Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!


What have we learned - Week 8

Well, the Eagles may have saved their season, Penn State proves once again that they can't play with the big boys of the Big Eleven, and Arizona State continues its surprising season. Plus, Bill Belichick might be a great coach, but he has no class. Or, you know, fashion sense.

The Eagles played a decent, if somewhat boring, game. They actually scored two touchdowns, which is amazing, and although Brian Westbrook didn't run wild, he did get 21 carries and helped wear down a decent Minnesota defense. McNabb looked fully healthy for the first time this year, so maybe the Eagles, at 3-4, can get back into this thing. They'll have plenty of opportunities - they play Dallas at home and Washington on the road the next two weeks. Adrian Peterson, the greatest rookie since Eric Dickerson according to the experts, gained 70 yards on 20 carries and didn't do much after a decent start. Let's save those Dickerson comparisons, okay?
Turnovers: Eagles 0, Vikings 0. Final score: Philadelphia 23, Minnesota 16. Turnovers = loss? For the second week in a row, neither the Eagles nor their opponents turn the ball over. That's kind of odd.

I guess Brian Griese, with his 4 interceptions, isn't the answer for Da Bears. But he's done so well elsewhere! Detroit seems like the real deal, but I can't get that 56-21 loss to Philly out of my mind. We'll see how their defense holds up down the stretch.
Turnovers: Bears 4, Lions 1. Final score: Detroit 16, Chicago 7. Turnovers = loss? I'd sure say so. 1-0.

Boy, the Bengals got bad in a hurry, didn't they? A couple of years ago they would have beaten the eventual Super Bowl champs in the playoffs if not for a freak injury to their quarterback. Now, they're in the tank, as this game against that same Steeler team shows. It's kind of amazing. I didn't pay much attention to this game, so I don't have much to say.
Turnovers: Bengals 1, Steelers 1. Final score: Pittsburgh 24, Cincinnati 13. Turnovers = loss? It's a wash.

With a few minutes left in the Oakland-Tennessee game, Daunte Culpepper threw a pass very deep into double coverage that was nowhere near the receiver. It was intercepted. The Raiders managed to get another chance, and a Culpepper pass hit a receiver in the worst possible place - the hands. He dropped it. The second wasn't Culpepper's fault, but the first one was awful. Isn't it time for JaMarcus Russell? I don't really care one way or the other, but the team sucks, so throw the rook in there!
Turnovers: Raiders 2, Titans 0. Final score: Tennessee 13, Oakland 9. Turnovers = loss? It certainly seems that way. 2-0.

St. Louis someone got a 14-0 lead, at home, and gave it away. Derek Anderson continues to lead the Browns to impressive wins, even though beating an 0-7 team isn't that impressive, but the Rams did hold a two-touchdown lead at home, and Marc Bulger was playing well. Then Steven Jackson "injured" his back, the Rams fell apart, and Anderson shredded them. Yes, I used quotations around "injury." He was standing around not looking all that hurt, while his quarterback got beaten up behind that crappy offensive line. Suck it the hell up, Jackson!
Turnovers: Rams 1, Browns 0. Final score: Cleveland 27, St. Louis 20. Turnovers = loss? The interception stopped the final drive when St. Louis was driving, so sure. 3-0.

I simply couldn't watch the London game, because the Dolphins are so horrific and I hate the Giants. Plus, there was that Miami player last week who said he didn't know where London was, but he knew who London Fletcher is, then said he's obviously not from England because he's black. If you hadn't heard about that, I so wish I was kidding, but I'm not. The best thing about the game, of course, was the giant freakin' Jason Taylor robot that attacked London. Awesome.
Turnovers: Dolphins 2, Giants 1. Final score: Jersey (in honor of the English) 13, Miami 10. Turnovers = loss? You bet. 4-0.

At one point, Peyton Manning was 5 for 14 for 88 yards. Then he realized he was Peyton Manning and torched the Panthers. In contrast to the Cheaters (see below), the Colts called off the dogs in the fourth quarter, or it would have been worse. And how sad is it that when 85-year-old Vinny Testeverde got hurt the Panthers lost their offense? I'm depressed that I have to root for the Colts next week in the Greatest Regular Season Game EVER. Can't they both lose?
Turnovers: Panthers 3, Colts 1. Final score: Indianapolis 31, Carolina 7. Turnovers = loss? Yes. 5-0.

Kellen Clemens is apparently going to start next week. Good thing, too, because Chad Pennington was in danger of leading the first offense in history to score negative points. Next week against Washington the Jets probably would have scored something like -10 points. I would have loved to see that!
Turnovers: Jets 3, Bills 1. Final score: Buffalo 13, New Jersey 3. Turnovers = loss? Why not? 6-0.

The first four touchdowns the Chargers scored were by players named Antonio. That's the kind of thing I love. I hope you all saw the snap over the head of the punter that went into the end zone that was recovered by San Diego for a touchdown. Everyone is bashing the punter, Matt Turk, who deserves a bit of the blame, certainly, but in the NFL, you NEVER see a snap go over the punter's head. The long snappers are just too good. I wonder if that guy has been cut yet. Speaking of the Chargers, the Chris Chambers trade from Miami might make them the best chance to beat either Indianapolis and New England. That would be cool, because I have nothing against the Chargers.
Turnovers: Texans 5, Chargers 0. Final score: San Diego 35, Houston 10. Turnovers = loss? Pretty directly. 7-0.

Jeff Garcia came down to earth a bit with three interceptions, proving once again that turnovers kill, as the Buccaneers should have dominated that game. Quinn Gray didn't play all that well, but he didn't turn the ball over, and Matt Jones made a great catch for the winning touchdown. Garcia threw an interception with less than a minute left to seal the game, and the guy who intercepted it was tackled by his own teammate so he wouldn't fumble it back. That's excellent.
Turnovers: Buccaneers 3, Jaguars 0. Final score: Jacksonville 24, Tampa 23. Turnovers = loss? Again, pretty directly, as Tampa outgained Jax by over 150 yards, plus the Jags got a defensive touchdown. 8-0.

I'm so angry about New England's beatdown I can barely talk about it. Up 38-0, Tom Brady was still throwing touchdown passes, and with his team inside the Washington five, he got visibly pissed off that his team committed a false start penalty. Chill out, Tom - you're winning 38-0! I know he'd say that it's all about execution no matter what the score, but the Cheaters focus when it counts, and even a great team lose some interest when they're winning by that much. I know teams don't like to play dirty, but now that Belicheat has proven that he has no interest in sportsmanship, why don't teams playing New England simply rush 11 players and put Tom Brady in the hospital? I hate calling for something like that, but I'd love to hear Belicheat's post-game press conference after he loses his quarterback for the season and he gets all angry because his Golden Boy got his back broken. When the other team tries to embarrass you, you should try to kill their players. I'm so not kidding about this. I doubt if anyone will do it, because Belicheat is probably the only dick who would, but it would be nice. I can't decide if I want the Cheaters to lose this weekend, or if I want them to run the table and lose in their first playoff game 56-0. Bullies always get their comeuppance, and I hope it happens to the Cheaters this season.
Turnovers: Washington 4, Cheaters 1. Final score: New England 52, Washington 7. Turnovers = loss? Unfortunately. 9-0.

Does San Francisco even have an offense? No, no they don't. Remember when everyone thought the 49ers would be a sleeper team? Yeah, they're sleeping all right.
Turnovers: Saints 1, 49ers 1. Final score: New Orleans 31, San Francisco 10. Turnovers = loss? Not an issue.

If you want to know why I hate Brett "R. C." Favre, it's not really all about him, although he does annoy me. No, it's stuff like this:

If you don't want to vomit, I wouldn't watch this. I found it at With Leather. As for the game, I didn't watch it except for the game-winning touchdown, which made Mike Tirico do something nasty in his pants, I think. Look, it's a nice moment, but the receiver was covered pretty closely, and it was one of those Favre passes that could have easily been intercepted. But, because God inexplicably loves R. C., it was caught. Damn.
Turnovers: Broncos 1, Packers 0. Final score: Green Bay 19, Denver 13. Turnovers = loss? I suppose! 10-0.

By the way, teams that turn the ball over less than their opponents are now 80-11. Don't turn the ball over!

I didn't have much hope that Penn State was going to beat Ohio State, but I was disappointed by their defensive effort. I'm now hoping for the Capital One Bowl, which is probably the best they can hope for. Oh well. Arizona State was behind 20-7 when they decided to beat down Cal, winning 31-20. ASU is shockingly tough, and they eventually wear other teams out by constantly pounding on them. I don't think they can fall behind to Oregon this Saturday, but I do think they can win, because despite the Ducks' spread offense, the Sun Devils are pretty fast on defense. It should be a great game. We'll see. Colin Cowherd, who's an idiot a lot of the time, was ranting about Fox Sports' awful football coverage, which is a valid point. But the Pac-10 negotiated the deal, so they're to blame as well. Nobody on the East Coast can see these games, so it was nice to hear that ESPN will televise this game to the rest of the country on Saturday, while here in AZ we'll watch on Fox. If you haven't seen the Ducks and Sun Devils yet, you should watch this game. It should be a hoot. People are still dissing Kansas, but the Jayhawks keep winning. Go, Kansas! And did everyone catch the Georgia celebration after their first touchdown? The entire team rushed the field and got a coach-sanctioned unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. How cool. And, of course, there was the Trinity 15-lateral play to score the winning touchdown with no time left. That was way cool:

Hey! The NBA begins tonight! God, I hope the Suns beat the Spurs this year. Did everyone catch that David Stern bent the rules for his gambling referees but last year in the playoffs, his hands were tied, according to him? What a dildo.

Big weekend next week in college and the NFL. Be sure to stay glued to your televisions!

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Great songs, according to me (Part 34)

Hey, I'm back with another ten songs that I think are great! Study them well, for when I am named dictator of the world, there will be a test! Bone up on the previous songs: Parts 1-15, archived, Parts 16-30, archived, Part 31, Part 32, and Part 33. Now, onto the next ten!

331. Little Guitars (by Van Halen on the album Diver Down, 1982): I've mentioned this album before, because it's chock full of cover songs that for some reason get played on the radio and really good original songs (e.g. "The Full Bug") that nobody has ever heard of unless they own the album. This song, for instance, begins with a nice little Spanish guitar intro, and then David Lee and the boys launch into a somewhat sweet song about a sexy senorita. There's actually some nice longing in Roth's vocals as he sings, "I can see you don't know which way to turn but the sun still shines/Don't you know that you can dance with me anytime." Eddie, of course, is in fine form, finishing the song with a bouncy pluck-fest that's pure Van Halen, and it's just a breezy, brilliant tune. So why do radio stations always play their lame cover of "Dancing in the Streets"?

332. Little Suzi (by Tesla on the album Mechanical Resonance, 1986): Tesla isn't a very good band, but they have a few transcendent songs, and this, off their first album, is one of them. It's a simple song with that jangly guitar that metal bands sometimes use to "be more real," and it has your typical "girl looking for fame" lyrics, but for some reason, it works. There's an undercurrent of despair that makes the song, which ostensibly is uplifting, much sadder. On an album (which is probably Tesla's best, not that that's saying much) full of mediocre hair metal, this song stands out. Bizarre.

333. Living With The Big Lie (by Marillion on the album Brave, 1994): Hey, it's a Marillion song! Who would have guessed? This song, the first "real" song on Marillion's "comeback" album (there's a brief prologue song, and this is a comeback because their previous album was probably their worst), is a marvelous tune about a child getting beaten down by the world and learning to indeed live with the big lie. Steve Hogarth has never been the lyricist the band's first singer, Fish, is, but he does a fine job here, painting a picture of innocence and despair, followed by resignation. The song starts quiet as the child sees his home life fall apart, then bursts into a cacophony of screeching noise as the child grows up. The music is suited well to the lyrics, and as it fades, with Hogarth singing "I got used to it," we feel the bleakness in his voice. Sure, it's depressing, but it's still powerful.

334. Looking Through Patient Eyes (by P. M. Dawn on The Bliss Album ...?, 1993): A somewhat upbeat tune (for P. M. Dawn, that is) is next on the list, as Prince Be smoothly raps his way through a love song that, as the title suggests, calls for patience. As with many P. M. Dawn songs, there's a subtle spiritual element to it, and the lyrics are typically weird but still give us a reason to feel hopeful. It's right there in the opening couplet: "Whatever it is I do, I try to think about you, I have a love for you that nothing hides." How sweet. A great song on a wonderful album.

335. Loose! (by Prince on the album Come, 1994): This was Prince's "death of" album, where he burns off songs so that he can get out of his Warner Bros. contract and start recording under his weird sigil. Therefore, many people consider this a pretty poor Prince album, but there are a lot of good songs on this album, with "Loose!" a great example. It's just a raucous rocker, but Prince is so ebullient when he sings that it makes the song better than it should be. Plus, we get a funky and fun guitar solo, part of the thudding beat that drives the song along. It's a song you can't help but dance to. Even Prince's lesser albums are full of great songs!

336. London You're A Lady (by the Pogues on the album Peace And Love, 1989): October 4 was the 25th anniversary of the first Pogues' gig, at a pub in London. Interesting. Anyway, this song, which ends their fourth album, in a fairly typical Pogues ballad, with a rollicking Irish beat and Shane MacGowan's odd nostalgic/bitter lyrics: "Your heart of gold it pulses between your scarred-up thighs." As usual with Pogues songs, part of the allure of the song is in MacGowan's barely intelligible growl, and we really get the sense of a man trolling the dark places of a living city and refusing to get beaten down.

337. Lordy Lord (by Stress on the album Stress, 1991): I have mentioned this short-lived band and their one album before, and this is one of the few songs on it that I consider great (even though I enjoy the album). The psychedelic influences of the band are on full display, with some lush instrumentation, changes in tempo, and a yearning in the lead singer's voice (it might be Wayne Binitie, but I'm not sure) that's tough to fake. It's a cool song on a neat album, one I thought was out of print. However, you can find it on Amazon, if you're interested.

338. Lost Cause (by Beck on the album Sea Change, 2002): Sea Change, the wonderful change of pace by Beck, features a lot of moody, brooding songs, none better than this song, which takes its time moving, but is heartbreaking throughout. The person to whom Beck is singing is indeed a "lost cause," and he's tired of fighting for it. It's more than just a faded love song, though: Beck points out that it's part of where the person lives, part of the society, and that makes it harder to let go. It's a tragic song about misunderstanding love ("No one left to watch your back now ... That's what you thought love was for") and giving up because of it. Beck's beautiful low-key vocals help make the words more powerful, too. He's not sad, just resigned, and that makes the song even sadder.

339. Love (by The Cult on the album Love, 1985): The Cult is such an odd band, as they went from their first two albums (this was their second), which featured some weirdly ethereal music with lots of production, to a stripped-down heavy metal band with Electric in 1987. I like both incarnations, although the metal got old quickly, and wonder why they did it. This album was pretty popular, thanks to "She Sells Sanctuary," but this song is also a very strong track. it actually has a bit of the heavy thump we find on later Cult albums, even though it's a bit drenched in jangly guitars and keyboards. But Ian Astbury does a good job with the simple lyrics, and the chorus is a primal howl, and the song works much better than it probably should. But why the shift in tone?

340. Love Buzz (by Nirvana on the album "Bleach", 1989): I honestly can't remember the last Nirvana song I had on this list, even though I love the band. They just didn't release enough albums, I guess. But this short tune from their first album is great despite the paucity of lyrics - there are only five lines of words in the song, as Cobain repeats the one verse twice and repeats one line for the chorus. However, his slurring delivery, along with his nerdy je ne sais qua that he often has in songs, makes it an interesting song. Of course, the music on this album is somewhat rough, but the talent is certainly there. This is an interesting album not because it's all that good, but because of the potential there, and sometimes, as with this song, we can see why Nirvana exploded a couple of years later.

How about those songs, eh? Let me know if I'm just kooky or if I actually know what I'm talking about!

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What have we learned - Week 7

It was another kind of crappy weekend in football land, as the Eagles continued to avoid the end zone like it was diseased and Penn State won, but you wouldn't know it from the announcers on ESPN. Plus, the Red Sox won the pennant. I have nothing against the Red Sox (thank GOD the Yankees didn't win), but I was rooting for Cleveland. Oh well.

Some things annoyed me about the Chicago-Philadelphia "clash." On the game-winning touchdown and the play prior to it (unless the play prior to it was a spike, in which case the play prior to that), it was pretty obvious the Bears' offensive linemen were holding. It was out on Griese's left side, and both times, he would have been sacked if the hold hadn't occurred. I'm not that bent out of shape about it, because the Eagles deserved to lose, but it was frustrating seeing the hold both times, in real time, yet the officials missed it. It wasn't as annoying as the defense allowing the Bears to drive 97 yards in less than two minutes with no timeouts to score the winning touchdown, however. What the crap? They weren't even playing a big "prevent" defense - they even blitzed on the first play of the drive! How does a team that until then hadn't done anything offensively drive 97 yards in two minutes with no timeouts? That's just sickening. And, of course, the Eagles continue to have an aversion to scoring touchdowns. The game shouldn't have been in doubt, but because Philadelphia can't put the ball in the end zone, it was. At this point, with the team 2-4, Andy Reid shouldn't kick field goals anymore. Tell his team to suck it up and put the goddamned ball in the goddamned end zone. I don't blame a defense that does as much as it can (except get turnovers, which is annoying) when the offense just sucks. Reid has apparently decided to show all those people who said he wouldn't run the ball (like me) and is now going completely conservative. Um, Andy? That's not what we meant. You tool.
Turnovers: Bears 0, Eagles 0. Chicago 19, Philadelphia 16. Turnovers = loss? It made no difference, but it does show you how close to the vest these two teams played. Open it up, coaches!

The Ravens-Bills game was dull. Not quite Bears-Eagles dull, but pretty dull. Let's just move on.
Turnovers: Ravens 1, Bills 1. Final score: Buffalo 19, Baltimore 10. Turnovers = loss? Again, it's a wash.

Here's why you shouldn't turn the ball over. Jeff Garcia had a monster game, but the Buccaneers fumbled a couple of times. Against a decent offensive team like Detroit, that's just enough. Don't turn the ball over!
Turnovers: Buccaneers 2, Lions 0. Detroit 23, Tampa 16. Turnovers = loss? It would seem so. 1-0.

I may hate the Cheaters, but when I wasn't watching the Cardinals (which I didn't for long stretches, because they sucked), I was watching Tom Brady stand behind an impregnable offensive line and do whatever he wanted. It was like he was throwing short passes and calling running plays just to allow his big-time receivers time to catch their breaths, at which point he'd say in the huddle, "Okay, Randy - you go deep." Bang, touchdown. That's the only reason I can think of for not throwing the ball 60 yards to Randy Moss on every play - he needs to catch his breath a bit. Dan Dierdorf, who's an idiot, claimed it was "mysterious" how Brady is able to do what he's doing this year. Um, Dan, no it's not. He has 10 seconds to throw every pass because his line is excellent, and he has three very good receivers. He was great when he had crappy receivers, and now he has good ones. Any quarterback in the league could pick apart defenses if they had the time Brady has and the people to throw to. I mean it - watch a New England game. He simply stands back there for what seems like two minutes, surveying the field. The poor defensive backs can't keep up! Also, I forgot to mention last week that Randy Moss said something about their big win in Dallas shutting the naysayers up. Which ones, Randy? I guess he meant the ones who said he would destroy the team, but like Terrell Owens, Moss is happy when he's winning. If he meant the people who thought the Cheaters weren't that good, considering that most "experts" are calling them the best team of all time, I think Randy should shut up. Of course, I think that most of the time.
Turnovers: Dolphins 2, Cheaters 1. New England 49, Miami 28. Turnovers = loss? Miami probably couldn't have won this game if they had a +6 turnover margin, but we'll say yes. 2-0.

Here's another game I couldn't bring myself to watch, because the Falcons are just terrible. Good to see that switch to Byron Leftwich is working out so well.
Turnovers: Saints 1, Falcons 0. Final score: New Orleans 22, Atlanta 16. Turnovers = loss? No. D'oh! 2-1.

The Giants are getting scary good on defense, which really pisses me off. Whenever I turned that game on, the defense was blowing past the San Francisco offensive line and drilling Trent Dilfer. I didn't even see New Jersey on offense (I didn't watch much of the game, obviously). I would say that the Giants have lost when they've played good teams, but of course, most of the league is mediocre these days, so they could still win 10-11 games without beating anyone good.
Turnovers: 49ers 4, Giants 1. Final score: New Jersey 33, San Francisco 15. Turnovers = loss? Sure. 3-1.

With 6 seconds left in the half, down 14-0 and with no timeouts, Arizona had the ball on fourth down at the Washington 2-yard line. Kick the field goal, right? Ha! Not Ken Whisenhunt, who is quickly becoming my favorite coach. Whisenhunt had Kurt Warner throw a pass to Anquan Boldin for a touchdown. Of course, Washington blocked the extra point, which led to the other bold call by Whisenhunt: down by 2 with 20 seconds left, he took Warner out of the game on the 2-point conversion and called a direct snap to Boldin, who went right with a run-pass option and, unfortunately, threw an interception. Still, I love both calls. Remember, Fortune Favors The Bold! It's only a matter of time before Whisenhunt's boldness is rewarded. Right now he's just working out the kinks. I really hope he doesn't become a wuss as the Cardinals become more successful. That would suck.
Turnovers: Cardinals 3, Washington 1. Final score: Washington 21, Arizona 19. Turnovers = loss? Pretty directly. 4-1.

The weirdest game of the weekend had to be Titans-Texans. I watched a bit early, then saw Tennessee continue to pull away. Matt Schaub was knocked out of the game, and Houston kept turning the ball over. Then, with the score 32-7 in the fourth quarter, Sage Rosenfels decided to turn into John Elway. I watched the last few minutes as Sage took Houston down the field for the go-ahead touchdown. Then the Titans came right back and Rod Bironas kicked his 8th field goal (an NFL record) for the win. When your kicker scores 26 points, something ain't right. A discussion of field goals below!
Turnovers: Texans 6, Titans 2. Final score: Tennessee 38, Houston 36. Turnovers = loss? Of course! 5-1.

Cincinnati escaped with a win against the hapless Jets, who are still hanging in there with Chad Pennington at QB. How's that working out for you, New Jersey? Sheesh. Bench the dude already. The season is over. Time to see what Kellen Clemens can do for you.
Turnovers: Jets 2, Bengals 1. Final score: Cincinnati 38, New Jersey 31. Turnovers = loss? The winning points came on an interception return! 6-1.

Here's what I don't get about going for two. Kansas City scored a touchdown yesterday to go up 12-7. They went for two to make the difference 7 points, but didn't get it. So the Raiders kick a field goal and were driving for the winning FG when the Chiefs intercepted the ball. Yay, Chiefs! But if they had kicked the extra point, it would have just been for a tie, and they could win it in overtime. I understand the concept of going for two in that situation, but isn't it subtly saying to your defense, "We believe you're going to give up another touchdown"? I would only go for two if you're behind and trying to catch up. Otherwise, take the sure points, Herm!
Turnovers: Raiders 2, Chiefs 1. Kansas City 12, Oakland 10. Turnovers = loss? Yep. 7-1.

As I hate the Cowboys, I watched very little of their win over the Vikings. I will wonder why Adrian Peterson, who, if you listened to the "experts" last week is going to challenge Eric Dickerson's rookie rushing record, got only 12 carries. If he's so great, shouldn't he get more? I honestly don't know if he was hurt or what, but it seems like in a close game, you'd be wanting him to pound the ball more.
Turnovers: Cowboys 2, Vikings 1. Final score: Dallas 24, Minnesota 14. Turnovers = loss? No, no matter how much I wish it were true. 7-2.

Man, the Rams are awful. Just awful. My friend who loves Marc Bulger was very upset yesterday because their receivers are so bad (yes, they have Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, but if you watch those two, they're really quite soft and drop way too many balls they should catch), but I always point out to him that Bulger didn't need to sign a contract extension with St. Louis. He knew last year how crappy their offensive line was! No one held a gun to his head, especially when half the teams in the NFL would be happy to have him.
Turnovers: Rams 5, Seahawks 1. Final score: Seattle 33, St. Louis 6. Turnovers = loss? Yes. 8-2.

I didn't watch the game last night, but I wonder if the Broncos only won because they're sick of the Rockies. "Hey," they said, "Over here! Football being played! Remember Elway? He played football!"
Turnovers: Steelers 3, Broncos 2. Final score: Denver 31, Pittsburgh 28. Turnovers = loss? Looks that way. 9-2.

The record of teams that turn the ball over less than their opponents remains strong, despite two teams not coming through this week. It's now 69-11 when you turn the ball over less. I wonder what that means. Although neither Chicago nor Philadelphia turned the ball over, and those offenses were anemic. There's something to be said for taking risks, even if it leads to a turnover.

Okay, as for field goals. I haven't liked them in a long time. I think the NFL should do something to make them more difficult, if not ban them outright. There is no way a kicker should score 26 of a team's 38 points. It's disgusting, and it makes the game boring. But wasn't Bironas' last second field goal exciting? I guess, but how about the field-goal fest in Philly? Every time the teams got near the goal line, they played not to lose, and ending up kicking field goals. Only when they got desperate at the end of the game did they try to get the ball into the end zone. It was a horribly boring game, despite some good defense, and it makes the league look bad. As for game-ending field goals, sure, they're exciting, but they put the fate of the game in players who barely play. I'm not happy about bullpens by committee, either, but at least specialty pitchers have to face the opposition. Kickers don't have to do that - they just stand there and kick. If you got rid of field goals completely, the scoring would go down a bit, but the games would be far more exciting, because teams would be trying to get in the end zone. I would get rid of punting, too - 4th-and-20 from your own 10-yard line? Tough shit! Maybe that's extreme. How about no punting if you're in the opponents' end of the field? I just want the NFL to do something (even though they won't), because it's sucking the life out of the game.

Moving on, we check out college football, where Ohio State stands atop the rankings, and Mark May, the Pitt alum who can't deal with the fact that Penn State has always been and always will be better than Pitt, says that the Nittany Lions have "no chance" to beat them next week. Why the hate for Penn State? They played on ESPN on Saturday, beat Indiana 36-31, yet I often couldn't tell, just by listening to the announcers, who the Hoosiers were playing. All they talked about was James Hardy, the very talented Indiana wide receiver, and Kellen Lewis, the talented but untested quarterback. Even when Lewis was turning the ball over three times in the second half, they kept talking about how great he was. I know Penn State isn't terribly exciting, but they did, you know, win the game. As for May - "no chance"? Really? The last time Ohio State lost a regular-season game, it was ... to Penn State. He wondered how Penn State would move the ball against the vaunted Ohio State defense. Well, Ohio State doesn't have much of an offense, and Penn State's defense (when they're not playing spread offenses like Indiana's) is pretty darned good. How will the Buckeyes score, Mayday? I doubt if Penn State will win, but to say they have "no chance" is just idiotic. I envision a 13-10 kind of game, and in those kinds of game, one mistake is all it takes. And Ohio State just gave two touchdowns away to Michigan State this past weekend, so they're not perfect. Meanwhile, Tom is still mightily peeved at Cal, who got their quarterback back but still lost to UCLA. Longshore made a horrible mistake late in the game, down 23-21 but in field goal range, when he threw a weak pass in the flat and got it intercepted and returned for the clinching touchdown. It doesn't get easier for Cal, as they come to Tempe next week to face a rested Arizona State team. And two weeks ago, Woody! wondered if I could mention Cincinnati. Since then, they're 0-2. I think I'll keep my mouth shut about them. I'm looking forward to that Arizona State-Kansas National Championship Game, just to piss EVERYONE off.

Well, another football weekend (almost) in the books. If the Eagles can get to 4-4, I'll have some hope. Other than that, the off-season is looking to start early on Broad Street. Oh well.

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Flotsam and jetsam

It's not a proper link post, but I have noticed some fun stuff around yonder internets recently. Come along and check it out, won't you?

Let's start off with the completely unbearable. Did you know that the House of Representatives passed a resolution commending Brett "Risen Christ" Favre? No? Well, they did. It's very nice to know that Congress has solved all the other problems in the world and can get around to commending someone because he threw more touchdown passes than anyone in NFL history. Oh, there's some crap about his charitable work, but come on - this is for throwing touchdown passes. We pay the salaries of these people, you know. You can read the text of the resolution at the link above, or at With Leather, where I first saw the story.

Speaking of idiotic things Congress is doing, I'm sure you've all heard of House Resolution 106. This is the one that calls the Armenian genocide a "genocide," and it has Turkey up in arms, because they're the ones who carried out the genocide in the first place. Why, you say, would Congress bring this up now, when the Armenian genocide happened between 1915 and 1923 ... in Armenia! Well, this is simply to embarrass George Bush. That's all it is. Listen, Bush is probably in the top ten of worst presidents we've ever had, but this is ridiculous. Congress has no business calling something a genocide, because that's not their job. If they didn't have anything to do with this resolution, it would still be genocide, no matter how much the Turks claimed otherwise. Turkey is our ally in the Middle East and is trying to join the European Union. They are a secular democracy that elected an Islamist party a few years ago ... and the party didn't immediately turn the country into a fundamentalist Islamist state. The genocide occurred, sure, but what's the point of it now, except to placate an Armenian-American lobby that wants nothing to do with Turkey. When Congress passes a resolution calling the destruction of the American Indians a "genocide," then they can cast stones. Shut up, politicians. Make policy. That's your freakin' job.

Still in the political realm, Thomas points out a pretty sad and disgusting story: right-wing radio and Internet people leading a charge against a child. What evil did this child commit? He is eligible for the SCHIP program, and several right-wingers, including Rush Limbaugh, think he's a rich kid trying to bilk the system. What assholes. This just makes me sick, especially because of Mia's situation. E. J. Dionne links to this post by Mark Steyn at The National Review. You can argue with Steyn's conclusions if you want, but what was most reprehensible was his statement that if the Democrats were desperate enough to send a boy to do a man's job (react to Bush's radio address, which is where this started), then the boy is "fair game." What an asshole. Excuse me. What a FUCKING asshole.

(In related news, Thomas used to come around here and say hello. Come back, Thomas. We miss you.)

Now that I'm all angry, I need some frivolity. Or at least something that doesn't piss me off so much. With Leather linked to a story from Down Under. Apparently, kids as young as 7 can now take ... pole dancing classes. It's all about the exercise, people! Of course, the kids love it - the story quotes an 11-year-old. Sure they do! I wouldn't have a problem with this if two things about it existed: boys were in the class as much as girls (I doubt it, especially in as "macho" a society as Australia), and the idea of pole dancing didn't have such connotations. No, that's not the girls' fault, but still. Doesn't this seem like stripper training?

Here's something that sounds cool, but makes me a bit uncomfortable. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to show women in bikinis! At Big Ten Tailgate, there's a link to a news story about a calendar of women. Sounds normal, right? Well, yes, but these women are school teachers. Holy cow! They're grade school teachers, too, so the boys they teach are a bit young. I just wonder how the kids will react. Of course, I'll make the obvious joke and say none of my teachers ever looked like this. What a weird world we live in! You can, of course, learn more about the calendar here.

Finally, why not sign an on-line petition? If you follow that link, you can read the petition that David Fleming of ESPN is planning to send to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. He's trying to get Goodell to re-instate the Pottsville Maroons' 1925 NFL Championship, which was denied them rather controversially. He's written a book about the team that I'm dying to get. You can read about his experiences promoting the book in Pottsville here (although he does call Pottsville "vibrant," which it ain't - sorry, Pottsvillians!). You can read more about the Maroons at the Wikipedia entry. I was #818 to sign the petition a few days ago, and now it has over 5000 signatures. Do the right thing - get the Maroons recognized as NFL Champions!

See? You can do good things in a world gone to shit. It's a tiny thing, but at least you're not contributing to evil, like Rush Limbaugh. No one wants to be like Limbaugh!

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What have we learned - Week 6

Well, it was another wild week in football world, but I doubt if some of my readers would agree. You know who you are, and will receive a shout-out later on when we get to the college football section! Yes, I'm going to rub some salt in some wounds!

The Eagles played their second straight game in the Meadowlands, and on the first play from scrimmage, Donovan McNabb got sacked. I thought, "CRAPPITY CRAP! NOT AGAIN!" Then, on the third play from scrimmage, McNabb threw a 75-yard touchdown pass. Who knew it would be the only touchdown of the game? Both teams decided to slug it out and not try anything that might, you know, get them some points. The Eagles have a sorry receiving corps, and they got their tight end, L. J. Smith, back but didn't use him at all. Good job, Andy Reid! There were two plays that typified the attitude of NFL coaches. On 4th-and-1 from the five late in the game, New Jersey threw a pass into the end zone. It was incomplete. This is a team that began the game with four rushes for something like 60 yards, and Thomas Jones ran for 130 yards. Good call, Mangini! Then, when the Eagles got the ball back, they were trying to run out the clock, and on 3rd-and-3 with about a minute left, Andy Reid called a run to Brian Westbrook! Holy crap, who is that coach? Westbrook picked up 21 yards and the game was over. Has Reid seen the light? Probably not, but it was nice to see that for once. He also brought in big guy Tony Hunt for two short-yardage situations and he picked it up both times. Wow! A nice win, even if they seemed to be uninterested in scoring after the third play of the game.
Turnovers: Eagles 1, Jets 1. Final score: Philadelphia 16, New Jersey 9. Turnovers = loss? It's all even!

How about Da Bears defense? Adrian Peterson ripped them apart, and afterward, two things made me chuckle. First, Peterson has one good game, and everyone is now anointing him the Rookie of the Year. He may win it, of course, but everyone is saying this based on one game? Peterson, if you recall, could never stay healthy in a college season, when he was playing against far worse defenses and in a shorter season. Let's see how he's doing in December, shall we? Second, someone mentioned that the Cardinals passed on Peterson, and how foolish that was. Arizona has Edgerrin James and two pretty good backups, and they needed offensive line help. They drafted Levi Brown, who is currently injured, but was playing very well prior to that. They needed offensive line help, and they got it. If they hadn't gotten it, Adrian Peterson wouldn't be running all that well anyway. Commentators are stupid. HIRE ME, ESPN! Da bears play the Eagles next week. Let's hope they bring the sucky defense!
Turnovers: Bears 4, Vikings 0. Final score: Minnesota 34, Chicago 31. Turnovers = loss? Yes. 1-0.

Remember when the Dolphins won, what, five games in a row at the end of 2005? And a bunch of "experts" picked them to go to the Super Bowl? And how they went 6-10 last year? And now they're 0-6? Good call, "experts." Derek Anderson, by the way, is playing really, really well. I know, who could have guessed? Well, I could have, because he played pretty darned well at Oregon State. But it's still surprising.
Turnovers: Dolphins 2, Browns 1. Final score: Cleveland 41, Miami 31. Turnovers = loss? Yes. 2-0.

The Washington-Green Bay game was pretty torturous to watch. Whenever I turned the game on, someone was turning the ball over. Did anyone want to win? At least the Eagles and Jets weren't turning the ball over, they were just missing field goals. I won't even bash R. C. Favre for breaking the interception record, because he had thrown a lot more touchdown passes than George Blanda, and he's a much better quarterback. That said, the two interceptions he did throw were awful, awful passes, and gave me hope that the "old" Favre has returned, and he's going to cost the Packers a playoff spot. That would be awesome.
Turnovers: Washington 3, Packers 2. Final score: Green Bay 17, Washington 14. Turnovers = loss? Si. 3-0.

I didn't watch any of the Cincinnati-Kansas City game, but I did hear that Marvin Lewis thought his team finally played as a team in the second half. Um, Marvin - the season is 5-6 games old - shouldn't they be playing as a team already? That's never good to hear about the team this late in the season.
Turnovers: Bengals 3, Chiefs 2. Final score: Kansas City 27, Cincinnati 20. Turnovers = loss? Oui. 4-0.

It was a battle between this game and the Philadelphia-New Jersey one to see who could set offensive football back further. I think the Mess in the Meadowlands wins! At least there were two touchdowns in this game! Vince Young got hurt, and I'm sure he'll be back, and more power to him, but he didn't get the Titans there only touchdown - Kerry Collins did. I'm just sayin'.
Turnovers: Titans 3, Buccaneers 1. Final score: Tampa 13, Tennessee 10. Turnovers = loss? Ja. 5-0.

The Jaguars gave up almost 300 yards rushing in their first game, and since then, they've turned into the '85 Bears. What the heck? It seemed they were just toying with the Texans until they decided to ratchet it up a bit. Jacksonville hosts the Colts next Monday, and this is their chance to show that they're actually, you know, a good team. We'll see.
Turnovers: Jaguars 3, Texans 3. Final score: Jacksonville 37, Houston 17. Turnovers = loss? It's a wash, but Jacksonville did return a fumble that essentially put the game out of reach.

I called a friend of mine who loves Marc Bulger and the Rams and asked him how on earth St. Louis was even going to score anything. It turns out they barely could, and Scott Linehan kicked a field goal when down 16-0 just to avoid a shutout. Go for glory, Linehan! How silly. They have pretty much no one playing for them, and it's not going to get better when Bulger comes back next week, because they still don't have an offensive line. I hate wussy field goals!
Turnovers: Rams 6, Ravens 2. Final score: Baltimore 22, St. Louis 3. Turnovers = loss? Very much so. 6-0.

The Cardinals, who probably could have made the playoffs in a weak NFC West, are now onto the third quarterback, Tim Rattay. Why did their offensive line suddenly suck when Warner went in? Very odd. Ken Whisenhunt strangely got away from Edgerrin James for a lot of the game, even though he scored their only touchdown and was running quite well. Given that his quarterback was coaching high school football earlier that week, that probably wasn't the best idea. Everyone is talking about how great Vinny Testeverde played, but here's something interesting: the Cardinals wanted him, offered him a deal, and he accepted, then decided it was too far away from New York. Then the Panthers called, and he took their offer. I have nothing against Vinny, but that seems a bit cheap. That's a nice win by the Panthers. They're 4-0 on the road and 0-2 at home. What the heck?
Turnovers: Cardinals 5, Panthers 0. Final score: Carolina 25, Arizona 10. Turnovers = loss? Sure. 7-0.

Down 38-24 with early in the fourth quarter, Wade Phillips kicked a field goal. I hate wussy field goals! The Cowboys had the ball at the Cheaters' five-yard line, for crying out loud! Fortune Favors The Bold, Wade! The Cheaters don't stop for crappy little field goals, do they? Heck, no! Boy, New England looks good. I want Philadelphia to beat them in Foxboro, but I also kind of want them to go 16-0 and then lose in the first round to a 9-7 Jacksonville team. That would be sweeeeeeet. Patrick Crayton, the Dallas wide receiver who is only starting because of an injury, promised that his team would be in the Super Bowl. After that loss. After the Cowboys have beaten nobody. Shut the hell up, Crayton. What an idiot.
Turnovers: Cheaters 1, Cowboys 1. New England 48, Dallas 27. Turnovers = loss? It's a wash.

Norv Turner went to Damascus, and the Jesus of Running Backs - Jim Brown - appeared to him. "Run thou the pigskin with LaDanian Tomlinson, you idiot!" said the Brown, and lo! Turner's eyes were opened, and he gave unto Tomlinson the football, and yea, the football gods rewarded him. Tomlinson's line - 24 carries, 198 yards, 4 touchdowns. Hey, that guy's pretty good! Duh.
Turnovers: Raiders 3, Chargers 1. Final score: LaDanian Tomlinson 28, Oakland 14. Turnovers = loss? Why not? 8-0.

I love games like the Sunday night one. Seattle turned the ball over, gave the Saints an early lead, and New Orleans suddenly played like they did last year. This probably won't save their season, but it's really amazing how close in terms of talent the entire league is (yes, even New England). The Saints got a lead, Reggie Bush made some nice runs, and suddenly, the Seahawks looked like the winless team. Very odd, but it just shows how important the little things are. Like, you know, not turning the ball over.
Turnovers: Seahawks 2, Saints 1. Final score: New Orleans 28, Seattle 17. Turnovers = loss? Yes; the Saints' first touchdown was on a fumble recovery, too. 9-0.

Just like last week, if you turn the ball over, it really helps to be playing an awful offensive team. New Jersey tried to make the game competitive, but the Falcons weren't having any! It looks like the Giants are going to be 6-2, which they were last year. Then they went in the tank. We'll see how they handle success this year. Poorly, I will wager!
Turnovers: Giants 3, Falcons 1. Final score: New Jersey 31, Atlanta 10. Turnovers = loss? For the second straight Monday Night, no. 9-1.

We're up to 60-9 for teams that turn the ball over less than their opponents. Shocking, I know.

College football continued to be completely wacky. Penn State demolished Wisconsin, which was nice to see, but who can tell what's going on in the Big Eleven. Michigan is back, Ohio State is inexplicably #1 after beating Akron and Kent State, and nobody wants to win the conference! Everyone is handing the championship to the winner of the Michigan-Ohio State game at the end of the season, but the Buckeyes still have to play in Happy Valley, and with the way this season is going, who knows where the two teams might lose? Meanwhile, LSU's bizarre playcalling opened the door for Cal, who then promptly lost to Oregon State when their quarterback decided to run the ball toward the end zone with 14 seconds left, comfortably within field goal range, no timeouts, down by three. That's just dumb. Tom is apoplectic about the loss (I never thought I'd actually call someone "apoplectic," but I think it's appropriate), but I don't think the quarterback should be cut from the team. He's a backup, he's trying to make a play, and he got carried away. Yes, it's an idiotic move, but if Jeff Tedford wanted to kick a field goal, he should have instead of running another play. It's a really bad loss, but with the way things are going, if Cal wins out they might get a shot to play for the National Championship anyway. Meanwhile, at least the computers figured out that the third-highest ranked team in the Pac-10 was actually leading the conference, and Arizona State opened the BCS rankings at #8. The Sun Devils have a week off and then they actually have to play some tough teams. We'll see how they do. Finally, Woody! chided me a bit for not giving any love to his unbeaten Cincinnati Bearcats. I hadn't seen much of Cincy, and then, last weekend, they lost. Oh well. I have nothing against Cincinnati, and I even have a bit of a soft spot for them, since Penn State once beat them 81-0 (ouch). But we'll see how their season plays out now that the dream is dead. I honestly can't accept South Florida as #2, so maybe the Bearcats can beat them. I don't think they've played each other yet. Go, Cincy!

Another fun week in the football world. The less said about the Sold-Their-Soul-To-Satan Rockies, the better. They can't win the World Series, can they? Satan wouldn't be that cruel, would he?

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The glory of Katrin Cartlidge (1961-2002)

Breaking the Waves was on last night. I didn't watch it, because I didn't want to become suicidal, but Katrin Cartlidge is in the movie, and whenever I see a movie with her, I'm reminded of how spectacular she is and how sad it is that she never got more recognition when she was alive and how awful it is that she's dead. She was 41 when she died of complications from pneumonia (who dies of pneumonia in the 21st century?), and she had plenty of excellent films left in her, I'm sure.

I first saw Cartlidge in Naked, Mike Leigh's brilliant movie about a misanthropic philosopher, played to perfection by David Thewlis (who never got another role as good as this and was relegated to playing supporting roles in crappy Hollywood blockbusters, including some wizard movies). Thewlis' Johnny has unpleasant sex with Cartlidge's Sophie, and Cartlidge's raw sexuality is astounding. She was not what you would call beautiful - in fact, she was often ugly in her films. But her acting is so powerful that we fall in love with her whenever she's on screen, no matter how evil her character occasionally could be.

She followed up Naked with Before the Rain, which is one of my favorite movies of the 1990s and one that remains inexplicably not on DVD. What the crap? It's a movie about the war in Macedonia that circles back on itself in a wonderfully constructed loop. Cartlidge plays the girlfriend of a Slavic photographer who is abandoned when he returns to the Balkans. It's not the biggest role, but she sells it well, and we can feel the pain in her soul when she speaks to her estranged husband and when her lover leaves her. It's a beautiful movie, and I would love to see it again (I saw it in the theater 13 years ago, and it's stuck with me).

She plays Emily Watson's best friend in Breaking the Waves, and is excellent as she tries to bring Watson back from the brink once she begins to slide into debauchery. It's another excellent role in an excellent movie (have Watson - in her first movie! - and Stellan Skarsgård ever been better?). Cartlidge makes Watson's weird descent even more heart-breaking, because she can't stop it.

In 1997 Cartlidge teamed with Leigh again for a "comedy," Career Girls. It's funny enough, I guess, but not really what you think of as a "comedy." Cartlidge meets her ex-college roommate, Annie (played by Lynda Steadman), after several years. What's interesting about the film is that Hannah (Cartlidge) and Annie weren't really friends in college, but they have that familiarity we share with people occasionally even if we're not really friends. Over the course of a weekend, they wander around London at meet a bunch of characters. Yes, it's a Mike Leigh movie, and that means plot is secondary! Hannah and Annie come to realize that they weren't friends back in the day, but as they have their "adventures," they become friends. Cartlidge is magnificent, because Hannah is the more successful of the pair and is somewhat contemptuous of Annie early in the movie. But her transformation into someone who cares about Annie and becomes less concerned with the material aspects of life is fantastic, and at the end, we care about about both these women more than we should in a movie. It's another stunning turn by Cartlidge.

Cartlidge continued to make movies, but I missed more and more of her work because they either didn't make it to theaters where I lived or I was in the process of moving and not seeing many movies. She had roles in Topsy-Turvy, another Leigh film about Gilbert and Sullivan and the making of "The Mikado," and although it's a great movie, her role isn't that huge. The final film I saw her in was From Hell, in which she played Annie Chapman, the first prostitute killed by Jack the Ripper. It's a small role, but Cartlidge sinks her teeth into and gives it the dignity it deserves.

Cartlidge made only two more movies after From Hell, and I saw neither of them. I can't remember when I heard that she had died (in 2002-2003 I was busy with the baby, so I wasn't paying much attention to entertainment anymore), but I can't be reminded that she's dead without feeling a rather intense feeling of sadness. I have no idea if Cartlidge was an evil bitch in real life, but I do know that every time I saw her in a movie, I was captivated. There are very few actors who can do that for me. In fact, the list is probably Jennifer Jason Leigh, Emma Thompson, and Brad Pitt in addition to Cartlidge (yes, I have actually watched parts of Nanny McPhee because of Thompson's presence, and Pitt makes The Mexican watchable). Her presence was so overwhelming, and she commanded the entire screen whenever she showed up. Go rent one of these or her other movies. You'll be astonished how truly great she was.

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What I've been reading

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell. 258 pages, 2005, Simon & Schuster.

You know who Sarah Vowell is, even if you've never seen her. She was the voice of Violet Parr in The Incredibles, and she really nailed it. I've seen her a few times on The Daily Show, and she's as deadpan as you might expect. She's kind of the stereotypical Goth chick - at one point in this book, she lists her phobias - heights, water, driving (she doesn't have a license), snakes roller coasters, Children of the Corn - as well as her allergies - peanuts, wheat, pet dander, springtime. Yes, she's poking fun at herself, but if you look up "Emily Dickinson" in the dictionary, you might see Sarah Vowell's picture.

I bring this up because this very humorous and interesting book, in which Vowell goes on a trek to discover all she can about three presidents - Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley - who were assassinated and the men who killed them. You might expect, as an ultra-liberal, that Vowell will be slightly un-American, but she's not - she's definitely and defiantly anti-Bush (she refuses to write his name, calling him "the current president" because it's more hopeful), but like a lot of smart people, she tries to find the good in the country while admitting that there are plenty of things wrong with it. In going back and looking at not only the presidents, but trying to figure out why anyone would take the extreme position of killing them. She also ties some of what happened in the past into what's happening in the present, which is why history is interesting to study - something our current president might have remembered.

While Lincoln is the most exhaustively covered (his chapter is almost 100 pages long, while the other two top out in the mid-60s) and McKinley's relates most closely to the present day while starring Theodore Roosevelt in a supporting role that takes over everything else, Garfield's death is perhaps the oddest. Garfield, of course, was wounded but probably not lethally until the doctors poked around in his wounds without being hygienic about it. Nice. The politics behind Garfield's election are fascinating, as well, and Vowell does a good job explaining the post-Reconstruction back-and-forth within the Republican Party of the 1870s and '80s. She traces the current Republican Party's policies to the Compromise of 1877, when the Republicans, in order to get Rutherford B. Hayes elected, told the Democrats they would end Reconstruction. Four years later, Garfield became a compromise candidate because Hayes had the audacity to fire Chester A. Arthur, the customs collector at the New York Customs House, a hugely lucrative job that controlled by Roscoe Conkling, a powerful senator from New York who ran the Republican Party in that state. Conkling dumped Hayes and tried to bring back Ulysses S. Grant for a third term. Within the party, James Blaine of Maine led a faction that was sick of Grant. Garfield became the compromise candidate. Garfield was always at odds with Conkling, appointing a neutral man to the customs collector position and in a horrific twist of fate, Charles Guiteau killed the president because he was such a big fan of Conkling's branch of the party. In Guiteau's pocket when he shot Garfield was a letter, explaining that he did it so Chester Arthur, the vice-president, could take over and return the Republican Party back to its glorious roots. Arthur was justifiably horrified. Guiteau was a strange bird - he lived in the Oneida community in upstate New York when he was young and apparently couldn't get laid in a place devoted to free love. He wanted to be appointed ambassador to France and thought Garfield screwed him out of the position. And he was a funny man at his trial, as well, delighting the gallery with quips and whatnot. Weird.

Vowell does a fine job not only skipping back and forth between the presidents and their assassins, but also, as I've mentioned, tying events from the 19th century into events in the 21st. This is most notable when she gets to McKinley, because McKinley's "splendid little war" - the Spanish-American - is the beginning of American imperialism abroad (we'll ignore the slaughter of millions of Indians). The Spanish-American War has some eerie similarities to the current war, from the justifications for it (the Spaniards almost certainly didn't blow up the Maine, while those weapons of mass destruction Saddam had must be invisible) to the aftermath (America took over the Philippines and decided they couldn't run things without our "help," sparking a rebellion). In fact, you could argue (and Vowell does) that our problems with Cuba today are directly related to the Spanish-American War. That bastard History is intruding on our Glorious Present once again!

Vowell tries to make Leon Czolgosz, the man who shot McKinley, interesting, but even she admits he's a drab and dour figure. She does link him to Emma Goldman, the famous anarchist, whose boyfriend tried to kill Henry Frick in 1892 (which is a key moment in this book) and who barely knew Czolgosz. Despite Czolgosz's claims that he worked alone, Goldman was jailed briefly as a co-conspirator, and Vowell finds it difficult to work up much sympathy for a woman who often advocated violence to elected officials in her writing while claiming to abhor it when it actually happened. Goldman's involvement, such as it was, in McKinley's death, however, led to Theodore Roosevelt and Congress passing the Anarchist Exclusion Act of 1903, the first law allowing potential immigrants to be questioned about their political views. I wonder why she links the McKinley assassination to the current War on Terror™?

There's a lot to like about this book, as Vowell continually lighten the heavy topic of political assassination with humorous asides and personal stories and insight without losing the view of the big picture. She also likes to track the wonderful coincidences in history, such as the fact that Robert Todd Lincoln, the son of the president, was involved in all three assassinations (and couldn't have been happy about that stigma attached to his name). Little things like that make history more fascinating and helps the big stuff more meaningful. It's a quick read but tells us a lot about where we've been and how we got to this point. And, as I've mentioned, it's a shame that more politicians don't appreciate our own history and try to learn from it. This is the kind of book that could help them. Maybe we should all buy it for our Congressman (or -woman) for Christmas. They might appreciate it.

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What have we learned - Week 5

Well, it was another one of those weeks during which I didn't watch a lot of football. Philadelphia had a bye week, so I watched the first half of the Arizona-St. Louis game and then went out to brunch with the family. Yes, I'm a family man! And then, later, Deja Vu was on. Don't you just love Denzel? Okay, the movie was kind of crappy, but what else was I going to watch - the Colts stomp the Buccaneers? Boring! That doesn't mean I'm not going to break down the games in my own merry way!

Tom pointed out that I should see if I can find out how many points were scored off the turnovers. Unfortunately, the box scores on-line don't show how many points were scored off turnovers! What the crap is up with that?

Matt Leinart got injured, so the Arizona quarterback "controversy" is over, with Kurt Warner behind center. I only watched the first half, so the only things I learned was: the officials suck and Ken Whisenhunt is bold. First, Edgerrin James takes a handoff at the 6-yard line, is tackled at the one, is obviously down, fumbles the ball into the end zone where it's recovered by a St. Louis player, who is already down when a Cardinal comes up behind him and rips the ball out, which would have meant the play was dead because the Ram was on the ground, but the Cardinal player holds it up and it's called a touchdown. They reviewed the play and said the call was right on the field. WHAT?!?!?!? First, James was obviously down, and the replay clearly showed his elbow on the ground before the ball comes out. So the ball should have been on the one. Second, the instant a Cardinal touches the Ram player in the end zone, the play is dead. So if you miss the first call, it's a touchback. In no universe is that play a touchdown. Yet the Cardinals got the call. Wow - that's the kind of call that goes for New England or Indianapolis, not Arizona! Anyway, with 13 seconds left in the half, and with no timeouts, Arizona ran a running play from the 5. WHAT?!?!?!? They tried to get up to the line to spike the ball, but the clock would have run out if a St. Louis player hadn't kicked the ball. Idiot! So the Cardinals got an untimed down from the one. Whisenhunt went for the touchdown, and Warner sneaked over for six points. What an awesome call. And considering the Cardinals won by 3, an important one. Whisenhunt knows that (say it with me!) FORTUNE FAVORS THE BOLD!
Turnovers: Rams 3, Cardinals 2. Final score: Arizona 34, St. Louis 31. Turnovers = loss? Yes. 1-0.

Vince Young was getting all pissy because people were asking about his interceptions. He threw three of them. Of course, when you're playing a piss-poor team like the Falcons (or the Bills, see below), you can turn the ball over five times and still win. But back to Young: those were some awful passes that were intercepted. Hey, Vince - if you don't like getting questioned about your shitty passes, don't throw them!
Turnovers: Titans 5, Falcons 2. Final score: Tennessee 20, Atlanta 13. Turnovers = loss? Weirdly enough, no. 1-1.

Larry Johnson carried 9 times for 12 yards. Yes, Johnson is running poorly behind a crappy offensive line. But the game was close throughout, and you have to give your big back the ball more often and hope he wears down the defense. Stupid Chiefs.
Turnovers: Chiefs 1, Jaguars 0. Final score: Jacksonville 17, Kansas City 7. Turnovers = loss? Sure. 2-1.

Boy, the Cheaters look good. They're going to POUND the Cowboys next week.
Turnovers: Browns 4, Patriots 0. Final score: New England 34, Cleveland 17. Turnovers = loss? Yep. 3-1.

I watched about two minutes of the Carolina-New Orleans game. Didn't the Saints have a good offense last year? They're a mess.
Turnovers: Saints 2, Panthers 1. Final score: Carolina 16, New Orleans 13. Turnovers = loss? Yes. 4-1.

Chad Pennington needs to go. The J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets were still in the game when he threw one of those weak-ass passes in the flat that he throws, and it was easily intercepted and returned for a touchdown. That's the only kind of throw he can make, so defenders know it's coming. That's just sad, because I like Pennington. But he can't be the quarterback of that team, can he?
Turnovers: Jets 3, Giants 2. Final score: New Jersey G 35, New Jersey J 24. Turnovers = loss? You bet. 5-1.

The Steelers held the ball for something like 43 minutes. The Seahawks had the ball for 5 minutes in the second half. Yeah, I know, I couldn't believe it either. Shaun Alexander looks old, the defense is beat up, and they possessed the ball for 5 minutes in the second half!!!!! Sheesh.
Turnovers: Seahawks 1, Steelers 0. Final score: Pittsburgh 21, Seattle 0. Turnovers = loss? Why not? 6-1.

Why do people like Mike Martz think you can win consistently in the NFL with no running game? Detroit has a bad running game, and they couldn't stay in the game. I know that passing is the big thing these days, but the teams that win have powerful offensive lines and excellent running games. "What about the Colts?" say you. "What about the Patriots?" Great offensive lines, excellent running games. The fact that they have brilliant passing attacks make them MUCH better. But they're good because of their line and running game. The Lions apparently don't get this. Unfortunately, Washington, in the NFC East, does.
Turnovers: Lions 2, Washington 1. Final score: Washington 34, Detroit 3. Turnovers = loss? Oh yeah. 7-1.

The big thing is about Trent Green taking a "cheap" shot at a defensive player when he tried to block him. I don't know - Green was in front of him, the guy probably could have seen him, and Green is certainly not going to stay high on him. The defender is an idiot for taunting Green on the field and for bashing him afterward, but I can see his point. The main thing about this is that it was a legal block, and whenever it's brought up for a vote to make it illegal, it gets voted down. So the owners obviously don't care about the players who get blocked at the knee. So there. And Trent Green should never be allowed back on a football field. Unless he wants to be a vegetable in fifteen years. If so, then fine.
Turnovers: Texans 2, Dolphins 1. Final score: Houston 22, Miami 19. Turnovers = loss? No. Of course the Dolphins couldn't take advantage of more turnovers! 7-2.

You have to play a perfect game to beat Indianapolis, and Tampa didn't. Oh well.
Turnovers: Buccaneers 1, Colts 1. Final score: Indianapolis 33, Tampa 14. Turnovers = loss? It's a wash.

What happened to Denver? Mike Shanahan will never be fired, but it's worth noting that last year, when the Broncos were 7-4 and in the heart of the playoff race, Shanahan benched Jake Plummer and put in a rookie, Jay Cutler. Denver won one more game and stinks this year. Good call, Shanahan!
Turnovers: Broncos 3, Chargers 0. Final score: San Diego 41, Denver 3. Turnovers = loss? Yes, but I don't think anything would have helped the Broncos. 8-2.

Every so often, we get a game that sets football back 60 years. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Baltimore-San Francisco game. Three field goals for the Ravens, more points than first downs for the 49ers. Good job, you guys!
Turnovers: 49ers 1, Ravens 0. Final score: Baltimore 9, San Francisco 7. Turnovers = loss? Yes. 9-2.

I was so happy to see R. C. Favre* throw that shitty interception on Sunday night (well, in the highlights, because I didn't watch the game). You'll notice that three teams this weekend turned the ball over 5 or more times, and two won, while the Packers ALMOST pulled this out. If you're going to turn the ball over a lot, make sure it's against a shitty offensive team! Maybe this will cause Favre to turn back into his own bad self and start hucking footballs to the opposition. That's good stuff when that happens!
Turnovers: Packers 5, Bears 1. Final score: Chicago 27, Green Bay 20. Turnovers = loss? Yes, pretty directly. 10-2.

I listened to the crucial play in the Monday Night game on the radio. I heard the Bills, holding an 8-point lead with about 6 minutes left, possess the ball at the Dallas 11. It was 3rd-and-8. I actually said, "Run it up the middle. You can't throw the ball!" An instant later, Trent Edwards threw an interception that was returned 70 yards. The Cowboys were nice enough to turn the ball right back over, but Buffalo's anemic offense couldn't do anything with it, and it led to the game-winning touchdown and field goal. You have a rookie quarterback, an easy field goal to put you up by 11 with 5 minutes left, and you throw the ball. WHY?!?!?!?!? WHY?!?!?!?!?!? That was the dumbest call EVER! Why are coaches so stupid? I know FORTUNE FAVORS THE BOLD, but in this case, you're pushing your luck way too much. That's why Dick Jauron is a lousy coach and the Bills are a lousy team. That call was truly unbelievable. What a waste of five interceptions, two returned for touchdowns, and a fumble by Tony Romo. I just don't get it at all.
Turnovers: Cowboys 6, Bills 1. Final score: Dallas 25, Buffalo 24. Turnovers = loss? No. If any team could somehow squander SIX turnovers, it's Buffalo. Sheesh. 10-3.

If you're wondering, the record of teams that turn the ball over less than their opposition is now 51-8. Don't turn the ball over!

College football continues to be fun because nobody wants to run the table. USC should be ranked far out of the Top Ten, and it shows once again why preseason rankings should be done away with. Arizona State is 6-0, played Stanford on the road and beat them 41-3, then played Washington State on the road and beat them. Granted, those are the two worst teams in the Pac-10 (right, Trojans?), but winning two straight Pac-10 road games is nothing to sneeze at. Yet because they weren't ranked at the beginning of the year, they're only 14th. I have no idea how South Florida is ranked in the Top Five. I have no idea how Penn State got more votes for the Top 25 than Michigan, considering they have the same record and the Wolverines beat the Lions. What a crock. It was nice to see Penn State play some defense and play a little offense (after their leading rusher was kicked off the team), but their coaching continues to hold them back. It's sad to look at the team and realize that it's pretty much the coaches and not the talent. As long as someone can knock off LSU (thanks, Florida, you bums) and Ohio State (I like Cal, so I have no problem with them), this should be a fun season down the stretch. Maybe Penn State can beat the Buckeyes in Happy Valley!

I'm sorry for the rather lame "analysis," which is worse than it usually is. I just didn't see many games. But that's why you come here - the more half-assed, the better, right?

* Instead of calling him "Nancy-Boy" Favre, I will now be calling him "R. C." Favre, for "Risen Christ." All the sportwriters seem to think he's come back from the dead career-wise, and they all want to have sex with him anyway, so he shall now be R. C. Favre. Yes, I'm pure evil.

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Horrible self-indulgence, Year Three

Yes, it's the end of my third year of blogging, so what better way to celebrate than with my annual trip through the past year of posts. I hope you'll forgive me for such awful navel-gazing. If you happened to miss anything I wrote over the past year, well, I forgive you, but here's your chance to catch up. Enjoy!


Our Halloween decorations get stolen.
The strange tale of the Goldfish Crackers.
Checking out what the Jehovah's Witnesses give out.
Halloween pictures!
Books we bought at the book sale.
Why I live in a horror movie.
The death of our cat, Smokey.
A sign of the Apocalypse.
I thought I had won, but I was sadly mistaken.
My sleep study.
Whose toes are these?
My weird wife.


Yet another reason I don't read the newspapers.
Newt Gingrich is not a hypocrite!
Worst news story ever.
Things that angry up my blood.
People who better hope I never become dictator.
The Iraqis will just wait us out.
The pope is awesome.
The Virgin Mary appears in Minersville, Pennsylvania.


The Mystery of the Sea by Bram Stoker.
Damascus Gate by Robert Stone.
Spanking the Donkey by Matt Taibbi.
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor.
Dry Heat by Jon Talton.
Perfect From Now On by John Sellers.
The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 Home Runs by Bill Jenkinson.
The Colony by John Tayman.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling.
Crusader Nation by David Traxel.
Gettysburg by Noah Andre Trudeau.


My favorite junk foods.
My favorite cities.
My favorite cartoons.
My favorite guilty pleasures.


Green Lantern meets Freddie Mercury, Bush as Sauron, rock album covers, Jesus bandages, and unintentionally sexual video games.
Odd news.
Strange maps.
Stuff on YouTube.
The bridges of Portland, the befuddled Swiss army, plots to overthrow the government, and Korean baseball brawls.


Pictures in artsy black-and-white!
Cruising on the Willamette.
Our Caribbean vacation - Grenada.
Our Caribbean vacation - the cruise.
Our Caribbean vacation - the Venezuelan hinterland.
Our Caribbean vacation - relaxing.
Our Caribbean vacation - the most disturbing photograph EVER!!!!
Nice pictures of Portland.
Autumn in the Northwest.
Going back to Pennsylvania.
A visit to my sister in Virginia.
Northern Arizona.


How they made Lost better.
Noodlin' with chicks!
If Prince had any balls.
Worst lyrics ever!
Are you smarter than a fifth-grader?
Peyton Manning on Saturday Night Live.
How Bono comes up with lyrics.
Choose that album!
Bill O'Reilly goes postal.
Television finales.
Great albums by short-lived bands.
Worst tattoo ever?


Part One, the pilot.
Part Two, season one.
Part Three, season two.
Part Four, season three.
Part Five, season four.
Part Six, season five.
Part Seven, season six.
Part Eight, season seven.
Part Nine, season eight.
Part Ten, season nine.


Nevada's land grab.


Part 25, "House" to "I Am The City."
Part 26, "I Better Be Quiet Now" to "I Remember You."
Part 27, "I Shatter" to "If My Heart Were A Ball It Would Roll Uphill."
Part 28, "I'm A Mother" to "In The New Age."
Part 29, "In My Life Today" to "Instant Club Hit (You'll Dance To Anything)."
Part 30, "Interior Lulu" to "Jerusalem."
Part 31, "Jerusalem" to "King."
Part 32, "Kiss" to "The Last Day Of Our Acquaintance.
Part 33, "The Last Mile" to "Like It Or Not."


Part One.
Part Two.
Part Three.
Part Four.
Part Five.
Part Six.
Part Seven.
Part Eight.
Part Nine.


Power Man and Iron Fist #112.
Eternal Warrior #40.
Untamed #1.
Egypt #6.
Suspira #4.
Green Lantern #138.
Cyberforce #1.
Azrael #30.
P. Craig Russell's Night Music #1.
The Green Hornet #8.
Star Wars #83.
The Terminator: The Enemy Within #1.
Darkhawk #15.
She-Hulk #58.
Ghost Rider #23.
Supreme #51.
Crimson Dreams #10.
The Secret Defenders #9.
Demonslayer #2.
Cable #40.
Thunderbolts #22.
Justice League of America #240.
Action Comics Weekly #639.
Superman Adventures #36.
Daredevil #223.
Hawkman #22.
'Mazing Man #12.
Ragman #4.
Web of Spider-Man #22.
Objective Five #3.
Witchblade #86.


Batman Chronicles volume 2.
Rock Bottom and Seven Sons.
Bosnian Flat Dog, Content #2, and Vatican City, Las Vegas.
Agnes Quill, Ed's Terrestrials, and The Dreamland Chronicles.
Fun Home and Stagger Lee.
First Moon, Blessed Thistle, Red Eye, Black Eye, Para, and Borderline.
Giant Robot Warriors, Hip Flask: Concrete Jungle, Sore Thumbs, It Rhymes With Lust, and Solstice.
Alice in Sunderland and Elk's Run.
The Last Sane Cowboy and Other Stories, Pulpo, Worry Doll, Rocketo, and The Salon.
An Endorsement of Smoking, Mail Order Ninja, Polly and the Pirates, Mouse Guard, Wormwood: Gentlemen Corpse, The Professor's Daughter, Three Strikes, Less Than Heroes, In Dublin City, The Homeless Channel, The Black Diamond Detective Agency, and Exit Wounds.
Justice League of America #10 (man, I love this post and the response it got).
The Vesuvius Club, Cowboys & Aliens, Silverfish, Black Cherry, Crécy, and Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened.
Yesterday's Tomorrows, The Last Call, Narcoleptic Sunday, The Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allan Poo, and Super Spy.


The Phoenix Comic Book Convention.
The San Diego Comic Book Convention.


Two fading titans - baseball and comic books.
Why Fun Home is overrated.
How do we choose the comics we read?
Comics you bought after they jumped the shark.
Comics were better in the Seventies!
Or were they?
The death of the postmodern superhero.
How Civil War could have worked.
The annoying puritanical attitude of Americans.
A rather lame defense of Michael Turner.
Why I'm not the biggest fan of Darwyn Cooke's version of The Spirit.
The thrill of the hunt.
The Golden Age of Comics.
Galactus is suave.
Dazzler: ahead of its time?
Dialogue and narration from All Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder #7.


31 Days of Seven Soldiers category.


Dreadstar #41-64 by Peter David and Angel Medina.
Elektra Assassin by Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz.
Elementals #1-5 by Bill Willingham.
Enigma by Peter Milligan and Duncan Fregredo.
The Extremist by Peter Milligan and Ted McKeever.
Fantastic Four #347-349 by Walt Simonson and Art Adams.
Firestorm #58-100 by John Ostrander.
Flex Mentallo by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely.
Four Women by Sam Kieth.
From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell.

Man, that's a lot of writing. I wonder who's been raising the kids all this time? Certainly not me!

I'd like to thank my vast legion of readers. I'm sure I have at least 10 regular readers, and I do appreciate them. I've been wondering about keeping up with the blog, because I feel a bit burned out recently. I ought to update my daughters' blog a lot more - they are growing very fast, as kids do, and I often miss some things that they do because I'm busy blogging about football or comics. I'd like to continue, because I know some people like reading this, but we'll see. Does anyone want to give me a pep talk?

Either way, I'm pretty happy about blogging for three years. It's been a lot of fun, and I've got to "meet" some interesting people. Thanks for reading!

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