Thursday, December 20, 2007

Turning 28

In a few hours, I turn 28. This is roughly tens years out of high school. Back then, I expected to be married and have maybe a kid or two. If not for my wife's aversion to delivering a child at this moment, I might have fulfilled that old prediction. I am glad it has not come to pass though, as I enjoy weekends of laziness, nights of freedom, and the freedom to do whatever I want to do with my wife without the need to call a babysitter. I love getting older. Time passes so slow for me that I rarely feel like life is progressing. I need the grey hairs, the wrinkles and the flipping of the calendar to make me feel like it is real.

In 15 hours, we head back home to Maine. Supposedly, it is covered in snow, so a white Christmas is guaranteed. How wonderful it is to visit a place with a foot or two of snow on the ground. I do not have to shovel it or drive in it. I just fly in, enjoy the snow blanketed landscape and ice encrusted trees and fly back. My mom is having cake and ice cream for me. Why? I think it is an excuse to have my sister over and get some family time in before the madness.

Just an fyi, do not send anyone on a business trip one week before Christmas. Bad idea. Even worse idea is to have them do what amounts to nothing for two days at that location. I can tell I am getting older. Five years ago, I would have sworn a storm thinking about it. Now, I'm Zen.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Maxed Out

Let it snow, let it snow. I feel like a thin, sexy version of Roger Ebert after posting multiple movie reviews in a short span of time. I caught another documentary with the wife, Maxed Out, and this is a documentary that should get airtime in schools or on cable channels like MSNBC, Fox News, or CNN. It is far better than a lot of the schlock that they air that passes for news investigation. This documentary focuses on debt and its place in modern American society. The movie shows how modern banks, credit card companies, and even the judicial system is rigged to bleed consumers just enough to keep them making those payments.

Maxed Out exposes some of the darker side of credit cards, consumer lending, and how the system itself has changed to hamper consumers. There are some gut wrenching moments like the focus on the extremely poor families who have their mortgages changed because of an aging relative or rising costs of other goods, only to see the house go up for foreclosure shortly thereafter. The scene where the poor family explains how the lender from Citigroup told the mentally retarded man to copy the name she had written so he could 'sign' the documents. It really upset my wife and I to know that went on. Kudos to the newsreporter who was talking to that family and doing reports for his paper down south. At least ONE reporter is doing some investigating. That scene highlights how perverse some of the lending practices and behaviors have become. A family could be way behind in payments, but they will get a new offer for a credit line from the same company the next week. Hunh?

There are some bits to this movie where they show people in trouble who are in trouble more because of their behaviors (or were in trouble for those who died). Maybe like CNN running this article, which is a slap in the face to all of the real middle class families feeling the squeeze. These stories could tug at your heart strings, but there were holes to them. Two teenagers, who went off to college and ran up credit card bills, killed themselves and left behind grieving families. Yes, it is wrong that the credit card companies kept sending them cards. Yes, it is shady that the credit card companies are on campus trying to sign kids up, but I think it's creepier every company out there uses sex to sell products. Let's change that first. My point is, those kids could have stopped spending anytime they wanted. They were college kids with no income and no expenses. Credit cards were not going to pay the tuition bills. Those charges were elective. They could have stopped but did not. I have friends who did the same while in college and left school with 5K or so in credit card debt. Tough lesson to learn, but eventually the light came on and spending slowed.

Two other stories that did not make sense were the Army MP whose family filed for bankruptcy and the widow who fell behind on mortgage payments, took cash advances to pay the mortgage and was holding garage sales for income. I am a huge supporter of our military and the families left behind when our men and women serve. I contemplated applying to the Naval Academy until my Navy friends talked me out of it. I believe they deserve more pay, and they deserve to be integrated into our society more than they are now. It is a shame how With all of that knowledge, the story of the family that filed for bankruptcy when the dad went to Iraq did not make so much sense. Why did they have a mortgage when they could have base housing? Why carry the truck payment when he is going to be gone over a year? What was the mysterious burden they were carrying which forced them to file for BK? Something was amiss with their story. My buddies who have been to Iraq or abroad while in the service did not sound like this guy and his wife. I feel the inclusion of this story was to get emotion from viewers and to exploit a vet's story for the movie.

The widow was far far worse. She openly cried on camera. She was selling collector plates. She talked of getting cash advances to pay her mortgage because she could not afford it after her husband's death. 1. This family did not plan or else there would have been a life insurance policy that adequately covered debts. 2. This 57 year old was in a huge house all by herself. 3. She was in California and it was 2005 when it was filmed which was the peak of the Bubble for real estate. This woman obviously did not plan anything. Her husband poorly planned for his possible death. Now that behavior is probably why she was dumb enough to take cash advances to pay a mortgage rather than sell her house that was way too big for one person in the best selling environment in American history. Where were her kids or friends to maybe advise her to sell the gold mine she was sitting on? Where is the common fucking sense to sell the home since it is way to big for you? I know they chose to include this story to show a family ruined financially by one death, but this woman was also really fucking stupid.

There is a lack of financial commen sense in this nation. This guy writes about it far better than I do, and he and I have had "comment" conversations about it. Combine this with a neverending quest to have more stuff than the next guy, and the society might develop a spending problem. This lack of common sense with finances might seem like a recent problem, but look back at the Depression or the real estate run-ups in Florida from back in the day. It appears that right now the potential to mess up your entire life can happen at a younger age, involve far greater sums of money, and have a much more lasting impact. I am one of those people that thinks you learn money habits from your parents, and that the schools should stay out of it. I would propose a short class, not even semester long, for all high school seniors as part of graduating. Some things to consider, what to watch out for, and what some terms mean on documents would be things to learn. A money skills class or whatever you want to call it. Sure, the sex education classes are marginally successful, but this one is even more important. It involves money.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cocaine Cowboys

Showtime is running a documentary that came out last year called Cocaine Cowboys. It's a really interesting look at the cocaine industry in the 70s and 80s in Miami. I have never done cocaine. I broke my nose twice and had some breathing problems, snorting something was not high on my list. Add to that ex-girlfriends who had problems with it, and no way was I touching the stuff. This is pretty evenhanded in its treatment of the principals. There is input from the drug runners, the cops, the killers, the media, lawyers, and my favorite, the medical examiner who is a tough hombre.

A common montage of Miami includes the glitzy, art deco, pastel look with lots of beautiful (and mostly plastic) women, a "Latin flavor", and flashy cars. That was not Miami before cocaine hit the shores. Miami was a real Southern city that happened to be by the ocean with lots of old people... probably retired Long Island & Westchester County natives. Cocaine changed all of that, and there were some horrible growing pains as the death and destruction of the cocaine wars. The documentary cites that in '79, '80 and '81 the number of homicides were over 400, 500 and 600. People complain about crime now, despite the fact that violent crime is around 30-40 year lows, and the number of homicides has been under 100 in '03, '04, '05, and even now. The images shown in the documentary rival the old mob photos from newspapers in the '20s and '30s and CNN videos from Third World countries. It is a remarkable story that the city, state and nation could beat back those drug lords. I do believe there is no winning the war on drugs because there will always be a demand, but damn, the cops busted some ass. The cops went to drastic measures and used extreme force to win the war on the streets. Kudos to you guys.

My favorite parts of the documentary were the parts about the NY and flying MacGyver guy. They were a tandem of smugglers, and they represented the part of the movie that is the 'good times' montage. They do eventually spend time in jail, but their high times were pretty entertaining. They were an odd couple of sorts. The brash NYer, who drove Mercs and Porsches, dated a model and flashed lots of wealth, was paired with the down home Southern boy born and raised in Miami. The NYer has a great lien where he discusses the money spent during those days, and it is a cliche but "everbody has a price". Whether it was strippers he'd pay to phuck his friends or cops he'd buy off, Miami was for sale. How this has not been turned into a movie like "Blow" amazes me. The people in this real life drama were better characters than half the one dimensional dits you see in movies. The head drug lord for the Columbians in America was a woman who fashioned herself as the "Godmother". She would have sex with men and then kill them. She ordered hits on everyone, including the children of enemies. She was a lesbian. This is perfect for a 120+ minute drama/action flick. Better than Bloe too because Blow had Penelope Cruz in it (not my type). I will probably buy this on DVD and add it to my drug movie collection along with some other films that I will show my future kids to scare them away from drugs.

Despite those flamboyant characters, my favorite is the medical examiner. This guy saw the carnage in his office. He knew what was hitting the city. He saw how bad it was and knew how much worse it could get. The TV news interviews with him in the '80s show a man who is tired and mad. This is a guy who loves his city, cares about others, and wants things to change. He wanted the city to get serious about the drug problem. He wanted the city to clean up and allow normal people to live normal lives again. Interviewing him for the documentary, you could sense tension still in his voice. I would have liked to hear more from him. I would like to know more about that dynamic duo of smugglers. I would like to know how in the world the "godmother" got away with murder and received a reduced sentence because of a phone sex scandal involving the star witness against her. There is always hope because Cocaine Cowboys 2 is coming.

Thursday Night football, take the Texans. Always wager on the home team in the Thursday games.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Creepy Coworkers

Sorry for the delay in posts, it has been a busy December. My last 15 days in December will involve 4000 miles of flying, one trip to Charlotte for business meetings that I do not think will prove fruitful, systems testing at work, drinking with friends, and oh yeah, Christmas with family. All the while, I have a wife who has now been sick for what seems like 26 weeks. More like 5. Work has been on my mind. It's been good, the people are good, my boss is great, the autonomy & authority has been excellent, and it feels like I am on cruise control. It's a nice groove. No real creepy people at work. None. This has not always been the case in my experience.

I do miss the work environment of my last workplace, but things feel so good here. My last employer, Liberty Mutual, and my current employer are lightyears better than my first employer out of college, StanCorp Financial Group in Maine (not the Oregon HQ which rocks). I'd rather have a stiletto heel go through my tongue than work there again. They'd have to fire the entire management team (except Sue) there for me to want to return. There were some great, friendly people who worked hard. There were also creepy dumbasses that worked there. Oddly enough, the worst creepy people were in management. Maybe this was a Maine thing becase I have heard many a story of creepy coworkers from my friends at other companies in Maine, but this place had a high percentage of people who would share way too much information about their sex lives, their kids still being in diapers at age 5, and what they thought of fellow employees. There was one employee that was in an awful marriage to some guy who spent 3 hours in the gym with his buddy and only had sex with her once a month for like 3 mins. Gay Alert! I kept waiting for her to say "my husband phucks men, but we stay married for the house & tax benefits". I had a cool coworker who was one of those bottle it up inside people who would be supercalm, drive us to a sandwich shop for lunch and say "If you come in tomorrow and you have a voicemail saying 'leave now', buddy, leave fast because I'm taking an AK to this place". That's funny and touching that he cared enough about me. There was one employee who stood out amongst the rest because his creepiness coupled with a complete lack of common sense that made you think that a machine had dropped a 5 year old's brain into a 6 foot 4 big headed human male.

Let's set this story up: this creepy guy was 6 foot 4, had a head the size of a watermelon, and the voice of peter lorre. It was so similar you could crack out a peter lorre impersonation and everyone would assume you were teasing on this creepy dude. In an odd coincidence of genetics, this guy and I are 5th cousins. When I started working there, I tried to explain this to him. It took 20 mins. I kid you not. I broke it down to this: "our great grandmothers were sisters which means we have great great grandparents in common". Seems straightforward and easy right? Nope. I had to draw a family tree and place his head on it and mine, waaaaaay over to the left of him. The guy woudl ask for tissues from one woman in the whole building... the prettiest womant here who also happened to work all the way on my side of the building. Let's just say he stared a lot and in three areas: face, boobs, rear. No hiding it. This made any woman who was above a 6 (on a 1-10 scale) feel uncomfortable.

When I was released from my cage to eat in the lunch room on good days, he would join my table from time to time. He'd eat a salad, living vicariously through my food as I had Whoppers, Mr. Bagel Turkey/Cranberry/Stuffing sandwiches, and other non-diet foods. I was the 22 year old with quicksilver metabolism, and he would often say "someday you'll be the one eating the salad". Thank heavens he did not say "tossing salad". This created some good conversations and also opened the door to horrible comments.


Inappropriate Comment Greatest Hits

1. "Danielle has really nice lips" - That was all he said and to no one in particular. Might as well have said "I wonder how good she is at giving a...". I'm not passing judgment for having the thought. I have thought coworkers were very pretty, maybe had a hot daydream or 20 during boring training sessions, maybe wish I did not work there so I could date them and avoid HR's wrath, but I would never voice that out loud in a mixed gender setting. D--- had lunch with us then left to go back to her cubicle. D--- was also attractive, friendly, and really funny. She even called me 'hot' in a sweater I was wearing, which I misinterpreted. She cleared it up right after with an email because she was so conscious of making someone uncomfortable. She was also friends with creepy dude's sister. No one said anything to prompt this comment. He just dropped it in front of a mixed gender lunch crowd. I remember sitting there thinking, "so how am i suppose to react". I chose to look like a 5 year old who just crapped his pants in fear. This gave the 'help' sign to my coworkers, and they thankfully, transitioned the conversation to meadows and butterflies. The kicker, Ms. Nice Lips reported to him! WTF!?!!? They have porn videos devoted to that exact scenario.


2. "If I go to a bachelor party, my wife knoooooows that I am free that night". - You have to stretch knows out and go low on the note as it is stretched. We were discussing another guy's send off with his friends and hoped he had a good weekend. This was just dropped by creepy dude to let us know that he is a douchey pig and rubs it in his wife's face. This effectively killed the conversation. Once again, this was in mixed gender conversation. He left the table and then we got the dirt. Yeah, he's free that night. Free to sleep on the couch the following week. One fellow coworker said that yes he is a pig at bachelor parties and has been restrained by friends from taking it too far. He's the Jeremy Piven character in "Very Bad Things".


3. "It's really shocking to be served with a restraining order at work when you're 26. That's what they do. That's what women do when they file for divorce. They file a restraining order, see. They do that so you can't see your kids for days, and you break first in the divorce proceedings and give them what they want. I can't... fuck arrrgghhh..." {then stab at your salad} - This is an exact quote that is forever seared in my memory. This guy married young and divorced young. I pass no judgment; it happens all of the time. What I do not like is scarfing down on a hamburger and having this story thrown in my face. This time it was just me, bottle it up AK guy, and creepy dude. I just sat there and said "wow, that's too bad". We ate in silence for the next 10 minutes. When I see specials about men who kill their wives rather than divorce them, I think it is stupid of them to do that. Then I recall this comment, and I understand their motivation.


There was a female who was close to this guy for inappropriate comments. She may have been worse about oversharing family details, but she was not as creepy from a sexual predator/angry human perspective. She was just a horrible human being. She was also oddly similar to many other women in behavior (to an extreme), and she crossed the line with no conscious and no remorse. There were many women at my workplace who shared details of their sex lives (gross). Many women who shared details of their children's behavior that I would never share (sad). This one freaked me out because I thought my existence there would prevent women from doing this since some of them had worked with my mother at another company 20+ years earlier. They didn't hear these stories about me, and if they did, wouldn't they view me as a dipsh*t because of it? Many women would snipe at other women in the office for their hair, weight, clothes, husbands, habits on the toilet. I have not experienced this as much from male coworkers. I do not know if it is a gender difference, fear of being fired because HR treats men and women differently for saying the same thing, or better control of the mind-mouth filter. Probably the gender difference and fear of HR. Men do not have great mind-mouth filters.
For your own sake, be cognizant of what you say at work that is non-work related. If you do this in email, you're not too sharp because there is a delete key to erase it. If a sentence makes you question it's appropriateness, delete it. You may be the absolute best employee at your job, but if your coworkers know you like to smack women's asses, like to go down on men, threw your kid out of the house for smoking cigarettes, were the sorority slut, killed a drifter when you were in college, they will view you differently. It's incredibly tough to separate the person from the employee. If you are self employed, keep rocking. You are the wisest of all.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Someone Likes ELO More Than Me

Wow, I thought I liked the song "Sweet Talkin' Woman" a little too much, but I have nothing on this guy or this guy. Since our move to Indiana, I have heard this song on the radio about 12 times. Number of times I ever heard it in New England: 0. This might not be a bad thing to most people, but I missed out on critical ELO listening time. Some tunes you need to listen to for pure, mindless entertainment. This is one such tune for me.

ELO sneaks under the radar of great band discussions because they were at their peak durign the disco era and oddly embraced it a bit while sticking to their artisitc roots. These dudes mixed classical music with rock, which was a trend at that time, but then spun out tunes that could play at a disco. I think doing music for the movie Xanadu hurt them as well. I put ELO in that underappreciated category along with Bad Company. If you put the top 10 ELO or Bad Company songs against any band not named Rolling Stones or the Beatles, they would beat down the competition. I still picture ELO as a band of music nerds who found a way to work classical music into commercial rock.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Mulholland Drive

When Mulholland Drive premiered, I was in college, taking a class on classic films. It is very fitting that I first heard the film studies majors talking about this film incessantly. I love Hitchcock films because Hitchcock could entertain you and make you think in the same movie. He was not just artsy fartsy, and he was not Jerry "Douche" Bruckheimer. He was as close to fine art as popular cinema could and might ever get. After seeing Mulholland Drive, I have to put this masterpiece of David Lynch's on that Hitchcock level. Mulholland Drive is a work of art.




While watching this movie, I kept feeling "something big is going to happen", and the suspense was almost too much to bear at times. I was on edge for most of the movie. There is a gigantic pivot point in the film at about the 90-100 minute mark, and after that point, you start to think, "what the..". After the movie was over, I spent maybe an hour trying to piece it together or come up with a theory to explain it. I am not alone. The movie is so good that you can read different theories, all dream, dream & reality, all real, metaphysical BS, and believe them. I got so deep into piecing it together that at 2am I was still awake and on fire, literally throwing off heat, just thinking about it. This was all after watching the crappy TV edit version. On the very next day, my wife and I watched the movie on dvd, and some things that happened at the end made a bit more sense because certain scenes have to be deleted or modified for TV. Let's just say I had no clue about the depth of Naomi Watts and Laura Harring's relationship because of the TV edit. After this viewing, my wife's theory was of alternate universes with the blue box being the portal, while mine was of drug induced dream of what should have been to reality of what really happens in life.

I just spent a paragraph typing about how the movie makes people think but here's why it grabs people: the movie is extremely well made, the mood is tough to top for suspense, and the level of detail is amazing. The dialogue is very important as is the pacing. Viewing the film two times, there were bits of dialogue that made more sense that second time around. Things come together clearer if you listen to the names, places, and movies discussed. I have mentioned the mood before, but it is just a wonderful display of the underside of glitzy L.A. Sure, this is the movie industry, but there's a lot of weird characters and dark places. I also get the feeling that the forced casting decision was Lynch's way of saying F-U to some producer in the past. There is also a lost in time element to the story, sets, and casting. The girl off the bus from the small town trying to make it big after winning a jitterbug contest is hokey. Most of the movie sets shown are set int he 40s or 50s. Even laura Harring's charcter has a 50s look to her witht he lipstick, pearl jewelry, and her look, which is "look like a hot REAL woman". I have to give Lynch and the art director credit; the level of detail in each frame is excellent. The people who cross the screen, the clothes even the extras wear, and the simple little things like make up, hair, body posture, etc. all mold this movie into a work of art.

After the second viewing, I noticed there was no swearing in the first 90 minutes or so. None. Obvious swearing spots were replaced with "smart aleck" or "butt". Some research showed that Mulholland Drive had first been shot as a pilot for ABC. ABC decided against picking it up. HOLY SHIT!!!!! That really did deserve an all caps holy shit. ABC turned down this beautiful 90 minute pilot that had tons of room for development. Knowing that, you can piece together different storyline possibilities. I find myself being a bit greedy and sad wishing that I could go back in time to 2001 and 1. Prevent 9/11, then 2. Convince HBO to pick up Mulholland Drive as a series after ABC passed on it. Oh my gosh, as a series this could have been mysterious and unusual like "Lost". Network television would have prevented some different storylines from being truly fleshed out, and cable would have allowed for drug, sex, shady violence, etc to play out without fear of censors. HBO could have signed this on for one season of 8 episodes as a test run and aired it right after the Sopranos. This would have been perfect. It would have captured a good audience, and we would be treated to more work from the odd Mr. Lynch.


I would be remiss if I did not mention that the brunette in the film, Laura Harring, who plays Rita/Camilla, is now in my "Hot, Over-40, Brunette Hall of Fame". How has this woman not done more in Hollywood? My lawyer and good friend, the G-bomb, says that she is not 'white or thin enough' for the Hollywood types. Sad but true. I think he has a valid point that she has just a bit of an accent and is a woman in all the right places. Hollywood does not like that. They liek sticks that they can then attach silicone to for half a cantaloupe curves. Laura Harring is right in my strike zone with the dark hair, the curves, and the ability to speak Spanish. Since she is over 40, she could not resist me. I might have to tell Salma Hayek that she's been bumped down a notch.

Go rent Mulholland Drive. I'll be buying this movie for my collection. This movie made me question its reality more than Videodrome.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

NFL Picks Week 13 & Sean Taylor Thoughts

I've been on a bit of a roll recently. Honestly, after last night's movie viewing, "Mulholland Drive", my brain may be out of whack. My friend and I have been saying Donovan McNabb will be on X or Y team. It's become a joke for us. We throw him into any situation.

VIKINGS -4 OVER Lions

Purple Jesus is back, and I am betting on him as long as they play crappy defenses. It would be great for the NFl if the Vikings snuck into the playoffs. Having stars in the playoffs, the ratings would be up and with young stars, excitement for the struggling franchises would rocket. The Vikings are 30-35 mil under the cap next season, they can definitely take McNabb's salary on.


RAMS -3 over Falcons

Going with the home team in this match up of crappy teams. If the Rams get a top 5 pick, they will draft that Jake Long kid from Michigan. You know, if the Falcons don't want to draft a Qb (Brian Brhom), McNabb could be a good solution to their QB problem.


TITANS -4 over Texans

I am pretty sure Haynesworth is back in the lineup, so I will lay it on the line with them. Maybe he missed 3 games just to prove his point with the defensive player of the year award voters.


Jets +1 over DOLPHINS

Dolphins will go winless and hold the double title of last perfect season and last winless season. I see them drafting Brohm, Matt Ryan or the Woodson kid at QB. There is no way they can pass on a QB two drafts in a row. I'd love to see Matt Ryan make it in the NFL just to see another BC QB in the league for potential point shaving and shady gambling moments.


Chargers -5 over CHIEFS

The CHiefs are really lost on offense without Larry Johnson and with the mediocre QB duel they have going for them. I think McNabb could be good for this team because they have the skill position players in place, they just need a QB (and a defense).


Jags +7 over COLTS

This game should be tight and a real grinder. Drink your pepto bismol if you watch it and cheer for either squad. If I ranked AFC teams in order, I would go Patriots, Colts, Jags, Steelers, Chiefs. The Jags have balance on offense, and the defense is excellent. They are big on both sides of the ball and will have lots of fun playing against a faster, smaller team.


Seahawks +3 over IGGLES

The Seahawks have had the Iggles number in recent years, and I can see this being another blowout. I also think the Iggles would look good with McNabb in uniform next year. It's much better than starting all over with Kolb or trusting AJ Feeley. Wait, he's already on this team. The Iggles should only trade him if they get a number 1 pick in return.


49ers +3 over PANTHERS

I usually go with the crappy home team in match ups of crappy team vs. crappy team, but as long as the Panthers start David Carr, I will be betting against them.


SAINTS -3 over Bucs

I am a believer in the Saints, maybe the last left. I do think they have to start pounding the rock more. If it's 20 carries of Bush, it is fine. If it is 30 carries between Bush and Stecker, fine. Just run the damn ball.


CARDINALS (even) over Browns

I like the Cardinals at home, hate them on the road. That is the way to play them. This should be a shoot out with a combined score over 60 points.


Broncos -5 over RAIDERS

If the Raiders get a top 5 pick, they have to draft Darren McFadden right? Is Justin Fargas that good of a runner that the Raiders would pass up on a runner similar to Adrien Peterson? I think I see what is available besides McFadden, because if an O-lineman or D-lineman is avilable, I draft that first.


Giants -1.5 over BEARS

Bet against Rex Grossman. The Giants will not kick to Hester either, so what offense will the Bears have? Nothing. The Giants need to finish strong so they can have a chance to rest guys in the last week with a playoff spot secured. If they can get healthy for wild card weekend, they can beat up on an NFC west or South champion. It's possible.


STEELERS -7 over Bengals

What condition is the field in? If it's sloppy, I do not see the passing games working well for either team. With Rudi Johnson's disappearance, the Steelers have the edge in the running game. This is a nice match up for Sunday Night football: two offenses loaded with talent, two young QBs who will be facing each other for years, two black head coaches, an old rivalry, etc. Good tv.


Patriots -20 over RAVENS

No one is beating these Patriots. No one until January at the earliest. Maybe the Jags, Colts, Cowboys if they catch the Patriots on the right day and play perfectly. No way the Ravens can keep up with them.


Bills +5 over SKINS

I see the Skins breaking down for the rest of the year after the sad loss of Sean Taylor. I do not see how a team can recover from a loss like this. How does a family recover? Slowly and recovery can be at different paces for different family members. Think of a 54 man football team and then a coaching staff. This is going to be a weird last 5 games for the Skins.


Sean Taylor in my mind was the best football player of his very talented draft. When that draft came around, I thought, he's going to have the biggest impact because he can play right away and be a general in a defensive secondary. He was 6 foot 1, which is big for a defensive back. He ran a fast 40 time, had great instinct with reading plays, had great tackling skills, and above all, had good hands and a knack for finding ways to makes big plays. He did this at the U of Miami, and I felt he'd be a great addition for any secondary.


Taylor had a good career and was on the cusp of greatness, having a hell of a season this year so far. Of all of the talented young safeties in the NFL today, I think he was th best who had the most potential. Troy Polamula is good but is injury prone and leads with his head to tackle players. Roy Williams is great in run support and has good instincts but can't cover anyone to save his soul. Ed Reed is the best safety in the league right now (who also had the best LB in the league to play with), but Taylor was closing in on him fast and had the potential to blow his accomplishments away. Taylor was a great combination of hands, vision, instinct, speed, strength, tackling and leadership. When he did recover a fumble or make an INT, he had the speed and running ability to take it back for a TD every single play.
He did this all before the age of 25. Now at 24, he's dead. Shot dead in his bedroom. Maybe he was targeted, maybe it was a robbery gone wrong, maybe it was a revenge killing. I just hope the killers are found, and that his family and year old daughter are mentally ok and can begin the healing process. Skins fans will always think of what might have been, and the NFL will probably have to have some sit downs with teams about safety like they do with rookies after the draft. Hopefully, this is just a random act and not another "athletes being targeted for robbery" act that could be part of a bigger movement (two NBA players this summer were robbed). I just hope that Sean Taylor can rest in peace.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Thursday Night Game and Thoughts on "Into the Wild"

I had the Cowboys -6.5 for Thursday's game, and with a gentlemen's wager at work, earned a free lunch from a Packers fan. The sweet taste of victory was a BLT that had about a pound of bacon in it. Sweet. I am still amazed that Dallas is 11-1. I had them at 10-6 for the season. I can't believe it.


Last weekend, the wife and I saw "Into the Wild". This is the film version of the story of an idealistic young man named Chris McCandless that was in love with the idea of being in the wilderness who died alone in Alaska. It was first a book by Jon Krakauer. Loved the book, as did the wife. There were some great shorter wild man stories thrown into the book, which tried to analyze why Alaska is so appealing to people looking for that Thoreau experience or why some people are a bit loony with the outdoors. The move treats the guy very fairly. They did not glamorize his rebellion from the system and managed to poke fun at his issues with society or his folks from time to time. The cinematography was great as Alaska and the West were fleshed out as if the settings were characters. The acting was superb. I really enjoyed the acting. Hal Holbrook was great as the old guy who works with leather. The hippies were not complete stereotypes of the hippie movement (yeah, man, puff puff). Eddie Vedder did the music for the film, which was a nice touch to the film experience. The fact that the parents of the guy allowed their relationship to be demonized in the movie is amazing. Kudos to them for allowing that. I recommend this movie.

Now occasionally you might get the urge to smack this kid upside the head. He is an idealist and lacks some common sense. He is so mad at his parents even as a college graduate because he fails to understand that as an adult, parents become people you visit, not people you live with you have a big hand in shaping your life. As an adult, you can make choices and shape your life if you want to do so. He is always ripping on what his parents are trying to do to, for or with him. He forgets that he just vanished from their radar screens and lived on his own for 2 years. Dude, you just made the independent move of all independent moves. You threw everything away. That showed your power but you were an idiot and constantly let the past drag you down. The other thing that he lacks common sense on is that he goes to Alaska to live off the land in the wild and brought one bag of rice. Seriously, bring more food than you expect to use. Just in case, R-tard. On top of that, you were in the 'wild' but you were on a common hunting path; that's how they found you. If you had truly been in the wilderness, you would never have been found.

As my wife and I both said, some therapy and hiking trips probably could have prevented this death. We also realized how many different guys in college this kid was like. This guy just happened to die. A lot of people want to unplug or check out of the system. Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. I think it's easy to get those feelings when you are in college: minimal responsiblity + lots of free time + liberal atmosphere + lots of weed and hallucinogenic drugs = disconnect from society... man. For a bit of life, my dream was to fish all day in the Caribbean or South Pacific and eat fruit and vegetables I could get. Live in a hut with a mosquito net and have maybe 10 articles of clothing. I noticed that idea faded a bit when I stopped with drugs.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

NFL Picks

Some quick picks (I am on a roll this year) and some thoughts on Thanksgiving....

BENGALS +1 over Titans - No Haynesworth, no money.
BROWNS -4 over Texans - I am a believer that the Browns will skid intot he playoffs and then collapse because they will have to play a team over .500.
Raiders +5 over CHIEFS - AFC West, blech.
Seahawks -3 over RAMS - NFC West, blech.
GIANTS -8 over Vikings - I think the Giants take this one and end up at 11-5 for the year.
BUCS -3 over Skins - I am not going with Campbell on the road. Not going to do it.
Saints -3 over PANTHERS - With David Carr invovled, the line should be about 8 or 9.
JAGUARS -7.5 over Bills - Because of all of Indy's injuries, I think the Jags will snag the division. I think it all depends on Marvin Harrison's health for the game next week.
CARDINALS -10 over 49ers - I feel bad for Frank Gore. How come the top 10 picks for the 49ers are not playing like top 10 picks? Who does their scouting?
Broncos +2 over BEARS - This line feels weird with how bad the Bears have played and how well the Broncos offense has come on recently.
CHARGERS -9 over Ravens - This Ravens offense needs an overhaul at the QB and WR positions this offseason. Either that or Billick goes.
STEELERS -16 over Dolphins - The Steelers D is a perfect blitzing scheme to use to confuse a rookie QB like John Beck.

The last game is the toughest to pick. How does an NFL team give 20+ points? This is the NFL, not college. I just can't bring myself to do this despite my belief in the Patriots' ability to go 19-0 this year. I'm going with my gut and saying....

Iggles +23 over PATRIOTS


The wife and I found our Christmas tree. Christmas trees here cost $80+ for the firs we know so well. We went with a Scotch Pine since it is really different looking from what we are used to and it was ohhhhh, $30 cheaper. I dislike decorating trees, so the wife did that. I brought it from the car, put it in the stand, and screwed things into place. As Rudolph's father says in the tv special "this is man's work". We went to downtown Indy on Friday night to watch this big lighting special. Really cool stuff. It was a family friendly event, and a brisk but not too cold night to walk around downtown at 8pm. On Sunday, we went to a movie "Into the Wild", which I will write about here later, and drank our asses off before the movie. You can even bring drinks into the theater. BRILLIANT!

Friday, November 23, 2007

A.J. Smith's Ego has Ruined the Chargers Super Bowl Chances

Post-Thanksgiving stomach pains have forced to to sit by the computer and drink some tea. The last two days have been a wonderful feast of good food and good football. One football franchise that I love to watch play in their powder blue home uniforms is the San Diego Chargers. great unis, great city, quality stars, and two cool nicknames "the bolts" and "super-char-gers". You have to sing song the superchargers because of the song. One thing that has bummed me out has been the odd course the Chargers have followed since 2003. From my vantage point, AJ Smith, their GM, has been a major cause of their problems. Even more to the point, his ego is the problem.

Going into the 2003 season, the Chargers had a mediocre offense and a below average defense . They did have a couple good things in place, LaDainian Tomlinson and Drew Brees, who were selected in the same draft by the previous GM in that great Vick for Picks trade. AJ Smith walked in, didn't like what he saw in Brees and made a decision to go get himself a QB of his own. The coach, Marty Schottenheimer, was not "his guy" either. Mind you, Brees was only 25 when the Chargers entered the 2004 draft with the number 1 selection (this feeds into my point of NFL teams expecting too much too soon from young QBs). Smith has wanted to impose his wishes and his vision on the franchise without anyone else's input.


Oh how great AJ Smith was to trade that number 1 pick (Eli Manning) for the bounty of picks from the Giants. Much is made of the Eli Manning trade, and how the Giants have not had a good return on the trade. I guess playoff appearances don't mean anything to them. Very little attention is paid to the Chargers end of the trade. The Chargers received Phillip Rivers, and other picks which turned into their kicker and a pro bowl LB (who does 'roids). The Chargers right now have a worse QB than either Brees or Manning, and they will be lucky to make the playoffs this year. Smith gave up on a 25 year old QB to get a new QB to develop, all the while their Hall of Fame running back keeps getting older. If Smith had given Brees another year and used that number 1 pick to trade for another type of player, the Chargers could be sitting pretty with a defense that not only has Shawne Merriman at LB & Castillo at DT but Sean Taylor at safety. Maybe they would run a two TE offense with Kellen Winslow Jr. along with Antonio Gates. Maybe they would have a real number 1 WR option for Brees in Roy Williams. These are a few of the high first round picks from that draft the Chargers could have picked up besides trading for another QB.


Once AJ Smith made that decision, he was locked into starting Rivers by year 3. The salary cap implications of a high first round pick are too costly to keep him on the bench. He could not forsee Brees turning inpro bowl seasons, but once that happened he could definitely have tried to either trade Brees for anything or dump Rivers off on another team. Smith sided with his guy, Rivers, and eventually allowed Brees, the clubhouse and Schottenheimer favorite, to leave for nothing. In his defense, Brees did have shoulder surgery and was damaged goods because of it, but Smith allowed the situation to arise with no compensation for his team. To let a pro bowl QB leave for nothing is a crime in the NFL. Why not franchise him the first time, but settle for one first round pick if you believe in Rivers so much? Why not offer him a real deal as you negotiate a trade of Rivers to fill in the blank team after a second stellar season? He made the game personal instead of keeping it business.


A glaring hole in the Chargers offense has been production from the WR spot. Smith recently traded a 2nd round pick for Chris Chambers (overpaid for him) to fix this problem. this is a bit late, but I give him credit for trying anything. It's bad when your passing attack with your guy at QB revolves around a TE and screen passes. Let's rewind things a bit. It's the 2005 draft. San Diego has two first round picks because of the Eli trade. They did pick up two good defensive players (Merriman and Castillo). Those picks made the 2006 defense what it was (along with Wade Phillips' blitz packages). What else could they have done? Hmmm, the Chargers could have used one of those first round picks as trade bait for Randy Phucking Moss. Yup, Moss was on the market, and the Chargers had a giant hole at WR. How on earth did they not use one of those picks to get Moss? Can you imagine an offense with the NFL's best WR (moss), the best RB (tomlinson), the best TE (gates) and one of the top 5 QBs (brees) in the NFL? I can. Think Dallas in '94 with Irvin/Emmitt/Aikman/Novacek.


The final wafer thing mint to this feast of bad moves or non-moves is the firing of Marty Schottenheimer and subsequent hiring of Norv Turner. Smith never liked Marty. Never. They did not get along from a personality standpoint nor saw eye to eye with what direction they wanted to go with the team. Marty did have a .588 winning pct as coach of the Chargers. The Chargers may have gone to the playoffs 3 years in a row if not for AJ Smith playing hardball with Antonio Gates concerning his contract negotiations costing them a loss in week 1, which kept them out of the playoffs. Yes, even as the number 1 seed in 2006 Marty lost a home playoff game in crushing fashion, which has happened to Marty quite a bit. Do you fire him? I said at the time yes, but only if you have a great guy who has been there before to step in (Vermeil & Parcells). If not, believe in your 'maestro' ability to build a team and your coach. The Chargers lost with so many weird little things not going their way. That, and an inability to use Tomlinson in the 4th quarter when he was carving the Patriots up all day. AJ Smith came out and supported Marty, watched the assistants leave for other coaching jobs, then fired him and replaced him with a recycled, failure of a coach: Norv Turner. If you get rid of Marty, either go for a top notch guy as I typed above or give the team to an assistant who will allow for some consistency from the 14-2 season. Cam Cameron and Wade Phillips both left for head coaching jobs, and I get the feeling both would have stayed if asked. AJ Smith hired Norv Turner probably with the idea that he had assembled such a great team any idiot could get them to the Super Bowl and Norv Turner is good at developing young QBs. This arrogance has caused Smith to put his "guys" into key spots. How might have the Chargers of 2006 done in the playoffs with Drew Brees at the helm instead of Rivers? What about the offense with Moss or Roy Williams added to it, or weak secondary with Sean Taylor added to it? What about this season with most of the coaching staff still intact or all intact? This arrogance has caused Smith to take hard stances at every turn. It has clouded his ability to make sound judgments to give his team the best chance to win football games.
*****Note: I am pretty biased concerning Drew Brees because I liked his college career and hoped the Cowboys would draft him. I also thought that the best 'player' in the 2004 NFL draft was Sean Taylor (followed by Larry Fitzgerald and Kellen Winslow). Run on sentence coming... I also felt that if you have a decent QB and Randy Moss is available for a first round pick and you have two picks, trade a goddamn pick and pick up the best pure athlete to ever play WR, it's a no brainer. Good QBs are hard to find so the Chargers could have received a 1st rounder for Brees. It's just too odd that the Chargers have actually received so little for what they have given up or traded for. I think the optimal arrangement would have been Eli for the bounty of picks which would have included Sean Taylor, but instead of Merriman, the Chargers would have traded that pick for Moss. The loss of Merriman's pass rushing skills would be partially covered defensively by the best young safety in the league and offensively by the long ball threat of Randy Moss.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving

This is my frist Thanksgiving away from home. I'm not really sad about it. I love the fact that my wife and I can enjoy the day together and spend quality time with each other. Because she works nights (and Saturdays) and I work days, we do not get to see each other a lot during the week. She has 3 ays off in a row, and we're going to do lots of stuff together.

This post is an excuse to show a pic of one of my favorite depictions of the American Home, "Freedom from Want", by Norman Rockwell. If you're wondering, that's me on the left with the nice head of dark hair, well situated eyebrows and giant grin at seeing good food. Thanksgiving is sliding down in importance because our consumer culture cannot "sell" you anything for this holiday. It's about food and family. I love Thanksgiving and will never skip over it for more Christmas Shopping. Bah.
Thanksgiving is a day of good memories for me. My mom always hosted Thanksgiving for her side of the family (the colder side). My mom must be adopted because she just does not fit in with them. On Wednesday nights before T-day, my aunt and cousins would come over. My mom, aunt, sister and cousin Erin would make all of the pies, stuffing etc that night, and my cousin James and I would play football outside witht he lights on or watch 80s action movies that my uncle normally did not let him watch. My sister also had to make bread which was my Gramma's (other side of the family) recipe. The house would smell so good.
Thanksgiving mornings were about sleeping in and watching the Macy's parade. I'm a big Snoopy fan, so I always tried to catch his balloon (he was just on in his fighter pilot gear). I did like seeing the marching bands from different schools. It made playing in a school band look cool. I'd get dressed in a sweater (it was Maine) and khaki pants. No jeans! My mom would put out fudge, which is absolutely amazing, at about noon. This was just enough time to spoil your meal. I could eat about a lb of that fudge in a sitting. Then drink some water and eat another lb. It's that good.
As people arrived, the lineup was usually, my family (mom, dad, sis), my mom's sister's family (mataunt, uncle, two cousins), my memere and pepere and then my memre's mom, Memere Tardiff. I was lucky as my great grandmother came to Thanksgiving meals up until I was in college. The meal was always good, and the kid table usually had decent conversation. When I was younger it was about cartoons and school, and when I was older it was about who was dating who and school. At the end of the meal, my great grandmother did the dishes. She did them so she could pick off leftover food from other people's plates. I would say I usualy at the most at the meal if you excluded my great grandmother finishing off plates while doing the dishes. After her death, kind of in honor of her, I did some dishes. I guess the biggest eater should.
After the meal, there was usually a 30 minute break before desserts. The men would go to our family room to watch the end of the Lions game, and the women would go to the living room to listen to Christmas music and talk about whatever women talk about when they get together. My uncle and pepere would usually doze off. When I was younger, my cousin and I would play one on one tackle football. If we were lucky, it would snow a little, but that was not often. We'd come in an dessert would be ready. Blueberry, apple, chocolate cream, pumpkin, lemon meringue (sp?) and pumpkin & cream pie. If you had an energy problem, a round of desserts would do you good. It would be sometime around 5ish when people would start to leave. My family would end up having a small bit of leftovers later if we had room. As I got older, I would visit my buddy Al's home, where his mom would require a plate of food to be eaten before I could sit down. A couple of years, she even made me my own pumpkin pie. I'd stay up watching movies with my friends and plan the annual Thanksgiving Friday football game. Hard to imagine this all fit into 16 hours.
I am so thankful for my life. When I see that Rockwell painting, it does remind me of my Thanksgivings growing up. I was lucky. I am lucky.

Turkey Day NFL picks

The one rule for Thanksgiving Day games si that at least one home team covers. This will happen. The home field advantage, short rest advantage, no travel advantage is so large that it is completely unfair for the visiting squads who should get a bye week ebfore the game. Either a bye or the home team cannot have a home game the week before (both home teams had home games lst week).

LIONS +3.5 over Packers - The Lions are frauds, but I can see the Lions pulling out a win in shootout.

COWBOYS -14 over Jets - The Cowboys will wear really ugly jerseys, but the Jets defense is overmatched and their offense will not put many points up.

FALCONS +12.5 over Colts - The Colts injured list is just too long, and this could be another 20-13 game. Manning does need some decent WRs and linemen.

I'm going with all 3 home teams. Just a hunch.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

NFL week 11 picks

JAGS -3 over Chargers
Jags at home over a shaky San Diego team? Anyday of the week. I will be writing about the San Diego GM and his dumb moves shortly.

Browns -2.5 over RAVENS
Until the Ravens bench McNair, I cannot take their offense seriously. McNabb needs to take note of how McNair has aged because all of those injuries have caught up with him. McNabb has not been a healthy, steady QB like Favre, Brady, Manning, and I forsee problems for him as his bumps and bruises grow and grow.

JETS +9.5 over Steelers
I can see the Mangenious scheming a good defense to make Bad Ben appear in this game for the Steelers.

Redskins +10 over COWBOYS
No matter how good or bad these teams are, the line for this rivalry should never be double digits. Never.

IGGLES -10 over Dolphins
Dolhpins on the road with a rookie QB, nope, no way am I laying it on the line for him.

Bucs -3 over FALCONS
The Falcons are using this musical QB routine, and I feel bad for Bobby Petrino. He comes in to design an offense around Mike Vick. Because Vick is in place and has not told them how bad the dogfighting things is, they trade Matt Schaub. Petrino then has to design an offense for failed QBs Joey Harrington and Byron Leftwich.

VIKINGS -5 over Raiders
The AFC west gets no respect from me. None. This game is tailor made for the Vikings offense, pound the rock.

BENGALS -3 over Cards
Cards on the road, no.

COLTS -15 over Chiefs
I do not see how the Chiefs can score in this game without LJ. Brodie Croyle is not NFL material despite having a hot fiancee.

Giants -3 over LIONS
The Lions are a fraud and will be exposed by these Giants. This game is made for the Giants pass rush. The Lions have also forgotten to run the ball. I am not surprised by this as Mike Martz is a jackass, but it's rather odd considering he has Kevin Jones and Tatum Bell to use in the backfield.

Saints +1 over TEXANS
I will stand by my prediction that the Saints will sneak into the playoffs by finishing 9-7 atop the NFC South. Not firmly, but I'll stand by it.

PACKERS -10 over Panthers
If you are the Panthers, you have to consider going after Derek Anderson, McNabb in free agency or drafting a QB in the first round. It's the glaring hole in their offense: the QB spot.

49ERS +3 over Rams
A home underdog, hmmmmmm, I'd take it. These teams both suck, so a home team getting points is a pretty welcoming site.

SEAHAWKS -5 over Bears
Seahawks have such a good home field advantage that they could wint heir division at 8-8, host a 11-5 wild card team like the Giants and phucking win. It's that good. I dislike the Seahawks severely.

Patriots -whatever over BILLS
The Pats should win by 30. They will go 19-0, prepare for the douchebag Patriots fans to bring this up for 10 more years. Why 10? Well isn't global warming going to kill us all in 10 years? Right Al Gore?

Titans +2 ovr BRONCOS
I dislike going against the home team on MNF, but it's an AFC West team. The Broncos run defense is bad, and this could end up being a 100 yard night for LenDale White which will take all of the pressure off Vince Young's bad QB skills.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Reality vs. Fantasy

The trilogy of Imaginationland episodes on South Park made me think of the idea of reality vs. fantasy. It's sad that a cartoon has dealt with serious issues on a regular basis more than any other show on TV. It got me thinking about reality, fantasy, what qualifies as real. I consider the material world to be nothing without the wonderful internal computer, aka the brain, making order of it all. Now if nothing is real without comprehension by the brain, then does that mean that things created by the brain within the mind count as real on some plane. Do the fantasies that happen hourly in our minds have some reality somewhere in the fog that is the conscious state?

I like to think of Walter Mitty, and how he lived much more vibrantly in his fantasies than in his daily life. I go back to my complaint to people who have sexual fantasies and call them fantasies rather than just admitting "it's what I want to do, the rest of the time I have sex I am making up a fantasy to appear acceptable to my partner". That sexual fantasy is the real you and what you really want. Don't hide behind that normal Joe mask. This partly ties into how I have come to view the internet 2.0. Internet 2.0 is the whole youtube/myspace/friendster me me me internet idea. It's generally a place where people engage in self glorification and market themselves how they wish to be seen. Along another vein, it is where people go when they have an idea or belief and only want to live in an echo chamber where that belief is backed up non-stop (see most political websites, peak oil sites, and financial blogs both bull and bear). It's a place where we plug in and interact and leave out the parts of the real world that bother us or distract us from seeking that 'real' reality that we want to be a part of or enjoy for the moment. I will not even touch the absurd voyeurism gone wild that Internet porn has unleashed.

My fantasy is to be truly happy and at peace. I try to make it my reality.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

NFL Week 10 Picks

Falcons +4 over PANTHERS
As long as Vinny or David Carr are at the helm, bet against them.

PACKERS -6 over Vikings
The Vikings at home, yes. The Vikings on the road versus the Packers passing attack, no way in hell.

Broncos +3 over CHIEFS
I don't care if this is a road game. The Chiefs are without Larry Johnson, so now their offense is below shitty. It's sub-shitty.

Bills -2.5 over DOLPHINS
I don't like the use of Losman. I see Edwards back in the starting role within a few weeks.

SAINTS -11.5 over Rams
The saints keep marching to the playoffs. Remember, bet against the Rams heavily as they are printing people money this season.

Browns +9.5 over STEELERS
This si too many points in a divisional match up with a completely different ball club than what the Steelers faced in week 1. Let down game for Pittsburgh as well. Joe Thomas for runner up for rookie of the year.

Jags +4 over TITANS
When Vince Young wins this team games with his arm, then I'll believe in him versus decent opponents.

Iggles +2.5 over SKINS
This skins team is about to hit skid row with a series of difficult match ups. We'll see how they are standing in a month. Jason Campbell = game manager of the year.

Bengals +4 over RAVENS
Willis McGahee should shoot Steve McNair on the Friday walk through. Shoot him. McNair is killing this team. They stall drives because he sucks so bad. I typed last year about how sad he looked.I can't believe I am typing this but bring in Boller!

CARDINALS -1 over Lions
These Lions are poseurs, and the Cardinals are solid at home. Remember, Cardinals at home = yes, Cardinals on the road = no.

Cowboys -2 over GIANTS
I'm not a homer. Read on. The Cowboys offense has too many weapons for the Giants defense. The Giants defense has a great pass rush against immobile QBs and smaller offensive lines. Dallas has a mobile QB and a huge offensive line. Who do the G-men have for LBs? No one. They need to bring a safety down to help cover Witten, which will open up passing lanes to Crayton and Owens. Dallas is going to score 30. I don't see the Giants keeping up with them with a banged up Burress, an inconsistent running game, and no WR besides Burress to step up.

Bears -3 over RAIDERS
Josh McCown is starting for the Raiders. This is a no brainer.

Colts -3.5 over CHARGERS
I might change this if the injured list keeps growing by game time. Peyton can't win with so many guys out.

SEAHAWKS -10 over 49ers
The 49ers offense is horrible. Truly horrible. Their defense is awful. They are playing on the road in one of the toughest stadiums in the league to visit. That's worth 10 false starts right there with their small handed QB and shitty O-line.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

So when are we going to do something about it?

Heard about a recent poll, and wanted to check it out for "reals". This recent poll shows that 63% of Americans responded yes to the question, "Have recent price increases in gasoline caused any financial hardship for you or your household" (italics are mine). If you scroll down this page, you will see that people have been feeling this pinch and cognizant of it for some time. The best part is the "who is to blame" question that shows 20% of people blame Prez Bush, and only 4% blame American drivers. Let's wake up people. In 14 months or so, we won't have Bush to kick around anymore. We'll need to face our problems for real. Gas prices are based on supply and demand, if demand keeps going up, then would not the drivers be partly to blame? Jesus, I feel like I am taking crazy pills.

Notice that nearly half of respondents have not changed their behaviors despite this causing hardship. If something causes hardship, it causes extreme privation or suffering. I am pretty sure a hardship would cause a change in behavior. We, as a people, have to either redefine how much this is bothering us, or act in a way that reflects that we value this as a hardship. I bet it really is just an "annoyance" right now for most folks. Why do I say that? Look at this graph. Light trucks have worse mpg ratings and can also be defined as SUVs. I know SUVs have a place in the market because of snow driving and portions on the nation that need 4 wheel drive for access (my home state especially). I also think we all can agree that the SUV craze of the last 15 years has baptized a lot of suburban and urban warriors into the SUV ranks. No, you do not need an SUV in Newton, Massachusetts. This data does not show a decrease in light truck sales. The year so far seems mostly in line with 2006, and not far off of 2005.
I'm waiting for the big change in behavior. I know markets work pretty quickly, so if this is such a hardship, do something about it. Don't just bitch. Think about this folks: a car that gets 24/32 mpg will use roughly half the gas of an SUV that gets 14/20 mpg. Stick with me through this crude math, but say the city mpg difference (the 14 vs. 24) over 15,000 miles in a year, equates to roughly 450 fewer gallons of gas a year. At $3 a gallon, which is causing such a hardship, this equates to nearly $1500 a year. I would love an extra $1500 a year. Gas is not going back down to $1 a gallon anytime soon, so the money you'd save over the life of a car (roughly 7 years) would be ~$10,000. I seriously do not understand why people would not switch what they are driving to save the money on gas. I know some people need trucks for jobs; that's cool. I also know that a lot of Moms and teenagers drive SUVs for the safety reasons. Look, if anyone should be worried on the road it's not you guys. It's the rest of us who have to watch out for your horrible driving armed with a 6,000 lb vehicle.
As my friend's mom used to shake her finger and say "Quit-cha-bit-chin". Do something. The gas will only be priced that high if the demand is there for it. I know it is a more inelastic demand (econ speak), but any changes can make an impact.
***Like refusing to buy anything made in China. I like that idea, and want to take it one step further. Many Americans own mutual funds through our 401ks. Many mutual funds have shares of Mattel. I say we use this shareholder-ownership power to write to demand they bring Chinese products to safety requirements or bring the jobs back to the Americas. Sounds like a movie, but I think it might work. Every journey starts with one step.

Purple Jesus

While in college, I thought Adrian Peterson would make a good pro. He has an amazing blend of power, speed, agility and acceleration. The one hang up: injuries. I hope he stays healthy. If he does, we could witness Walter Payton 2.0 for the next 10-12 years. Purple Jesus!
Note: Purple Jesus is not my nickname for Adrian Peterson, but it is the creation of Kissing Suzy Kolber. The funniest football writers on the web.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

NFL Week 9 Picks

On fire, and I plan on keeping it that way, untz.

BILLS +1 over Bengals
Marvin Lewis should be canned after this season. He can't scheme shit for that defense, and has no eye for picking players.

LIONS -3 over Broncos
God's team or the Born Again team will carry the day at home. I think that MNF loss at home in OT tot eh Packers will deflate the Boncos for a while. Ball crushing.

TITANS -4 over Panthers
As long as the Panthers start David Carr, gamble against him.

Packers +2 over CHIEFS
I do not believe in these Packers, but the Chiefs have no offense to keep up with them.

Chargers -7 over VIKINGS
Purple Jesus might be having the greatest rookie season since Randy Moss, but he is not beating the Chargers by himself.

49ERS +3.5 over Falcons
Bleh. This game is ungh.

SAINTS -3 over Jags
The Saints keep marching towards the playoffs. Mark my words, they will win the NFC South.

JETS +3.5 over Skins
This si more out of hatred for the Skins, but I am not sold on Jason Campbell at all.

BUCS -4 over Cardinals
Remember pickt he Cards when at home, bet against them on the road.

Seahawks +1 over BROWNS
I hope Derek Anderson gets paid this offseason with a fat contract for this one good year he is putting together.

RAIDERS -3 over Texans
Go with the crappy team at home.

Ravens +9 over STEELERS
This line is too high with the Ravens defense involved. Too high.

Patriots -6 over COLTS
Sad to admit, but I have to pick them. They will go 19-0.

Cowboys -3 over IGGLES
The window closes on the Reid-McNabb Iggles with a loss tonight. Dallas has too many weapons for the Iggles to keep up.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Only One Peak Matters

Peak Oil. Peak Grain. Peak Water. Peak Mayhem. Seriously, read the last sentence in that link. Peak Fidelity. Peak Technology. I think you get the point. The doomsday folks have been running with this peak idea for a while now. It feels like a redux of the '70s. I'm not going to touch on Global Warming, which I do believe in, but not in Al Gore "the world will end two days before the day after tomorrow" terms. I want to talk about one peak that happened that I think truly matters, and impacts everybody's life every single day. Peak Sex.

This impacts every person's daily routine. Every person's ability to smile a little more, sleep a little better, or have fewer stress headaches. Sexual interaction is one of the greatest gifts to humans on this planet. I think it's humans, dolphins and bonobo chimpanzees that have sex for fun. Sometime prior to 1980, maybe 1978, sex peaked for Americans. We have been offtrack ever since, slowly sliding down to the state of sexuality now.

What do I mean peaked? I know there has been a resurgence of sorts that started around the Millenium of very loose standards in sexuality best associated with spring break trips, young women's clothing, and the spread of ecstasy. Been there done that says America. Go back to the late 70s. It's the same damn clothes (halter top, big heels, hot pants), different epicenters (discos vs. Mexican/Florida beaches), and a different drug (cocaine). Here's the extra kicker of the '70s peak in sex that will always nail it for me: no HIV/AIDS.

Imagine a world where the worst news your doctor could say with relation to an STD was "you have herpes". For chrissake, we have ads on daytime TV that are openly confronting herpes, "Valtrex: It's about suppression". Nowadays, a person can go "woohoo", all I gotta do is take this super strong antibiotic, and I'm cool. Why cool? Well, it's a hell of a lot better than HIV. In a world with no HIV, condoms lose their importance as long as a lady is on the greatest drug ever invented that does not cause you to trip or hallucinate: the Pill.

No condom-pill sex. This was the topic of conversation between my friends and I when we were in college. Do you do it? Do you feel uncomfortable? Do you worry about HIV? Seriously, it's not like we were having sex with gay men from Fire Island or heroin IV needle abusers, and we were still worried. All of those years of HIV scare tactics in Health class worked wonders on us. We would yell to the moon and curse how the folks in the '70s had it so easy.
Some people like to say that sex is more open now, and things are all 'cool' now to talk about, people do more of a variety of things. Fuck you! You're a sadist or a masochist and go to bars geared towards that. Check history out and learn why you're called a Sadist. Oh you were in 3somes or orgies in college whooptedoo, Romans, Greeks and assorted other people were ahead of you. Had an open relationship and were pan-sexual? Ever hear of key parties. The boundaries have all been pushed and done before. There's really nowhere to go with sex. The internet really just makes porn easier to access, nothing really new. Sex is still an awesome gift we have, but we of course, abused it, and now have to couch our (society's) enjoyment of it for the rest of days. I do not forsee a pharmaceutical company creating Howard Chaykin's fictional maƱanacillin, no matter how profitable it would be. Because of this, I will declare sex as going through highs and lows, but with an absolute highwater mark on New Year's Eve of 1977 at some disco in NYC.
**Tongue is firmly in cheek with this entry. Grace Kelly appears in this entry because I won't post photos of my wife on this page, so Grace Kelly is the next beautiful woman I will put up for a post about sex.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Goulet...

....you will be missed.

Thanks for Gouleting so many songs. My friends in college accused me of Gouletification in my singing and called me Goulet for a semester. I have a good voice, they don't, phuck you guys! Thanks for doing those ESPN commercials in the early-mid 90s for college basketball that my sister and I loved. "You better watch or your gonna get a pop quiz, riiiiiiight in the kisser". Thanks for being a total ham in just about every role you took. Thanks for the awesome voice, saaaaaa-mooth. Thanks for that nut commercial last year. Thanks for Camelot.
One more thing, "Goulaaaaaaaaay".
Peace out, cub scout.

Favorite Fighter Pilots

My favorite pilots growing up....

Goose! The ultimate copilot. This guy was a good RIO and still found time to bampchickabompbommmmm with Meg Ryan. "Take me to bed or lose me forever" "Show me the way darling!" His tragic end in Top Gun still makes me misty. It's rather jarring no matter how much you may anticipate it. "Talk to me Goose..."

Snoopy. Seriously, the greatest dog to ever live in cartoon land. Phuck you Pluto, Odie and Goofy. This dog could drive a car, cook, mimic other animals, understand English & French, and to top it all off, had delusions and hallucinations of being a World War I fighter pilot. Most viewers probably think he is having a World War II flashback, but not, Charles Schultz went a step further and challenged you to learn about the Great War. Nothing was great about it, and it created more problems that it may have solved. Snoopy was a veteran of this war in his former lives, but did not free himself from his karmic bondage to the living Earth and reach enlightenment. Because of this, he was reincarnated as a dog, and had to suffer through Lucy's lame rants. If this is how you cope Snoopy, hang on Snoopy, Snoopy hang on (yes I know it's really Sloopy but go with it).

Monday, October 29, 2007

Dean Martin's "Baby It's Cold Outside"

All through my childhood and right up to this very day, I have had a weird relationship with Christmas music. Most of it sounds corny. Most of it is a rehash of another artist's work. Most of it is so lame. Still, there's something nice when it's December, cold, nightime, firelight flickering, the tree is up, cookies are out, and a familiar tune is playing in the background. Sometimes the moment hits, and I love hearing a Christmas song. My mom destroyed Christmas music when I was growing up by playing it from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day. It's in her blood, my Memere does the same thing. Despite the pain of listening to Randy Travis' version of Christmas classics or Madonna's "Santa Baby" growing up, I did find a crew of singers that I could listen to sing music non-stop: the Rat Pack. Above all others, I can listen to Dean Martin all day long singing about Rudy (a reindeer), Ol' Saint Nick, and being cold. The song that tops them all, and it's not a Christmas song, just a Winter themed song, is "Baby It's Cold Outside".

Let's break this song down: it is about Dean trying to get laid. How do I know? Listen to the lyrics. It's sung as a conversation between two young people who are courting, with the cheery 1950s female backup singers (probably all wearing garter belts and silk stockings) playing the role of the lady to Dean's bachelor. In the first verse, the female states twice, I've got to leave. She invokes the maternal worry & paternal threat to keep Dean at bay. What keeps her there? Maybe she'll have "just a half a drink more". Dean obliges. One of the very next lines is "Say, what's in this drink?". Obviously, Dean is trying hard to get her drunk to take advantage of her '50s style. The whole time Dean is coming up with comebacks to all of her excuses for leaving, and complimenting her at every turn. This is a way of picking up women known as the "Rule of 3". Three drinks or three compliments will usually get you to leave with a lady. The key to this whole verse is the line that the lady sings "at least I'm going to say that I tried", which implies that she is going to give in and get down (score one for Dean!) and knows he'll talk about it around town. Jerk.


Now let's take a moment to mention that in the crappy Rod Stewart-Dolly Parton remake from a couple years ago, they removed the half a drink more line. What? Two adults can't talk about how the woman drank a bit and made a mistake with a man? This is too shocking? Stupid. We've swung so far PC that the pendulum swing back will probably be very nasty.


What's great about the second verse is that this female part mentions three relatives in the second half: sister, brother, and maiden aunt (who is vicious). Who the fuck has a maiden aunt? Was she a school teacher who had to remain single as long as she taught? Is she some old mother hen that cockblocks swinging cats like Dean Martin? She couldn't find a man of her own so she hounds her niece? Ungh. Dean counters this by talking about her delicious lips twice. In the Dean version, the female sings "just a cigarette more", YEAHHHHHHHH! Awesome reference, back when smoking was an adult and supposedly glamourous thing to do. (Of course, the Stewart version does not says cigarette because adults deciding to smoke with their free will is bad). Beautiful touch to the song. Really sets the mind's film reel in motion.


The last verse has the lady asking for a comb, because they got frisky and she doesn't want her hair looking mussed up. I think after the delicious lips and cigarette references, we know why her hair is mussed up. Dean's like, why leave? We can get down again. She mentions the neighbors will talk or even just hint at things to be inferred by others. People were cooler then; now they'd just say "Jenny got drunk & phucked Dean last night, untz". Now, the coolest detail of the song is when Dean is replying to the tomorrow and implied lines he sings "think of my life long sorrow", like her shutting him down would wound him so much (skank), and then the topper "if you caught pneumonia and died". He's throwing the Hail Mary pass here, trying to get her to stay by making her fear death. I'm pretty sure at Brown University, what Dean and this girl do is considered rape.


****I'm a big Dean Martin fan. Smooth voice, smooth style, class, great hair, and smooth with the ladies. Look at the photo I attached in this post. Dean's hugging his girl. Dean's a good guy. He drew her in so tight that he could check out another girl without his main squeeze noticing. He's liked "oh yeah, i got a girl, i'm dependable, women, you can trust me". All the while, he's using that as bait for his lady train. Nice taste Dean, both ladies are foxy.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

NFL week 8 picks

More picks. A scare in the household healthwise has my mind elsewhere. Hopefully, when tests get back, all is clear. I do want to point out that I have been on a roll the last few weeks.

Browns -3 over RAMS
Proceed to print money. The Rams are getting 3 for being at home, so Vegas thinks the Browns are a TD better than the Rams. Sounds about right.

Lions +5 over BEARS
This seaosn is going down as the lost season for the Bears. I think this leads to a McNabb for a 1st round pick trade in the offseason. Reid is ballsy enough to do it, and the Bears could dominate the NFC and have a cakewalk to the Super Bowl with a solid QB option.

Jags +4 over BUCS
I see the Jags reverting to a ground game for the entire 60 mins and not letting Dr Quinn medicine QB throw the ball. The Jags will still find a way to give their QB 2 yard TD passes to ruin my fantasy football Fred Taylor draft pick.

Colts -7 over PANTHERS
Vinny Testaverde is the QB of the home team taking on one of the top 3 teams in the NFL which has a good pass defense. No way in hell are they covering.

Bills +3 over JETS
Taking the points in a crappy team matchup.

Steelers -4 over BENGALS
The Bengals defense is not forcing turnovers which was a key to the success they had the last two years. They are not spectacular on third down defense either, which means a lot of time on the field. Not going to work against quality teams.

VIKINGS +1.5 over Iggles
I can see Purple Jesus rushing for 100 yards in the game, which leads to a Vikes win of 10-7 or 13-7. The Iggles red zone offense has collapsed. They have no red zone threat that is credible to grind out the TDs. Inside the 20, space is crunched and Westbrook can't use his shifty moves as much. The similarities to McNabb and Cunningham are now scary. Besides the obvious positional, performance and racial similarities, they both carry offenses with no true number 1 receiver. They both carry offenses with no real RB. Sorry Westbrook fans, he just isn't a real RB. Oh really he is? Well explain to me why the Iggles throw for first downs when it is 3rd and 1 or 3rd and 2? The defense is amazing for both Iggles' teams, and they have guys running the team that would be better suited as coordinators for their respective specialties. How the ownership let this happen again is a shame.

Saints -3 over 49ers
The saints will march into the playoffs because of their weak division. It's starting to fall into place.

Giants -9 over Dolphins
Both teams should have flown to London a day earlier to adjust to the time change. This game will be plagued by sloppy play. G-men shoudl shut out the Dolhpins pathetic offense.

PATS -16 over Skins
I'm riding this Patriots running up the score trick for one more week. If the Skins had a good Qb like Carson Palmer, McNabb, Romo, etc. I would take them to cover because they have the defense and they have the weapons. They just have an efficient game manaing QB, not a true QB.

CHARGERS over Texans
The emotional lift for the Cali wildfires is going to propel the Chargers to victory, gather support across the league and propel them to the playoffs.

Raiders +7.5 over TITANS
I wonder how many games pass by with the Titans offense being one sided with rushing yardage versus passing before a sports columnist types the unthinkable. "Would not Kerry Collins be the better QB to lead this team?" Honestly, I hope this happens, because Vince Young doesn't win the games, their defense and rushing attack wisn the games for them. I am a big USC fan, so it warms my heart to see LenDale White and Reggie Bush both starting for their teams even though both are still only 22 (waaaaaaay younger than your average 2nd year RB out of a powerhouse college, paging Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson, Cadillac Williams). LenDale White watched his draft stock slip out of the top 15, then out of the first round because he was a bit hefty at the national championship game, he didn't run a 40 before the draft, and he had some behavioral issues. His college coach stood behind him, and LenDale eloquently stated that he was the only pure power RB in that entire draft. If you look at the backs chosen that draft, there is a ton of talent, but few that you think could be a 25 carry guy and goalline presence for the long haul.

BRONCOS -3 over Packers
I know it is Favre on a Monday night game, but the Broncos are at home and playing an inferior team compared to the squad they beat in a gutsy game last week. The Packers sham record will be on display as they start to run through the tough stretch of their schedule.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Book Review: Oryx and Crake

My first novel written by a feminist since college managed to drown me in a sea of wonderous and scary possibilities. Oryx and Crake is a novel set in a mid-21st century world where science has gone to extremes of possibilities with no ethical checks and society has devolved to the point where sex, drugs, and violence occupy most of an individual's free time. Oh yeah, there's also the classic global wamring angle. You will read bits of the novel and think "We're already doing something like this with microbiology/nanotechnology/solar power". Told in a manner that flashes back constantly, you know the end game of the story, but the tension for how the ending does come about is thrilling.

The book centers around the idea that science will keep progressing, dangerous environmental issues will continue to get worse, and society itself will keep sliding further and further down the shitter. It's not science fiction, but one of those wonderful "just real enough" ideas you could throw around with friends stoned out of your mind one Saturday night. The science is just an extension of what we have now. A bit scarier is the corporate manipulation of that science, and a touch of conspiracy theory-tinfoil hat makes you go "hey, i already think that about XYZ Inc". The science was interesting enough to make you imagine the reality of that world. Still, no book is complete without flesh and blood characters to guide it.

The main charcters and the world in which they existed was interesting enough. The haves and have nots have continued to separate, people are even more obsessed with looking perfect and young, violence and sex occupy most free thought in the young, and there's even the hint that voting doesn't matter anymore. Older folks wish for the older days "when it snowed", "when voting mattered", fill in the blank thing we have now that we take for granted. Oryx is a child sold into sex exploitation that Crake and the protagonist Snowman (Jimmy) see as teens on the net. They eventually meet up with her through random chance. Oryx reminded me of those former porn stars you randomly read about that leave the industry, find Jesus, find a steady job and try to put the past behind them. She was a sensible, realistic female character. Crake is the brainchild that makes the story truly move through his actions. Brilliant, tormented by his nightmares that he does not remember, and a throwback, Crake seemed like a reflection of myself and so many other kids I remember in college. Reading the passage of Jimmy's trip to visit Crake in college, I now know how some of my home friends felt when they came to visit me at my college. Crake seemed a man out of place with his world, and like the famous quote by George Bernard Shaw, "the reasonable man adapts himself to the world, the unreasonable man adapts the world to him, therefore all progress is due to teh unreasonable man".

There is one thing that bothered me with this book. The main protagonist, "Snowman" (Jimmy), is a giant dildo. He's an everyman character, from the spoiled upper class that has a bit of talent but nothign special. He is obsessed with sex, never really thinks about the big picture, and really annoys me. Is Snowman a swipe at modern young boys and men by a feminist author? I get that feeling at times. Thinking about it more, it feels more like a crying mother's description of what modern boys become through maternal neglect, bombardment with violence and sex at a young age, and an indifferent father, which is something boys already face in today's world. In some instances, I felt bad for Snowman. His shitty bi-polar mother, his corporate dad, his lack of a real connection to any woman and for that matter lack of friends. Other passages would have me rolling my eyes at a completely lame reaction to some plot point or completely idiotic move by Snowman (Jimmy). At one point, you will read the book and say "Jesus Christ Jimmy, how the phuck can't you see this coming! Stop thinking only of your dick!" Maybe that is the point. Maybe the author wants you to think how the protagonist did not put the pieces together to save mankind (if it deserved saving) because he was too busy with phucking some chick he has carried a weird fascination with since he was 14.

I do not want to spoil much and will not discuss the Crakers. I found them hysterical.

I'd give this 3 out of 5 stars. The world of Oryx and Crake is far more interesting than the characters of Oryx and Crake. It's a world I want to read about, and hope never comes to pass.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

NFL Week 7 Picks

I rocked with the picks last week, and I feel a bit good about this NFL seaosn as far as noticing the trends and picking the winners. I've been reading some new fiction and non-fiction books and trying to figure out some big picture things which I may write about soon. I think we as a society settle for mediocrity too much and in too docile of a manner.

BOYS - 9 over vikings Dallas will stack the line vs. Purple Jesus and force Tavaris Jackson the beat them. It won't work well for them. On the flip side, Minnesota's run defense is awesome, but their pass defense is horrible. This is not good when facing Romo and his cadre of options. The cowboys could enter the bye with a 6-1 record and a 3 week stretch of divisional foes that could determine the division title by week 12. If dallas swept, they would be up on the division foes by 2 games at the least and the tiebreaker over the giants. even going 2-1 would be solid and have them sitting at 8-2 with 6 games to go.

BILLS +3 over Ravens The ravens give me this paper champion feeling. they were very lucky in their run last year behind great special teams and defensive play with a sprinkling of lucky bounces on ill advised throws by McNair. They foolishly let Adalius Thomas go to the Pats, and that loss has not and will not be filled anytime soon. I can't believe I pikced them to win their division with the addition of McGahee. i still dont understand why ozzie newsoem keeps billick around. draft some o-linemen, grab a QB in free agency for the interim and try to get one big run with the defense you have right now.

LIONS -2 over Bucs I think the Colts showed teams how to stymie the Bucs offense. Oh yeah, the Bucs also are without their starting LT and RB. Garcia is a nice decision maker and can run a 2min drill. He just can't win games by himself at 38.

Pats -17 over Dolphins This line should be in the 20s. The Dolphins are old on defense and the Pats look unstoppable through the air right now. If the Dolphins can grind out drives with Ronnie Brown and keep throws to Moss to a minimum, they might be able to keep this to 31-17. i know the pats are primed for a 19-0 run but let's slow down as they have 1 win against a team over .500.

SAINTS -9 over Falcons With how ugly the NFC South is, the Saints could start the march to the playoffs with a second straight win. They need to tighten up their o-line blocking, make some tackles and get reggie bush to pound the holes rather than dance to them. The sked favors them with winnable games vs. the 49ers, rams, texans, panthers, bucs, falcons, cardinals and then two games that look much more winnable now comapred to a preseason vantage point: the iggles and bears. I count 9 more winnable games. Even at a realistic 7 of those 9, they would have 9 wins including this sunday if they beat the Falcons.

GIANTS -9 over 49ers The Giants are two more creampuff opponent wins away from getting everyone in the NY metro area to have high hopes. How trent dilfer is starting in the NFL at this day and age is a mystery. Is the NFL QB position that hard to fill with decent candidates? Have the 130 division 1 and 1aa schools failed that badly at prepping QBs for the pros? Yes. Yes they have. The spread offense has put a premium on QBs who can run first, throw second. This works in the college game because athleticism alone can win teams many ballgames, and a mobile QB can leave many 2nd and 3rd rate defenders in the dust. At the pro level, all fo that athleticism gets crammed into 1/3 the pool of eligible players. The LBs are suddenly faster, the Safeties tackle better. Mobile doesn't win like it could in college. Sorry Pat White. Therefore, the qualities that win at the QB position in college and diverging from the NFL requirements. Right now, many of the top programs in the nation have QBs who will not cut it in NFL style offenses but they surely can lead their teams to 8-4 or better records and good bowl games (most teams runnign the spread). It is a distinct possiblity that in 3 years, 4 teams in the NFL could be starting QBs from USC (Palmer, Leinart, Booty, Sanchez). Not solely because the talent is amazing for those QBs, but because they are the only guys who have run NFL style offenses during college against good competition. That's not right.

Cards +9 over SKINS The Skins are winning with defense and a running game. If you stuff the running game and then play a 2 deep zone man under, you should negate the deep to Moss plays, which kills their offense. I am not sold on Campbellas a QB, but as a game manager who is only asked to not throw INTs or fumble, he is ok. This might work vs. the Pats enough to cover witht he 10+ points they will get next week, but it isn't covering a 9 point lay vs. the cards.

TEXANS +1 over Titans The Texans are at home. The Titans are without vince young, which may not be a bad thing for their offense. I can see a Matt Schaub victory here and the people of Houston to feel a sense of pride. If they can scratch their way to .500 this season, it is a victory for their franchise. Their defense needs upgrading in the secondary.

BENGALS -6 over Jets Taking Cincy for two reasons: 1. Jets on the road, awul and 2. Jets defense, awful. Reality has caught up with the Jets, and this season is playing out as last season was suppose to play out. Last eyar, they were suppose to go 1-15 and draft Adrian peterson. Too bad they didn't.

RAIDERS -3 over Chiefs I'm going with the home team for this crappy AFC west match up. I sort of feel bad for Larry Johnson as he was destroyed by last season's workload, but then again, he is a punk. I found it funny that an upper middle to upper class kid could identify with a black coach better than to the white coach that grows grapes at a vinyard. I thought rich kids loved wine? I also don't understand why Priest Holmes is back. It's not the money, he's got plenty. He right now is playing russian roulette with his health. He'll be in a wheelchair in a few years because of this vanity project of coming back.

SEAHAWKS -8 over Rams I think I could make more money betting against the Rams than if I had a money printing press. Seriously, going against the Rams should be the lock pick for most people (the reverse fo the Pats covering). How the mighty offense has fallen. At this point, they could just keep losing, draft a giant LT in the top 5 and have a solid blocker for Bulger and Jackson next year.

Bears +5 over IGGLES The window has closed on these Iggles. It's over. They have never developed a running game, their QB is still recovering from his knee injury, and the WRs are horrible witht he exception of Kevin Curtis. The defense has a solid d-line and the secondary is ok but getting old and their LBs are unproven. I like takeo spikes but he is not the guy he was when he first signed with the bills after leaving that cincy hellhole.

Steelers -3.5 over BRONCOS Maybe shanahan can salvage something after the debacle at home against the chargers, but this steelers defense will be the best the broncos face this year. this could be one of those steelers games where they go up 21-3 at the half and then just pound the ball the entire 2nd half.

Colts -3 over JAGS The Jags are solid, but the Colts defense is a revamped, young beast compared to last season. The Jags will probably make the playoffs as a wild card but they just are not slowing Manning down. Manning is going to put up 24+ points, and I do not see the Jags doing that to this Colts defense.The Jags have had a problem with putting up points this year, and for some reason they are not pounding the ball as efficiently as last year in the red zone. If the Colts win this game, they have the afc south pretty much locked down. If they win, they will have the remaining 3 division games at home and have a 2 game lead on everyone in their division.