Thursday, October 11, 2007

Monday, April 02, 2007

Under Pressure

First of all, I'm a genius. Chris Richard, yasay!

This is the first time since my freshman year in college that I have a shot at winning a tourney pool - (I finished 3rd that time. Why I remember that is because I'm a self-aggrandizing prick, obviously...) Right now, I'm only scared of one thing:

Actually, I'm more scared of Al Horford and Corey Brewer, but as the newspapermen say, I got art.

Who the hell is going to guard Brewer? He's got 4+ inches on anyone OSU can possibly stick on him, unless they try Ivan Harris, who would get turned into a turnstile. Maybe a zone? Florida has a lot of shooters though, especially if Brewer is hitting agian.

To my mind, tonight's championship turns on two things - Oden's ability to stay on the floor, as OSU will get zero defensive rebounds if he is out, and how badly Mick Conley outplays Taurean Green. If Green plays like he did on Saturday, Florida might have problems. It wasn't that he played badly, though he did, it's that he played like an asshole. You know the guy at the gym who wants everyone to know he's really too good to be playing with the likes of you? That was Green. In the national semifinals. While basically crapping the bed (or shaving points? I don't know what the line was, so I can't comment, but if one were to shave, dribbling the ball off of one's foot 4 straight times in the closing stages of a blowout would be a decent start. Just saying.)

I still think Daequan Cook is due for a huge game, and they might need him.

Though my heart wants OSU (both because I have only picked Florida by default and for, erm, other reasons. 2nd prize is a set of steak knives), my head says that the game is Florida's to lose. Of course, looking at my record of past predictions, this makes me feel better about my chances, in a sort of self-imposed triple-whammy-hex fashion...

And as I eat my very leavened breakfast bagel, happy Passover, all...

Friday, March 30, 2007

Long Awaited And Anticipated (Final 4)

So, second things first, my dislike of UCLA Crappy Big Ten/Big East Team West is pretty well established , even without Jordan Farmar's coif. So I don't need to say that I'm rooting for Florida. But I'll say it anyway: Go Gators! Seriously, I hate this UCLA team this much:

Yup, that's my guy. Even if he is an NBA bust. (Sub conscious says "just like Vince Young, genius?")

As to the substance of the game, who on UCLA guards Corey Brewer or Al Horford? Lorenzo Matta weighs about 79 pounds, 43 of them in his schnozz, so he might get bullied. Luc Richard Mbah! Mbah! Mbah! a Moute has regressed, and seems to have caught a little of the Lou Roe* syndrome - as in "I'm not big enough to be a full time interior guy in The League, so watch me hit this J. Ok that was ugly, but watch this one. No seriously guys, the next one's money, I'm due!"

As for Brewer, UCLA did a pretty good job on Brandon Rush, but I think Brewer is a little tougher, so he'll be able to do some things. And if they have to help on Horford especially, that means open looks for Green and Humphrey. Bad news. On the other end, how does UCLA score? They can't really play their usual chuck-and-chase because the Gators have a bunch of big bodies, included Chris Richard, who I think would be a college star at any other school. (I'd take him over D.J. White or Mario Boggan to name two examples.) Brewer will be a tough matchup for Aflallo, who's also due for one of his periodic 4-17 games, and if Green or Humprhey (an underrated defender) can't contain Collison, Brewer could do that as well, in a pinch. Bottom line, UCLA has to play and shoot great while Florida plays mediocre or worse for the Bruins to have a chance. Florida by 11, not really that close though.

But the early game is the big daddy. Ohio State, Georgetown. Oden vs. Hibbert. The question is, who for OSU guards Jeff Green? Certainly not Oden, else he fouls out in 20 minutes of action. Ivan Harris is tall, but...he's tall. Ron Lewis or Jamar Butler? Plus G'Town has a bunch of other big, active bodies (including Ewing's kid, who's actual kinda good). This leads me to believe that OSU plays a lot of zone, unless Thad Motta is an idiot. Of course, judging by his coaching performance vs. Xavier, Thad Motta might be an idiot. If he wises up, G'Town's guards have to make shots from the outside. They can, but will they. On the other end, Georgetown also has matchup problems, especially if Oden can get Hibbert in foul trouble and/or tired, as I don't think Wallace or Sapp can stay in front of Conley. Butler, Lewis and Cook (who is so due for a huge game off the bench, I add) will get into the lane and create open looks for each other, and Harris, and dunks/putbacks for Oden. I see this as being a really entertaining, high scoring game that will turn on OSU's defense - if they keep Green from going off, they win.

Relatedly, if OSU beats Florida for the title, I win my office pool. So the above picks are completely unbiased.

* Just check out the box on the right at the link - it reads like the Early 90s Bust No Stars. Can you go wrong if you are in the same company as Shawn Respert and Beta Tyler Hansbrough (aka Eric Montross)?

99 8 Luftballoons

Just when I thought birthday week was over, they pull me back in. Seriously, it was great standing in line to buy a hotdog with a bustle of balloons strapped to my wrist, as my former boss, The Judge walks past and says hi. Very professional.

You who are responsible know who you are, and revenge will be mine. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but oh yes, it will be mine.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Things on Thursday

  • I think I forgot to comment on the series finale of "Rome". In the early part of this season, I thought S1 was stronger, for the simple reason of narrative clarity in the Ceasar-Pompeii and Attia-Servillia arcs. However, the back half of S2 really worked for me. Part of it was how the Vorenus/Pullo storyline had an almost Lethal Weaponish buddy-cop feel to it. I also enjoyed how the show made us sympathize with perhaps its redeemable character, Attia. In another milieu, I would have expected to hear Elton John playing in the background during the coronation sequence.
  • Speaking of gritty TV, The Shield" is back next Tuesday. Like all shows based on shock value, the plot has gotten pretty ridiculous, almost 24ish. But, Forrest Whitaker is still around to battle Vic Mackey. Good times.
  • I mentioned last week that I've started playing a little of teh poker again. Just to brag a little, I won two free tourneys for a total of $2000 or so. Of course, if you allow me to bore you with the details, you'll see that skill had very little to do with any of it. ("I have aces, I guess I call...") But nice to know that I still play goot.
  • For some reason, this doesn't bother me at all. Even though, I guess it's a slur of sorts. Update: See also DLIC at FreeDarko. Also, this was pretty much the first thing that occurred to me as well:

  • 30 is the new twenty. This being my birthday week, I like Captain Picard, "make it so."

Final Four preview tomorrow. Promise. Also, Suns-Mavs on Sunday. I'm FAR more excited for that game than for any alleged basketball game involving the UCLA rugby squad. Maybe they should let them Haka after the national anthem to make sure we get the mood right. With Darren Collison, they remind me of a less tatted and feloned version of the Huggins Cincinnati teams - (Bobby Brannen, yasay!)

a bunch of physical defenders with no discernible basketball skills, and one skilled played who shoots jumpers and works on ball-handling while the rest of the team lifts weights and hits the blocking sled.*

* J-dubs himself has several discernible basketball skills, however. Mostly hitting turnaround J's and convincing refs to hit him with nickel-dime fouls, but whatever. Also, wish I had a picture of him with frosted hair, all he'd really need then is the kick-ass barb-wire tat, and he'd never need a Halloween costume again.


The rumors are true, I am no longer as young as I used to be...

And as a birthday present, I've been slammed at work all week. The civil attorneys out there, groan along with me when I say "deadline for discovery response."

Hopefully, by tommorow, I'll even have time to take requests and preview the Final Four.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I Pick Good

3 of 4, and really, I was right about how the Memphis, A&M game played out. Acie just let me down by missing an open three and a layup. Seriously, Memphis got terrible shots every possession in the last two minutes, and only won because they kept throwing up massive bricks that A&M couldn't rebound.

Southern Illinois wreacked all kinds of havoc when Kansas tried to run a nice, pretty offense. SIU just couldn't stop Kansas once KU said "ok Brandon/Mario/Russell" (Russell Robinson, yasay!) "beat your guy, and get us a shot." And since Kansas has 3+ lotto picks, and SIU has several future quality pros in the Euroleague, this worked quite well, thank you.

UCLA-PITT? FIRST DOWN. Aaron Gray is a huge wuss.

OSU - TENN. Tennessee got them playing fast, and once OSU started making shots...And Greg Oden, smile for heaven's sake...

Anyway for tommorow, Butler and Vandy will simply be overmatched against Florida and G'Town, though Vandy might keep it close if GT's guards can't make shots, and Vandy is decent from 3. Oregon probably has too much quickness for UNLV, and I think UNC's depth wears USC down in the last 8 minutes or so - the legs go, they miss some chippies and some FT's and Carolina goes on a 10-2 spurt and wins by about 7.

Things On Thursday

  • I don't usually read the local paper, because it's the local Anchorage paper. But, occasionally something perks my interest: this kind of headline (big letters, above the fold) pretty much guaranteed that I'm in. As to the substance of the article, I liked that movie better the first time. Or the maybe this first time. Whatever, still good stuff...
  • Simba has a good one on the evil that is Billy Packer. Simmons is far more generous than I in explaining the essential Grinchness that is BP:
    Here's the problem: Packer loves basketball a little too much. He doesn't grasp its entertainment value simply because he can't see it. He's too busy wondering why a coach won't switch to a 2-3 zone or why a team has stopped pounding it inside or why they won't foul to stop the clock when they still have two to give. Trapped in the nuances of the game, it's like Packer has stumbled into the giant maze in "The Shining" and can't escape.
    Perhaps. Or he's just a dick. Whatever. Also see Simmons on the Rick Barnes-D.J. Augustin conspiracy to keep Kevin Durant in college.
  • Upon repeated recommendations from Papa Pooh, finally watched "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada". And it was...weird. All the performances were good, the visuals were beautiful, but nothing was resolved in the end (which is I guess the point), and the non-linear story-telling was confusing due to the lack of visual cues as to which time frame each scene was set. 7/10.
  • In worrying news, I've started playing teh poker again recently. A few things. A) I'm still pretty decent. B) There are a lot of people who know how to play, but have no idea how to play. C) I like free money. At this point, we're only playing live games at friends house's, since getting money into or out of online poker sites is dicey, as our former GOP congressional overlords thought that combating online poker was more important than little things like passing budgets or winning wars.
  • I'm crippled in my favorite pool though still alive in the office pool (if Pitt beats UCLA, I'm in very good shape, actually). As for who I actually think wins today? Texas A&M over Memphis, since Memphis hasn't played anybody all season, and Acie Law is dominant in the clutch - classic tight game, late game choke from the more talented Tigers in this one. Kansas has way, way, way too much for Southern Illinois - KU has 4+ guys who can create their own shot, or make plays for others. As good as SIU's defense is, can they guard Julian Wright and Brandon Rush at the same time? Plus, I think Sherron Collins can make plays from the point, even against (or especially against, given his bowling ball style) physical defense. I think Tennessee's speed forces Ohio State to play fast. Which is unfortunate for UT, because I think OSU plays better when they go small with Conley, Butler, Lewis and Cook playing with Oden. Thad Motta could conceivably try and murder the Buckeyes again, (Xavier ran the same play about 10 times in a row - high pick and roll with Oden's guy setting the pick, giving him the ball 20 feet away from the basket, taking Oden off the dribble - without OSU having an inkling of stopping it, and Motta didn't make any adjustments. Like you know, putting Oden on a guy who couldn't dribble or something) but Buckeyes by 8 or so is the pick. UCLA beats Pitt in a shootout after another boring nil-nil draw.

Monday, March 19, 2007


No time today to really collate my weekend tourney thoughts, especially because Sunday's games were, in general, snooze inducing. It's almost as if the teams were as worn out from Saturday's games as we all were.

No, this is simply to pass along a quite perceptive comparison overheard at FreeDarko:

Though, I think the best comparison for Durant is sort of an evolutionary

This implicates one of the subtle ways in which race and basketball are inextricably linked. White players only get compared to other white players. Black players are never compared to white players. (By compared, I should probably say "analogized," since how you come out on the Magic/Bird comparison can probably still get you beat up in LA and/or Boston.) This holds, even for players whose games are "blacker" or "whiter" than their ethnicity might suggest. Jason Williams was only ever compared to Maravich, whereas someone like Nick Van Exel would have been a better match. Similarly, Rip Hamilton is always presented as the heir to Reggie Miller, when really he's pretty much the modern day Havlicheck. And the thing is, this unwillingness to make cross-racial comparison is so deeply ingrained that it took me about 20 minutes to think of the two just listed.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The "Gunk" (And Duke Demise Thoughts)

I get sick twice a year. Once in October, once in March. This being March, I have what I like to call "The Gunk". Bad times, especially during the Madness. (I have little to add to the volumes already written, other than to say that losing a really good game to VCU was about as much credit as Duke could have possibly gotten from this tourney. They would probably have lost by about 20 to an awful Pitt team - take VCU in that one, kids - in the second round. At least now people can say "hey, that Paulus ain't so bad" and look forward to next year. Except he is so bad, you have seen his absolute peak. Meanwhile, McRoberts appears to have a bad case of the Shavliks, wherein he gets worse every year. Also, the UNC fans are really classy, giving standing ovations when their team makes fast break threes to go up 22 with 3 minutes left against a number 16 seed. Who had them terrified when it was a 4 point game. I hate you, Roy Williams, drink your Coke and STFU already.)

On the plus side, my abdominal muscles are getting a great work out from all the coughing - surprised that no one has come out with that video workout yet. Looking at you, Billy Blanks.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Bling, er, Bling?

The Black card is proof that people will spend sickening amounts of money for the privilege of spending yet more money each year. The best thing about it is the occasional good Clipse rhyme it inspires.

Oh yeah, and it does look kinda cool in person. I had a customer use one once when I worked retail, and it inspired long discussions of what the perfect ostentatious credit card would look like.
Let me take a gander: Diamond encrusted with flashing LED's oscillating between the symbols for various currencies, and a sound chip that yelled out "I'm rich, Bitch!" every-time it gets swiped.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

5 Things On Thursday

  • Wha? No, seriously, WTF? There are so many questions I have for which I'm truly afraid of the answer. I mean, if that is in the employee handbook to begin with? "Even if a passenger requests such an action"? Also, Tim makes a salient point:
    I have long believed that Northwest Airlines is not only the worst airline in America, but is in the running as being the worst corporation in the country.
    The Kevin McHale of the airline industry, perhaps?
  • I am mystified by the SternBot's latest. (Though this is funny, and I think Gerald Henderson, Jr. feels the same way) Mr. Commissioner, whatever image problem your league has, this is not the method for solving it: When Pac-Man Jones is the NBA's fault too, suspending people for accidental collisions seems like kicking the dog because you got into a car wreck. Basketball is a contact sport, people get hit in the face, and benching one of the league's marquee attractions for his only appearance in certain cities...just ugh.

  • Rome has been quite good this season. Superior to last season, I think. Though the actor that replaced Max Pirkis as Octavian doesn't do much for me ('inscrutable' works much better for showing intelligence for a 14-year old than it does for a twentysomething. Then he just looks like a bad actor.) For me, the show is meant as something of a rebuke to those who prattle on about the "decline of Western Civilization." Given the Romans, we seem to be doing quite well, so far as such things go.
  • Sudoku is the proof that the devil makes mischief for idle hands.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

"Black Snake Moan"

Watching this film may be the closest you'll ever come to seeing what the blues actually looks like. It's dirty, and it's stinky, but most of all, it's something that comes from within a person's soul.
- Frank Wilkins, Real Talk Movie Revies
If you're only going to see one movie featuring Sam Jackson with a reptilian title...actually, I neither want to finish the joke, nor google to see how many people have already beaten me to it.

BUT, I actually quite liked "BSM." Considering that it is the sophomore effort from Craig Brewer of "Hustle & Flow" fame, and it features Samuel L. Jackson, the Dirty-South blues, and Sam Jackson unabashedly channeling the late, exceedingly great R.L. Burnside (the film is dedicated to Burnside), my operative term for this one was "Wheelhouse" from the moment I heard about it.

And then I heard a little about the plot. What the hell is Christina Ricci doing in here? And then I saw the first preview last fall sometime (shown prior to Jackass 2, no less. A ringing endorsement for film quality.) 'Yes' I thought, 'Sam, why do you got her chained?' I became skeptical as to how this could possibly work. All my favorite feminists were predictably appalled.

And in truth, it doesn't work. But, Brewer knows that the whole premise is instantly risible. Instead of trying to make it believable, he ratchets the whole thing up to eleven so you're never really sure if he's serious or not. And many of the individual pieces are just right. The southern-fried atmospherics are perfect - watching in a theater carved out of the frozen tundra, it still felt sweaty and insect-filled. Jackson plays the perfect combo of broken-down and explosive-tempered - I'd have no problem seeing him whip out an actual Ass Pocket of Whiskey, and take a slug, as he drives his tractor.

And the music...first, see the quoted lead. Second, much like "Hustle & Flow" (and "8 Mile" as well), the palpable love, reverence even, that the film has for the redemptive power of the music is what makes the whole thing go. Third, the juke-joint scene near the end should (but obviously won't) retire the 'sweaty dance-club' genre of music videos. As Kenny the Jet would say "it's over, ladies and gentleman."

Somethings work less well. S. Epatha Merkeson has the only really thankless role in the piece. Ricci's performance is good. The problem is, like with Halle Berry in "Monster's Ball", her physical attractiveness is almost a distraction. If the movie was played completely straight, this would be a fatal flaw, but as a quasi-exploitation flick, Brewer just about gets away with it. Given the parallels between Jackson and Ricci's relationship here and that of DJay and Nola in "Hustle & Flow" one is almost forced to wonder about aspects of Brewer's personal history - "H&F" was unabashedly autobiographical, whereas BSM almost has to be more allegorical. But still, that this aspect was so similar in both it does make one think.

In the end, the movie adds up to something slightly less than the sum of its parts, certain dramatic shifts seem overly, well, dramatic, and the conclusion is all too neat. After a fully unique first 2/3rds, Brewer loses the courage that got him to that point.

As a final note, like it or not, 'Black Snake Moan' is unique. Given the excessively homogenized, focus-tested mess that is major American film-making today, I'm all for that. The best possible outcome is that someone will see the film as overtly misogynist and/or racist and make their own, similarly novel, movie almost as a response. I'm not holding my breath, however.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Guess Who's Back...

And there was much rejoicing, like we just ate Brave Sir Robin's minstrels.

Anyway, for those of you who didn't know, my extended absence was occasioned by...the occasion of the Alaska Bar Exam. In an effort to minimize my online time, and therefore maximize the studying, I rather cut myself off from the internet.

I didn't check email, I didn't surf, I didn't read or write blogs/comments. Heck I barely answered the phone...(thanks for the kind wishes those of you who provided them...) And for some reason, bar exam and studying therefore aside (how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?) this was kind of awesome. Except for the 600+ emails I have to sift through now...anyway, a lot happened while I was gone, but I can only review so much:
  • The Departed was not the best movie of last year. I think we all know that. The problem is, can anyone think of a movie that was worhty of being called "the best"? For all intents and purposes, I thought "Little Miss Sunshine" was the betterest movie of 2006, but calling it "the best" is a bit like drafting Andrew Bogut #1 overall. Is that all there is? Reese Witherspoon should have won something, just so she could have come onstage again. Al Gore is not running, he was funny, twice, and no politician actually running is going to risk that.
  • That Texas-Texas A&M game was all kinds of awesome. Acie Law yelling "That's what I Do!" at his teammates after making some ludicrous game saving three is why I love college hoops. Reminiscent of Cat Mobley telling Dickie V. of the guy guarding him "I'm busting that ass..."
  • Tyler Hansbrough needs to stop letting himself be compared to Eric Montross. He should probably transfer to avoid it, at this point. Big gangly white kid? Check. Star for UNC? Check. Bleeds easily against Duke? Check. Vastly overrated pro prospect? Transfer, young man, transfer.
  • I liked "The Black Donnellys" better the first time when it was called "The Godfather".
  • Immediate post-exam observation: There is nothing worse than waking up smelling like last night's cigarettes. I spent most of the weekend in the shower trying to wash the smell off. That, and I couldn't really complete the thought required to turn it off and get out...

Friday, February 09, 2007

Slowing My Roll

While it may seem like I'm on something of an anti-LeBronikova kick, that's only because I am. That said, my inflated expectations might be getting the better of my judgment:
James' 2005-06 season was more extraordinary than most people realize. In fact, since 1979-80 (the first season for Magic Johnson and Larry Bird), James had the best Player Efficiency Rating for any non-center age 18 to 22, posting a 28.1 PER at age 21. In other words, during those 27 years, only Shaquille O'Neal put up a better statistical season by age 22.

James easily outpaced Michael Jordan, Amare Stoudemire, Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant and all the rest.

Naturally, now we expect more from James. It comes with the territory.

Instead, James has tailed off.

That doesn't mean he's having a bad season -- far from it. He just turned 22, and his current PER of 23.7 would be the 10th best (since 1979-80) for players age 18 to 22. (emphasis mine)
"Still really good" isn't a complete rebuttal of "should be better," but it would be churlish not to admit that he's still quite useful, despite teammates who could charitably be described by my friend Retz as "blowing donk".

And while I'm speaking of ludicrous expectations, we may need to hold an intervention for Simmons:
Anyway, when Chad Ford wrote that Oden had more upside than Durant last week, we had a lively e-mail exchange about it, with my basic point being, "Look, Oden has a chance to be one of the best five centers ever ... Durant has a chance to be one of the best FIVE PLAYERS ever" and Chad qualifying his point by discussing overall impact on a team (if you draft Oden, you're more likely to win a title because franchise centers invariably win titles … well, unless they're Patrick Ewing). We could go round and round on this, and over the next few months, we probably will. All I know is that MJ was the last guy since Wilt to crack 37 a game in the pros … and Kevin Durant will be joining him in 5-6 years if he stays healthy. That's not even hyperbole. I don't see anyone stopping him. But will his rebounding/shotblocking catch up to the rest of his game? And will his teams ultimately win? Those are the looming questions.
When someone describes something as not even hyperbole, the chances of the statement in question being hyperbole approach 164%. And that's not even...But pedantry aside, what? I've been on the Durant bandwagon for a while yet (he was the most impressive player, by a mile, in the McDonald's game last year), but 37 per game? In today's NBA? If someone was going to do it, wouldn't it have been Kobe, last year?

Simmons is setting himself up for a big fall here. There's really no way this ends well for him. Either the Celtics get the #1 pick, take Oden (like they should), and he's bitter that they didn't take Durant, who wins RoY going away; or, they get the #2 pick, take Durant, and he doesn't live up to Simba's advance billing; or between the gleeful espousal of fantanking and his glorification of Oden/Durant over everyone else, they get the #3 pick, just to prove that Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish are not walking through that door.


Injuries are never funny. Except when they are.

Tyrus Thomas on being invited to the NBA Slam Dunk Contest:
"I'm just going to go out there, get my check and call it a day," Thomas said.

Asked if an opportunity to rub elbows with some of the game's greats could be beneficial for a rookie, Thomas kept unlacing.

"I'm just into the free money," he said. "That's it. I'll just do whatever when I get out there."
Tyrus Thomas, trying to get some in-game practice:

2 thoughts. First, the Kevin Martin 3 at the other end is about an 85% shot in that situation. Shaq probably makes 3 of 5 from there in this sequence. Second:

Update: As about 7,000 people have pointed out, the best thing to come out of this might be James White in the Dunk Contest. If he catches the third one in this video, it will be the greatest dunk I've ever seen...

Scratch My Back, Baby

Well played, RIA. Since my personal favorite Thorogood & The Destroyers song is not really available on YouTube (this does not count. I love George, and I loved LoTR, but they go together about as well as milk and orange juice,) I'm going to flip the script and go a different direction:

Your move.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Profanely Serious

Note: This is not the greatest post in the world. I wrote it, and then blogger ate it. This is just a tribute.
Writing is a revelatory thing. Use of ALL CAPS is a shout; use of profanity to me reflects unseriousness
-Some dude
Writing is a revelatory thing. The words chosen can demonstrate flippancy and frivolity. You can demonstrate passion and anger. Or you can wow with dispassionate analysis. That much I agree with, but can we please put to bed the notion that profanity renders an opinion unserious? This dismissiveness is both galling and lazy. (Speaking of dismissals, John Edwards has apparently told those like the above quoted to sit and spin. Good. And speaking further of dismissiveness, is calling him "some dude" dismissive? Damn right it is. Deal.)

I try to not swear a whole lot on this here blog. I'm not exactly sure why, since I've dropped an F-bomb or two in my day. Partially it's that my dad reads, but that makes so sense since he swears like a sailor, especially when driving. Partially, it's that I'm not entirely sure who reads this. (Hey Boss! I'll get those TPS reports to you just as soon as I finish some important business.) Mostly it's that given what I actually write ("have polemic" and all), I worry that full on pottymouthitude will push me from "angry, but in a cute and cuddly way" to "scary."


That's my preference, and I'm certainly not offended, shocked or scandalized when I four-letter word appears on my screen. Certainly a string of profanities can be inarticulate, but then so can posts attempting to use all kinds of $10 words that don't mean what you think they mean.

Second, the suggestion that profanity is not expressive, nor a means to conduct information is demonstrably false:

Third, we aren't writing academic papers, nor are we delivering speeches or testifying in court. We're blogging. Part of the appeal of blogging is the immediacy of "just talking". To signal this informality, we might slip into a more familiar form of address. By which I mean calling our friends assholes for continuously bullshitting us. It means we're relaxed and comfortable. As much as I might like to rise up on my hind legs in court and say "Objection: The witness is bullshitting, your honor" that might fall short of the standard of proper decorum. And maybe I want to leave decorum at my office.

This isn't to say that all or even a majority of the naughty words printed on these here intertrons are meant to signal clubbishness, or embody a chosen vernacular. Sometimes they are just expressions of raw id. Sometimes they are meant to wound. But the passion inherent in all of this emoting is can hardly be anything but serious.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"Oh, Indeed"

John Hollinger ($, bitches) came out with his top ten least improved players in the NBA this year, and, surprise, surprise:
2. LeBron James, Cavaliers

James was my pick for MVP a year ago, and like many I thought he'd pretty much take over the league this season. What we've seen instead is a surprising slip backward, including a dip in scoring numbers and a puzzling slump from the free-throw line.

It's easy to blame exhaustion from the world championship, but Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki played in the same tournament, and both are dominating. A better explanation might be Cleveland's lack of a real point guard, which doesn't allow James to play off the ball more.

Or...he doesn't really give a crap?


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

"Good Character Guys"

I made a snotty aside to this in my SB post, ("God hates Chicago"), but overt religiosity by athletes/coaches has always bugged me. First, I suspect that the whole point-to-the-sky thing is a less overt version of the sack dance. Yet another way of saying "look at me." Poster child for this was always Cris Carter, who was by most accounts a complete prick during his playing days. So, color me cynical when I suggest that his 'thanks-to-God' schtick was just that*. Second, there's the sheer ridiculousness and arrogance of suggesting that God cares about a football game. I'm reminded of the Chris Rock bit where, imitating a losing boxer interviewed after the fight, he says "I was doing fine, until Jesus came down and busted me in my ribs." Third, what are we really talking about here? Tony Dungy, such a great guy. Except when he isn't (via Dwil):
Virtually every article about Colts coach Tony Dungy praises him as a devoted family man of deep religious values. But Dungy’s values do not extend to tolerance for gays, which is why he will be the honored guest for Indiana’s leading anti-gay political organization.
For all the hagiography about the Colts "doing it the right way" that we've heard in the last few days, you wouldn't suspect such open bigotry. Even understanding that prop sports in general and the NFL in particular are not especially welcoming to non-heterosexuals, this is surprising and disappointing. Though upon reflection, I shouldn't be either surprised or disappointed. I'm in no position to offer a lecture or to pontificate about why Dungy has any special responsibility to gay people. But am I off base in wondering why this is both ok and not a bigger story, nationally? Instead of focusing on such trivia as a candy bar ad, why are we not talking about this great guy, Tony Dungy, being honored by a group who's main purpose seems to be to deny rights to their fellow citizens?

Which leads me question what we mean by having a team full of "good character guys." Peyton Manning just might be an asshole, but he's a "good talker," so he gets a pass. Allen Iverson shows real erudition at times, but he's surly at others and vaguely scary, so he's a "bad character guy." How do we know enough about any of these guys to say? It would be different if we had personal knowledge. I've interacted with a few pro athletes, enough to say that he's a good guy, and by proxy, so is he; Randy Moss is in fact a jackass. But beyond that, what the hell do I know? And why should I base my opinion of them on their ability to conjugate a verb or not have tattoos?

*I'm not doubting that Carter was and is a very religious man, giving his recovery from substance abuse. However, I doubt very much that he is praising God, instead inviting you to praise or at least notice Carter.

Monday, February 05, 2007


I forgot to mention in my Enormous Salsa Cup XLI coverage, that I was already in a sour mood before the game started after watching the Cavs get dismantled by the Pistons, and LeBron looking (again) like he just didn't give a flying rat's ass. So, until he shows me something, it's the Official Policy of WAP that Mr. James will be known as LeBronikova. This will remain in effect until I get the sense that he feels the need (as opposed to a mere preference) to win.

If I can find it sometime today, I'll post the straw that broke the camel's back...that baseline reverse dunk down 10 with a minute left after he stunk all day. He managed to get his 8 "Kobe-time*" points to finish a respectable 9-22 for 21 pts, but that vastly overrates his contribution to the game.

*Kobe, pre-Phil Jackson, was the greatest garbage time scorer of the last 2 decades

XLI Plus - Minus

Plus: Billy Joel, with a huge upset, gives the win to the under on the "1:45 National Anthem" prop bet. Geezeman clocked it at 1:36.

Minus: Billy Joel is really the best that they could do? Was John Mellencamp unavailable due to rerecording the remix of "This is Our Country" for the next round of stupid truck spots?

Plus: A Super Bowl being played in football weather. I agree with MY, Edmonton next year.

Plus: Devin Hester. Gone.

Minus: Everything else the Bears did with the ball.

Plus: Rock-Paper-Scissors (ok, who out there was with me in asking "who throws f'in paper? You p****!"), the BlockBuster Mouse, the New Fist Bump and Connectile Dysfunction.

Minus: Every other ad. Seriously, if the top ten Super Bowl adds includes not one but two movie trailers (including one for this obvious dog, though I laughed and laughed at the T.Rex at the end of the spot for this one: "I have a large head and small arms", it seemed to say. How it longs for a grapefruit), you have problems. Also, I'm all for making fun of K.Fed rapping, but if the commercial is 80% K.Fed rapping...then I just watched 40 seconds of K.Fed rapping. This time does not get credited back to my account because it was presented in ironic fashion. The Go Daddy ad was also very disappointing. If you are going for the prurient, go for the prurient. Tastefully done, my ass...

Plus: Prince. I liked it, damnit.

Minus: Shannon Sharpe plagiarizing the late, great, Robin Harris at half time, acting like it was the height of wit.

Plus: Mmmmm...Steak.

Minus: Large dog trying to steal my steak.

Minus: Jim Nantz as the Official Budweiser Authority on Black History XLI (I'm sure they sold naming rights for this). A tradition unlike any other! Black History and Augusta National, I see no problem here at all. The tiebreaker being Billy Packer...gah...)

Minus: According to Irsay and Tony Dungy, god hates Chicago.

Overall: Giant "meh."

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Swag's in the Mail

I don't know how, or why, but I'm more of an NBA fan now then I have been since...who knows when? Partially, college basketball has been so bad for so long (and without the 'Stache or even a particularly interesting Duke team to follow), that I've kinda given up on it until March. I mean Greg Oden is a beast, Jo Noah is vastly overrated, and Kevin Durant might just be the second coming of George Gervin, but we know all that already, so why watch? Partially, it's the baseball offseason. And partially it's that I can't really bring myself to care too much about the 41st Exceptionally Large Fruit Receptacle game. Go Colts, I guess...

But also, over the last two seasons, there has been a marked improvement in the aesthetic quality of the games. Plus, I've had a DVR, so I can watch games at my convenience. Additionally, FD and other sites have greatly enhanced my enjoyment: I now watch a basektball game almost as I used to watch a film (before they all started sucking because the best writers are working on cable dramas), with an eye towards narrative structure and character development.

In any event, a few things about this here Association:
  • This is all kinds of awesome from Gil. Video here. (Via H. Abbot.) Swag. Phenomenal. (Speaking of Swag, mine is here too...)
  • Some called me crazy, but I now fully doubt whether LeBron really gives a shit. Simba picks up on it, (ironically in a column largely about Anna Kournikova, to whom I compared LBJ):
    the difference between Wade (killing himself and ramming his way to the rim over and over again like a running back) and LeBron (on cruise control and seeming disinterested most of the time -- and yes, I know he's hurt, but I've watched him mail it in too many times this season and we're nearing the point where Barkley needs to call him out on TNT) was absolutely startling. One guy just wants it more than the other guy. It's that simple.
    The "wants it more" thing can be deceiving - Tim Duncan is incredibly stoic, but there isn't much question about his "wants to". But in remembering back to the first time I saw LeBron play in person (at the Tar-get his rookie season), yeah he was a little sick (by report) but also a little indifferent.
  • Top quotes of the 1st half. My favorite:
    "Typical NBA punch. In hockey, your own team would beat you up for that."
    -- Two-time MVP and proud Canadian Steve Nash describes his thoughts on Anthony's punch and quick backpedal in the Knicks-Nuggets brawl.
    Also, evil meets evil
    "Next time he does that, break his f------ foot!"
    -- Thomas tells his team his strategy for handling the Spurs' Bruce Bowen, whom Thomas had accused of sticking his foot underneath his players' when shooting.
    Stay classy, Zeke.


Overheard at Steph's (warning, extreme tech-wonkery ensues):
Don’t you think it ironic that as our Republican administration is sweeping away all manner of civil liberties they are mandating business adhere to stringent “privacy” protections for the consumer. Does this not suggest that we are as more valuable as consumers than citizens?
It does indeed so suggest. Also, "duh".

Further, Megan has an excellent series of posts defending (in qualified fashion) the regulatory state, as well as demonstrating why GWB's mandated additions of zampolits to all executive agencies is bad idea, even setting his ideology aside.

(With apologies to RIA, who seems harried)

Friday, February 02, 2007

BlogReader Bleg

Here's a quicky for the collected wisdom of my legionsdozensseven fans family members who read this. Does anyone have a recomendation for a good, easy to use blog reader/aggregator type thingee, so I can have the wonders of the intertubes delivered directly to me, presumably via truck driven by Senator Stevens?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

5 Things on Thursday

  • Not to get tin-foil hatty, but was the Sternbot's egregious suspension (more here of Kobe Bryant (seriously, it's basketball. You get hit in the face. It happens) some kind of backhanded (pardon the pun) ploy to rehabilitate the image of the man DLIC calls Bean Thousand? Is it mere coincidence that the next game he got "MVP" chants. On the road. In Boston?
  • How did my dentist just find me? I don't open the mail from you, I don't call, I don't write. Some might call this stalking. Needless to say, I now have an appointment in a few weeks.
  • Speaking of weird basketball happenings, this involves the worst dive I've seen since the World Cup. What is it about West Virginia and massively hyped basketball prodigies? More here. [Update: in comments, Icepick makes the not unreasonable point that Iverson is from Hampton, VA. To which I respond in two ways. A) Shut up. B) I meant the western part of both Virginias, obviously.]

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Rezzies (Quasi-Belated '07)

I didn't quite meet my, in retrospect, insanely aggressive New Years Resolution '06. (At least not without resorting to Enron style accounting.) It was still worth it, and will be revised for this year, though reduced by 50% to account for my increased work hours. So, 2.5 books a month = 30 books in '07. I already have 3 down, so I'm ahead of the curve. But, been there done that, so I need a new one.

Obviously, passing the AK bar is a priority as well, but that's for, like, work, so it doesn't count either. Plus, I've done it once, what could possibly go wrong?

Which brings me to the actual resolution. With due respect to Lauren's concern (hey, I've been a gym regular since August, so I don't count as one of those pikers. I note that the herd is thinning already,) being careful to avoid tragic mistakes and being cognizant of the generally pernicious effect of using weight as a proxy for health, I still have a resolution regarding weight loss.

Thankfully, it's both modest, and, I think, obtainable. I'm down to about 215 now (from a very mirthful* 230 or so, circa the wedding) I'd like to be under 200 by MARS, and down to around my 'playing weight' (was about 180 in college, but would be more like 190 now given that my upper legs and hips were skinny and not at all powerful back then) by the end of the year.

* Cherubic, some might even say.

Tuesday Thoughts on Tribe, Tony Campbell and My Fuddiness

  1. Driving the 20 or so miles to and from my Monday night rec league basketball game allowed me time to conclusively answer Joey's quandry: Low End Theory is superior to Midnight Marauders as an album. I hadn't listened to either in a while, but damn, they are both good (contra Spackerman. But he's too angry to get Tribe to begin with, true, true). As to why LET is better, watch as I take some one else's intelligent words and pass them off as my own:
    The beat in Check the Rhime, and the way they dance around it (and each other) is pure magic. And since the other half of my library is jazz, I love what they do in Excursions and We've got the Jazz. Scenario is just explosive and powerful. Nobody fucking rapped like that in 1991, and here's a 19 year old who's about to blow up.

    Don't get me wrong, comparing these two albums is like comparing winning a million dollars vs. winning a million and ten dollars. But there's no question in my mind that the nostalgic and technical and creative impact of LET was superior.

  2. Speaking of my Monday hoops league, I think I'm empirical proof of the Tony Campbell theorem: Given a sufficiently offensively untalented surrounding case, anyone can get 20 per game. (Fun note: TC's point guard? Pooh Richardson!.)

    (pictured: Not this Pooh)

  3. Speaking of music, I think I've officially reached the sad day when I can no longer even hope to keep up. I don't think I've bought an album in almost 4 months (The Raconteurs, if you must know). I'm not sure how I feel about this. Surely there has to be some non-suck music coming out these days, right? Who is the "Clipse" I keep hearing so much about? Is there anything of note in the White Stripish Blues-Rockish area? Help a Pooh out here, will ya...

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Chip Off...

RIA's kid seems as puzzled by the appeal of HRC's candidacy as I am. (Scroll to the bottom)

And for no reason at all, Tyge!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

5 Things on Thursday

Linking is not thinking. But then, I'm a doer not a thinker. I create my own reality...

A while back, Ezra took a skillsaw to the West Wing for portraying politics as "a realm of comity, decency, respectable opponents, and honorable intellectual warfare" despite the manifestly counter-factual nature of this vision. Despite my undying love for The Wing, Ezra is almost certainly correct. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't aspire to a more high-minded version, though. I imagine that Hagel and I would agree on virtually nothing, and he would mince few words in denigrating my positions. But on this evidence he'd engage in the discussion rather than attempting to preempt it with ad hominem up ad hominem.

Which reminds me that I need to say nice things about Jack McCallum's new book about the '05-'06 Suns. Great read, with a lot of inside baseball (basketball...) which you simply don't get in most accounts. A fascinating look at the internal psychology of a professional sports team.
That's all, we'll try harder next time.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Queien es Mas Macha Loca?

Rep. Michelle Bachmann or former Rep. Katherine Harris?

Is there a law of thermodynamics which requires that the level of crazy in Congress remains constant?

(H/T - TIM)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Who Wants

To Sex Mutombo?*

Dikembe Mutombo grew up in Africa, amid great poverty and disease. He came to Georgetown University on a scholarship to study medicine — but Coach John Thompson got a look at Dikembe and had a different idea. Dikembe became a star in the NBA, and a citizen of the United States. But he never forgot the land of his birth — or the duty to share his blessings with others. He has built a brand new hospital in his hometown. A friend has said of this good-hearted man: “Mutombo believes that God has given him this opportunity to do great things.” And we are proud to call this son of the Congo our fellow American.

*(for the non-hoopsfiles, background:
Possibly the greatest contribution to the game by Dikembe Mutombo may be the phrase, "Who wants to sex Mutombo?" To quote The Mighty MJD, "Dikembe walked into a Georgetown bar one night [in the early '90s], the entire place stopped to look at him, and in response, Mutombo just yelled out, "WHO WANTS TO SEX MUTOMBO?!"
so for the second time today, If You Don't Know, Now You Know.)

Update: caption contest, get your red hot caption contest...

The Part I Agreed With (SOTU part deux)

Three weeks ago, Wesley Autrey was waiting at a Harlem subway station with his two little girls, when he saw a man fall into the path of a train. With seconds to act, Wesley jumped onto the tracks … pulled the man into a space between the rails … and held him as the train passed right above their heads. He insists he’s not a hero. Wesley says: “We got guys and girls overseas dying for us to have our freedoms. We got to show each other some love.” There is something wonderful about a country that produces a brave and humble man like Wesley Autrey.
Mr. Autrey was waiting for the downtown local at 137th Street and Broadway in Manhattan around 12:45 p.m. He was taking his two daughters, Syshe, 4, and Shuqui, 6, home before work.

Nearby, a man collapsed, his body convulsing. Mr. Autrey and two women rushed to help, he said. The man, Cameron Hollopeter, 20, managed to get up, but then stumbled to the platform edge and fell to the tracks, between the two rails.

The headlights of the No. 1 train appeared. “I had to make a split decision,” Mr. Autrey said.

So he made one, and leapt.

Mr. Autrey lay on Mr. Hollopeter, his heart pounding, pressing him down in a space roughly a foot deep. The train’s brakes screeched, but it could not stop in time.

Five cars rolled overhead before the train stopped, the cars passing inches from his head, smudging his blue knit cap with grease. Mr. Autrey heard onlookers’ screams. “We’re O.K. down here,” he yelled, “but I’ve got two daughters up there. Let them know their father’s O.K.” He heard cries of wonder, and applause.

Good on you, sir.

Litmus Test

When he asks "and what did dad get?"

There is only one acceptable answer as far as I see it: "Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeit"

If You Don't Know, Now You Know

Occasionally one runs across a word which, even taken in context, one is unable to really figure out what it means. For the last two months or so, my dictional bugaboo has been "soi-disant." It doesn't help than one of the chief employers of this word is a notoriously bad speller/proofreader when blogging, but I've never figured out what it meant other than that it was pejorative. Well, being a good soi-disant blogger, I looked it up:
soi-disant \swah-dee-ZAHN\, adjective:
Self-styled; so-called.
Just a soi-disant public service from me, to you.

(And if you catch me actually using this word more than once a month, you have full permission to call me a pretentious wanker. Not that Yglesias is that - his blogbag includes much more erudition than you pay me for, and with that you get eggroll $10 words.)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Just to Sum Up

Bad, Bad, BAD sports day for Pooh.

I should have known it wouldn't end well after getting up too damn early for this gut-punch. Then Tyge snarfs the fresh pumpkin bread (leaving little pumpkin boogers in his beard for moster of the day, and then...ugh and ugh...

Called It (Part the Reverse)

Immediately after poor interference call on NE (don't you have to touch the receiver for it to be interference?*), Steph (who is inexplicably rooting for the Colts. This might not work out, pops...) says "well, you guys will win it anyway."

Anyone with any experience with her skills of prestidigitation knows that one could safely shut the TV off. So it always was, so it shall always be.

This leaves me in a positiong similar to last year's NCAA hoops final, where I'm forced to pick between the lesser of two massively annoying teams.

I won't be booing, I'll be yelling "Moooo-vers"

* All the bitching I'm going to do, I'll leave the rest to others...

Called It (Part Deux)

Quoth the Geezeman: "You know, Asanti Samuel has turned himself into a heck of a cornerback."

Ensuing play = Peyton Manning face...

Called It

Congrats Chicago Bears. I guess. The Extreme Large Fruit Vessel XLI will be much less interesting with them instead of the Saints, both in terms of the actual game, and the stories leading up to it. I admit to a certain degree of fatigue about hearing about the wonderfulness of the Saints' players and how they Rebuilt that City on Rock and Roll (note that Joe Buck gave Reggie Bush a completely free pass on his outrageous taunt-front flip-and-dance routine on his TD. I have no problem with any of that, but imagine Buck's reaction if it had been, say, The Randy Moss doing those things...), but the Saints are also a more interesting Football qua Football team, I think.

In any event, all that is merely a long-winded windup (like I do), for me noting that Sean Payton made a huge tactical error that likely cost them the game, and I called it at the time. Consider, Uncle Mo has been standing on the Saints sideline since before half-time, Rex Grossman was making Eli Manning look composed, and the field conditions were miserable. Why the hell would you kick a 48 yard FG? Just pin them inside the 20, stop them again, and so on. As it was, Figgie predicitably missed (is it ever a good sign when your kickoff guy comes on to try a long FG instead of the regular kicker. Does this ever work out well?) Saints get the ball inside the 5. They panic, take a safety, and the only time the Bears look in trouble from then on was when Rex almost got picked by Uncle Mo switching sidelines in the middle of the next drive.

And all of this was so obvious at the time, I was expecting Simba's assistant coach for common sense to stop the madness, but it never happened.

Go Pats...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Blow My Mind

My love for Free Darko is no secret. Whether taking a blowtorch to a particular statistical snake-oil sales man, preemptively squashing any attempt to rehab Isiah Thomas or simply linking to the greatest piece on basketball 'style' that I've ever read, it's always enlightening and entertaining.

Sometimes, however, it simply defies rational description. Consider the pictorial coda to today's query on whither Lebron:

I'm shocked and awed.

(As an aside, as I asked Tall via email, am I crazy for beginning to question Lebron's drive, for lack of a better word? At what point does he enter the Kournikova/Hilton zone of someone who is famous for being rich & famous rather than successful?)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I Swear...

I have interesting stuff to say. No really. Why don't we all assume I've been exceptionally witty for the past few weeks, that way I have some momentum going for when I actually start posting with regularity again.

As an aside, and a recommendation I feel needs to be passed along, see The Prestige if you get the chance. It is all kinds of awesome.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Suck It, Denver

More than a foot and a half of snow yesterday in the 'Burg. And our flagship (and only...and only semi-) pro sports team still played.