Wednesday, December 31, 2008

funnybooks of the two weeks prior to this one: The Walking Dead #56 & What If? Spider-Man: Back in Black

So, on the day that new books for this week should be coming out (they won't until Friday, but if you were chomping at the bit for me to get this out you already knew that), I give you my picks for the previous two weeks. Shall we?



I will continue to repeat this until you get tired of it. Zombie movies, zombie comics, zombie pretty much anything are all at their best when they're about the people who have to live through it more than the hows and whys of the zombies or even the danger those zombies present. I said zombies a lot there. Zombies.

With The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman shows that he not only knows this, but thrives on the idea. This is a crazy drama about real people doing real things in a messed up world. The zombies are window dressing, this is a dramatic book that deals with the consequences of living in constant horror.



So a What If? book goes like this: a landmark story from Marvel Comics' history is retold with one detail having been changed, therefore taking the story in a different direction. When this was a regular series, many people would read across the top (for example: "What If the Fantastic Four all had the same powers?" and reply to the comic "everyone dies."

Because that's kind of what happened in most of them. As such, the What If? series is usually a story darker in tone than most mainstream capes & tights comics. This issue, though, which explores what would have happened if the bullet that hit Aunt May (and caused Spider-Man to make a deal with the devil) had instead hit and instantly killed Mary Jane. The result is raw emotion from Peter Parker juxtaposed amazingly against the cold Kingpin and the "by-the-book" Iron Man. And, oh goodness, is it dark.

Peter crosses a few lines, causes some trouble, and goes all Dolemite at one particular moment. Most What If? stories wrap up in one issue, but when next year's batch comes out, I'd like to see where else a Parker that has made these choices and landed in that situation can land. Make it happen, Marvel.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

scott says i've learned the #1 rule of the internet

Yesterday, I sat down to do my part to keep How RDU Doin'? rolling into a powerhouse local blog. I went through the reader, and picked up on a story about The Biggest Loser finale and how it contained a Raleigh couple. The last time someone from Raleigh hit it big on a huge prime time reality contest thingamabobber, it was that Clay Aiken kid.

So I wrote a post pleading with Raleigh to support these folks the way they did good ol' Clay. It wasn't my best work, but I thought it was a funny enough bit. Andi and I went to have a nice dinner at one of Durham's fine eateries and watch Slumdog Millionaire (totally worth your time, by the way), and I forgot I'd written that post entirely.

When we came home, I checked my special How RDU Doin'? email because I'm desperately behind schedule on what was going to be a brilliant feature and want to get started as soon as I get certain confirmations (ooh, mysterious!). I saw that there had been a comment on something I posted. "Oh good, we're getting comments." I took a closer look and saw that it had drawn more than the usual amount of comments.

It seems that the Claymate nation takes serious exception to the implication that Clay rose to fame on a karaoke-style game show. Serious exception. The Claymates showed up to tear me a new one in the comments section by pointing out that Clay is not reduced to blogging, but rather has achieved success as a huge Broadway star (did you know he was in Spamalot?).

I've often been told that you're not doing anything right on the internet until you get hate mail. Clearly this is another banner day for our fledgling blog.

Lesson learned.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

sean avery: putting the "k" in klassy

So we all know that Sean Avery is a grade a d-bag. But that doesn't stop him from going out of his way to prove it on a regular basis. This time, though, it's earned him a suspension. Not from the Dallas Stars, but the NHL. Here's what landed him in the trouble:

Reporters were waiting to speak with Avery about disparaging remarks he'd made last month about Flames star Jarome Iginla when Avery walked over to the group and asked if there was a camera present. When told there was, he said, "I'm just going to say one thing."

"I'm really happy to be back in Calgary; I love Canada," the Ontario native said. "I just want to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don't know what that's about, but enjoy the game tonight." He then walked out of the locker room.

Defenders of Avery and people who just want to take a few shots at the NHL for overreacting will say that this was just some poor gamesmanship, just an attempt to get into the head of Calgary's Dion Phaneuf. Phaneuf is dating Elisha Cuthbert, known unanimously here at Big American Party as the girl who played the character stupid enough to step into a bear trap in 24's second season.

There is more to it than that. "Sloppy seconds" is an intensely graphic term that boiled the women he was referring to down to, well, an intensely graphic image. I'm wondering if the usually up-in-arms sports media will call this out as an incident of not just an NHL player, but one of the few names and faces casual fans can identify, using a derogatory remark about women or if this will simply be acknowledged as the straw that broke the camel's back, on par with things like yelling back at an abusive fan. My fear is that it will be the latter.

Particularly disturbing is that he didn't just drop it as an offhand remark in the middle of questioning. Rather he had thought through, probably rehearsed, and checked to see that the cameras were rolling for this charming little soundbite (to be repeated on Jim Rome's radio show thrice daily for the next six months).

Maybe a mere suspension is too good for this guy.

Monday, November 24, 2008

they will pardon a tasty swamp bug on thanksgiving

I have no concept of how long this has been floating around the interwebs, but there are some photos of the contested ballots in the Franken/Coleman senate election in Minnesota.

Of particular interest to me is this bad boy right here:



Is there more to this than meets the eye? Does this voter know something about Al Franken and the other candidates he or she voted for that we don't? Is there a secret cabal of lizard people infiltrating - nay dominating - our highest branches of government?

I, for one, welcome our new lizard overlords.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wolfpack 41, Tar Holes 10

I don't want to say that I called it or anything, but I called it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

how is how rdu doin' doing?

I think this email from our fearless leader says it all:

We are the #1 search result for "tazed at funeral." We have a lot to be proud of today.

That we do, Scott, that we do.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

playoff system? yes we can.

The change we need. And by "we," I mean NCAA Division I (or Bowl Subdivision, if you prefer*) football. Barack Obama, our president elect, has come out on the side of a playoff. So Barack Obama is a Bears fan who wants a playoff for college football. If I see him at a State game buddying up with Rod Brind'Amour, I'm ready to declare him the greatest president ever without him having even been sworn in.

Of course, with the political season having not yet died down, he even took a shot at those who disagree with him; adding "I don't know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this." John Swofford is not a serious fan of college football.

*No one does.

Monday, November 17, 2008

teams played football this weekend

Wolfpack 21, Demon Deacons 17 - Russell Wilson was amazing and the NC State defense came up big when it needed to the most in this game, which will boost my expectations for next season just enough that the cycle of being a Wolfpack fan can continue when the basketball team(1-0 after avenging our loss to the mighty Privateers of New Orleans) inevitably crushes my soul. I watched this game in the rain with newly-married Mr. Shmecki McShmam (formerly Laul Peeland). State beating a top 25 team after a rough season is more fun than a little rain can stop.

Also? I've figured out State's niche for the season. Does your school play football in North Carolina? Were there high expectations for your season? NC State will ruin it. ECU? Ruined. Duke? Ruined. Wake? Ruined. UNC? On notice.

If we'd had App State on the schedule, we could have gone to a bowl...

Terps 17, Tar Holes 15 - Here's the other reason Carolina is on notice. Their quarterback seems to have left his ability to play or even recognize a football game in his other pants.

UPDATE: Sexton is now fighting for the job he earned through a string of injury and incompetence from the two guys who were ahead of him this season. I can only hope that this causes the kind of chemistry issues that can keep States in-state win streak alive.

Bears 3, Dirty Cheating Packers more than 3 - So. This is bad. Three-way tie for the division lead. It looks bad. The Bears need at least four of the next six to win the division, as I see it. If their defense continues to get ripped up, it isn't happening. Not that the offense had a great game or anything(they didn't, they had the opposite of a great game), but remember when they were the liability rather than the defense? What happened?

Eagles 13, Bengals 13 - The NFL's first tie in six years. I hate ties, but not for the reason everyone else does. I hate ties because I'll hear about how the concept of the tie is the worst thing in sports. Normally, I'd agree. But I'm cool with the way the NFL works it. If neither team can score in any way in 15 minutes with the game on the line, neither team deserves a win.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

just a small bit of what my problem with prop 8 is



I might add more later about how dangerous legislating faith...or even your (incorrect) perception of it is...later. This is pretty good for now, though.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

SUPER SPARKLE SHOWCASE sunday morning recap



The finale was a grand success. Lots of fun, bits on top of bits, and each contestant bringing it hard so that we can say the best show was definitely the last one. Congrats to Jon, who won by setting the bar incredibly high in the first two weeks and playing strong enough to stay ahead by the time everyone else caught up.

I've praised the contestants to no end and I don't think I need to tell you how awesome I was, but there is something I've left out of all these recaps. Jason Matthews worked long and strange hours to pull this thing together so that the rest of us could just focus on having fun with his show.

Thanks, JMatt. Get some rest. There's going to be high demand for a season 2.

Friday, November 7, 2008

north carolina went blue - anything can happen

So. The Chicago Bears will take the field against the 8-0 Tennessee Titans. At quarterback, Kyle Orton - formerly the "rookie sensation" - formerly the "game manager" - formerly the "pro bowl slam dunk" - won't be playing quarterback. Rex - formerly "means king" - formerly - injury prone - formerly good/bad Rex - Grossman will. Brian Urlacher is a shadow of his former self. The secondary is decimated. Can the Bears get a win on Sunday?



Yes we can.

what i would do, not that anyone asked

I'm still not sure I believe it, really. North Carolina is a blue state, and the Democrats have all but a stranglehold on the Senate. You'll have to forgive me, but all I can think right now is "don't screw this up." The Democrats, with Obama as their leader, now have a serious chance at making good on the change that has been promised. Both in the tone in DC and in the policy in this country.

I believe Obama will reach across the aisle. But if he's going to do it well, some of us will have to wait on some of the grand designs we might have for a government operating from left-of-center.

At this point, taking some measures to stabilize the economy is job one. There's a lame duck session of Congress to go, and maybe something will get done there, but we'll need something real and something strong to bounce our economy back all the way. No-brainer. Everyone wants that.

So Mr. President-elect, work with some Democrats and Republicans on getting that taken care of. Let them have some input. Let them propose things. Compromise. In the midst of all of this, though, remember that you're in charge and they'll have to concede more than you will. You have, with the Democratic party, a pretty strong mandate.

Up next, it will be time to start dotting the final Is and crossing the final Ts in Iraq. Also, it will be time to focus on the hills between Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is also something that both sides can be even quicker to come to an agreement on, as we all know it needs to be done.

Suddenly, you've reached across the aisle, just as you promised on two pretty large issues. Then you have your political capital. Then it's time to look at health care and the other issues that have divided the political leaders for so long. That will be when we see just how far we've come.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

SUPER SPARKLE SHOWCASE sunday morning recap on a thursday



The word of the week was junk. Stuffed tights, not-so-stuffed tights, and a pair boxers without a button fly all made appearances while a fourth contestant's backup dancer rubbed his junk all up on me(clearly not the way to get a high score). The crowd loved it, and the SUPER SPARKLE SHOWCASE had a helluva night.

What could have been a disaster, when one contestant took somewhere between 4 minutes and eternity to set up his interpretive dance, turned out to be a beautifully fun moment where PT and I got to really have a go at each other(all in good fun and totally in character, of course). The show is supposed to be about the contestants, but that was just a ton of fun.

This week's video? Enjoy Chris Moore's crotch-tastic performance.

Next week is the final week, and the contestants have been ordered only to SPARKLE. I can't wait to see what they'll do with it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

there's plenty to talk about, but...

For now Media Matters has the best point: will the media-at-large remember that they actually called Bush's 2004 victory "a mandate?"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

how has this been around for nearly two months without my having seen it!?!?!?!!?

BarackRoll'd!!!



Brilliant...

i get that it's all a part of the game, but still...

You know what would be fun? If, between the Chicago Bears, NC State Wolfpack, and Carolina Hurricanes, I could enjoy one of my favorites without massive injuries to key players.

Monday, October 27, 2008

SUPER SPARKLE SHOWCASE sunday morning recap on a monday



Saturday night was probably the best show, overall, the SHOWCASE has put on. Most of the contestants have figured out where their strengths are and played them up big. Even as resident jerk Brice Powers, I had to give out three scores of ten.

I originally wanted to post a link to Travis' performance, but I don't know if the video really conveys the sheer, um, Travis-ness of it. Similarly, performances from Jenny and Paul (the other two tens that Brice gave out) don't work on video as well as they did live. So for this week's link I'm going to go with Jon's performance, which I'm retroactively thinking we all underrated.

Due to some of the language used, I don't recommend watching this video in front of people who can fire you, children, or impressionable house plants.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

i voted today, but the political ads didn't stop

Andi says "go vote, it's fun and easy!"

Thursday, October 23, 2008

two-timing is awesome, but only with blogging

There's a good chance that production on this bad boy is going to take a nosedive. Before you tear your garments, sit in ashes, and weep uncontrollably you should go check out howRDUdoin' and you'll get more of Ben than you can possibly handle. As a bonus, you'll also get the wicked awesome wit and wisdom of the brilliant Chris Conklin and playful barbs at the Charlotte Bobcats from Scott Jennings.

howRDUdoin.com is locally focused but, since I'm way bigger than the greater Triangle area, there's still plenty to go here. In the meantime, though, visit howRDUdoin.com early and often.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

SUPER SPARKLE SHOWCASE sunday morning recap on a tuesday night



I can tell you how great the show was. I can plead with you to understand how hysterical the whole show turned out through a weak recap. Or, I can just post a link to the video of runaway winner Jenny Spencer teaching us about the virtues of professional pirating. I'm lazy, so guess which one I'm going to go with.

Monday, October 20, 2008

bookmobiles are for pansies

Every now and again, it's good to stop with all the political nonsense, comic book worship, and blathering about my life and use this blog for what blogs are meant for:



Showing my loyal readers awesome stuff on the interwebs. This, ladies and gents, is the biblioburro.

A whimsical riff on the bookmobile, Mr. Soriano’s Biblioburro is a small institution: one man and two donkeys. He created it out of the simple belief that the act of taking books to people who do not have them can somehow improve this impoverished region, and perhaps Colombia.

Behold it, tremble before it, and rock out to how awesome it is.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

and now, i begin teasing the SUPER SPARKLE SHOWCASE



In order to provide you, my loyal fanbase, with enticement to watch this week's SUPER SPARKLE SHOWCASE I shall provide links to two of the better performances from the first two weeks.

Travis Pomeroy performing N'Sync's "It's Gonna Be Me" in week one.

Jon Karnofsky and the lovely and talented Del Flack performing a scene from The Graduate.

Good times. Watch this show.

winning the hearts of millions of joe six packs and one joe the plumber

Because general televised punditry will cover the rest, only two thoughts on last night's debate:

1. Senator Obama started droppin' the letter g from the end of his "-ing" words. We noticed this for the first time while he was declining talking about Sarah Palin, and thought it might be a subtle jab at her folksyness. He kept doing it throughout the rest of the debate, though, and now I'm wondering if he was actually coached into it because of the way the folksy talk has supposedly resonated with people.

It's also possible, I suppose, that Obama could have been doing this all along and I never noticed. It's something I'm going to be actively looking out for now, at any rate.

2. In the latest battle in the Republican war on all things intellectual, Senator McCain actually managed to talk about Senator Obama being eloquent in a way that suggested that eloquence was a bad thing. I should make it clear that I know that McCain was trying to say that Obama was obfuscating his intentions behind some well-placed words.

That's not what McCain said, though. He could have simply pointed attention to the phraseology Obama was employing and picked at it as he saw fit. Instead he specifically and repeatedly derided Obama for being eloquent. The message was clearly that since Barack Obama doesn't talk like you, he can't be trusted.

Because what we really need is four more years of someone stumbling over his made-up words to inspire confidence...

Monday, October 13, 2008

even i know that this is the most important endorsement you can get in this state



Dean Smith. As a State grad who was raised on Duke basketball, I will always acknowledge Dean Smith's place in basketball history. Also? I'm perfectly happy that his politics are very often in line with my own.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

even when you see it coming, it's gratifying

Philly hates Sarah Palin.



What you should treat this as, though, is another indication that the McCain/Palin ticket is dangerously incompetent. They get a half-good idea, the idea to play up the "hockey mom" angle on opening night for an NHL team. Okay. Maybe put her in an important swing state to get their ever-tumbling numbers up. Still good politicking. Then, as they try to figure out where this stunt will work, someone in the McCain war room says "Philadelphia! It's perfect!"

Philadelphia, a section of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that is likely overwhelmingly pro-Obama. Philadelphia, where everyone gets booed anyway (even Santa Claus). What did they think was going to happen?

As a hockey fan myself, I'd like to think that Sarah Palin would get booed out of any NHL arena she showed up in. However, if she'd tried the same stunt in Columbus or with one of the Florida teams, someone might have been able to point to her appearance as a success. Then again, maybe she's such a hockey mom that she couldn't bring herself to show up in a non-traditional hockey market. Or maybe, just maybe, the McCain campaign is completely and utterly clueless.

SUPER SPARKLE SHOWCASE sunday morning recap



Last night's SUPER SPARKLE SHOWCASE featured the contestants trying to reenact scenes from the AFI top 100. While some of the contestants were left without ways to properly SPARKLE up their performances, Jon Karnofsky (with help from Del Flack) managed to recreate an iconic scene from The Graduate that was completely worth the price of admission.

Let me go ahead and give PT Scarborough his due for being great as Jason Aquarius, washed up actor and host of the show. He's been great, and worth the price of admission himself. Forgot to mention that last week. My bad.

Next week? The contestants have to teach the audience something. The challenge leaves more room for zaniness and gimmickry, so I expect a heckuva show. Be there, why don't you?

Friday, October 10, 2008

what the world needs now is axl rose

Hell hasn't frozen over yet, but the forecast is pointing towards it. It looks like what's left of Guns N' Roses has set a real live release date for "Chinese Democracy." There were those of us who thought that Axl's paranoia, perfectionism, fights with fashion designers, and rotating band members would never actually reach the point where Axl was comfortable releasing an album. Honestly, I won't really believe it until the Best Buys of America are full of people climbing over each other to get to the display and bask in the Slashless goodness.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

at least i can be sure that Obama isn't going into the prevent defense

Barack Obama, according to nearly every available poll, is leading the presidential race by a pretty wide(and ever-widening despite some filthy tactics from 2008 McCain that would make 2004 McCain wonder if he actually did father a black baby) margin. So what's Obama's next move?

It looks like he's about to try and score the knockout punch in the form of 30 minutes of network prime time.

I don't trust polls very much in spite of my near obsessive checking of FiveThirtyEight on a daily basis. I do little dances as it looks more and more like North Carolina just might go to Obama(something I began to realize as a possibility back in July), but it's all still with a doubt in the back of my head about a country that saw fit to give George the W the presidency* because hey felt like Gore came off as too much of a know-it-all. The doubt gets deeper when I remember that the same country, after looking at the consequences of that action, decided to give him a second chance.

I do believe there's a fundamental difference this time around, though. This time, the Democratic candidate isn't an uninspiring John Kerry. This time it's a guy who's bringing new voters to the table and genuinely exciting people. Despite this, I still won't believe it fully until I see Obama named as the winner on election night.

If this TV time can be the knockout punch, though...if people tune into this and Obama opens up a lead in the polls so big that it passes even my doubting-because-I've-been-burned-so-many-times-before brain's margin of error...well, I won't mind doing the tiniest of premature celebrations.

*[normal claims about elections being stolen]

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

i'm not even going to think about what would happen when a kitchen knife, a torch, and a chainsaw are thrown in

So, two things about John McCain have stuck with me lately.

1) The country is in financial crisis. McCain suspends his campaign so he can only focus on the economy. Let's just pretend that this move wasn't at all politically motivated. For the sake of argument.

2) McCain thinks government spending is out of control. His proposed solution from last night's debate? Freeze all spending(except, of course, defense and veterans affairs).

So my problem here is that McCain seems to want to deal with problems by stopping the world. If this guy somehow manages to win the presidency, what's going to happen when he faces his first crisis? Is he going to shut the country down? He can't. When the $#!% hits the fan, a president can't just pretend there's nothing else going on. A president is going to have to juggle. McCain has conceded that he can't even manage running a campaign and delaying the passing of the bailout legislation.

Just spitballing...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

i didn't laugh last night, but that's more due to my commitment to the bit than anything else



Last night was hilarious. The SUPER SPARKLE SHOWCASE is a six-week long talent competition that I should have been plugging here before the first show rather than the day after it. Still, I can't think of a better way for you to spend $10 on the next five Saturday nights.

This past week was the singing competition. I'm one of the judges for this thing, and all I was told was that the contestants were given a week to put together a performance of a former Billboard #1 single. Travis Pomeroy went first, doing an N'Sync song wearing an apparatus which connected him to two "backup dancers." Hilarious. My first thought was that everyone who followed him was just going to come out and sing...leaving them screwed. Fortunately, the other five contestants came through with gimmicky goodness as well and provided one helluva show.

As the "mean" judge for this marvelous talent competition, I had to pretend not to be having a good time. I also had to work as hard as I ever have to keep myself from laughing at a show with plenty of laugh out loud moments.

So what's on deck for this Saturday? The six contestants will have to act out a scene from one of the AFI's top 100 movies with a partner of their choosing. If the show follows form, I expect them to do more than just recreate great scenes. I expect them to SPARKLE!

Friday, October 3, 2008

joe biden won by answering questions and using facts

You can look all over the interweb and find all kinds of thoughtful reaction to last night's VP debate. I'd join in, but I have a raging headache from when I beat my head against the wall each time Palin either dodged a question or butchered the pronunciation of the word "nuclear."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

we'll always have memories of people sporting faux black eyes

It doesn't come as a surprise, but I'm still sad that things didn't work out for Jeff O'Neill's comeback. I had hoped that, after a season away from the ice, something would click for him upon returning to Raleigh and he'd find enough of his former self to be a threat on the third line. It wasn't meant to be, though, so I'll let the old News and Observer Hurricanes beat writer Luke DeCock take it from here:

His appearance at the RBC Center on Sunday may have been his last in an NHL uniform. If so, it was fitting he went out on the rink where he had his greatest success, in the uniform he wore for almost his entire career.

History may record Jeff O'Neill as an underachiever, never reaching the promise that made him the fifth overall pick in 1997. But for a few seasons with the Hurricanes, he was every bit that good -- just not this fall.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

don't distract me from my distraction with things that matter

Sunday night. I'm enjoying the Bears defeat of the Eagles. Or I'm dreading what looks like another second half collapse. Or both. Still, I'm watching football. Then something strange happens. Al Michaels mentions the current financial crisis on Wall St. and makes several references to the bailout.

Tuesday morning. Today. I'm trying to enjoy the SportsCenter highlights of last night's Ravens/Steelers game that I didn't watch in favor of Heroes and actually spending some time with Andi. The SportsCenter crew make what feels like a dozen more bailout references.

This has to stop. I watch sports - and I don't think I'm alone in this - to not think about what's going on in the real world. I watch sports so that, for a few wonderful moments, there's nothing more important than my team's defense coming up huge on 4th and goal or nothing more important than the offensive failures that kept that defense on the field. If my team isn't playing, there's nothing more important than the other games shaking out in a way that favors my team in the standings. If the game has no affect on my team's possible playoff future, then there's nothing more important than the stats of a receiver who's on my fantasy team. In short, sports are a distraction that allow me to get way too heavily invested in something that I can remind myself is actually pretty trivial should it go poorly.

I do not want your references to the real world in my sports. Not during the game. Not when you're broadcasting the highlights. There are at least 5 channels I could have turned to if I wanted to hear what people thought of a bailout plan and its affect on the financial future of this country. When I watch the game, I just want to think about the game.

Everything else will still be there when the clock hits 0:00.

Because I've already sullied a post about watching football with political nonsense, I may as well toss you a link to a video where Barney Frank becomes my hero for pointing out the absurdity of Republicans politicizing the failure of the bailout plan by talking about how Nancy Pelosi tried to politicize the bailout plan(via Catie Braly by way of Facebook, for full disclosure). Enjoy this more than I was able to enjoy SportsCenter this morning.

Monday, September 29, 2008

bootlegging obama merchandise is probably more fun than it should be

I was one of 18,000 people who went to see Obama speak in Greensboro this past weekend. The speech itself was another typical Obama home run and Obama got a little more aggressive than he allowed himself during Friday's debate.

"Through 90 minutes of debate, John McCain had a lot to say about me, but he didn't have anything to say about you," Obama said. "He didn't even say the words 'middle class.' He didn't even say the words 'working people.'"

The McCain spin control has countered with the already tired Palin line about Obama talking about foreign policy without saying "victory," a word that McCain and Bush love to use without ever giving so much as a hint of what victory in the broad "war on terror" or even specifically in Iraq actually means.

I'm not here to talk about whose talking point is better (Obama's is). I'm here to talk about how awesome the bootleg Obama merchandise that surrounded the rally was. Buttons, t-shirts, and rally towels were among the available options. With some Obama stuff already on the way, I was only tempted to purchase two items.

One was a button, featuring a shirtless Obama punching forward with "HOPE" tattooed on his knuckles. In retrospect, denying myself this bit of awesome was a complete misstep. Mostly because I can't find an internet image of this thing, and I'm concerned that no one will believe it existed.

The other item I found a little odd was a t-shirt featuring Obama shaking hands with Martin Luther King, Jr. It read "Dreams Do Come True." While I think that might be a little funny and over-the-top, this rally showed that Obama means much more to many of the attendees than just a presidential candidate ever could.

Hope is awesome.

Friday, September 26, 2008

would you really trust me to write a book about a teenage girl?

While anyone who particularly cares already knows about this*, I still wanted to give my industry outsider opinion on the cancellation of DC's Minx line of comic books. Minx was an imprint that produced comics aimed directly at teenage girls, supposedly inspired by the success of manga and a few other books like Persepolis among a demographic that remains unreachable when it comes to big-time, American-based funnybook publishers.

Given the clueless approach taken towards the creation of this line, I'm not surprised to see that it's been scrapped. The story at Comic Book Resources gives this line:

Multiple sources close to the situation agree...that this development should be seen as a depressing indication that a market for alternative young adult comics does not exist in the capacity to support an initiative of this kind, if at all.

I disagree. I think the audience is out there, clearly. Someone is buying the books that gave DC the confidence to go ahead with the Minx line. Let me toss out an idea that you may do what you will with.

My diligent internet research reveals that the best-selling manga title is a series called Chobits. The creative force behind it is a group of four creators that go by "Clamp." All four are women. Persepolis was created by Marjane Satrapi. In case you were unaware, she's also a woman.

So who are the creative forces behind the Minx books? Mostly men. There were some women involved, but by-and-large the Minx line was guys trying to write comics for teenage girls. In the case of Mike Carey, who does fantastic work with the X-titles over at Marvel, they're 50-year-old guys trying to write books for teenage girls.

So DC(and Marvel, if you're interested), if you want to attract this audience, start hiring the best female creators you can find. Let them do whatever they want to do. Put that product on the shelves of the local bookstores and promote it as its own thing. Not as a big company most known for supplying movie studios with material trying to imitate something...but as something that exists on its own. Let the dollars roll in. Thank me later.

*I wanted to talk about this earlier, but decided that it would be good to let this post hang out up top for a little bit longer.

Monday, September 22, 2008

if pressed, this is what i'd say hope looks like

I registered voters yesterday. I stood for two hours in front of a gas station and registered voters. Two of them. One per hour. I couldn't be more pleased with how I spent that time.

I stood next to Andi with my clipboard, held so that a sign taped to the back of it proclaiming "Register to Vote" could be seen by anyone who bothered to look, and asked passers by if they were registered. My fear that people would be annoyed seemed to be unfounded, at least in this location.* When asked if they were registered, people would respond that they were and then would tell us that they were happy to see us out there trying to make sure more people could answer the same way. Another person informed us that he had just registered and he "can't wait" to vote.

While the support was encouraging, we spent quite some time without anyone filling out the forms attached to our clipboards. Eventually, Andi and I began to wonder if our time would be better spent in a different area. We debated the pros and cons of moving our efforts and tried to figure out what alternative locale would prove to be more fruitful.

As we did this, a sixty-something black man passed by. "Are you registered to vote, sir?" I asked. He stopped dead in he tracks, looked at me, and smiled one of the friendliest smiles I've seen from behind his slightly unkempt, graying beard. "No. Let me run inside and I'll be right back out." His son was with him. The son, a registered voter, was plainly excited that his father was showing interest and assured us that he was in no rush. He would make sure his father registered.

It turned out the old man didn't need any prodding from his son. He came out of the convenience store and made a beeline straight towards me. Since he was without his glasses, he asked me to fill in his information for him.

We all joked around as the old man dictated his responses. When I asked him what party affiliation he preferred, he emphatically stated that he wanted to be a Democrat. They asked Andi and I about our affiliation. I gave a quick look around to make sure our impartiality wouldn't be jeopardized by answering and mumbled that I a Democrat as well, adding that I was "kinda afraid" of what a John McCain presidency would be like.

"Kinda afraid? We're more than just kinda afraid!" came the response.

By the time I handed over the clip board and form for him to look over and sign, the old man's smile widened even more (I have no idea how that could have even been physically possible). I can't imagine what it must have been like for him, knowing what he's seen in his lifetime, to finally be registering to vote(and knowing who he was registering to vote for, assuming that being more than kind of scared of McCain doesn't translate to a Libertarian vote).

The old man and his son thanked us, we thanked them, and they went back towards their truck. Before he got in, the old man looked up and repeated what we'd heard earlier from another new voter: "I can't wait."

Andi and I didn't say another word about going somewhere else.

*See previous post.

falconbridge shopping center's politics are more important than your rights

I didn't want to ruin a very positive post with this story, but I think it should be mentioned that the organizer for yesterday's voter registration drive was forced to stop registering people to vote in front of The Mardi Gras Bowling Center by the people that run that little strip mall(The Falconbridge Shopping Center, for those wishing to stay clear). She had nothing that identified her party affiliation or support for any candidate, she was just told that they knew she was with the Obama campaign and was forced to stop registering people to vote.

My take on all of this was that this was pretty low. No one there was trying to sell anything. No one there was pan-handling. People were being asked a simple question: "Are you registered to vote?" If the answer was yes, they were told to have a nice day. If the answer was no, they were asked a simple follow-up question: "Would you like to register now." If the answer was yes, then five minutes later they had filled out the form and were on their merry way. If the answer was no, they were told to have a nice day.

Apparently, someone found this to be entirely objectionable and complained. At least, that's the official story. My guess, since the recounting of the banishment from the greater Mardi Gras area(The Falconbridge Shopping Center, for those wishing to stay clear) included that the owner of the property was very insistent that she knew for a fact that it was Obama volunteers registering people, it had more to do with the name Obama than any customer annoyed at having to answer a question or two without even breaking stride.

So you don't like Obama. Why stop people from registering to vote? If you think that people registering to vote hurts your candidate's chances...doesn't that say something about the candidate you're supporting?

Andi had a second, and probably more poignant take on the situation. On the way home, she lamented the fact that there is no such thing as public space. From one end of Durham to the other, if you want to register people to vote in actual high traffic areas, you're doing so at the mercy of whatever developer owns the land.

With that in mind, I'd like to point out that the people at The Woodcroft Shopping Center of Durham have been more than accommodating to volunteers helping people register to vote. I shop at their Food Lion and occasionally dine at their Subway or Pulcinella's Italian Restaurant. You should do the same

Saturday, September 20, 2008

big american NFL review: AFC weeks 1&2

Just ahead of week 3's snaps and just after NC State ended ECU's BCS dreams!

Did I overrate the Chargers?

I'm not ready to say that I have yet. They let one slip away in the final seconds against a very good Panthers team and lost to a Broncos team that I might have underrated in Denver. That's right, I said they lost. They didn't have it stolen from them from a referee, they lost. Was that a fumble? Yes. Absolutely, it was. I'm not saying the call wasn't blown. What I am saying is that no one on the San Diego defense caused that fumble, so in my estimation that means they deserved the loss.

That said, you'll have to remember the Chargers got off to a slow start last year and came close to knocking off the Patriots and getting to the Super Bowl. 0-2 is a rough hole, but the Chargers have too much talent to be done just yet.

Are the Patriots finished?

No. But they are in danger of losing the AFC East. Don't you dare for a second think that I'm jumping on the "Favre is the answer to all of the Jets' problems" bandwagon, though. I'm talking about Buffalo. The Bills have been impressive for two weeks. I'm not ready to call them the favorites to knock New England off of the top of the division yet, but I'm not ready to say that Matt Cassel is going to be just fine leading the team either.

The Patriots, with their squeezably soft schedule, are still very much a playoff team.

Did I overrate the Jaguars?

Unless they fix the problems hey have on the offensive line, I absolutely did. The good news for them is that Indianapolis doesn't seem to be the team they have been over the last few years and Houston hasn't stepped up their game the way I expected them to. The bad news is that the Titans seem to have powered through the quarterback drama to a 2-0 record and don't look that bad. Suddenly, "not that bad" puts them in a pretty good place unless the rest of the division wakes up.

Do I still like the Browns chances of making the playoffs?

Kinda. But after two weeks of football, not nearly as much as I did before the season started.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

button button who's got the button

Andi just ordered two of these official Obama buttons for us:



They're great and all, but I almost purchased one of these awesome bootleg Obama t-shirts:

big american NFL review: NFC weeks 1&2

Two weeks down in this NFL season, and these are the questions I have for myself:

Is Carolina that good?

The Panthers have emerged as an NFC favorite behind strong 4th quarter play from Jake Delhomme and Jonathan Stewart running over and through defenders when he's not carrying them for 5 yards at a time.

Week 1 was what seemed like an impressive comeback win over my preseason Super Bowl pick in San Diego. The Chargers might not be the team I thought they'd be, though(more on that in the AFC version later). The second win was another comeback win where they dismantled my beloved Chicago Bears who had, for the two quarters before that, dominated the line of scrimmage in a whole and total fashion. Then again, the Bears weren't expected to make much noise this year.

Still, the Panthers ended up destroying the Bears in the field position game(even when Hester wasn't injured yet) and shut down Chicago's run game in the second half. This was also where they found out who needed to be the star of their running game. Oh, and they have Steve Smith coming back next week.

I'd guess that, yes, the Panthers are that good. Apologies to Delhomme for that whole "overrated" tag in the preseason. Anyone that takes that hit from Lance Briggs and then becomes a better quarterback has earned my respect. The only thing I see stopping Carolina is if, even after proving the other kids on the team can catch the ball, Delhomme becomes too locked in on trying to get Smith the ball. They just look really good right now.

So what about the Bears?

Hester is out, but that hardly seems to matter if 1) other teams can duplicate Carolina's kick coverage or 2) The Bears take a bad "block in the back" penalty on every kick return. That's going to make it tough for the offense. Kyle Orton isn't going to give you any bad turnovers, but he also made zero good deep passes against the Panthers (including missing an easy touchdown pass to a wide open Booker). The one deep pass that was caught was under-thrown and Brandon Lloyd made a tremendous adjustment to get to it.

If the Panthers are as good as I think they are, then there's no shame in the loss. It was a bad half for a majority of the team and one bad game for Orton and the special teams(minus, of course, that touchdown they generated). Orton and the receivers can work on the timing for deep throws, so the Bears may well be able to win this division. It's a two-team race between them and the Packers at this point. Why?

Did I overrate the Vikings?

Yes. I did. You're not going to get 160 yards out of Adrian Peterson every game. And, while they're as good as ever at stopping the run, they haven't been able to take the pass away from anyone. They're 0-2 and about to play Carolina.

A lot of the blame here has been placed squarely upon Tarvaris Jackson's quarterback performance. So he's out and Gus Frerotte is in. When you bench your guy for a 37-year-old best known for injuring himself by head-butting a wall (if there's a video of this on the web...someone tell me) and your secondary has been nothing but torched with Steve Smith coming to town...that's 0-3, and that's hard to come back from no matter how amazing your running back is.

Have I changed my mind about the Giants missing the playoffs?

No. The Giants have looked better than I thought they would, but they still only look like the third-best team in a division with Philly and Dallas. The Monday Night game was epic. While I no longer feel like St. Louis is going to sneak into the playoffs(I went out on a limb, so sue me) to keep a third NFC East team out of the playoffs, the emergence of the Panthers as a serious threat combined with my stubborn insistence that the Saints will also make the playoffs still leave the Giants out of the playoffs while being a better team than what the NFC North and West will end up sending in as their winners. Tough break, but I don't want to hear a word about expanding the playoffs.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"i would be so much less nervous if i could just kill something -- not a baby, not a baby."

Honestly, yesterday afternoon I was ready to write an irate entry about how we should stop paying so much attention to Sarah Palin and start talking about important issues in the upcoming election(even with a full understanding that real issues and facts do nothing to sway swing voters...bunch o' jerks). Then my mom sent me this:



Then trusted friend and finder of funny interwebs Maya Roseman pointed me in this direction:



There are more of these here, and they're all pretty much hilarious.

So instead of outrage, I've fallen further into the trap of paying more attention to Senator Oldie Whats-his-face's pick of Palin(they call her Caribou Barbie on The Stephanie Miller Show for a running mate than anything of substance.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

for the love of all things holy, please give me someone to vote for

The gubernatorial debate is a train wreck. Neither Pat McCrory nor Bev Perdue* are doing anything to get my vote. Seriously, if I ran for Governor on a platform of occupying the mansion while doing my best not to let North Carolina implode in the time it takes to get some serious candidates for the position next time around, would you vote for me?

My campaign slogan, while admittedly clunky, is also a winner: "Four years of me doing nothing is better than four years of either of these jerks doing something."

*Michael Munger is a third-party candidate but, since he's a Libertarian and there's not a chance in hell that you'll ever see me voting for one of those kids, I'm not even going to put his name in large print.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

if i end up having to say "i told you so," i'll be very upset

The video below is from the CFL. It's awkward and anti-climactic. It's also exactly what we'll be looking at before long in the NFL if they don't implement my recommendations regarding end zone celebrations. Don't say I didn't warn you.



By the way, I'm so happy that football season is here I could cry.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

officially speaking, Chad Ocho Cinco is faster than a horse

I just received the following update on one of the wideouts on my fantasy football team:

Thu, Sep 4 The Cincinnati Bengals said Thursday that they will refer to the receiver formerly known as Chad Johnson by his new legal name, Chad Ocho Cinco, in all club business. That includes the back of his jersey for Sunday's season opener at Baltimore.

No, I will not ever tire of this.

fact-checking the republicans. because they won't do it themselves.

Here's a short list of lies from the Republican National Convention. I'll bet the "liberal media" won't call them out on any of this.

I'll be in the corner balling my fists in rage if you need me.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

another hilarious palin picture. and just a few words.

Alright fine. Since she gives her speech tonight, here are a few reasons to think that Sarah Palin is a lousy choice for John McCain as a running mate. You're welcome.

1. She Abuses Power

Let's start with the fact that she's under investigation for firing public safety commissioner Walt Monegan since he wouldn't dismiss her ex brother-in-law. We've all heard about this one by now, I'm sure. While the facts may come out from this investigation that Palin has done no wrong, you have to wonder why the McCain campaign is now working to stall the final report from this investigation. It doesn't end there, though.

According to this article in the NY Times, there are reports of Palin, during her mayoral days, firing a librarian for failing to help Palin ban books. Think about this, not only did she want to ban books from the local library, but she fired the librarian for sticking up for free speech.



Too bad the first amendment doesn't carry the weight with her that a misinterpretation of the second amendment does (and thank goodness for her a "flag desecration" amendment was never passed). Then again, she's probably a better shot than Dick Cheney (oh, no I didn't!).

From there, there are also allegations that she drove out any number of city employees, including an outright firing of the police chief, for supporting her opponent in that race. If McCain really wants a "reform" image, maybe he shouldn't have picked a running mate who has fired people for their politics the way a certain presidential administration that has ruined the last eight years but shall remain nameless has been known to do.

Or if you want to link her practices further to those of the Bush administration, how about the secrecy and distaste for the media?

Ms. Palin also upended the town’s traditional ways with a surprise edict: No employee was to talk to the news media without her permission.

2. She Hates America*

Palin has supported a party who wishes Alaska to secede from the United States. As the linked article points out:

The revelation that Palin appeared to support the secessionist Alaskan Independence party (AIP) - whose motto is "Alaska First" - sits awkwardly with McCain's campaign slogan, "Country First", and will be controversial in a country whose oath of allegiance includes the phrase "one nation, indivisible".

3. Her Policy is Hypocritical

By now, we've all also heard about her knocked up daughter. It's a given that Bristol has become a walking, talking example of the need for comprehensive sex education(which Palin is against); but it doesn't end there. Palin also slashed funding a program designed to provide "young mothers a place to live with their babies for up to eighteen months while they gain the necessary skills and resources to change their lives" and help teen moms "become productive, successful, independent adults who create and provide a stable environment for themselves and their families."

So if Palin wants to stick to her guns(no, I'm not putting that picture up again...but thanks for asking), she should probably toss Bristol and the Bastard out on the front lawn since teenage mothers deserve so little.

Of course, Palin and the McCain camp have been outraged over the attention that Bristol and her Oops Baby have been given, and have emphasized that having this baby is a choice that Bristol has made with the full support of the Palin family and deserves to be made in private. Palin's views on abortion, though, show that words and ideas like "private" and "choice" only matter when it's her daughter's choice that's to be made in private.

4. She Doesn't Have the Experience

I kind of hate that I'm helping to beat this tired talking point to death, but I do think it's relevant. After all, if McCain wins she's going to be the president if a seventy-something who's had several bouts with cancer does what most seventy-somethings who have had several bouts with cancer tend to do: dies.

So I think it's important to point out that I'm tired of hearing the following:

-Governing a state with 30 people and a million miles of tundra means you've got experience governing the "largest state in America." I don't care how technically true it is, it's a lousy talking point that makes zero sense to anyone who thinks about it.

-The ability to deploy the Alaska National Guard means you have commander-in-chief experience. This is also a horrible talking point that falls apart with any critical thought...unless she led Alaska's National Guard into an invasion of Canada and no one noticed.

-Governing the state closest to Russia automatically gives you credibility as a diplomat. Maybe Alaska and Russia have all kinds of closed-door meetings of international importance that no one has ever heard of or ever will, but I doubt it very seriously.

Here are the facts:

-She was mayor of a town with less people in it than attended college with me before becoming the governor of 47th largest state, in terms of population, while Barack Obama was working to secure loose nuclear weapons and materials(and worked with Republicans when making that happen). You tell me which of those sounds more like relevant leadership.

-She managed to mire herself in scandal during her short time in those positions.

-Sarah Palin did not even get a passport until 2007. Doesn't sound like international diplomacy experience to me.

5. She Doesn't Do Her Homework

In her own words, about a month before being named as McCain's running mate:



She, like a certain idiot in office now, cannot pronounce "nuclear." Yep, just like George, she like to say "nu-cu-ler."

She has the nerve to be surprised that, on a national stage, her knocked up daughter is getting so much attention.

6. She's A Reflection of John McCain's Judgement

The knocked up kid(in spite of trying to run as the party of moral high ground), the pending investigation(when trying to run as a "maverick reformer"), and the lack of experience(when simultaneously blasting Obama for his lack of experience) are all things that the McCain camp knew about when they picked her. This just isn't a good choice.

Is the guy who made this decision after one meeting and with that information at his disposal really who you want running this country for the next four years?** Me neither.

*If Barack Obama can be a secret Muslim, then this affiliation obviously means Palin hates America very, very deeply.

**Or until he dies, whichever comes first.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

big american NFL preview: Playoff Predictions

Okay, so I watched one half of the NC State - South Carolina game. For one half, our defense looked solid and our running game looked serviceable, and our passing game was as awful as expected.

Then I watched Obama's speech.

Then the game was over and he Wolfpack had been blown out of the water in the second half. I'm not sure what happened, as I've been a little too disappointed to check out any highlight reels or read any full articles. I have, though, been told that we only completed four passes in the entire game.

It's going to be a long, painful college season. What will the NFL season offer me?

Wild Card Weekend

Seattle Seahawks def. St. Louis Rams
Philadelphia Eagles def. New Orleans Saints
Jacksonville Jaguars def. New England Patriots
Cleveland Browns def. Indianapolis Colts

That's right, there's going to be a changing of the guard in the AFC, and it's going to happen in the Wild Card round, as both the Colts and the Pats will enter the post season too beat up to play on. Over in the NFC, I expect the Seahawks to make quick work of the Rams and the Eagles to edge out the Saints.

Conference Semis

Minnesota Vikings def. Seattle Seahawks
Philadelphia Eagles def. Dallas Cowboys
Jacksonville Jaguars def. Pittsburgh Steelers
San Diego Chargers def. Cleveland Browns

Yeah, I've got the Cowboys losing. I have them on "prove it" mode. Of course, when I put the Colts on "prove it" mode, all the did was win the Super Bowl. I think the Vikings will beat Seattle by making them throw the ball more than they'd ever want to, and the Seahawks just don't have the receivers to make that happen. In the AFC, the Wild Card upset will have to do for Cleveland, but I see Jacksonville being a little too much for Pittsburgh by the end of what should be a deliciously brutal game.

Conference Championships

Philadelphia Eagles def. Minnesota Vikings
San Diego Chargers def. Jacksonville Jaguars

Holy crap. This is how I always end up losing my NCAA basketball pools. I overthink the match ups game-by-game instead of picking a final four and reverse-engineering how they get there. So now I'm stuck with a prediction of the Eagles in the SUPER BOWL? Jeez. Of course, there's also the fact that I have them in there with the Chargers. I know what people will tell me, that the heart of San Diego's defense is playing on all kinds of hurt and I should be wary of putting them this far but...

Super Bowl

San Diego Chargers def. Philadelphia Eagles

...if Shawne Merriman is willing to shorten his career by playing this season without the surgery, he must know what I know: This is the Chargers year. All he wants is to be a part of it. The Eagles, on the other hand, will have to trudge back home to a fan base that will hate them for losing the Super Bowl and call for the head of Donovan F. McNabb on a pike in spite of his MVP season being what brought them to the big game. 'Cause that's how Philly rolls.

Mmmm...philly rolls...

chad johnson is not, in fact, faster than a horse...

...but Chad Javon Ocho Cinco is!

what was i going to do, also blog about how Obama knocked one out of the park?

I don't know that I have anything to add that can make this picture of Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin that could make it any funnier:



The talking heads on my television box all seem to say that picking her helps John McCain's "maverick image." Honestly, if I wanted people to call me Maverick, I'd pick this guy:



He even has experience "keeping up foreign relations."*

*"You know, the finger?"

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

big american NFL preview: NFC South

Home team shmome team. Delhomme is overrated and Steve Smith is between T.O. and Ocho Cinco in terms of everything I hate about NFL receivers(except at least Ocho is faster than a horse). Thought I'd mention that.

NFC South

4. Atlanta - No need to explain, right? Lots of excitement about Matt Ryan, but there's just too much mess for the Falcons to do well.

3. Carolina - The good news for the Panthers is that Julius Peppers has, from what I've read, looked good in the preseason. The bad news is that it's just the preseason. The offense may be built around Steve Smith but, unless he learns to throw the ball to himself and not punch his teammates, hinges on Jake Delhomme. He's proven himself fragile and streaky. So Carolina finishes out of the hunt in spite of being a dangerous team.

2. Tampa Bay - Gruden has his Bucs team put together the same way as last year's AFC South champs(solid defense and a thousand questions at quarterback), so they should compete for a wild card spot. Why only a wild card spot?

1. New Orleans - I don't at all expect last season's slow start from this team. They can easily win 7 or 8 of their first 10 games, even. Their two hardest games (Vikings and Chargers) both come in the Superdome, even. Still, the team isn't invincible, and I expect a few losses that none of us will be able to explain and then a couple more as the Panthers, the Buccaneers, and Saints beat on each other to the tune of no bye week for New Orleans.

Monday, August 25, 2008

i'm pretty sure this is me displaying a problem

I'm watching Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, give a speech at 4:22 Denver local time*. C'mon Democratic Convention, make me excited about Obama again...

*It's probably better than listening to Jim Courier tell us about jet lagged Olympic athletes hitting up the US Open and encouraging the kids at home to abuse Tylenol PM...

big american NFL preview: NFC West

So here's where I melt your brains with my predictions.

NFC West

4. Arizona - Kurt Warner will be the starter for the Cardinals, and the Matt Leinart era seems like it will never really get off the ground. There's no run game to speak of, and an unremarkable defense. Plus, they're still the Cardinals.

3. San Francisco - J.T. O'Sullivan will be the 49ers' starting quarterback, which may be the end of the Alex Smith era before it really did anything. Mike Martz might have a shot a bringing the offense up to snuff in another year or two, and the defense may eventually also come around. Not this year, though.

2. St. Louis - Stephen Jackson might be a heckuva runner, and Marc Bulger is a perfectly serviceable quarterback. I think that, especially with San Fran and Arizona on their schedule twice, the Rams have a chance to score some cheap wins. The question marks on this team are the lines, both offensive and defensive. Normally that's enough for me to demote a team to the gutter, but I have a gut feeling about this team. If the top of the NFC South cannibalizes itself just right, the Rams might even sneak into the playoffs. Not for a long stay, but still...

1. Seattle - Even with an injury-prone receiving crew, the Seahawks should win this division running away. They have what's silently been one of the NFL's better defenses coming back and Julius Jones should be solid on the running duties. They aren't built for a championship, but they'll still be playing in January.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

no one will care about michael phelps again for four years and i'm okay with that

The juxtaposition of the Chinese part of the closing ceremonies for the Summer Games with the "passing of the torch" to the British (featuring the transforming double-decker bus of DOOM w/ creepy dancers dressed as the 1980s) just goes to show that Andi was right about who should host Olympic games. After the opening ceremonies, she declared that only nations with a chip on their shoulder, something to prove to the world, and an excellent sense of spectacle should be allowed to host(Rio in 2016!).

She was also correct in saying that this thing looks like something from a Dr. Seuss book(if I had to guess, I'd go with And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street).



As for me? I want one of these(or at least hope they make it to the Tron sequel).

Saturday, August 23, 2008

my face hurts a little bit this morning



I had more fun in 25 minutes on stage last night than I should ever be allowed. That is all.

Friday, August 22, 2008

big american NFL preview: NFC East

I like to think I know football. And then fantasy sports cancel out my confidence.

My first attempt at fantasy football was a general mockery, as I attempted to put together a fantasy team that would win a championship. I took a tight end with my first pick (17th overall) because I found him to be the best available player on the board. What I found I should have been doing is finding the biggest stat-whores in the NFL and drafting them quickly.

So on my second attempt, I think I put together a solid enough fantasy team consisting of players that I think will rack up points and a few Chicago Bears(I did not, however, make good on my promise to draft Kyle Orton in a late round). My only real problem came when I would see what I thought would make a great pick still on the board and wondered if he'd just shattered his spine or found his way into some other injury I didn't know about to be on the board so late.

No one openly mocked my picks, so I may be okay. Maybe.

I have no players from -and therefore no natural transition to- the

NFC East

4. Washington - With apologies to Laul Peeland, the NFC East is just too hard for a Redskins team that's got "pretty good" written all over them to do any better than 4th place in the division. I never go with first year coaches to do well, and sometimes they prove me wrong. So here's your shot, Zorn.

3. New York Football Giants - The conventional wisdom is that one of the Super Bowl teams misses the playoffs in the following season. I have New England in the playoffs, so now I have The New York Football Giants falling just short. Could be the worst reason for a ranking since I started doing this.

2. Philadelphia - I like the addition of Asante Samuel to the defense. I like Westbrook running the ball. I am holding onto the idea that Donovan F. McNabb has one more pro bowl year in him. I like the Eagles as a playoff team.

1. Dallas - Too much defense. Too many weapons on offense. Too much to prove. The Cowboys are going to rip through the regular season. But can they get it done in the playoffs?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

big american NFL preview: NFC North

People always talk about how the quarterback is the most important position in sports. If they're not right, they're at least in the argument. What does this mean to me? It means that I should prepare for football season to be long and painful. The QB race at NC State has been whittled down to two guys, but at this point one of the three who were competing for the spot a month ago should have started to stand out.

The old saying goes "If you think you have two starting quarterbacks, you probably have zero." I'm screwed.

NFC North

4. Detroit - They started out last season pretty well, but then remembered that they're the Lions. Calvin Johnson has been a preseason beast, but that's the preseason kids. I'd like to point out that Jon Kitna is far and away the best quarterback in this division. Before you start telling me how I just negated all of that important quarterback talk, though, I'll remind you that we're talking about being the best quarterback in the NFC North - almost as backhanded a compliment as can be doled out. Except for "game manager."

3. Chicago - Speaking of game managers...my beloved Bears are starting Kyle Orton. He's not going to turn the ball over much, but let's see what's around him. A #1 receiver who's a converted kick returner that couldn't always catch punts on the first try, his #2 option is Marty Booker (who I love, but c'mon...), a running game consisting of a rookie that no one outside of New Orleans had ever heard of before the draft and the other Adrian Peterson, and an aging and injured offensive line. Wait, my boys are stacked at tight end with Clark, Olsen, and Marcus Stone(maybe he could quarterback in a pinch...no? okay). Well, maybe the defense can score lots of points. Except it's foolish to think that this crew is making it through the year without injury - and they'll be defending too many short fields. Still, better than the Lions is something. Right?

2. Green Bay - The Packers shows us a lot last season. Can they show it without Favre? The worst thing to come of the whole situation with this team in the off-season is that there's a tiny part of me that wants Aaron Rodgers to do really well this season. Which makes me feel very, very dirty. I don't think they'll get it all back, just based on how big a change they're looking at offensively...but I wouldn't look forward to playing against them.

1. Minnesota - Run the ball and stop the run. Adrian Peterson had a rookie season words can't accurately describe, and running backs typically have exponentially better sophomore outings. Minnesota returns the best run defense in the league. Even with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback the Vikings are looking at a week off between 17 and their first playoff game.

Friday, August 15, 2008

big american NFL preview: AFC South

So why has it taken me so long to make with the rest of the AFC previewing? It's honestly because I was trying to talk myself into calling Indianapolis not willing the AFC South this year. I mean, the AFC South should field four playoff caliber teams this season. Since I have Pittsburgh and Cleveland in the playoffs, though, two worthy teams are going to get left out. Could I man up and make the upset call rather than making my AFC predictions a boring sweep of last year's division winners repeating?

AFC South

4. Tennessee - Look, I think that the Titans are going to be a very good football team this year. They're returning a defense that will keep you from running the ball and have given Vince Young some quality targets to throw the ball at. The problem I see for them is a lazy running back and all of the talk of Vince Young(who threw nearly twice as many interceptions as he did touchdowns) being improved coming from specialty coaches on the team. As a Bears fan, I know that if the only people talking about how great the QB position are the coaching staff, you're screwed.

3. Texas - Texas is going to show us a beastly front seven that I'm going to enjoy watching on Sundays this season no matter who they're playing(unless it's the Bears - who are on the schedule). The offense should be improved through some additions to the O-line, but it will still be a pretty one-dimensional, Schaub-to-Johnson as their main weapon, offense. That won't be enough to win the big games in most cases. Texas will finish just out of wild card contention.

2. Jacksonville - The Jaguars picked up some receivers via free agency and some pass rushers via the draft. This should make them better than they were last year, having addressed their chief deficiencies. The receivers are good, but not big-time playmakers. The pass rushers will still just be rookies. I can't pull the trigger on this being the year they finally overtake the Colts.

1. Indianapolis - I'm a wuss. The Colts are sporting the same ridiculously talented team they always have, but this year they seem kind of injury-prone. Since I can't predict injuries, though, I have to make them the favorites for this division yet again. I expect, much like New England, that they'll be feeling the effects of a long season when the playoffs get here. Then again, all of the would-be injuries I have dancing around my barin may just be me having watched too much NFL Live over the past month. If that's the case, the Colts have to be considered the AFC's front-runners.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

at long last, the moderate amount of apology i feel i'm due

In an interview with GQ, Aaron Sorkin says some things that need to be said. The article can be found here, but I'm going to repost all the good bits because I think there's a lot of good stuff here and you shouldn't have to click away from the splendor of a blogspot template.

Sports Night ran for just two years. I gotta say, It always seemed like a weird fit for ABC.
Yeah. Sports Night was on right between The Drew Carey Show and Spin City. ABC would tell me, “You’re losing 20 percent of Drew Carey’s audience.” I would tell them, “I don’t think so. I think I’m losing 100 percent of Drew Carey’s audience.”

Kapow! Take that, people who think Ryan Stiles is funny! Sports Night may very well be the greatest TV show ever. Also, it's probably the only show I ever truly got angry about the premature cancellation of.

[Barack Obama] is a man who—the Jeremiah Wright of it all aside—was clearly paying attention in church. I don’t need to tell you that I’m a big fan of oratory. A big part of leadership is the goose-bump experience. We’ve been missing that.

You mean hearing an overwhelmed man-child trip over his words doesn't inspire awe? Didn't Sorkin get the memo that leaders that inspire us have been replaced by leaders we'd want to have a beer with? I mean, that talking point is almost 5 years old!

Why didn’t Studio 60 work?
I made too many mistakes. I would give anything to go back and get another bite of that apple. Basically, to use a sports analogy, you can have the best team in football playing the worst team in football. But if the best team in football throws four interceptions, they’re not going to win.

That sounds a little arrogant.
I’m helped by a staff of people who have great ideas, but the scripts aren’t written by committee. I was too angry when I wrote Studio 60. The show became like the cover of Abbey Road. Everybody was trying to figure out who this character was in real life or what that incident was trying to be. But the anger—it was a post-9/11 anger. We were going through a time when the television networks were so sensitive toward appearing patriotic. And patriotism was just being questioned all over the place. It just seemed like the wheels had come off our national culture.

Do you feel guilty about Studio 60’s failure?
I felt like I had let so many people down—from Warner Bros. and NBC to the cast and crew. You live and die with these things. It is a feeling that you can’t look these people in the eye anymore. Someone like Matt Perry.

It’s tough to feel bad for Matthew Perry.
Exactly. Yet you do.

He nailed part of it. It's not that when something is upsetting Sorkin, he's traditionally subtle about it in his scripts or anything. It's just that -and he recognizes this- that he was especially ham-fisted with Studio 60.

The rest of it, which he only kind of alludes to with his "Abbey Road" comment, is that the awkward reenactment of his relationship with Kristin Chenoweth played out horribly and did more to cripple the show than anything else.

Sometimes I wonder how I managed to make it through the entire series. It's firmly behind us now, though, thanks to this (sort of) apology. Now let's get to making the next Sports Night, Aaron. I would appreciate it greatly.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

speaking of guys you really want to do well...

A few days ago, I got an email alert from WRAL's automated sports updates basically saying that Jeff O'Neill will be reporting to camp for the Hurricanes next month. The hockey world at large will go untouched by this news, but I'm rooting for good things to come of this.

O'Neill became my favorite player at my first NHL game when he got knocked down in front of the opposing goal, noticed the stray puck, and shoved it into the net while on his butt. The shot looked more like a guy trying to back-paddle his canoe than score a goal.

It turned out that O'Neill was a pretty good Hurricane to pick as my favorite over the next few years. He was one of the best players on the team for most of that time(if not the best), a huge part of the run to the finals in '02, and I always thought he was just one monster season from being a guy the NHL could really use to market the sport. Maybe that was just me.

I'm not sure what state O'Neill's game is in after a year away from the league and some pretty unsatisfying numbers in Toronto; but won't it be great if he comes in and reminds me of the guy who was my first favorite Hurricane?

big american NFL preview: AFC West

Sometimes you just have to pull for players. I have two enduring images of Philip Rivers from his time at NC State. The first one is the trick play his freshman year that saw him catching a touchdown pass against UNC. It was the Wolfpack's first football win over Carolina in what seemed like forever(which was an odd feeling, given that I was a Jr. at the time and had been raised on Duke rather than State), and that play was the icing on the cake.

The other one - and probably the more important one - is from Rivers' final game with the Wolfpack. A blowout win in a crappy bowl that underscored just how heinously State underachieved during that season. Rivers was clearly, in spite of the bowl he was in, having the time of his life. Laughing on the sideline with his teammates, asking which of them had yet to score a touchdown in the game, and if they would like one.

He isn't that guy in San Diego. But I still pull for him pretty hard, hoping that he'll ease into a spot that lets that guy come back for NFL fans to see. He'll be back in the playoffs this year, the question is whether or not he'll be in as a heavily favored team or a misnamed #4 seed. Either is possible.

AFC West

4. Kansas City - The good news? Larry Johnson seems to be healthy. The bad news? He and Tony Gonzalez combine to form roughly 90% of the talent on that offense. Defensively, the Chiefs made some quality draft choices (Glen Dorsey and Brandon Flowers) and should frustrate a lot of offenses. In the end, though, you need points to win a game. The defense will be good, but not a point-producing one. And the offense, even with a healthy Larry Johnson, doesn't have enough punch.

3. Oakland - The Raiders have a scary amount of talent. And something to prove. But As long as Al Davis is in charge, mediocrity is the best they can hope for.

2. Denver - They'll show up to every game. Win some they should lose. Lose some they should win. Ultimately, though, they won't have an impact on the NFL-at-large.

1. San Diego - This defense is built to take the ball away from you. They'll get tons of pressure on the quarterback, and have all-universe corners in Antonio Cromartie and Quentin Jammer. Of course, the Chargers offense is also still stacked with an embarrassment of talent. The problem is that it's injury-prone talent. If Rivers, Gates, LT stay healthy? This could be the best team in the AFC(especially with Chris Chambers coming in on the ground floor for this season). If not? Still playoff bound, maybe even with the bye.

Monday, August 11, 2008

big american NFL preview: AFC North

The AFC North is going to be pretty interesting, because all of the teams have the potential to put together a great game at any moment. Three of those teams also have the potential to be blown out of the water at any given moment. Still, I think this is the only division that could possibly keep the AFC South from fielding three playoff teams again this year.

The AFC North

4. Cincinnatti - The Bengals have all the talent in the world at the skill spots on offense. They also have a lot of drama surrounding Chad "Faster Than A Horse" Johnson. More importantly, they have no defense. They might put some games together and ruin the season of a team or two, but they're not contenders.

3. Baltimore - Baltimore hasn't changed much from the team that managed to lose to Miami last year. I don't expect Joe Flacco to make a huge splash this season. I do expect Baltimore to run the football a lot, stop the other team from scoring, and play in the most games settled by 7 points or less. Unfortunately for the Ravens, in those games you're only as good as your quarterback. Flacco isn't ready and Kyle Boller won't win that game for you. Expect a lot of heart-breaking losses, Ravens fans.

2. Cleveland - The Browns are going to score a lot of points. A lot. They will score and score often. Derek Anderson has two obscenely talented targets in Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow, the O-line is solid enough for Jamal Lewis to have another good year carrying the ball, and they play the defenseless Bengals twice. The defense has been beefed up considerably, too. The only thing keeping them away from winning this division is that they're weak at the cornerback spot, and will probably give up enough long plays to come out on the losing end of a few shootout-style games. The Browns are, however, playoff bound.

1. Pittsburgh - The Steelers are going to be a large task for any team this season. If rookie running back Rashard Mendenhall works out well, he and Willie Parker could be the best one-two punch in the NFL. Easily enough to keep enough opposing defensive players in the box to free up Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes for Ben Rothlisberger (who I'm finally starting to come around on...just a few years after everyone else). The Steelers always feature hard-nosed defense, and they'll need it with their schedule; which includes the Colts, Patriots, Chargers, Cowboys, and the in-division offensive juggernaut Browns. I have just enough faith in this team that I think they'll come out of that slightly ahead of the Browns, but pretty worn out come playoff time.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

big american NFL preview: AFC East

So. Brett Favre is a Jet. Yep. J-E-T a Jet, Jet, Jet. There are some things to keep in mind as Favre begins his career in New York. The first one is that, while he had an admittedly tremendous season in '07, he was starting to show some age and decline in '05 and '06. The second, which should be thought of in conjunction with the first, is that Favre won't be dealing with a Wisconsin-based media that adores him. He'll be dealing with a New York media who will throw anyone and everyone under the bus unless they're just shy of perfect. So it takes him a while to learn the offense with the Jets, or he starts to slip back into that 2005-2006 form, will he be able to handle the trash that will come from the NY media and the NY fanbase that feels they're entitled to annual championships with all of their teams? My money is that they make him cry. He does that a lot.

Now that we know where the Favre has landed, we can start looking ahead to the 2008 NFL season. Why not start with his new division, because it will be the only way for Favre to be first in anything this year.*

AFC East

4. Miami - The Dolphins had a tremendous draft and made some quality moves, but there was more wrong with that team than can be solved over one off-season. That's pretty much what there is to that.

3. New York - The Jets have, in theory, just received a quarterback upgrade. But this is still a 4-12 team from '07. It's going to take more than that to bring them to the next level. They beefed up their O-line a little, and Thomas Jones is still a more than capable runner, but I just don't see it coming together for a playoff run. As a matter of fact, I think they won't even get a sniff at a spot.

2. Buffalo - They showed flashes of brilliance last season behind Trent Edwards at the QB spot. The offense may get hot and cold, but there is a chance they will be more than solid. Defensively, the Bills have a pretty solid-looking defensive line with Marcus Stroud and Aaron Schobel there to cause all kinds of headaches for opposing offenses. Unfortunately for Buffalo, there isn't much going on for them once you get past that strong front. Don't expect much from the Bills, but an 8-8 finish will probably be good enough for second place in this division.

1. New England - I wanted to say that the weight of blowing a run at 17-0 would cripple the team for this season. I wanted to say that the chinks in the armor that started to show towards the end of last season would be exploited this season. The fact, though, is that they're bringing back every piece of that offense that did nothing but set records last season. The fact of the matter is that they've addressed a lot of the problems in their secondary. There will still be parts of their defense that will succumb to injury and/or age but, like last season, that will affect them in the later stages of the season, when they'll have already locked up the AFC East. So I can't predict anything but more success for this squad in the immediate future.

* Except interceptions

they love them some Yao Ming over there

Usually, I have no use for the Summer Olympic Games. This year, though, I find myself pretty excited about international basketball. Why?

1) The rest of the world has caught up. The US has lost international play, and games not involving the US aren't going to be unwatchable. More importantly, this all makes it okay to pull for the US team without feeling like I'm supporting the neighborhood bully.

2) Roundball Rock. Because NBC is carrying the games, the fantastic NBA on NBC theme song that has been MIA since NBC stopped showing NBA games, is back. It's probably the best sport-related song ever.* "Roundball Rock" was, of course, written by NC State's own John Tesh.

Go international basketball!!!

* #2 is "Brass Bonanza." #3 is the original Sports Center theme.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

how innuendo can segue into a shameless plug if you're not careful

This morning, Ross White brought me into his office and offered me a can of his cherry-flavored soda.

Then he told me to blog about it.

I feel like I owe you more than just a crude suggestion about what Ross and I do behind closed doors. So let me tell you what we did behind closed doors with Beans, Larry Larr The Wizard, and The JMatt. We got the band back together.

For those new to the scene, we were once called Destroy All Monsters. We performed long form improvisational comedy together in a time when most of the greater Raleigh area was unaware and/or unsupportive of that flavor of improv. I was later on teams that were technically better, but I never had more fun than I did with the Monsters.

D.A.M. eventually went our separate ways (with a few random shows in an ice cream parlor on "Historic Airport Road" in Chapel Hill). A few years later, The Worx started embracing long form. JMatt, Larry, and Beans all began to perform with teams formed from that change in philosophy.

When I rejoined the Worx following my nonsense-induced exile, buzz about a Destroy All Monsters reunion began(from those of us who were in it...and from no one else...but still, buzz). The only problem is that I had no desire to make myself eligible for long form at the Worx and Ross had retired from improv altogether to pursue his MFA and to occasionally say "hi" to his wife.

Recently, though, Ross graduated and a new timeslot at the Worx with more relaxed membership requirements opened up. Once an opportunity to get the band back together for a one-off show this coming Friday night at roughly 11:00 PM presented itself, it was hard for any of us to say "no."

So we practiced Monday night. Ross was coming back from years away from the stage. DSI was still doing shows at now-defunct Kings Barcade in downtown Raleigh the last time I was a part of a long form improvisational display. Still, I wanted it to be like riding a bicycle.

It wasn't.

But it was fun. It was lots of fun. I wanted to break out the improv toys that the Comedy Sportz/Worx show doesn't really allow for, and got way too overzealous in spots. We're all comfortable enough that the scenes got disturbingly dirty very quickly. And you know what? People are still going to laugh so hard they pee a little bit come Friday night.

The band is back together for one night. I can't wait.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

this entry is dumb. very, very, very dumb. i do not suggest reading it.

So here's something I thought about this morning that caused me great worry. Automatic toilets, the ones with the sensors that see that you've moved away and thusly let the toilet know to flush itself, have no manual handles. What if the sensor breaks?

Why am I thinking about these things?

i promised you ideas, so here are my ideas and a disclaimer (finale)

Continuing from this entry, here's the key to making my ridiculous plan for a religious left movement work.

4) Remain distanced

We are not to be an arm of the government, and the government is not to be an arm of the Church. Those aims are neither good nor theologically sound.

Earlier, I referenced the idea that we should never be about getting "our people" in power. Instead, we should constantly be scrutinizing those who are in power and those who seek power. We should be the Old Testament prophets needling the kings into doing what is right (if we learn how to call down pillars of fire, please do so responsibly).

It is important for us to remember that Church and State need to remain separate. We don't want anyone to legislate our faith, only the values that we posses based on that faith. If we somehow find ourselves in favor of a vast majority of our lawmakers, it will still not be our job to prop those lawmakers up. Honestly, we should be putting those under even heavier scrutiny. If someone from our ranks decides to seek office? They get the heaviest possible scrutiny.

So there will be no campaign contributions. Not from us as an organization. If we, as individuals, want to give money, time, or whatever to a campaign we can go nuts. But as a group, giving money or producing a commercial is an endorsement. And we're not doing that, remember?

Disclaimer

These are just ideas. I don't know if these ideas even make sense to anyone but me. I don't know that these are even implementable ideas. Even if I was 100% solid that this would be a worthwhile endeavor that made a real difference to those who feel abandoned by the church or to actual policy, I'm not sure how I would go about executing these things.

But if you see this and think I'm onto something, we should talk.