Friday, September 30, 2005

Football pick 'em, week 4

I have a feeling I'm going to be doing very poorly this week. There are lots of toss-up games either because the teams are evenly matched or because there are so many question marks (like all the injuries in New England) that I just have a hard time making a pick. In any case, after reviewing my picks, it seems that when in doubt, I'm going with the home team.

Buffalo at New Orleans
Denver at Jacksonville
Detroit at Tampa Bay
Houston at Cincinnati
Indianapolis at Tennessee
San Diego at New England
Seattle at Washington
St. Louis at N.Y. Giants
N.Y. Jets at Baltimore
Dallas at Oakland
Minnesota at Atlanta
Philadelphia at Kansas City
San Francisco at Arizona
Green Bay at Carolina

This week's Cheerleader of the Week is Jenny of the Carolina TopCats. By day she is a mechanical engineer and this is my 8th year on the squad. My brother is a mechanical engineer, and I can guarantee that none of his egghead friends look like Jenny.

She likes spicy foods, 80s music, traveling and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. She graduated from Clemson and her future goals include and owning a special events and catering business. Jenny also urges you to support the Make a Wish Foundation and the United Way.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Fall TV schedule

It's that time of year again, when all the networks whip out their new programming and try to make money off advertising.

I don't watch as much TV as I used to, but still find time to watch a few shows and I try to keep up with everything else that's on.

The Demise of the Sitcom
What in the world has happened to a good sitcom. Remember when they ruled the world? 3rd Rock From the Sun, Friends, Frasier, Will & Grace, Cheers, and to go old school, Family Ties, The Cosby Show, Night Court and Growing Pains. Even shows like Veronica's Closet, Family Matters and The John Larroquette Show that were mediocre were better than half the dramas on TV.

Now where have they all gone? There is a massive void in what used to be a staple of prime time TV and we're left with According to Jim, Will & Grace, and Yes, Dear as the veterans of the genre.

Having said that, a few of the new shows have some promise but most of them are bad.

Brand Name TV
What's up with all the spin-offs? How many Law & Orders can we have? How many CSIs are too many?

And even then, how many rip-offs of spin-offs are too many? Let's face it, NCIS is realy just CSI meets JAG.

Does no one have any original ideas?

Aliens Are Coming to Earth
There are a bunch of new shows that somehow involve aliens trying to take over the planet: Surface, Threshold and Invasion.

The only one I've watched is Invasion which for some reason carries a warning at the beginning that some scenes may be traumatic in light of the hurricanes that strike the United States every year. They're not traumatic because aliens are attacking people, the goverment is covering up the existence of said aliens and people are being replaced, but because the show depicts damage from a hurricane.

Enough with the political correctness already!

Anyway, Invasion is a classic "body snatchers" show, and it's a little high on the creepy-meter for me. My biggest beef with the show is that it's slow in places and that the acting is a little stiff. Eddie Cibrian is just a pretty boy and the sherriff/alien(?) is played by William Fichtner, a who-dat actor best known as the Delta Force guy in Black Hawk Down who wasn't played by Eric Bana and the shuttle pilot in Armageddon, so they obviously didn't go all out in getting a name-level cast.

Odds of it surviving season 1: 8-1

Commander In Chief
Out of curiosity, I turned this show on and immediately was disappointed. It has two basic problems:

1. There's already a good show on about the Oval Office. Not only is The West Wing a good show, it's the gold standard. No other show will come close to the quality of The West Wing for a long, long time. CINC can only come up short.

2. They make too much of a big deal out of the President being a woman. Yes, I know it's a novel idea, but it's like a Tolstoy novel or a Southern Baptist Sunday sermon; they just beat you over the head with it over and over and over again. Plus, unlike The West Wing, it drags.

If they show had been The West Wing with a woman in the Oval Office and left it at that, the show would have been fine. Instead, it's going to be bad, which is disappointing because it has a lot of potential and a good basic premise that could be used to start a good discussion.

Odds of it surviving season 1: 50-1

My Name is Earl
I really liked this show when it was on last week and I spent this week flipping between it and CINC. Since NBC hasn't come up with a good new sitcom since Will & Grace, My Name is Earl has gotten them close to being back on track. It's funny, self-effacing and doesn't take itself too seriously.

Jason Lee is good as Early and the rest of the cast is just quirky enough to make it work.

Odds of it surviving season 1: 2-1

Battlestar Galactica
Yes, I know it's not a new show. In fact, they just had the season 2 finale last week.

BSG is everything Star Trek should have become. It's got a good cast, good writing, the former executive producer of TNG and DS9 and it isn't stuck doing things "the Star Trek way", which is the sole reason Voyager was as bad as it was and the sole reason why Enterprise failed miserably.

Odds of it surviving seaon 2: Guaranteed to be picked up for season 3. In fact, I suspect it will go on for five or six seasons before the actors decide to leave it; the fan base never will

Other shows and Notes:
Why did NBC move The West Wing from Wednesday to Sunday? Don't they know that's going to mess with my football watching schedule?

House and Lost are back, two shows I don't watch, but my wife does. I see them lasting for a long time.

Another good show was cancelled last year, Joan of Arcadia. CBS said it was due to poor ratings. Well, duh! It was on Friday nights, and the only shows that have done well on Fridays were the Dukes of Hazzard and Step by Step. Of course the ratings were bad. Every other show on Friday nights was put there to die. Firefly, Boston Public, Fastlane. All gone.

American Idol starts in January, although auditions have already started. So You Think You Can Dance is wrapping up next week and I can't understand how Jamile has survived this long.

I've heard that the next band to go on Rock Star is Van Halen; I wonder how that will work out.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Football Pick 'Em, week 3

It seems that the football universe is slowly returning to normal. The teams that were supposed to win won and the teams that were supposed to lose lost.

As for the football predictions, the standings look like this:

This weeks' results are:

Greenie 12-2 (85.71%)
The Z 12-2 (85.71%)
Me 11-3 (78.57%)
Tunky 11-3 (78.57%)
BPH 10-4 (71.43%)
ch85us2001 10-4 (71.43%)
Ender 10-4 (71.43%)
Gwalchmai 10-4 (71.43%)
Jwmblade 10-4 (71.43%)
Weasel 10-4 (71.43%)
Bloodstalker 9-5 (64.29%)
dejavu 9-5 (64.29%)
Dove 9-5 (64.29%)
Lakeloverinnc 9-5 (64.29%)
Sweetest Sin 9-5 (64.29%)
Tybaltus 9-5 (64.29%)
Cool Breeze 7-7 (50.00%)
Ally 6-8 (42.86%)
Bottleblonde 5-9 (35.71%)
IceKrystal 5-9 (35.71%)
PadreJim 5-9 (35.71%)
VoodooDali 5-9 (35.71%)
The overall standings look like this:

Dove 21-9 (70.00%)
Greenie 20-10 (66.67%)
Lakeloverinnc 9-5 (64.29%)
Me 29-17 (63.04%)
ch85us2001 28-18 (60.87%)
BPH 27-19 (58.70%)
Gwalchmai 27-19 (58.70%)
The Z 27-19 (58.70%)
dejavu 26-20 (56.52%)
Tunky 26-20 (56.52%)
Weasel 26-20 (56.52%)
Kipi 9-7 (56.25%)
Ally 25-21 (54.35%)
Sweetest Sin 25-21 (54.35%)
Ender 24-22 (52.17%)
Jwmblade 24-22 (52.17%)
Tybaltus 23-23 (50.00%)
Cool Breeze 15-15 (50.00%)
Howie 8-8 (50.00%)
Bottleblonde 14-16 (46.67%)
PadreJim 21-25 (45.65%)
Bloodstalker 20-26 (43.48%)
IceKrystal 19-26 (42.22%)
Jeto 13-19 (40.63%)
VoodooDali 5-9 (35.71%)
This week also marks the beginning of the "inactive" list (two consecutive weeks with no picks):

x-Phile 8-8 (50.00%)
HunterHack 7-9 (43.75%)

A couple other random football thoughts:

  • The Colts normally prolific offense has scored at total of 47 points. Their normally porous defense has given up 16. What's up with that?

  • The Bengals are undefeated while the Packers are winless.

  • I think the Arizona Cardinals should change their name to the Arizona Mirage. Every couple of years they convince a lot of folks (myself included) that they may actually be good. And then they prove once again why they are (now) the worse-run organisation in the NFL.

  • I think there are three New England Patriots who are first-ballot Hall of Famers: Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and Adam Vinatieri. Yes, the kicker is going to the Hall of Fame. Even if the retires today, Vinatieri will be remembered as the greatest clutch kicker of all time an if that doesn't get him in, no other kicker will ever get it. I know there's a bias against kickers in the league, but the fact of the matter is that they are often the highest scoring player on the team and with parity the way it is, good coaching and the leg of a 160 pound guy with an unspellable last name is often the difference in a game.

    When Vinatieri is inducted into the Hall of Fame, he will be the fourth kicker in, joining the already-enshrined Jan Stenerud and the soon-to-be-enshrined Anderson boys, Moreton and Gary as the greatest kickers in the game.

  • All four teams in the NFC East have at least two wins. None of the teams in the NFC North have more than 1.

  • I wonder if Daunte Culpepper has gotten off the snide, of if he was just able to take advantage of an over-travelled, underachieving and emotionally-drained Saints team. I don't think he misses Randy Moss as much ss the pundits say, but he surely misses Matt Birk, Scott Linehan and Onterrio Smith. It makes me wonder why the Vikings don't sign Maurice Clarett to the practise squad. Their ground game couldn't be any worse.

  • Speaking of the Saints, their Annual November Meltdown has been moved up to September. Despite a win over Carolina in the opener, stick a fork in them, they're done. Having to play what amounts to 13 road games is going to kill their team.

  • The Marshall Thundering Herd played UCF and lost, ending the Golden Knights's record 17-game losing streak. Not that anyone in Huntington saw the game; Conference USA has a contract with CSTV (who?), the College Sports Television network who isn't on the local Huntington, cable affiliate. What the hell is this about?

    A lot of folks at Marshall thought Conference USA was a step up from the MAC, but with higher-quality play in the Mid-American Conference and not being able to see their team on TV, people here may start rethinking that.

  • The Matt Leinart watch has officially begun. I love watching this guy do interviews. Whenever someone asks him why he didn't go pro last year, he hems and haws trying to find a way to say anything except, "Because I didn't want to play in San Francisco."

    The teams right now who might get the first pick in the draft and who need a quarterback are: Arizona, New Orleans, Green Bay and the New York Jets. Yes, the Raiders and the Ravens are both winless, but neither of them are going to get the first pick (although both could use the help at QB).

  • Sunday night's game, San Francisco at Arizona will be played in Mexico City. What's up with that? Can the Cards not sell out their own stadium (obviously not). I'm all for increasing the exposure of the NFL brand, but to have a regular season game in an "away" stadium smacks of either exploitation or desperation. Should we start calling them the Mexico City Cardinales?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Gas prices (again)

A friend of mine is a store manager for Advance Auto Parts. He says one of the store managers in Grayson, KY (about an hour away) called him and said, "Take your delivery truck and fill it up now. Gas here just went up to $4.71 [for regular unleaded]."

I was at dinner tonight and at the beginning of my meal, the gas station across the street had regular unleaded for $2.83 a gallon. By the time I was done with my fajitas, that same gallon of regular unleaded was $3.03.

What is the explaination for this? The price of gas spiked when Hurricane Katrina hit and the price of oil jumped from around $62 a barrel to over $70. Last I saw, the price of oil had gone back down to the $60 a barrel range, but the prices haven't gone back down into the pre-Katrina range of $2.29. I heard today that the price of oil dropped so why would the cost of gasoline increase?

Sounds like price-gouging to me.

Time for football predictions

It's time to make football picks so here are mine for this week:

Atlanta at Buffalo
Carolina at Miami
Cincinnati at Chicago
Cleveland at Indianapolis
Jacksonville at N.Y. Jets
New Orleans at Minnesota
Oakland at Philadelphia
Tampa Bay at Green Bay
Tennessee at St. Louis
Arizona at Seattle
Dallas at San Francisco
New England at Pittsburgh
N.Y. Giants at San Diego
Kansas City at Denver

I think the Steelers are going to get revenge on the Pats this year. The succes of the past few years is catching up with them, both in terms of losing both coordinators, age, injuries and the salary cap. Still, if anyone can figure out how to win, it's them.

Arizona, Minnesota and San Diego have turned out to be busts.

I don't think the Vikings's problems are related to Randy Moss. After all, they did okay when he wasn't in the lineup last year. I think they're hurt more with having a new offensive coordinator, a new center and a quarterback who can either be hot or cold. Mike Tice is officially in the hot seat now.

The Cards are another underachieving team and I don't really know why. They play in a weak division so they can still make the playoffs, but having a suspect offensive line isn't helping.

I am puzzled by the Chargers, but the fact of the matter is that they have been in both games they lost, but if they can't close the deal they'll miss the playoffs because right now the Chiefs have a monster lead over them.

The Colts offense is looking mortal, but let's face it, they've had to play the Ravens and the Jaguars, two solid defensive teams who make other QBs look bad. Their defense seemingly gotten into the act, but let's face it, they've had to play the Ravens and the Jaguars, two offenses that don't exactly strike fear into the hearts of other teams.

The Cheerleader of the Week is Elizabeth of the Eagles. In case you didn't know the Eagles Cheerleaders website has a warneing that
advises people entering their site that it contains "age appropriate" content.

Elizabeth is a personal trainer who attended the University of the Arts, majoring in modern dance education. She enjoys ice cream and in five years would like to be in California. She is also very modest when she says the greatest gift she has ever received is her "God-given gift to dance".

She also like Conan O'Brien, burping contests with her roommate, and her hobbies include exercising, walking, hair and makeup, watching movies, eating, interior decorating, tanning, cards and shooting pool.

Who says cheerleaders aren't well-rounded people?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I'm not the only one

My buddy Mike had some pictures of his Star Wars collection posted on one of my favourite action figure websites, Rebelscum.

They're some old pictures, but impressive . . . most impressive.

J.D. Fortune, Rock Star

I can't believe Jackass won.

Actually, I can, but I'm in denial. Despite having shown that he's a drama generation machine and unreliable in the studio, our band, INXS, picked Jackass as their new lead singer.

I thought for sure MiG had this one in the bag. I'm not sure why they didn't pick him. Some people said his song selection for the finale was his undoing. Let's face it, if he's trying to get away from his background in the theater, singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" isn't the way to go.

Still, he's a team player, a super nice guy, a good (but not great) singer and takes command of any stage he is on or any room he is in. Also, having been in the bottom 3 exactly once, MiG has shown that he draws people in and that they like him.

As the competition wore on, it became increasingly clear to me that Marty was not the guy for our band, INXS. Despite his considerable talent, this isn't Rock Star: Temple of the Dog and Marty's grunge angst just doesn't mesh well with the band. He's got a strong work ethic, a clear vision of the musical direction he wants to be going in and the chicks dig him.

That leaves Jackass as the last man standing.

To his credit, he's good on stage, he's got some of the Michael Hutchence pretty-but-bad boy look and he's driven. I was just put off by his win-at-all-costs attitude and lackadaisical approach to the studio assignments.

He will either really work out for INXS or he will bomb.

I wish him and our band, INXS the best of luck in the future and can't wait for Rock Star: Van Halen to come on.

Looking back on Rock Star: INXS



This was a fun show. It was everything American Idol should have been.

The voting was done right, the contestants were generally of high quality and most importantly of all, the show treated everyone with class and dignity. There were nary a William Hung or Mary Roach to be found.

I know Fox thinks American Idol fans like watching the trainwrecks, but Rock Star: INXS proved that all the false drama, mind games, cheap stunts and showing bad people who just want to be on TV is completely and utterly unnecessary.

Of the 15 contestants, I think the following people will land on their feet:

MiG
Marty
Jordis
Suzie
Ty
Brandon

Everyone else will undoubtably benefit from the exposure that the show generated for them, but I think those six have a style, presence or "it" that will cause some producer to take a risk with them (or their band).

Some of my favourite performances were (in no particular order:

Jackass, "Hand in My Pocket"
Jordis, "Gimmie Some Lovin'"
Marty, "Wish You Were Here"
Deanna, "I Can't Make You Love Me"
Brandon, "Sweet Home Alabama"
Suzie, "Interstate Love Song"
Marty, "Mr. Brightside"
MiG, "Baby I Love Your Way"

However, easily the best performance of the entire show was Suzie singing "Bohemian Rhapsody". There probably isn't a harder song in all of rock n'roll to pull off if your name isn't Freddie Mercury and the people playing behind you aren't Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon, but Suzie nailed it. She did it so well that I think when MiG sang it on the finale, she made him look like a pale imitation and he wasn't half bad himself.

I look forward to seeing what the other contestants come up with, because I think some of them have a good shot at doing well on their own, and will owe a huge chunk of their success to our band, INXS.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Week 2 NFL Predictions

This week was another wacky week in the world of football prognostication. I think everyone whiffed on the Chicago/Detriot game. A bunch of us were very smug going into the Cowboys/Redskins but then Mark Brunell came out with two bombs to Santana Moss in four minutes and it all blew up in our faces.

We had some new folks show up this week, and one of the newbies buried the rest of us.
This week's results:

Dove 12-4 (75.00%)
ch85us2001 10-6 (62.50%)
Bottleblonde 9-7 (56.25%)
Gwalchmai 9-7 (56.25%)
Me 9-7 (56.25%)
Kipi 9-7 (56.25%)
PadreJim 9-7 (56.25%)
Sweetest Sin 9-7 (56.25%)
Ally 8-8 (50.00%)
Buttonpusherhead 8-8 (50.00%)
Ender 8-8 (50.00%)
Greenie 8-8 (50.00%)
Howie 8-8 (50.00%)
Weasel 8-8 (50.00%)
IceKrystal 7-8 (46.67%)
dejavu 7-9 (43.75%)
Jwmblade (43.75%)
Tunky (43.75%)
Bloodstalker 6-10 (37.50%)
Jeto 6-10 (37.50%)
The Z 6-10 (37.50%)
Tybaltus 6-10 (37.50%)
The overall standings look like this:

Dove 12-4 (75.00%)
Ally 19-13 (59.38%)
Bottleblonde 9-7 (56.25%)
ch85us2001 18-14 (56.25%)
Me 18-14 (56.25%)
Kipi 9-7 (56.25%)
Buttonpusherhead 17-15 (53.13%)
dejavu 17-15 (53.13%)
Gwalchmai 17-15 (53.13%)
CB 8-8 (50.00%)
Greenie 8-8 (50.00%)
Howie 8-8 (50.00%)
PadreJim 16-16 (50.00%)
Sweetest Sin 16-16 (50.00%)
Weasel 16-16 (50.00%)
X-Phile 8-8 (50.00%)
The Z 15-17 (46.88%)
Tunky 15-17 (46.88%)
IceKrystal 14-17 (45.16%)
Ender 14-18 (43.75%)
HunterHack 7-9 (43.75%)
Jwmblade 14-18 (43.75%)
Tybaltus 14-18 (43.75%)
Jeto 13-19 (40.63%)
Bloodstalker 11-21 (34.38%)

After an unusually hot run last year (64.04%), I am returning to my normal form at around 56%, but it's odd to see folks like Bloodstalker, Jwmblade and Tybaltus under 50% for the season; they're usually guys who check in at between 60 and 65%.

I'm hoping that with some of the teams who are not performing according to form (Washington, Baltimore) getting byes, there will be some normalcy that returns to the football universe.

In other football news, of my four fantasty teams, three are 1-1 and the fourth is 0-1. I think next year, I'm going to top myself off at two teams. Not being sure who to root for is killing me.

Dance off

Tonight ABC is airing a "dance off" between Dancing With the Stars "champion" Kelly Monaco and superior dancer John O'Hurley.

I don't know if I can bring myself to watch this, even though I was held captive by the show.

It doesn't bother me that Kelly won. I explained earlier that the way the voting was done, the audience vote would determine the winner. Given that Kelly is an ABC soap opera queen and showed her boobies in Playboy, there was no question that she was going to win any popularity contest on ABC. An aged character actor from NBC didn't have a chance.

What irked me about Kelly winning was that she started out as the worst of the dancers (yes, even worse than Evander Holyfield) and in her final dance, the judges inexplicibly gave her straight 10s, nevermind that no other contestant had even sniffed a 10 throughout the entire competition.

The show smacks of being rigged. I've heard they're going to do it again next year, but since it has about as much credibility as the WWE (Get the F Out!), I don't know if people will take it seriously.

I certainly won't.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Gas prices

Before Hurricane Katrina hit, the price of oil was around $60-63 a barrel and the price of a gallon of regular unleaded here was about $2.19. After Katrina, the price of oil spiked to over $70 a barrel and a gallon of regular unleaded went up to $3.09 locally.

The oil companies said due to increased demand and reduced supply, the price went up.

Now the price of oil is back down in the $62 range, but a gallon of gas costs $2.85.

If the price of gas is bourne by the price of a barrel of oil, why hasn't the cost of gasoline gone down?

There can't be any explaination other than price gouging.

The weekend's football action

I'll bet you never thought you'd see the day when a team would hold the Colts offense to 10 points and still lose, huh?

The Colts's defense is carrying them, although in all fairness, they have played the Ravens and Jaguars, two of the better defensive teams in the league, so it shouldn't be that surprising that they haven't put up massive numbers of points, but Indy's much-maligned defense is acutally playing pretty well right now.

How does Jeff Bowden still have a job. The Florida State offense was bad, bad, bad on Saturday against Boston College. The new zone blocking scheme has them playing worse than a high school offensive line and it took Jeff Bowden three quarters to figure out that he needed to spread the BC defense with a 4 wide receiver set. Bobby needs to realise that he may be out of a job if he doesn't sack his son soon.

Are the Lions underachieving or are they really that bad? I am about to declare the Lions officially "on the clock" and Matt Millen in the hot seat.

I got to see the end of the Pitt-Nebraska. We were at the Outback getting dessert at the bar when I saw Pitt botch a field goal with 7 seconds left in the game. At first I thought it was a fake, but then I saw the replay which showed the long snapper hike the ball when the holder wasn't looking. The ball then bounced off his helment into the arms of the kicker, who threw it away.

It puzzled me to see Pitt line up for another field goal attempt because I didn't see any flags or anything that would merit a second chance. The guy next to me at the bar then explained that the Panthers were kicking on third down, and because they threw an incomplete pass, they got another shot on 4th down.

Will someone please forward this game film to the Marshall U. coaching staff? Just for future reference, of course. Not because they're boneheaded idiots.

Emmy Idol

How did you guys like the Emmys last night? Aside from the usual vapid acceptance speeches and boring banter between presenters, they had a feature called Emmy Idol where personalities (who may or may not be known for singing) sang some classic TV theme songs and then the audience got to vote on who their favourite was.

The contestants were:
  • Donald Trump and Megan Mullally (in the character of Karen Walker) singing the theme to "Green Acres"

  • Kristen Bell performing the theme to "Fame" (which I always thought more of as a movie than a TV show)

  • Gary Dourden and Macy Gray singing "Moving on Up" from "The Jeffersons"

  • William Shatner and Frederica von Stade performing the theme to Star Trek (TOS)

The Donald and Mullally were first and they were very funny. Donald was wearing a set of blue bib overalls and when he started singing, I didn't think Mullally was going to be able to sing, she was laughing so hard.
Singing: 8
Performance: 7
Overall: 7.5

Next was Bell who was actually pretty good, although of all the contestants, she looked like she was taking herself waaaaaaayyyyyy to seriously. There was a moment when one of her dancers almost dropped her, but she held it together.
Singing: 7
Performance: 6
Overall: 6.5

Was Macy Gray drunk?
Singing: 5
Performance: 5
Overall: 5

Shatner came out and recited (in the way only William Shatner can) the opening to Star Trek while the "world-renowned mezzosporano" von Stade did all the heavy lifting. It was pretty funny.
Singing (Shatner): 4
Singing (von Stade): 8
Performance: 6
Overall: 6

The winners by vote were rightfully Trump and Mullally who had their encore cut by time.

This Emmy Idol thing has some serious legs, although with the death of the TV theme song, I don't know how many years this can go on. Really, what shows have theme songs anymore? Some shows just have theme music or used a pop song, but can you imagine if they could get Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges to come out and perform the theme to "Different Strokes"? Or what about David James Elliott and Yeardley Smith singing the "The Brady Bunch"?

That would be entertainment.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Football predictions, NFL week 2

For everyone who's interested in who I'm picking in the NFL games this week (all three of you), here is who I think is going to win:

  • Baltimore at Tennessee - Kordell Stewart signed on to back-up back-up Anthony Wright who will be starting in place of Kyle Boller. (as if that's any comfort)..

  • Buffalo at Tampa Bay

  • Detroit at Chicago - Someone has to win

  • Jacksonville at Indianapolis - It pains me to make this pick, but I don't think the Jags have it in them to stop Manning. I hope I'm wrong

  • Minnesota at Cincinnati - When in doubt, go with the home team

  • New England at Carolina - Still the defending world champs

  • Pittsburgh at Houston - Roethlisberger is listed as questionable. Houston still plays like an expansion team

  • San Francisco at Philadelphia - Philadelphia can't afford to start 0-2

  • Atlanta at Seattle - Holmgren needs to start working on his resume

  • St. Louis at Arizona - Big division game, the Rams need to not get away from the running game so quickly

  • Cleveland at Green Bay - They're still the Browns

  • Miami at N.Y. Jets - Last week was a fluke for the Fish

  • San Diego at Denver - Two division gams in the AFC West, my fantasy team needs more LT

  • Kansas City at Oakland - They're stil the Raiders

  • N.Y. Giants at New Orleans - The sentimental pick is the Saints, but the Giants are playing at home and they're coming off a big win last week (even if it was just Arizona).

  • Washington at Dallas - QB problems in DC means big plays from the Dallas Ds in DC means big plays from the Dallas D

The Cheerleader of the Week comes to us from San Diego. This is Ashley B.'s fourth year with the Charger Girls. She graduated from San Diego State U. with a major in communications.

Ashley is an Ares who enjoys sushi, The Incredibles, books by Mary Higgins Clark, and her favourite Chargers player is Drew Brees. She also encourages you to support the Make a Wish Foundation.

If you would like to stalk Ashley, you can email her here.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Rock Star: INXS, Nooooooooooooooooooo!!!!

I am in shocked disbelief.

It seems that Sweet Suzie McNeil just isn't right for our band, INXS.

That leaves the finalists as Jackass, Marty and MiG, two-thirds of whom I can't stand. MiG was finally put into the bottom 3 and apparently Marty was the fans favourite of the week.

Suzie never had a chance at winning. Despite half of the intial contestants being female, and the band saying that they didn't care whether a man or womal won, I think bringing a girl into the mix would mess way too much with the band's chemistry, so I'm not surprised that Suzie didn't win. I'm just shocked that they chose to eliminate her last night rather than Jackass.

Perhaps I was wrong about the reasons why the band had Jackass and Marty sing their original songs. I had originally thought that they wanted to hear a differing range of songs on Tuesday night so they got MiG and Suzie to stretch while letting Marty and Jackass play it safe, but now maybe they were taking singles for a test drive.

On Tuesday, I just about declared MiG as a mortal lock to win, but now I'm not so sure. With Grunge Boy and Drama Magnet in the finale, it's anyone's game now. I just hope that neither of them win.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Rock Star: INXS, 4 remaining

We're gearing up for the season finale. One more contestant will be eliminated this week and then the final three will go on and one will be chosen as the new lead singer of our band, INXS.

I've said up until now that the finalists will be Jackass and MiG, but after this week, I'm inclined to pick the final two as MiG and Suzie. More on this later.

The clinic this week was a one-on-band interview between each contestant and the band. Jackass started out and pandered to the band, even bringing out pictures to generate sympanthy. Suzie seemed really nervous and that may hurt her in the final elimination. MiG coasted through, although I thought the band had some unnecessary reservations about his background in theater. If anything, that should make him more attractive; he's used to the spotlight and being on stage.

I was confused by Marty. Does he really want to be the lead singer of INXS? He wants the band to "meet him halfway". That says right there that a conflict is brewing for any future involvement he may have with the band. I remind Marty that there are five existing band members and he's the sixth. If anyone is going to be compromising, it will be him because he's outnumbered 5 to 1 by people who have been together since he was in diapers.

In order of their performances:

Suzie, "Interstate Love Song" and "What's Up?"
With two very different songs, Suzie did well, even though her voice broke a couple of times. She has the biggest voice left, which is surprising, but she was almost overpowered by the band on "Interstate Love Song" but pulled it off well. I give her very little chance because I don't think the band ultimately wants a woman fronting them. It would change their sound too much. Still, she has shown that she can come from behind (three consecutive appearances in the bottom 3) and that in the right environment, she can do very well.
Verdict: ↑, ↔

Jackass, "Pretty Vegas" and "Money"
Why would the band have Jackass and Marty sing their original songs again? I'm not sure if it helps or hurts the contestants. We've heard "Pretty Vegas" three times now (twice competitively and once as an encore) and I personally don't care for it. Since the band picked the songs, why would they want Jackass and Marty to sing things they have already done? Jackass has been consistent lately. He's good on stage, but hasn't brought his signature re-arrangements to the table the past few weeks. I think he has his his plateau.
Verdict: ↔, ↔

Marty, "Trees" and "Creep"
I can't decide if the band's song selection for Marty was to help him or hurt him. Both were very easy for him stylistically. His original song is a grunge song and "Creep" is a grunge song. He wasn't required to show a lot of range. I liked that he at least tried to change things up with "Trees" by going acoustic with Dave. Still, I don't care for Marty's original song and still think he's all wrong for the band.
Verdict: ↔, ↔

MiG, "Paint It Black" and "Kiss From a Rose"
The band asked MiG to do the most and I can't help but think it was because they're getting him ready for a final audition. He got two very different songs, and with the first, he got to rock and on the second he got to showcase his voice. Either song could have been a disaster, and I'm convinced that Marty would have self-destructed if he'd had to sing these two songs. MiG is still the frontrunner.
Verdict: ↑, ↑/↔

Both Suzie and MiG were given two very different songs which required them to stretch themselves. Neither Marty nor Jackass had to go too far out of their comfort box. I think this was intentional and the band getting a good look at MiG and Suzie. I think they've basically written Marty off as too different from them and Jackass off as a drama-magnet.

I could be way off base here, but I think it would be very easy to see Marty get eliminated tonight, making the final top 3 Jackass, MiG and Suzie. Of those three, I think Jackass gets sent packing first and then MiG pulls a Carrie Underwood wire-to-wire win.

We'll see beginning tonight, but my money is on Marty being eliminated. If for some reason, he stays on top of the voting, Jackass will be eliminated tonight, setting up a Marty, MiG, Suzie final with MiG still winning.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Football talk for NFL week 1

Something is seriously out-of-whack in the NFL universe. Consider this:
  • The Lions, who have been attrocious for the better part of the last decade, were the only team in the NFC North to win a game.

  • The defending NFC Champion Eagles, who play in a division with bottom-dwellers Dallas, New York Giants and Washington, were the only team in their division to lose a game.

  • Peyton Manning and the red-hot Colts offense threw for 254 yards on Sunday night. The Ravens, who have not been known of late for being a strong passing team, threw for 324 yards.

  • The Chiefs, whose potent offense has been overshadowed by the Colts's lately but whose defense has been woeful, nearly pitched a shutout against highly-regarded Chad Pennington and the Jets and only gave up a meaningless touchdown in the final minutes of the game.

The only reasonable explaination for this is that parity has truly struck the NFL and the Football Gods have decreed, "Parity is good."

(So say we all.)

Every team, even the Cardinals have hope right now and that's why the NFL is the king of the four major sports (for those eeping count, that's football, baseball, basketball and NASCAR).

How about those Saints? I dare you to move the team now, Tom Benson. Really, who can root against the Saints this year? No one. Not even Eagles fans. If anyone boos the Saints, a lynch mob will descend upon them.

I was very happy to get to watch the Jaguars play. Maybe with Huntington hero Byron Leftwich playing for them, we'll get to see more Jacksonville football, just like we get lots of Jets (Chad Pennington) and Vikings/Raiders (Randy Moss) games here.

Do you think Denver was looking past the Dolphins and got caught with their britches down or are they really that bad. Let me remind folks that Mike "Mastermind" Shanahan hasn't won a playoff game since having the backfield tandem of Elway and Davis on his side.

Last week, I listed three "Mikes" who may be in the hot seat by the year's end: Holmgren, Shanahan, Tice. Let me add two more Mikes to that group: Martz and Sherman. This week was not a good week to be a coach named Mike (although Nolan did pretty well).

How about those Ohio State Buckeyes? Despite Texas trying their best to give the game away, they still let Vince Young beat them in the Horseshoe. I don't see happy times in Columbus if they keep getting good field position, solid defense and turnovers, but can't put an opponent away.

I am in four fantasy leagues and it's killing me. Do I root for or against the New England Defense? I've got Donvan McNabb in one game and I'm against him in another. And why didn't I play Byron Leftwich!?!?!?!?!?! Arrrrrgggggghhhhhhh!!!!! Three of my teams played this weekend and the fourth just had it's draft. So far I am winless: 0-2-1. Plus, I got beaten by a girl in one of my leagues.

Why does Michael Irvin have a job? There is no one on a major pre-game show who annoys me more than this guy. When he worked at FOX on their second-tier show, he picked up the nasty habit of yelling all the time, and unfortunately ESPN lets him get away with it. Maybe Fox Sports can hire him and the recently Trev Alberts to do a football show and he can be out of my misery.

No one left any comments on my blog for week 1, but I am running a football pool on three different message boards that predicts the results of the week's NFL football games. So far there are 18 total participants and this is how folks did this week.

Ally 11-5 (68.75%)
dejavu 10-6 (62.50%)
Buttonpusherhead 9-7 (56.25%)
Me 9-7 (56.25%)
The Z 9-7 (56.25%)
Gwalchmai 8-8 (50.00%)
CB 8-8 (50.00%)
ch85us2001 8-8 (50.00%)
Tunky 8-8 (50.00%)
Weasel 8-8 (50.00%)
X-Phile 8-8 (50.00%)
HunterHack 7-9 (43.75%)
IceKrystal (43.75%)
Jeto (43.75%)
PadreJim (43.75%)
Sweetest Sin (43.75%)
Ender 6-10 (37.50%)
Bloodstalker 5-11 (31.25%)

Feel free to join in any time. Just leave a comment here on my blog about who you think will win each game.

The week 2 games are:

Baltimore at Tennessee
Buffalo at Tampa Bay
Detroit at Chicago
Jacksonville at Indianapolis
Minnesota at Cincinnati
New England at Carolina
Pittsburgh at Houston
San Francisco at Philadelphia
Atlanta at Seattle
St. Louis at Arizona
Cleveland at Green Bay
Miami at N.Y. Jets
San Diego at Denver
Kansas City at Oakland
N.Y. Giants at New Orleans
Washington at Dallas

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Kansas State vs. Marshall

I just watched my alma mater give away the game to K-State and I'm disgusted.

When Bobby Pruett retired just before spring practises this year, I thought boneheaded coaching decisions were a thing of the past. Boy, was I wrong.

Despite being back on their heels for most of the game, the Thundering Herd was poised to come back and win. Eight seconds left, first down on K-State's 22 yard line with one timeout left. They're down 21-19. A field goal will win it all.

The ball is spotted on the right has mark after receiver Marcus Fitzgerald (brother of the Arizona Cardinals's Larry Fitzgerald) goes out bounds.

What do you do?

You run a quick draw play to the center of the field, drop to the ground and call timeout. Then you kick a 39-yard field goal.

I know this. My buddies who are over to watch the game know this. The announcers know this. All the people in the stadium know this. Everyone knows this.

Apparently, "everyone" doesn't include the Marshall coaching staff.

What do they do?

To the horror of everyone who cheers for the Herd, they run a pass play, which results in the ball being tipped and intercepted by the Wildcats.

What the hell were they thinking?!?!?!?!

Either they had no faith in their field goal unit, got greedy or rookie head coach Mark Snyder's brain turned to mush and no one on the team thought to run a different--and the correct--play.

There is no rational explaination for this.

Someone please tell me that Snyder isn't really this stupid, because if there are too many more games like this, I'm going to mount a coup and install myself as the head coach and bring on a bunch of my cronies to run the team.

We certainly couldn't do any worse.

Friday, September 09, 2005

"Hurricane czar"?

Now that he doesn't have to tow the party line about crap he doesn't believe, Colin Powell had some not so nice things to say about how the disaster response to Hurricane Katrina was handled.

Several people have suggest Powell be tapped to become the country's "hurricane czar" to head disaster relief efforts after hurricanes. Don't we already have someone doing this job? It's called the head of FEMA.

Oh, that's right . . . the guy who does that job, Mike Brown, has been hidden by Dubya's handlers because he's inept and a political liability. He wasn't so inept last year when the hurricanes were tearing apart Florida, but that was an election year and the governor of that state is the president's brother.

It's a good thing Karl Rove has been brought in to help out . . . Too bad that won't get food, medicine, water and shelter to anyone who needs it.

I'm not sure we so much need someone with "name" level recognition to head the hurricane response as much as we need someone experienced in disaster relief to head FEMA, not a political appointee.

You can read more about Powell's views on his time as secretary of state, the disaster response to Katrina and having to tow the party line with regards to Iraq here. The highlight of my day: Powell called having to tell the UN that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction but knowing in his heart that they didn't "a blot on my record" and "painful".

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Football musings

  • New England is going for the three-peat, something that has been attempted 7 times in the Super Bowl era, but never completed. In any given year, the odds of winning the Super Bowl are slim, but coupled with free agency (something six of the previous 3-peat attempts never had to deal with) and losing both coordinators, it looks like the Patriots have an uphill climb ahead of them.

    Still, if there's any team that could complete the trifecta, they're the one. They don't overspend for players, they scheme well and they're not cocky. We'll see if Brady, Belichick et al can make it three in a row and four in five years, and until someone beats them, I'm not picking against the defending World Champions.

  • I don't know how the NFL can approve the Saints moving from New Orleans. Check out this article about Joe Horn talking to Saints fans and Mike Silver's story about going to New Orleans with Deuce McAllister. If the NFL allows the Saints to move, they will rightly destroyed by the press.

    Former Vikings owner Red McCombs wants a team in his hometown of San Antonio and for some reason the NFL thinks they need a team in Los Angeles (despite the fact that the last two team in LA moved and no one really wants another sports franchise). How can the Saints even consider moving now? Sure Tom Benson has been trying to get out of the Superdome for years, but losing the Saints and Hornets (very real possibilities) will take something away from a city that right now needs sports franchises to unify it.

    The politicians and NFL owners cannot afford another PR disaster and that's what moving the Saints would be. If San Antonio wants a team (but does the state of Texas really need another football team?), let them have the Vikings, Colts or Chargers. Same for LA. Don't let the Saints go anywhere, Paul Tagliabue.

  • The Jaguars have covered up 10,000 seats in the Gator Bowl (I refuse to call that place it's other "official" name) in hopes of avoiding local TV blackouts. Flagging attendance has become the hallmark of the franchise the past few years. Here's the cure: win. That will put asses back in seats and bring prime-time games back to the First Coast.

    Jack del Rio and the boys had a good year in 2004 and with some luck they'll get into the playoffs this year. They play in a division they could either dominate or end up as bottom-dwellers. The defense is good, but their offense needs to get on track. I'm expecting big things from you, Matt Jones.

  • Here are my division winners for this year:

    NFC: Philadelphia, Minnesota, Carolina, Arizona
    AFC: New England, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Kansas City

    Wild cards: Atlanta, Washington, Jacksonville, San Diego

    Of course, I am sure to be eating my words in December.

  • Other teams in the mix (in no particular order): Cincinnati, Baltimore, Buffalo, Dallas, Seattle and Denver.

  • I think this is the last year for the Eagles to have a shot at winning The Big One. Between age, the salary cap and Terrell Owens fragging his QB, I think unless Philadelphia gets to the Super Bowl this year, it will be three or four years before they contend again.

  • It puzzles me why there are so many rookie holdouts in training camp. For one thing, even though a player may get a little more money by holding out, in the long run, they are really hurting their earning potential. Take Philip Rivers. If he hadn't held out last year, he'd have been starting for the Chargers. Now, he's stuck behind Drew Brees, who may keep playing so well that they trade Rivers at the end of next this year or sometime next year.

    Here's how to solve all of the rookie salary issues: develop a chart for all rookies that guarantees their salary based on the position they play and where they went in the draft. Performance incetives are identical for everyone at each position, as is the signing bonus. After their rookie year, if they're still with the team that drafted them, that team gets exclusive rights to negotiate a new deal with them.

    Pay for play. If a rookie does well, he gets paid. If he sucks, he gets cut. If he's somewhere in the middle, he gets paid commesurate with his proven value, not his projected value. This works for the NBA; it can work for the NFL.

  • Why does Jeff Bowden still have a job?

  • Coaches in the hot seat: Bill Parcells, Lovie Smith, Norv Turner (only because he works for Al Davis and that means the coach could be fired at any time), and the three Mikes (Tice, Holmgren and Shanahan).

    Next year there will be another Mike in the group (Nolan), but he gets a pass this year.

  • I am in, cout 'em, three fantasy football leagues this year, and it makes for some interesting viewing. For instance, this week, in one of my leagues I have the New England defense, but in another league, my opponent does. I want them to do well to help me out, but I also need them to do not so well so it doesn't hurt too much, either. The only team I know I have to root for every week is the Jaguars.

Some people only read what I have to say about football because on one forum I belong to, I post a Cheerleader of the Week, so I thought I'd bring that feature here to my blog.

This week, I've selected Brandi of the Saintsations.


Brandi is 20 years old and hails from Bogalusa, Louisiana. This is her second year on the squad. In addition to being a big fan of The Real World, Brandi is a student at Southeastern Louisiana University and her favourite food is spaghetti.

Let's have a group song

If I hear the Rock Star: INXS finalists start into a Beach Boys song, so help me God I will never watch this show again. I have a bad feeling that once they're down to 2, there will be another group sing with the 13 people who have already been eliminated.

So let's cut to the chase: Jordis is gone. Not a big surprise, although I have said that she was the only girl who had a chance to win. She's been stumbling lately and I think her age has come into play.

After singing for INXS, when asked if she did enough to win, she replied, "I hope so" and I knew she was gone. I don't think she lacks in confidence, but the last 10 weeks of relentless competition have worn her down. She's got a lot of potential, but I don't think she expected the competition to be as hard as it has been.

One piece of advice, though: do something else with the hair. Dreads are fine, but wash it every now and then. Jordis is a very pretty girl, but sometimes I get the feeling that she's hiding behind a façade.

That leaves us with four competitors: Jackass, Marty, MiG and Suzie

Jackass
Pros: Focused, chicks love him
Cons: Drama whore, loner
Odds: 4-1

Marty
Pros: Charisma, intense
Cons: This isn't Rock Star: Temple of the Dog
Odds: 8-1

MiG
Pros: Professional, experienced, team player
Cons: Not as assertive as others
Odds: 2-1

Suzie
Pros: Strong voice
Cons: Doesn't have Y chromosome
Odds: 10-1

So You Think You Can Dance


I've been watching this peripherally on my TV's split screen. I did see that Snow and Allan were eliminated, which I thought would be impossible. Snow is not only hot, but she's a very good ballroom dancer. Allan is a big, loveable guy, and I thought that would carry him further in the competition.

Snow's problem is that she was up against Melody who is not only a good dancer, but I think she's getting some sympathy votes because for two weeks now she has carried her partner. Allan wasn't going to win, but I thought his personality would win him enough powervoters to keep him around.

There are many things in this show which I think are going to find their way into American Idol, but my one criticism of the judging system (because I will always find something to complain about) is that people are put into the bottom 4 as couples. So if one partner screws it up big (like Ryan did for Melody last week), they're both put up on the chopping block.

It seems to me that with half the field eliminated, they should be putting people up for elimination individually not as a couple. We saw that last night when Melody once again is on the block because Ryan can't dance ballroom and Destini is up for elimination because Jamile is struggling.

Other than that, I like the format.

And I like super-hot Catherine Zeta Jones look-alike Lauren Sanchez.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Pajama Party on Rock Star: INXS

Whoever came up with the idea of putting super-hot über-MILF Brooke Burke in pajamas should be given a medal. Then everyone int he wardrobe department who did not come up with that idea should be slapped on the back of the head and told, "Why did you think of that sooner?"

The clinic this week surely is preparing the top 5 finalists for what awaits them at the end of the show. Even though only one person is going to win the contest and become the lead singer for our band, INXS, everyone else is going on to bigger and better things, I guarantee it. So even the people who know, right now, that they aren't going to win (Suzie, Marty, and Jordis), need to soak up as much of the knowledge and experience that they are being handed because it will serve them well in the future.

We watched the show on Sunday night on VH-1 and my wife said that when he started throwing cake was the first time she actually liked Jackass. I was hoping that someone would ram it down his throat and then "forget" how to do the Heimlich.

Another thought about the contestants: Does everyone in the house smoke? Actually, I don't think I've ever seen MiG smoking. That could be due to the fact that he's a fairly successful stage actor who needs his voice week in and week out. It seems that the others are trying to make it in rock n' roll, but they all have day jobs.

My uncle is a Broadway actor and he says some of the people he tours and performs with won't turn on the air conditioners in hotel rooms unless they absolutely have to because it messes with their voices. Why, then would anyone who is trying to be a professional singer smoke?

Jackass, "Come As You Are" and "Pretty Vegas"
He started out almost acapella trying to showcase his voice, which is actually pretty good. I don't like Nirvana, so the song didn't do anything for me. I think he's saving up for a hard charge at the win, so it didn't seem to me that he put forth his best effort, but I think he's sandbagging. His original song was good and Jackass turned in a strong performance. He's trying to show that he's in control of his destiny not hanging on, like a couple of other performers.
Verdict: ↔, ↑

Suzie, "I Can't Make You Love Me" and "Soul Life"
As I've said before, this is a hard song to cover because Bonnie Raitt owns that song; everyone else can only do a pale imitation. Still, the "viewer's choice" doesn't leave the performer any option and Suzie did pretty good. It was a straight cover and she got to show off her vocals, which is her strength. Dave says she's the strongest vocalist left, and he's probably right. And what's with all the swaying? I take it they don't allow any lighters in the venue.

Her original song was okay; she toned things down from the theatrics of last week, got to show off her voice and I think she picked up a bunch of Ty voters. Suzie has an outside shot at winning now that Jordis has stumbled, but I still think she's on the outside looking in.
Verdict: ↑, ↑

MiG, "Hard to Handle" and "Home in Me"
Brandon did this song better, but that's because he's a southern rocker. MiG is not, but still did well. His performance showed through on this part of his set and I think that combined with the subdued tone of his second song, got to show the band a tremendous amount of range. We also got to see the band switch from playing air drums to air guitar. The second song was not an INXS song, and seemed like he may have been pandering a little bit to the band by singing a song about losing someone to a band that has lost their lead singer. I don't think he's in any danger, but needs to stir up the killer instinct and put everyone else away.
Verdict: ↑, ↔

Jordis, "We Are the Champions" and "Try Not"
I don't know if the people who voted for Jordis to sing the song that blew up on JD were trying to help or hurt her. All Queen songs take a big voice and Jordis doesn't really have it. Suzie does, MiG does, but the others do not. Jordis was very melodic, in ways even Freddie Mercury wasn't, but she didn't quite pull it off. Of course, since she wasn't nearly as bad as Jackass, so that's a good thing.

The original song was mediocre. It wasn't as bad as the band leader led us to believe on Sunday, but her vocals are not as strong as Suzie and her performance is a couple of steps behind Jackass. Dave asked if she has "lost the fire" and he may not be far off. Jordis is the youngest of the competitors and the young ones have always faltered in any of these competitions.

Let's face it: this competition has been going on for over two months (and that's just the televised part). With the lone exception of Diana DeGarmo, the younger contestants have worn out first and I think it's starting to get to Jordis. I think she could handle being in the band, but being in a competition is a different animal altogether. She's not as emotional as Suzie, but that may be a liability. Where Suzie let's it out and it's gone, Jordis seems to hole up and I think she is stumbling.
Verdict: ↔, ↔

Marty, "Everlong" and "Trees"
This guy is really starting to annoy me. Our band, INXS, wants him to get away from the screaming (read: move away from the grunge), but the fans picked what is essentially a grunge song for him. Marty's voice is very angst-ridden and while some of INXS's music has that tone, it's not the overriding theme and I don't think Marty can get away from it.

There's simply too much Pearl Jam in the way he sings and performs and not enough INXS. Marty's voice is becoming annoying, as is his posing and while he doesn't do all the eye-boinking that Jackass does, I don't care for it, and I don't think INXS does either. His stage act reminds me a lot of Scott Weiland (and I don't mean that in a good way).
Verdict: ↔, ↔

After the performances, the pajama-clad super-hot über-MILF Brooke Burke announced that the contestants would be shown in the order of the voting after the first five minutes or so. It was:

1. Marty
2. Suzie
3. Jackass
4. MiG
5. Jordis

Despite being in 4th place in the preliminary voting, I think MiG is going to win. He had a down week, but I think Marty has compatibility issues with the band in terms of style and Jordis is too young.

Having been in the bottom 3 so often, Suzie has come on strong, but I don't know that it's enough to get through to the band. That leaves MiG and Jackass. I think (at least I hope) that the band has seen enough of Jackass's antics to not want that kind of guy around, and that leave's MiG as the last man standing.

I predict that the final bottom 3 will be Jackass, Marty and Jordis with either Marty of Jordis going home tonight.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

More football talk

How 'bout them Noles!

They snapped their six-game losing streak against Miami, but looked horrible doing it. Miami looked good; they ran all over the place, threw the ball well and if not for two botched field goals (in the first step towards excising the ghosts of "wide right"), they'd have won and probably deserved to.

How is it that Jeff Bowden still has a job?

I know that Bobby doesn't really want to throw his own kid to the wolves, but he doesn't have any problem beating up on Tommy at Clemson, so why keep Jeff around? He's obviously in over his head, and has been since Mark Richt left.

With Clemson, Bobby realised that he gets paid for beating opponents, no matter who their coach is and how they're related to him. If he can't bring home ACC championships, he won't be bringing home paychecks either, and the weak link for the last five years has been his boy Jeff.

Get rid of him, Bobby. Either demote him or cut him loose. It might be telling that no one is knocking down the doors to have Jeff as their head coach, like they did for Terry and Tommy, both of whom also coached at Florida State under Bobby.

As long as he's on your staff, the Seminoles are vulnerable.

Now on to NFL stuff:

On a couple of message boards, I keep a running tally of the week's NFL games just for sport and everyone tries to see who can pick the winners. There's no prize, but it's a lot of fun. Here's who I am picking for this week (winners in bold):

Oakland at New England
Chicago at Washington
Cincinnati at Cleveland
Denver at Miami
Houston at Buffalo
New Orleans at Carolina
N.Y. Jets at Kansas City
Seattle at Jacksonville
Tampa Bay at Minnesota
Tennessee at Pittsburgh
Arizona at N.Y. Giants
Dallas at San Diego
Green Bay at Detroit
St. Louis at San Francisco
Indianapolis at Baltimore
Philadelphia at Atlanta

Of course, I'm only sometimes right, so don't go to Vegas with my picks.

Hurricane Katrina

I haven't blogged about Hurricane Katrina because, frankly, I don't know where to start.

When I lived in Florida, I devoted a significant chunk of my time from July to November watching the local weather reports (this was before The Weather Channel). One day after I moved to West Virginia, my father asked me how I liked it here and I replied, "I really like waking up in September and not dodging hurricanes."

I've got a lot of strong opinions, most of them not very nice, about the way the disaster relief was handled by Dubya and his cronies, but I think I'll save them for later. Still, if you're interested, Keith Olbermann (formerly of ESPN and now at MSNBC) has some similar opinions which you can veiw here and you can read here.

What I hope is that you are doing something--anything--to help out with the folks who are suddenly homeless. Hurricanes regularly strike the United States. They have and will continue to strike the Gulf coast and the Atlantic coast until we learn to control the weather.

No matter where it is in the country (or the world!) that you live, you are in the path of natural disasters. Whether it is landslides in California, hurricanes in Florida, tornadoes in Nebraska or flooding in Iowa, you are one big storm away from being homeless and losing all your possessions. If that happens, chances are that some other Americans are going to be coming to your aid. Not out of charity. Not out of pity. Out of an obligation we all feel towards one another, not just as Americans, but as human beings.

It is in times like these that we see some of the worst of people. Looters, rapists, gangs and gunmen are reportedly on the loose in New Orleans.

But we also see the best. We see firemen and police officers, many of whom are now homeless themselves staying up for five days at a time waiting for relief, which comes in the form of 150 NYPD officers who remember the help they got in late 2001. Firemen from West Virginia got in a truck last Wednesday and drove to Louisiana, not expecting to be back for at least 60 days.

If you would like to help out in any way, the best place to start is the Red Cross. To learn about other ways and organisations who are offering assistance, visit CNN's Help Center.

Another organisation that is helping, and inexplicibly absent from the CNN list is the PCUSA which is soliciting churches to serve as shelters for hurricane victims, individuals willing to host "displaced" families in their homes, and work teams to go to disaster sites to offer volunteer labour.

If you have not done anything yet, or if you still have something to give, I urge you to do so immediately, because I guarantee that when it's your turn, someone will be there for you, too.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Get out your crystal ball and Ouija board!

It's football season folks, and that means a bunch of armchair quarterbacks sitting around exaggerating the exploits of their favourite team and trashing all the rest.

Over the past three or four years, I've belonged to a message board where on a weekly basis we try and guess the outcome of the professional (American) football games each week. I am not very good at it, often ending the year in the 55% range, although last year, I finished with a total record of 171-96 (66.04%).

I don't know how may regular readers I may have, and of those I don't know how many are football fans, but on a weekly basis, I will post the next week's games and if you'd like to, try to predict the winners. I do this for a couple of other message boards I'm on, and I'll keep a running tally here for anyone else who wants to try their hand at prognosticating football games.

The games for the NFL's opening week are:

Oakland at New England
Chicago at Washington
Cincinnati at Cleveland
Denver at Miami
Houston at Buffalo
New Orleans at Carolina
N.Y. Jets at Kansas City
Seattle at Jacksonville
Tampa Bay at Minnesota
Tennessee at Pittsburgh
Arizona at N.Y. Giants
Dallas at San Diego
Green Bay at Detroit
St. Louis at San Francisco
Indianapolis at Baltimore
Philadelphia at Atlanta

Don't forget that the season opener is next Thursday, not Sunday, so if you want to particpate, get your picks in by then. I'll post my own picks sometime early next week (after I hear the injury reports).

I also plan on blogging regularly about football, and if you're really interested in peripheral football interests, I suggest you check out the NFL Cheerleader Blog for some nice cheesecake pictures and content.

If you like "real" football commentary, the best in the biz is Gregg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback column, which is a bit verbose, sometimes obtuse, but very smart and features some cheerleader cheesecake and beefcake for the ladies.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

What a hypocrite

Let me get this straight:

Jackass is pissed off because Suzie made the comment that she thought he was taking a long time in the studio during the show that was on VH-1 on Sunday and the recap before the performances. He thought Suzie's comments were out of line.

"Hello, Kettle? This is the Pot."

What a loser this guy is. I was really hoping that he would be in the bottom 3 and INXS would get rid of him. My wife and I were talking about the performance show and where I thought the band was covering for him, she thought the band was slamming him. So I went back to the tape (because I don't have TiVO).

At the beginning of the performance show there is the segment about the contestants going into the studio. After Jackass is show making an ass of himself, Dave calls him out and asks why he was unprepared. Jackass makes some excuse for himself. Andy than says, "We wanted to see what you brought to the studio, and you brought yourself."

Dead silence. Crickets chirping.

It was a direct shot at his work ethic. My wife was right. Inside, I went, "Yes!"

I think Jackass is back to playing the game. I thought what MiG said about him was worse ("There is a method to JD's madness and so far it has worked for him"), but after the show they had tape of him going to Suzie and making her cry. He knew MiG and the other singers wouldn't put up with his crap, so he went after the most vulnerable of the contestants to try and shake her. Jackass is an opportunistic bastard and should be run out of town.

If he really felt that competition is competition, he would have taken the remarks in stride, just as he expected the others to take his crap, but he got personal. You can't have it both ways, Jackass.

So then we see the results show that should be 20 minutes long, but Fox has stretched out into an hour.

Suzie deservedly gets the encore, and Dave asks her to pick another contestant to be her "opening act". She picks Marty. A good choice, but I personally would have picked MiG.

After the singing, Marty, Ty and Jackass are announced as the preliminary bottom 3, with Marty being replaced by Jordis in the final bottom 3.

Jackass had an "underwhelming" performance and I was so hoping that would lead to his ouster, but alas, it was Ty who was not right for our band, INXS.

As a side note, how do you think Peter got the job of cutting everyone? Did he volunteer for that job or did he get stuck with it? At least the band tells the contestant they're being cut themselves, and doesn't leave it to their manager or some other flunkie.

So Ty is gone. Over the past few weeks, I think he's shown that he really wasn't going to win, but after the crap Jackass pulled this week (and even earlier in the competition), if I were INXS, I would have gotten rid of him the first chance I got.

The good news is that even if he makes the top 3, the band gets the final say in who's going to win, not the people who vote. Still, I don't know why you keep a guy like that around unless you want unnecessary drama.

Gouged for gas

I don't know what you guys are paying for gasoline now, but Tuesday night a gallon of regular unleaded in West Virginia cost $2.549. On Wednesday morning, the price had shot up to $3.09 and I believe it is going up again today. That's a 21.7% increase in price overnight.

On CNN last night, there was a talking head from the Department of Energy running his mouth about how there were several refineries in the Louisiana/Mississippi area that were probably going to be out of comission for several months. These refineries account for 7% of the gasoline produced in the US.

Let me get this straight: the supply is decreased by 7%, but the price goes up almost 22%? What sort of whacked-out corallary to the Law of Supply and Demand is that?!?!?!

I can't help but think that we're being gouged and there's basically nothing we can do about it. The people who are going to be hit hardest by this are the folks who can afford it least.

Dubya doesn't have to pay for gas and the profits for the oil companies go straight into his family's pockets. Dick Cheney and his buddies at Halliburton are getting billions of dollars for the work their doing in Iraq after the war Dubya started so they aren't hurting for money.

The folks who are going to pay are the people who make $8 an hour and shop at Wal-Mart for their food, school supplies and things to get by from paycheck to paycheck. Now that trip to Wal-Mart is going to cost them $3 every time. And that's if the prices of other things stays the same (which they won't).

The price of everything is going to go up. Most of the retail goods that are sold in this country are moved by truck. Increased transportation costs have to be bourne by someone and that ends up being the consumer. So a 22% increase in the price of gas means that the price of a gallon of milk is going to go up because it's going to cost Publix, Kroger, Wal-Mart et al that much more to ship it.

How much of this can we take?

Why hasn't Dubya leaned on our Saudi "allies" more to bring the cost of oil down. Ove the last 20 months, the price of crude oil has more than doubled. The reasons for this price increase, to my unprofessional eye, are transparent. I simply don't understand why the price of a barrel of oil in December 2003 was about $30 and now it's over $70. The drilling capacity hasn't decreased. The cost of refining shouldn't affect the crude oil cost.

We're being gouged, that much is sure. The only question is by whom and what can we do about it?