Friday, November 20, 2009

Premonitions of Death

This is kind of a spooky (not to mention sad) story I just heard on NPR.... I guess kids do say the darnest things...

Achilles: A Great Middle Linebacker

From the 19th book of Iliad:

"You talk of food?
I have no taste for food-what I really crave
is slaughter and blood and the choking groans of men!"

Would make Ray Lewis proud...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Great Baseball Story...

Well, it's certainly about more than baseball, but this is the kind of sportswriting even a non-fan can enjoy. Check it out if you have 15 minutes (at least) and make sure you watch the video. Award-winning stuff.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bills Can Coach

Not that it will matter We stink and it's not necessarily the coach's fault. I'm not sure how involved he is in the personnel decisions, but our organization has assembled a pretty crummy team. Of course, this includes the assistant coaches, which I'm assuming Jauron had some input into. Then again, he may have been limited by budget constraints. Funny thing is, our assistant coaches are so bad, I can't imagine who they could possibly promote to replace Jauron that could do any better. I will say that special teams coach Bobby April has done a pretty good job and a few weeks ago, people said he would be the likely replacement...but he's 55 years old and has never been anything but a special teams coach. I would have to say his ship has sailed in regards to being an effective NFL head coach. We really need to blow the whole thing up and start over again... starting with the owner if he won't pony up for a decent GM!

Belichick's Decision

Here's a great Joe Posnanski post that explains why Belichick went for it on fourth down with 2 minutes left Sunday night. By Joe's math, which is backed up by the math of some Air Force pilot, the odds were clearly in the Patriots favor...

Monday, November 16, 2009

What did we ever do to Bud Adams?

Well, there was the comeback game, but come on, we stink... why waste the energy Bud? Why do you hate us so? Really, if you haven't seen this, it's worth 14 seconds of your time.... (It's the Titans' 86-year-old owner flipping off the Bills bench yesterday. Honest.)

Erie Leaf Bag Issues

I haven't seen anything about this in Erie's "mainstream" media, but, word-of-mouth around my neighborhood is that area outlets have run out of the green leaf bags you're supposed to put your leaves in if you live in the City of Erie. I also found one local blogger who posted on this problem. It seems we had the exact same problem almost three years ago to the day, and I blogged about it then.

I'll start out by asking, does anyone know where I can get some more bags, as I'm down to like two and my oak leaves are just starting to fall? I think we avoided the shortage that last few years because of shorter raking seasons due to inclement weather. I remember years when the snow fell before my maples were even all down, not to mention the oaks. Well, this year the weather has been wonderful for raking and people have been taking advantage of it. I guess one option is raking the leaves into the street, which is actually illegal. The city seems to discourage this practice up front at least, but I have never heard of anyone being fined for it. Then, there is the burning route and my neighbor has a burn barrel....

But, I'd really just like to bag them. It's supposed to be another nice week. The problem, of course, is that I need to get more bags. Now, as I said in my previous post, I appreciate what the city is trying to do with the biodegradable bags and all, but they need to come up with a contingency plan for when the bags run out. Part of the problem is the very nature of the bags, which start to disintegrate within a year, so it is impossible to stock up on them. And they are fairly expensive, so you hate to buy too many and then find them biodegrading in your garage the next year. Because of the weather, predicting leaf volume is a very inexact science.

I jokingly (I think I was joking, sorry Joe) suggested we all take our leaves up to the mayor's front lawn. Maybe we could we could dress up like Indians or something.... but my wife insists it's not his fault. I am going to put a call (or e-mail) down to City Hall, however, and at least suggest they make some sort of public pronouncement and give people an idea of what they'd like them to do with their leaves; or at least give us some assurance that more bags will be in before next weekend. As I said before, I assume they have some sort of contract or contact with what is apparently the only company that manufactures the bags we're supposed to use.

Anyhow, in the greater scheme of things, this is probably a very small problem, but one that should be addressed at least, as, according to Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, addressing small problems is a great way to start solving your larger problems. Gladwell specifically detailed how New York City started its turnaround by addressing graffiti in the subways. Letting people know you care about the little things seems to go a long way towards getting them to cooperate and help you fix the big things.

That's all.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

More on political winds of change

In a piece that appeared in today's Erie Times News, one of my favorite conservative columnists, Jonah Goldberg, echoed some of the sentiments I expressed regarding the change in the political landscape that has taken place over the past year. He agrees that despite the optimistic face national Democrats put on last week regarding the results, the Blues have reasons to be worried. I said I felt Grossman's narrow win in Erie County was evidence of this.

Just to address Mayor's Sinnott's easy win over Republican Jack Anderson: In my memory, a Republican has never seriously challenged for the Erie mayor's office and Anderson had already lost like 4 times before, so he has proven pretty well that he doesn't have much support. Plus, Sinnott is a fairly conservative Democrat, especially when it comes to spending, and I think people in Erie like that. Congrats Joe!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A second look at Grossman's win and what it says

I don't know how many of you followed the local County Executive race. Last week, Democrat Barry Grossman defeated Republican Mike Kerner. Grossman's winning was no surprise to most people-as he had much better name recognition going in and raised something like $100,000 in campaign funding compared to $3,000 for Kerner. The big surprise was the winning margin, which was less than 400 votes out of more than 50,000 cast.

To his credit, Grossman seemed less surprised than anybody over this narrow margin. He pretty much attributed it to people voting across party lines. And, from a quick Google, it appears that the 2005 County Executive race was decided by even a smaller margin.

However, you would think outspending your opponent 33-to-one (and I don't know if Barry used all his campaign money) would buy you some breathing room, but I think the whole Obama backlash thing really came back to hurt Grossman. Kerner cited voters' lack of support for County funding of a proposed community college (something which Barry is in favor of and Kerner is against) as a big factor in helping him get votes. He was probably right on this.

Also, I think people in general are sick of government spending following last year's multi-trillion dollar stimulus packages, that really don't seem to have helped the Erie County economy at all. I thought Kerner actually came off as a bit of teabagger/kook during the debate I watched, but apparently, more people are embracing that type of old-thyme Republican thinking. Heck, one guy got elected to County Council who reportedly owes $2 million in back taxes because he refuses to pay the government. He also wants to sell of the County library system.

Yeah, the political landscape is changing again. The Democrats were given their chance to turn things around with liberal policies and apparently the public has decided they've failed. Now, I think we really better start paying attention to the Libertarian crowd, because they seem to be gaining some steam.

I'm not saying this is good or bad, and I do support some of the fresh ideas and enthusiasm that Libertarians bring to the table. I'm really just saying that we can all learn a lesson from Barry and be careful not to dismiss these teabaggers as kooks. Their views seem to hold some sway with the populace, especially in small town America.

From a personal standpoint, I promise not to make the same mistakes I made with G.W. Bush and Phil English, as dismiss them as unelectable.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Vick to Bills?

I, for one, am in favor. I mean we stink so bad now, he couldn't possibly make us worse, could he? It kind of reminds me of when we signed Flutie... sorry, Doug, if I'm insulting you by comparing you to a dog fighting ringleader. But, at that time we were coming off a 6-10 season and I thought the O-line was one of our biggest weaknesses. Well, after this year when Vick becomes a free agent again, we will be lucky to have finished 6-10 and our offensive line has been described as "historically bad" by some experts.

Yes, I realize Flutie was a CFL all-star when we signed him and Vick is still recovering from his stint in the joint and hasn't been an all-star in any league for a few years, but still both guys have/had legs that can help make up for some deficiencies in the O-line. Because of that I think we should roll the dice with Vick. I mean, really, what have we got to lose? If you put anyone else back there, they are going to get killed.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Hangover: Best Picture?

Saw The Hangover on Saturday night. It was as funny as everyone said it was. It was playing at the dollar theater and we went to the 10 p.m. showing, which was packed. Pretty impressive for like its 10th week in circulation. Or, maybe it just says something about people's tastes in Erie.

Really though, I haven't talked to anyone who didn't like the movie and some people like it a whole lot. One of our friends thought it was the funniest movie ever made: funnier than Animal House and Caddyshack. Both my wife and I liked it, which means it scores with diverse audiences, as our movie tastes are fairly different. I guess the point I'm getting at, is can a low-brow comedy like this be nominated for best picture?

I think the Academy has been catching some heat in recent years, for ignoring "popular" pictures like this and wouldn't be surprised if they threw a curve ball this year just to change their image. I mean those Hollywood types are awfully image conscious you know. I don't know what the qualifications are for Best Picture, but I know I saw Slumdog Millionaire last year, and while it was good, in my opinion, The Hangover was better- whatever that means.

But, let's take Caddyshack, for example. I my opinion (once again), that was maybe the funniest movie ever. Granted, I caddied for a few years at Kahkwa, so my perspective is skewed, but everyone else seems to like it as well- and it has to be one of the all-time most quoted movies.

According to a Google search, Caddyshack came out in 1980. In 1980, here were the five pictures nominated for Best Picture: ORDINARY PEOPLE (which won I guess), Coal Miner's Daughter, The Elephant Man, Raging Bull, and Tess. Okay, Raging Bull may be a better movie than Caddyshack, but those other four... I'm sure they have their charms, but 30 years later, nobody is suggesting I watch them. Caddyshack, meanwhile, holds up.

I guess my point is that great comedies really don't get enough credit. It's always been my contention that a comedy is the toughest movie to make well. I base this on the fact that I've seen so many bad ones. Of course, it's certainly easier to make a niche comedy, like a formulaic romantic chick flick, because there are certain demographics that find comfort in that sort of thing. I remember this kid in college who I thought was perfectly normal and fairly intelligent until he told me he thought the "Earnest" series of movies was the greatest. I immediately thought less of him, but as I continued to hang out with him and get to know him, I realized this did not necessarily make him a dumb person, just someone with a different sort of comedic taste than I have.

The thing that makes Hangover great is that it seems to satisfy every comedic taste (well, maybe not the Christian right wingers, who I haven't heard weight in on it yet). I don't know how it will hold up in years to come, but it's fairly hot right now. And I certainly think it deserves consideration for best picture of 2010.

Any thoughts?


Friday, November 06, 2009

Rick Riley on Parades

I've been trying to come up with ways to defend the Yankees: things like, when Jeter starts to go downhill, let's see if they can win another championship. After all, it was more than 15 years between championships before he showed up, and I'm pretty sure they had the highest payroll in baseball through the '80s and early '90s as well...

But Rick Riley's blog entry today really put things into perspective. Here are the last two paragraphs:

"Oh -- and the next Yankees fan who looks to the heavens and sighs happily, 'It's been nine long years!' gets tied to the front of the 4 train and run into a wall. Nine years? Nine years is a cigarette break to most teams in MLB. Chicago Cubs fans are at 101 years and counting. Cleveland Indians' fans: 62. New York/San Francisco Giants: 55. Pittsburgh Pirates: 30. Gee, nine whole years? The Boston Red Sox waited 86 years for theirs. The Chicago White Sox -- 88! There are people in swine flu lines longer than nine years.

Hope your parade takes a wrong turn off a pier."

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Yanks do it!

Despite the naysayers' contention that the Yanks bought a championship, I still think this was a very special team. It includes three sure-fire Hall-of-Famers: Jeter, A-Rod, and Rivera, as well as at least two solid borderline cases: Pettite and Posada, and another guy who should get some votes: Damon, not to mention Matsui, who if Japanese games are considered, should get consideration. We also had guys like Sabathia and Teixiera - who appear like they could be on their way to Hall of Fame careers. No matter how it's assembled, that's a lot of talent on the field at one time, so I guess, back to the anonymous commenter's post: maybe we did just bludgeon everyone with talent. Then again, part of the HoF arguments in favor of guys like Damon, Matsui, Pettite, and Posada, will be the number of championships they won, so it's kind of a chicken and egg thing.

It was kind of fun watching Jeter, Posada, and Petite celebrate, because these are guys who had so much success winning the World Series early in their careers, they might not have appreciated fully how hard that is to do, until they went eight years without one. I'm thinking this one has to be extra special for that reason. As for Rivera, he's just a cold-blooded assassin, and I'm not sure how much winning the World Series means to him. I mean he always pitches well enough to win the thing - it's his teammates who let him down. Also, it was good to see veterans like A-Rod and Matsui finally get their first titles - especially because they both contributed so much in the playoffs. Matsui was a monster (his nickname is Godzilla) last night, and it sure is going to be tough for the Yankees to let him walk now.

As I've said, the core of the team is past its prime and logic would tell you that we have to become younger, but Posada and Jeter aren't going anywhere, and with left fielders Bay and Holiday coming on the market this winter, it would make sense to get rid of Damon and/or Matsui. Ahh, the dilemmas of managing a $200 million payroll and 25 roster spots.

Oh well, at least for now, let them all celebrate a really special season!


Monday, November 02, 2009

True to Form Sunday

Both the Bills and Yankees played true to form yesterday. As usual, the Bills were outgained like three-to-one, but this time they lost - no more breaks falling their way after the first half yesterday, when they parlayed three turnovers into a narrow lead. Of course, it didn't last, as Houston benched their fumbling RB and pretty much kept the ball on the ground to avoid interceptions - then ran right over the Bills. This should be the blueprint for beating my beloved Blue-and-Red the rest of the season. Our offense sucks, so you don't have to worry about us coming back after you take the lead...

As for the Yankees, they had yet another, well, it wasn't a comeback win, but it was pretty close. After having young reliever Joba Chamberlain give up the game-tying home run with two outs and two strikes on the Phillies' seventh-place hitter, the Yanks had every reason to pack it in, as the Philadelphia crowd was roaring and all the 'mo seemed against the New Yorkers (the Eagles had even beat the Giants across the street earlier in the day). Of course, the Phillies then brought in closer Brad Lidge to throw the top of the ninth, a match-up I have been waiting for. You see, Lidge had a terrible regular season, with an E.R.A. of over seven and blowing more than 10 saves. Last year, he was unhittable through the Series, so I guess the Phils felt they owed him some loyalty, and he'd been pretty good with postseason so far this year, going three-for-three in saves, but from what I recall, at least two of these saves were shaky, meaning he got men on base before escaping. This is usually a bad sign for a struggling closer.

Well, Lidge came out last night and dominated pinch-hitter Matsui and then Jeter. Then Damon battled him and finally broke him for a single to left. Lidge got two strikes on Damon early and then the catcher looked like he dropped a potential foul-tip third strike. That was all the Yankees needed. Lidge beaned Teixiera, A-Rod followed with a tie-breaking double and Posada cleared the bases. Game over. (Rivera pitched a perfect ninth-also true to form.)

So, I guess my point is that everyone played true to form yesterday and with the brisk weather and the colorful falling leaves, it was a stereotypically great autumn day. And stereotypes, because of their familiarity, can sometimes be comforting.