Wednesday, November 26, 2003

SEC Week 14 picks

Yes, the 4th-straight football blog ... it's a short and busy holiday week, and LSU ball is getting too interesting to focus on much else at the moment. Sue me.

And, being Thanksgiving week, the wife and I are not only heading out of town tonight, but Ole Miss plays Miss. State tomorrow, meaning extra-early picking.

But first ... Friday at 2:30 eastern it's LSU and Arkansas in Tiger Stadium. Not much on the line besides the SEC West championship and LSU's continued Sugar Bowl hopes ...

The Hogs, and especially their lanky white-guy quarterback, can run the ball, and they've rung up a bunch of points this year - against Tulsa, Texas, North Texas, New Mexico State and Mississippi State. They were held to 3 points by Auburn and 7 by Ole Miss. So they're up and down, to say the least. But they've got their running backs off the injured list now, so they've got ground-game potential.

Shall I remind all that LSU has the country's best run defense and holds opponents to 9 points a game? Keeping that lanky white guy in check may be tough, but he'll have to make a whole lot of big plays for the Hogs to pull this out.

And after being kicked aside by Arkansas last year and with USC's blood in the water, LSU should be well-focused on the task at hand - beat Arkansas to get to the SEC Championship and keep the BCS hopes alive.

Our offense, of course, will have to play better than it did against Ole Miss. We know what we did wrong in Oxford, and Saban should have the fixes in place. LSU, 31 - 20

Elsewhere, Florida State visits Florida in a key game for mid-level BCS rankings. As a potential foe in the SEC Championship, I have to pull for Florida here, and I think they pull it out. Crocs, 28 - 24

Tennessee at Kentucky - Please, J-Load, pull an upset here and put Florida in the SEC Championship. Will it happen? Probably not. But for the sake of good gris-gris and self-preservation, I'm picking the Cats. Kentucky, 28 - 27

Georgia at Georgia Tech - If the Dawgs beat the Jackets on North Avenue, they probably get to play a week later just down the street at the Georgia Dome. UGA, 24 - 10

Ole Miss at Mississippi State (Thursday) - They call it The Egg Bowl. Not sure why. This year it's also known as Sherrill's Last Stand. He'll finish out like Custer. Rebels, 38 - 13

Alabama at Hawaii - Bama's pacific trip is a bowl-substitute for the Tide, and a win over the "Warriors" will help LSU by dropping USC's strength of schedule. Count on it. Bama, 28 - 21

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

The deep look at the BCS

NOTE: Despite the current color scheme of this blog, the little "tiger at a press conference" logo at top right and the fact that LSU is currently ranked No. 3 in the BCS, this piece is not about LSU's chances to move past USC into the No. 2 spot of the BCS and play for the national championship. To write about such things would be to look way, way too far ahead. We still have to beat Arkansas the win the SEC Championship game. I understand that, and therefore this piece is a hypothetical examination of the BCS dynamics.

In the office yesterday, me and the one guy I don't hate up here were talking BCS and whether a team in third place near the end of the regular season could possibly pass a team ranked second if the second-place team does not lose its last game of the season.

The only talk about such a circumstance puts it at a longshot. But let's take a closer look at this completely hypothetical BCS situation and I'll try to show how such a flip could be likely.

In this situation, we have Team A (at 2nd in the BCS) and Team B (3rd in the BCS). Both teams are 10-1. Team A is second in both human polls, Team B third in both. Team A's average computer ranking is 2.33, Team B's is 3.00. Team A has a better strength of schedule (SOS), but Team B has -.4 quality win points, leaving Team A at 6.89 in total BCS points and Team B at 9.04 (lower, of course, is better).

The conventional wisdom is that Team A is a lock if it wins its last game. No way Team B can make up a 2.15 spread if both teams win out and have just 1 loss each.

But ... let's look a little closer. Team B not only has a final regular-season game to play this week, but a conference championship game after that. Team A does not play its final game until the same day as Team B's conference championship game.

Team B's opponent this week is currently 8-3, which will help improve Team B's SOS. An educated guess is that this week Team B's SOS points would improve by about .44. And because SOS is a major component in the computer rankings, Team B could very well improve it's BCS points there by .50.

Team B has already passed Team A in 2 of the 7 computer ratings, and if Team B displaces Team A in any more, Team A could lose a few tenths as well. There's a real possibility that computer rankings could be a wash by next Monday at 2.50 each.

And Team A is likely to suffer a slight drop in SOS in their off week because of games played by its opponents.

Therefore, it's quite possible that the 2.15 point gap between A and B this week could narrow to around 1.25 by next Monday.

Then the following week, Team A is back in action against a 7-4 team while Team B would play either a 9-2 or 8-3 team in its conference championship. Team A's SOS would stay more of less the same, while Team B would see another SOS boost, gaining another .2 or so in the BCS.

That boost will also help in the computer rankings, which will be the final component to come together in the final standings Dec. 7. Team B would need to gain an edge in computer rankings over Team A, which is not far fetched given the quality win and improving SOS.

However, as everyone is quick to point out, even then Team B would not have enough juice to pass Team A (especially if Team B's conference-championship opponent is the team currently giving Team B a -.4 quality win bonus).

But - and here's what nobody seems to be taking into consideration - after their games on Dec. 6, Team A will be 11-1 and will have just beaten a mediocre in-conference opponent to finish the season, and Team B will be 12-1 and will have just beaten a team ranked in the BCS top 10.

Why does that matter? One word: Humans.

Between now and Dec. 7, Team B could very well gain .56 points in SOS, a full point in computer rankings, but lose the .4 quality win point, meaning a net gain of 1.16 points. That's still .99 less than Team A.

And that's where the humans come in. Come the wee hours of Dec. 6, when Team B has just beaten a BCS top 10 team to win its conference championship and move to 12-1, 65 sportswriters (AP) and 63 coaches (ESPN) will have to decide if they really think Team A - at only 11-1 and with a season-ending win over its conference's 5th-place team - is the country's second-best team.

If 33 of the sportswriters or 32 of the coaches believe a 12-1 Team B is better than a 11-1 Team A, Team A will lose .5 in the human poll average, and Team B will gain .5. That's 1.00 in BCS rankings if just one poll flips Team A and Team B, and that's enough to move Team B up to BCS No. 2.

How likely is all this to happen? Hard to say. But if Team A and Team B were to both win out, it's a certainty that Team B will have improved its SOS and computer ratings, and it would be up to the humans to declare a team with one fewer wins over lesser opponents to be more worthy of a national title shot.

Monday, November 24, 2003

SEC Week 13 wrapup

Try as I might - I don't want to get ahead of myself - I can't stop poking around the mathematics of the BCS. The chances look less than good that LSU can pass USC without a USC loss Dec. 6, and I'm not good at math, but it's an interesting exercise nonetheless.

So the wrapup is a little behind schedule. But here we go ...

The Ole Miss game was just about the most uncomfortable 3 and 1/2 hours of my (and TCL's) life. Jesus, guys, move the ball! After spotting the Rebs 7 (when I was a kid, we'd do that with the little kids we'd play in the backyard, too) and sputtering on offense, it was up to our NCAA-best defense to hold the game together. And they did that very, very well. Poor Eli won't get a Heisman. Hey, at least he's not Cooper.

I also made the very bad mistake of changing my gameday routine. With so much on the line, I decided to pull out the LSU cap, jersey, game-used helmet and car flag. Big mistake. Blame me for the first Ole Miss touchdown. I put everything away after that. Sorry.

So we took Ole Miss down and now have to put the Hogs away Friday to give me something to do the night of Dec. 6. Geaux Tigers.

Elsewhere, Auburn took care of business in the Iron Bowl, Georgia topped Kentucky, Arkansas ran over Miss. St, Clemson downed South Carolina and Tennessee destroyed Vanderbilt - all as predicted (ok, all favorites ... but right is right).

So 6 - 0 for the week, 72 - 19 for the season and 10 - 1 on my Tigers.

Friday, November 21, 2003

SEC Week 13 preview

Week 13? We play Ole Miss for the SEC West title in week 13? 13?!?!? Jesus, man, you might as well just break all the mirrors in the locker room before the game.

Actually, I guess the odds are 50/50 that the bad luck is for Ole Miss, not us. So I shall not get too worked up about it.

But this is it. The big showdown. The first LSU / Ole Miss game to mean something in about 45 years. The winner - barring letdowns next week - gets a trip to Atlanta for a shot at the SEC Championship and, in LSU's case, continued hope for a national title.

Anyone who gives a damn knows the breakdown of this game - LSU has the country's best defense, Ole Miss has the SEC's best offense. Ole Miss has a decent run defense and a horrible (300 yards a game) pass defense. LSU is unforgiving against the run (60.8 yards a game) and also gives up less than 200 yards a game in the air.

Ole Miss is the sentimental favorite and should play with a lot of emotion. LSU is the budding powerhouse with everything to lose.

So what happens? LSU can't count on the standard strategy of stop the other team early, score early and grind it out from there. Eli is too talented and the Rebs can score way too quickly for that. So the Tigers have to gear up the offense a bit, stay aggressive and exploit the many weaknesses in the Rebel defense.

Ole Miss needs a Heisman-winning game from Eli, a lot of LSU mistakes and the game of a lifetime from their defense to take this particular showdown.

I think the Tigers are too damn close to the prize to have a letdown now. Saban will have them ready for the game. Eli will have his moments, but it won't be enough. LSU, 38 - 31

Elsewhere, Alabama visits Auburn for their annual battle. What's on the line this year? Tuberville's job and not much else. Auburn, 24 - 20

Kentucky at Georgia - Hmm. Cats lose to Vandy and now have to play Georgia and Tennessee to wrap up the season. Sorry to hear about that. Maybe J-Load has a 1% chance of coming out firing and taking down the Dawgs®. Georgia, 24 - 16

Mississippi State at Arkansas - Hasn't Jackie Sherrill left yet? His Bulldogs come around to stink up yet another SEC city this weekend. Arkansas, 35 - 17

Clemson at South Carolina - The fabled Palmetto State rivalry. Who cares? Clemson, 21 - 17

Vanderbilt at Tennessee - The fancy folks from Nashville pull on their sequined gold caps and $200 jeans and head east. They've got a better chance of finding an indoor toilet in Knoxville than Vandy has of winning there tomorrow. Vols, 41 - 13

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

And speaking of PETA ...

The anti-anti-animal people are taking heat for an ad they've produced that promotes dog neutering my making fun of Clay Aiken, the Martin Short impersonator who almost won American Idol or something (having never watched an episode, I'm not 100% on that, but I think maybe he lost out to a fat black guy).

In the ad, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog promotes canine castration with the line "Get Neutered—It Didn’t Hurt Clay Aiken." Aiken drew the ire of PETA by telling a Rolling Stone writer he hates cats and thinks he ran over a kitten once.

OK, you piss off PETA, they make fun of you. Sounds fair enough.

But, no.

PETA can exploit the near-death experience of Roy Horn by saying captive tigers are going to turn on innocent people and there's no outcry. They can feature campaigns such as "Tell the Girl Scouts to Stop Torturing and Killing Animals" with little if any public outcry. They can even go after Christians with a "I said 'Thou shalt not kill" vegetarian billboard without getting Jerry Falwell in an uproar.

But speak ill of America's (second?) best-loved under-talented, over-marketed pop star of the moment? You've gone too far, PETA! TOO DAMN FAR!!!

Apparently the group was flooded with complaints from the bean-poled geek's fans protesting such a harsh and unfair attack on what is surely the most talented young performer to come along in nearly 6 weeks.

And PETA is now backpedaling on the Triumph / Clay Aiken campaign, putting a stop to the planned rollout of the campaign (PETA people are saying they're waiting to see if Aiken apologizes for the RS remarks).

If only Clay Aiken were in the National Guard - we could end the war in Iraq tomorrow.

Normally I'd not buy a P.O.S. American car ... but these guys have the Trunk Monkey!!

Listening to the Neal Boortz show during lunch the other day, I heard an ad for a local car dealer. The spokesman for this dealer is UGA football announcer Larry Munson, who's an ancient, incoherent relic who should be put out to pasture*. But I digress ..

At the end of the ad, Larry throws in the tagline: "Home of the Trunk Monkey."

This, of course, piqued my curiosity. Perhaps the Trunk Monkey is some kind of chimp on display at the dealership? There's a truckstop on I-10 across the river from Baton Rouge that has tigers on display as a gimmick, so it's not too much of a stretch to get to Trunk Monkey.

But I was at a loss. Is there was supposed to be some kind of obvious context - "Honey, does Atlanta have a Trunk Monkey anywhere?" - in this tagline? If so, I wasn't getting it.

So I Googled "Trunk Monkey". Turns out the Trunk Monkey is part of a syndicated car-dealership commercial in which a guy is seen using the "Trunk Monkey" feature of his car to ward off some road rager who's harassing him.

To wit: The Trunk Monkey commercial. Man, that's some funny stuff. A monkey in the trunk? Whoda thunk it?

Unfortunately, there are a trio of factors which prevent me from catching on to "hilarious" local commercials. 1) I have DishNetwork, so I get no local commercial except on local channels; 2) I rarely watch local channels; 3) I watch commercials even less frequently than local channels because of my DishPVR 721.

So my exposure to "clever" things like the Trunk Monkey is fairly limited.

But seeing the clip online, and especially seeing versions from markets around the country, sparked a flashback to the glory days of "hilarious" "local" commercials that were, in fact, running in markets across the country with the branding dropped in for each client.

Jim Varney, of course, got his start as Ernest in the "Hey, Vern" commercials back in the 1980s. In Baton Rouge, Ernest was big into banking. City National Bank, I believe.

After Ernest ran its course, there was some group of commercials that was basically an Ernest ripoff featuring a guy in old-lady drag who called people "Sister." I don't remember too much about those commercials, except that the guy in drag looked a lot like my friend Dave.

I remember the first time I was somewhere other than Baton Rouge and saw an Ernest commercial. I wanted to call City National and tell them somebody was ripping them off until I realized Ernest might not be from Baton Rouge after all (when I got back home, I stopped looking for him at K&B).

But back to the Trunk Monkey.

My research shows that I'm truly behind the curve on the T.M. The ad, which was created by an agency in Oregon, has not only won awards and been written up in local markets where the ad is running, but it's even drawn the ire of PETA.

For those of you without broadband connections, I think PETA does a good job of summarizing the commercial:
R/West, an advertising agency in Portland, Oregon, has created a commercial called “Trunk Monkey” that portrays a chimpanzee stored in an automobile trunk and summoned out wielding a tire iron whenever the operator of the vehicle is harassed by another driver. The commercial is being sold to car dealerships all over the country.

Of course, if PETA hates it ... I'm a fan. Go Trunk Monkey!

The gay marriage thing

I don't often get into the "big issues" Americans are talking about, except when I see a good opportunity to mock and poke fun.

But the reaction to this "gay marriage" ruling up in Massachusetts has really pissed me off.

I could rant on about this for a long, long time. But this blog isn't meant to be a heavy read. For the record, however, I will say this:

This "gay marriage" issue has nothing to do with religion. So all you Christians who see this as a threat to "the family" "the Judeo-Christian tradition" or any of that garbage just shut up. If your religion is against "gay marriages", then don't allow them to happen in your church. That is the only religious issue here.

What the Massachusetts ruling applies to is "civil marriage", which is the set of rights and privileges a state determines married couples should enjoy which unmarried couples do not. These typically involve things such as inheritance rights, exemption from estate taxes, the ability to sue for wrongful death of your partner, etc. It's basically the state's certification that two people are one legal entity - in other words a "family."

And when a state institutes these rights and privileges, then denies those rights and privileges to a committed couple because they happen to be of the same sex, it's wrong. Yep, simple as that. It's as wrong as denying black people the right to vote.

But the thing that really, really bothers me is that the anti-gay sentiment in the U.S. appear to be growing with each court ruling that favors the rights of homosexuals. CNN showed a poll to that effect this morning.

Interestingly, according to CNN, those polled were much more inclined to support allowing gay "civil unions" than "gay marriage." It's the same thing, people. The word "marriage' just freaks out your little Christian soul.

But now there is fear of a "anti-gay backlash" because of this ruling and the sodomy a few months back. And, sadly, that's probably accurate. God help you if you offend the Christians.

To fight this backlash, it's important that we in the "straight but not narrow" crowd not sit by quietly as the Christians work to keep the gays down.

So, leave the gays alone. They deserve the same rights as the rest of us. And if a gay couple wants the rights and privileges of a civil marriage, they are entitled to it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Cap'n Ken answers your search questions ...

Seeing as the Wisdom is already in the "holiday spirit" today (see entry below), I think it's fitting to answer a very special search question that led somebody here yesterday.

A Yahoo! searcher asks:

Words and Phrases Used to Emcee a Christmas Party

Well, apart from the obvious things such as "Welcome to the Christmas Party" or "Is everybody having a good time?", let me suggest a few effective seasonal words and phrases to spice up your emcee hosting gig.

• The use of the term "yule log" as a euphemism for human feces is always a hit during the holidays. I'd suggest something like "Hey, I guess Bob's got to go check on the yule log" when you see somebody get up and leave the room.

• If there's a woman at the party who has a "reputation", you might work in the "naughty or nice" line. For example "Santa didn't have to check to see whether Amber had been naughty or nice this year. He'd already heard all the stories."

• Also in the sexual innuendo department, see if you can fit phrases like "Christmas cookies", "Santa's lap", "Nutcracker" and "stocking stuffer" into the mix.

• Although most Christmas words and phrases were, in fact, created specifically to be used as sexual innuendo, there are a few more suitable for polite company. "God bless us - everyone" is an effective way to show everyone that you are both understand the religious significance of Christmas and get all of your religious phrases from Charles Dickens' stories.

• Using the names "Jesus" and "Santa" interchangeably is another way to show you understand the true meaning of Christmas. Try lines such as "I hope Jesus brings me a HDTV this year" or "In this glorious season when we celebrate the birth of the baby Santa."

• And assuming this is, in fact, a "Christmas" party, it's always fun to say something like "If there are any Jews here, take your damned souls away from my God's celebration right now!"

I hope this small list of suggestions is helpful in planning your Christmas party emcee duties.

And, again, thanks for looking to the Cap'n to answer your most pressing search questions.

Monday, November 17, 2003

No unfunny chinese women, please

With time to kill this evening and not much inspiration coming my way for a blog, I decided to spend some time looking around the blogsphere for some Atlanta / Georgia / Southern blog links to throw out.

From what I can tell, I may be the world's most discriminating blog-linker. The links you'll see in my right-side rail represent the totality of unrelated (in the sense of being friends/family) blogs I've so far come across and find interesting enough to link to.

It's a short list. I worked hard to find the seven blogs which now live under the Atl / Ga. / Southern Blogs section.

There are a lot of things that keep blogs off my links list.

Of course, blogs that suck or aren't updated with some sort of frequency get cast right off.

Among the other, completely subjective reasons I decided against linking to particular blogs today:

• An otherwise snappy blogger making a reference to himself as a sommelier (I hate wine snobs)

• An otherwise snappy blogger promoting herself a little too loudly as Pro Life and Republican

• An otherwise snappy blogger trying just a bit too hard to be sexy in her bio-photo

• An otherwise snappy blogger being a bit too sexy in her bio-photo for me to not feel guilty for linking to her

• An otherwise snappy blogger professing a deep appreciation for the humor of Margaret Cho

So for now, it's just these seven. I welcome requests from other bloggers or fans of particular blogs to list 'em here.

SEC Week 12 wrapup

If Saturday night's game at Alabama was the "late-season letdown" game for LSU, I'll take it. The offense started strong, sputtered, and then recovered, while the defense didn't let up all night long.

We held Bama to just 65 rushing yards (actually above our average of 60) and, of course, 3 points (we still lead the nation in scoring defense).

I'd picked a win, but a close one. But a win's a win here at CKHW.

Elsewhere, Georgia had no problem with Auburn, thanks in large part to Auburn forgetting that it's a running team. I got that one right.

The Crocodiles had more trouble with South Carolina than they should, but they came through with the win for Zook (and me).

[interesting side note: with the Crocs winning now, and with their Florida State showdown looming, it's very possible that if Georgia were to lose to Georgia Tech, the Crocs would be rated higher in the BCS, which - thanks to the B.S. tiebreaker rule change - would mean Tennessee goes to the SEC Championship]

The Vols had no trouble with MSU, as predicted.

Vandy, however, spoiled my perfect week, upsetting JLoad and the Cats. Seems Kentucky may have some motivation going into the Georgia game afterall ...

Arkansas took care of non-SEC business against New Mex St.

So, 5 - 1 for the week, 66 - 19 for the season, and 9 - 1 on my Tigers.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Getting Sirius

My new Sirius satellite radio unit arrived yesterday. We get free equipment and a deal on the service through my employer. So after enjoying Sirius in our L.A. rental car, I figured it was a deal worth getting on board with.

There's a lot to like about the Sirius lineup, including the First Wave stream (think GOOD '80s station), Left of Center (think GOOD college radio station) and ESPN Radio (think GOOD sports/talk station where the hosts talk more about sports than themselves). There's also a lot that doesn't much interest me (any of the current hit stuff, jazz, hispanic, etc.). But so far in my very brief life as a Sirius subscriber, my stream of choice is the Sirius Trucking Network.

STN is a stream created specifically for cross-country, 18-wheel truckers. I keep listening for commercials from truckstop hookers (haven't heard that yet), but the morning show features great stuff like trucker-specific news (the New York port authority has a new program to move more freight on barges, which is not good for truckers, and Pennsylvania may raise the gas tax, which also is not good for truckers), trucker traffic (nationwide interstate construction updates) and trucker weather (same deal - weather affecting interstates). Cut that in with tracks from George Jones and the Allman Brothers and you've got yourself a Trucker Channel.

The Sirius unit I got is a portable Audiovox unit that has a built-in FM transmitter to pipe the signal to your car stereo without cables. On the unit's box there's some Sirius promo that says "More than 100 streams of digital music - and it's all legal!" (Napster effect, I guess)

So I go out at lunch today to shop for a second base unit for the wife's SUV (the receiver itself pops in and out of a base unit you keep in the car). Because I already use a cassette-deck thingy to connect my Sony Clie's MP3 player to the stereo, I figure I'll buy the cheaper base unit, which doesn't have the FM receiver, and put the FM unit in the wife's ride.

I hit Best Buy. They have the home base, but not the car base. HiFi Buys has the receiver, but no bases, HH Gregg has a Sirius display but no equipment I could find. Media Play sells DishNetwork stuff but not satellite radio. And then there's Circuit City.

I get over to Circuit City and check out their Sirius display. There's a sign and price tag on the shelf for the FM-transmitter unit (henceforth known as CK-1). However, the one box that's on the shelf is the non-FM-transmitter unit (CK-2). My research suggests CK-1 sells for $49.99 and CK-2 sells for $29.99.

So I take the box up to the register and get the cashier to look up the price. $49.99. OK, maybe it's the CK-1 in a CK-2 box or something. So I find the car audio guy, explain to him the difference between CK-1 and CK-2 and ask him to see if they stock both. So he looks up the price of CK-2, and sure enough it's $49.99. So then he looks up CK-1, which comes up at $49.96.

OK ... so the FM transmitter is worth -3 cents? Needless to say, I did not purchase anything at Circuit City. I figure when we're out and about this weekend I'll shop more for an appropriately-priced CK-2.

SEC Week 12 picks

The week after 3 of the top-5 BCS teams lost found me paying a lot of attention - probably way too much - to the what-ifs and could-bes of the final weeks of the season. Is it better for us if Georgia loses to Auburn and we get Tennessee in the SEC Championship? ... If Ohio State loses to Purdue and then beats Michigan, both of those teams get taken out of the BSC mix ... What are the chances Oklahoma loses the Big XII Championship? ...

But, alas, these are all secondary concerns. LSU has to beat Bama this weekend for any BCS eventualities to mean anything to us.

Nevermind that Alabama is 4-6 and LSU is 8-1. That means little here. Bama is playing well, has nothing to lose and has everything to gain by knocking us out of our No. 3 ranking and the BCS mix.

Bama's offense is not unlike Auburn's - they run better than they throw. Their 174 yards on the ground, 189 in the air and 27.6 points per game don't mean a lot given the 7 periods of overtime they've played, but they don't, in fact, suck on offense.

The Tide defense is respectable, having held Oklahoma to 20 points (nobody else has kept them under 30) early in the year, and coming off a shutout of the woeful Miss. State Bulldogs. They give up 112 yards rushing and 216 yards passing a game (also overtime-inflated).

So I think Alabama has enough talent to win this game. I'm sure they're one of the best 4-6 team in the country.

The key to the game, then, is LSU's ability to focus on Bama as the next obstacle toward an SEC Championship and not as a 4-6 team we play in the game before Ole Miss.

As I've said many, many times, LSU would traditionally blow it here. If we can manage not to blow it, that would (again) say a lot about Nick Saban.

I, for one, am nervous about this game. I hope the team is, too.

I'll pick LSU to squeeze by an up-for-it Bama squad. LSU, 24 - 20

Elsewhere, the "big game" is Auburn at Georgia. Before the season, Auburn was the pick here; early on in the season Georgia was; then Auburn seemed like the better team, and now both are looking for some salvation. Auburn dropped the ball, so to speak, against Ole Miss last week, and Georgia's still smarting from the annual "Florida beats Georgia" game of two weeks ago.

One of the big problems for Georgia two weeks ago was injuries. A week off helps that tremendously.

And Georgia still has a big prize - the SEC Championship Game if they can win out (thanks to a bullshit mid-season change of the tiebreaker rules) - to get them up for this game. Auburn needs a win to qualify for the Bluebonnet Bowl. Tommy T: "Let's go, guys! Bluebonnet Bowl or Bust!!!"

So I like Georgia to win this one. Dawgs, 31 - 17

Florida at South Carolina - The Crocs against the Cocks. A win for Florida here makes their matchup against Florida State meaningful again. A win for South Carolina makes ... not much of a difference. Crocodiles, 31 - 10

Mississippi State at Tennessee - Will the Vols be caught looking foward to their annual showdown with Vandy next week? No. Vols, 28 - 13

Kentucky at Vanderbilt - zzz. Cats, 49 - 14

New Mexico State at Arkansas - Why the hell are the Hogs playing some bad out-of-conference team this late in the season? Hogs, 27 - 10

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Ah, to be in Paris in the Springtime ...

OK, I admit it. I watched the Paris Hilton sex video, or at least the 3-minute clip that was sent around to the media and which you can download from just about anywhere right now (no links on this one ... do your own damn research).

As a loyal viewer of Celebrities Uncensored, I've become a fan of Paris. Any girl who's that hot, young, rich and blonde is aces in my book. Not that I figure Paris to be a great person, fun to talk to or anything like that. She's a different take on the Pam Anderson / Carmen Electra living-sex-doll thing. Paris is the spoiled, skinny, rich version of the living sex doll.

So the video was a big letdown. Not only is the "sample" clip shot on what looks like - at least in the version I saw - some kind of night-vision camera, but all through it Paris is doing exactly what she does on Celebrities Uncensored - vamping for the camera!

On Celebrities Uncensored, Paris will just stop in the middle of the street when she sees a camera. She vogues and poses until her friends finally drag her away. And on the sex video, we see her naked, seemingly ready to get busy ... then she stops to vogue for the camera! There's her dude doing his best to keep his member at attention, trying to back her up, and she's caught up in watching herself on the monitor. When the dude finally manages to back her into position, she keeps backing up to get herself into the frame (and push him out)!

There are about four scenes in all, and each is the same story. She doesn't seem at all interested in the sex. To her, it's just another chance to get in front of a camera.

I think I understand now why her (non-porn) movie career hasn't panned out.

Cap'n Ken answers your search questions ...

First up in today's entries from the search pile is from a Google searcher who asks:

luxor hooker vegas find

Unfortunately, Mr. Searcher, Cap'n Ken did not find a hooker when we stayed at the Luxor during our recent Vegas trip, so I don't have much advice to offer. Sadly, there were a ton of Midwestern moms pushing strollers through the casino, but nary an obvious hooker (at least not one already bought by some high-roller) to be found.

Also in the pile, another Google searcher asks:


Dude, thanks for the tip! Although they are not called "LSU" bottles (I imagine the NCAA frowns upon associating schools with whisky), Maker's Mark has rolled out a new season of "regional bottles." And, according to the web site announcement, "Louisiana" is one of the regions represented. I trust that the Louisiana bottle is, in fact, dipped in purple and gold wax.

The special bottles are sold in the specific markets, which means the Louisiana one would be available - obviously - down in Louisiana.

Hmm, that sounds like a great Christmas gift idea for somebody who's both a fan of LSU and Maker's Mark ...

And finally, from MSN:

i hate the Big Ten

Man, I'm with you there. Outside of Michigan and (some years) Ohio State, the Big Ten is completely overrated. That conference blows.

"Hello, Atlanta!!! Are you ready to rock?!? And are you ready to fight media consolidation and push for fair trade?!?!?"

Last Sunday I saw one of those little Variety Playhouse fliers over at my pal Edward's place. It was for a show this coming Sunday featuring Billy Bragg, Steve Earle, Tom Morello (late of Rage Agin' The Machine and now billed as 'The Nightwatchman') and Mike Mills (yes, that Mike Mills). Sounded pretty cool.

"Performing together and separately," the flier promised. This was one of those quarter-sheet fliers that had space to list the artists, venue, date, time and not much else.

For instance, it didn't have space to mention that this show is - in fact - part of some political roadshow called "Tell Us The Truth," which is billed as a "music and education trek that will put issues of media reform, economic and environmental justice and democracy at the top of the American political agenda ..." The tour's website goes on to say "this tour will be the loudest, angriest, funniest and most effective challenge to corporate domination of the public discourse in recent history."

Cool! For my $21.50 (plus $4.75 Ticketmaster Convenience Charge), I not only get to hear Billy Bragg, Steve Earle, Tom Morello and Mike Mills perform; I also get to hear them and AFL-CIO officials talk about economic and social justice!!

No thanks.

Am I for free trade? Sure, I guess. Am I concerned about the effect the consolidation of media outlets by huge media companies has on the future of free speech? Well, if the wife and I didn't work for huge media companies, I'm sure I would be.

But that's beside the point.

If these guys want to do a political tour that hooks people in with musical talent, don't charge me $21.50 to see it. And if you're going to charge me $21.50 to see a show, don't push your damn political agenda on me.

Maybe next Spring I'll organize a political/music tour that rallies people behind the message that political/musical tours shouldn't charge $21.50 for tickets. I'll make a fortune.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Clearing my good name ...

Last night, the wife told me she received an email from Woodhill Will in response to her blog about our brunch at the Heaving Bowl. Will expressed his hatred (he is hardly alone there) for Good News Cafe, but he also called the Cap'n's manhood into question because I had ordered a Diet Coke - rather than coffee - before noon.

First off ... say it to my face, buddy. Don't sneak off an email to the wife badmouthing my supposed offenses against the coffee culture.

I believe the wife explained my choice correctly - when we go out to brunch, my drink decision is driven by how many cups of coffee I've already had that day. Typically on the weekends I have three or four "cups" (16-ouncers, I guess) of coffee before we get moving. So if we're out at bunch after 11 or so, I usually have had my fill of coffee, and I switch to the cold stuff.

My friend, I can pound coffee with the best of them. I'm a caffeine addict of major proportions. And because my consumption is driven more by the addiction than love for the taste of any particular beverage; the practical concerns of delivering my fix come first.

On the weekends, I enjoy a constant stream of coffee, Diet Coke and Venti Quad Iced Lattes. What I drink during the day is mostly determined by what's available at the time.

During the work week, I have one or two - depending on how early I get up - cups of coffee at home, then I grab a Diet Coke from the fridge for the ride to work. I choose Diet Coke for the commute because I can toss the can when I'm done; I'm not good at getting travel mugs back to the house before critters begin living in them.

When I get to work, I have two cups of the Royal Crap we have in the breakroom during the morning - creamed up with the stash of mini-moos I buy at Publix and keep in my desk drawer. I drink my work coffee, by the way, out of the super-rocking, black LAPD Narcotics Group coffee mug I bought in a Vegas junk store a couple years ago. It's got a big, Dragnet-style LAPD badge on it and all that. I love setting that thing down on the table during morning meetings.

I'm done with the coffee by 10:30 or so. When I have an 11:00 meeting, I grab a 20-ounce Diet Coke from the machine to hold me over until lunch. The big bags of dimes and nickels I put together before our move helps with my Diet Coke costs.

At lunch, I usually swing by Quik Trip to grab a 32-ouncer from the fountain, and I work on it until I get back to the office. If it's still more than half-full, I bring it in with me. If not, it stays in the car.

I get another 20-ouncer for the afternoon, and depending on my meeting load I may get a third one later in the day (I drink constantly during meetings for some reason).

On the drive home I finish off the watered-down remnants of the QT drink (if it's there), or sometimes I'll stop on Howell Mill and fetch me a fresh beverage for the rest of the ride.

At home I usually have just one more Diet Coke during the evening, and sometimes the wife will brew a pot of Community. Oddly, I don't seem to have built up any resistance to the effects of caffeine, as I can't get to sleep if I drink coffee after 9 p.m.

On a typical work day, I consume somewhere between 4 and 6 quarts of caffeinated beverage. This, of course, is why I switched from Coke to Diet Coke and stopped sugaring my coffee.

Yes, I have a problem. But I will not stand for challenges to my coffee cred, Mr. Will.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

New comments up

I finally hit the wall with Enetation this morning (again loading blank pages) and dumped that comment system in favor of HaloScan.

The good news is comments should now work much better (Matt, I hear you'd be a commenting fool if they worked for you ...). The bad news is existing comments are gone now. The pains of progress, you know.

The good news in the bad news is that the pointless comments of that Mac Diva loser are also gone.

Monday, November 10, 2003

SEC Week 11 wrapup

No, I haven't been avoiding writing this because I had a bad week; just been busy.

After a weekend where 5 of the 6 teams ranked ahead of LSU in the BCS played; and after 3 of those 5 teams lost, I'm a happy camper. LSU is ranked No. 3 in the country. Yippee for us. It means not much if we don't win the next four games - Bama, Ole Miss, Arkansas and SEC East Champion - but it's a nice feeling.

But a good weekend for an idle LSU did not mean a good weekend of football pickin' for the Cap'n ...

I picked Auburn to beat Ole Miss, and I was one really, really, really poorly-timed dropped pass away from being right. Apart from one of the worst choke moments in the history of SEC football, that game really came down to Auburn not being able to convert on 3rd downs. Eli and company were pretty underwhelming on offense, and they allowed a poor-throwing Auburn to march down the field largely on pass plays on that last drive. So enjoy No. 1 in the SEC West, Col. Reb. You're going down a week from Saturday. But I missed this pick.

I also missed the Tennessee win over Miami, but I doubt few people whose wardrobe ventures outside of the orange hues or who have more than 4 teeth picked the Vols here.

Arkansas rolled up South Carolina Thursday, as predicted.

Bama destroyed a really, really bad MSU team, as foreseen.

And Florida managed to beat Vandy. No surprise there.

So a poor week at 3 - 2 brings me to 61 - 18 for the season, and I hold at 8-1 on my Tigers.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Down deep in the EAtl

When I came back from Home Depot Saturday morning (arms full of paper yard waste bags ... leaves were the weekend project), the wife wanted to ask me a question about the backyard.

Seems she'd not noticed this big hole out near the back corner of the yard and wanted to ask me if it's always been there ("always" as in since we moved in two weeks ago) or what.

So we go out on the deck. And there, shoulder deep in the hole and digging deeper, was the Big Brown Dog.

The BBD has always been somewhat of a digger. He's not looking to escape; he's just looking for adventure. And, obviously, something has caught his fancy underneath the backyard.

And the BBD is a hunting dog. Half Labrador, half German Shorthaired Pointer ... his genes are a mesh of tracking, swimming, running, fetching and ... digging dog. So if he's digging, there must be something down there. Or at least he thinks there's something down there.

I go down to the hole to see what's up. Nothing poking up through the hole; no obvious signs of what he's looking for. But he's sniffing the hole with the fervor of Stevie Nicks doing lines of coke and continues to hurl out big pawfuls of dirt from the ever-deepening pit.

When I manage to get BBD out of the hole and start excavating the site myself, the wife blurts out "I was kind of hoping you'd stop him, not help him" from up on the deck.

But he's after something, and I want to know what it is. Somewhere in his hole digging, he unearthed what looks like an old brown bottle, but I've dug enough random holes in my life to know that stuff buried in dirt seems to look about 10 times older than it actually is.

The BBD and I take turns digging, but we still turn up nothing but dirt and the growing web of roots we're hitting (The BBD is so crazed at this point that he's trying to pull the bigger roots out of the ground with his teeth).

With leaves to rake, blow and bag, I decide to leave the BBD alone with his little backyard project. Of course, as soon as I start raking leaves elsewhere in the backyard, the BBD picks up a tennis ball and starts following me around and dropping it in the leaf pile. He has a bit of a short attention span.

Alone with the yard blower and the BBD, I start to ponder the deeper (so to speak) meaning of the hole.

We're below root level in our dig, which means BBD is not smelling the leftovers of a Krystal sackful tossed into a construction infill spot when they built the place two years ago.

Until our neighborhood was built in 2001, our lot and the land nearby was the woods. Bigger trees were left; smaller ones were cut down (not too well, by the way, as we have several small stumps in the backyard). But from the beginning of time until two years ago, our home was wilderness.

But the street we live on has been a major commercial route since the Cherokee owned the place. It's one of those streets that the white folks incorporated into their system of roads once they sent the Indians off to Oklahoma.

And the hole is about 50 feet off this old-school expressway. Could the BBD be smelling the bones of some long-since dead Cherokee who kicked off in what is now out backyard?

Maybe? Seems like a stretch.

But how about this? That old Cherokee highway was also the route the Confederate troops used to try to sneak behind the Yankees when the city was under siege in 1864. There are historical markers within a quarter-mile in each direction noting the movement of these soldiers.

This little nugget of Civil War history is a big reason I like our house's location so much. And it's the reason I've been tempted to dig random holes in the yard myself.

In my neighborhood, 13,000 soldiers died in what became known as the Battle of Atlanta (the one depicted in the Cyclorama painting). You figure they managed to find and remove each of those 13,000 bodies in what was thick woods back then?

Yeah, it's a stretch. I went back out with the BBD later in the day, got a few inches deeper, but all I found was some very strange and big larvae of some kind (no, BBD was not after it ... I checked with him on that).

When discussing the potential reasons for BBD digging the hole, the wife threw out her independently-developed Confederate soldier theory as well.

The difference is she would see this as a bad thing. I think her quote was "I don't want to be those people on TV who have a Confederate soldier buried in their backyard," to which I replied "Damn! I do!!! I can see the big picture of me and the BBD on the cover of AJC's Metro section!"

Of course, if it's a Yankee ...

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Cap'n Ken recommends ...

I spent lunch today at one of the best unknown stores in Atlanta. It's a place in Marietta called Restaurant Solutions that's primarily a restaurant supply shop, but is open to the public and sells all sorts of kitchen stuff ... dirt freakin' cheap.

As with much of my culinary knowledge, I owe this discovery to one Alton Brown, whose Good Eats show on Food Network is a staple on the DVR timer list.

Alton is from Atlanta and shoots at locations all around town. He's featured Restaurant Solutions on a couple of episodes to demonstrate that you can save a lot of cash buying high-quality gear at restaurant supply stores. As far as I can tell, Restaurant Solutions is the only commercial supply store in Atlanta that's open to the public.

The store is a tiny shop way out in BFE, kind of near Dobbins. It took me several lunchtime scouting trips to actually find the place the first time. I suggest MapQuesting before trying to get there.

They sell standard kitchen gear like pots and pans, work bowls, spoons & spatulas, etc. along with odds and ends used by restaurants that might be cool in a home kitchen. And if you're in the market for something like a commercial deep fryer, school-lunch trays by the dozen or chef's jackets - you can't go wrong.

Did I mention it's all super cheap? I think that's because restaurants wear out and break things so often. Plus, when you're shopping in the store - most of the restaurants have stuff delivered - you get an additional 15% off the marked price. Supersweet.

I've been out a few times to browse and pick up an item or two, but with us settled into the new place now, the kitchen gear purchasing is getting serious.

Here's my take from today's visit:

• Two heavy-duty aluminum 1/2 sheet pans (baking sheets for you novices)
• A big-ass (18 x 24, I think) antibacterial cutting board
• Pro-quality Teflon omelette pan - to go with the bigger one I bought a couple weeks ago
• Big stanless-steel colander with base and handles
• Medium stainless-steel colander with base and handles
• Two stainless-steel "dredges" (things to shake spices out of)
• Pro-quality pizza cutter
• Fry pan splatter screen

My total outlay, including tax, for this haul - $57.89. A quick online comparison suggests this stuff would run about $145 at a regular Bed & Things type store.

Now, there are a couple of quirks about the place. First off, they have no cash register, much less a computer system, so everything is written up on little triplicate-copy order sheets and totaled by hand. I see this as somewhat charming, but patience is a good thing to have. They're also only open 9 - 3 on Saturdays and closed on Sundays, so unless you can get there at lunch during the week, the hours are limited.

But - especially if you have a new kitchen you want to fill with new kitchen goods - the little hassles are really worth it.

Did I mention how cheap their prices are?

SEC Week 11 picks

With yet another Thursday night game in the SEC, picks are coming a day early.

And away we go ...

My Bayou Bengals are off this week, leaving me with no Tiger matchup to analyze. We LSU fans find ourselves in the very odd position this year of watching what's happening in the BCS - because it actually matters now! - so in place of Tiger thoughts, here are some BCS observations:

No. 1 Oklahoma - The powerhouse Sooners have Texas A&M, Baylor and Texas Tech left on the schedule, then a likely showdown with Nebraska or Kansas State in the Big XII Championship. I don't like their chances of losing one of the last three regular-season games, but the championship game could be interesting if Nebraska gets in (note: Kansas State is a joke ... I have more respect for Vanderbilt football than the always-way-overrated Wildcats). If I were a betting man, I'd say Oklahoma goes undefeated into the Sugar Bowl.

No. 2 USC - The Trogans have a pretty easy route with three games against also-ran Pac 10 (an also-ran conference) teams left. And no conference championship game.

No. 3 Florida State - Look to the Nov. 29 game against Florida as the best chance for a BCS Top 5 upset.

No. 4 Miami - The Canes looked bad enough against Va. Tech that I could see them blowing another game - maybe, but not likely, against Tennessee this weekend or against Pitt to end the season. But it's more than likely that they win out.

No. 5 Ohio State - They are not as good as their ranking, and with Michigan State, Purdue and Michigan still on the schedule, I like the chances that they lose one of these.

No. 6 Virginia Tech - I think the Hokies stay focused after the big Miami win. They have four games left, however, so maybe they stumble.

No. 7 LSU - We've got Alabama, Ole Miss and Arkansas left, then the SEC Championship if we want to play with the big boys in the BCS. More to come in the weeks ahead.

Now to this week's SEC schedule:

Ole Miss at Auburn - Ah, the game to decide who's Number 2 in the SEC West. I'm pulling for Ole Miss in this one in my aforementioned hopes that the LSU / Ole Miss game will be a real showdown for the west race. That said, I think this is the week Eli and the gang get brought back to reality. Auburn, 24 - 17

Tennessee at Miami (Saturday) - I'd love to see the Vols take down the 'Canes and pull them down in the BCS. But I'm not betting on it. The 'Canes will be up for this one after the Hokies loss, and Tennessee just isn't that good. 'Canes, 31 - 20

South Carolina at Arkansas (Thursday) - Kind of a pointless game now. Hogs, 17 - 10

Alabama at Mississippi State - Bama is 3-6, State is 2-6. Yawn. Bama, 31 - 17

Vandy at Florida - Good luck to the Commodores. Florida, 56 - 10

HOA meeting followup

Turns out the "emergency" was that one of the homeowners' big-ass dog (140 pounds, I hear) is "dog aggressive", its owners refuse to keep him on a leash and he's attacked two other dogs in the neighborhood. Sucks to be the couple living next door, as they have had their dog attacked and now the asshats owners of Cujo are filing vindictive complaints with animal control that the other couple's dog runs around loose (which is apparently not true).

And now the association will enforce the leash law, with progressive penalties and ultimately the removal of a dog (yes, they can do that) if problems persist.

So that was fun.

Of course, it was also the opportunity to meet the cul-de-sac people. They all appear to be decent folks, although there was just one couple (the attackees) who don't seem like they'd be as happy living in Alpharetta as East Atlanta. Not that there's anything wrong with that. More people who might buy in Alpharetta should think about buying in the city. Helps my property values, you know. But I like the hipsters more.

And if Cujo is termed "dog aggressive", we'll have to classify the Little Black Dog as "life form aggressive," as he hates and wants to kill just about anything that moves. If he were not 14 inches tall, 17 pounds and afraid to actually attack the things he barks at, he might be dangerous.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Silver Rights update

Well, that title is a bit misleading, seeing as the person who went way out of his/her way to label the Cap'n a conservative Southern cracker (see What a cracker that Cap'n is) seems perfectly happy throwing out his/her hatred and then running to hide.

After writing my rebuttal, I also sent Silver Rights an email followup. No reply, no comments on my response (although that Mac Diva dumbass from Blogcritics posted the same comment 4 times. Thanks!), no followup on his/her site.

It sure is an easy thing to spew nonsense and then run and hide, isn't it?

And now the bad part about the new house ...

I got home last night to find a note in my mailbox from the head of our homeowner's association - yes the new house comes with one of those.

The note was announcing an "emergency meeting" to be held tonight at 7. The subject of the meeting is "an ongoing problem" with how people are handling their dogs or something like that.

If this wasn't described as an "ongoing" problem, I'd think maybe the HOA is not happy that the Big Brown Dog and the Little Black Dog came along with us to the new place. Both dogs enjoy barking at people walking down the street, the dog next door, etc. and the Little Brown Dog just enjoys barking to hear the sound of his own voice.

But considering we've only been in the new house for 11 days, I doubt they qualify as "ongoing." I'd guess the "emergency" has something to do with people not picking up dog shit from their neighbors yards over in the cul-de-sac or somesuch.

In any case, it'll be our first encounter with the HOA and the "cul-de-sac people" (our house is one of four built outside the cul-de-sac on existing roads in East Atlanta). We also owe our annual dues, which we will hand over tonight. And I'll use the opportunity to find out a little more about what the $200 per house dues actually pay for (other than the cost of printing "emergency meeting" notes to put in mailboxes).

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

He looks like a Johnson

C.K.H.W. welcomes our newest 'hood reader, a T. Johnson of East Atlanta. Seems Mr. Johnson was searching via Google for Auburn Tigers living in East Atlanta and wound up at the Cap'n's place instead.

And, it turns out, he's among the handful of Auburn grads who can actually write almost complete sentences, so he drops me a line (with great things to say about C.K.H.W., of course).

I thanked him for stopping by, and being a good friend and all that, I pointed him toward Char-lez's little corner of blogdom as evidence that Auburn Tigers can survive south of I-20.

He did mention that Cap'n Ken's (and the wife's) blogs seem to be a lot more active than Char-lez's ...

Sunday, November 02, 2003

SEC Week 10 wrapup

Playing just one half of football Saturday night, LSU rang up 49 points on poor La. Tech. And although I was disappointed to see the boys take the second half off - it's official school policy to run up the score, you know (see 'Hey Fightin' Tigers' ... "you got to go for the touchdown, run up the score, make Mike the Tiger stand right up and roar ...") - it was just the kind of no-letdown game we needed to make a case in the polls.

And as a result, we're No. 4 in both polls today. We'll see how the BCS shakes out at 3.

I wasn't happy to see us give up a season-high 121 yards rushing to La. Tech, but that's really nitpicking, isn't it? We held a team that averages 323 yards passing and 28 points a game to 220 and 10.

The annual "Florida beats Georgia" game played out as predicted, although with much less scoring that I'd have thought. Postgame sports radio chatter has brought out all the "what ifs" from UGA fans "Man, if we'd have just made a touchdown on that last drive," but the biggest "what if" is ... what if Ed Z had the balls to do something other than run up the gut for all 6 plays of Florida's two first-and-goal opportunities early in the game? Jesus, Ed, have some faith in Mr. Leak.

I'd picked the Arkansas / Kentucky game to go to a record-tying 7 overtimes, but I had Kentucky winning in. Oh well. Actually, I picked Kentucky to dominate, and if J-Load and his receivers had played worth a damn the first 50 minutes of the game, they might have. So I blew this one.

I got South Carolina / Ole Miss right. Auburn v Ole Miss will be fun this weekend.

I'm pretty impressed with my pick in the UL Monroe / Auburn game. I said 63 - 6, and it turned out 73 - 7.

Tennessee looked very not-impressive in their win over Duke. They're going to have a tough time against Miami this weekend. But I got the pick right.

So, for the week I'm 5 - 1, for the season 58 - 16 and 8 - 1 on the Tigers.