March 9, 2007

Friday Ramblings

So maybe I'm optimistic because we get an extra hour of daylight beginning Sunday. Although Daylight Savings Time beginning with snow on the ground? This is going to take some getting used to. But really, I'm surprisingly OK with the Tampa debacle yesterday. Probably because I didn't accept that guy's offer at the PGA Grille to buy his ACC Tournament tickets for $200 which would have also involved me shelling out much more for non-refundable airfare and hotel. I really feel for all those Terp fans who trekked down to Tampa thinking we'd at least make it to Saturday. Done by 4:30 Thursday. But here's are a few things:

1) The team stunk in every way possible yesterday. It's not like a few of our wins this year where one or two areas of the game were suspect. Yesterday, our guards looked confused against the zone, we couldn't grab a rebound to save our lives, and we were bricking free throws like somebody at a rigged carnival game where the cylinder of the basket is smaller than the ball. Really... we have to go up. Right? Right????

2) Yesterday proved to me that the ACC really is the most top-to-bottom strong basketball conference in the country. The Big East doesn't even bring 4 teams to it's tournament. The Big 11 has creampuffs like Penn State, Iowa, and Purdue. The entire SEC West except for LSU is just a gaping hole of bullshit basketball. The Big 12 gives the world Nebraska, Colorado, and Missouri. There's a reason the ACC dominates the ACC/Big 10 challenge every year. We'd dominate against just about any conference in the country. So we lost to the bottom-seeded team in the conference. It's not like we lost to Villa Julie or Goucher.

3) I'm convinced that my non-Terp friends take some schadenfreude ("sour grapes" for those non-native German speakers) glee in calling me right after a loss. I just picture them standing on the other side of the phone grinning, with their own vision in their head of me at the top of a big clock tower loading up my rifle and pointing down. I'm led to this conclusion based upon the fact that I get many more calls after the Terps lose a gut-kicker than after they win an incredible game. I'm going to start keeping a list and when I find out that one of these people has just gotten kicked out of their home by their wife in a few years, I'll be the very first to call "just to make sure they're OK."

4) If we're going to fall, please let us fall to a 6. God, the 5-seed is the place where teams go to die in the Tourney. The 6 seed has a tough matchup with an 11, then a 3. But I'd rather take the overseeded teams at 11 and 3 than the underseeded teams that the 5-seed has to play at 12 and 4.

5) Quick Idol note since J-Red didn't publish his thoughts: We're all treated to a few more weeks of Sanjaya looking awkwardly uncomfortable. This should be good times. Sabrina got jobbed. This is why I believe that people who vote for Idol should only have their presidential votes count for 1/2 a vote. In the words of Kent Brockman, "I said it before people, and I'll say it again. Democracy just does not work."

March 8, 2007

I Hate Miami

I'm really glad I'm not in Tampa right now.

On a related note, Debbie Yow contacted ACC Commissioner John Swofford and rescinded our vote in favor of expansion.

Peter King Stole My Idea

Peter King's new article on seems suspiciously similar to my comments a few days ago about the NFL's spending spree.

I'm not really going to say he stole my idea. I prefer to think I scooped him. Still, a one-page article from Peter King comes along about as often as a solid Redskins win.

March 7, 2007

American Idol Women's Recap

The stars were Melinda Doolittle, with her version of Peggy Lee's "I'm a Woman" (also done by Maria Muldaur), LaKisha Jones, with her version of Whitney's "I Have Nothing (If I Don't Have You) and Jordin Sparks, doing Pat Benatar's "Heartbreaker" surprisingly well. These three are definitely safe, with Sparks posting another huge leap for the third straight week. She's young, and the more comfortable she gets the more dangerous she becomes.

The next tier would be solely occupied by Stephanie Edwards, doing Chaka Khan's "Sweet Thing". Her nerves showed and her voice cracked a couple times, but on her best day she couldn't match the original, a problem that chronically plaques Idol contestants in their song choice.

The rest of the group is a pile-up. Antonella Barba did okay, performing Corinne Bailey Rae's contemporary hit "Put Your Records On", but Simon brilliantly disarmed her by complimenting her handling of the media pressures on her. There go the pity votes, and there might go Antonella.

Gina Glocksen screamed Evanescence's "Call Me When You're Sober", which is comical because Gina possesses the "not quite" level of attractiveness that attracts a lot of calls at 1a, but not a lot at 6p. I am somewhat biased, because I hate Evanescence, but I could see enough Goth teenagers floating her into the Top 12.

The last two are the most endangered, in my view, because they are completely forgettable. I can't imagine anyone grabbed their phone and frantically dialed for Haley Scarnato or Sabrina Sloan. Scarnato limped through one of Faith Hill's worst songs, "If My Heart Had Wings". Sloan did En Vogue's "Don't Let Go (Love)", which was popular around 1998, the last time En Vogue was on anyone's radar.

The official prediction for the women: Scarnato and Sloan will be singing swan songs tomorrow night.

Coach KKK and the Tribe of Shabazz

Not to go all Duke all the time, but this was too good to ignore. From the "Nation of Islam Sportsblog" Coach KKK. The post itself is pretty good, but be sure to read the comments. They're hilarious.

Spandex B-Ball Unis!

Starting tomorrow, Florida, Syracuse, Arizona and Ohio State will wear "fitted" spandex jerseys in their conference tournaments. The shorts will be longer and baggier than the usual shorts, rather than also "form-" fitting, and thus white male sexual security will remain intact.

Here is a picture from CNNSI of the OSU jersey:

This won't catch on. Many cheap fouls have been earned, and will continue to be earned, by defenders getting their hand caught in the jersey of the player they are covering. With form-fitting jerseys not only will this not happen, but it will also be more difficult to see contact with the jersey-wearing shooter. It's the polar opposite of Iverson's brilliant "white sleeve" campaign, shown below. (Most people fouling AI are darker than glacial snow, so their fouling hands show up very well making contact with a Dunleavy-white sleeve.)

Unfortunately, FSU alum Nigel "Big Jelly" Dixon, was unavailable for comment.

March 6, 2007

In the Interest of Increasing Workplace Productivity...

I proudly give you the link to the "Paper Toss" game that is oddly addicting and is guaranteed to sap at least 30 minutes from your day once you bookmark it and realize how often you go back to it to try to beat your score:

Random Musings

1) The feminists were right. They can do all the jobs men can do and they do them just as well as we do. Here's the problem: We are incapable of doing their "job". I made a conscious effort to look for things in our living room that were out of place, or dirty. I found four or five things that I would never have noticed if I were living alone. Even things like cardboard boxes with packing material. Once they're in a spot, I don't seem them anymore. They become part of the environment.

The good news for men is that we have one skill that women totally lack. We can get along with each other in the workplace. We don't hamstring each other and bring each other down. We have fair competitions and we don't sabotage when we lose. We can effectively confront each other when we get screwed, and we drop the issue for once and for all once we reach a resolution. Grudges are rarely kept. In this regard, if Clinton was the first black President, Bush was the first female.

2) I'm sure we've all heard that James Cameron has found Jesus' Tomb. Here's the great thing about the Bible. Everything falls into three categories: proven fact, allegory, and infallible miracles. If a fact in the Bible is disproved, it becomes allegory, just as effective as had it been literal. If a miracle in the Bible is disproved, it becomes allegory, just as effective as had it been literal.

It can't be proven that the Cameron-backed archaeologists found Jesus' tomb. It can't be proven that those are his bones even if it is nominally his tomb. It can't be proven that the story of his ascension wasn't allegorical, and his bones remained behind. It can't be proven that Jesus married. His alleged miracles, such as turning water to wine, raising Lazarus, walking on water, etc., can't be proved or disproved. When something regarding Jesus is disregarded as a hoax, such as the Shroud of Turin, it doesn't weigh one way or another on anything in the Bible.

American Idol Men's Running Blog!!!!

With respect to Bill Simmons, I am going to do a running blog of tonight's American Idol men's performances.

01 - 8:05p - Blake Lewis - All Mixed Up by 311 (Beat-Boxer)
Judges loved it because they didn't know the song. I personally hate 311 and I still think it was a poor imitation. He earned big cred in the first week with his Keane performance, but he's wearing thin with me. Seeing the recap, this was the worst of the night.

02 - 8:10p - Sanjaya Malakar - Waiting on the World to Change - John Mayer (Indian Boy)
Awful. Judges hated it. I hate it. Dialidol has him 3rd, which can only mean that a) a lot of Indian people are voting for him; or b) vote for the worst has a secret second site that has told millions to vote for Sanjaya.

03 - 8:16p - Sundance Head - Jeremy - Pearl Jam (Fat Goatee Kid)
There are probably five songs in the Pantheon of perfect rock songs, and Sundance tried to tackle one. It isn't that he did a bad job, though he completely missed the important "TRRRRRRRYYYYY to remember....TRRRRRRYYYYYYY to erase this....from the blackBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOARD' segment that makes the song what it is. He just did a song that I can replay in my head note-for-note Eddie Vedder style in my head. And he didn't beat Eddie Vedder. This is the kind of thing that Chris Daughtry nailed last year.

04 - 8:25p - Chris Richardson - Tonight I Want to Cry - Keith Urban (Timberlake)
I didn't know the song, so I'm a bit biased. It wasn't good or bad, and it wasn't memorable either. Bad combo when you need people to call for you.
This guy earned major points with me in Week 1, but his act is growing stale.

05 - 8:32p - Jared Cotter - If You Really Love Me - Steve Wonder (Lighter Taye Diggs)
So they go from broken NBA dreams to handsome black man in an Argyle sweater? It wasn't good. It was Stevie, which we all know is now an Idol disaster. Stevie's songs are always in minor keys, which make them a bitch to sing for a GOOD singer. This guy isn't even a good singer.

06 - 8:40p - Brandon Rogers - I Just Want to Celebrate - Rare Earth (Short Fro)
I don't like this guy, but it was honestly one of the best three performances of the night. In a performance set where everyone sucked in their own way, he's the only one I could see most of America picking up the phone and voting for.

07 - 8:46p - Phil Stacey - I Need You - Leann Rimes (Baldy)
I personally like the Navy boy with the bald head, but he's gone. The song is, and always has been, boring. He already was one of the least charismatic contestants. I can't imagine he survives Thursday.

08 - 8:53p - Chris Sligh - Wanna Be Loved - DC Talk (Whitey Fro)
Ok, mystery solved. Fat boy, from the south, hot wife, sings songs we don't know. He's a Jesus Freak. DC Talk is a wildly successful Christian Rock band that never gets a second of play on regular radio (like, say, Creed or Jars of Clay). I did a little research. Week 1: Typical by Mute Math. Also a Christian Rock band. Week 2 was a "folk" singer from Maine. I'm on to this Carrie Underwood wannabe.

Overall, the show is the worst overall series of performances that I can recall. I think Baldy Phil Stacey is the only surefire goner. After that, I think the top three performers were, not in order, Jared Cotter, Brandon Rogers, and Chris Sligh, though I think Sundance will get enough votes for sure because he picked a very popular song. That leaves Sanjaya, Chris Richardson, and Blake Lewis. As much as I disliked all three performances, they have been top vote-getters the first two weeks.

OFFICIAL PREDICTION: Phil Stacey, and, in a shocker, Blake Lewis are leaving us this week.

Gregg Doyel Rules!

On the heels of Gregg Doyel's UFC conversion comes this (skip forward to 7:30) a combative call out of Ratface over something that happened 15 years ago. Here's the transcript, courtesy of Fanhouse for those of you who don't want to listen to the audio:

Doyel: Mike, you made it clear after the game and just now, some conduct is unacceptable and you would hold your players to higher standards and all that ... um, I'm just wondering, how many games did you suspend Christian Laettner for when he stomped on Aminu Timberlake?

Coach K: Well, you want ... first of all ... would you call that a stomp?

Doyel: Absolutely. I've seen it over and over.

Coach K: Okay. Well, then my judgment and yours differ.

Doyel: I got some glasses ... I mean, are you serious?

Coach K: Okay. So, you ... you ... I'm not going to get in with you because you would always want something controversial (laughs nervously) so...

Doyel: I just like the truth sometimes that's all.

Coach K:
No ... believe me, there's nobody who likes the truth more than me. And, uh, after the season we'll talk about, you know, 1992; I'd rather talk about 2007 right now.

Here's the whole article. I'll be reading more of Doyel's stuff now.

Cause I'm Leavin' On a Jet Plane...

Alright, we all have at least one strange interest or field that we follow. For me, as many people know, it's the airline industry. I happen to know which airlines operate hubs out of which American cities. I can name the 3-letter airport code for most major American airports. I can entertain myself for way too long on flights by looking at the airline's route map. So upon coming across the following bit of information about Spirit Airlines' new policies on The Washington Post's travel blog, I had to comment:

On Spirit Airlines:
1) Beginning June 20, you'll pay $1 for juices, sodas and hot drinks (water will still be free).
React: OK, this is kind of a bummer. By the way, if your "free water" is blue, you should probably call for the flight attendant and shell out $1 for that Diet Coke. This is all fine, until...

2) And, also beginning June 20, you'll pay $5 each for the first or second checked bag (up to 50 pounds) if you book it online ahead of time ($10 each if you do it at the airport).
React: Wow. So now because I can't bring more than 3 ounces of liquid on the plane with me because my shampoo could be thrown in the eyes of the Captain to bring down the plane (since I don't use Johnson & Johnson's No More Tears shampoo), my only alternative is to check said item in a suitcase. Which on top of waiting 45 minutes for my bag to arrive, if I'm lucky enough for it to arrive, I also get to pay $5 for the privilege of having your airline carry my bag. And the kicker...

3) "For each additional checked item [over 2], Spirit will charge $100. Spirit can only guarantee the transportation of one item as checked luggage per fare paying customer... Spirit cannot guarantee that there will be space for extra bags, and will not be held responsible for any additional items brought to the airport by the customer."
React: So it seems like the next logical place for Spirit to go is to put big scales at the check-in counter. For every 10 pounds you are over 100 pounds (rounding up, of course), you pay $10 for the extra fuel it will take the plane to carry the extra weight. This will go over extra popular in Fort Lauderdale, one of Spirit's hubs, and also one of the busiest cruise ship ports in the country, where suddenly people would need to bring a long a little extra pocket cash to board the plane to return home from their cruise than they would to get to the cruise.

Anybody else remember the good 'ol days when you could actually get a deck of cards for free on the plane? God forbid what that'd set you back now.

I freaking love UFC

So I didn't get to watch the UFC fights this weekend, but apparently they were pretty good. Gregg Doyel has a nice article in the "I watched UFC for the first time, and now I'm a fan!" model. Even though every columnist seems to go through this same "ah-hah!" moment, it isn't enough to quite push UFC over the edge to mainstream acceptance (and Sportscenter coverage). Joe Rogan's "Inside the UFC" show is a step in the right direction. Mainstream sports have news-type coverage shows that have interviews with athletes and show highlights of recent events.

I guess the big question is whether UFC has passed boxing yet and if not, if it ever will. I would say that, at least among men under 30, UFC is much more relevant and interesting than boxing. I'll return to this issue in later posts, but in the meanwhile, here's the footage of the heavyweight title fight from last Saturday. Keep in mind Randy Couture is 43. I don't think he has a chance against Cro Cop in his next fight, but I'll be laying down the $40 to watch it.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

NFL Spending Spree

I think in a few years, Redskins and Ravens fans will be grateful that they did not have a lot of salary cap space this offseason. With the NFL making an upward adjustment to the salary cap, causing it to rise about $20M in one year, some teams like the Niners and Dolphins are suddenly in a position to really spend to fix their immediate needs.

Of course, by escalating the going rate of all players, the players who are in a position to cash in this year are effectively shortening their own careers. The beauty of the salary cap, as it normally functions, is that salaries rise at an articially flatter rate than they would under open market conditions. Consider, if a constraint was not in place, how much a team like the Redskins would overpay big-name players just to keep them off the market. With the cap in place, and with mechanisms such as the franchise tag and transition tag, the salaries do not rise as quickly. When salaries rapidly spike, as they have this offseason, the price of the franchise tag (average of top-five salaries for that position) also rapidly increases. Players are effectively running the risk of pricing themselves out of the league prematurely, or having to take a humiliating pay cut. That being said, it's hard to fault a Nate Clements for cashing in when he's an ACL tear away from being unemployable in his chosen profession.

Worse yet is the guaranteed money in almost all of the recently-signed contracts. If a Patrick Kerney or Leonard Davis gets injured, or just doesn't play up to expectations, the team faces salary cap hell for the duration of the contract. By missing out on this spending spree, the Ravens and Redskins most likely will avoid the salary cap landmines that the free spenders are sure to face.

And steel yourself now for the year of the hold out. Because the NFL effectively uses a pegging system to determine rookie salaries, if one team near the top of the round overpays its rookie because a) they can; and b) they want them in camp with all their new free agents, there will be a pile-up towards the back of the round. Thriftier teams, which not coincidentally don't have high draft picks, will not pay inflated prices for a low first round pick just because a chronic screw-up team at the top of the list overpaid. The better-run teams will certainly face holdout rookies this offseason.

I Think I'm Setting the DVR Already...

From Hollywood Reporter:

Wahlberg, Scorsese Launching Boardwalk Empire

The Departed's Mark Wahlberg and Martin Scorsese are re-teaming to create a new drama series for HBO based on Atlantic City's growth from sleepy seaside town to entertainment and gambling mecca. Scorsese will executive produce with Wahlberg and Leverage Management's Stephen Levinson (Wahlberg and Levinson already executive produce Entourage and the upcoming drama In Treatment). The project is being developed in conjunction with the Nelson Johnson book Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City, which HBO has optioned. Scorsese previously visited Atlantic City in his 1986 movie The Color of Money.

Wow... anybody who saw The Departed and Boogie Nights knows that Mark Wahlberg is becoming an acting tour-de-force (sometime watch the E! True Hollywood Story on Marky Mark on his rise from underwear model to Academy Award nominee actor... one of the truly great episodes). And Scorsese... all you have to say is Goodfellas and Departed and I'm in. These two put together, plus Atlantic City as a backdrop... I think this will be the new go-to for Jersey insanity once The Sopranos exits the airwaves late this spring.

March 5, 2007

It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want To

If aliens hell-bent on destroying Earth should ever arrive, and Tom Cruise isn't here to save us, I hope that these aliens understand English and that the very first thing they see when they land is an episode of My Super Sweet Sixteen on MTV. If that were to happen, they would quickly turn around and leave without hurting one human, fully understanding that Earth's civilization is going to self-destruct on its own, without the need for extraterrestrial intervention. I think they need to do a follow-up show in 5 years on where all these girls are. I hope that at least half of their parents have filed for bankruptcy, that all these kids' Range Rovers, Beemers, and Lexi have been repo'ed, and that they are in community college. That's what we would call karma. Otherwise, God help us when these spoiled brats hit adulthood.

Somehow, I'm sure at least one of the kids whose parties are featured will end up at Duke.

And on a somewhat tangential note, your pic of the day:

Affair de Elbow

Wow... watching this video, there definitely seems to be time for Henderson to have pulled away before slapping down hard into Hansbrough's nose with his elbow. Not necessarily premeditated, but certainly intentional. The big question is what would have happened if this had happened to D.J. Strawberry at Comcast? I don't think there are enough State Troopers in the arena to have calmed that riot. I also think Osby might have settled things very quickly.

This almost qualifies for the Gruesome Sports Injury post given the amount of blood involved.

"George Bush Hates Black People"

Another story from the collection of "People who have too damn much money and don't know what to do with it" from today's Baltimore Sun:

Kanye Orders Fast Food Delivery from U.K.
"If Kanye West were to walk into the British Raj's dining room and order dinner, it would cost the rapper about $17.50. But since the restaurant is delivering - from Wales to New York - it's going to cost a bit more. For a feast of onion bhajees, chapati breads, biryanis, pappadums, a specially prepared fish dish and vegetables on the side, the bill will top $3,900, plus travel and accommodation for the restaurant's head chef. The meal was requested for West and seven guests by a music promotion company, the restaurant said yesterday. The meal will be prepared, cooled, shrink-wrapped and packed in dry ice in the British Raj's kitchens and - along with head chef Kaysor Ahmed - will be helicoptered from Wales to London's Heathrow Airport tomorrow. There, he'll hop a flight to New York - monitoring the food's temperature all the way - clear customs, and head for Manhattan, where the meal is to be served during a meeting Wednesday."

Hmm... I mean, it's not like New York is a black hole of dining options (no pun intended, Kanye). Secondly, this exemplifies hypocrisy. If you're so upset at the way that the federal government cared for the black folks in The Big Easy post-Katrina, why don't you donate HALF of what this will end up costing you to any of the hundreds of charities that are trying to give basic subsistence to those still living in FEMA trailers. But no, instead you need to import pappadrums for a business meeting. I have a feeling, Kanye, that if one of your 8 personal assistants spent only about 5 minutes looking, you'd be able to find some damn good pappadrums across the 59th Street Bridge in Queens.

March 4, 2007

The More Things Change...

So I'm looking at the brackets for the ACC Tournament, and I see that the 8-9 game will feature Clemson versus Florida State. Ahh, memories of a simpler time, when the ACC only had 9 teams, we didn't have to take our shoes off before we boarded an airplane, and the ACC Tourney play-in game Thursday night between the 8-9 seeds involved these two teams every year. Every ACC Tourney in the late 90s and early oughts seemed to feature these two teams duking it out Thursday night for the right to be obliterated the following afternoon by Duke or UNC. When J-Red, Brien, and I were at the ACC Tourney in 2001, we dubbed the game that Thursday evening "The Cheerleader Invitational." These teams might've been the 8th and 9th strongest teams out of 9 teams in the conference during those years, but they definitely had the 1st and 2nd strongest cheerleaders of any team (Duke coming in DEAD FUCKING LAST in that department). There was always a close competition between the two schools to see who was the #1 seed in cheerleading each year. When we went, FSU was the #1 seed, making us huge Seminole fans for the evening, solely because we wanted to see them for another 2 hours the next afternoon.

In re Hansbrough's Nose

I changed my mind. He karate chopped him and deserves his suspension.

From ESPN's A.M. Jump:
He's Also Arming Them For Life With a Right Cross.......UNC beat Duke yesterday, but the story of the game was Gerald Henderson injuring Tyler Hansbrough late in the game with a cheap shot. Mike Krzyzewski -- stand-up guy that he is -- said after the game, "We'll take all responsibility, but … " and then proceeded to take no responsibility. That classy approach is from his book: "Leading With The Elbow: Coach K's Successful Strategies For Shirking Responsibility."

Cheap shot?

I'm obviously biased when I comment on anything involving Duke, but I thought it was a cheap shot. Henderson obviously didn't go in with the intention of breaking Hansbrough's nose, but he definitely was going for a hard foul. I can't find a good replay of it, but Henderson is out of control swinging wildly. I think the ref's got it right, Henderson deserved to be ejected and doesn't deserve to play on Thursday.


Deep Thoughts

If Virginia is Maryland's Mexico, does that make North Carolina Maryland's Guatemala?

--Authentic North Carolinian-----------------------------Virginian "luchador"

Hi, I'm David McClure

Hi, I'm David McClure. You may remember me from such losses as 2/11/07 at Comcast Center and 2/28/07 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The Team

I listened to the pre-game show on the radio yesterday. Johnny Holliday had interviews with all of the seniors about their careers and what they'd miss about Maryland basketball. Almost every one of them said that they'd miss hanging out with all of the other guys on the team. They talked about how they do almost everything together, especially during the season.

I guess that shouldn't have been surprising to me, but after the last few seasons, it seemed like there were several cliques on the team. This year's team definitely has better chemistry, and that probably contributes to their success more than I had thought.