Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Month That Was - April 2006: As I alluded to last time, I need to redesign this site putting focus on my various writing efforts and dropping the blog altogether, going the monthly diary route instead. That likely means dropping blogger and getting a new URL. I've started a site redesign -- you can see the vestiges of it here. As usual, I started out trying to make the site conform to various web-design standards and to keep content separate from presentation and the be-a-good-designer kind of stuff, but I got so frustrated I just went and did it the old table-based way because it is so much easier. I have minimal time for this and there is little return for me to spend the time to become Joe Webmonkey. If I ever have extra time for site stuff, what I should do is set up a Flickr pool and get my photos posted.


I managed to get to Chicago for a couple of nights toward the end of the last month and I should write about it, but all my sit-your-butt-down-and-do-it time has been allocated elsewhere.

Actually, I did get a hotel review done for Hotel Chatter, but I should write up the entire trip. Don't hold your breath, though.


The Miami Dolphins traded for ex-Vikings, ex-Love Boat, QB Daunte Culpepper. The overwhelming majority of commentators declared that getting Daunte for a mere 2nd roung draft choice was a huge coup. Me not so sure. Me thinks his knee is at risk, not the least reason being because he is such a big guy. Me also remembers the Vikings suddenly making a playoff run under the entirely unappreciated Brad Johnson after Culpepper went down.

Culpepper caught hell of late for trying to be his own agent, mostly because it put him in a position where he had to say and do semi-obnoxious things in his own self interest that most players can leave to their agents. I can't fault him for that, I think it took some courage to go for it. Agents, are best viewed with suspicion. He's also virulently defended himself against all the Love Boat accusations. I have no first hand knowledge, but whenever I have seen him interviewed he usually seems like a first-class guy, so I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt with respect to character.

But when it comes to quarterbacks, an average talent who makes few mistakes (see Johnson, above) is preferable to a great talent who can be too self-dependent. I fear Daunte is the latter. Also, the best spin you can put on his career without Randy Moss as a target is that it is, um, unproven.

Of course, Culpepper is not at all certain to be fully rehabbed by the time the season starts, so it looks like the Fins are going to sign none other than Joey Harrington as his back-up, because they need a below average ex-Lions QB to replace Gus "Hammerhead" Frerotte.

I really hope Joey and/or Daunte succeed, and I'm willing to cut Nick Saban some slack after the incredible finish to last season, but my gut tells me this may turn into an ol' fashioned pooch-screwing. Got to keep that open mind, right? I have a trip down to Miami to catch a game in person as a potential goal for this fall, despite my cynicism. (Even if they lose, there's still South Beach...)

Meanwhile, Ricky Williams looks forlornly at his bong and says, "I wish I could quit you."


Speaking of football, I've been reading How Professional Gamblers Beat the Football Point Spread by J.J. Miller. First off, let me say that if you saw this book sitting on the shelf, you'd pass it off as in the same category as "How to Make a Million Dollars in Your Spare Time and Pay No Taxes". The cover design and the title need lots of work. But the content is very clearheaded and Miller makes no outrageous claims about how easy it is to pick winners or any unrealistic claims of winning percentages. Most of what the concepts he covers are spot-on accurate. Yet another book I should review in full, and I likely will before I start doing picks of my own this year.


Speaking of book reviews, Temple Stark, journalist and Blogcritics editor, has posted a review of Business as Usual. It was a strange sensation to read it since, in my mind, I have placed both my novels in the "things I did in the past" category. One of the (few) good things about writing a book is that it is always just sitting out there, waitng for anyone who might be interested.


Speaking of writing, here I am still slogging through Misspent Youth, with seemingly ever-decreasing efficiency, when what happens but I suddenly get ideas for two more writng projects (neither of which are comic satires). In fact, one is a historical mystery along the lines of The Name of The Rose, but with a special hook for dedicated whodunit fans. Unlike mainstream novelists, mystery writers occassionally sell more than a dozen or so copies of their books, which would be a nice change of pace for me. For the time being, it's nothing more than a wispy idea meandering about in my head, but I have a sense that this one might have some legs for the long run. First, I must do some research into Tibet at the end of the 19th century...


Speaking of inconvenient segues, I'm still entranced by the current Sopranos season. If you are a big fan of mob movies, you're not going to be happy. I just can't see the genre recovering from this. David Chase is not just ripping out all the romantic cliches of the Mafia, he is not just reducing them to barbaric criminals, he is making it clear that they are a truly loathsome group both personally and professionally. Almost without exception, the mob characters are being portrayed as not just fat and stupid, but filled with nothing but vulgarity and self-delusion. They declare oaths of honor and adherence to long-standing traditions, but they live and die at the whim of their superiors who are even more vile and savage. And doomed, too. In a recent episode, Jamba Juice proved to be too powerful for the the Jersey wiseguys.

This year, we are getting a taste of the effect of the life on the families. Both of Tony's children are finding themselves deeply affected by their father's choice of career. Despite all his efforts, Tony may have to witness the inevitable destruction of his family, and 'family' is what The Sopranos has always been about, according to Chase. This was referenced directly at the end of a recent episode when, in an extremely emotional situation, A.J. mentions a scene in The Godfather to Tony, and Tony replies, "It's just a movie. It's time to grow up." That, I think, is Chase telling us about mob mythology.

Dramatically this season is truly kicking some elephant arse. So much so that, in conjunction with the deeply negative message, I just don't see another standard mob movie having any relevance. It's like seeing the pastel drug dealers in Miami Vice after a sequence in a crack house on Cops. You can't help but see the silliness of the fantasy.