Sunday, July 29, 2012

SUNDAYS SUNDAYS SUNDAYS

SUNDAYS SUNDAYS SUNDAYS is new; each week I'll feature, on all my blogs, the latest post from one of my blogs.

Today's is the latest from Lesbian Zombies Are Taking Over The World!, an ongoing sci-fi/erotic/serial/humor/something/something else/etc. story that follows Rachel, who was just a waitress in New York, kind of, until her Octopus told her to walk South.  There, she fell in love with Brigitte, got attacked by demons from Hell, kidnapped by tiny bubbles, and eventually found out that she might be not only the Queen of The Lesbian Zombies, but also the key to deciding who's going to win in the Battle of 73 Dimensions and open up Heaven.

Your typical story, in other words.  Here's the latest installment:

* * * * *

Part 22D: You know what this story needs? ANOTHER RACHEL.

Things like is Rachel okay and let's get the hell outta here and back to Valhalla go right out of my mind and I stare at the Mosaic, as do the Valkyries and Target A, who has this gray, pale look about him but I don't notice much because seriously, this Mosaic thing talked.

"Free me," it says now, and we all look at each other, Czaranya and me and the other Valkyrie, but Target A is just shaking and drooling and Rachel is lying there woozily.

"From... um... from what?" I ask, taking the lead.

There is a shimmer in the golden squares that make up the Mosaic and it sort of ripples and shudders a little.

"From this wall," it says.

I have been looking more closely at it and I've realized it's made up of little squares and that the squares are chips, like the kind that are put in people.  Not even like the kind that are put in people. They are the kind that are put in people, on Earth, to let them Share, which is sort of like telepathy but not, as I understand it.

"Who are you?" I ask the Mosaic.

"I'm Rachel," it says.

I look down at Rachel, and think another one?  That's kind of a natural thought, maybe, when you are one of perhaps thousands of clones of one woman, and your whole life has been geared towards proving you are the best of those thousands and then the one that you are the clone of shows up suddenly and not only do you not mind that she's there and you might just have become totally irrelevant but you also fall in love with her.

There's a lot of Rachel's, is my point.

"You are not," Czaranya says, and her frown tells me she's been trying to communicate with the thing telepathically but had to speak. Valkyries hate talking.  Czaranya points to the Rachel on the ground, the one I'm kneeling over.  "That is Rachel."

"I am Rachel," the Mosaic says.  Then a shimmery thing happens and it says "I am Sonja."  The shimmer, again, and "I am Darlene."  Shimmer: "Angela." Shimmer: "Doris."

Now I'm backing away a little as the shimmers get faster and the names get faster, each one said in a different voice, each one clearly a different person:  "LisaJenniferRebeccaAlisonBreeAshleyKellyGretchenAlyssaKaren" it is going on and then there is a flash of light from all of them and it says

"I am Rachel" and things seem to calm down.

For the moment.

"What are you?" I ask.

"I am Rachel," it says.

Target A suddenly wails "It's true! They were all trapped and it's true!" and he goes even more pale and makes a gurgle sound and lunges at the cabinet, trying to I think close it up but Czaranya elbows into him and he falls to the side, clutching at the cabinet door.  The cabinet itself starts to fall forward towards Czaranya and she pulls back but it falls down onto her, trapping her halfway underneath it.  It's nothing for her, I'm not worried about her because the cabinet is really light and the fact that it fell on Czaranya means that it didn't fall directly on Rachel, who was just starting to sit up.

Then a bunch of things happen.  Czaranya starts to lift the cabinet off of her, but Target A is trying to get at it, too, and there's a glow of light from underneath it as Czaranya lifts it up and as I start to try to see if Rachel is okay, she's rolling away from the cabinet and towards Czaranya.  Before I realize what's happened, Rachel has grabbed Czaranya's spear and has pulled it towards her, the spear crackling with the energy that's supposed to kill anyone who's not a Valkyrie but dares to touch it, and the energy is dancing all over Rachel's body and making this fierce acrid smoke.

"Rachel!" I yell.  "Let it go!"

But she doesn't, and she turns the spear head towards the Mosaic, touches it, and the energy leaps through the gridwork pattern and crackles around it and there is an explosion.  The cabinet is gone, and standing before us is an identical copy of Rachel, only instead of Rachel, or even me, she's basically this woman that looks like us, exactly, only she's made entirely of gold, and her skin is patterned in a tiny grid of golden squares, all over, making her look like a golden mirror ball that has been stretched into a beautiful woman's shape, and her eyes are dark and hollow, and her hair, somehow, is both golden and flowing and slinky and also made of tiny little squares, too.

"I am Rachel," she says again.

We're all just sort of staring there, and Rachel's still holding the spear, which is going nuts, there are blue and gold bolts of energy just arcing around the entire room, and Target A has to duck for it and crawl away, and the horse is backing out and Czaranya, I see, reaches for the spear but then Rachel-Mosaic raises her hands and says

"ENOUGH!"

and they are gone:

Her,

Rachel,

the spear,

and Czaranya, and the other Valkyrie who I didn't even know her name.

It's just me and Target A.

We stare at each other in the dim light of the workshop for a second, the stench of dead bodies and energy and fighting clouding our senses.

Then, the horse sticks his head in the door and says "I think you better see this."

Want to read more? Click here to go to the story online, at the beginning.

Or click HERE to go to Scribd and download the entire story for free!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Maybe she could have prayed to God to give her an infinite number of prayers to be granted? Or does it not work that way? (Updates On God!)

If you needed further proof that God is a Green Bay Packer fan, take into consideration the case of Martha Isom, who recently was able to complete a pilgrimage thanks to divine intervention, and possibly rest stops on the highway.

Isom is a 66-year-old grandmother and victim of fraud by the Green Bay Packers who doesn't let that stop her from trading in all her heavenly chips to hear how the Packers no longer think the season should be 18 weeks of regular-season games... in person.  Isom, a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, recently made her first trip to Green Bay to attend the annual "shareholders" meeting, and, reports The Northwestern.com, her trip was only made possible because of God:


“I asked God to just let me get here and he granted my wish,” said Isom, a retired school employee who was on the road more than 12 hours to get to Green Bay.

Isom did not elaborate on what hazards she faced on the perilous journey from Charlotte to Green Bay, traversing through such hellscapes as West Virginia, Indianapolis, and even Illinois.


*pauses to shudder, hug his children*

I myself can't imagine it, because I would never attempt such a quest.  But Isom must have had divine help, because she reported being on the road "more than 12 hours" whereas Mapquest says it takes people that don't have Jesus ridin' shotgun 16 hours (and then some.)

In all, 12,500 people managed to make it to Green Bay in person and listen to a pep talk, that being the sole perk of owning Green Bay Packer stock.  Or, as Packer president/CEO Mark Murphy says:


"It's not an investment in the sense of a normal investment -- I mean, they don't get dividends; they can't re-sell it for a profit. But what it does, though, it gives them a special bond to the organization that you just don't see from other organizations."

You know,  the kind of bond you can only get from giving an insanely profitable, highly-subsidized corporation your money in exchange for absolutely nothing.  (At least when I throw money down the rathole that is the Buffalo Bills' organization, I get a t-shirt in exchange.  I like to think the Bills' pajamas I got for Christmas last year helped give Trebuchet Fitzpatrick what Jim Kelly feels is a God-given right to $25,000,000 in exchange for heaving the ball to random locations on the field.)


Or is it nothing? "Shareholders" at the meeting also got to gaze in awe at the Mirror Ball trophy Donald "Quickie" Driver brought home from Dancing With The Stars, and is that really his nickname? I have never heard anyone call him that.  I don't even think he's particularly quick.


Most of the "shareholders" at the meeting learned how profitable the team is, something that should come as no surprise to them: after all, the team managed to sell 268,000 worthless pieces of paper to fans at $250 per piece just last year.


When you've got fans literally willing to throw money at you for nothing, and when fans pray to God that they will live long enough to listen to a speech about how profitable you are, how can you lose money?

 There are, perhaps, other things Martha Isom could have prayed for.  But it would be crass to point those out, wouldn't it? She got God to intervene in the world's affairs and made it to the shareholders' meeting, and it's not really up to us to determine what Martha Isom, 66, from Charlotte, should pray for.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

You silly people will watch ANYTHING! (The "I Guess It's Time I Try To Do An NFL Preview" NFL Preview: The St. Louis Rams)

Here is what the sports world thinks of you, a living breathing human being:

You will pretty much do anything to kill an hour.
That's the message you get from this story about there being a professional Ultimate Frisbee league coming to Madison, WI, a story that gave me about a thousand new things to think about, those things being:

A.  People really still play Ultimate Frisbee even though it is 2012? 
B.  People get paid to play Ultimate Frisbee?
C.  This is a popular thing in the city I live adjacent to and I didn't even know it?

The answers being:

A.  Looks like it, which means that all kinds of 1990s things are able to be brought back including Zubaz, which the Buffalo Bills' pro shop is proudly hawking on Twitter,   and which I own a pair of.  I can't wait for Hypercolor to make an appearance again, so that I know when I'm feeling hot by the color of my shirt.

B.  Looks like it, although according to this ABC story, the total amount of pay is up to the owners.  Hopefully, they're not owners like the Arena Football League team owner who took his players out to Olive Garden and then fired them all.  I mean, how insensitive can you be... Olive Garden?  Have some kindness, man.  (Their soup is watery.)  (That guy was still nicer than the Patriots* owner who allowed a player to be cut on Super Bowl Sunday, leaving the guy a few hours short of playing in the biggest game of them all, and forcing the guy to pay his own way home.)

That ABC News story, by the way, says the professional Ultimate league is the "first," which I find amusingly suggestive of the idea that there might someday be a second.

C.  Looks like it, although perhaps the Madisonian love of Ultimate is a bit overstated by the reporter, and possibly accurately estimated by the owner of the team who says in article that, in terms of coming up with money to pay for the team

"It just takes enough to pay for the stadium, the uniforms, the cost of travel and give the players a little something... People in Madison love something to do. I brought my kids out to a farm to see some baby goats and 500 people were there paying $7. If I can't match that, then maybe I'll just invite some baby goats to the field."
 Not many sports franchises dare to dream they will be as big, on the entertainment scene, as baby goats

The thought process behind that quote, though, is instructive: People in Madison love something to do. That's why you'll go to the Ultimate Games, people (in Madison, at least): You're bored, and need something in front of you.

I wouldn't, I guess, have such a problem with the quote if it were "People in Madison love fast-paced sporting events," or "People in Madison love exciting displays of athleticism" or "People in Madison love seeing round discs floating horizontally among men with their shirts off," or something of the sort.

But just something to do?

You're comparing your sport to "Eh, I guess I've got nothing else to do."


And speaking of things you'll watch just because they're there,

On to the RAMS!

What I Know About Them Without Researching: The Rams have as their new head coach that guy with the moustache who used to coach at Tennessee, Jeff Fischer.  I have a love-hate relationship with Tennessee; I've forgiven them for the "Music City Miracle," because the lifespan of a sports grudge is at most five years or you're a loser who needs something important with his life, and since forgiving Tennessee I had come to respect the way they ran their team and their organization and how it was very efficient and kept coaches and players around and was a model of a good system, and then BLAMMO! IT WASN'T and Jeff Fischer was out and Vince Young was driving around with a gun and did you know that Steve McNair was dead? Because I did, I guess, but I forgot and then Sweetie had to remind me.

That's what I know about the Rams.  That and they were really really bad last year and not so great the year before, but, hey, Sam Bradford! He was a highly touted rookie quarterback and they can't HELP but do good in this league because college success always translates into NFL success.

**cough cough ahem AndrewluckRGIII cough cough ahem**

Other than that, I have no idea what to expect from the Rams.  Should we assume they'll be any better this year than they were last year? Definitely not.  What reason have they given you to think that? Jeff Fischer is a fine coach, but he's got a terrible team.  They'll be 2-14.


What Somebody Else Said About Them:  Deadspin recently mentioned that Gregg Williams, who previously coached the Buffalo Bills into the ground before moving on to turn the New Orleans Saints into the football equivalent of an El Salvadorian Death Squad (I'm sorry, Drew Brees, I know BountyGate cheapens your Super Bowl ring the way VideoGate tainted Brady's, but that's life. You shouldn't have put up with your teammates' cheating) is still being celebrated by the St. Louis Rams, the people who hired him before the NFL decided people shouldn't be allowed to hire him:

Coaches from the St. Louis Rams, the team he was tapped to defensively coordinate before being suspended indefinitely, made appearances at the event and talked up Williams.
Two Rams assistants — Joe Bowden and Clyde Simmons — came in for Williams' tournament Friday. Simmons said he has no doubt Williams will coach again in the NFL, possibly next year.
"Absolutely," Simmons said. "He's too good of a coach and a person."
That's all well and good. The respect and admiration of your colleagues will go a long way in convincing people you've changed, but Williams needs a silver bullet.
 And, if you're thinking "Hey, all the stuff you say about the Rams is really about some other team,"
 well, you're right and that tells you what to expect from the Rams this season.


 What 1980s One-Hit Wonder Song Best Exemplifies The Rams This Year?


The Clapping Song, by Pia Zadora:


I almost shouldn't pick this song because I love this song far far more than I would ever, could ever, love the Rams.

In the pantheon of songs that have dances associated with them - -the Macarena... um... probably others... how is The Clapping Song not a staple at weddings and reunions and what not?  It's got everything: Clapping, some sort of dance associated with it, Pia Zadora?

Until this moment, looking up this song, at random, I had forgotten entirely about Pia Zadora, who I think I used to think was sexy (I did) and now, I'm not even sure if she's alive.

(I'm not the only one who's unsure: go to Google, and start typing I-s-p-i-a-z-a-d-o-r-a and when you get that far the number one suggestion will be Is Pia Zadora alive.)

(She is.)

"The Clapping Song" was originally released in 1965 as a follow-up to the song The Name Game, and that shows how hard it is to trap lighting in a bottle of monkeys or whatever, because having made sure everyone everywhere forever would constantly think Ron Ron Bo Bon Banana Fana Fo Fon Me Mi Mo Mon Roooooon at the worst possible moments

("Do you, Ron, take this...")

The writers of that song were unable to then get people to Clap Rhythmically, too, although they gave it a shot, which is more than you can.  Have you ever even tried to write a hit song?  Well, then, shut up.

(I have.  It's called The Big Mouth Frog Blues and you can hear it here.)

(I'm available for weddings.)

(But only as the entertainment. I'm already married. Sorry, ladies, this ship has sailed... on a sea of leftover pizza.)

Pia Zadora's version hit the charts in 1983, but the song was also covered by the Belle Stars, whose only other claim to fame was having the only good song on the Rain Man sound track, and by Gary Glitter, who managed to make us all have uncomfortable feelings whenever we hear Rock & Roll Part II because it's an awesome song but, well, you know.

But the point is, Pia's cover wasn't even the best-known or best-made cover of this song.

Prior previews:

Indianapolis Colts.

Want to do a preview of your own team? Hit me up on Twitter!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The New & Improved Thursday Scramble

... now with 100% more AMPERSANDS!

Thursday Scramble is {now} where I give you snippets of things I post on all my blogs, in hopes of luring you away from the Scylla of the current blog and into the Charybdis of another of my posts.

Aw, rats: I probably shouldn't have compared my posts to fatal traps from Greek mythology.  Oh, well, too late.

Here's this week's smattering of original (?) thought (?):

... also wishing that you could, instead of being at work, be walking along a path through a little forest, holding your two-year-old's hand in one hand and an ice cream cone in the other, and taking the time to point out interesting things:

"That's a tree," you want to be saying. "And that's a stream. I wonder if there's fish in there." And you'd know that your two-year-old probably wasn't getting the whole gist of what you would be saying, but it wouldn't matter because that's not the important part, anyway; the important part is the part about just being walking through the woods, with ice cream, etc.... click here to read more of this.


* * * * * 


What will be the ramifications of a ruling made ostensibly for one purpose but potentially for another?  What will be the outcome of not confronting the question before the Court head-on, so to speak, and instead allowing the Court to slightly twist the law and give itself a little more power?  ... click here to read more of this.

*****
Did anyone actually wonder about that? Is there anyone that watched all those Star Trek episodes and movies and thought "I wonder how Kirk and Spock ever met up?" Because I've never wondered that. I just assumed they happened to be assigned to the same military unit, as happens over and over and over again in the military.... click here to read more of this.

* * * * *


This was, I knew, never the plan.  While there were lots of Rachel clones, they weren't all created equal, so to speak, and I was one of the better ones and was in sort of the higher echelon of the clones, the ones that were privy to most of the secret plans.  I say most because I don't suspect that anyone anywhere knows all the plans everyone had for Rachel and her army of Lesbian Zombies, an army that was almost mine.... click here to read more of this.

* * * * *
I think the Colts got rid of everyone else, too, except maybe Curtis Painter, who lingers around Indianapolis the way that fat kid with the rat, Neville, lingered around Hogwarts.  I was never quite sure how Neville was going to fit in, whether he would be comic relief or a serious character, and having read all the books and watched one of the movies, I'm still not sure what the deal was with Neville.... click here to read more of this.

* * * * *
... And her eyes popped open.  There was a bing sounding in the background, the one she knew meant everything was acceptable, biologically.
There were a few techs around her.  They looked at her questioningly and she waited for the knowledge, the news, to fill her mind.
It came into her consciousness slowly.
Her face grew pale.

"Is everything all right?" asked one of the techs.
She didn't know what to tell him -- either about the hole in the ocean, or about her.
.... click here to read more of this.

NOT MUCH ON READING?  Well, if you're the "I like pictures" type of person, then have you considered liking pictures with titles that make no sense?
Odds are, you'll love 'em -- so check out Briane Pagel: PWNST.  Here's a sample of what you'll get:

The title to this picture is

What if you took all the shark DNA and combined them into some sort of superhyperdimensional shark, a Shark-cubed, as it were? That would be like the bacon of sharks.



Briane Pagel on Staree

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The "I Guess It's Time I Try To Do An NFL Preview" NFL Preview: The Indianapolis Colts

I am not what you'd call "up" on sports, and by that I mean that as I write this I know less than ever about sports, something that becomes glaringly obvious whenever I pay attention to sports, like last night, when, at 3 a.m., Mr Bunches woke up yelling for me.

"Dad! Dad! Where are you Dad!" he hollered from inside his room, and I staggered out of bed calling out that I was on my way and sit tight and I got to his room and turned on the light and found him sitting on his bed, his Spongebob blanket askew.

"What is it?" I asked him.

"Press the button?" he asked back, and pointed to the TV.  Press The Button means play the DVD that is in the player, in this case, Despicable Me, which was on the title screen but not playing.

That's part of why I don't pay as much attention to sports as I used to: I have Mr Bunches and Mr F, and they're more fun than sports, so the Old Me, which was the Younger Version Of Me, so if you're keeping track, then Present Me is old, whereas Old Me was young, because he was in the past, see?

Anyway, Old Me used to spend more time watching sports (mostly football) and paying attentiont o sports by listening to ESPN Radio and The Dan Patrick Show and reading the sports page and Tuesday Morning Quarterback and all that.

Present Me, though, doesn't do much of that stuff, in part because on Sundays I no longer want to devote 3, 4, 5+ hours to watching football, and so I've become choosier about my sporting events that I watch, demanding that they seem interesting before I will schedule time to view them.  If a game or event doesn't promise to be interesting, I won't make time to watch it, anymore than I would go see a movie every week at noon or read whatever book someone handed me.

I still follow the news, and if it's important enough news to get mentioned on a nonsports-news show, I will hear about it, which is how I heard LeBron got a title in a strike-shortened season, but mostly I don't pay attention to sportscentric reporting, like ESPN or The Dan Patrick Show, because I found them not entertaining anymore.

If you follow too much ESPN or regular sports reporting of any sort for that matter, whether local or national, TV, radio, or print, here's what you find: A lot of the same thing over and over and over and not much of it very interesting, at least to me.

There's a constant chatter, in sports reporting, about minutiae and details, about batting averages and OBP and that stuff bores me.  That and the repetition; it's not just that SportsCenter repeats every hour literally every hour, but that in these talk shows and "news"casts, the same ideas and thoughts get repeated over and over with no new spins or twists or even new ideas.

There are literally hundreds of sports, and thousands of athletes -- and hundreds of teams within those sports.  There are, by my estimation, millions of sports stories per year, and yet we keep having the same reporting and the same discussion of those few top stories and in the same exact way.

Take NFL previews: Every year, everybody, including me, does an NFL preview.  Our local NFL preview is done by the folks at the Wisconsin State Journal (Motto: We'll suck up to the UW so you don't have to) and features, typically, an obituary-sized little box where each team is given about two paragraphs that goes something like this:

The ___________(insert team name) finished last season ____________(insert either strong or poorly; no other finishes are possible in SportWriting) with a record of _______(insert any random numbers; nobody checks.)

In the offseason, _______(team) drafted ____________(for three teams chosen at random, insert poorly; for the remaining 29 teams, insert excellently), and in doing so cemented their position as ____________ (insert cellar-dweller or division leader; this blank need not relate to your last blank at all.)

This year, ________(team, hopefully the same one as the last two blanks) will face a significant challenge in that [they must play road games/ they have a new quarterback, coach, owner, or stadium/continue to have to score points to win games, isn't that a bit unfair/are the Buffalo Bills](select one or more), but so far in training camp ______________ (insert name of football player everyone will recognize; I suggest "Tony Romo") has looked strong.

Projected finish:  12-4.  (Note:  All teams must be projected to finish 12-4, except for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are expected to finish 0-31, and the New England Patriots*, who will be revealed to have been the go-betweens in Operation Fast & Furious).

Meanwhile, for an in-depth look at the local team, which is the Green Bay Packers if you live anywhere in Wisconsin because it's considered gauche to cross a state line to root for a team, the WSJ will publish a week-long series in which they will (seriously) examine in detail the strength, speed and other skills of such people as potential back-up tight ends.

And people will pore over that and discuss it and call up talk shows and discuss in detail whether the punter or the backup QB should be the holder on point-after attempts and those are the same people who cannot successfully name three cabinet-level departments.


 So I don't care much for regular old sports "reporting" and when I listen to or read about sports, it tends to be on Grantland, where to my surprise they really does make almost every kind of sport including basketball interesting, or on NPR, where they sometimes let that cranky old guy Frank DeFord do sports reports and he talks about why it would have been a shame if that horse this year had won the Triple Crown because of his disgraced owners and handlers -- didn't hear that on ESPN, did you? -- because to me, if you're going to say something about something, you should try to be interesting about that.

I'm not talking, there, about doctors delivering bad news or network anchors on the headlines, although the latter certainly wouldn't be hurt by being more interesting.  I'm talking about people like me, people talking about sports or pop culture or our lives or whatever it is we're all talking about online, here and in podcasts and on the radio and TV: be interesting, above all.  Don't just parrot back what everyone already said; that's what HuffPo is for.  Instead, have a new take on it or new information or a new way of presenting it or talk about something nobody else is talking about.

That's what I try to do here, and if ESPN or Dan Patrick or any of those guys bothered to do that, I'd listen to them a lot more.

I begin with that lengthy preface because it bears repeating that when I do this NFL Preview, which I try to complete every year and never do, I'm not basing it on any real source of knowledge. And that sometimes bugs people, that I will do a preview of their team even though I spend less than 1 hour per week, on average, reading about or listening to or watching sports.

"How can you tell me such-and-such might be no good when you don't pay attention to the team everyday?" sometimes people ask me.

To which I say "How can you vote when you spend 99.9% of your waking hours thinking about LeBron James?  It's your fault we don't have nationalized health care yet and people are dying in the streets."

So with that, enough talk!  Time to start... um, talking about the NFL Preview this year, which I'm going to do in reverse order, starting with the worst team and moving to the best, as judged by their NFL regular season records last year.

And here's what I'll do: I'll give you my general impression of and prediction for the team as a baseline test for what knowledge I've got.  I'll then give you a sort of summary of something someone else says, after I do my assessment, and then I'll give you, because I always like to have a pop culture twist in here, the 1980s One Hit Wonder song that sums up that team's prospects for the year.

Let's see how this works, shall we?

The Indianapolis Colts.

What I Know About Them Without Even Researching:  The Colts finished 2-14 last year, which I learned when I had to look them up on NFL.com to decide the order of this series.  The Colts got rid of St. Peyton Manning, who will now be healing the lame in Colorado (walking on water is easier in the thin mountain air, I understand.)  I think the Colts got rid of everyone else, too, except maybe Curtis Painter, who lingers around Indianapolis the way that fat kid with the rat, Neville, lingered around Hogwarts.  I was never quite sure how Neville was going to fit in, whether he would be comic relief or a serious character, and having read all the books and watched one of the movies, I'm still not sure what the deal was with Neville.

Speaking of Neville and Harry Potter, remember that J.K. Rowling is releasing an "adult" book this year, but "adult" is in quotes because this isn't 50 Shades of Gryffindor Purple,  it's a book about local politics in England and it's supposed to be darkly comic.  Apparently, pre-orders rank it about 600th on Amazon, if my recollection is correct.  Publishers are wondering whether Rowlings' fans, having grown up reading her books, will transition smoothly over to the new genre, a question that only seems to have no bearing on a Colts' NFL preview if you're a moron, in that anybody with half a brain could see that I was about to say...

...that the question is very similar to whether Colts fans will adapt to the new world of Andrew Luck under center, with no Bill Polian (am I right that Bill Polian is gone? Who knows?) to select talent to put around him and no Tony Dungy to actually coach a team rather than simply let them play the way Jim Caldwell did.  (Is Jim gone, too?)

There's a lot of hype over Andrew Luck, and every time I hear his name, I ask the person talking about him to name one decent team Andrew Luck beat in college, and what I get in return is:

"Well, he played for Stanford and they're in the PAC-10 and they... well, USC... only..."

And I'm a big enough man to not say "Exactly."  (Instead, I just smirk and say "I've got work to do" even though I don't.)

Is Andrew Luck any good? God only knows.  Apparently he did quite well in college playing against the powerhouses of the PAC-10, which collectively have won -3 BCS National Championships, by my count, if you take away the ones that USC won while they were allowed to pay their players.

Here is how college football works: There is the SEC, which is full of really good teams.  Then there is the Big-12, which has some really good teams.  Then there is Ohio State.

Then there are no good teams.

Not year-in, year-out.  There are teams that put together some accomplishments and look good for a season, or two, but year-in, year-out, there is the SEC, then a few teams in the Big-12, then Ohio State and that. is. it.

Andrew Luck may do well -- Aaron Rodgers certainly has -- but it won't have anything to do with how he played in college in the PAC-10.  (See also: Matt Leinart.)

Anyway, the Colts have Andrew Luck for the same reason that that one NBA team had to draft that Ohio State basketball player whose name I can't remember but who didn't even have a knee when they drafted him, and they probably have a bunch of other new people, and Luck is going to have to live up to the expectations of being a Number One draft pick taking over for a man most people think of as a consummate winner only he's never won very many important games, and that tells you what to think of the Colts this year: It's not what actually happened it's what people think happened.

People think St. Peyton was a consummate winner, so Luck has the deck stacked against him -- but people think Luck's college career proved he's great, too, so that's an 8-ball in front of the stacked deck, and what that means is that the Colts, unless they have amassed a bunch of talent to put around Luck and can do that let's run the ball and play defense thing are likely to watch Andrew Luck have a terrible year.

And it won't even be, if you ask me, the kind of terrible year that what's-his-name, the guy with the Carolina Panthers why can't I think of anything this morning it's too early on a Sunday to do this! had last year where he plays great but loses every game.  I'm predicting the Colts to be 5-11, and Luck to be ranked mid-range in every statistical area by the end of the year.

What somebody else said about the Colts:

Cam Newton.  It was Cam Newton I was thinking of, there.

Here's what Bleacher Report says about the Colts in their review of the biggest mysteries facing each NFL team as it enters camp:


The new face of the Indianapolis Colts franchise, Andrew Luck faces sky-high expectations in his first year as the starting quarterback.

He may have missed most OTA time thanks to the quarter schedule that Stanford follows, but based on what he has shown so far at minicamp, Colts fans have a lot to look forward to as Luck grows into his role as a team leader.

At the same time, it is worth remember [sic] that a young quarterback leading an offensive squad that has parted ways with many of their former starters is bound to have his share of rough games and rookie mistakes.

The true first test will come in training camp. Luck is still trying to get past the huge learning curve that comes with assuming the starting role right away.

At least now that school is finished, he will be able to devote himself entirely to immersion in the NFL. Hopefully that will be enough to help prevent a disappointing bumpy start to his NFL career.

That follows in the grand sportswriting tradition of never saying anything negative about people you hope someday to interview.  So Colts fans "have a lot to look forward to" as Luck shows how a leader can finish a set of irrelevant college classes rather than attend organized team activities?  Awesome.  Also, the final prediction -- hopefully -- isn't a prediction at all; it's your typical sportswriting cop-out of It could be this but it could be that.

What Bleacher Report seemed to be saying, there, is what I said: Don't hope for much.  But Bleacher Report didn't want to say that because then Luck might refuse to ever sit down and be interviewed by them, and sports "reporters" would far rather meet their idols than report.

What 1980s One-Hit Wonder Song Best Exemplifies The Colts This Year?

Aaron Rodgers is the most successful PAC-10 grad in the NFL right now, and he sat for years behind Brett Favre before being handed the job of running a team with some key veterans on it and a settled-in coaching staff.

Aaron Rodgers has won a Super Bowl.

Andrew Luck is going to be behind center from game one, because the Colts can't wait.


 
The Korgis released Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime in 1980, having already had modest success in the UK.  The song hit number 18 on the US Charts, but the band struggled to keep it together at all, being marketed as a duo or trio or quartet (and, really,  is that how you market a band?  "Listen to this song, it's by a duo, not one of those dumb quartets?")

Thereafter, the singer sometimes released songs as The Korgis and sometimes not, but the original duo/trio/whatever got back together in 1990 to re-record Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime, because they had learned that when you find a golden goose you stick near it. The group continued to break-up and get back together, demonstrating how hard it is to realize that you've come this close and yet that's as close as you'll ever get.

Sorry to end on a down note!  Here's a celebrity fan of the Colts to send you on your way, a little wiser, a little sadder, and a little more certain to leave here wondering "Which one was Neville, again?"


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

So this summer has at least ONE basketball record worth noting.

Forget LeBron James -- I only just realized that he got his title in a strike-shortened season, making it a fluke like the time Anthony Dilweg was a starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers.  (Remember Anthony Dilweg? He was the 1988 ACC Player of the Year, the MVP of the 1989 Hula Bowl, and holds the Duke single-season passing record.  He started 9 games for the Packers in his best pro season.  Ah, fame, your caress so fleeting...)

Anyway, LeBron's single title puts him in rare company with other highly-touted, potentially unproductive people like St. Peyton Manning, and while you're free to make your own judgments about him, be careful lest you incur the wrath of Slate sports writer Josh Levin by daring to say that one's achievement on the field might possibly have to do with one's personality, and/or that one might measure the true worth of an athlete by how many championships he's won.  Levin's article makes the usual points about how championships don't determine merit and/or how we can't confuse LeBron's failures to win a championship in anything but a shortened season with characteristics that LeBron may or may not have, and in both of those points LeBron is wrong.

Team sports being team sports, yeah, individuals can't win championships unless the right team is put around them.  But true athletics are measured by objective criteria.  That's why track and field is a better sport than rhythmic gymnastics, and why things like ice skating have compulsories: art is subjective.  Sports are not.  Argue all you want about who's a better quarterback, Dan Marino or John Elway.  Elway has two Super Bowl rings, Marino does not, and that's how we settle that debate.  There's no way to tell, really, whether Joe Montana was so good that he made everyone else better around him or whether everyone else was so good that Joe Montana was made better by them (other than, perhaps, that Jerry Rice made everyone around him look better, and so that was a rare combination), but the fact remains that Joe Montana won a bunch of Super Bowls and so we remember him and place him on a level far above other quarterbacks of that era, like Anthony Dilweg.

Could you make an argument that Anthony Dilweg was actually a better quarterback than Joe Montana? Sure.  But you could also argue that gravity repels objects or Higgs Bosons exist.  You can argue anything.  You'd be wrong, but you could argue it.

So LeBron got his title just like Peyton got his and that doesn't mean anything because it was strike-shortened and/or against Rex Grossman, but let's set that aside and note the point of this post, which is that there was actually a MAJOR BASKETBALL ACHIEVEMENT just this past week and it's getting little notice:

Dan Loriaux, who held the world record for most 3-point shots made in a minute (25), this past week broke the world record for most 3-point shots made in 24 hours, completing over 10,0000 over the past weekend, and losing a toenail in the process.

(I don't know how that happened; I just wanted to warn anyone who might be tempted to try to beat this record, beware of toe-related mishaps.  Have you ever lost a toenail? It's gross.  It turns all black and gray and just hangs out for a while before dropping off.  Sick.  I lost one once when a crab bit me in Florida when I was a kid.  True story.) 

Dan's three-point record isn't on the Guinness site yet, but it should be recognized, and also not confused with the world record for the fastest three point turn in a car (14:01 seconds, set by Freddie Flintoff, who set fourteen records in a one-day period.)

I wasn't able to actually find out what the most world records broken in one day was; this site suggests it's either 30, or 100.  But that's not Guinness, which is the only one that matters, right?


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