Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Charles I of England

Part One

A study of Charles I of England is quite useful in this modern age.

It all happened in the first half of the 1600s. Much like our own President Bush/Cheney, Charles I was an advocate of the Divine Right of Kings.

According to Wikipedia, Charles' "last years were marked by the English Civil War, in which he was opposed by the forces of Parliament, which challenged his attempts to augment his own power, and by Puritans, who were hostile to his religious policies and Catholic sympathy."

Sounds familiar. We've got the Iraq War--which is clearly a Civil War---that is threatening to spill over into Iran, Israel, and Turkey. We've got a Democratic Congress who is (at least on paper) hostile to Bush's edicts, and we've got the Christian Right, who has grown increasingly dissatisfied with King George's various policies.

We've also got a president who, at every turn, has tried to gain more power for the presidency. Dick Cheney, in particular, has been very clear about his notion that Presidential Authority trumps everything...even the US Constitution.

Part Two

Wiki continues: Charles "remained defiant by attempting to forge an alliance with Scotland and escaping to the Isle of Man. This provoked a second Civil War (1648 - 1649) and a second defeat for Charles, who was subsequently captured, tried, convicted, and executed for high treason. The monarchy was then abolished and a republic called the Commonwealth of England was declared. Charles's son, Charles II, became King after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660."

In other words, the more powerful Charles became, the more he thought he was above the law. Turned out he wasn't. Eventually, the people caught up to him and "took care of business" by separating his head from his body.

Now, I'm not suggesting that Bush will be tried, convicted, and beheaded. Instead, I want to conjure up a separate troubling point discussed on this blog a few days ago: The US has inherited the monarchy that England trashed four hundred years ago.

The first piece of evidence is that the current US president behaves like King Charles. And, as Ralph pointed out, we may--if Hilary Clinton is elected--be in a position where we could be under the reign of either a Clinton or Bush for 28 years in a row (Bush I: 4; Clinton I: 8; Bush II: 8; Clinton II: possibly 8).

Is that a democracy or a monarchy? It's rule by blood, so I'd say the latter.

It seems we've inherited entirely too much from England on this count...even governing parts of England that the English didn't want.

Part Three

Finally, this article from The Economist describes the circumstances of Charles I's execution. It's worth reading.


Socialism vs. Communism


Your comments on Socialism vs. Communism are accurate, from what I've been reading.

Basically, Socialism is the notion that the community should own and control the means of production and the distribution of wealth.

Communism takes that idea further, taking most (all?) private property away from the individual, turning it over to the state. Bad idea.

From my view, Communism goes too far, because who can trust the State to behave equitably?

Like Communism, Capitalism can go too far as well, and should be resisted at certain points. For example, there are multi-billion-dollar conglomerates that own many (most?) of the companies in the world. When this happens, you have too much power in the hands of too few.

For example, there is a company called Diageo that owns Tanqueray, Bailey's, Guinness, Smirnoff, and several other brands. This is not unusual (I read a book about these conglomerates several years ago...The bottom line is that it's hard to compete against these investment companies, so we don't see many new brands [except for wineries]).

Isn't it ironic? Competition is at the heart of Capitalism, but Capitalism, taken to its extreme, becomes Communism, where a few big companies take control, making decisions that effect everyone.

Personally, I like a blend of Socialism and Capitalism. It's good to have State Parks, for example, don't you think? And it's good to have the Allegheny National Forest as public lands (rather than some rich dude's 500,000 acre estate).

At the same time, it's important for average people to own their own homes and their own plots of land. Private ownership is critical to personal liberty. It is also critical for the economy.



Nature Boy

Check out this mezmorizing performance by Nat King Cole.

Here's a Web site about the guy who wrote the song. Apparently, he was one of the country's first hippies, like way back in the 1940s.



Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Good vs. Evil

The latest Game of the Century, is the most intriguing mid-season NFL-game that I can remember in some time. Seriously, you have two teams, both of which could potentially go undefeated if they weren't playing each other this week. Then, you've got the history between them over the past few years, and finally, you've got a whole good vs. evil undertone.

I mean, everybody loves the Colts, and if you don't, it's probably just because they are so squeaky clean, they make you sick. Kinda' like Roger Staubach back in the day. Peyton Manning is by all accounts a good guy, who lives, sleeps, eats, and breathes football (and he's really funny in commercials). Coach Tony Dungy is a renowned Christian and a sympathetic figure whose son committed suicide. Their best defensive player is 5-8 and he's from Erie...

And then, there's the bad guys. Cheatin' Bill Belichick and super model/actress fuckin' Tom Brady. Dope smokin' Randy Moss. A team that has such a chip on its shoulder that it feels the need to run up the score every week just to prove its dominance. I really hope the Colts kick their ass this week, if just to increase the Patriots bloodlust and set the stage for much bigger game in January-when the shit really counts.

Either way, the morality play that will occur on the field on Sunday is one of reasons I love sports. It should be fun.



Monday, October 29, 2007

Pro Sports Parity

It's interesting, but the way the Patriots and Colts are running roughshod through the NFL, with a showdown set for Sunday, you could argue that there is less parity in the salary-cap controlled NFL right now than there is in free-enterprise driven professional baseball, where of eight playoff teams, only one was a repeat from last year. Communism, once again, is going to be defeated.

U.S. Becoming Third World

Interesting story about the Argentinian former first lady who was elected president yesterday. Sound familiar? Was listening to an NPR report on the story this morning and someone from Argentina was quoted as saying how in Latin America power seems to consolidate in the hands of a few and how this made them nervous. Then, I remember reading somewhere a couple weeks ago how the election of Hillary, who seems to be the front-runner, would cement over 20 years of rule by the Bush-Clinton dynasty. And, you wonder why we can't/won't catch Osama bin Laden.



Thursday, October 25, 2007

Kathy Dahlkemper vs. Phil English

The Times-News ran an article announcing Kathy Dahlkemper's bid for Phil English's house seat.

She could win. The Dahlkempers know a lot of people....

I predict she will have widespread support in Erie County.

Personally, I'd vote for her.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hitler mustache

This is a tremendously darkly funny article written by a Jewish guy who walked around New York for a week with a the "toothbrush-"/Hitler-mustache. My favorite line is something like, "If you want to be left alone in coach on a crowded airplane, wear a Hitler mustache." Anyhow, it's got great laugh-out-loud lines like that, while all along enveloping the tragedy that was Hitler. Sad and funny -always a great combo.



Monday, October 22, 2007

The Adventures of "Girls Gone Wild Creator" Joe Francis

I've been fascinated with the dealings of Joe Francis, creator of the Girls Gone Wild DVDs.

For me, a guy like Francis is a case study in karma. I mean, how long can you go around coercing drunken young women into taking off their bikinis without any consequences?

You know what I mean? These girls have fathers and brothers. Wouldn't you be afraid that someone would find you and kick the shit out of you? I would.

And if, by pure luck, that never happened, what about all the money you make dealing in such an enterprise? Don't you think that The Man--in whatever form he might take--might actually catch up to you and ask you to "pay to play"? Shouldn't you be ready for that?

And finally, hanging out with scantily clad coeds is going to lead to sex of one kind or another. Don't you think that some of the women (in conjunction with their angry families) might eventually sue you? You better have the checkbook ready for them, too.

As it stands now, Francis is in jail on a contempt of court violation: he doesn't want to pay the family of one of the girls, whom they claim was underage.

But, in reality, he wants to be there, because there are lots of people after him. Surprise, surprise. He's safer in jail.

I watched an interview that Greta Van Susteren did with him in prison, and he is quite a showman...he managed to choke out some tears and otherwise pretend to be incredulous that all this could be happening to him. Almost made me feel sorry for him...

But he built his own cage and that's where he now lives. Strikes me as another sociopath (see our conversation on OJ).

Just wondering whether anyone has followed this character and knows any more than I do about the drama.

Here's my research question (and I'm sure there's been research on this): what makes people into sociopaths? Nature? Nurture? Both? What makes a person so self-interested that he or she will disregard social norms and conventions to get what they want?

I'm going to check out some of the basics and I'll get back to this.


Tire-to-fuel PR

I'm thinking the tire-to-fuel/energy thing might need a new PR agent. I ran a Google on the concept, and the best thing I could find said something about it "burning cleaner than coal," which doesn't seem like a ringing endorsement. And Erie is by no means the first community with concerns about pollution from these types of facilities, which everyone else also seems to think involves burning tires....I think the first thing we need to do is find out who currently has the largest one of these facilties and send someone to visit it. I mean we seem to visit everywhere else for research...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Manufacturing Pollution

Pat Howard had a great column today questioning critics on this tires-to-energy plant planned for the old IP site. He makes a great point about the double standard of our bemoaning the loss of the manufacuting base of old, but also bemoaning the side effects of new manufacturing proposals. He even brings up the smell from Hammermill, which, of course, was my first thought when people started protesting this tire-burning plant. Dr.D, as both an environmentalist and somebody who grew up in the shadow of the 'Mill, do you have any thoughts on this? Do your parents like the fresh air, or would they rather see economic development in their neck of the woods? Any other Eastsiders out there?


Friday, October 19, 2007

Coming Up Big In The Clutch

Congratulations to Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett who is establishing himself as one of the greatest clutch pitchers of all-time. If you, remember, back in 2003, this was the kid that shut down the Yankees in game six at Yankee Stadium to clinch the World Series for the Marlins. This is the first time he's been back in the playoffs since, and after becoming the first 20-game winner in the majors in two years during the regular season, he's been even better in the playoffs. After last night, he's 3-0, with an ERA somewhere south of 1.50, and he has both the Sox wins vs. the Indians.

Which brings us to the age old quesiton, why do some guys perform better in the clutch than others? I mean, why does A-Rod, for example, or even C.C. Sabathia for this year's Indians, seem to choke in big games, while guys like Beckett and the erstwhile Manny Ramirez turn it up a notch. Is this a psychological thing? If so, what charateristics do Beckett and Manny share, and the same for A-Rod and C.C? Has there been any work or study done on this? The other day, Dr. D made a comment about a field of study that looked at gaps between planning and reality, how about something on clutch-performing? I would think this topic could cover a wider spectrum that sports. I mean, are there doctors that seem great in routine procedures, but choke when a real challenge shows up in the OR? Are there lawyers that are better in high-pressure trials than others? And if so, why? and what can we do to help those that can't perform under pressure?

Just wondering...



Thursday, October 18, 2007

Forward Hall is Back

Apparently, Erie's Froward Hall is back online. That's terrific news.

Donna the Buffalo and Sim Redmond are slated for November 9.

For more information, visit Forward Hall .


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Erie Driving Range

Erie Golf Course is back in the news today, and it's probably a good time for that. Remember, this is the place the city spent $2 million upgrading under the previous administration, and then when the new guys came in, they closed it, despite the $2 million in debt still sitting on the books. Well, despite what it's detractors say, I loved the course, the layout, the bar, the whole place was pretty cool. It was no country club, but for a publinx, it could hold its own.

It now seems the city has offered the golf course to Millcreek in exchange for the land needed to expand the airport runway, which would theoretically run through the current Millcreek Golf Course. Oh, yes, and the City wants the County to take on the $2 million in debt, pay it off with slots/gaming revenue, I guess... Seems like a good plan, but for a couple of details:

1. Millcreek Golf Course is a superfund site, which means its construction was funded because it was built on a toxic waste dump. There is no guarantee that the powers that be will agree to building an airport runway there, although according someone in the know (quoted in the article I linked to), there is a good chance this could be worked around. I'm all in favor of the proposed workaround.
2. Erie Golf Course has been labeled a "money loser." Now, whether you could make money up there or not is open to debate. Yes, it was losing money when the City closed it, but it had also only been open with the redesign for a year and the new holes were still growing in. Millcreek, however, seems to think that if they were to install a $25,000 range, they could make the place profitable. This is interesting, because I've always questioned why a range wasn't included in the original upgrade. I mean if you want to have a first-class course, one that you're investing $2 million in, could you not at least include a range, especially if it only costs $25,000? I'm a bit skeptikal about how realistic the discussed range plan is, but once again it sounds great. The other odd thing is that Millcreek seems reluctant to fund the range, even though they would theoretically be profiting from it.

In conclusion, this plan looks great when discussed on paper; however, this seems to be the case with an inordinate number of other recent failed projects as well.



Tuesday, October 16, 2007


The key for me putting well today was taking my time and really thinking about putting. Instead of putting all my focus on hitting strong shots, I really thought about making my putts and how each shot was going to set up my putting. Then I found myself actually trying to make my putts for a change, thinking about them and taking my time, instead of just stabbing blindly and hoping they went in. I'm not sure how much damage this did to the rest of my game, as I didn't hit the ball particularly stellar, but that could just be because I haven't played that much this year.

Anyways, it was very satisfying to make some putts, and when I missed, to actually be consistently close for a change. Of course, the greens we played on, at the Stafford Country Club outside Rochester, were wonderful. Smooth and pretty fast, with some interesting hills to them. I'm not sure if the good fast greens actually helped my stroke or not, but maybe that contributed.



Monday, October 15, 2007

Monster in Wheelchair

Ran into this video on the local cable access channel of the weekend.

Champions of Faith

This was kind of a cool movie we saw last night. It's like a documentary about Catholic professional baseball players. St. George, our parish, put on a screening of it last night. I was pleasantly suprised at the high quality of the production.

The most intriguing part of the film was a story told by Dodgers third base coach Rich Donnelly. Donnelly is a former Pirates third base coach whose daughter died from a brain turmor a few years back. Before dying, however, she made what turned out to be a very prophetic off-the-cuff comment about the "chicken runs at midnight." If you're in to that kind of paranormal thing, here's a story about it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Tribe Wins

Beautiful morning, but it's bitchin' cold out. There is a gorgeous blue jay frolicking outside my window Speaking of baseball, in case you didn't see it, as the game ended pretty late, the Indians pulled off a tremendous 11-inning win over the Bosox last night. I must admit, this Indians team has really won me over. There is no quit in them. A real scrappy bunch. (I'll limit myself to two cliches.) They got pummeled in game 1, twice had the Red Sox come back on them last night, but kept fighting until they got to the Red Sox' weakness- poor Eric Gagne (pronounced Gone-yea). By all accounts, this ex-hockey playing Canadian is a great guy, but his three-month tenure with the Red Sox has been a disaster. Only fitting he took their first playoff loss last night... If Sam Adams were still hangin' around Boston and was a Red Sox fan, instead of a revolutionary, you can bet Mr. Gagne would have been at least hanged in effigy and perhaps tarred and feathered... probably sent back to Canada as a Torey, as well.



Friday, October 12, 2007

Pumpkin Time

Cool pumpkin carvings...

Kathleen Parker and Samuel Johnson

This Samuel Johnson character was apparently quite a wit. He is the author of one of my favorite quotes: "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." Today's Kathleen Parker column that appears on the opinion page of the Erie Times-News, does a nice job reflecting on some of the substance behind Johnson's quote. Parker actually never mentions the quote, but her discussion of Barack Obama's refusal to wear a flag lapel pin embodies the concept. She basically says Obama is against showy patriotism vs. "real" patriotism. She then goes on to discuss the importance that trinkets and symbols have come to have in our fear-driven society. It's a very interesting two-side article.

By the way, Johnson also coined the phrase, "He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man." But we'll leave discussion on that to a drunken night sometime in the future.



Thursday, October 11, 2007

Community College

A few quick points today:
1. Got a great night sleep last night. Felt like I was coming down with something with the change of the weather. Baby has been sick for a couple weeks and waking up sometimes at night. After a solid hour-long dose of Rob Hoff's jazz show on WQLN last night, he slept for 11 hours straight. Gave me a chance to stretech my back out and get some solid uninterrupted sleep.
2. If you haven't heard it, Hoff's show is amazing and consistently strong. Soup, if you're out there, check out if you have a copy of the Haitian Fight Song by the Charles Mingus Big Band. Blew me away the other night and based on your personal knowledge of Haiti, I thought you might get a kick out of it.
3. I've followed through with my vow, for a couple days, at least, of not watching any professional sports. I have also cut down my time on the sports pages. Not that there has been much going on. I did read an interesting article on the Pitt loss to Navy last night.
4. Oh yes, and the Bills have managed to piss off JP Losman. Not surprising.
5. Finally, I'm in favor of this local community college idea. I think education is a great business. Look how well LECOM has done, (financially, at least). I guess, we should probably talk to some of the other two-year schools in the area and find out why/if they are struggling, but I think, Mercyhurst North East, for example, is doing great. A state funded conglomerate of trade schools and some JUCO stuff, should do well.
6. One more thing: This guy has some amazing content on his Web site. He's an old-school journalist, with a very intense style. It looks like he's retired in Erie after a long and adventerous career. I think he's on the list of people I'd like to meet.



Wednesday, October 10, 2007

M. Night Shyamalan

It's funny how life works. Since we moved to the Greater Philly area, we've suddenly found ourselves watching the movies of Manoj Night Shyamalan.

Born in India and raised in Philadelphia, Shyamalan has quite an impressive movie resume. In addition to The Sixth Sense, which most people know, he has a slew of other excellent movies.

For example, a few weeks ago, we watched The Lady in the Water, which is basically about a mermaid ("undine," in the pagan lexicon). Very well done.

Then we watched Unbreakable, which stars Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson. It is about comic book super heroes.

My students want to watch Signs for Halloween (I let them pick any movie and that's what they picked). I haven't seen it yet, but it stars Mel Gibson and it's about crop circles.

He also wrote and directed The Village, starring John Hurt. I thought it was very good, as well.

So, if you're at your local Movie Stop and you're not sure what to get, check out one of the films by M. Night Shyamalan. He writes tight scripts and certainly attracts big-name acting talent.



Hot Fuzz

This is one of the best dark comedies I've seen recently. Starts out a little slow-to-medium, but if you stick with it, it will both blow your mind and have you laughing out loud. Check it out if you're in the mood. (Oh yes, and you have to deal with two hours of some pretty heavy English accents.)



Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Solo Home Runs and an end-of-summer poem

There's obviously some serious sorting out to do after the crazy dual-events of last night. First off, the Yankees left 11 men on base, while hitting three solo home runs to account for three of their four runs. Call it what you want: lack of team spirit, no clutch hitting, but the Bronx Bombers didn't deliver the goods. I know I came out in favor of the Wang start, but that was obviously the wrong start, as Mussina, who came on in relief was much sharper. Dr.D made the battle cry last month not to give up on the Moose, and it looks like he was right, while Torre and I were wrong.

As a result, it may be time for Torre to go. Yeah, he's been a great steadying hand for all these veterans over the years, but the new Yankees and the future of the Yankees are the kids: Hughes, Chamerlain, Melky, Cano, Kennedy, etc. We'll keep Jeter around, cuz he's Jeter, but I'm up for a house cleaning on the rest: Giambi, Abreu, A-Rod, even Jorge, Mussina, Clemens, Rivera (sadly). It's time to move on and build a young team that will stick together and not hit solo homers while leaving men on base in other situations. And Joe Girardi is that guy to build that team. I know it's not all as simple as it sounds, but that would be my ultimate vision.

As for the Bills, forget about it. (Check out my prediciton from a couple days ago.) They still have some of the best fans in the league and will be formidable at home as long as their fans turn out and cheer like they did last night. That place can be a scary place for opposing teams, and the Cowboys sure got a scare put into them.

Warning: attempted verse ahead
Finally, as the dark clouds moved in this morning, on the heels of yesterday's very summer-like 85-degree day , I went outside to take the cushions off the swing in the back yard. I could feel the fall chill rolling in with the clouds and thought I saw a green leaf turn to orange right before my eyes. As the breeze pushed me toward the garage, I began to brace myself for another long, cold Erie winter, and I felt my eyes well up, for it hit me that I might not be pulling those cushions out again for another six months.

For me last night marked the end of another glorious summer, the end of the baseball year, and the end of hope... at least until next year!



Gouge My Eyes Out

Yes, as DrD just posted, it was an amazing confluence of professional sports events/disaters tonight. When my neighbor and I arrived at the Mannechor at about 9 p.m. the night seemed so promising. Yes, the Yanks were down 0-4 or something, but the night was young and there was no reason to think we couldn't hit Paul Byrd after all. And the Bills were beating the Cowboys..

But as the night ran down, around midnight, it was apparent the Yankees were going to lose, undone by a lack of clutch hitting. And the Bills game, yes, it was absolutely amazing. How many chances indeed did they want to give the Cowboys and their old coach Wade Phillips? I was literally screaming at the TV that they should run the ball three times, go for the field goal and make it a two score game. But little did it matter. A head butted on-side kick, two open down and outs, and two 52-yard field goals in a row and it was all over. The Bills made it a one-score game, but the Cowboys scored twice anyhow.

I guess the bottom line is that it's pro sports, and it's all about entertainment. Even though both were tough losses to take, at least I was entertained. I drank my Blue Moons, watched both games simultaneously, and, really, it's all Bread and Circuses, itsn't it?



Bills Lose; Yanks Lose

Romo turns the ball over six times and the Bills still can't manage to win?

And why were the Bills throwing the ball late in the game when they were in field goal range? Their offense wasn't doing shit and that three points would have meant the difference in the game, but they put it up and it gets picked. Who is coaching this team?

And, in baseball, when I finally root for the Evil Empire against the Western Hordes, the Yankee bats go silent.

I'm sure Ralph is crying in his's a tough night to be a Bills fan AND a Yankees fan.

Go Red Sox....I'm going to bed.


Monday, October 08, 2007

The kid comes through

Yankees' rookie right-hander Phil Hughes saved our ass yesterday, throwing three-and-a-third shutout innings after our horse, veteren Roger Clemens, had to leave due to leg/arm/old-age problems. At least Clemens went out with a K, if his career is to end with that outing. Hughes, a 21-year-old kid came off the bench with the Yanks down 0-2, and when Joba came to relieve him, the Yanks were up 8-3. (The run he gave up was a guy Clemens' put on base). They won 8-4.

Hughes, who was kind of hot-and-cold this year for the Yanks, struck out four and walked none, which are the kind of strike-out-to-walk numbers he put up consistently in the minors before his call up. Big clutch performance last night.

It was good to see because Hughes seemed like a class act when he visited Erie a couple years ago. He was pitching for Trenton, the Yankees' double-A team, and threw five scoreless innings against the Seawolves in the first game of a doubleheader. He was pretty well known then as "a phenom," and to accomadate the fans, between games, he stood against the wall next to the Thunder dugout and made himself available for autographs. He must have signed at least 50, but was polite and took his time with each one. We were near the end of the line, and he signed my son's mitt for him and made the usual small talk. My son used the mitt all year, we used to joke that is was a Philip Hughes autograph model. We also used to joke, that Joey had a better year pitching than Hughes, well, until now.

Tonight the Yanks are coming back with Wang, on three-days rest, going against Paul Byrd, the veteran journeyman right-hander for the Tribe. I'll go on record as saying I'm in favor of the Wang move. He usually pitches on four days rest and got shelled in the opener Thursday. However, he's a sinkerball specialist, so he doesn't necessarily have to throw hard to be effective. Sometimes, they say overthrowing, like when you're pumped up for the playoffs, can harm a sinkerballer. Plus, he's been a much better pitcher at home this year than on the road and tonight is our final home game of the series either way. Byrd, with his old school wind-up is fun to watch, but tonight I'll be cheering for the Yanks to hit him.

A final note: The heart of the Yankes line-up Jeter, A-Rod, and Posada, primarily, have very much struggled, but, as I've said all year, the bottom of our line-up with Cano and Melkey, and Matsu last night, has to be the strongest bottom-third in the league. Of course, Damon's strong game at the top of the order dovetailed into a good performance by the bottom third and helped us produce 8 runs. Eight runs is good, and I'd like to see a total like that again tonight.


Sunday, October 07, 2007


Just finished watching a PBS Sound Stage episode on Jewel. Wow, what an artist. She kind of looks like just some normal blonde chick singer, but then she opens her mouth, and the shit, wonderful shit I mean, that comes out. She's a great singer, but aside from her voice, the words she throws out and the phrasing she uses really captivate me. She doesn't seem to mess around too much, really tries to hit you with what's on her mind and seems like a pretty serious person.

I dug her first CD back in the day, but I can't really listen to it anymore. However, tonight it was kind of nice hearing her do a couple songs from it. She has really matured and grown as an artist and her voice has grown up as well. She can make those old songs sound even more soulful. She also mixed in some pretty solid new stuff. I would almost say she delivered about 70% of her material (at least until she brought out the orchestra) in a very similar manner, but the subtle changes that she would make had such intensity that she was able to pull it off beautifully. I'll have to say I liked the acoustic stuff better than the orchestra, but the whole thing was worth watching.

Anyone else have any opinions on Jewel. Is she as underrated as I think?

Sidenote: I guess it's back to the Yanks tomorrow at home, and the joint will be rocking. We really need A-Rod to get some hits!



Saturday, October 06, 2007

Drats, gnats

The Indians turned to their secret weapon last night: insects. It's hard to believe that gnats are still active in October, but that's global warming, I guess.

Joba should have taken a time out and called for a towel. Either that, or Joe Torre or Ron Guidry (or Posada) should have called time out and taken a towel out to Joba. It was clear that he was being attacked by bugs, and he kept trying to wipe his face on his sleeve, and his sleeve was covered with bug spray. It was a freakin' mess.

With the man on third, I kept saying, "Call time out and wipe your face and hands with a towel." But he never did. Then he threw several pitches in the dirt, allowing the runner to score.

Joba's face and neck were covered with bugs. It looked like he was in hell.

So, my little venture into rooting for the Yankees has been met with misery. Who knows? Maybe they can win three in a row...


Friday, October 05, 2007

Super Bowl Trivia

Aside from being the only NFL coaches ever to lose four Super Bowls, what do Bud Grant (Vikings) and Marv Levy (Bills) have in common?

Answer: They each won Grey Cup championships in the CFL. Must be some kind of a jinx. After the Hugh Campbell disaser in Houston, I don' t know that another CFL coach will ever get a shot.



Travis Henry

I know we just had a Ricky Williams post and now Travis Herny, what do you know? Anyhow, it's kind of fashionable for people in the media, and some Bills fans I guess, to bemoan the fact that the Bills basically wrote Henry's ticket out-of-town when they drafted Willis McGahee after Henry had just given them a 1,400-yard, 14-TD season. While McGahee was busy rehabbing his knee in 2003, Henry followed up with a 1,300-yard, 11-TD season that he played half of with a broken leg. The Bills then gave McGahee the starting job a few games into the next season and I believe Travis walked for nothing (the Bills got nothing for him) at the end of the year.

But, you see, it turns out the Bills knew things. The next season, when he tried to come back with Tennessee, he was suspened for four games for smoking pot and never got untracked. Then, last season, he kicked ass, including a big game against the Bills to kill our playoff hopes near the end of the year. And, this offseason, he signed huge contract with Denver and burst out of the gates, leading the league in rushing after four games. Now, it looks like he's going to be suspended for a whole year for failing a drug test.

Talk about a conumdrum. The Bills were truly damned if they did and damned if they didn't regarding Henry. But, trying to replace him with McGahee? Well, that was Donahoe, and he's gone now. At least Marshawn Lynch looks like a good back, even if the rest of the team has deteriorated to the point where it doesn't matter much.

Anyways, I thought about Henry after reading this great blurb on him in Sports Guy Bill Simmons' column: "I thought pot killed sperm cells? How many kids would this guy have sired if he wasn't a fan of the Mary Jane? 20? 30? And did you ever think the same person could potentially shatter Shawn Kemp's fertility records and Ricky Williams' drug test records? Put it this way: You are making a STRONG statement when you purchase a Henry jersey right now. You're basically saying, "I love pot, I love sex, and your dad would have a heart attack if he knew I was dating you.")

That's it for now.


Yanks walloped

The Yanks didn't perform in the clutch last night, and the Indians did. Bottom line. The key to winning in the playoffs is getting hits with two outs. Last night 40-year-old Kenny Lofton, who I figured was way over-the-hill, pulled out some magic and drove in five runs. The first two came on a bases loaded single with two outs that put the Indians up 4-1. After pulling within 4-3 and loading the bases with one out a couple innings later, Indians pitcher C.C. Sabathia delivered, Yankees hitters Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui did not. Indians held the lead, then exploded for five runs in the next inning. Game over.

Playoff baseball is wierd. Sabathia, who was a phenominal control pitcher all years, like a 10-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, walked six in five innings. But, he rose to the occasion and managed to pitch his way out of jams. The Indians won. Yankees starter Chien Ming Wang failed to deliver in a big start for the second time in a row. A couple weeks ago, coming off a big comeback win that pulled the Yankees a game or two away from Boston for first place, Wang was scheduled to go against Josh Beckett, the Red Sox ace, in a match-up that was billed as the "Battle for the Cy Young," of course, leaving Sabathia out of the picture. Wang got shelled. The guy just might not have the make-up to be an ace, a number one starter. He might be better cast as a number two guy that can hide behind the ace who deflects all the attention. Unfortunately, all the other potential Yankees aces are too old or too young right now. We're going to need a strong game from Pettite tonight to keep from going down 0-2. Going into the series, I liked our chances better last night that this one, but we'll see. Fausto Carmona, Indians 19-game winning sinkerballer goes tonght.



Thursday, October 04, 2007

1973 Vikings


Check this out. How about them licks they're puttin' on Staubach? And you're right about Fran looking like one of the greatest of all-time in this video. I'm not sure they make 'um like they used to.



Tuesday, October 02, 2007

49ers, Montana, Walsh

I don't know why I feel compelled to write this... but a couple days ago, we were trying to figure out greatest NFL quarterbacks, and of course, Joe Montana came up. I don't know if everyone remembers this, but when Montana led the 49ers to their improbable Super Bowl victory in 1981, no one had ever heard of the West Coast offense before. We've certainly heard a lot about it since.... I mean those things just didn't happen in those days. Throughout the '70s, the NFL was basically controlled by a handful of teams, the Steelers, Dolphins, Cowboys, Rams, Vikings, Raiders, and Rams. The Broncos and Redskins I think each snuck into the Super Bowl once, but they were always solid, good playoff contending teams. The 49ers and Montana, well, they came out of nowhere. They went from back-to-back 2-14 seasons (one of which they didn't even have a first-round pick after because they traded it to the Bills for O.J.) to 6-10, to Super Bowl champions. After that, they were pretty much a power for the next 20 years. When you come from such humble beginnings to achieve such great heights, people take notice, which is what they did of 49ers coach Bill Walsh and his West Coast offense. Some form of this offense is now probably used by at least half the teams in the league. But at that time...

Well, at that time, it was all about establishing the run, then throwing deep off the play action. All the aforementioned power teams of the '70s had great power running games. The West Coast offense turned the accepted offensive theory of the day on its head. It established the short passing game first and used that to open up the run. And, Montana, who was a third-round pick because he didn't have the classic big arm needed to throw the long ball, acceled in the accuracy-driven West Coast system.

In three years, he went from rookie back-up, to being a starter halfway through his second year, to a Super Bowl champion. And the 'Niners never looked back. In fact, it was the rest of the league that was looking ahead and them and saw the future.

Obviously, Montana excelled in the West Coast offense, but he was also kind of the right guy, in the right place, at the right time. Suppose Tampa Bay had taken him two picks earlier, instead of the erstwhile Rick Berns, a halfback from Nebraska, who I don't remember if he ever played a single down in the NFL? Would San Francisco have taken hometown kid Steve Dils from Stanford, who ended up going to the Vikes in the 4th round, and tried to run the West Coast offense through him? And as Montana settled into the kind of mediocrity that plagued Archie Manning with the Saints, would Dils have emerged as a superstar? These are the kind of questions that kill me.

Anyways, suffice to say that Walsh and Montana were certainly a breath of fresh air in 1981 and that the NFL has not been the same since. The only thing I can compare it to is when the Bears unveiled the Wing-T in the 1940 NFL Championship game and whupped the Redskins, a team they had lost to only a couple weeks earlier, 73-0. Reportedly, soon after that, everyone else in the league had their own version of the Wing-T.

That's about it. Long live the 49ers and the glorious days of Joe Montana.


Ricky Williams

Part of me is hoping that Ricky Williams can make a comeback in the NFL. At the same time, he seems to like the ganja too much to gain reinstatement.

It makes me wonder---is he the only guy in the NFL that smokes weed? That seems absurd. Why isn't anyone else in trouble over marijuana?

And don't some of these guys take steroids? What's the deal with that? Suspend a guy for smoking joints, but injection with a needle is okay? How does that work?

Then there is the NBA. From what I've heard, NBA players are notorious for smoking pot. I believe my hero, Robert Parish, sampled it once or twice (among many others).

Does the NBA look away from this problem? I don't know, but it seems like the NFL is singling out Ricky Williams for some reason. Maybe he's too public about it.

Pundits think he might go to Tampa Bay, if reinstated.



Opening line is Cowboys by 10. This seems like an awful lot for a Monday home game and the Bills have covered both their previous home dates. Granted, it is Wade Philip's chance to gain some revenge on a team that fired him - very unjustly it appears in retrospect, seven years ago. Heck, he made the playoffs two out of three years, and the Bills haven't made the playoff since! Anyhow, I think 10 is a bit much, and I expect the Bills to give the Cowboys a battle before collapsing in the fourth quarter and losing by 7-8.


Monday, October 01, 2007


I read recently that the sponsors of Roman gladiators were called "editors." I'm not sure I buy that, but it might be true. I haven't been able to confirm it through a second source.

This is from Oxford English Dictionary:

1 a person who is in charge of a newspaper, magazine, or multi-author book.
2 a person who commissions written texts for publication.
3 a person who prepares texts or recorded material for publication or broadcasting.
— DERIVATIVES editorship noun.
— ORIGIN Latin, from "edere" meaning to ‘put out’.

Then, I found this NY Times Article from 1915 that discusses the use of the term in various publications. Interesting.

I want to learn where this word originally comes from.


Great Plays (and Players) in the NFL

I didn't watch a lot of football yesterday, but--based on the plays that I did see--I am happy to report that the quality of the game seems to be sky-high. There were some amazing plays!

First, to Ralph's obvious pleasure, Terrence McGee continues to amaze. I watched him knock down a pass that appeared to be 15 feet in the air; his timing was perfect. Then he picked a pass to win the game. Good work.

I didn't see the Vikings loss to the Packers, but I did see a highlight of a Vikes receiver catching a ball over a was all hands. Really nice.

Then there were some amazing passes: Big Ben threw a couple of nice TD passes yesterday; one was a bomb and the other was a dart. Both very strong. Too bad Whisenhunt has the Steelers' number...

And Brett Favre, what can you say? I love that guy. Even though he slices and dices my Vikings, I still root for him. He is definitely in my top five QBs of all time.

Speaking of top QBs, Caesar Contraras has posted a useful Top Ten List. Check it out and see if you agree.

My top five would be:
  1. Montana
  2. Favre
  3. Marino
  4. Manning
  5. Elway
Sorry, Fran Tarkenton...

I'm sure there were other great plays on Sunday, I can't account for all of them. I'm just happy to see the athletes excelling at this point in the season.

It's only going to get better.


French Creek State Park

We went camping this weekend at French Creek State Park. Nice place: 7,500 overall acres, 30 miles of hiking trails, and two lakes.

We slept, hiked, ate sloppy joes, meditated, and watched the faces in the fire. The park is only 42 miles from our apartment, so it is easy for us.

We plan to visit Philly and NYC in the near future. We are also supposed to visit Shimmons in DC sometime soon.

That's the big benefit of living here on the East Coast: everything it relatively close. Philly is less than an hour, NYC is about an hour and a half, DC is about three hours, the ocean is 80 miles, and the Poconos are an hour away. Now we just need the time to check it all out.

I'll keep you posted.


More Yankees

Rick Sayers, the executive editor over at the Times-News has an interesting perspective on what it's like to be a Yankees fan, especially in an office full of Indians' lovers. Sayers does come off a bit high-handed with comments like "Yankees fans are a special breed." "Winning isn't the first thing, it's the only thing for the Yankees." "When they win, we celebrate their greatness." There's nothing better than being a Yankees fan."

In fact, the first time I read through this column, I almost felt like cheering for the Indians in the upcoming playoff series. Then, I rationalized that I might be being a bit hard on Mr. Sayers. I assume at least part of this is tongue-in-cheek, just to get the goat of the Tribe fans down at the paper. Isn't it?

After all, it's kind of a beautiful metaphor if you think about it: all these proletariat Tribe fans being forced to cowtow to their boss, this monstrously arrogant Yankee fan. And even if the Indians should knock off the Yankees this year in the playoffs, in the long-run they don't stand a chance, because George Steinbrenner will stop at nothing then to get 6-foot-seven lefty C.C. Sabathia in pinstripes. And when the Indians return to the bottom of the heap, due to having fewer resources than a monstrousity like the corporate Yankees, C.C. will be parading down Wall Street after the Yankees win their 40th World Series.... or something like that.

Anyhow, it appears the playoff series will actually start on Thursday, not Wed. as I originally stated in my blog. They implemented a new rule this year than enables the team with the best record in the league to pick the playoff schedule they want to follow. Instead of picking the Thursday start, like most people thought they would, the Red Sox went with the Wed. start. Starting times are not determined yet, however, as the N.L. still has to complete its Wild Card playoff.

Two other stories from today's GoErie site that really sucked:
This woman dying becuase she was late for a plane and US Air wouldn't let her on. I've been there before, but forutnately, my temper didn't escalate far enough to get be arrested, although I can easily see how that could happen.
This hit and run driver really messed two people up at 26th and Hazel last night around 10 p.m.

That's about it for now.