Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Isiah Thomas and Napoleon Bonaparte

Today is the 205th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase. In 1803, we acquired 828,000 square miles of territory from the French. Thomas Jefferson was the President at the time, and it was Napoleon Bonaparte that negotiated the sale of the land to the US. We got it for the low low bargain basement price of $11,250,000. Including interest, the US ultimately paid just over $23 million for the territory, which now comprises 23% of the territory of the US today. We doubled the size of the country at a price of about three cents per acre. Not a bad deal. Basically, we fleeced the French government. Apparently we were prepared to pay $10 million just for New Orleans.

It's probably not a coincidence that today is also the birthday of Isiah Thomas (born in 1961). He is obviously the "Napoleon" of NBA executives. Like Napoleon, he was great on the battlefield. As a military leader, Napoleon was a General during the French Revolution, which obviously was a very successful endeavor. However, once he became the ruler of France, he made some ill-advised moves - invasion of Russia (which led to his exile and death) and the Louisiana Purchase.

Similarly, Isiah was a great leader as a player on the floor. He was arguably the best point guard of all time - certainly among the top five. He led his teams to one NCAA championship and two NBA championships, and his teams were perpetually competitive. He played injured (scored 25 points in the fourth quarter on a broken ankle against the Lakers in the NBA finals). He scored in bunches (scored 16 points in 1:33 against the Knicks in a 1984 playoff game). He continues to be one of my favorite players ever. However, like Napoleon, things went horribly wrong once he became the head honcho. He bankrupted an entire basketball league (the CBA) when he turned down the NBA's offer of $11 million to make it the official minor league. This led to the formation of the NBDL. As a coach, he has never taken a team past the first round of the playoffs. As an executive, he was an absolute train wreck, particularly his most recent stint with the Knicks. He signed mediocre players to huge contracts (Jerome James, Jared Jeffries). He made ill-advised trades (Steve Francis, Stephon Marbury, Zach Randolph, Eddy Curry). The Knicks and Isiah were sued by an MSG employee for sexual harassment, which ended up costing the Knicks $11.6 million dollars.

Here is a quick "Tale of The Tape" between Napoleon and Isiah - some striking similarities:

Napoleon Bonaparte

Isiah Thomas

heightDisputed (5'-2" to 5'-7")6'-0"
battlefield gloryFrench RevolutionBack-to-back NBA titles
worst tradeLouisiana Purchase - doomed France to second-tier nation statusAcquiring Stephon Marbury - doomed Knicks to years of ineptitude
worst tactical moveInvasion of Russiaturning down $11M from NBA for CBA
termination Exiled to ElbaFired as Pacers coach
resurgenceEscaped from exile, governed for 100 daysHired by Knicks
disgracedre-exiled to St. HelenaFired by Knicks
humiliatedchronic hemorrhoidsSexual harassment lawsuit
cause of deathdisputed (poison or stomach cancer?)Shot by deranged Knick fan in 2012

Anyone else see the similarities? Just me? Okay, I can live with that. Any other suggestions are welcome.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This Day In History

Rodney King resisting arrest on his hands and knees.

Some interesting stuff happened on this day in history.

- In 1992, a Los Angeles jury acquitted four police officers in the videotaped beating of Rodney King. The verdict triggered four days of rioting, resulting in 53 deaths and millions of dollars in damage to buildings and property. Despite the fact that there was videotape evidence that King was laying on the ground being beaten by the officers, the "jury of his peers" (not a single African American) decided that the officers were justified in using excessive force. Bravo, jury. Two of the officers were later convicted of civil right violations in a federal trial, and were sentenced to 30 months in prison. Too little, too late.

- In 1967, Muhammed Ali is stripped of his heavyweight boxing title after refusing induction into the US Army. He was the most famous of the conscientious objectors in the US during the Vietnam War era. He was not allowed to fight again until 1970. His conviction was eventually overturned.

- In 2003, legendary racehorse Barbaro was born. This singular event set into motion the most irrational outpourings of grief ever expressed toward a non-human animal. After breaking several bones in his leg in the 2006 Preakness, Barbaro developed laminitis in one of his other legs and rather than euthanizing him, his owners tried to save him (probably so they could make money from stud fees), thereby prolonging his life for a few months. People began to send get-well cards, flowers, presents, holy water, saint medallions, etc. to help him get well, apparently unaware that Barbaro was a horse and could not read cards or appreciate the other gestures made on his behalf. People on Internet message boards were sending him well wishes despite the fact that Barbaro was without Internet access. It actually got to be quite funny to read some of those message boards (yes, I did read some of them). People really went over the top in their anthropomorphizing (big word, eh?) of the horse, leading me to mutter to myself countless times, "he's a horse!" Anyway, Barbaro was born five years ago today. So, that happened.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Shine A Light - Stones' Movie Review

I went to see the Stones’ Shine A Light at the Imax this past weekend. The overwhelming thought I had at the time, and the vivid memory I still have with me: wrinkles and veins! Wow. The 2007 version of the Stones is not suited for the big screen, let alone Imax! I was drowned by 40 foot wrinkles and veins for 2 hours. You’ve all heard the old line “he has a face for radio” – well these guys at age 65 or so, certainly do.

Yes, I think the Stones are great and are certainly one of the great bands ever. They have great songs, are great song writers, and are fun to see live - but I have always thought the Stones were a bit contrived. I will come under heavy, and arguably valid, fire for this review from many people, including Taxman, but Shine A Light seemed to be another contrived creation. It is the Stones, so how bad could it be, really – but I did not think it was very good, and certainly not nearly as good as the reviews it has gotten.

> The premise of the movie (obviously other than to show a Stones show on Imax) is Scorcese making this Stones concert film and wanting to know what tune they were going to open with, and what the setlist will be so he can focus on the right musician. So the band hits the stage, someone hands Scorcese the setlist, and they show him intensely yelling who to focus on for the production. Please. Seems ridiculous.

> With all the ballyhoo over the setlist, overall I was honestly disappointed with what they played. Yes, you can always say with a band that has as much great material as they do, that they didn’t play more great tunes than they played, but… She Was Hot seemed like a cheesey Jagger solo tune, but come to find it was on 1983’s Undercover album. Huh? When you are playing 16 tunes, why on earth is Just My Imagination included? More Jagger/Stones cheese, and more importantly taking time where Paint It Black, Let It Bleed or the other 30 more preferable tunes would have been.

> I honestly did not read or hear much about this film before I went, so I was not sure of the format or context of the film. For me, I would have preferred more old concert footage for juxtaposition as well as compare and contrast to present day. They showed some old footage, but nothing overly cosequential, and the clip of a young Jagger predicting the band would last “probably another year or so”, while somewhat revealing, seemed too cute and obvious, and meant for very casual fans to chuckle at.

> Anytime Mick picks up the guitar, things are not right. Jagger is very talented and you have love the acid chicken, but a guitar is merely a prop. Similar to Roger Daltry – stop pretending and do what you do well, and that is sing and be the front man.

> I wonder why a band as relevant and big as the Stones need to have or want to have guest artists on stage in a feature film. Why is Jack White singing on Loving Cup? Let alone I don’t know who the hell he is (that is my issue), why is anyone besides Mick or Keith singing with the Rolling Stones. Double for Christina Aguilara who also appeared for one tune. Was this so the Stones seem new, hip, and still vital? I don’t know the purpose or point, but it seems ridiculous to me. That said, Buddy Guy playing an old blues tune with the boys certainly seems relevant, is of great interest, and was great.

> You go to see the Rolling Stones, but you get the Rolling Stones Plus Eight. I realize that many of these older bands are doing it, and the Stones stage show incorporates more musicians, but I counted 8 to 10 non-Rolling Stones adding to the sound. Horns, backing vocals, keyboards etc. – in a small theatre? The Allmans play The Beacon for 6-12 shows every year (not this year due to Greg’s Hep C) and FILL the venue with more sound than it can handle. Why doesn’t the self proclaimed world’s greatest rock & roll band do play it on their own. Again – I understand their arrangements are made more for stadium shows, but still.

> Whatever your political leaning is, the blatant politicking has gotten nauseating to me. The Clintons were apparently at this event with an entourage, and one of the more disheartening scenes was when a roadie or organizer was telling Charlie Watts he had to go to the reception for the guests of the Clintons. Charlie said “but we just met with the Clintons earlier” only to be told he would have spend another hour chatting with the 30 or so guests. However, the whole scene really got nauseating when Scorsese showed Bill and Hillary, the two love birds themselves, from the back walking while holding hands. The camera shot made you know it was Bill and Hillary, but then panned in to only show their holding hands. If the Stones’ wrinkles didn’t make me puke, this did.

> I don’t love or hate Scorses, but he certainly tried to be one of the stars of the show as well. Everyone can’t be Mick, Marty!

> Then it comes back to all the wrinkles and veins…

For as much “go” the Stones have (and they have a lot), they have way more “show” than “go”. I kept thinking of poor Bobby Weir of the good ‘ole Grateful Dead getting ridiculed for being “the rock star” on stage – the Stones made a living and became larger than life being the ultimate “rock stars” on stage with all the moves and crap that go with it. They are still at it too.
Most of these rock & roll movies that come out on the big screen I go to see at least twice (Festival Express, Neil’s Heart of Gold, Grateful Dawg) and can’t get enough of them. I honestly have no interest in seeing this film again, and that is telling for me.

NFL Draft

Can it get any worse for a Michigan fan from Buffalo? All fine and good that Jake Long goes to the Phins #1 overall. A tackle can have a great pro-bowl caliber career while the team he plays for is good to mediocre or worse - we like when Miami is mediocre or worse up here in the Buff. However, quarterbacks are evaluated by wins - almost period. If the team isn't winning games, then QB is not going to be a long term starter. So when I heard Chad Henne went to Miami as well, it was terribly disappointing. I really wanted to see Henne do well in the NFL because I think he is good, took alot hell from Michigan fans for going 1-7 vs. Ohio State and bowl games, and he seems like a good kid. Unfortunately, two worlds collide here as Henne's success is a function of the Dolphins success. To make it even worse, If Henne and the Dolphins are successful, that elevates Bill Parcells even more, which is also a relatively vile thought.

I love seeing Mike Hart going to Indy. Seems perfect for Bill Polian to take this kind of character player, and I hope it works for all involved. I don't think Hart can ever be a feature back in the NFL, but I certainly thing he can contribute. I hope Mike Hart continues to prove people wrong.

Likewise, I like seeing Crable going to the Pats. Great organization that a guy like Crable will have as good a chance as any to be able to flourish in. All the 'extra' information the coaches can pass on to the players always helps!

Michigan obviously could have really used Mannigham and Arrington this coming year, and it looks as though could have used Micihgan as much. I think Mario is a very good college WR, but don't think he has the measurables and attitude (the attitude is mostly speculative) to be that good in the NFL. What was interesting to me is that he really only 10-12 very good to great games for Michigan over three years interupted with some nagging type injuries. To me that does not define a great player, but let's see what he does. Arrington on the other hand has no bussiness leaving a year with the projected drft position, let alone where he landed. Of course the coaching change had some impact on his descision, but he really could have used another year.

Go Blue!

Detroit Lions Draft - Kevin Smith

No, not that Kevin Smith - the one that plays football.

I'm not going to review the entire Lions draft board, but I would like to discuss the wisdom of one of their picks, third rounder Kevin Smith from UCF. The last time the Lions drafted a running back coming off a junior season in which he gained over 2500 yards, it worked out pretty well for them. His name was Barry Sanders. It's well documented that Barry Sanders had a great career, but he had what is widely considered to be the finest single season of any college football player ever. In fact, Smith had a great season last year - one that compares pretty favorably with Barry's last season.

  • In 14 games (2007), Smith rushed for 2567 yards, and scored 29 TDs (in 450 carries). This includes his bowl game.

  • In 11 games (1988), Sanders rushed for 2628 yards and scored 39 TDs. (in 356 carries). This does not even include the bowl game in which he rushed for an additional 222 yards and scored 5 TDs (bowl game stats did not count then).

While Smith's season was great by any definition of the word, Sanders' Heisman winning season was one that I feel comfortable in saying will not ever be duplicated. In twelve games, Sanders gained 2850 yards (237.5 yards per game), and scored 44 TDs. Those kinds of numbers are absolutely unreachable in the foreseeable future - even when bowl games counted in the stats.

The bottom line, and the point of this post, is that I think Kevin Smith is a very good pick and has a very good chance to be a star in the league - even if he is not Barry Sanders. Even if he turns out to be only half as good as Barry, he'll be the second best RB the Lions have ever had.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Opposite

During the "Matt Millen Era," this time of year (i.e, the annual NFL Draft) for Detroit Lions fans has become pure torture. As The Ghosts so eloquently put it yesterday, it just keeps getting worse. So, the Matt Millen and the Lions should take a page out of the George Costanza playbook - do the opposite:

Draft Day, 2008

Roger Goodell: Wide receiver, right?
Matt Millen: Yeah. No, no, no, wait a minute, I always draft a wide receiver in the first round. Nothing's ever worked out for me with first round wide receivers. I want the complete opposite of a wide receiver. A linebacker. No, a defensive lineman.
Bill Ford: Well, there's no telling what can happen from this.

RG: With the 15th pick the first round, the Detroit Lions select Derrick Harvey, defensive end, Florida.

BF: Ah, Matt, you know, that GM over there just looked at you.
MM: So what? What am I supposed to do?
BF: Go talk to him.
MM: Hey Boss - crappy GMs, with horrible teams, and no successful drafts, who work for the Lions, don't approach good GMs. None of those guys will even return my calls.
BF: Well here's your chance to try the opposite. Instead of wide receivers and being intimidated by good GMs, defensive linemen and going right up to them.
MM: Yeah, I should do the opposite, I should.
BF: If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.
MM: Yes, I will do the opposite. I used to sit here and draft wide receivers, and regret it for the rest of the day, so now I will do the opposite, and I will do something.

--- he goes over to the GM

MM: Excuse me, I couldn't help but notice that you were looking in my direction.
Jerry Jones: Oh, yes I was - you just drafted the same exact player we were going to draft. We thought for sure you'd take Manningham.
(MM takes a deep breath )
MM: My name is Matt Millen. I'm a horrible GM and I work for the Lions.
JJ: I'm Jerry Jones. Hi....

And so "The Opposite Era" begins for the Lions. In the same spirit, perhaps Bill Ford can "do the opposite" and finally get rid of Millen. I think Millen would probably prefer to be an architect anyway...

NOTE: KSK has a nice Millen bit up today also.

ANOTHER NOTE: To anyone with any photshop skills, I would love to have a George Costanza "Timeless Art of Seduction" picture with Matt Millen's head in place of George's. Anyone with the time and motivation can send it to me at bill dot tway at kbr dot com.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Steve Earle - Concert Preview

I'm going to see Steve Earle on Friday night here in Houston. I've never seen him live, but I have heard lots of good things, and I have some bootlegs of his live shows. He's been playing a lot of the songs off his latest release "Washington Square Serenade" on this tour, and that suits me just fine because that is a killer CD. I'm going to try to play "Steve Earle Bingo" on Friday night. Here are some potential categories/phrases I could look for:

  1. number of songs he sings that contain the word "devil"

  2. number of times during banter between songs that he says something even vaguely communist or socialist

  3. number of New York references

  4. number of Texas references

For those of you who are not familiar with Steve Earle, he's a singer-songwriter who was raised in Shertz, TX (outside of San Antonio) and he's been around for a lot of years. He's only had one hit song, Copperhead Road (in 1988), but he's consistently put out good music. You also might be familiar with "Ellis Unit One" from the movie Dead Man Walking (he's been an active death penalty opponent). His recent CDs have been a bit political, but his newest release is a more personal CD, and it's main subject matter is his new home, New York City, and his new wife, fellow singer-songwriter Allison Moorer (who is also his opening act on this tour, and sings backup on a few songs on the new CD). Anyway, if he's coming to your town, try to check him out. I would try to put a music clip in here, but I still haven't gotten around to figuring that out yet. Check out the amazon link above - I think you can play links from their site.

If you have any other good ideas for "Steve Earle Bingo" or if you have any over-under bets for any of the categories above, leave 'em in the comments. My guesses are as follows:

  1. 6
  2. 3
  3. 8
  4. 10

Monday, April 21, 2008


About a year ago, some of us were discussing matters of international importance via e-mail and a lot of the activities/crimes/etc. that we were discussing could only be adequately responded to with a simple word: "sheesh!" What follows is mostly a reproduction from this e-mail exchange, but updated with recent incidents thrown in to make it more current:

Fanatical lunatics of all religions give religion a bad name. Sunnis fighting Shiites? They're both Islamic. Catholics fighting Protestants? They're both Christian. Why do people get so upset about what god some other person chooses to believe in? Sheesh. Actually, "Sheesh" sounds like it might be a good name for a religious sect: "This group claims to be from a little-known offshoot of of the Shiites call themselves the Sheesh, and they did not bomb anything today. Instead, they collectively shook their heads and cast their eyes toward the ground as they heard the news of the latest violence, muttering only the mantra of their faith - 'Sheesh'."

So we decided the we could start our own religion. The main focus of our religion will be that all news of inexplicable violence, bigotry, cruelty, and general idiocy must be met with an exasperated sigh, a bow of the head, and uttering the word "sheesh." The greater the tragedy, the louder the "sheesh" is uttered. It's up to each individual to decide on the volume of their "sheesh." Our basic belief is that the world is messed up. Hard to argue with that, eh? So many news items can be followed by "sheesh" that we decided that if we trademark (copyright?) the phrase, perhaps more people will join us a show of solidarity. And it can be applied to just about any topic you are discussing - politics, sports, TV, movies, etc.

In church, instead of bowing our heads to pray, we'll all look down and say "sheesh" all at once. Not exactly the most uplifting message (I'd say downright cynical), but there will be cake and koolaid after the service, so that should lift everyone's spirits. And on special occasions - brownies.

Oh, and the music in our church will be outstanding. Copious amounts of Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia Band, and Dylan, as well as lots of originals from the house band "Tangled Up In Sheesh."

Here is what a typical gathering might sound like:

"Welcome, fellow Sheesh. Today, 140 people were killed during a religious procession for no apparent reason. Let us pray."


"This week, the president vetoed a bill that would have allowed the use of any and all herbs, plants and their extracts to treat diseases for which they are well suited to treat. His reasoning was that some of these plants can be dangerous. He had no comment on the widespread legal use of many drugs that are much more dangerous. Let us pray."


"This week, the press spent an inordinate amount of time discussing the clothing worn by people attending an awards ceremony. Let us pray."


"Last week, a woman was arrested for using her baby as a weapon, swinging it at her 'boyfriend' and cracking the baby's skull ( Let us pray."


"Against all odds, reality shows continue to be watched by millions of people. Viewers even continue to tune in to shows that are essentially competitions to see who gets picked to be the newest sex object for an aging former rapper (Flava Flav) and aging former rocker (Bret Michaels). Let us pray."


"Hundreds of thousands of people were disappointed today when they learned that a 17-year-old high school student-athlete has decided to attend a university other than the one for which they currently cheer. Let us pray."


"Terrelle Pryor has decided to go to Ohio State. Let us pray?"


"The Detroit Tigers, who have recently decided to spend some serious coinage to field a competitive baseball team, have gotten off to a horrible start, thanks to bad hitting, bad pitching, and bad defense. Let us pray."


"Amen. Now, let's all adjourn the meeting hall, where we will be regaled with the musical stylings of Tangled Up In Sheesh."

Anyone have any other good stories suitable to be sheesh'ed?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Music Review - The Kinks and Moby Grape

I have recently decided to listen to some old stuff I either had not listened to in a while, or some old stuff I had never listened to. And we haven't had any music stuff on here recently. So here you go.

The Kinks

I decided to download some Kinks after I read an article in Rolling Stone about Ray Davies. I am somewhat familiar with the Kinks, and I had a couple of their albums on vinyl years ago. But I honestly have not listened to them in fifteen years. So, through my top secret on-line source, I downloaded their entire discography (I love the internet - have I mentioned that?). The first one I listened to was "Muswell Hillbillies" from 1971. I must say, I was quite impressed. Ray Davies songwriting is wonderful, and I loved the everyman, working class themes of the songs on this album. It's cohesive and it's a great illustration of why I like albums and not singles - thematic (and musical) consistency. Can you imagine "Shakedown Street" on American Beauty? No? Me neither. It wouldn't fit. This whole CD fits together nicely.

The second one I cued up was "One For The Road," a live double album that captures some great performances by the band. Great energy, great performances, and even some enthusiastic audience participation. I didn't know most of the songs, but I enjoyed it anyway. I give both of these CDs hearty recommendations. The Kinks have some things in common with the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Beatles, and other "British invasion" bands, but they certainly have an identity of their own. I have yet to plow through any more of the catalog, because I decided to listen to another band from the same era...

Moby Grape

The story of Moby Grape (in addition to their funky, quintessentially 60s-sounding name) is what drew me to them - a band with five songwriters and singers, Skip Spence going insane and wielding an ax, etc. Anyway, I decided to hop on the Moby Grape train with "Vintage: The Very Best of Moby Grape." This is a double CD set. The first CD is essentially their debut album "Moby Grape," with some alternate versions, and some live cuts tacked onto the end. While I liked the debut album part, the live songs, particularly "Miller's Blues," are the best songs on the first CD because they showcase the band's musical talent. You can tell these guys can play. However, the second CD is a bit jumbled. While there are some gems, like "It's a Beautiful Day Today," there are also some clunkers and some ill-advised choices, including chipmunk-like vocals on "Funky Tunk" and some unfortunate use of horns in a few places. The second CD is a good illustration of why good compilations are difficult to pull off. The consistency is just not there. Of course, there could be several reasons for this: five different songwriters, crazy band members, fusion of so many different types of music, poor choice of songs by the producer, etc. It gives me a great appreciation for good compilations from bands of this era - Jefferson Airplane's 2400 Fulton Street is the one that comes to mind. Now THAT is a good compilation. If I had to think of bands that these guys remind me of, I would say Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Buffalo Springfield. Anyway, this set gets a thumbs up for the first CD and a thumbs down for the second CD. Overall, it piques my curiosity and makes me want to seek out some live stuff of theirs.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ace In The Hole

Jesus, not another one.

Blind Golfer, 85 Gets Ace

If I'm not mistaken, this is at least two blind golfers who have gotten a hole-in-one in the last year. There was this one last year. Then, after searching a bit more for "blind hole in one" I found this one. So there are at least three blind golfers that have one more hole-in-one than I do (talk about "blind luck"). I have seen the odds for making a hole-in-one. The vary from 1-in-12,750 to 1-in-45,000. Here is what Golf Digest has to say:

  • Tour player making an ace: 3,000 to 1

  • Low-handicapper making an ace: 5,000 to 1

  • Average player making an ace: 12,000 to 1

Okay, I'm probably considered an average player. I have never scored a hole-in-one. If you assume 4 par three holes per round, the odds say that you should make a hole in one if you play 2667 rounds of golf. That's a lot of golf. If you play 50 rounds a year, that would take you fifty years. No wonder I don't have one.

Wait, what was my point again? Oh yeah, that all these blind SOBs are getting holes-in-one and I'm not. I don't like it one bit. I've got nothing against blind people. Heck, I might even be one myself eventually. But I would like to get a hole-in-one while I'm still able to enjoy it, not when I'm a blind 85 year old. I guess I should start playing more. Maybe the financial windfall from this highly lucrative blogging venture will allow me to quit my job and become a full-time blogger/hole-in-one-pursuer. However, at our current rate, this blog will earn me enough for a sleeve of Top Flite x-out balls and a box of naked lady tees.

I'm playing in a scramble this weekend, and I will let you guys know if I break my streak of consecutive holes without a hole-in-one. If I do, this is what I'll do.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Politics and Christianity

I suppose political posts might get more frequent as we get closer to the November election, but the latest ploy by the Democrats has me a bit perturbed.

Clinton, Obama put politics aside to discuss faith

It appears the the Democrats are trying to steal some of the Republicans supposed stronghold on Christian voters. Why does religion have to enter into the world of politics? Should it matter to voters whether or not candidates are Christian or Mormon or Hindu or Jewish or Muslim (well, strike that last one - for obvious reasons, there's no way a Muslim will get elected president any time soon)? If it does, then why? Personally, I don't want my president making important national security decisions based on religious faith. I want decisions based on facts, science, expert consensus, and what is best for the country. Religious or not, I don't want a President who goes off half-cocked with half-baked ideas about half-truths put forth by half-wits (remind you of anyone that's currently in office?). I want a President who makes fully informed decisions with the help of competent people who give him good information about real problems. I don't care what god or gods they pray to (or do not pray to). I'll take a sane atheist or pagan any day over a zealous Christian fundamentalist.

Anyway, it seems to me that the Democrats are needlessly pandering to people who think religion should enter into their thought process when they enter the voting booth. Obama and Clinton seem to be playing a game of "Who Loves Jesus More?" Maybe I'm naive about this, but I think the vast majority of people are able to set that aside when they vote for President. Just stick to the issues, and leave the Christian grandstanding to the Republicans. They're better at it anyway.

Let me hear it - do you make your Presidential choice based on religion?

*By the way, I certainly don't speak for all of the people associated with this blog. I expect to hear some dissenting opinion from those guys. We are politically and religiously diverse, and any disagreement you have with my opinion is purely with me, The Assman. I am the Assman, and I approved this message.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Masters Lookalikes

In honor of the Masters tournament, I humbly give to you some Masters participants, as well as their celebrity lookalikes. As always, your opinions may vary. If you think of an obvious one I missed, suggest it in the comments. If you disagree with any of these and have a better selection, by all means point it out.

Jose-Maria Olazabal - actor Jason Biggs

They definitely look like they could be related. Large nose, same hair. I wonder if Jose Maria has ever had relations with a pie?

Tiger Woods - Ruthie Alcaide from MTV's The Real World

The alcoholic-lesbian former Real World cast member looks like she could be his sister.

Ian Woosnam - actor/producer Ricky Gervais

Their both Brits. They're both short. However, I'd wager that Gervais is funnier, and Woosnam can drink more. I believe they both belong on this website.

Mark Calcevecchia - actor Mike Starr

I had no idea who Mike Starr was, but I thought of him in Dumb and Dumber when I saw Calc's photo. He was the guy in the car with them when Lloyd asked if he wanted to hear the most annoying sound in the world.

Bubba Watson - Mose from The Office and Lloyd Christmas from Dumb and Dumber

Mose is Dwight's cousin that lives with him on their beet farm. Has an awesome Abraham Lincoln neckbeard. Slap that neckbeard on Bubba, and you've got a match. Mose is played by one of the show's writers Michael Schur, who's also one of the guys responsible for this great website. EDITED TO ADD: Bubba's haircut is straight from the "Lloyd Christmas Hair Salon" except that it's crooked. Apparently the bowl was cocked when they started cutting his bangs.

Brandt Snedeker - Ron Howard (actor), Alfred E. Newman

Snedeker resembles the "Richie Cunningham"-era Ron Howard - pre-baldness. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a Fonzie or a Potsy in the Masters field. EDITED TO ADD: commenter suggested Alfred E. Newman. Beautiful...

Jim Furyk - Ron Howard (director), singer James Taylor

Furyk resembles the Director Ron Howard - post-baldness and normally wearing a hat. EDITED TO ADD: Commenter suggested James Taylor. Well done...

Charles Howell III - Thurston Howell III

The only resemblance is their names. Little known fact: Charles is Thurston's nephew, and is heir to the Howell fortune, since Thurston and Lovey were lost at sea. He has never been able to colllect his inheritance because they were never confirmed dead. I would love it if Charles were to wear an ascot out on the links.

Zach Johnson - actors Joaquin Phoenix, Chris O'Donnell

Defending Masters champ will try to Walk The Line this weekend and repeat as winner. EDITED TO ADD: From anonymous commenter - Chris O'Donnell. Nice call.

Sean O'Hair - The Wiz from Seinfeld

Sean O'Hair is The Wiz. And nobody beats him.

Nick Faldo - actor Harrison Ford

I added this one at the request of a commenter. Nice call. Although Faldo was not a participant, he is an announcer and former 3-time Masters champ, and that's close enough for me.

Stuart Appleby - Wisconsin Deity Brett Favre

Thanks to another anonymous commenter for the suggestion.

Bernhard Langer - singer and writer of songs Barry Manilow, Big Bird

Another commenter suggestion. Is the commenter implying that both Langer and Big Bird are gay, or that Langer and Manilow look like birds?

New Champ Trevor Immelman - baseball player Johnny Damon, Team America Dude

We've found our Immelman! It's Immelmania! Nicely done by commenter GMoney. EDITED TO ADD: Main character from Team America: World Police - thanks to commenter Freezelle for the perfect match. I must admit I love cartoon character matches.

Colin Montgomery - Dolphins savior Bill Parcells

Okay, so Monty was not in the field at the Masters. I'm making the rules here. This one's too good to leave out. I'm told that their mansierre cup sizes are the same too - I think they're both C-cups. Thanks to anonymous commenter for this one. "Anonymous" sure has been helpful today. Keep em coming...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Mario and Kumar Go To Blimpy Burger

Latest news.

Date: Friday, November 16th, 2007

Mario: Dude, look at the line. It's like totally out the door.

Kumar: No sweat bro. The line moves quick.

Mario: Awesome. I'm starving. Gimme some of them cheetos.

Kumar: Do you know how to order at Blimpy? The rules are very specific.

Mario: Don't worry about it bro. I've been here like a million times.

Kumar: Check out the guy ordering now - he's an idiot. Ordering the cheese first? He's gonna get his ass kicked.

Mario: No doubt. These Blimpy people are as bad as coach Carr. He's always bitchin about somethin'. He's always like "You ran the wrong route" or "You missed your block again" or "Wake up."

Kumar: Yeah, and the new coach might be even worse. It might be Les Miles. He seems kinda psycho. You should just go pro.

Mario: Dude, that's an awesome idea.

Kumar: Okay, pay attention. We're getting close to the front of the line. Turn your cell phone off. That chick just got booted for talking on her's.

Mario: Check. I'll call my agent about the NFL thing after we get our burgers. Well, I don't really have an agent, but my dealer has some friends in the biz.

Kumar (to fryer worker): I'll have onion rings.

Mario (to fryer worker): Hmmmm - lemme see. I'll have fries.

Kumar (to grill worker): I'll have a triple on a kaiser. With grilled mushrooms.

Mario (to grill worker): I'll have a quad on an onion roll. With grilled onions, egg, and salami.

Kumar: Damn, Mario, you are hungry.

Mario (to grill worker): [pulling a small bag of green herbs from his shirt pocket] Can you grill this up too? It's, uh, oregano - medicinal purposes. Thanks, man.

Kumar: Dude, that burger's gonna be awesome.

Mario: No shit, man. Epic. Legendary. Maybe we can call it the Super Mario Burger.

Kumar (to grill worker): Cheddar.

Mario (to grill worker): Cheddar and provolone.

The two buddies pay for their burgers and sit down.

Kumar: Hey, don't you usually eat with the team on the night before a game?

Mario: Yeah, but the meal is all healthy stuff - salads, and pasta, and chicken breasts. I wanna eat a real meal before the game. Who are we playing tomorrow anyway?

Kumar: I dunno. I think it's the last game of the year. Maybe you oughta be with your teammates tonight.

Mario: The last game? Shit, what are you so worried for? Look, after this game Carr's gone and I'm going pro. Let scarf these burgers down, head out to happy hour for a few drinks, and then go back to my apartment for some bong hits and playstation. I'll be fine for the game.

Kumar: Sweet. Cheers, bro.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Kansas and Other Dramatic Finishes

Well, as everyone probably knows by now, the Kansas Jayhawks won the NCAA men's basketball championship last night in dramatic fashion. Mario Chalmers hit a game tying 3-pointer with 2 seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime, where Kansas proceeded to dominate Memphis and win by seven. But that was not the only drama last night. I'm not sure if this was a normal night for baseball, but in addition to the Kansas last second shot, there were several late inning heroics in MLB last night too:
  1. The Angels beat the Indians with a walkoff grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning by Torii Hunter.
  2. The Astros beat the Cardinals with a walkoff two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning by Miguel Tejada.
  3. The Rockies beat the Braves with a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning by Matt Holliday.
  4. The Orioles beat the Mariners with a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth inning by Aubrey Huff.

That seems pretty unusual to me - four games that were won with home runs in the home team's last at bat. I'm too lazy to do the research. Can anyone tell me if this is something that happens frequently? Anyone?

Adrian Dantley - Last of a Breed

The basketball hall of fame inductees were announced yesterday. Joining legendary big men Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing, who were both elected in their first eligible year, was former Piston, Brave, Pacer, Laker, Jazz, Maverick, Buck forward Adrian Dantley, who was elected in his sixth try. His most prolific scoring years were with the Jazz (1979-1986) when he appeared in 6 all-star games, but I am most familiar with his years with the Pistons. He was acquired for fellow Domer Kelly Tripucka in 1986, and then was traded for Mark Aguirre right before the Pistons won their two championships.

AD was a unique player. He was a low post player, but he was only 6'-5" tall. I can't think of a player currently in the league who is a that size and specializes in playing on the low post. The last one was Charles Barkley, but he was a power forward and a rebounding machine. Dantley was a low-post scorer, but was never much of a rebounder, especially in his years as a Piston. In the Piston years, he was important for their offense as a low-post scorer because their center, another fellow Domer Bill Laimbeer, was usually stationed out near the 3-point arc, so someone had to do the dirty work in the post. Because of his physical style of play, he got to the free throw line a lot. In fact, he still shares the record for most free throws made in a single game - 28.

Will there ever be another 6'-5" low post player like Dantley? I doubt it. First of all, there are hardly any more 6'-5" small forwards. Anyone who comes into the league at that size is now a guard. To be a small forward now, you have to be at least a couple inches taller than that. Dantley and Bernard King were the last of the truly "small" forwards who played much down in the low post. He will probably be the last 6'-5" forward to be inducted into the hall of fame (other than Barkley - is he in the hall yet?).

The enduring memory I have of AD, in addition to his knee high socks, was of him and Vinnie Johnson clunking heads diving for a loose ball in game 7 of their Eastern conference finals against the Celtics in 1987. Dantley was knocked unconscious and was unable to reenter the game, and they proceeded to lose the series. Ouch.

His Piston career ended somewhat acrimoniously, and Dantley blamed Isiah Thomas for running him out of town so that he could get his good buddy Aguirre on the team. Anyway, it's good to have another former Piston in the hall, even though Dantley probably does not look back fondly on his Piston years. I think Piston fans, for the most part, liked him and appreciated his contributions on the court. Since Isiah has turned out to be kind of a douchebag, perhaps the fact that he and Zeke did not get along will be looked at as a positive.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Detroit Tigers

The Detroit Tigers are, to put it mildly, off to a bit of a rocky start this season. After every publication and blog on the planet picked the Tigers to make the playoffs, they have proceeded to start the year by throwing up all over their shiny new baseball cleats with six consecutive losses. Sure, it sucks, but is it a big deal? Last year, the World Champion Red Sox had a stretch where the lost 6 of 7, and another where they lost 5 of 6. The point is, teams have bad stretches. The Tigers' bad stretch just happens to be at the start of the season. The most notable things about their horrendous start so far:

  • Other than Clete Thomas (who?), Carlos Guillen, and Brandon Inge, no one is hitting the ball. Through six games, the Tigers have scored 15 runs. I'm no math whiz, but I think that works out to 2.5 runs per game. That's Twins-level of hitting suckitude. People were talking about the Tigers being a lock to score a thousand runs this year. It wouldn't be so bad, but...

  • The pitching has been horrible. The team ERA is 5.30. They've gotten one quality start. The pitchers have walked 27 batters and struck out 35. Not a good ratio. The only mitigating factor in all this is...

  • Injuries. Curtis Granderson has yet to suit up, and CF has been manned by Thomas and Inge. They've both played well, but Granderson is an all-star caliber player, and he is undoubtedly missed. Sheffield's osteoporosis already forced him to miss a couple games. Cabrera has missed two starts. They were already missing Zumaya and Rodney from the pitching staff.

  • Tigers were swept twice at home. Now they have to go to Boston to play at Fenway, in their home opener after what will probably be an inspiring tribute to last year's World Series championship team.

Now, the good news:

  • The x-ray of Granderson's broken hand on Sunday was positive, and he was cleared to resume baseball activities. There is no timetable for his return, but he'll start throwing and hitting as soon as he can make throws and grip the bat without discomfort.

  • The aforementioned game with the Red Sox will be started by Kenny Rogers, who might be perfect for this game, because the Sox hitters might be so jacked up after their pre-game festivities that they forget that The Gambler throws 55 mph curveballs. Their excess adrenaline might not serve them well here. Of course, I'm just grasping at straws here in trying to find a positive spin for their trip to Boston, so forgive my blind optimism for tomorrow night's game.

The way I see it, as long as their major players stay healthy most of the year, they'll break out of this funk: i.e., Polanco won't be hitting .087 for long (his career average is .304); Cabrera won't be stuck with 1 RBI for much longer. And it will probably happen sooner than later. You really need about a quarter of the season to have a good idea what kind of team you're going to be (remember 35-5 in 1984?). After 40 games, the Tigers should have at least 21 or 22 wins, and be within a game or two of first place. If not, it will most likely be because of lack of pitching, not lack of hitting. Leyland is not afraid to change things up if they're not working. If Inge keeps hitting, Leyland won't hesitate to use him at just about any position on the field. I think the Kitties are probably glad they decided not to trade him this offseason. If not for Inge's extreme manliness, they'd be even more winless than they are now.

Bless You Boys...

More on the Tigers (and horrible columnist Lynn Henning), from

Friday, April 4, 2008

Celebrity Endorsements

With the tight democratic race leaving the nomination up for grabs even at this late date, celebrity/athlete endorsements could make the difference between winning and losing - despite the fact that anyone who looks to celebrities or athletes for guidance on anything, much less electing the leader of the free world, is like asking Elton John for tips on how to meet women. Anyway, here are some of the more notable (but not necessarily significant) celebrity/athlete endorsements for each remaining candidate:

Barack Obama
50 Cent
Originally endorsed Hillary, but has since switched to Obama. I'm sure Obama is pleased to have a former crack dealer on his side.

Leonard Nimoy
Spock says that Obama is the only logical choice.

Samuel L. Jackson
"You better vote for motherfuckin' Obama! He's one bad muthafucka!"

Mickey Hart, Phil Lesh, & Bob Weir
The boys actually held a "Deadheads for Obama" concert in San Francisco back in February. The tricky part will be getting stoners to remember to vote.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar
Roger Murdock also heartily endorses Obama.

Tons of Kennedys
The Kennedy's are hacked off about some comments Hillary made about the 1964 Civil Rights Act. She praised LBJ, and did not mention JFK. Most of the Kennedys are endorsing Obama. Sounds kinda junior high-ish to me.

Jay Paterno
"Oh yeah, dad, well I'll show you! I'm supporting Obama! Oh, and can I borrow the car tonight? I promise I'll be back by midnight. Daaaad, I KNOW we have practice tomorrow."

Jeff Tweedy
He participated in a "Barack Obama - Change Rocks" event in Chicago in December.

Gross generalization: From the looks of this list, I'd say the typical Obama endorser is a current or former drug user, drug dealer, or alcoholic.

Hillary Clinton
Chevy Chase
Once attended a "key party" in the 70s with the Clintons. He got Hillary. Bill got Charo. The rest is history.

Bob Vila
He thinks that Hillary is more masculine than the other candidates.

Ann Coulter
Coulter considers Hillary more conservative than McCain. Interesting.

Martha Stewart
Unfortunately for Hillary, she may not be able to vote due to her felony conviction.

Magic Johnson
Hillary's tallest celebrity endorser. Also, his talk show lasted a full two months while Chevy Chase's talk show lasted only six weeks. Advantage - Magic.

Billie Jean King
It's quite a surprise that a significant lesbian has endorsed her.

Gross Generalization: From the looks of this list, I would say that the typical Clinton endorser is a current or former lesbian, or has had a canceled TV show.

John McCain
Sylvester Stallone
Like McCain, John Rambo was a POW. Also like McCain, Stallone is short (both are about 5'-7").

Wilford Brimley
He and McCain served together in WWI, and is actively opposed to banning cockfighting. Brimley's mustache has not yet decided on whom to endorse.

Curt Schilling
Schilling is a born again christian. He's also a WWII history buff, and collects knives and helmets from the war. Adds blood to his sock before every start. Fancies himself a soldier.

Tom Selleck
Along with Brimley, Selleck gives McCain two actors with awesome mustaches on his side. Also, he is the heir apparent to Chuck Heston for the presidency of the NRA. More trivia: with all the hoopla over Billy Crystal taking an at-bat for the Yankees in a spring training game this spring, many people forget that Selleck had an at-bat for the Tigers in spring training in 1992.

Gross Generalization: From the looks of this list, I'd say the typical McCain endorser is fond of weapons and/or warfare.

Sadly, Kwame Kilpatrick has not weighed in yet on whom he is supporting. Reportedly, each of the candidates has been in touch with Kwame's people to ensure that he does not even mention their names.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Athletes as Actors, part 4: Other Sports

Athletes as Actors, part 4: Other Sports

Click here for part 1
Click here for part 2
Click here for part 3

These are some of the athletes from the more obscure sports who tried their hand at acting. Again, most parlayed their expertise in their chosen sport into their acting gigs:

Tommy Morrison
Played Tommy Gunn in Rocky V, the worst of the Rocky movies. A boxer playing a boxer. Sounds like a familiar tune. No, I did not see this movie, but I am aware of it's existence. I do know that Stallone himself gave it a "zero" on a scale of 1 to 10. Anyway, Morrison never acted again, tested positive for HIV, and has recently returned to boxing with good results against tomato cans. He has claimed on several occasions, probably in order to be allowed to earn money boxing again, that his HIV diagnosis was false and he has never been HIV positive.

Jeff Carlson, Steve Carlson, Dave Hanson
Okay, I'm taking some liberties, because only one of these guys played in the NHL (Dave Hanson played in 33 NHL games). They all played professional hockey (WHL, IHC, CHL, etc). But these three guys played the Hanson brothers in "Slap Shot." I just had to include them on this list. It could be argued that they were the "stars" of the movie. Not great award winning acting, but some memorable quotes: "I'm listening to the fucking song!" According to Wiki, Jeff Carlson is an electrician in Muskegon, MI, Steve Carlson runs a power skating school in Kenosha, WI, and Dave Hanson runs a sports center at Robert Morris University near Pittsburgh. They reprised their roles as the Hanson brothers in the 2002 direct to video release "Slapshot 2: Breaking The Ice."

Andre The Giant
Andre appeared in lots of 70s TV shows (Six Million Dollar Man, BJ and The Bear, The Fall Guy) playing, for the most part, giants and monsters (in the $6M Man, he played Bigfoot). After all, he couldn't really play anything else. He is most well known as an actor for playing Fezzik, the Giant in "The Princess Bride." Grouping wrestlers in with athletes is a bit of a stretch, but most wrestlers are probably more athletic than golfers or bowlers.

Hulk Hogan
The Hulkster starred as Randolph Spencer in his own TV series, "Thunder In Paradise," in 1994. It lasted one season on some minor cable channel (USA? WB?). The plot description sounds like it was a low-rent "A-Team": Randolph Spencer and Martin Brubaker were ex-Navy SEALS-turned-mercenaries who hired themselves out as soldiers of fortune for a very high fee. Other than that, his acting gigs have included lots of appearances in other similarly crappy cable series. His most memorable role was that of "Thunderlips" in Rocky III. But he was essentially playing himself.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson
The former Miami Hurricane defensive tackle and professional wrestler has been a huge success in Hollywood. He has appeared in action films (The Mummy Returns, The Scorpion King, Walking Tall), and recently in some comedic roles (Be Cool, The Game Plan). His IMDB page also lists some upcoming flicks, including Get Smart. He is the only "athlete" to have hosted SNL twice. Get used to him - he's gonna be around for a while. He a decent enough actor, and appears to be a pretty good guy.

Johnny Weissmuller
Weissmuller was an Olympic swimmer in the 1920s - he won five gold medals and one bronze in the '24 and '28 Olympics. After his Olympic career was over, he signed a seven year contract with MGM, and played Tarzan for MGM in six different films. After his contract expired, he signed as a free agent with RKO and starred in six more Tarzan movies. When he hit middle age (44), he traded in his loincloth and played "Jungle Jim" in a series of 13 movies between 1948 and 1954. That's quite a career. Another bit of trivia - he appears on the cover of the Beatles' Sgt. Peppers album.

Kurt Thomas
The former Olympic gymnast starred in "Gymkata" which was perhaps the most unintentionally hilarious movies of all-time. I don't even know how they managed to shoehorn a plot into this one, but according to IMDB: "Johnathan Cabot is a champion gymnast. In the tiny, yet savage, country of Parmistan, there is a perfect spot for a 'star wars' site. For the US to get this site, they must compete in the brutal 'Game.' The government calls on Cabot (played Thomas), the son of a former operative, to win the game. Cabot must combine his gymnastics skills of the west with fighting secrets of the east and form GYMKATA!" I can't even remember if Thomas has any lines in the movie, but the whole film consists of him being chased and randomly finding various gymnastic apparatuses with which to fight the bad guys. Being chased through an alley by ruthless ninjas? Look, there's a pommel horse! Surrounded by marauders? Hop on those handy parallel bars! No escape? Grab those rings! I can't say that I have sat through this film in its entirety, but I was shocked into hysterical laughter at the parts I did manage to see.

And so ends the four part series (see links to parts 1-3 above). I know I must have missed some - "other sports" covers so much ground. If you think of any others, note them in the comments.