Friday, March 30, 2007

This post will make you laugh, cry, and barf

I will gladly tell anyone who will listen about my radio glory days. In said days, a favorite segment involved rock news in which the stupidity of rock musicians was readily pointed out and laughed about. While I no longer have the same passion for rock n' roll and certainly have retired from the world of radio, rock stars still provide for some wonderful entertainment. Some days, such as today, they provide multiple moments worth mentioning.

For starters, U2's Bono received "honorary knighthood" in his Irish homeland. The British Ambassador to Ireland (so famous he's unnamed in the article) performed the knighting. Bono was happy for the honor saying that it will assist him "getting through a few doors" in his making the world a better place in every possible way crusade.

Bono is the most recognizable musician in the world today, and I have no idea how this knighthood could help in receive any further notice than he would already have. Can you imagine someone refusing to see Bono before but now because he has been knighted by some unknown ambassador (Lord John Marbury of West Wing fame perhaps?) but now will? This strikes me as the equivalent of me receiving an honorary degree in counting change from Wishing Well Pre-school where it does nothing to further anything except a little ego.

The next story is really an on-going one. Scott Weiland lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots (oh, there will be a reunion) and Velvet Revolver has provided endless inane quotes and stupid actions in his quest to give rock stars a bad name. This time, though, it was his wife making news as she decided to trash a hotel room, set fire to Weiland's clothing, and beat up Scotty. Her explanation for this performance?
"The weekend's difficulties were brought on by a reaction to an imbalance in [my] medications. Scott was simply trying to help calm me down."

Anyone married to Scott Weiland would have to be heavily medicated, so in my book she gets a pass there. I just don't see Scott calming anyone down.

And finally in what is a popular move these days, we have a musician touting an upcoming album as the greatest thing in the history of the universe. Fall Out Boy in particular is notorious for absurd comments on their own greatness, but this time we have Quinn Allman of The Used. Lies for the Liars hits stores May 22nd, and Allman wants everyone to rush out and buy it for the life altering emotional swings that it will no doubt invoke.

"I think if you're gonna get the record, you've gotta open yourself up to it . . . and if you do, you're gonna have every emotion flying at you. My ideal reaction is [for fans] to laugh and cry and barf."

Oddly enough, that's exactly what I hope every post of mine does for you.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Awful flashbacks

As Becky so appropriately pointed out, Karl Rove is doing his best Mel Piehl impersonation. For those there, the "Lose Yourself" rap from the 2003 Christmas Symposium was a saddening emotional void. I would like to personally apologize for my part in that incident. I maintain that the hours spent editing the piece was the best I could do with what was thrown at me. Really. Ugh. Utter, unspeakable disaster.

The first two minutes are not funny. The next two minutes bring back awful flashbacks, minus the ghetto get-up and JR provided bling.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

JR Has Been Voted Off

A sad day as our dear friend, JR Radcliffe (albeit with hair) leaves American Idol. Every thing you do is not magic. Somewhere, David Hasseloff is crying.

Let's lighten the mood

Yes, I stole this from my beloved, but I felt the timing was appropriate. I saved this unbelieveable photo for a day when I needed a laugh and (moreso) had little time for an actual post. Stu Scott helps us out on both accounts here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Probably not America's #1 party school

St. Hugo of the Hills Catholic School in Michigan made my morning TV news. It seems that they have decided to ban students from using Fine, no big deal that stuff doesn't belong in the school day and if they want to outlaw it, so be it.

The catch here is that they are also outlawing students from using the website at home, too. Per Principal Sr. Margaret Van Velzen:

"Those students who have existing accounts must delete them if they wish to continue going to school there. Students who do not delete their accounts cannot attend the school"

Principal Van Velzen says that the parents have been supportive citing "99.9% of e-mails" have been for the ban. The school, er, news crews found one such parent in favor of eliminating myspace:

"I think we've got a long way to go because it's a very difficult situation to grasp in its entirety. There's so many things going on on the Internet and there's so much vulnerability for children."

I thought early on that a "99.9%" positive response seemed a wee bit unreasonable. In fact, the story host has a poll up as a sidebar to the story and after 9,000 votes, 75% of the readers were anti-school policy. As well they should.

I don't disagree that there's a lot of vulnerability for children and that schools should protect them within the confines of the school. However, I am firmly against the stand that schools should be dictating what goes on at home. Sure it's not a public school and therefore outside the normal scrutiny of free speech, but as a product of Catholic schools, I'm a concerned that St. Hugo of the Hills has decided that the best approach to the serious situation is to close their eyes and pretend it's not there. That does the children a disservice, especially since they will inevitably come across regardless of the principal's policy. After all, candidates for the Presidency of the United States are doing the chic thing and coming up with myspace pages and accounts. Educating as opposed to ignoring the situation strikes me as the best response.

The fault here I find with the often criticized group of people known as parents. The quotes scream of ignorance of the situation. The article quoted another parent who said, "I think this is going to have to happen because things are getting out of hand." Coupled with "there's so much going on" I have to believe that these vague quotes come from parents have no idea what is. Instead of learning themselves the dangers of the Internet and finding out how to best instruct the children, they've hidden behind the shield of a school and said, "You do it for us." Disappointing all around.

Combined with my Andy Rooney post, it's been a happy time here at Wolfden V the past two days. Somebody say something funny to lighten the mood. Preferably not involving Regis Philbin.

Monday, March 26, 2007

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch

I confess I have never actually watched a full episode of CBS's 60 Minutes. After all, I'm approximately 83 years too young for the demographic it reaches, but be that as it may, I have been sampling the tail end of the show.

And the tail end smells like, well, a tail end. Andy Rooney fills the final three minutes of each episode with a commentary on whatever the hell he feels like lecturing about. After a few such commentaries, I have deduced Andy Rooney is a bitter, mean, nasty man. I'm sure he's a legend in the broadcasting world, but I have to believe he's more memorable by his inexplicable longevity than by any actual contribution to 60 Minutes.

Let me back up. I don't understand complaining at great length about television shows. If it's so bad, why not just change the channel? Why prolong the agony and view the program long enough to the point you have enough material to fill a blog entry with it?

In this case, though, I am innocent. I don't want to watch 60 Minutes, and I especially do not want to ever see Andy Rooney's corpse on my television again. However, I am a bit fanatical about the show following 60 Minutes, The Amazing Race. Due to CBS's extensive sports coverage - football in the winter and NCAA basketball in the spring - the Sunday night prime time line-up gets shifted all over the place. 8pm CDT should bring The Amazing Race, but it has brought a big smelly heap of Andy Rooney instead.

This past Sunday night, he lamented in his rambling, incoherent three minute commentary that New York had the worst kind of winter. It was cold and then mild but never enough snow. And that's a shame because the kids like the snow. Furthermore, when there was snow, New York City attached snow plows to the garbage trucks, leading to a day delay in picking up garbage. He continued babbling about how the weather man is always wrong and that he's only gotten to use his $750 snow blower twice as a result. Right, as if Andy Rooney shovels snow. Whatever, Andy.

In all it was a whiny, bitter old man rant about nothing. Maybe other 120 year olds who watch the show can relate and find this segment of the program enlightening, but I'm left baffled as to how he maintains a place on 60 Minutes. He contributes absolutely nothing worthwhile except pure meanness. His commentary just before Christmas proved that.

Due to the NFL's games running long in December, I was subjected to my very first Amazing Race delay and subsequent Rooney commentary. At the end of his commentary I was left stunned, mouth agape wondering how this man was considered a legend in any way shape or form.

The subject of this particular discourse was Christmas presents people sent to Mr. Rooney. He listed a few and then stopped to say, "What am I going to do with this junk?" The "junk" he referred to consisted of one man writing his first ever novel, which he presented to Rooney as a gift. Other presents included old people, presumably his audience, offering what were definitely heartfelt gifts. Rooney turned around and took a big ol' crapper on all these people's cookies (unhealthy), cards (too many to read), and flowers (perishable). The whole piece was horribly offensive and anti-gift giving during the most generous time of the year.

So, I ask dear readers, does anyone have anything positive to say about Andy Rooney? I realize I have a tiny sample of his life's work, but I have to believe that what good he could have offered at any point is being undone rapidly by the filth flowing forth from his face. Boo to you Rooney. Boo.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Regis Update: He's Horny

I would be negligent if I dropped my coverage of American Icon Regis Philbin and his recovery from heart surgery. He called into his television show and offered an update of his condition. He mentioned that he is in pain, but that the worst of it seems to be past. I'm not so sure.

"Last night I was yelling -- I'm a little embarrassed to tell you this -- but I was yelling, 'I haven't had sex in 3 1/2 months!'

Unfortunately it seems that the situation has taken a turn for the worse. For everyone.

Cheap Plug

If for some odd reason you don't regularly visit the wonderful sports satire site, I would encourage you to do so right now. Their post from yesterday juxtaposing the muppet Beaker with Tyler Hansbrough literally made me laugh out loud. And then I played the video twice for my own personal amusement.

Friday, March 23, 2007

To the National Conference on Undergraduate Research We Go!

Christ College, Valparaiso's Honor's College, is a cause near and dear to the Becky and I's heart. After all, we met in our very first CC class and had some wonderful experiences there. So it was with great eagerness (it sat in the mail pile for 6 days before I got around to it) I tore open an envelope addressed to us from Christ College.

Inside was a letter from Dean Mel Piehl, who I hope very dearly does not remember who I am. After a disastrously failed joke he enlisted me for, I went out of my way to not cross paths with him during my last semester. ("Lose Yourself" anyone?) The hand-written "thanks much, Becky + Drew!" was inconclusive in revealing his memory skills. In actuality, I mention him not so much because of his relevance to the rest of this post but rather because I needed a good graphic for the piece, and he was just asking to be used.

But I digress, the letter also included a bright purple sheet listing the people and presentations that Christ College is sending to Dominican University in California for the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. Some titles are interesting, others odd, and some, well, I'll let you decide.

"Existential Syntheses in Kierkegaard's Stages on Life's Way"
Exactly what I would expect in a CC presentation. I'm sure it'll be very interesting to those that understand this stuff, but I'm confused and haven't even made it past the title.

"The Last Son of Krypton: American Millenarianism and the Myth of Superman"
I'm not sure that "millenarianism" is a word and positive that Superman is not a myth.

"Tolerance, Respect, and Charity: A Virtue-Ethical Account of Interaction with the Other"
Pretty sure that if I want someone to treat me with tolerance and respect, not calling me "the other" would be a good start.

"An Investigation into the Periodic Nature of Five Proto-Planetary Nebulae"
This presentation will not only win, it will continue on and capture a Noble Peace Prize.

"An Obituary for Dead Metaphor"
Death for all literary devices!

"The Chasm of the Age of Reform: Protestant and Catholic Aims at a Reformation"
Oh dear. Religion debates. Going to need prayer. Hail Mary, full of grace...

"Government's Treatment of Business is Undermining the Rule of Law"
I'm concerned that this presentation deviates from the seemingly mandatory usage of the colon. Wouldn't "Government's Treatment of Business: Undermining the Rule of Law" fit more with the accepted pattern? This one will fail miserably.

"Performance Enhancing Drugs in Professional Baseball: Making Things Right with the Past, Present, and Future of America's Pastime"
Featuring special guest speaker Pedro Gomez.

"Marriage with Christ: Beneficial or Frightening?"
So marriage with Christ is either one or the other? It doesn't strike me that those two adjectives even go together let alone provide interesting options into the premise.

"The Naked Young Man of Mark 14"
Fantastic! Bible pornography!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Glorious Day

(Note: Please listen to Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten" while reading this post for full dramatic effect. Click here to get at a sample should it not be on the top of your ITunes playlist as it is mine.)

Today is a big day. Today I relieve myself of a big burden. Today I can smile when looking at my car. Today it became mine.

At the crack of dawn (the thingy-jigger), I leaped out of bed with tremendous excitement. Unshaven and unbathed, I grabbed the envelope sitting on the stairs raced out the front door. Stumbling over the last remaining pile of snow, I sprinted to the mailbox. I jammed the envelope in and went about running in a circle in the middle of the road with fists raised in a pose reminiscent of Rocky Balboa. It was then I realized the cool air and wished I had pants on.

Ok, so while some of that may not have happened, I did send an important piece of mail on its way to Georgia. My final car payment on a smiling Winnie the Pooh check will soon be deposited starting a series of events over at Car Max that should put a title to my 2001 Saturn into my possession very soon.

I am quite proud of this fiscal achievement as it is the most expensive anything I have ever bought and paid off 100% on my own. Sure there was that bottle of water and oh, the new Finger 11 CD, which taxed my patience and pocketbook, but the car slightly outweighs them in importance and cost.

But most of all, I don't have to pay any further dough for that piece of crap in my garage. I had another 3,000 mile oil check yesterday that instead of costing me $20.00, it hurt me for $200.00. Every freaking time regular maintenance is performed on the hunk of junk, there's a new leak/broken fan belt/dead rabbit that needs fixing. It is most gratifying then, that I do not have to double pay to have a car. Instead of a monthly check to Car Max Auto Finance and one to Goodyear, I can scratch off the former and allow the latter to bleed me dry.

It is with this in mind that I would like to edit my post from two days ago having to do with wise fiscal decisions. I care to add #11. Buy not thee shitty Saturn.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A picture from a way tall roof top

Joseph Melanson has created a little business for himself by taking aerial photographs of sporting venues. While he clearly lives in the Northeast, he managed to make it to the midwest for this shot of what many of you dear readers are salivating over. Yes, it's Wrigley Field awaiting your 2007 Chicago Cubs.

I don't understand why Melanson couldn't stop over the Indians' ballpark on his way back to Boston, which is too bad since aerial photos of Jacobs Field will be in high demand after Cleveland wins the World Series this year.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Big Bucks, No Whammies.....STOP!

I recently closed the cover on a recent Christmas present The 250 Personal Finance Questions Every One Should Ask by Peter Sander, M.B.A. It probably isn't the light reading most people would pick up for a trip to The Cayman Islands, but then again, I am a little different. Whereas some would enjoy their trip to white sandy beaches, I believed it an opportunity to making sure I could come back and retire there. Tomorrow.

While this book didn't make it happen quite yet, it did present generally accepted fiscal practices in an easy to understand format. I consider retirement planning an interest of mine ranking right around wine sampling and far below fantasy baseball. As I said, I am a little different.

No matter how wonderful The 250 Personal Finance Questions Every One Should Ask is or how much I talk it up, I realize no one is going to rush out and purchase it. So with apologies to The Trampoline Bear, I steal JR's gimmick of a Top Ten list to present to you the single most important topics from the book. This way, I can have company on the beach, sipping pina colodas and wondering why the hairiest person out there has to be the one in a speedo.

The 20 somethings are the single most important group of people to try and push to action, as the decisions made at this point in their life will form the habits and foundation for the rest of their lives. Yet at the same time, this age group is the least involved, least interested group in personal finance. Instilling the knowledge and generating the motivation in the 20 somethings is critical toward a lifetime of fiscal stability.

#1) Do not carry credit card debt.
The next nine points might be interchangeable in their importance, but this one is far and away #1. The interest rates on credit cards are insane with 20-30% non uncommon. If you looked at a new pair of shoes that cost $100, you better adjust the price up to $130 to account for the amount you will actually pay to both the store and the credit card company. The damage that can be done to your credit score by carry balances can affect other areas of your life - car loans and mortgages - as well. Credit card debt can start a downward trend that makes it very difficult to get back uphill as seen by the penalties you will pay elsewhere and later on in life.

#2) Start planning for retirement yesterday.
I could come up with all kinds of tables that would show the power of compounding interest, but I'll spare you. Put $100 into anything, have it make $10, and the next go around, you have $110 to invest. Rinse and repeat over 30 years and you can make some serious dough.

#3) Take free money.
Brother Mauris taught me in physics that there is no such thing as a free lunch. He was a cute old guy who used the phrase in inappropriate situations, but the lesson still stuck. There is however such a thing as free money. With retirement pensions a thing of the past, employers new way to help its employees for retirement are contribution matches. Most employers, especially large ones, offer some sort of retirement plan, whether it be a 401(k), profit sharing, or a Roth 401(k). The types of plan are irrelevant to this discussion, but the contribution match is not. For every dollar you put into the account, the employer will contribute a dollar or more. Walgreens, for example, gives $3.00 for every $1.00 I put into said account. There's usually a limit of how much the employer will add, but it makes sense to maximize your account with as much free money as your employer will give.

#4) Make and follow a budget.
It's tedious but enlightening. Some expenses are inevitable - rent/mortgage, car payments, groceries - but seeing just how much money is left over can help make wise decisions later. As those cheesy NBC commercials have taught us: knowledge is power (and comes with a rainbow and uplifting jingle).

#5) Fear not the world of insurance.
The invincibility phenomenon that strikes teenagers makes it difficult for 20 somethings to spend money on insurance. Whereas car insurance is seen as a necessary evil, life insurance might be more viewed as just "an evil." Tell someone just out of school that they should spend some of that new found income on an "in case you die" plan, and you are going to get a crazier look than if you picked Oral Roberts to make the Sweet 16. But because you are going to be healthier the younger you are, the cost of insurance is also going to be at an all-time low. Lock in for 10 or 20 years at this low rate, and you've got life insurance at a low cost. If you have a mortgage and especially a significant other/family, the need for life insurance shoots up exponentially.

#6) Roth IRAs vs. Traditional IRAs: Learn the difference and participate.
They are both individual retirement accounts, but they contain one significant difference. The Roth IRA is an account that you contribute after-tax dollars from your paycheck toward. The traditional IRA is an account that you contribute money toward before taxes are extracted. Being that the government takes such a tremendous bite out of our checks, this difference in accounts can be substantial. The book suggest very heavily that the Roth IRA is the way to go. If you pay taxes now, you can withdraw money in retirement without any additional taxes. If you pay taxes later, the tax rate has the potential to increase and you won't get as much for your money. Either one is better than not saving for retirement, but the Roth takes the risk out of tax rates killing you at 65.

#7) It's not morbid. Write a will.
Much like life insurance, this task shoots up in importance as you purchase a home or have a family. Provisions for who gets the kids in the event something happens to ma and pa as well as dishing out some money for your best friend as opposed to the estranged cousin in Mozambique.

#8) Beware adjustable rate mortgages.
This point is especially relevant at this time in American home buying history. From 2003-2005, new homes were selling like Kevin Durant Celtics' jerseys. Due to a slumping economy, the feds lowered interest rates to historically low levels, which to the average Joe meant that the interest rate attained for a new mortgage was stupidly low. Instead of paying double digits of interest on every month's payment, the new rates were as low as 5%. Over the course of they year, this translated into thousands of dollars in saving, allowing more people to afford houses. The problem arose when people began to overstep their payment abilities. Instead of locking in at the same super low rate over 30 years, youngsters began opting for adjustable rate mortgages, which meant their rate would change as the market changed. The market is no longer offering these favorable interest rates, which in turn means the stupidly low mortgages are out the door and those who went the adjustable rate are paying more. Multiple stories in the USA Today have focused on the high rate of mortgage default from those who, as a result of the now higher rate, cannot afford their house.

#9) Be aggressive investing while young
Again, young twenty somethings making money for the first time in their life have a hard time deciding to push some of that dough aside for investing. When they do, they tend to veer away from any plan that offers risk because they do not want to lose this new discovered income. With the high risk comes the high reward. However, the younger you are, the more time you have to recover from a bad investment. As you near retirement, you don't have time to bounce back from an unfortunate situation. As is, the stock market goes up on average double digits every year. Putting some money into the stock market might lose you money, but in the end, it can kick back some of the best returns out there.

#10) Have an emergency fund
What happens with that booger picker driver veers into your lane, slams into your car, and keeps you from being able to work for 6 months? You have no income and you have incredible medical bills. It happens, and an emergency fund - between 4-7 months worth of normal living expenses - can save you from having to break rule #1 on this list.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Hey Dude, let's go steal us some gators and stuff

Daily, I fight off the evils of stealing. An empty package of condoms here an empty box of theater candy there. It's not uncommon and some day these people's hands will be cut off for their treacherous acts. While these petty thefts are common, I have to believe that animal stealing is far less common.

Ends up a daring person(s) decided to thieve over 50 reptiles including a crocodile from a memorial education center honoring Steve Irwin.

"These animals were used to educate children and to keep Steve Irwin's legacy alive. I feel sick over this," the center's proprietor Darren Tilley told Reuters. "We don't know how they transported all these animals. I'm very concerned, these reptiles need special care, lighting and food."

How exactly does one move a crocodile? It wouldn't fit in the back seat of my Saturn, which means it's probably impossible to pull off. Much more likely someone tried to steal the croc, the animal woke up, and the croc ate him. Someday someone will find a crocodile with a corpse clutching some condoms and Mike and Ikes.

That was a close one

I was flipping through the channels just a moment ago, and I came across ESPN 2. Now, there is that split moment when you can see the video for a channel but not the audio. I saw Skip Bayless on Cold Pizza appear on my screen. Quickly and coolly, I pressed "up" one more time and eliminated the intrusion before a single word was audible. Crisis averted.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Classy Post: The Booger Pickers of Minnesota

I discovered what has caused my illness. Today proved very enlightening for me at work as I got to the bottom of what it is that has caused my corpse to wither into oblivion.


Not once. Not twice. But three times today I witnessed a person digging for gold brazenly in public.

Incident #1:

I happened to be walking around my store fixing the one zillinth problem of the day when I zipped toward the front register. Just entering the sliding door was a middle aged woman. Upon crossing the threshold to the store, she instantly drove her index finger into her nose. This was not the subtle wipe. No, this was the palm-out-for-leverage dig. I instantly looked away for two reasons. One, common decency. Two, to prevent her the embarrassment of having to acknowledge me with her pointer in her nostril. Did my quick appearance humble this gold digger? Of course not. No, just as she was completing her task she bubbly offers a big hello. Proud as could be was she.

Incident #2:

Now, I don't consider this incident nearly as egregious and won't even try to present it as such. While waiting at the red light to enter onto Highway 100, a car pulls up beside me in the neighboring lane. We are completely side-by-side with clear views into one another's vehicles. This younger gentlemen decides that now that I have an unobstructed line of sight into his car, he should go to work. And he did. The light 21 minutes later turned green.

Incident #3:

This one is most infuriating. Whereas incident #1 is notorious for its brashness and incident #2 is pathetic for its direct assault, incident #3 is down right dangerous. On this same drive home, I have now exited Highway 100 and begun my homeward trek up Central Ave. The speed limit is 55 mph on Central, with most choosing to push 65. I'm cruising home, eager to read a public discussion of a private NCAA bracket contest, when I notice that the line of traffic isn't speeding up to the aforementioned speeds after a recent red light. In fact, the problem is the pick up truck directly ahead of me. The middle aged woman has decided that 45 mph is the speed of choice. It's become impossible to pass her as the line of cars in the left and only other lane is flying by at 20 mph faster with no openings, I must wait, disgruntled. Suddenly, the pick up begins veering onto the shoulder only to compensate back into the normal lane. Due to properly positioned mirror angles, I can actually see the woman using her side mirror. Of course, she's picking her nose. The lady has slowed traffic and begun swerving because of an obstruction in her nasal passage. Unfreakingbelievable.

Minnesota is an awful, disgusting place to live. This yellow fever/Asian bird flu that I've contracted unquestionably originated from these unsanitary folk. Would it kill any of them to use a tissue? I mean in incident #1, she was in a drug store and we've featured 120 pack Kleenex at 89 cents all week. I consider myself lucky that I did not also catch cholera, chicken pox, typhus, and all those other things people died from on that totally rad Oregon Trail game. While I'm slowly on the road to recovery (the remedy for which was 5 days rest and hunting buffalo), I blame the booger pickers of Minnesota for my pain and suffering.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Oral Roberts' loss is the only thing keeping me alive

I'm sure my quietness here is a cause for tremendous concern. I appreciate the hoards of cards, phone calls, and well wishes inquiring as to my silence.

What? You didn't do any of those?


There won't be posts for a bit as I battle a horrible, horrible illness. In what will no doubt arise the concern that was never there to begin with, my muscular frame as already lost between 3-6 pounds in the last 48 hours. Compounding the issue is that I'm on my feet 9 hours a day pausing only briefly to hunch over in pain and take more pills.

Making you feel bad yet? Good, I want sympathy. And cards. Perhaps even some brownies.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Quest for the Perfect Bracket

I have no clue. As much as I enjoy college basketball and filling out a bracket, it's done every year with no skill or reason. Everyone seems to have their "rules." Can't pick all #1 seeds to make the Final Four. Have to pick a 12 over 5. Blah, blah, blah. No one has a stinking clue what's going to happen, which is what makes this tournament so beautiful.

Every year I pick Duke to win everything. That takes away the sting and angst of trying to figure out who the best team is. There's just one problem. Duke is terrible this year. They lost in the first round of the ACC tournament, and they are all so awfully young. So, this year I decided to broaden my horizons and do the unthinkable. I'm not picking Duke to win it all. Sweet 16 sure, but not everything.

I looked over all the teams and came to the conclusion that I don't like any of them to win it all. Kansas and Florida are sexy picks, but that's exactly why I can't go with them. Texas A+M and Georgetown are the non-#1 seeds that seem to be getting a lot of buzz, but that's also why I can't pick them.

So in the end I decided to not venture too far from home and not do anything too daring. I went with a school not far from Duke and not particularly low in the seedings. I went UNC. They are the "quietest" #1 seed, and they do play in the much loved ACC.

To have the perfect bracket, then, I need a few things to happen. North Carolina has to go crazy. Kansas has to be out before the third round. Long Beach State needs to become a household name. And finally, and most importantly, Washington State needs to win 100-0, Thursday afternoon in Sacramento.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Still lookin' good

I don't have much time for a post this morning, but I do have a request. Keep this man in mind as he undergoes the knife this week. For, what would the world be like without Regis Philbin? Or maybe that was Captain Hook? Never mind.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Bubbles Bubbles Bubbles

With selection Sunday now in the books, it strikes me that the two biggest gripes with the selection company come to us courtesy of Syracuse and Drexel. In actuality, it shouldn't matter much. It's not as if team 66 or 67 really had much of a chance of winning the tournament. After all, that we are talking about the 66th and 67th best teams now not having a chance at the national championship should be a moot point. They aren't going to win anyway. It's not like football where the nation's third best team had a legitimate chance at capturing the title and is denied the opportunity.

Generally speaking, I think bubbles bursting is a bunch of hubbub about nothing. The top 65 have a shot, and if people are whining outside of those 65, then they should have played better during the season to avoid being on the bubble. The George Masons of the world that make a surge to the final four are rare at best. Many cling to that the long shot, thinking their squad is going to get hot and make that improbable run, but said run is just that - improbable. If you can't establish yourself as a top 65 team after 30+ games, what makes someone think that they are going to catch fire and win the six games in a row against the nation's best to win it all? Bottom line: it's a fantasy and there's no real reason to feel too much pain for those headed to the much less desired NIT.

Then there's a case like Drexel. One win in the NCAA tournament can do wonders for a relatively unknown school. After all, my alma mater was put on the map by a dramatic first round win. Win two games in a row, and you have press coverage unlike anything the school has ever seen. Money and recruits are bound to follow, all from having won two basketball games at the opportune time. Jim Boeheim probably won't be affected by coaching Syracuse in the NIT, as he has a resume and established program that can shrug off an off season.

But a school like Drexel may not have an opportunity like this again. The window for many mid-majors is tiny. George Mason isn't even in the tournament this year, just one season removed from making the Final Four. If they hadn't even made the field last year, the exposure that has made them a household name would never have happened. Everyone probably is still familiar with Syracuse regardless of this near tournament miss.

In all, I'm not sure that Drexel should have made the tournament. The arguments are out there they should and shouldn't have, and I'm not much concerned about them. But the bubble bursting for two different schools can hold two completely different repercussions for the following seasons. Mid-majors have so much more to lose by being denied a bid than their major conference counterparts. Not that it should affect the selection committee's criteria in rounding out the field of 65, but the relevance in being selected is worth considering.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Thought on the Sabbath

Per the USA Today:

60% of Americans can't name five of the Ten Commandments.
50% of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were married.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

God Loves to Hip and Hop

This is such huge news that my discussing it here is probably overkill, but what the hey?

The bitter end to the East Coast and West Coast rap feud appears over! Huzzah! Puff Daddy/P. Diddy/Diddy/Puff the Magic Dragon/Sean Combs and Snoop Doggy Dogg/Snoop Dogg/Snoop have buried the proverbial hatchet. A moment than all of us have long awaited, fo shizzle.

The blood feud was so ferocious that superstars Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. lost their lives to the senseless violence emanating from the rap war. Anyway, Snoop summed this event well:

"That is all that matters, that the spirit of hip-hop lives on. Everything that was not right, we are getting right."

Indeed that is all that matters, that the spirit of the hip and the hop survived and will thrive in this collaboration. Never mind the past blood spilled. If these two guys get along, all is well.

Fortunately, the two superstars ran into each other in the serene Helsinki, Finland thus setting the stage for this historic truce. Had it been, say, St. Louis (half way between the two coasts), we probably would have had a war.

Combs has a way with words that I think best puts this into perspective.

"We want to entertain, we want to make music, we want to make people feel good. We ain't no gangsters. We are men first, we are fathers...God works in mysterious ways"

Friday, March 9, 2007

The Important Decisions in Life

I love fantasy baseball, and it's that time of year where rankings litter my family room floor. I bought my annual cheat sheet fantasy baseball magazine to help me figure out the ways to victory. I've done fairly well for myself over the years, and yet it doesn't get any easier. I find myself agonizing over decisions and then looking back at them sometimes regrettably and sometimes happily.

I participate in a keeper league, for those unaware, in which six players from your previous year's roster form the basis for the new season. The entire off season I had 5 names locked in for sure, and my 6th spot was up for grabs. The two names that kept coming back were New York Yankee Jason Giambi and Chicago White Sox Paul Konerko. Generally speaking, I like Giambi more than Konerko so as it came time to e-mail the commissioner my final selection, I figured I'd sit down and just go with Giambi.

I began crunching the numbers. Giambi had more homers and a higher on base percentage than Konerko. All very well and good. But wait, Konerko scored more runs and drove in just as many. So maybe Giambi isn't that much better.

Maybe I'll go look up their age as players as they get older tend to produce less, unless of course you are a muscular woman. Ends up Jason is 36 and Paul is 31: advantage Konerko. Alright, I can go with Konerko, I'm ok with that. He'll probably have more good seasons and at the very least will be more favorable in trading than a steroid taking, tumor filled DH.

Ok, it's Paul Konerko. He's my 6th keeper.

Wait, hold on. If I'm not jumping for joy at one of my keepers maybe I shouldn't go with him. If there's been this much debate, maybe I should just keep someone who is a personal favorite and then enjoy cheering for him the rest of the way. Perfect candidate: J.J. Putz.

Now, Putz has been well known in my fantasy league because I take him every single year with my last draft pick. Granted I took him because of his goofy name the first time and then tradition built the next two times. Then a crazy thing happened, he became really good. Only, BJ Ryan and Joe Nathan had better WHIPs than Putz. And Putz had more strikeouts than both of them, with only Brad Lidge being close. With an ERA at 2.30 and 36 saves, Putz will anchor my bullpen.

Ok, it's J.J. Putz. He's my 6th keeper.

Wait, hold on. I can't keep a closer. It's against everything I've ever stood for in the world of fantasy baseball. I carried three mediocre Montreal Expos one year to rack up saves, and that did me just fine. Saves is way overrated. I can't use a keeper on a reliever. No way. Back to Konerko and Giambi.

I'm going to rank Konerko and Giambi in the Yahoo rankings and just go with whomever is higher ranked. Yahoo gives Konerko the 52nd best player ranking, and Giambi received #98. Easy then, it's definitely Konerko.

Wait, hold on. Who's that ranked one ahead of Konerko in the first baseman category? Holy crap, it's Cleveland Indian superstar Victor Martinez. Granted he received his semi-lofty ranking by virtue of having dual catcher and first baseman eligibility, but still, rated higher than a guy with 35 HRs and 113 RBIs?

There are 16 first basemen in the Yahoo top 100. There are 3 catchers ranked in the same top 100. They are a much rarer commodity. Plus, Martinez does play for my beloved Tribe. Why not? Let's keep Victor Martinez. There's a million other first basemen and I can pull for him all year.

Click send.

Oh crap, did I really just do that? I threw Giambi, Konerko, and Putz back into the general pool? What was I thinking? Better go write about it in a blog post to feel better.

(Note: I don't feel any better.)

Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Tim Couch Era Begins Anew

Typically Cleveland waits until draft day to ruin its season. This year, though, we are looking to get ahead of ourselves. After superstar players such as Tim Couch and Courtney Brown, the Browns' draft is typically a "how to misread talent" manual for others in the league.

I'll be up front and say that I want Adrian Peterson of Oklahoma. I will also say that I really do not want Brady Quinn. And yet the Browns are doing their best to take the latter path.

Cleveland rushed out to sign Jamal Lewis, former running back of the former Cleveland Browns. He's been over 1,000 yards five of the last six seasons, which looks all well and good except that he's declining rapidly. His yards per carry are down 1.7 per rush in the last two seasons, and it's not as if NFL running backs get faster and better as they get older. His 3.6 yards per carry average last season can't possibly improve in Cleveland. The Browns' offensive line is far worse than anything he's ever had before, including the prison leagues.

Sure it'll be an upgrade from Reuben Droughns, the incumbent starter, but Dwight Schrute would also be an upgrade from Droughns.

So with the running back issue "solved," I don't see Cleveland taking Peterson. We'll end up taking Brady Quinn because Romeo Crennel has connections with Charlie Weis and all that. Just depressing, really.

I sure hope that five years from now I can bookmark this page and say, "Wow, was I wrong about Quinn and Peterson!" However, looking back on Gerard Warren and William Green, I think I have ample reason to know that there's little chance of that happening.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

How familiar are you with triple platinum albums?

Much like JR wrote on his blog last week, I struggle with how much I should really be writing about American Idol. It's awfully dweebish and as Simon would say "self-indulgent," but alas I find it compelling. And as a significant number of you view the program, I figure I'll keep working it in. That and I don't want to talk about Oral Roberts and that ever growing and terribly distressing situation anymore.

In lieu of a rocker in this year's bunch of dudes, I take solace in knowing that at least some of the contestants enjoy rock music. Last night, I was pleased to find Pearl Jam and 311 among the bands honored with covers. Sundance Head performed an underwhelming "Jeremy," but it's the thought that counts, right? I also would like to say that I've never known anyone to have three nouns in their first and last name. Sun, dance, and head just seems like a mouth full. Really, two parts of speech would strike me as sufficient, and a little variety from a past tense verb in there wouldn't hurt either (ie Drew Wolf).

Blake Lewis performed 311's "All Mixed Up" to kick off the show. It also happened to be my favorite, especially using his unique tactics to cover up swears in the lyrics. Very clever and better editing than I could have done using Cool Edit.

I'm not sure how I feel, however, with the entire panel of judges being unfamiliar with the track. Sure, the album is over a decade old, but it still went triple platinum. I expect my music insiders to be somewhat familiar with successful discs, and if they weren't, shouldn't they use some of the 6 days in between shows to put forth the effort to learn? It's not as if Blake Lewis surprised everyone by jumping up there the night of the show unveiling what his music selection was for the first time. Though, I suppose I should be happy Paula just managed to get dressed for the program.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Kinda smells like urine

As with most things affiliated with Tulsa, the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament is a disaster. The Valpo men wrapped up their bi-polar season by losing the 3/7 game to UMKC. The Valpo women lost to the worst possible foe, hometown punks Oral Roberts. In fact the Golden Eagles have both their men's and women's team in the final for the tournament, which is really no shock since the games are being played in their hometown. Regardless, it still stinks.

What does not stink, however, is Keith Freeman. The Valpo women's basketball coach is the best coach in the Mid-Continent Conference and pretty fun at press conferences, too. After losing to Oral Roberts yesterday, Freeman offered us this jab:

"It's no secret how to guard ORU, and if you look at their game yesterday, they weren't hitting 3-pointers. They must have gone to the praying hands and asked for some help."

For those fortunate to have never been to Tulsa, and specifically the wacked out campus of Oral Roberts University, the praying hands to which Freeman refers are featured in the picture above. The giant high-five towers over all who use the main entrance to ORU and is just the beginning of the architectural free-for-all. Over the years it has come to symbolize everything the Mid-Con hates about ORU. In fact those familar with the hands probably have not even read this post as the image burned their eyes just now. I wore sunglass in typing. I give Freeman credit for working it into his quote, even if it fried his tastebuds uttering the words.

As for those who were hesitant upon learning that Valpo would be leaving the Mid-Continent Conference for the Horizon League, I offer you two points. One, the Horizon League offers an Oral Roberts-free environment (reason enough to jump ship). Two, we cannot do any worse than losing a first round game to an 11 win team in UMKC. Come next November, all will be improved as we rid ourselves of all things Tulsa.

I'm not sure I enjoy these guys for 30 seconds let alone 30 minutes

The latest from the TV world is that the two hairy fellas from the Geico Insurance commercials are going to be in a TV pilot. No, seriously they are. If you don't believe me, click here.

"(The pilot) features the cavemen as they struggle with prejudice on a daily basis as they strive to live the lives of normal thirty-somethings in 2007 Atlanta."

The brilliant network associated with this project is the almighty ABC where the laughs just keep on coming, don't they? I suppose the hilarity of cave men taking in some Braves baseball with Ross, Chandler, Joey, Monica, Rachel, and Pheobe escapes me now, but I have been wrong before.

Monday, March 5, 2007

My neighbor was not an Eagle Scout

Lots of snow + A semi-warm day + overnight freezing + thingy jigger = Irritating wake-up call.

Professor Wolfman is in the room, children please take your seat. And for the seventh time, spit out that gum! Ok, settle down, let's work on the day's equation.

Lots of snow

Now, as has been mentioned, we have had two significant snowstorms in less than a week's time. Our hefty association dues in our development cover snow removal from roads, sidewalks, and stairwells. The catch being that if there is something in the plow's way, they can't plow. While this may seem obvious and may nudge you to get your vehicle out of its way, failure to do so will cause tremendous strife on your part as you now have to dig out your own pavement.

A semi-warm day

While there was no need to bust out the shorts, yesterday's sunshine led to a semi-warm day for Minneapolis. Some of the snow, particularly that in the sun's direct light melted a bit.

Overnight freezing

With the clear skies that brought us the delicious sunshine, we also were without the benefit of our cloudy blanket. As such, temperatures dropped into the single digits and wind chills were below zero. The snow that had melted during the day froze making roads nice and icy.


Becky and I really have no need for an alarm clock here at our humble abode. Every weekday morning at precisely 6am, we are blessed to have a natural phenomenon gently nudge us awake.

The natural phenomenon? A thingy-jigger.

What? You don't know what a thingy-jigger is?

Truth be told, I'm not sure either. As has been outlined previously, my knowledge of cars stops at "at has four wheels and an engine." Everything else is up for grabs as I couldn't differentiate a carberator from a grilled cheese sandwich.

Notwithstanding, our neighbor has a thingy-jigger on his car. It looks like some kind of contraption that enlarges the exhaust pipe and sounds like a muffler has been ripped off the car. The bottom line here is that it makes a tremendous amount of noise. Most aggravating is that its intentional. The car looks like its worth about $200.00 and yet somewhere in the car's life, the owner decided that instead of investing in anything that's actually needed - hubcaps, windshield, hell a down payment on (gasp!) another car - the owner(s) decided to get something that makes an aggravating amount of noise when the gas pedal is pressed. Kind of an infant's mentality, really. Oooh, noise!!!

So every 6am, Becky and I our blessed to have our neighbor wake us up as he speeds off to work with his thingy-jigger broadcasting his whereabouts. This morning, though, was a little bit different.

The car in question never sits in the garage, but rather in the driveway. Said car also has not left the driveway since the snowstorm. Come this morning and the weather mentioned above, the car was unable to happily wake up the neighborhood on its way to work with a squirt of carbon dioxide. No, the car got stuck at the end of the driveway that had not been plowed and was now and icy disaster.

After 7 minutes of flooring the accelerator, my neighbor caused me to physically get out of bed to watch the debacle. Two individuals were taking plastic shovels and were attempting to chip away at the ice that had encrusted the wheels.

With my head shaking of disgust I returned to my bed where my true alarm had not yet gone off and laid there. I waited, listened, and watched the clock. Becky at one point suggested we go out there and help with some salt or something. She's a good woman, and I clearly am not as demonstrated by my unhesitating reply, "Absolutely not."

After 17 minutes of working the damn thingy-jig until its heart was about to explode, the car broke free and gleefully sped off to work.

Test Tuesday. Class dismissed.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Remember when Valpo was really good?

Having grown up in Cleveland I have struggled with having something in the world of sports to cheer for. The city of Cleveland has offered nothing in the way of happy sports moments. The repeated Browns losses to the Broncos were crushing, though being in my youth I didn't realize how big the games they were as the team would disappear for a few seasons before making a pathetic return to the NFL. The Indians had the best American League team in the mid-90s and came up with a grand total of 0 World Series Championships. The Atlanta Braves in 2005 and the Florida Marlins in 2007 made sure to keep my Cleveland teams without a major championship. And there might be a professional basketball team located in the city, too. I think they are called the Lebron James's. I long for the days of Mark Price. That guy was terrific.

The Cincinnati Reds in 1990 gave me a brief fling of glory, and I still pull for them to this day. However, if it came down to it, I would want Cleveland to crush Cincinnati, no doubt a product of unquestionably picking the Browns over the Bengals for so many seasons.

But we now open then weekend that celebrates my greatest sports moment ever. We have come upon the 4 year anniversary of the great 2003 Mid-Continent Conference Tournament.

I understand fully that we are talking small potatoes as compared to the Super Bowl or the World Series. However, the Mid-Con tournament was no less intense or meaningful and in many ways will far exceed the emotion and joy should Cleveland ever capture a football or baseball crown.

Having travelled with the team throughout the season as color commentator, I got to know the players and coaches which greatly amplified my desire for them to succeed. And succeed they did.

The whole weekend in Kansas City is full of stellar memories. From the ridiculous beds and pillows at the way luxurious for student broadcasters at the Westin Hotel to a Bruce Vilanch look-a-like waving foam fingers like a maniac, I can replay many great moments in my head which will likely bore many of you who will read from here on out while bringing a smile to others of you.

From the women's side:
-Jamie Gutowski's put back with no time to send the women through to the semi-finals
-Western Illinois' inevitable collapse in women's bracket.
-Leslie Crane blaming her seniors in the post game press conference and Zane Teilane's inability to speak after the disaster.
-Leslie Crane then standing by herself, eerily, in the back hallway of Kemper Arena.
-Valpo's women defeating the hated Golden Eagles of Oral Roberts in the tournament final to advance to the NCAA tournament.
(Who was the ORU player who had a broken leg, didn't play at all the last half of the season, then had a play run for her in the final seconds which involved her jumping to catch a half court pass? Regan pops to mind?)

From the men's side:
-Valpo drawing preseason favorites Oakland in the first round.
-League leading scorer Mike Helms hopping up and down on his way to picking up a stupid technical foul all but rendering him useless for the Golden Grizzlies' failed upset attempt.
-Watching the perplexion of play-by-play man Todd Ickow when some us proposed asking a Valpo coach if Kikas Gomes was overlooking the tournament for the upcoming Angolan Olympic Games.
-UMKC overcoming Oral Roberts, sending the Golden Eagles home in the first round.
-The praying Mabee Maniacs somberly leaving the arena and our walking through their student section right after the loss to more intensely enjoy their demise.
-Valpo falling behind to hometown favorites UMKC by 17 in the semi-finals.
-Greg Tonagel nailing consecutive big 3's to bring the Crusaders within single digits to close the first half on their way to eventual victory.
-Valpo playing IUPUI in the championship game - the same team that had defeated Valpo a year earlier leading to the often replayed Ron Hunter fish flop.
-Homer Drew calling time-out to go to a 4 guard line-up that he had not used all season in an attempt to isolate Kikas Gomes inside (a strategy that worked for two straight possessions putting Valpo ahead).
-Odell Bradley leaving the game with a leg injury, then pouting when being given the tournament's MVP trophy despite his team losing.
-Being the lead story on Sportscenter for making the NCAA Tournament.

Friday, March 2, 2007

CSI couldn't handle these guys

I don't have anything nifty or clever to write about this Friday. The real story is this crazy blizzard that dumped over a foot of snow on the Twin Cities, but I can only post so many weather maps before people begin referring to more reputable meteorologists.

As such, I will point you toward an article that I found most fascinating. Anytime a major publication rolls out a Top 25 of the century, it tends to get attention and debate. This time Time magazine decided to dive into the Top 25 Crimes of the Century, and I will do my best to live up to the automatically deserved hype that it warrants.

There are many memorable ones from recent times such as OJ Simpson and Andrea Yates that some of us youthful folk can recall unfolding before our very eyes. Then there are others like the Lindbergh child kidnapping 75 years ago (the anniversary of which spawned this list) that are more familiar than other more distant crimes (Lana Turner, 1958).

I find it difficult to rank these criminal activities in any sort of "the greatest" or "the best" mentality, and it's probably for the best that Time ended up just listing them instead of ranking them. After all, what makes a murder "greater" than another? The number of dead? The grotesqueness of the activity? The media swirl given it? In the end, just sticking with the moniker "top 25" might be the safest way to go and if an adjective need be given it, "most memorable" strikes me as the best fit.

I suppose what struck me most from the list was the popularity of non-death crimes has declined while murderous rampages are the rise. Seems to me that the while there were high-profile killings in first half of the list's time line, the kidnappings (Lindbergh, 1932), art thefts (Mona Lisa, 1911), and robberies (The Brinks Job, 1950) were in vogue pre-Drew-being-on-Earth. Now-a-days our society tends to make headlines with bulk killings (Columbine, 1999 and Unabomber, 1996). Truly a proud evolution of our criminal minds.

Thursday, March 1, 2007