Thursday, December 20, 2007

Turning 28

In a few hours, I turn 28. This is roughly tens years out of high school. Back then, I expected to be married and have maybe a kid or two. If not for my wife's aversion to delivering a child at this moment, I might have fulfilled that old prediction. I am glad it has not come to pass though, as I enjoy weekends of laziness, nights of freedom, and the freedom to do whatever I want to do with my wife without the need to call a babysitter. I love getting older. Time passes so slow for me that I rarely feel like life is progressing. I need the grey hairs, the wrinkles and the flipping of the calendar to make me feel like it is real.

In 15 hours, we head back home to Maine. Supposedly, it is covered in snow, so a white Christmas is guaranteed. How wonderful it is to visit a place with a foot or two of snow on the ground. I do not have to shovel it or drive in it. I just fly in, enjoy the snow blanketed landscape and ice encrusted trees and fly back. My mom is having cake and ice cream for me. Why? I think it is an excuse to have my sister over and get some family time in before the madness.

Just an fyi, do not send anyone on a business trip one week before Christmas. Bad idea. Even worse idea is to have them do what amounts to nothing for two days at that location. I can tell I am getting older. Five years ago, I would have sworn a storm thinking about it. Now, I'm Zen.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Maxed Out

Let it snow, let it snow. I feel like a thin, sexy version of Roger Ebert after posting multiple movie reviews in a short span of time. I caught another documentary with the wife, Maxed Out, and this is a documentary that should get airtime in schools or on cable channels like MSNBC, Fox News, or CNN. It is far better than a lot of the schlock that they air that passes for news investigation. This documentary focuses on debt and its place in modern American society. The movie shows how modern banks, credit card companies, and even the judicial system is rigged to bleed consumers just enough to keep them making those payments.

Maxed Out exposes some of the darker side of credit cards, consumer lending, and how the system itself has changed to hamper consumers. There are some gut wrenching moments like the focus on the extremely poor families who have their mortgages changed because of an aging relative or rising costs of other goods, only to see the house go up for foreclosure shortly thereafter. The scene where the poor family explains how the lender from Citigroup told the mentally retarded man to copy the name she had written so he could 'sign' the documents. It really upset my wife and I to know that went on. Kudos to the newsreporter who was talking to that family and doing reports for his paper down south. At least ONE reporter is doing some investigating. That scene highlights how perverse some of the lending practices and behaviors have become. A family could be way behind in payments, but they will get a new offer for a credit line from the same company the next week. Hunh?

There are some bits to this movie where they show people in trouble who are in trouble more because of their behaviors (or were in trouble for those who died). Maybe like CNN running this article, which is a slap in the face to all of the real middle class families feeling the squeeze. These stories could tug at your heart strings, but there were holes to them. Two teenagers, who went off to college and ran up credit card bills, killed themselves and left behind grieving families. Yes, it is wrong that the credit card companies kept sending them cards. Yes, it is shady that the credit card companies are on campus trying to sign kids up, but I think it's creepier every company out there uses sex to sell products. Let's change that first. My point is, those kids could have stopped spending anytime they wanted. They were college kids with no income and no expenses. Credit cards were not going to pay the tuition bills. Those charges were elective. They could have stopped but did not. I have friends who did the same while in college and left school with 5K or so in credit card debt. Tough lesson to learn, but eventually the light came on and spending slowed.

Two other stories that did not make sense were the Army MP whose family filed for bankruptcy and the widow who fell behind on mortgage payments, took cash advances to pay the mortgage and was holding garage sales for income. I am a huge supporter of our military and the families left behind when our men and women serve. I contemplated applying to the Naval Academy until my Navy friends talked me out of it. I believe they deserve more pay, and they deserve to be integrated into our society more than they are now. It is a shame how With all of that knowledge, the story of the family that filed for bankruptcy when the dad went to Iraq did not make so much sense. Why did they have a mortgage when they could have base housing? Why carry the truck payment when he is going to be gone over a year? What was the mysterious burden they were carrying which forced them to file for BK? Something was amiss with their story. My buddies who have been to Iraq or abroad while in the service did not sound like this guy and his wife. I feel the inclusion of this story was to get emotion from viewers and to exploit a vet's story for the movie.

The widow was far far worse. She openly cried on camera. She was selling collector plates. She talked of getting cash advances to pay her mortgage because she could not afford it after her husband's death. 1. This family did not plan or else there would have been a life insurance policy that adequately covered debts. 2. This 57 year old was in a huge house all by herself. 3. She was in California and it was 2005 when it was filmed which was the peak of the Bubble for real estate. This woman obviously did not plan anything. Her husband poorly planned for his possible death. Now that behavior is probably why she was dumb enough to take cash advances to pay a mortgage rather than sell her house that was way too big for one person in the best selling environment in American history. Where were her kids or friends to maybe advise her to sell the gold mine she was sitting on? Where is the common fucking sense to sell the home since it is way to big for you? I know they chose to include this story to show a family ruined financially by one death, but this woman was also really fucking stupid.

There is a lack of financial commen sense in this nation. This guy writes about it far better than I do, and he and I have had "comment" conversations about it. Combine this with a neverending quest to have more stuff than the next guy, and the society might develop a spending problem. This lack of common sense with finances might seem like a recent problem, but look back at the Depression or the real estate run-ups in Florida from back in the day. It appears that right now the potential to mess up your entire life can happen at a younger age, involve far greater sums of money, and have a much more lasting impact. I am one of those people that thinks you learn money habits from your parents, and that the schools should stay out of it. I would propose a short class, not even semester long, for all high school seniors as part of graduating. Some things to consider, what to watch out for, and what some terms mean on documents would be things to learn. A money skills class or whatever you want to call it. Sure, the sex education classes are marginally successful, but this one is even more important. It involves money.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cocaine Cowboys

Showtime is running a documentary that came out last year called Cocaine Cowboys. It's a really interesting look at the cocaine industry in the 70s and 80s in Miami. I have never done cocaine. I broke my nose twice and had some breathing problems, snorting something was not high on my list. Add to that ex-girlfriends who had problems with it, and no way was I touching the stuff. This is pretty evenhanded in its treatment of the principals. There is input from the drug runners, the cops, the killers, the media, lawyers, and my favorite, the medical examiner who is a tough hombre.

A common montage of Miami includes the glitzy, art deco, pastel look with lots of beautiful (and mostly plastic) women, a "Latin flavor", and flashy cars. That was not Miami before cocaine hit the shores. Miami was a real Southern city that happened to be by the ocean with lots of old people... probably retired Long Island & Westchester County natives. Cocaine changed all of that, and there were some horrible growing pains as the death and destruction of the cocaine wars. The documentary cites that in '79, '80 and '81 the number of homicides were over 400, 500 and 600. People complain about crime now, despite the fact that violent crime is around 30-40 year lows, and the number of homicides has been under 100 in '03, '04, '05, and even now. The images shown in the documentary rival the old mob photos from newspapers in the '20s and '30s and CNN videos from Third World countries. It is a remarkable story that the city, state and nation could beat back those drug lords. I do believe there is no winning the war on drugs because there will always be a demand, but damn, the cops busted some ass. The cops went to drastic measures and used extreme force to win the war on the streets. Kudos to you guys.

My favorite parts of the documentary were the parts about the NY and flying MacGyver guy. They were a tandem of smugglers, and they represented the part of the movie that is the 'good times' montage. They do eventually spend time in jail, but their high times were pretty entertaining. They were an odd couple of sorts. The brash NYer, who drove Mercs and Porsches, dated a model and flashed lots of wealth, was paired with the down home Southern boy born and raised in Miami. The NYer has a great lien where he discusses the money spent during those days, and it is a cliche but "everbody has a price". Whether it was strippers he'd pay to phuck his friends or cops he'd buy off, Miami was for sale. How this has not been turned into a movie like "Blow" amazes me. The people in this real life drama were better characters than half the one dimensional dits you see in movies. The head drug lord for the Columbians in America was a woman who fashioned herself as the "Godmother". She would have sex with men and then kill them. She ordered hits on everyone, including the children of enemies. She was a lesbian. This is perfect for a 120+ minute drama/action flick. Better than Bloe too because Blow had Penelope Cruz in it (not my type). I will probably buy this on DVD and add it to my drug movie collection along with some other films that I will show my future kids to scare them away from drugs.

Despite those flamboyant characters, my favorite is the medical examiner. This guy saw the carnage in his office. He knew what was hitting the city. He saw how bad it was and knew how much worse it could get. The TV news interviews with him in the '80s show a man who is tired and mad. This is a guy who loves his city, cares about others, and wants things to change. He wanted the city to get serious about the drug problem. He wanted the city to clean up and allow normal people to live normal lives again. Interviewing him for the documentary, you could sense tension still in his voice. I would have liked to hear more from him. I would like to know more about that dynamic duo of smugglers. I would like to know how in the world the "godmother" got away with murder and received a reduced sentence because of a phone sex scandal involving the star witness against her. There is always hope because Cocaine Cowboys 2 is coming.

Thursday Night football, take the Texans. Always wager on the home team in the Thursday games.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Creepy Coworkers

Sorry for the delay in posts, it has been a busy December. My last 15 days in December will involve 4000 miles of flying, one trip to Charlotte for business meetings that I do not think will prove fruitful, systems testing at work, drinking with friends, and oh yeah, Christmas with family. All the while, I have a wife who has now been sick for what seems like 26 weeks. More like 5. Work has been on my mind. It's been good, the people are good, my boss is great, the autonomy & authority has been excellent, and it feels like I am on cruise control. It's a nice groove. No real creepy people at work. None. This has not always been the case in my experience.

I do miss the work environment of my last workplace, but things feel so good here. My last employer, Liberty Mutual, and my current employer are lightyears better than my first employer out of college, StanCorp Financial Group in Maine (not the Oregon HQ which rocks). I'd rather have a stiletto heel go through my tongue than work there again. They'd have to fire the entire management team (except Sue) there for me to want to return. There were some great, friendly people who worked hard. There were also creepy dumbasses that worked there. Oddly enough, the worst creepy people were in management. Maybe this was a Maine thing becase I have heard many a story of creepy coworkers from my friends at other companies in Maine, but this place had a high percentage of people who would share way too much information about their sex lives, their kids still being in diapers at age 5, and what they thought of fellow employees. There was one employee that was in an awful marriage to some guy who spent 3 hours in the gym with his buddy and only had sex with her once a month for like 3 mins. Gay Alert! I kept waiting for her to say "my husband phucks men, but we stay married for the house & tax benefits". I had a cool coworker who was one of those bottle it up inside people who would be supercalm, drive us to a sandwich shop for lunch and say "If you come in tomorrow and you have a voicemail saying 'leave now', buddy, leave fast because I'm taking an AK to this place". That's funny and touching that he cared enough about me. There was one employee who stood out amongst the rest because his creepiness coupled with a complete lack of common sense that made you think that a machine had dropped a 5 year old's brain into a 6 foot 4 big headed human male.

Let's set this story up: this creepy guy was 6 foot 4, had a head the size of a watermelon, and the voice of peter lorre. It was so similar you could crack out a peter lorre impersonation and everyone would assume you were teasing on this creepy dude. In an odd coincidence of genetics, this guy and I are 5th cousins. When I started working there, I tried to explain this to him. It took 20 mins. I kid you not. I broke it down to this: "our great grandmothers were sisters which means we have great great grandparents in common". Seems straightforward and easy right? Nope. I had to draw a family tree and place his head on it and mine, waaaaaay over to the left of him. The guy woudl ask for tissues from one woman in the whole building... the prettiest womant here who also happened to work all the way on my side of the building. Let's just say he stared a lot and in three areas: face, boobs, rear. No hiding it. This made any woman who was above a 6 (on a 1-10 scale) feel uncomfortable.

When I was released from my cage to eat in the lunch room on good days, he would join my table from time to time. He'd eat a salad, living vicariously through my food as I had Whoppers, Mr. Bagel Turkey/Cranberry/Stuffing sandwiches, and other non-diet foods. I was the 22 year old with quicksilver metabolism, and he would often say "someday you'll be the one eating the salad". Thank heavens he did not say "tossing salad". This created some good conversations and also opened the door to horrible comments.


Inappropriate Comment Greatest Hits

1. "Danielle has really nice lips" - That was all he said and to no one in particular. Might as well have said "I wonder how good she is at giving a...". I'm not passing judgment for having the thought. I have thought coworkers were very pretty, maybe had a hot daydream or 20 during boring training sessions, maybe wish I did not work there so I could date them and avoid HR's wrath, but I would never voice that out loud in a mixed gender setting. D--- had lunch with us then left to go back to her cubicle. D--- was also attractive, friendly, and really funny. She even called me 'hot' in a sweater I was wearing, which I misinterpreted. She cleared it up right after with an email because she was so conscious of making someone uncomfortable. She was also friends with creepy dude's sister. No one said anything to prompt this comment. He just dropped it in front of a mixed gender lunch crowd. I remember sitting there thinking, "so how am i suppose to react". I chose to look like a 5 year old who just crapped his pants in fear. This gave the 'help' sign to my coworkers, and they thankfully, transitioned the conversation to meadows and butterflies. The kicker, Ms. Nice Lips reported to him! WTF!?!!? They have porn videos devoted to that exact scenario.


2. "If I go to a bachelor party, my wife knoooooows that I am free that night". - You have to stretch knows out and go low on the note as it is stretched. We were discussing another guy's send off with his friends and hoped he had a good weekend. This was just dropped by creepy dude to let us know that he is a douchey pig and rubs it in his wife's face. This effectively killed the conversation. Once again, this was in mixed gender conversation. He left the table and then we got the dirt. Yeah, he's free that night. Free to sleep on the couch the following week. One fellow coworker said that yes he is a pig at bachelor parties and has been restrained by friends from taking it too far. He's the Jeremy Piven character in "Very Bad Things".


3. "It's really shocking to be served with a restraining order at work when you're 26. That's what they do. That's what women do when they file for divorce. They file a restraining order, see. They do that so you can't see your kids for days, and you break first in the divorce proceedings and give them what they want. I can't... fuck arrrgghhh..." {then stab at your salad} - This is an exact quote that is forever seared in my memory. This guy married young and divorced young. I pass no judgment; it happens all of the time. What I do not like is scarfing down on a hamburger and having this story thrown in my face. This time it was just me, bottle it up AK guy, and creepy dude. I just sat there and said "wow, that's too bad". We ate in silence for the next 10 minutes. When I see specials about men who kill their wives rather than divorce them, I think it is stupid of them to do that. Then I recall this comment, and I understand their motivation.


There was a female who was close to this guy for inappropriate comments. She may have been worse about oversharing family details, but she was not as creepy from a sexual predator/angry human perspective. She was just a horrible human being. She was also oddly similar to many other women in behavior (to an extreme), and she crossed the line with no conscious and no remorse. There were many women at my workplace who shared details of their sex lives (gross). Many women who shared details of their children's behavior that I would never share (sad). This one freaked me out because I thought my existence there would prevent women from doing this since some of them had worked with my mother at another company 20+ years earlier. They didn't hear these stories about me, and if they did, wouldn't they view me as a dipsh*t because of it? Many women would snipe at other women in the office for their hair, weight, clothes, husbands, habits on the toilet. I have not experienced this as much from male coworkers. I do not know if it is a gender difference, fear of being fired because HR treats men and women differently for saying the same thing, or better control of the mind-mouth filter. Probably the gender difference and fear of HR. Men do not have great mind-mouth filters.
For your own sake, be cognizant of what you say at work that is non-work related. If you do this in email, you're not too sharp because there is a delete key to erase it. If a sentence makes you question it's appropriateness, delete it. You may be the absolute best employee at your job, but if your coworkers know you like to smack women's asses, like to go down on men, threw your kid out of the house for smoking cigarettes, were the sorority slut, killed a drifter when you were in college, they will view you differently. It's incredibly tough to separate the person from the employee. If you are self employed, keep rocking. You are the wisest of all.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Someone Likes ELO More Than Me

Wow, I thought I liked the song "Sweet Talkin' Woman" a little too much, but I have nothing on this guy or this guy. Since our move to Indiana, I have heard this song on the radio about 12 times. Number of times I ever heard it in New England: 0. This might not be a bad thing to most people, but I missed out on critical ELO listening time. Some tunes you need to listen to for pure, mindless entertainment. This is one such tune for me.

ELO sneaks under the radar of great band discussions because they were at their peak durign the disco era and oddly embraced it a bit while sticking to their artisitc roots. These dudes mixed classical music with rock, which was a trend at that time, but then spun out tunes that could play at a disco. I think doing music for the movie Xanadu hurt them as well. I put ELO in that underappreciated category along with Bad Company. If you put the top 10 ELO or Bad Company songs against any band not named Rolling Stones or the Beatles, they would beat down the competition. I still picture ELO as a band of music nerds who found a way to work classical music into commercial rock.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Mulholland Drive

When Mulholland Drive premiered, I was in college, taking a class on classic films. It is very fitting that I first heard the film studies majors talking about this film incessantly. I love Hitchcock films because Hitchcock could entertain you and make you think in the same movie. He was not just artsy fartsy, and he was not Jerry "Douche" Bruckheimer. He was as close to fine art as popular cinema could and might ever get. After seeing Mulholland Drive, I have to put this masterpiece of David Lynch's on that Hitchcock level. Mulholland Drive is a work of art.




While watching this movie, I kept feeling "something big is going to happen", and the suspense was almost too much to bear at times. I was on edge for most of the movie. There is a gigantic pivot point in the film at about the 90-100 minute mark, and after that point, you start to think, "what the..". After the movie was over, I spent maybe an hour trying to piece it together or come up with a theory to explain it. I am not alone. The movie is so good that you can read different theories, all dream, dream & reality, all real, metaphysical BS, and believe them. I got so deep into piecing it together that at 2am I was still awake and on fire, literally throwing off heat, just thinking about it. This was all after watching the crappy TV edit version. On the very next day, my wife and I watched the movie on dvd, and some things that happened at the end made a bit more sense because certain scenes have to be deleted or modified for TV. Let's just say I had no clue about the depth of Naomi Watts and Laura Harring's relationship because of the TV edit. After this viewing, my wife's theory was of alternate universes with the blue box being the portal, while mine was of drug induced dream of what should have been to reality of what really happens in life.

I just spent a paragraph typing about how the movie makes people think but here's why it grabs people: the movie is extremely well made, the mood is tough to top for suspense, and the level of detail is amazing. The dialogue is very important as is the pacing. Viewing the film two times, there were bits of dialogue that made more sense that second time around. Things come together clearer if you listen to the names, places, and movies discussed. I have mentioned the mood before, but it is just a wonderful display of the underside of glitzy L.A. Sure, this is the movie industry, but there's a lot of weird characters and dark places. I also get the feeling that the forced casting decision was Lynch's way of saying F-U to some producer in the past. There is also a lost in time element to the story, sets, and casting. The girl off the bus from the small town trying to make it big after winning a jitterbug contest is hokey. Most of the movie sets shown are set int he 40s or 50s. Even laura Harring's charcter has a 50s look to her witht he lipstick, pearl jewelry, and her look, which is "look like a hot REAL woman". I have to give Lynch and the art director credit; the level of detail in each frame is excellent. The people who cross the screen, the clothes even the extras wear, and the simple little things like make up, hair, body posture, etc. all mold this movie into a work of art.

After the second viewing, I noticed there was no swearing in the first 90 minutes or so. None. Obvious swearing spots were replaced with "smart aleck" or "butt". Some research showed that Mulholland Drive had first been shot as a pilot for ABC. ABC decided against picking it up. HOLY SHIT!!!!! That really did deserve an all caps holy shit. ABC turned down this beautiful 90 minute pilot that had tons of room for development. Knowing that, you can piece together different storyline possibilities. I find myself being a bit greedy and sad wishing that I could go back in time to 2001 and 1. Prevent 9/11, then 2. Convince HBO to pick up Mulholland Drive as a series after ABC passed on it. Oh my gosh, as a series this could have been mysterious and unusual like "Lost". Network television would have prevented some different storylines from being truly fleshed out, and cable would have allowed for drug, sex, shady violence, etc to play out without fear of censors. HBO could have signed this on for one season of 8 episodes as a test run and aired it right after the Sopranos. This would have been perfect. It would have captured a good audience, and we would be treated to more work from the odd Mr. Lynch.


I would be remiss if I did not mention that the brunette in the film, Laura Harring, who plays Rita/Camilla, is now in my "Hot, Over-40, Brunette Hall of Fame". How has this woman not done more in Hollywood? My lawyer and good friend, the G-bomb, says that she is not 'white or thin enough' for the Hollywood types. Sad but true. I think he has a valid point that she has just a bit of an accent and is a woman in all the right places. Hollywood does not like that. They liek sticks that they can then attach silicone to for half a cantaloupe curves. Laura Harring is right in my strike zone with the dark hair, the curves, and the ability to speak Spanish. Since she is over 40, she could not resist me. I might have to tell Salma Hayek that she's been bumped down a notch.

Go rent Mulholland Drive. I'll be buying this movie for my collection. This movie made me question its reality more than Videodrome.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

NFL Picks Week 13 & Sean Taylor Thoughts

I've been on a bit of a roll recently. Honestly, after last night's movie viewing, "Mulholland Drive", my brain may be out of whack. My friend and I have been saying Donovan McNabb will be on X or Y team. It's become a joke for us. We throw him into any situation.

VIKINGS -4 OVER Lions

Purple Jesus is back, and I am betting on him as long as they play crappy defenses. It would be great for the NFl if the Vikings snuck into the playoffs. Having stars in the playoffs, the ratings would be up and with young stars, excitement for the struggling franchises would rocket. The Vikings are 30-35 mil under the cap next season, they can definitely take McNabb's salary on.


RAMS -3 over Falcons

Going with the home team in this match up of crappy teams. If the Rams get a top 5 pick, they will draft that Jake Long kid from Michigan. You know, if the Falcons don't want to draft a Qb (Brian Brhom), McNabb could be a good solution to their QB problem.


TITANS -4 over Texans

I am pretty sure Haynesworth is back in the lineup, so I will lay it on the line with them. Maybe he missed 3 games just to prove his point with the defensive player of the year award voters.


Jets +1 over DOLPHINS

Dolphins will go winless and hold the double title of last perfect season and last winless season. I see them drafting Brohm, Matt Ryan or the Woodson kid at QB. There is no way they can pass on a QB two drafts in a row. I'd love to see Matt Ryan make it in the NFL just to see another BC QB in the league for potential point shaving and shady gambling moments.


Chargers -5 over CHIEFS

The CHiefs are really lost on offense without Larry Johnson and with the mediocre QB duel they have going for them. I think McNabb could be good for this team because they have the skill position players in place, they just need a QB (and a defense).


Jags +7 over COLTS

This game should be tight and a real grinder. Drink your pepto bismol if you watch it and cheer for either squad. If I ranked AFC teams in order, I would go Patriots, Colts, Jags, Steelers, Chiefs. The Jags have balance on offense, and the defense is excellent. They are big on both sides of the ball and will have lots of fun playing against a faster, smaller team.


Seahawks +3 over IGGLES

The Seahawks have had the Iggles number in recent years, and I can see this being another blowout. I also think the Iggles would look good with McNabb in uniform next year. It's much better than starting all over with Kolb or trusting AJ Feeley. Wait, he's already on this team. The Iggles should only trade him if they get a number 1 pick in return.


49ers +3 over PANTHERS

I usually go with the crappy home team in match ups of crappy team vs. crappy team, but as long as the Panthers start David Carr, I will be betting against them.


SAINTS -3 over Bucs

I am a believer in the Saints, maybe the last left. I do think they have to start pounding the rock more. If it's 20 carries of Bush, it is fine. If it is 30 carries between Bush and Stecker, fine. Just run the damn ball.


CARDINALS (even) over Browns

I like the Cardinals at home, hate them on the road. That is the way to play them. This should be a shoot out with a combined score over 60 points.


Broncos -5 over RAIDERS

If the Raiders get a top 5 pick, they have to draft Darren McFadden right? Is Justin Fargas that good of a runner that the Raiders would pass up on a runner similar to Adrien Peterson? I think I see what is available besides McFadden, because if an O-lineman or D-lineman is avilable, I draft that first.


Giants -1.5 over BEARS

Bet against Rex Grossman. The Giants will not kick to Hester either, so what offense will the Bears have? Nothing. The Giants need to finish strong so they can have a chance to rest guys in the last week with a playoff spot secured. If they can get healthy for wild card weekend, they can beat up on an NFC west or South champion. It's possible.


STEELERS -7 over Bengals

What condition is the field in? If it's sloppy, I do not see the passing games working well for either team. With Rudi Johnson's disappearance, the Steelers have the edge in the running game. This is a nice match up for Sunday Night football: two offenses loaded with talent, two young QBs who will be facing each other for years, two black head coaches, an old rivalry, etc. Good tv.


Patriots -20 over RAVENS

No one is beating these Patriots. No one until January at the earliest. Maybe the Jags, Colts, Cowboys if they catch the Patriots on the right day and play perfectly. No way the Ravens can keep up with them.


Bills +5 over SKINS

I see the Skins breaking down for the rest of the year after the sad loss of Sean Taylor. I do not see how a team can recover from a loss like this. How does a family recover? Slowly and recovery can be at different paces for different family members. Think of a 54 man football team and then a coaching staff. This is going to be a weird last 5 games for the Skins.


Sean Taylor in my mind was the best football player of his very talented draft. When that draft came around, I thought, he's going to have the biggest impact because he can play right away and be a general in a defensive secondary. He was 6 foot 1, which is big for a defensive back. He ran a fast 40 time, had great instinct with reading plays, had great tackling skills, and above all, had good hands and a knack for finding ways to makes big plays. He did this at the U of Miami, and I felt he'd be a great addition for any secondary.


Taylor had a good career and was on the cusp of greatness, having a hell of a season this year so far. Of all of the talented young safeties in the NFL today, I think he was th best who had the most potential. Troy Polamula is good but is injury prone and leads with his head to tackle players. Roy Williams is great in run support and has good instincts but can't cover anyone to save his soul. Ed Reed is the best safety in the league right now (who also had the best LB in the league to play with), but Taylor was closing in on him fast and had the potential to blow his accomplishments away. Taylor was a great combination of hands, vision, instinct, speed, strength, tackling and leadership. When he did recover a fumble or make an INT, he had the speed and running ability to take it back for a TD every single play.
He did this all before the age of 25. Now at 24, he's dead. Shot dead in his bedroom. Maybe he was targeted, maybe it was a robbery gone wrong, maybe it was a revenge killing. I just hope the killers are found, and that his family and year old daughter are mentally ok and can begin the healing process. Skins fans will always think of what might have been, and the NFL will probably have to have some sit downs with teams about safety like they do with rookies after the draft. Hopefully, this is just a random act and not another "athletes being targeted for robbery" act that could be part of a bigger movement (two NBA players this summer were robbed). I just hope that Sean Taylor can rest in peace.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Thursday Night Game and Thoughts on "Into the Wild"

I had the Cowboys -6.5 for Thursday's game, and with a gentlemen's wager at work, earned a free lunch from a Packers fan. The sweet taste of victory was a BLT that had about a pound of bacon in it. Sweet. I am still amazed that Dallas is 11-1. I had them at 10-6 for the season. I can't believe it.


Last weekend, the wife and I saw "Into the Wild". This is the film version of the story of an idealistic young man named Chris McCandless that was in love with the idea of being in the wilderness who died alone in Alaska. It was first a book by Jon Krakauer. Loved the book, as did the wife. There were some great shorter wild man stories thrown into the book, which tried to analyze why Alaska is so appealing to people looking for that Thoreau experience or why some people are a bit loony with the outdoors. The move treats the guy very fairly. They did not glamorize his rebellion from the system and managed to poke fun at his issues with society or his folks from time to time. The cinematography was great as Alaska and the West were fleshed out as if the settings were characters. The acting was superb. I really enjoyed the acting. Hal Holbrook was great as the old guy who works with leather. The hippies were not complete stereotypes of the hippie movement (yeah, man, puff puff). Eddie Vedder did the music for the film, which was a nice touch to the film experience. The fact that the parents of the guy allowed their relationship to be demonized in the movie is amazing. Kudos to them for allowing that. I recommend this movie.

Now occasionally you might get the urge to smack this kid upside the head. He is an idealist and lacks some common sense. He is so mad at his parents even as a college graduate because he fails to understand that as an adult, parents become people you visit, not people you live with you have a big hand in shaping your life. As an adult, you can make choices and shape your life if you want to do so. He is always ripping on what his parents are trying to do to, for or with him. He forgets that he just vanished from their radar screens and lived on his own for 2 years. Dude, you just made the independent move of all independent moves. You threw everything away. That showed your power but you were an idiot and constantly let the past drag you down. The other thing that he lacks common sense on is that he goes to Alaska to live off the land in the wild and brought one bag of rice. Seriously, bring more food than you expect to use. Just in case, R-tard. On top of that, you were in the 'wild' but you were on a common hunting path; that's how they found you. If you had truly been in the wilderness, you would never have been found.

As my wife and I both said, some therapy and hiking trips probably could have prevented this death. We also realized how many different guys in college this kid was like. This guy just happened to die. A lot of people want to unplug or check out of the system. Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. I think it's easy to get those feelings when you are in college: minimal responsiblity + lots of free time + liberal atmosphere + lots of weed and hallucinogenic drugs = disconnect from society... man. For a bit of life, my dream was to fish all day in the Caribbean or South Pacific and eat fruit and vegetables I could get. Live in a hut with a mosquito net and have maybe 10 articles of clothing. I noticed that idea faded a bit when I stopped with drugs.