann Arbor for last week's Iowa/Michigan game; it contains the perfect characterization of Wolverine fans: "...there's one thing that we Michigan fans do better than anyone: show up." And over at ESPN Page 2 we have this story of the pitiful optimism of Lions fans. I maintain Lions fans have deeper and more foolish faith than those of any other sports franchise. Not only is their no hope of a championship, there is very rarely hope of a winning season, there are even more rarely any big stars or charismatic players to root for, and worst of all there is no romance to their losing, they just lose in complete anonymity.

And while we are on the topic of sports, it looks like Washington DC is finally getting a baseball team back. This will be their third chance (third strike?) and all it's going to cost them is a $400 million publicly financed stadium. I don’t know where they are going to get the money, but I understand Marion Barry has been brought in as a financial consultant. Although the vast majority of fans are out in Northern Virginia, I'm sure they will be happy to ride the Metro in from Loudon County. In preparation for the expected throngs of fans riding in and the potential for them flaunting the rules, the DC legislature has approved the death penalty for anyone who talks or eats.

I'm still working on my write up of my Coastal Empire trip; hopefully this weekend. I may provide a few pics ahead of time. For now, I can't stop laughing at the story of Edward Furlong (the brat Ahnold has to save in T2) getting arrested while freeing live lobsters from their tank at Meijer's:
…the actor and his buddies began yanking live lobsters out of the store's display tank for reasons that were not made clear…The officers ordered Furlong to turn around so they could frisk him, but the…star began twirling around in circles instead.

I would pay real, folding money for the video from the Meijer's security camera.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Thank You Jeanne: I have just returned from a few days in "The Coastal Empire" -- specifically Savannah, GA and Hilton Head, SC. Both very cool places in very different ways. I am grateful to hurricane Jeanne for doing a quick loop-de-loop out in the mid-Atlantic so I could have some nice weather, but it was the least she could do considering it was her fault I wasn't in Turks and Caicos and it was her older brother Ivan who flattened Grand Cayman which was my first choice. A full accounting of the entire misadventure will be forthcoming, as usual. (update 9/25: Yes, I did accidentially refer to Jeanne as Frances. Hey, it's not like I never gotten womens names confused before.)

I do not know why they call the area the "Coastal Empire." It does sound better than the other descriptive name, the "Low Country," which conjures up disturbing Deliverance images. I was a little surprised, given this is the among the deepest of the deep south, that I detected little Southerness anywhere except the appearance of grits as breakfast side. More likely to encounter a European accent than a lazy drawl. Anyway, I'll save it for the story. Real Soon Now.
Football Picks -- Week 3: 4-1 last week, making me 7-2 for the year and compelling me to continue inquiries as to the identity of your daddy.

A brief Mea Culpa from last week. I referred to Carson Palmer as a rookie. This is, in fact his second year, but he didn’t take a single snap last year. Chances are you would have just figured I was fake but accurate, but I would hate to be spoken of in the same breath as Dan Rather, so there you are.

Peter King had an update on Ricky Williams' whereabouts. He's currently camping next to a bay somewhere in Australia. I've never been one for sleeping on the ground, but hey, whatever pitches your tent. Today is the first day of the rest of your life, Ricky. And considering the Dolphins are trying to retrieve in excess of 8 million in signing bonuses from you, you may take some solace in the accuracy of that.

  • Pittsburgh +1.5 at Miami -- Like a highly agitated schizoid, I keep repeating the same thing over and over: The Fins are not as bad as everybody thinks. Please don't tell Nurse Ratchett.

  • Philly -4.5 at Detroit -- Detroit is 2-0 with victories (cynics would say surprising victories) over the dubious Chicago Bears and the less than mediocre Houston Texans. Philly is the cream of the NFC for the moment and they dominated the Vikings last week, TO's sham TD notwithstanding. Harrington has not faced a defensive line like this. Even at home, I can’t pick the Lions.

  • San Fran +10.5 at Seattle -- 10.5 is a lot of points to give. Scenario: Seattle up by 17, then end of game comes and SF is tossing up prayers in its last few plays against a bunch of Seahawk third-stringers. They get the TD. Who cares, says Seattle, they still need two scores in less than a minute, right? Except the guy who puts cash down on Seattle being at least 11 points better gets reamed. But they are at least 11 points better, so what can you do except throw down and hope those third stringers have some pride.

  • Dallas +2.5 at Washington -- The 'Skins coughed up turnovers like meningital phlegm last week. (Sorry, that didn’t really work, did it?) They won’t do that again, but there is just no way they are all that good -- Gibbs or no. On the other hand, the Cowboys have Vinny Testaverde who has a stupefying ability to not quite win football games. But Parcells has had more time with his clowns than Gibbs has had with his, so I'll take Dallas and the points.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Things and Stuff: All I have to offer is some clickage.
  • I did a quick recap/review of the recently concluded season over Six Feet Under over at Blogcritics. Probably meaningless unless you watch the show.

  • CBC picks the top 50 songs of the twentieth century, roughly by decade. This is a pretty sharp list. I could quibble but I only outright hate about 30 percent of these songs which is pretty good for these sorts of things.

  • Speaking of music, the 80s group Queen has been given the seal of approval from the psychotic Iranian mullahs. Apparently, Bohemian Rhapsody is about someone who sold his soul to the devil, at least according to the mullahs. It's as good as any other explanation, except drugs. We can only hope they'll weigh in on I Am the Walrus.

  • The Donghu Hotel in the Hubei province in central China must be quite a remarkable place, considering the poetic description on the home page: "Glory and delication of half a century. Write down some brilliant chapters. Tremendous change in the reform and open…" Reading further we discover that "In the vicissitudinous history of half a century, the Donghu hotel undergone weal and woe as well as resplendence...Nowadays, it is striding toward a new century, bursting out vigor of youth…" That's nice and all, but does it include free HBO? And, about the food: "The Hotel offers Chinese and Western-style food banquet, bender ,team meal , buffet and zero service. It is good at the reception service of the slap-up feast and banquet for take charge of the reception of the national leaders in long-term. The slap-up facilities , appetite and service will take you upscale enjoyment." Whoa there! I have experienced zero service at a few hotels, but I've never been slapped up. Is that a some kind of spa treatment? (hat tip: TMQ)

Football Picks -- Week 2: Being 3-1 on last week's picks gives me the right -- nay, the obligation, to say Who's Your Daddy? Fear not, I still know that it takes a few weeks for the season to take shape before you can claim smart picks versus lucky picks. This is why I'll be waiting until late in the season to hit Vegas.

If there was a quote of the week, it came from Lions QB Joey Harrington after they beat the Bears to end a multi-year road losing streak. "Usually when we fly home from Chicago, it's like a 47-minute flight. But today it's gonna feel like 37 minutes." King of the world!

  • Houston +3 at Detroit -- This is another pick 'em, with the Lions spotting the standard home team field goal. Lions won last week, but unimpressively. Texans lost last week even more unimpressively. I'll go with the Lions again, simply because even at their worst they generally do well at home. It's not much of a reason, but I can think of no reason to think the Texans can beat the spread.

  • Miami +5.5 at Cincinnati -- I remain convinced that the Fins are not as bad as they are supposed to be. The Bengals have a lot of young guys at key positions, including the rookie QB, and the Jets won without really testing them with blitzes last week. Miami should win, but I'll still take the five and a half.

  • Washington -3 at New York Giants -- Everyone raved about Terrell Owens last week, but nobody bothered to mention that the Giants defenders apparently chose not get closer than four feet. Maybe it's because he's gay and they didn’t want it to rub off, but it sure played well into Donovan McNabb's acknowledged skill at inaccurate passing. The Giants may actually be the worst team in the league. And although I still don’t think Joe Gibbs can work miracles, he should be able to beat the Giants by more than a field goal.

  • Seattle -2 at Tampa Bay -- Tough pick of the week. I would have given both Tampa Bay and Seattle strong chances to be dominant teams this year. Seattle looked like it in week 1, TB did not. For that reason only, I figure Seattle covers. They just have to win by a field goal, right? If Chucky wins this one, I may have to stop trying to pick the Bucs games.

  • New York Jets -3 at San Diego -- Chargers got a surprise win last week, but they still stink. Jets are a team n the edge of the upper echelon. Got to figure they win by more than a field goal.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Football Picks: I have no idea how long I will be able to keep this up. A couple years ago I did picked every game and it nearly killed me keeping up with things. Last year was such a pathetic season that it could barely hold my interest. This year, I'm going to try to just pick a handful of games each week at the most. I also vow to get to Vegas sometime during the season, so this will be a good warm-up.

I'll try to pick the Fins and the Lions every week, beyond that, we'll see how it goes. It's also possible I may pick all the games but only comment on a few. It's also possible I'll go crazy again. By the way, two games have already occurred (including the Fins) and I would have lost bets on both. Timing is everything.

  • Lions +3 at Bears -- This is basically a pick 'em. Home field advantage usually costs you a field goal. For the Lions, this season is all about Joey Harrington. Basically he's been a pretty lame QB but the entire offense has been lame so he's had an out. This year he's got some great receiving talent and so, barring injury, it's make or break. Conventional wisdom is that he's too nice and pretty and musically talented to be a top notch QB. Mariucchi, when asked his opinion, only gives Harrington the limpest support possible. Basically nobody thinks he's got it in him. Neither do I really, but I think he's got enough to beat the Bears.

  • Bucs +2 at Redskins -- Joe Gibbs returns to play Dumbledore to Dan Snyder's Voldemort (according to TMQ anyway). On the other side is Chucky, with his team all cleaned up of dead weight loudmouths. This is the toughest call of the week, but I think Chucky pulls it off. My guess is the Bucs contend with the best this year having dispatched the ass Sapp and some other overpriced personnel. Gibbs is the best, but unless he has assembled a killer team (which he hasn't) it'll be midseason before they hit their stride.

  • Cardinals +10.5 at Rams -- The Cardinals are a horrendously bad team. The Rams are good, but overrated. 10.5 is a good deal of points. I think the Cards can get within 10 during the end of game garbage time.

  • Giants +9 at Eagles -- The Eagles should self-destruct at some point this season, but they will likely start out hot. The Giants are awful. Eagles should cover most of their spreads until TO feels the need to prove himself a bigger brat that Nicole Richie.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Laboring Day: No day off for me. Way too much going on to lose momentum. But, I did complete three book reviews over at Blogcritics: Lake Wobegon Summer 1956, by Garrison Keillor, The CEO of the Sofa, by P.J. O'Rourke, and Tricky Business, by Dave Barry. Now I have to get ReadApplePie updated since it's re-release is imminent.

But I just have to share this with you because it make me laugh whenever I think about it.