Tuesday, November 7, 2006


Dr. Minter and Benny T made some comments that I feel I need to comment on.

For all that it disappoints me on a seemingly daily basis, I cannot and will not give up on the church.

Every summer, I watch teenagers meet to talk about how they, as young Christians, feel about the world around them. They're at an age where their parents' views are being either accepted or rejected as their own views, and I think it's important for the ones who are shaping up to be, for lack of a better word, liberal to see examples of adults who have liberal views and a strong faith. It's important for those kids to see that I don't just reconcile my political beliefs with my faith, but that my (quite liberal) views are based on and strengthened by my faith.

If I gave up on the church, I'd be one less example of that where those examples are few and far between already.

So I cannot and will not give up on the church. I would encourage anyone who still has even a little bit of faith that hasn't been beaten out of them by James Dobson and the like to also not give up on the church. Rather, I think an effort should be made to take the church back.

There was a time when the church was the biggest voice for positive social change. It can be again. It can be. I promise. Ben. Wade. Whoever else. Don't give up. Not all the way. Not just yet. Let's see if we can do something about it.

Monday, November 6, 2006

maybe if someone on tv says it

So I just read this article about how Aaron Sorkin, which contains some stuff I didn't previously know.

It also contains this blurb from Kristin Chenoweth, which should sound familiar to longtime readers of my chunk of netspace:

"It's getting to the point where I don't even want to call myself Christian, because the connotations of that word today are hate, non-acceptance, judgment — everything I believe Christianity isn't supposed to be about.

She goes on to talk about how the showbiz types give her a hard time about her faith while the "faithful" have turned their backs on her because her views don't line up just right with theirs. The more I think about it, the harder that part seems to hit home. I can't work on my faith within the church, because I feel like my point of view is growing more and more unwelcome there. I can't talk about my faith with many of those closest to me, because they can't separate it from the thing that the church has allowed itself to become.

It's more than a little bit frustrating. All of it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

ratings ftw!

Well now. The good news is that a lot of folks are buying up season tickets for the Carolina Hurricanes' next season. The bad news is that there are small rumblings that sound like this:

"Winning is one thing, but I don't think it's the only thing," said Rutherford, who cited the population growth of the Triangle and a growing number of locals familiar with the sport.

Mr. Rutherford. Jim. I'd also like to believe that winning the Cup didn't play a huge role in the spike in season ticket sales. I really would. I'd like to believe that if the team eats it in 2006-2007, the fans made over the last year will be back for 2007-2008. But sports fans are a fickle enough bunch under normal circumstances. You're still looking at a team with less than 10 seasons played. As writers from up north and countless television commentators have been quick to point out: there's no tradition associated with the team. Not yet, anyway.

So the team does need to win. And win lots. I'm not saying the Cup has to live in North Carolina for the next 10 years(that would be nice, though), but it does need to seem as though it could. Give the team a winning tradition and let more and more fans watch games and find out how great hockey is.

Then you can get away with saying that winning isn't what puts butts in seats.

Monday, August 14, 2006

NFL preview '06

A couple of years ago, I tried blogging my own little football preview section, division-by-division. I'm doing it again this year because there is an alarming shortage of sports to think, talk, or write about beyond some pansy with a bike testing positive for steroids and the yawn-fest known as MLB. So where do we start? How about the AFC West? It's a tough one, and the one I'm most likely to be wrong about. So hopefully you'll have forgotten these after I'm done with 8 entries worth of predictions.

4. Oakland - The Raiders have a new(ish) head coach in Art Shell. They have a new QB in Aaron Brooks but Shell has said he's not guaranteed the job. Randy Moss can still hurt a team pretty bad, but I don't see this team coming together and acomplishing anything significant. Especially given the teams that show up on their schedule twice.

3. Kansas City - Herm Edwards seemed like a great pick for head coach until you see what exactly the Jets have done lately. I think this is the year that age and lack of defense(Herm or no Herm) catch up to KC in a big, bad way.

2. Denver - How can I possibly pick them 2nd in their division when they seem to have only made moves to improve on last season? Call it a hunch. Call it a feeling. Call it a very dangerous Wild Card team come playoff time. Or at the very least, I'm openly questioning how Javon Walker's knee surgury went. Maybe?

1. San Diego - Where this team goes is entirely depenent upon how well Philip Rivers can do as an NFL QB. WIth a servicable set of recievers, Antonio Gates, and LaDainien Tomlinson on his side he doesn't even have to be great. Just being really good will do the trick. I had the Chargers at #2 in this division when I started typing this, but just talked myself into putting them over the Broncos. We'll see how that works out.

So there you go. The analysis isn't entirely thoughtful, but my rule is that I'm not allowed to do any research when typing this. So in the future I may even have players playing for the wrong teams. The internet is full of good and detailed predictions. But this is the only place you can get predictions from a guy who goes on whims and changes his picks as he types them.


My views on fantasy sports have been shared with anyone foolish enough to engage me in that conversation. My only entry into a fantasy league ever was a trip into an NBA league in an effort to make myself pay more attention to professional basketball. I had lost all interest before the draft was even over and ended up trading Kobe Bryant to Derek for practically nothing since I figured someone who produces that much score should be on the team of someone paying attention.

Yesterday, I took the monumental step of joining the fantasy football league of some fellow 411 writers. I expect that I'll lose and lose bad. On the up side, I expect the smack talk within the league to be of a superior nature. This better be fun.

Anyway, today we'll be taking a look at the AFC South.

4. Houston - Do I think the Texans made the right choice in the draft? Yes. Do I think that choice will pay off immediately? No. There are more problems with this team than any one draft pick can solve. I predict another last place finish in this division, and we'll see what kind of improvements have been made at this time next year.

3. Tennessee - I just don't see it happening. The Titans drafted well for themselves, but I'm not convinced that Vince Young is what people say he is. LenDale White is a far more intriguing story for this season. Young will be taking snaps at the end of the season, though, once the former Oilers are out of contention.

2. Jacksonville - I like Jack Del Rio a lot and think Byron Leftwich is constantly a threat to have an MVP year. It's just not going to happen with the recievers they have. Their defense will be good enough to secure the other Wild Card spot, though.

1. Indianapolis - I'm so tired of picking the Colts. Every year it's the same thing. Look at that offense! Improvements will be made on defense! This year it's the same, even without James at RB. They'll be good enough to hit the playoffs strong, much like they did last year, but I'm not picking them to get the job done there until they prove to me that they can get the job done there. Hear that, Manning? It's the sound of me jumping on the bandwagon.


The method behind my NFL preview is simple. I go with what I think I know. I don't cheat over to ESPN to make sure I'm right. I just hope that I didn't sleep through a trade that sent the guy I think will be the difference-maker for Team A over to Team 4, thus rendering my half-ass analysis useless. I have, however, been reading up and watching Sportscenter when not writing out these previews.

AFC East standings! GO!

4. Buffalo - Poor, poor Buffalo. Dick Jauron is their coach, which means they'll be trying to play "safe football" with a team that has holes in both offensive and defensive lines. It's going to be ugly. They have nothing to speak of at QB and their entire offense will rest on the shoulders of Willis McGahee, who is good but not that good. It's going to be a long season for the 'lo.

3. New York - The Jets' first question is "who will be our QB?" Will it be the constantly inujured Pennington or Pat Ramsey? Will it matter? Maybe a little. The Jets drafted some offensive protection, so that's good news for Chad. The bad news is that there isn't a partiularly deadly running threat that I can recall. I also don't remember their defense setting the world on fire last year, and that could only decline under a brand new coach.

2. New England - Last time I checked, ESPN loves these guys to make the Super Bowl. If you remember, I've already dished out the 2 Wild Card spots. So I'm going against the experts when I pick the Pats to miss the playoffs altogether. You know why? Because they pointed out all of the flaws with New England - and there were many - but still picked them to hit the Super Bowl because of Tom Brady. That's it. I remember the opening game 2 years ago, where we were subjected to a clip lasting no less than 15-minutes extolling the many things that made Brady not only a great football player but ahead of Ghandi and just behind Jesus Christ on the all-time list of people to walk the Earth. Coming out of that video, one of the comentators remarked that "Tom Brady is the most underrated player in the NFL." Screw you, sports media. Favre hasn't even broken the record for career interceptions yet and you've already found another golden boy. He misses the playoffs this year.

1. Miami - It's simple. Look at how a struggling team finishes the season. The Dolphins, if I remember correctly, finished the season winning their last 6 in a row. If it's not that, it's something close. They've added an MVP-calibur player in Dante Culpepper. They've got "good enough" running and receivers, and a servicable defense. The Dolphins are going to turn some heads this year, and then tell Ricky Williams where to shove his bong.


Football should be the ultimate team sport. So why is it that one player's slow recovery has me rethinking my order for the AFC North?

4. Cleveland - The Browns are going to get there; but they're old guys are too old and their young guys are too young and injury-prone. An improved year, but just slightly.

3. Baltimore - McNair ain't the man he used to be. Even if he was, the offensive line that couldn't give a talent like Jamal Lewis some room is back and a huge question mark. In the meantime, the defense looks to be continuing the downward spiral and will begin to look less and less like the once-terrifying D that used to strike fear into the hearts of fantasy team owners as the season goes on.

2. Cincinnati - I thought they were going to take the North this year until I started hearing Carson Palmer's take on his knee. There's a huge talent gap at QB if Palmer isn't ready that could very well cost the Bengals a shot at the playoffs. Having Chad Johnson at receiver doesn't mean a thing if you can't get him the ball.

1. Pittsburgh - I originally saw the defending champs missing the playoffs altogether, but I think they have enough to win this division if Palmer is as unconfident in his health as he seems. It's sad, because I really wanted to see this division's top 2 teams go after each other and trade leads. The Steelers' D still looks stingy and there's enough left of the offense(even after the motorcycle incident) to capture the North under the watch of NCSU's own Bill Cowher.


Since certain loyal readers have expressed an interest in the NFC East and I haven't made up my mind about the NFC West just yet...

4. Philadelphia - The Eagles are just in ruin right now. Their offense has no #1 receiver, and Westbrook doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who can shoulder an offense for an entire season. The defense pretty bad last year, and I don't know that they've done anything to make it any better. Poor McNabb.

3. New York - Eli Manning will have targets out the wazoo this season, but I think Tiki Barber will remember he's Tiki Barber and start coughing up some fumbles this season. Defensively, the Giants are pretty solid. They're really too good for a third-place division finish, but I think Washington will have an edge on them when it's time to give out the last wild card spot for the NFC.

2. Washington - The Redskins have Antwaan Randle El, Santana Moss, and Chris Cooley for Mark Brunell to throw at if he's still got enough in him to make it a full season. Clinton Portis re-established himself last season. So the offense has a lot going for it, in theory. The pass defense is what puts them over the Giants for second, though, as all of their division games look to involve a lot of passing offenses.

1. Dallas - I don't want to pick Dallas to finish first. But I have to. They've made moves to improve an already pretty good defense, first of all. And then we get to the addition of Terrell Owens on offense. Some people point out that QB Bledsoe likes to call out his receivers in a way that Owens won't like; but you have to remember that this is Owens' first year with the team. This, of course, means that he'll be a good boy and a team player just to show the Eagles they were wrong about him. This means extra room for an amazing back in Julius Jones, too. The only way Dallas isn't looking at a bye week on Wild Card weekend is if new kicker Mike Vanderjagt manages to get Owens off of his good boy routine. I don't think that Owens, even on his best behavior, will stand for being called out by a kicker.


The season is getting close, but there's still like 3 weeks before my fantasy draft. The more I think about what being in a fantasy league is going to require of me, the more I become certain that I will lose. Badly. I'm fine with that, as I know none of the 411 writers personally. If I've never met you in person, I can't really lose to you. Right?

NFC. South.

4. New Orleans - Reggie Bush is there. Drew Brees is there. That's about it. I don't think the Saints will contend but I do think that they will be the team that decides who wins first place in the division. Someone's standing will come down to a bad day against the Saints.

3. Atlanta - It's going to take more than Mike Vick. It's going to take all sorts of things that the Falcons don't have. I'm even tempted to drop them behind the Saints. In the end, though, Mike Vick does seem to be worth a couple of extra wins, somehow some way. Those wins won't be enough for the playoffs, though.

2. Carolina - I'm not sold on the Panthers' retooled running game with Foster looking to get a majority of the carries. I like the addition of DeAngelo Williams to the team, but think it'll take him a while to come on. I'm also not entirely sold on Keyshawn Johnson as a great addition to the team, no matter how much pressure that might take off of Steve Smith. I expect a second place finish in the division due to a slow start on the season and a bad loss to the Saints. I expect a very dangerous Wild Card team to make some noise in the playoffs, though.

1. Tampa Bay - They're bringing back practically all of last season's #1 defense. Cadillac Williams and Chris Simms look ready to bring Tampa's offense up a few notches, as well. It'll be a horse race with Carolina for the other playoff bye(the one the Cowboys won't have). I think Tampa has a slight edge in that race.


Short and sweet, the NFC West

4. San Fransisco - Can the 49ers win this division? No. Can they win 5 games? No.

3. St. Louis - The Rams are a mess. I really wish they'd trade Holt to a team where he could do some damage. They can't win this division, but they might be able to win 5 games.

2. Seattle - I just don't think they'll do well this year. I really don't.

1. Arizona - Does this mean that I'm buying into the Kurt Warner/Edge hype? No. I do think that the team is only helped by Matt Leinart's holdout, in that now there won't be any call to get him out there before he's ready from any side. Still, I don't believe this is a good team. I just believe that the Seahawks will hit that slump that seems to go with all of the defending NFC champs and miss the playoffs. In order to miss the playoffs, they have to lose this awful division to someone. If it's anyone, it's Arizona.


When I say that the Bears will win the NFC North, I mean it with my whole brain. Rather than my whole heart, which is usually the source of the prediction.

4. Green Bay - The Packers look awful this year. The only highlights they can look forward to are those of Favre breaking the career INT record. I know I'm looking forward to it.

3. Detroit - I have no idea what's going on there. It looks bleak, and no one involved with that team seems to care to do anything about it.

2. Minnesota - The Vikings don't look that good, either. They do look better than Detroit and Green Bay, though.

1. Chicago - The best thing that could have possibly happened to the Bears is Benson injuring his shoulder so that Thomas Jones can get the starting job at halfback. They have a servicable backup at QB when Grossman goes down with his annual injury. The defense will be amazing once again. The Bears are going to the Super Bowl. I've decided that, based on how bad the rest of the NFC North looks, that the Bears will get a bye instead of Dallas, who will have too much competition from the rest of their division to keep one of the top 2 records in the NFC.

I would be a fool to try to predict the playoffs before the season has really started, wouldn't I? That's exactly why I'm gonna do it.

Wild Card weekend will look like this:

Carolina def. Arizona, Washington def. Dallas
Dever def. Pittsburgh, San Diego def. Jacksonville

Conference semis:

Tampa Bay def. Washington, Chicago def. Carolina
Denver def. Indianapolis, Miami def. San Diego

Conference Championships:

Chicago def. Tampa Bay
Denver def. Miami

Super Bowl:

Chicago def. Denver

You heard it here first, kids.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

finish line

The Del Close Marathon has come and gone. People have ranted and raved over their favorite shows and blogged about their New York minute. For a second straight year, I didn't go. This year, though, there's a difference.

I don't care that I wasn't there.

I don't miss cheating a few hours of sleep in-between my must-see shows only to stumble back over to the theater in hopes that the line to get back in isn't horrid. I don't miss meeting people and watching them try to gauge whether or not I'm important enough to be worth their time. I don't miss the week or two it takes to repair my sleep schedule when it's all said and done.

Sure, I'm sad that there are people I didn't get to see. Sure, I'm a little put off that friends of mine are getting high praise and I wasn't there to see it happen. At the end of the day, though, I'm happier to have missed the hassels than I am upset to have missed the wonders.

So this means either that I'm becoming a cranky old man at the tender age of 27 or it means that I may be more done with improv than originally thought. If I am experiencing a little bit of the improv burn out in spite of a summer away from it, you'll have to give me that I have plenty of reason.

The nonsense really took most of the joy out of improv. I still don't like that situation, and in retrospect feel it was even more unnecessary than even my original thoughts. In spite of things becoming a little more relaxed between the two theaters, I still would hear an odd word here-or-there that reminded me that there was probably still more hard feelings than anyone would let on. I did what I could to make light of the situation, but the fact that it seems like it will always be somewhat hanging over everyone's head can really feel like a punch to the gut.

Even beyond that, I was starting to get more and more frustrated by DSI. The cycle would go like this: (1) I would get frustrated and consider quitting, (2) There would be a pep rally of some sort promising changes, (3) I would generally be in favor of the changes and get excited, (4) I would be in a really fun show and get really excited, (5) Something at some level would get start to get under my skin, (6) it would fester and then the cycle would repeat.

I do think that DSI is losing the parts of itself that drew me into it one bit at a time. That's not necessarily a bad thing for DSI(they seem to be doing quite well), but it means that my place in all of that isn't there anymore. I've marinated on that thought for a good bit and I'm cool with it.

I'm cool with it.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

it feels this way once a year

With all the other excitement going on, I've neglected to do my standard post-ACS "I love those kids, I love my friends, I love God, and this is the best thing I can ever do with myself, ever" wrap-up. All of the things in the standard wrap-up remain true. There are some highlights though.

-Piffers and MB jumped from "favorites" status to "all-star" status. I absolutely adore both of those kids, from Mary Beth worrying about things she'd probably already taken care of a full week prior to Epiphany appologizing every time she called someone out of order, they were amazing. In the first class that didn't have any recognizable link to the group I graduated with almost 10 years ago, I saw some amazing things. Maybe we weren't as great as I remember us being.

-A late-night staff tradition died a sudden death when it got too big to support itself. I'll always miss what it was and weep over what it became. The dumbest thing we ever did was talk about it.

-I took the strange step of spending the free time with youth this year rather than taking my traditional nap. I didn't miss the nap at all.

-I think I may have actually rattled some brains in the good way in my Tuesday night group when I asked them to consider some contextual things about the Bible. A good number of those guys had follow up questions later in the week. This is the kind of things the people of Benson, NC probably wouldn't have liked.

-The guys absolutely nailed the serenade in front of Garber Hall on Friday night. Special thanks to the added leadership of Lucas Cecil. This adds Lucas to the "favorites" list.

-The Wednesday night talk with Helms, Covington, and Roberts was the funniest thing I've been a part of in a long time. I only wish more people could have enjoyed it.

The absolute best of everything I believe comes out to play every July at Methodist College. I'm blessed for having been there for it again.

Monday, June 19, 2006


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I am a happy boy. But not as happy as this guy.

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And for all of the folks out there who thought that Raleigh didn't deserve a team and that Raleigh's team didn't deserve the cup, here are some words from this guy:

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"Whether you like it or you don't like it, learn to love it; because it's the best thing going today."

If that's too difficult for you, try this one:


storm clouds

Game 7. Tonight. Before game 5, there were a lot of people(myself incuded) strutting around as if the 'Canes had already won the cup. The atmosphere is a little different before game 7. After the completely hideous effort from my boys in game 6, it's almost the exact opposite.

I'm not saying that people are slumped over in the way that we will be tomorrow in the event of a loss; but people are definitely preparing themselves for the worst. Conversations about hockey around the office end in half-hearted fist pumps with a weak "Go 'Canes" behind them. People are already starting to talk about how "it's been an exciting run." No one is talking about which bar will be the best from which to watch the game. We're all watching from our homes. Glen Wesley's name has been unofficially changed to Poor Glen Wesley.

This game needs to go ahead and start. The waiting is killing me. Everytime someone brings it up, my eyes dart to the nearest clock and do the quick math to estimate how long I have until the puck drops. I've caught myself chewing up the skin around my fingernails several times today. Gross. I know. I'm going over anything I've ever done during the day before a Hurricanes win and tried to replicate it. My stomach is tied up in knots(this may be related to the compulsive biting around my nails, but is more likely just another example of how bad my nerves are in the hours before this game). The fact that there can be no more hockey after tonight is almost merciful at this point.

And there it is. No matter what happens tonight, hockey season will be finished when the game is over. After that, with the exception of the glorious fortnight that is Wimbledon, I'm left without meaningful sports until football season. It'd be nice to spend that down time celebrating.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

one. more. win.

Last night, Andi and I attended the RBC Center's away-game coverage of game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Nice night.

We met up with Laul Peland at Neomonde for the pregame meal that was undefeated all through the regular season but inexplicably ignored all through the playoffs. By the way, it's worth mentioning that over the course of these playoffs, I've developed a pile of superstitions that might qualify me for a mental disorder. There's a lucky spot on the floor(disproved during the Buffalo series), a sombrero(disproved), a cursed spot on the love seat(active), special lunch items(undefeated), special dinner items(active), a shirt(disproved), a different shirt(active), a toboggan(undefeated), and a seating arrangement(undefeated). These are just a start. I need help.

After Laul decided to wuss out on the game, Andi and I found some lovely seats with a good view of the RBC Jumbotron. Then came our neighbors. We were first joined by a pretty large collection of small children and their families in front of us. The girl in front of us would adorably turn to me and ask "did we score a point?" whenever the RBC crowd cheered and the boy would take quiet delight in reminding me of the double-minor that would come with my request for any Hurricane to open a bleeding wound upon Chris Pronger's head(I still say that if Pronger bleeds enough, the 4 minutes on the penalty kill would be totally worth it). The kids were alright with me.

We were shortly joined by a chattering flock of teen girls. I do mean chattering. I've often been afraid that with the instant messenger/text messaging revolution that our young folks might have forgotten how to actually speak. No more worries. The chatter disappeared when they spotted a group of boys they knew and left to join them. It reminded me of so many get-togethers I was part of before drivers' licences were issued to my crowd where the sole purpose of the gathering of 10 teenagers was so that "the couple" could get some quality making out time.

I discovered that Andi and I are becoming cranky old folks at an alarming rate when we both expressed relief to be free of the chattering of the Teen Girl Squad. Their replacements, however, were far worse.

In my current shape, I hesitate to call anyone other than UMAGA fat. So let's just say that the duo that replaced the teen girls were "jolly." The two "jolly" girls had homemade t-shirts which identified them as Mrs. Andrew Ladd and Mrs. Eric Staal. Mrs. Ladd and Mrs. Staal were twice as loud as the gaggle of teen girls and offered about half the interesting topics of discussion.

During the game, they were joined by a guy who I thought inexplicably might want to be Mr. Eric Staal but Andi was certain was their gay friend. From there it was an hour-and-a-half of a thoughtful discussion on The Storm Squad's lack of devotion to the sport of hockey. I considered asking them which of the team's players they had "boosted" the way it's rumored the Storm Squad does that proves their devotion to Carolina Hurricanes hockey. I then remembered that the answer to my question was presumably written on their shirts. When not knocking the Storm Squad's seeming lack of enthusiasm, they took time off to offer in-depth critique of their husbands' work with the phrase "Man, we suck!"

The act of watching the game was especially nerve-racking because the puck didn't exactly show up on the jumbotron. I could tell where it was by the movements of the players, but anytime a shot was fired I had no idea just how good the shot was. This made three foot misses look like close calls. In the final minutes of the game, with the 'Canes clinging to a one-goal lead, even dumping the puck into the offensive zone started to look like scoring chances before the goalies' body language would assure me otherwise.

Following the win, I went home to catch any coverage of the game I could. What I found was News 14 Carolina's post game wrap up, complete with locker room interviews. The problem with locker room interviews is the sheer amount of bare butt that makes it onto the screen. The hilarious part was that the cameras did nothing to avoid it, at times inadvertently following a nekkid Hurricane on his walk while panning from one talking head to another.

I've since then thought about what a big deal was made about Ray Whitney's fun in the background of Fox's early-round coverage pre-game interviews and how he knew where the camera was at all times. I've come to decide that any naked Hurricane you see on News 14's coverage is only seen in such a state because he wants to be. It's what I would do, so I can respect that.

The real fun here is that with a 3-1 lead in the series, I've started to more seriously entertain the notion that I'll see my beloved Hurricanes lift one of sports' holiest of grails. Just one more win, guys.

Monday, June 5, 2006

we all go to nc state

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Rod Brind'Amour: Wolfpack fan.

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Thursday, May 4, 2006


Looks like Sidney Lowe will be State's new basketball coach. I don't know much about him as a coach, since that would be asking me to have more than just a passing interest in the NBA, but I like that he has a connection to the University. I also like him a lot more than a lot of the other names that were tossed around after Barnes turned us down.

As an assistant with the Detriot Pistons, I know he's not going to emphasize flash over substance. That will keep the Herb fans happy. It also means he was on the coaching staff for a championship team as well as having played on one. That will make the "get us a proven winner" camp happy. I expect a down year or three, which I'm willing to accept for what will almost assuredly be a better brand of basketball in the long run.

Go State!

Monday, April 3, 2006

no herb garden

The Herb thing. I'm happy for everyone involved. Sendek gets to go where he will have more success than he was capable of here. So Sendek wins, and his supporters will get to fire off a self-righteous "I told you so." Those of us who knew better win because Sendek is out of the picture. NC State wins because they didn't have to fire a guy who was marginally successful and really a nice guy. Sportswriters win because they get to talk about how horribly we treated poor Herb, therefore getting to write about something other than the first games of baseball's meaningless 850-game regular season.

The only way everyone doesn't win is if we manage to take a huge step down with a new coach. I'm very nervous and very excited to hear who a new coach would be.

Friday, March 24, 2006

...the Bible(along with the context in which it was written) tells me so

I think this is a great idea. First because it's an elective, so no one is being forced to do anything. So long as that remains the case, I wouldn't have too many problems with it being a full-on worship service.

But the really great thing about it is the fact that they'll be looking at the history of the Bible as well as the context in which it was written. I would have loved to have a class like that in my high school. I mean, Library Aid was a great elective and allowed Peter Bosman and myself to take countless Seventeen Magazine quizzes with Mrs. Covington, but I would have much rather been learning some important things about the book upon which so much of my faith is based.

Seriously. If more high schoolers had access to this kind of learning, maybe guys like Pat Robertson and James Dobson wouldn't have such a huge following. And that could only be good for Christianity and the world.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

for the rest of you

Here are two questions that people that have no ties to NC State basketball might have:

1. Why would they fire Herb Sendek?
2. Why would they give Herb Sendek a parade?

That's about where people stand on our basketball coach.

Herb has his supporters. They see steady improvement. They think they owe him eternal gratitude for rescuing our beloved team from the Les Robinson era. They see decent recruiting. They see that Herb won ACC Coach of the Year once. They see 5 straight trips to the Big Dance. They see NC State in the top 25 more and more consistently. They see success, and they don't see how anyone could say otherwise. They have their points.

Then there are those who would rather see Herb move along. They see talented teams collapse in the final minutes of close games. They see a boring offense that relies on 3-pointers which routinely goes on scoring droughts. They see early exits from the NCAA tourney. They see a collection of embarrassing losses. They see that in 10 years Sendek has managed to beat Duke and Carolina 8 times, with a majority of those wins being at Carolina's expense during some of their darkest seasons. They see Atsur as next season's leader and tremble. They see a team that's better than bad, but still not good. They see "close, but no cigar" stamped on our beloved team. And they have their points.

I tend to side with the second group. Herb needs a change of scenery and NC State needs a basketball coach that can get them past the wall they currently are running up against. Where some see 20 win seasons, I'm looking at seasons with no quality wins. State has, under Sendek, netted 3 wins that are in any way memorable.

1. Last year's win that put us in Herb's only Sweet Sixteen.
2. A win one season before that over Duke that seemed to cement our status as a contender. Little did I know...
3. A win against then #1 UNC at the Dean Dome by a going nowhere NC State team in the 1997-1998 season, one of the highlights of my freshman year.

That's it. Each of those wins seem like distant memories when watching games like NC State vs. Iowa from earlier this year(the absolute worst event in the history of contested sport).

There are rumblings from the optimistic, though, that we should give Herb a big fat party. I've read on message boards and blogs that people are actually trying to put together a march of some sort to support the keeping of Sendek as head coach. A man whose greatest basketball achievement is one visit to the round of 16.

No matter who gets their way here, we're crazy.

I understand that Sendek isn't going anywhere. I understand that he'll be around next year, coaching a team that hoists up 3-pointers, doesn't rebound, and collapses hardest when the most is at stake. He'll do well enough for people to think I'm crazy to want him gone, but poorly enough for me to stay resolved in my assertion that we need a new coach and a new system. And I understand that next year around this time, the fans of NC State will be having the same "Should he stay or should he go" argument while 16 other teams prepare for some actual basketball.

All I have is to silently hope that Sendek is tempted by one of the upcoming college ball coaching slots. That, and to hope that a replacement would actually bring improvement.

March. Madness.

Monday, March 20, 2006

putting in the "mad"

Okay. I've had some time to calm down and reflect on yesterday's basketball happenings. I couldn't be happier for George Mason. And there's no team I'd rather see go out early than the University of North Carolina. They've been eulogized all morning on TV and radio as a team that was expected to have a hard season who rose to the occasion to achieve well beyond their and so on and so on and so on. Good for them. Better for George Mason.

NC State gets no eulogy from the sports media. We were there. We were hanging with Texas. After being blown out of the water in the opening minutes, we hit a run and brought it back close. But how?

With Gavin Grant and Cam Bennerman doing something unheard of in NC State basketball. They got their points two at a time instead of just heaving up ill-advised 3-point shots. Heck, Courtney Fells got in on the 2-points at a time game plan. It was working. Going to the basket was working. Had Sendek actually changed his gameplan in an effort to win a game?

Then suddenly, inexplicably, Bennerman and Grant are on the bench watching Evtimov and Atsur chuck the basketball at the hoop from section H again. And this, friends, is why many of the Wolfpack faithful are tired of the Herb Sendek years. Sure, it's nice to make the NCAA's 5 years in a row. But it's not nice to see the team constantly wilt when faced with a team that can be described as "good at basketball." It's also not too nice to be piling up some embarrassing losses each season as well.

NC State was shooting over 50% in the first half, mostly on the back of the "actually taking the ball to the hoop" stategy which was promptly abandoned. Want to know why the game wasn't even close? 3-for-22 from the three point line. A basketball coach might have told his players to knock it off. But Herb isn't a basketball coach. Herb's a nice guy. And nice guys let Evtimov stay on the court because he's a senoir. Nice guys don't care if you're making bad decisions. Nice guys don't care that you're not really that good at basketball. Nice guys don't care if you might be doing too much on an injured body. Nice guys only care that you're a senior.

Nice guys lose by 21 points.

March. Madness.

Friday, March 17, 2006


For the first time in five years, my final two aren't going to be correct. I know this after the first day of play. That horrible moaning sound? That's my brackets experiencing a slow, painful death. Thanks a lot, Syracuse.

I think that Hayley Minter maybe has worse brackets than mine, but that's little consolation considering I watched a boat load of Sportscenter and she watched boatloads of Dora the Explora in preparation.

March. Madness.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

greatest comeback ever?

So a blogger whose free time astounds me almost as much as his brilliance has put together extensive commentary on the sporting classic that was Bugs Bunny vs. the Gashouse Gorillas. Highly recommended reading for sports fans, math/physics fans, and/or cartoon fans.

Friday, March 10, 2006

acc friday

I'll never know why they don't go ahead and give everyone today off. Anyway, I shall be updating here whenever I get a second to let you know about what I think about what's going on with this afternoon's games. I expect to be working hard on all things job-related during most of Duke vs. Miami so that I can't be called a slacker when I take frequent breaks during State vs. Wake. Losing to Wake Forest in our last regular season game and then beating them in the ACC tournament is something of an annual tradition for my beloved Wolfpack.

10:01 - In spite of my best efforts, the television showing the games will be set up in the break room and not directly in front of my desk. I thought that directly in front of my desk was a fine location, since so many people walk by it. It would have been a great spot for almost anyone in the office to have a look at, particularly me.

10:46 - My supervisor has some stuff for me that doesn't need to be done at my desk. It could, for example, be done in the break room around the same time as the State-Wake game. I told you they treat me great here.

12:13 - Duke is up 7-2. They were up 4-0 before Miami made it across half court due to a pretty tough press defense. Miami has been doing a good job frustrating Sheldon Williams and early indications are that the refs are going to let them play rather than call touch fouls, so it might be a little tougher for the Devils than I thought. JJ is going to have to win this one for Duke if this keeps up.

- The lone Duke fan in the break room is more interested in his Sudoku puzzle than the game. When did these things start taking over the world?

12:23 - Duke up 5. I know this because I found a little radio that I had once purchased to listen to poorly received crazy left wing radio shows before I stumbled upon better crazy left wing radio reception via streaming audio. The radio works much better picking up ACC basketball.

12:31 - JJ started out slow, but seems to have found his shot. According to the radio guy, he made one from the ACC logo which is roughly located in the Greensboro Coliseum parking lot.

- Good back and forth action here. Either Miami came to play or Duke is getting really sloppy. It's hard to tell with only the radio to inform me.

12:47 - Miami is going nuts. I'm not sure how Duke isn't losing by more than 1. I'm taking lunch during the second half of this thing for sure.

12:51 - Foul trouble is going to kill Duke down the line if they don't tighten things down. As it is, Miami just sounds like they have more life in them.

12:59 - Duke down by six at halftime. Miami has Williams on the ropes, Reddick shooting cold, and seems to be taking real advantage of some physical play. Duke better get it together. Good first half though, with 9 lead changes.

1:38 - Grilled chicken from the company for lunch. Good stuff. Duke came out in the second half swinging. Full court press took out the Miami lead, and then Duke dropped it. My guess is we'll see the press again if Duke gets desperate, because it works for them well. Miami is still playing some serious basketball, though. This game is a lot of fun.

1:50 - Duke by 1 with a little over 6 minutes left. 20th lead change of the game.

2:12 - Is Miami going to the NCAA's? Are they on the bubble or what? I'd like to see them in the big dance. A hell of an effort in their loss to Duke. I ran to the break room for the last 33 seconds, and watched the Carolina fans wonder why the 3-pointer form Miami late was shot from somewhere in Winston-Salem.

- I do love the ACC tournament. A game like this is exactly why. If State beats Wake, it means we get Duke tomorrow. JJ has made State look silly in this tournament a lot of times. Still, I remain cautiously optimistic.

2:38 - And we're underway. GO WOLFPACK!

3:32 - Ugly first half. Ug. Lee. I was more interested in my procedures manual than I was the game, but here are some observations:

- Gavin Grant came out hot and no one else on the team noticed.
- The refs are going to be quicker on the whistle in this game than the Duke one.
- NC State doesn't rebound. For any reason. Ever. I don't know why.
- Everyone on the team is trying to win this game on their own. They're all losing it on their own instead.
- We're talking no offense. Paul Maurice hockey teams had more offense than this. Awful. And why is there no offense? 3-pointers. Lots of them. None of them going in. We've got Packer and Cremins both saying that Simmons needs the ball down low and no one is trying to get it to him. At all. It's terrible. And again, there is no adjustment to this game plan which is so much more than not working coming from Herb.
- It's not that Wake is playing good basketball, either. They're trying to give us the game and we refuse to take it. Turnovers are coming and we're just throwing up bricks from behind the arc.
- Billy Packer said the Wolfpack has been in a "stupor." That's putting it lightly. This game is terrible. State is lucky to have made it to halftime down by 17 instead of 117.

4:13 - It's terrible. We have one strategy. When it doesn't work, we're screwed because our coach doesn't have a backup plan. Ever. We didn't make a single backdoor cut until we were down by 22 points. By now the look on Andrew Brackman's face says "just let me go play baseball."

-Atsur just found his first points. He really sucks.

-I understand that Ced is sick. I understand that Cam is hurt. But there is no excuse for what we put on the court.

4:25 - We're within 12 with 3 minutes left. I'm praying for a miracle.

4:40 - Put a bullet in this horse. She's sick, and it's just sad to see her this way. The commentators on the radio are praising Gavin Grant's efforts and pointing out the fact that he's too talented for Herb's offense.

- The Duke fan with the Sedoku puzzle waked by and said "The worst thing that could happen for Duke is for Sendek to leave and State to pick up a real coach." Amen.

4:43 - That'll do for my coverage of the first 2 games of ACC Friday. One basketball game followed by one team-on-team blasphemy contest on this holy day. At this point, we're looking at a 12 seed at best for the NCAA's. It's going to be ugly. This is the time of year that State usually finds our stride, not when we roll over and die. I hate basketball.

Friday, March 3, 2006

Jesus was a revolutionary

The State of Things on NPR was about the "religious left" today. I was kind of disappointed in the show, since they rarely strayed from the topic of abortion. I know it's a hot-button topic right now, but I'd still liked to have heard more. There was some pretty good stuff that got out there, though. Here are some of my favorite quotes, as best as I could transcribe them, along with some personal thoughts...

-From Rev. Jim Wallis, author of God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It(which I will definitely be reading once I get done with the Walking Dead hardcover):

"King never endorsed any candidate, he made them endorse his agenda."

Right now, Republicans tell the church what it's agenda is and what it cares about. It shouldn't be that way. Politicians in general should not be able to tell us what we should be thinking about, we should be telling them what they should be concerned with. It hasn't worked that way in a long time.

"The poor aren't trapped only in poverty, they're trapped in the liberal/conservative debate."

I have nothing to add. That's pretty dead on, though.

"If you want to be protected by the right wing and you're a child, you have to stay unborn as long as possible."

More on this after I get all of the abortion quotes out.

"If a Democrat is a person of faith, he shouldn't have to apologize for it."

I really dislike the idea that the Democrats have to retreat from their faith if they're going to maintain all of their supporters. No one should have to back away from what their faith is. They don't have to wear it on their sleeves, but they have to let people know that they're people of faith, too. The way it is right now, Republicans get to say "I'm a pro-life Christian." The implication is "My opponent is a pro-death non-Christian." I'm tired of Democratic people of faith not saying "I'm a Christian too, and that faith tells me you're full of it."

People are afraid the instant the word "God" comes into things, they'll lose the people for whom religion is not the source of their convictions. I say that as long as those people can hear that the things that matter to them are being addressed, they don't care what the faith of the person addressing them is. They may even be relieved to hear that the convictions that got those concerns addressed came from a foundation as strong as one's personal faith.

-Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP:

"The Church cannot be a chaplain of the state...the Church should challenge the state..."

The Church should never function as a part of the government. Ever. And this is why. The Church should be one of the strongest voices that work to hold the government accountable for the welfare of its citizens. Period. That's pretty far from the way things are right now. Ask me about my feelings on the American flag being in the front of church sanctuaries sometime.

"So let's talk about abortion...what do we abort when the children don't get health care...What do we abort when we go backwards into segregation...that's a faith discussion."

You cannot have a view that is anti-abortion and have a view that is anti-welfare. It doesn't work. As Rev. Barber said, "If someone is going to have a baby, we need to take that baby in, not just tell them to have it." You cannot tell someone that they have to have a child and then have nothing in place to take care of that child. You can't. Not in any morally reconcilable way.

One of the things that kept coming up during the broadcast was the idea that instead of just banning abortion and patting ourselves on the back, the best way to combat abortion is to prevent the situations that lead to it. Help the people feel like they have to do it as an economic necessity with social programs. Require some real sex education that may focus on abstinence, but at least ensure that everyone knows effective birth control methods. I think even the most Catholic of Catholics can agree that a condom and a pill is preferable to an abortion. Make the adoption process less of a headache for all of the parties involved. All of these can be done to stop abortions without imposing a ban that will make criminals out of some of the victims of our current system.

"There is no debate that if you read the Bible, you're supposed to care for the poor."

People can argue about the meaning and context of a lot of the Bible. They can argue about what is actually said about homosexuality, war, and most anything else. People even argue about the meaning of "Thou shalt not kill," for cryin' out loud. But no one can argue that the Bible doesn't tell us at almost every turn to take care of the poor. Yet it seems to be the last thing on the minds of the most fanatical "Christians" that run the country.

-Anna Eshoo, Congresswoman from California

"Our faith is not poised on the head of a pin, it's very broad...Catholicism is broader than abortion"

People's faith cannot make them into one-issue voters. It just cannot. I don't care what your faith is, there is more to it than how it informs your belief on a single issue. The reality of politics is that when someone takes office, they take the office to handle multiple tasks. Your faith should inform how you feel about one politician's stand on every aspect of their office, not just the one that gets the fire in your belly going.

Put it all together, and we get what the Republicans are so good at. They tell the Church what issue it should be concerned with. The Church follows that lead, focused on the one issue while the Republican party violates every other bit of "Love your neighbor as you love yourself" almost entirely unnoticed. They can paint themselves as "better Christians" than their opponents because they are "prolife" or "anti gay" and those are the only "Christian" values that matter.

More and more, I see people giving up on the Church as a result of this. I don't feel like I can beat it, so I end up in chuch much less. Some don't feel like they can beat it, so they abandon their faith completely. We cannot do that. We have to make the Church be the Church again. I have to do my part to bring the Church back to that place it was in so very long ago, where it held the government accountable. So. Anyone with me?

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

save the whales but not the universe, right?

Andi and I have been talking about this off and on lately.

People are in bad shape. We have people who cannot afford to eat. We've got people dying of disease that there's no cure for. We've got people who are dying of disease there is a cure for, but they don't have the means to get that cure. We've got people without homes. We've got people working 3 jobs to support their families. We've got problems in our education system that will result in children being born into these situations having no real way out. This is just in Durham County.

People are suffering. And this jackass is worried about the chickens. Can we not get this kind of effort directed towards easing the suffering of people?

I'm not advocating testing cosmetics on cute little bunnies. I'm not saying that my meat shouldn't be allowed a comfortable life before it becomes my meat. I'm just saying that I'd rather save one smelly homeless guy than 100 adorable kittens. I'm just saying that the people who put all of this effort into saving the chickens might want to examine their priorities.

Pam Anderson could not possibly care less about human suffering, but she'll drop millions to make sure we all know "fur is murder." It's fun for her because she gets to make like she cares about something. And she probably is deeply offended by the poor chickens' plight. I just wish someone with that kind of money could get that worked up over people.

So you know what? I'm going to go to KFC for some delicious fried chicken tomorrow. Then I'm going to come back here and see what I can do to actually help someone.

I. hate. PETA.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

NC State basketball and you: an educational film

The following entry is entirely for the amusement of Jason Matthews. I apologize to everyone else.


Timmy: Golly! My friend scored club-level seats for the State-Carolina game! I sure hope the Wolfpack plays an exellent game tonight!

Mister: Hold on just a second, Timmy. You may be going into this game with lofty expectations.

Timmy: Gee Mister, I don't think my expectations are unreasonable. We're ranked ahead of Carolina.

Mister: Well Timmy, let's take a magical trip to the basketball court, where the games are played...

Timmy: Oh boy! A magical adventure!


The JMatt did, in fact score(courtesy of his employer) the club level seats with the little TV's in the tables for this game. The seats were great, but I had a bad feeling when I looked at the ticket and saw Evtimov(who has ousted Adam Harrington as my least favorite player on a team I love) on the front of it. Still, the crowd was excited and the game was about to start. For 8 minutes of game time, there was basketball. For the rest there was the Wolfpack getting absolutely embarrassed. By the end, even Carolina's scrubs were making us look slow. It's as if the team had been bitten by (Marvel) Zombies.

The only thing that made the night even remotely worth it was the post game trip to the Waffle House, which can go a long way to heal wounds.

You want to know why we got so embarrassed? Keep on reading after the end of the film.


Timmy: Shucks, Mister, I suppose that even a talented team can lose if no one bothers to coach them and they're saddled with Evtimov and Atsur. I should keep my expectations low in spite of our high ranking.

Mister: We'll see about that. How do you see the rest of NC State's season going?

Timmy: A bounce-back win against Boston College and a sqeaker at Wake Forrest, followed by a deep run in the ACC tournament before getting bounced in the second round of the NCAA's?

Mister: Now you're getting it!

TImmy: From now on, I'll save my unrealistic expectations for the football team!

Mister: Oh, Timmy...


Why do sports insist on making me sad?

NC State's gameplan never changed from our end. Not one iota.

We didn't adjust to the defense Carolina was using. What's even worse is that we should have been ready for it. It's the same one Duke used to shut us down as they pulled away from us in that game. They took away the three point line. Ideally, we would have responded to that by challenging them inside. Instead, we just kept throwing up 3-balls.

We didn't adjust to the fact that the refs were calling everything, up to and including eye contact. Carolina knew how to use this. We should have. If we had gone to the basket(which we needed to do anyway with the 3-point line taken away), we could have probably picked up some extra cheapie fouls, too.

No defense. None. On some Carolina posessions, I don't think we even tried. And if we did manage a stray turnover, we found a way to give the ball right back. I'm almost certain that Carolina scored more points off of Carolina turnovers than NC State did.

We go out-hustled, and especially out-rebounded. I think Carolina got 100 offensive rebounds. No one(except for Brackman, who seems to be making a career out of being the only one who wants to put in any effort vs. UNC) showed even a hint of hustle from this team.

If only there was someone who could be put in charge of creating game plans, including adjusting to what another team is doing and the way the refs are calling a game. If only there was someone with the power to take someone who keeps forcing bricks up from behind the arc out of the game and tell them to try something else for a while. If only there were someone who could maybe coach the team during the game. Technically, we do have one of those. What'd he have to say?

"I don't think we played with the kind of effort we needed to have tonight," Sendek said. "I don't have any idea why."

Sunday, February 12, 2006

don't screw with this administration

Or Dick just might shoot you in the face.

There's probably some metaphor I can beat you over the head with where I point out that someone from the Bush administration took aim at a target and ended up harming an American, thereby once again establishing just how inept our leadership is...but you're too smart for me to need to do that.

Friday, January 6, 2006

i still miss jules

12-1 is nice and all, but I miss Hodge.