Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Carl DuBois on being a Tiger

I saw this in The Advocate (the Baton Rouge daily, not the national gay newspaper) this morning, and I thought about posting it if only for the enjoyment of myself and TCL, who is the only other known LSU fan who's a regular Wisdom reader.

But now that most of south Louisiana is reading the Wisdom (thanks, TCL!), I figure more folks might enjoy this. If you don't understand, that's ok. You have to be special to be an LSU fan.
Maybe you've heard countless tales about LSU's national championship football season of 1958 as long as you can remember, and you wondered if anything like that could happen in your lifetime.

Maybe, during LSU's struggles in the 1990s, you took solace in how Skip Bertman built a baseball program that won five national titles, and you thought of the possibilities if a football coach with a vision and a plan of that caliber would awaken the sleeping giant across Nicholson Drive.

Maybe you stayed until the bitter end of the 58-3 loss to Florida in 1993, because that's what true fans do. Maybe you booed at the end of the first half of the loss to Ole Miss in 2001, because you believe you purchased that right when you bought your season ticket.

Maybe you wanted to Help Mac Pack. Maybe you cried when Paul Dietzel left.

Maybe the Golden Band from Tigerland's pregame fanfare always gives you goose bumps. Maybe you own the CD. And the cassette.

Maybe you swelled with pride when a national announcer acknowledged the existence of a player from your hometown. Maybe you cringed every time ABC's Chris Schenkel pronounced Opelousas as if it were a breed of horse.

Maybe you once thought the magic was back, but the trick was on you.

Maybe you miss Cholly Mac and wish you could tell him.

Maybe you'll have two friends videotaping the Sugar Bowl for you, as backups, just to be sure. Maybe you beat the odds and struck gold in the ticket lottery, but your best friend didn't, and you wish there were something you could do.

Maybe you inherited your season tickets from your parents, and you choke up when you imagine how excited they would be Sunday. Maybe you will go to church that day for the first time in years, maybe near the Superdome.

Maybe New Orleans was an annual vacation spot for your family, and you watched the Dome mushroom out of the ground from nowhere and thought it was so cool to think about football indoors, which your mom never allowed.

Maybe you're old enough to remember the first play in Saints history, John Gilliam's 94-yard kickoff return, and you remember thinking, "This is going to be so great!"

Maybe you've often said New Orleans would implode if the Saints ever played a Super Bowl in the Dome. Maybe you're thinking that would pale in comparison to the improbable: LSU playing there for a national championship.

Maybe you stop and nearly pinch yourself each time you hear someone -- maybe you -- saying "LSU" and "national championship" in the same sentence, one that doesn't use the past tense.

Maybe you can't seem to stop humming the Michigan fight song.

Maybe you knew Jeff Boss. Maybe you wish you did.

Maybe your breakfast of champions on work days is a Little Debbie oatmeal pie and day-old coffee reheated in the microwave, because if it's good enough for Nick Saban ...

Maybe you can't wait for Sunday to get here. Maybe you want time to slow down so the moment can last forever. Maybe you know you might never pass this way again.

Maybe your boss already suspects you'll call in sick Monday. Maybe she will, too.

Maybe you bought your daughter a Matt Mauck jersey for Christmas. Maybe she's twice his age. Maybe you hope LSU changes the campus speed limit to 18 mph, in honor of Mauck's jersey number, as Ole Miss did for Archie Manning.

Maybe your children will tell their children stories about Mauck and Justin Vincent the way your parents told you about Warren Rabb, Billy Cannon and Dietzel.

Maybe you're a street musician who is unaffected by it all, except to say you're puzzled by the influx of people in purple and gold asking if you can play "Hold That Tiger" or "Hey, Nick Saban" on your accordion.

Maybe your story is as original as a snowflake. Maybe you're a walking cliché. Maybe you wouldn't know a red zone from a blue-light special, but you heard this is the biggest LSU football game in 45 years, and you don't want to miss it.

Maybe you still can't wrap your mind around it all. Maybe it's big because it's the next game.

If you've read this far, it's a given you've waited a long time for this. Win or lose, enjoy your slice of it. Don't sweat the small stuff. Worry about the things you can control. Play within yourself. Focus on the details. Stay in the moment. Take advantage of your opportunities. Find a designated driver.

Maybe nobody needs to tell you what this game means to LSU fans in the big picture. Maybe, just maybe, we've helped you with some of the details.
This piece was only ruined by the headline "Sunday an exciting day for fans". Damn sports desk. I came up with better headlines when I worked as a State-Times intern.

The article

SEC bowl game picks

After a season of weekly SEC football picks, I'd be remiss if I didn't turn in predictions for the seven bowl games featuring SEC teams.

All seven bowls take place from Dec. 31 - Jan. 4 (hmm, six of the seven SEC teams in bowl games are playing in New Year's Day bowls or better. Funny how USC is the only Pac-10 team playing on or after New Year's. But I digress ...), so it's a super-concentrated five days of SEC football.

On with the show ...

Music City Bowl: Auburn vs. Wisconsin - I've said many times I have no respect for Big 10 teams outside of Michigan and Ohio State. Other than those two, the Big 10 struggles to compete with the speed and power of the SEC. Tigers, 24 - 13

Independence Bowl: Arkansas vs. Missouri - It was a seriously up-and-down year for the Hogs. But they finished strong, up until the met the Tiger buzzsaw the day after Thanksgiving. Mizzou is a pretty decent team, but I still like the Hogs. Arkansas, 20 - 17

Outback Bowl: Florida vs. Iowa - Iowa = Big 10; Florida = Chris Leak and only team to beat LSU. Crocs, 41 - 24

Capital One Bowl: Georgia vs. Purdue - Purdue = Big 10; Georgia = SEC Champions if not for LSU. Dawgs, 31 - 20

Cotton Bowl: Ole Miss vs. Oklahoma State - I like this matchup. The traditional rivals of the two Sugar Bowl teams, both coming off 9-3 seasons. It's Eli's last game at his daddy's school, and I don't think he wants the last play people remember him for to be the 4th-and-tripped play to close the LSU game. Rebels, 27 - 24

Peach Bowl: Tennessee vs. Clemson - Who let the Peach Bowl move to Jan. 2? The "status" of the post-New-Year's date can't make 10-2 Tennessee any happier to be in Atlanta playing an 8-4 team rather than a real New Year's bowl. Vols, 38 - 10

Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. Oklahoma - Oklahoma no longer has its aura of invincibility, and Kansas State provided an excellent roadmap to beating the Sooners. And that strategy - heavy and relentless defensive pressure - happens to be what LSU does best. Heisman Boy Jason White isn't as mobile as Eli, David Greene or Matt Jones, and the Sooners haven't seen anything like the speed of LSU. I don't look for LSU to put up 35 on Oklahoma, but you never know. Most likely it's a defensive struggle, and I like LSU's chances there. Tigers, 17 - 14

BONUS PICK - Rose Bowl: USC vs. Michigan - Even if I believed the USC hype, I couldn't pick them here. But I think Michigan has shown itself to be by far the best of the two-loss teams. A four-point loss to Oregon and/or a three-point loss to Iowa is all the kept the Wolverines from mucking up the BCS even more. Michigan, 24 - 20

Monday, December 29, 2003

When I think how our lives have been in danger ...

Buried in the stack of mail that had piled up during our Christmas travels was an envelope from Hyundai Motor America with "IMPORTANT: SAFETY RECALL NOTICE" splashed across the front.

When the wife and I bought her Hyundai Santa Fe almost a year ago now, the fact that the truck was made in Korea by a company with a less-than-stellar reputation was, to say the least, a concern. It seemed like a great deal, what with a loaded-up, top-of-the-line Fe costing less than a base model Pathfinder, but I never quite lost my fear that the truck would turn out to be ... well ... a Hyundai.

And so the recall notice arrived. Maybe, I thought, they forgot to bolt the cylinder heads to the engine. Perhaps the feds discovered our "leather" seats were really made from the hides of Chinese children.

I opened the envelope and began to read the letter ...
Hyundai has decided that 2001, 2002, 2003 and some 2004 model year Santa Fe vehicles, produced beginning March 31, 2000 through September 29, 2003, fail to conform to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 120, Tire Selection and Rims for Motor Vehicles Other Than Passenger Cars.
Well, shit. The freakin' Koreans are putting recycled Firestones on my truck or something?

The letter continued ...
The tire inflation pressure label affixed to the driver's door sill incorrectly does not list the 16 x 6 1/2 J rim size that was installed on the Santa Fe when it was manufactured.
OK.

Included in the letter was a new tire inflation pressure label, and of course my curiosity got the better of me. The new label says the tires should be inflated to 30 PSI or - more precisely - 210kPa (which I have since learned is the metric KiloPascal spec). So then I went out and checked the dangerously mislabeled vehicle. Its label reads 30 PSI or 207kPa but if loaded with four passengers the tires should be at 32 PSI or 221kPa.

And to think my wife has been riding on these ever-so-slightly overinflated (when she has been alone or with just one passenger) or even more dramatically slightly underinflated (when she's carried two passengers or more) tires for almost a full year!

But no more. Armed with my handy instructions and visual guide - "Please apply the new label to the driver's door sill over the original label as shown on the attached tire pressure label replacement procedure" - I will make damn sure to properly label the tire pressure specifications before I leave for the Sugar Bowl Saturday.

Of course, if I don't get around to it, Hyundai will help out ...
Should you have or anticipate any trouble installing the new label, or if you would rather have your Hyundai Dealer assist you, please call your Hyundai Dealer to make an appointment with them to have the label installed. When you go to your Hyundai Dealer, take the new label with you for them to install at no charge to you.
You know, I'm almost tempted to take them up on that offer.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

You never know what you'll find on the PVR ...

Editor's Note: Cap'n Ken is nobody you know, especially if you came to this story from an E-Mail the fire victim sent you. In fact, Cap'n Ken's name isn't even "Ken", much less "Kenny". His real name is "Fred". And you don't know him. Promise.

One of the first things I do when the wife and I get home from a trip is fire up the DishPVR 721 and weed out some of the crap (Comedy Central weekend stuff that runs instead of The Daily Show, the five airings of each South Park episode I somehow end up with, etc.) that was sucked out of the sky while we were gone.

And so, upon returning from our NashVegas Christmas this evening, I began the PVR cleansing. I almost erased yesterday's Fox 5 Atlanta 6 p.m. news (I grab it daily in case any actual news ever happens locally), but then I decided to run the first few minutes just to see if anything big has been doing on down here.

The lead story was the return to the ice of Dany Heatley, the Thrashers star who killed a teammate in his Ferrari a few months back. Then a story about some robbery/murder in Cherokee County, followed by a piece on an Atlanta guy who got shot and killed in an I-10 drive-by near a Mississippi casino.

Nothing too exciting so far ...

The next piece was about an apartment fire. For those of you not familiar with Atlanta news, our TV stations live for fucking apartment fires. A (big) blaze in Roswell last week got 45 minutes of live coverage during Fox 5 news.

So I'm thinking "yeah, yeah ... apartment fire" and I hit the 30-second advance button on the remote. The next image to pop in to the frame was, in fact, my best friend sitting outside said burning apartment.

I backed the story up and discover that, yes, this was his apartment. The story was that with his help, the fire department was able to rescue his dog and three other dogs (and a parrot) from another apartment. And there he was, on my TV, talking about the fire, the dogs, etc.

Needless to say, this was a shock. I tried to get him on his cellphone, but got voicemail. I figured it was our typical Sprint-to-Sprint experience of the phone never actually ringing before getting to voicemail, but I also thought there was a good chance his PCS phone was now little more than a hunk of charcoal.

I finally got to talk to him after leaving messages for his girlfriend. Fortunately, the actual flames were across the hall, but his apartment got a lot of smoke and a good bit of water.

And, as it turns out, the "heroic firefighters rescue dogs" story went more like "dog owner screams at asshat firefighters until they let him go in and get his dog."

But only in the age of the PVR could I leave a voicemail saying "Hey man, I just got home and saw yesterday's news ..."

The first thing he said when he called me back was "Why the fuck do you TiVo the news?"

Not looking like such a stupid idea today, is it buddy?

The Right Reverend Howard Dean

Politics ain't my thing here at the Wisdom - and neither is religion (in the sense of "religion is good"), but the stories coming about about asshat Howard Dean's plan to talk up Jesus in the South compells me to mock.

Dean, of course, is a politician. And politicians, of course, will say and do whatever they think they need to to get elected. Dean needs the South; the South loves Jesus ... so Howie will praise Jesus - but only in the South.

But here's the rub: Dean's not exactly Another Boy for Jesus. Both his wife and his daughter are Jewish. He claims to be a "Congregationalist" which - as near as I can tell - is some New England sect rooted in old colonialist traditions.

And, best of all, he used to be an Episcopalian (a Catholic who doesn't like to work hard at the whole religion thing), but left the church back in the 1980s over a dispute about a bike path he wanted to build in Vermont.

Yes, a bike path. He wanted a bike path, the church didn't ... so he left the church.

A bike path.

I guess if President Dean wanted to build a base in Norway and NATO opposed it, the U.S. would just quit NATO.

But I digress ...

So his family is Jewish, he used to be Episcopalian but quit over a bike path, and now he's a Congregationalist. That'll go over well down at Ebenezer Baptist.

P.S. The super-cool "Jimmy Dean for America" button appearing in my right rail (a Cap'n Ken original) was conceived and built before this whole Rev. Dean thing came out. It's just a coincidence that they were both published this weekend.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Presenting the world's most unlikely "news" story

Today in the Advocate (the Baton Rouge daily, not the national gay newspaper), there is a lead story about Gov.-elect Kathleen Blanco's visit with the LSU football team yesterday.

The headline of the story - and the focus of about half of it - is that Blanco got an LSU jersey, but is still looking for Sugar Bowl tickets.

Right.

This is either total political-spin B.S. or Blanco is about to become the most ineffective governor Louisiana has ever seen.

Louisiana politics runs on patronage, special favors and influence peddling. Hence the Sugar Bowl's standing policy of providing two tickets to each member of the Louisiana legislature each year for free.

But Blanco, we are to believe, is still looking for tickets. The most powerful person in the state, in the middle of setting up her administration (she has hundreds of appointments to make to very powerful state boards and offices), can't get a seat in the Superdome?

The accurate story is "Blanco hasn't chosen her seats to the Sugar Bowl yet." She has an offer to sit in Saints owner Tom Benson's box, but Benson was a supporter of her opponent in the election.

And I'm sure every big-spending sugarcane rancher, oil field supplier, civil engineering firm and casino operator has called her office with a ticket offer.

She's holding off accepting offers because she (rightfully) wants to make sure the people sitting next to her are good prospects for bringing new business to the state. Ideally, a Superdome suite owner would just hand her the keys to their luxury box so Blanco can invite some executives from Nissan or some other place that might bring jobs to Louisiana.

That's the way this kind of thing works, but Blanco is pushing this image of herself as a Jane Doe Tiger fan just looking for tickets.

That's sweet. Of course, Blanco's not an LSU alum; she graduated from the school formerly known as the University of Southwestern Louisiana (it's now The University of Louisiana at Lafayette - aren't you impressed by that?). Until 1996 she lived and worked exclusively in Acadiana.

The quotes from her visit to the LSU practice field indicate she's not much of a football fan, either:
"I want to congratulate you because you have made Louisiana so proud. Your performance on the field, in the classroom and everywhere in Louisiana is extremely critical to us," Blanco told the Tigers.

Blanco also predicted the Tigers "will start off 2004 in the winner's chair."

"Work hard, and go out there with a great positive attitude and the heart to win, and you will win again," Blanco said.

"The winner's chair"? Yeah, we'll be in "the winner's chair." Whatever you say, governor.

The story

Monday, December 22, 2003

The Pre-Christmas Christmas

Considering the wife and I spent a total of just 41 hours in Louisiana this weekend for Cap'n Ken's Bizarre Family Pre-Christmas Christmas celebration, it was an eventful time. The highlights:

• The adoptive mother of my niece - who my middle sister gave up for adoption 21 years ago and rediscovered a couple of years back - came to dinner. Now I know why my niece always figured she was adopted. "Mom" is a troll, and clearly shares no genes with my niece, who is a really beautiful girl (if you look past the heavy Baton Rouge makeup and trashy style).

• My oldest nephew (second child of the middle sister) was working Saturday, so he came by Friday night with his girlfriend. This - understandably in Louisiana - caused some angst for my sister, as the nephew's girlfriend is black. Not only does "black girlfriend" hardly qualify as a scandal in my family, but I hail from the big city, sis. Tell me he's a transvestite and his girlfriend is a one-legged bi-racial underage boy and maybe you shock me.

• My next-oldest nephew (first child of my oldest sister) brought his girlfriend along as well. They are both 18, neither finished high school, both work fast-food jobs and they live together not far from my oldest sister in Texas. I'd not met the girlfriend before, and was quite prepared to disapprove. Would you believe I came away liking and respecting her? She's pushing the nephew back toward school and seems to give him the structure his life had lacked for a long time.

• The third-oldest nephew (second child of my oldest sister) is working on a hip-hop career, sports a new bottom-lip piercing and chain smokes with the approval of his mom. He's 16. But he's "off the dope" as my sister says, is making good grades and wants to be a landscape architect. The bright hope of the family.

• My youngest nephew (the third child of my middle sister) is going into 6th grade next year and just got accepted at Jimmy Swaggart's Christian school. And this is seen as a good thing ... Public eduction in Louisiana is so bad, you see, that kids are better off with a Swaggart education than an East Baton Rouge Parish Schools one.

• I found out Saturday morning that my stepfather had invited his 30-year-old adopted son (my adopted step-brother, I suppose) down from North Louisiana for our Pre-Christmas Christmas dinner. He had no where else to go, I was told, because his younger brother (biological and also adopted by my stepfather) doesn't want him around because the older brother has recently gotten married to his (the older brother's) first wife's cousin. The younger brother is still friends with that first wife, and thus does not want his older brother - or the wife's cousin, I suppose - around at Christmas. The beat-down Oldsmobuick carrying my adopted step-brother, his cousin-in-law-turned-second-wife and four little redneck kids of varying heritage pulled up right as we were walking in the house Saturday. Taking in the Redneck spectacle on a security-camera monitor (a leftover from the Baton Rouge serial killer days) - my long-lost niece asked "Does the little kid have a mullet??"

• My parents were talking about finding the Paris Hilton sex video on the Internet ... but the video they described was not the Paris Hilton video. I was scared to learn more about what they were actually watching, and why.

• My crazy aunt (the wife of my mother's oldest brother) showed up right as we were leaving Saturday night. Actually, her car appeared on the security monitor as we were beginning to leave, which greatly hastened our exit. This is the woman, you see, who two years ago crashed our close-family gift exchange and was so horrified to not have presents to give us that she excused herself ("I need to run out to the car"), snuck off to Walgreen's, bought a few sets of cheap Christmas dinnerware and two hours later came back with makeshift gifts for all of us. No, none of us had presents for her.

• Somehow in all the excitement, I came down with Pink Eye.

I blame the kid with the mullet.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

DV ME

Nearly two months into residency at the new house, we still haven't unpacked a lot of stuff. But we did manage to unpack the DVDs late last week, so tonight I decided to pull out a prize of my collection - Dead Kennedys, The Early Years Live.

Except for the fact that the medium is shiny and round, this DK disc is hardly a true DVD. It's nothing more than a dub of the old VHS version. But hey, at least it's out on DVD.

In an age where entire seasons of Angel or Smallville are released on DVD immediately after the network reruns run their course, there's a pathetic lack of good but obscure stuff - specifically music stuff - available on DVD.

At the top of my wish list:

• MTV's The Cutting Edge - Early/mid '80s showcase of "alternative" acts, usually centered around the sound of cities such as Austin, Chapel Hill and underground L.A. Peter Zaremba of the Fleshtones hosted it, and my friends and I would gather every Sunday night to watch it. I was featured (sort of) in the Mardi Gras show filmed at Jimmy's in New Orleans when a shot of Zaremba getting pegged by a doubloon I'd tossed at him made it to air.

• The Decline of Western Civilization - The amazing documentary of the L.A. punk scene done by Penelope Spheeris. The damn Independent Film Channel shows Decline Part II (The Metal Years) every other week, but never the original. I guess it's hung up in a royalty dispute with Lee Ving or something.

• The IRS Show - This was kind of an infomercialumentary produced by the late, great IRS Records to promote its up-and-coming acts such as The Go-Gos and Wall of Voodoo. It was hosted by Jools Holland of Squeeze and featured concert clips, concept videos made specifically for the film and interviews with the bands. Awesome.

• URGH! A Music War - If you know what this is, you're top 1% in musical hipness. It's a compilation of live performances from acts such as The Police, Oingo Boingo, The Cramps, Dead Kennedys, Burning Spear, X, OMD ... and the list goes on. A real Who's Who of early '80s alternative. I had an audio cassette of this for about 10 years before I even knew there was a movie. I had a badly-dubbed VHS of it for awhile, and a couple of years ago I saw a copy of the actual VHS in the close-out bin at Sam Goody or someplace. I bought it - for $3.99. Tonight I searched for it on Amazon and all I found was a used zShops copy - for $295.00.

The only good news I've seen on the rare-and-cool music DVD front is the release last month of Athens, GA Inside/Out. I have it on VHS, but should probably replace it with a DVD.

If I seem somewhat obsessed with this topic, it's only because I am. And the reason I'm obsessed is that the above titles are a small part of what I have to say was a damned impressive collection of musical bits and pieces I put together back in high school.

I'd spend hours hunting for cool stuff coming across the cable and do whatever it took to get it down on VHS. My complilations included R.E.M.'s bizarre Murmur-era appearance on Nickelodeon's version of American Bandstand (imagine 12-year-olds dressed up in New Wave outfits trying to dance like Belinda Carlisle); the band's first network TV appearance (Letterman) where they played So. Central Rain before the song had a name; a show called New Wave Theater that ran at the end of USA Network's Night Flight show and an awesome concert series that aired on Showtime (I have no idea of its name now) that had great performances by Jason and the Scorchers, Lone Justice, P.I.L., R.E.M. The Alarm and others that slip my mind at the moment.

And my most-prized catch was Lenny Bruce's unbelievably hilarious club routine/cartoon Thank You Masked Man. I saw that at the tail end of Night Flight one Saturday and stayed up (they replayed the whole 4-hour show for the west coast) to record it the second time around. Masked Man was my greatest pop-culture contribution to my circle of friends.

The bad news is that over time all but a couple of those VHS tapes have disappeared. I still have a few Cutting Edge episodes and The IRS Show, but I've been on a decade-long quest to rebuild the collection (big points to the wife for finding a proper copy of Thank You Masked Man to replace the copy I'd dubbed back from dubs a friend had made of my original recording).

I don't need directors' commentaries, deleted scenes or making-of features. Just put it on DVD and sell it at Amazon, people.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Cap'n Ken answers your search questions

This week the old search/mail bag brings us the following inquiries:

does lsu wear gold or purple football jerseys for road games (Yahoo)

Well, I tried to stay away from LSU football stuff this week ... but since you asked, LSU actually wears white jerseys - not gold or purple - jerseys on the road. We also wear white jerseys at home. It's one of those weird Louisiana things, so don't ask why. Makes us unique though, doesn' t it?

dish-pro explained (Google) and mix legacy and dishpro (Yahoo)

Given my recent experience with the DishNetwork folks trying to set up my DishPVR 721 in the new house, it's not surprising that customers are turning to random jackass bloggers such as myself for answers.

The DishPro is essentially an all-in-one antenna thingy (called the LNBF) coupled with Dish's next-generation receivers (such as my 501 and 721 PVRs). I'm not sure what it means for a receiver to be a DishPro, but a DishPro LNBF has internal switches, which means it doesn't work with "legacy" (old) switches. This is an issue if you've had just a single or dual LNBF running through splitters to more than one (single) or two (dual) tuners. You'll need the DishPro Quad LNBF to use three or four receivers if you go DishPro.

sex scene photo monster ball hooker girl name is real hooker (Google)

girl name amber rules hooker is real actress

fucking megan ashford (Google)

Two choices on this one - the first is FCC-approved, the second is FCC-banned:

1) No shit! That fucking Megan Ashford!! What a bitch, dude!

2) Never had the pleasure, but I hear it's a good time.

No, I have no idea who this Megan Ashford is. In fact, she may be the most anonymous person on Earth. With a not-too-uncommon-sounding name, Googling only produces two results for an actual "Megan Ashford". Maybe that's what the searcher is so pissed about.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

The hole truth

The wife's deeply involved in an SSX 3 session on the PlayStation this evening, which has led me to poke around the Web looking for anything fun and interesting with the capture of Saddam Hussein.

So on time.com (always a great place to find exclusive, in-depth stuff), I found Notes from Saddam in Custody. Apparently the early reports of a cooperative Saddam were not quite correct, as this piece makes him out to (still) be pretty much an asshat.

But an amusing asshat, at least.

The two best bits are a U.S. official's recounting of "Saddam rhetoric type stuff" such as:
When asked “How are you?” said the official, Saddam responded, “I am sad because my people are in bondage.” When offered a glass of water by his interrogators, Saddam replied, “If I drink water I will have to go to the bathroom and how can I use the bathroom when my people are in bondage?”

But my favorite bit is a quote where the official talks about finding minutes of insurgency meeting in Saddam's hut and how they'll look deeper to see whether Saddam is actually involved in leading the insurgency:
“We can now determine,” he said, “if he is the mastermind of everything or not.” The official elaborated: “Have we actually cut the head of the snake or is he just an idiot hiding in a hole?”

Cap'n Ken's Pecan Stand

I discovered a few weeks ago that one of the old, mature trees in our new front yard is a pecan tree. Not being an arborist, I only discovered this when I was out raking leaves and saw a bunch of pecans on the ground. Logic took over from there.

At first I tried to convince the wife that a pecan pie made from our own pecans would be a swell weekend project for her. But she showed little desire to shell pecans, and the pound of unshelled pecans left in our freezer by the former owner left little room for convincing.

So on the ground the pecans sat. A couple of Saturdays ago, a group of neighborhood kids found out about my tree and spent a half-hour stuffing pecans in their pockets. I even helped them by shaking some more loose for them. The way I see it, they're going to fall, and if I don't want to deal with them, it's best that they get picked up by somebody else. Plus I get Whitey Points by being nice to the indigenous children.

And then this afternoon we arrive home to find a scraggly bum digging through the leaves along the curb looking for pecans. Somehow that wasn't as cute as watching the little kids scramble for them.

Obviously used to picking up things left along the side of the road, the bum wisely stayed out of my yard (I hung out on the front porch to make sure, and the Big Brown Dog was on standby inside). It wasn't exactly a scene fit for a Chamber of Commerce brochure, but as long as bum dude stayed on public property, I wasn't going to hassle him.

He picked up probably 4 pounds of pecans and then moved on.

The best news is that he decided to stop by a couple of hours after my in-laws left following a weekend visit. The wife's father is already rather troubled by his daughter's 'hood life, and I figure if he's seen bum dude out there, he'd have packed a suitcase for the wife and brought her back to Tennessee.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Taking it like real [california] men

I wrote a few days ago that the one group of people you won't see complaining about USC being ranked No. 1 but not playing in the Sugar Bowl are the USC supporters. After all, if Oklahoma were to have beaten Kansas State last Saturday, USC still wouldn’t have made the BCS Championship game, and they also wouldn’t have a No. 1 ranking to defend (in the AP poll, at least) in the Rose Bowl.

Looks like I wrote too soon.

If a column written this week by Bill Plaschke of the L.A. Times is any indication, the Men of Troy have settled into full-on whine mode.

The piece touches on all the typical “it ain’t fair” arguments - the polls have USC No. 1, computers deciding who’s better is just plain un-American, there’s no way the Boise State / Hawaii game should factor into the BCS rankings, etc. But what I like about this particular whine-fest is the wonderful, left-coast, feel-good, “I’m OK, You’re OK” spin he puts on things.

I’d suggest fetching some Kleenex before reading on …

In describing the scene after USC’s players watched the BCS selection show and learned they would not be playing in the Sugar Bowl, he writes this:
"I can't lie," giant defensive tackle Shaun Cody said softly. "This is really tough."

Those university presidents who sold college football's integrity for $900 million and the BCS, they should have heard that voice.

"It's not right," receiver Mike Williams said, wincing. "It's just not right."

Those fools who program computers that determine a team's worth without understanding a team's heart, they should have seen that face.

Touching, isn’t it? How can the BCS do that? LOOK AT THEIR FACES, MAN! THE GUYS ARE WINCING! WINCING, I TELL YOU!!

Plaschke quotes USC coach Pete Carroll as saying his players are confused by the situation and “It’s hard for them to fathom.” And here I thought USC was a pretty good university. Maybe they don’t have logic classes there.

USC player Marcell Allmond is apparently pretty upset that Oklahoma didn’t fall father than No. 3 in the polls after their first loss of the season last Saturday.
"That's not fair at all," said Allmond. "They lose a game and it doesn't drop them way down in the rankings? We lost a game early and it dropped us real far. We had to work our tails off to get back up. What does Oklahoma have to do?"

A writer looking for facts would not have included this quote, as young Marcell is either just a whining little Trojan or he’s amazingly stupid. See, when 3rd-ranked USC lost to then- 2-3 Cal, there were seven teams who won that weekend and were still undefeated. That’s why they fell to No. 10. When Oklahoma lost last weekend, it was their first loss. USC and LSU are the only other major teams with just one loss, so Oklahoma fell to No. 3 (behind the two other one-loss teams, you see) rather than to No. 25, as you would have liked to have happen.

This is because the polls are as much political as analytical. It’s the same reason a team can go from No. 2 to No. 1 after giving up 500+ yards and 28 points to a 7-5 team on the same day the No. 3 team shut down the No. 5 team 34 – 13. No. 2 moves up to No. 1 when No. 1 loses. That’s all the analysis required of the polls.

If I had a few hours, I could probably also explain to Marcell how a No. 3 Oklahoma can still be ranked No. 1 in the BCS [hint: it involves math].

Even Coach Carroll seems to be confused by the math of the BCS, especially as it related to the regular season’s final game in Hawaii.

"It just didn't seem right. Could I believe that game had an impact? No, I could not believe it had an impact."

See, Pete, all the games have an impact on strength of schedule. And none matters more than any other; it’s just unusual that the ratings were so close and a USC opponent was in that last game played, and that’s why the one game seemed to matter so much.

But the best part of the piece is Plaschke's assertion that “how you finish” should be the most important thing and the line that “The BCS teaches us that it's all about reputation, not reality.”
How else to explain how LSU beats three lightweight programs - Louisiana Monroe, Western Illinois and Louisiana Tech - but passes USC in strength of schedule because the Southeastern Conference is considered that much tougher than the Pac-10

LSU passed USC in strength of schedule because - believe it or not - they played a stronger schedule. That’s how you explain it. Even with those lightweights, playing an SEC schedule (two games against a 10-win team, one 9-win team, two 8-win teams, a 7-win team, a 5-win team, a 4-win team and a 2-win team) left us with a better SOS than USC had based on its PAC-10 schedule (one 9-win team, two 7-win teams, two 6-win teams, a 5-win team, a 4-win team and a 2-win team) helped push LSU past USC in SOS.

Facts are tough, Bill.

And the only reason USC is ranked No. 1 in the polls is its “reputation.” The national press just loves that little Trojan man on the white horse. It’s so romantic. LSU doesn’t enjoy that kind of favorable bias.

Read the entire pity party here.

P.S. Funny how a school that is so upset about computers deciding who plays in the national championship game issued a press release last January touting the fact that the Trojans finished No. 1 in two of the BCS computers.

In case I haven't mentioned it ....


Go Blue!

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Everybody Loves Nick

What's Job 1 for sportswriters and talk jocks when an NFL coach gets fired these days? Mention LSU head coach Nick Saban as the most likely replacement.

And with the dismissal of Dan Reeves by the Falcons today, that's all the buzz here in Atlanta.

Of course Saban is on every NFL owner's wish list - he's got to be among the top 5 coaches in college football; he's got NFL coaching experience; he's young, dynamic and intelligent.

But as my team's coach, I take it kind of personally that the talk of Saban leaving for the NFL is not about "if", but "when." And not "when" in the sense of 10 years; every winter for the past three years the "experts" have said there's no way Saban goes back to LSU for the next season.

Do I think Saban stays at LSU for 20 years? No. Ten years? Not out of the question. Does he leave after his 4th season? Um ... maybe?

Saban is very much a goal-oriented kind of guy. In four seasons, Saban has won two SEC championships, a Sugar Bowl and a Peach Bowl (we'll forget about last year's Cotton Bowl for a second). And now - 45 years after our only national championship - he's got LSU in a position to win the BCS title. This in just four years after LSU suffered back-to-back losing seasons.

So if Saban beats Oklahoma Jan. 4, has he done all he set out to do at LSU? Probably so. LSU is no Miami - if we played for a national championship every 10 years rather than every 45 years, we'd be pretty happy with that.

But maybe he's driven by a greater goal - to make LSU truly a football power, a team mentioned alongside Oklahoma, Miami, Florida State, Michigan.

It's impossible to say. I don't think, however, Saban is chomping at the bit to head back to the NFL. Get a few more SEC titles under the belt and a couple more BCS bowl wins, and maybe the NFL becomes the next (and maybe last) challenge.

I do like how LSU A.D. Skip Bertman is playing the situation. Skip's attitude is to keep Saban as happy as possible to make him want to stick around LSU as long as possible. Skip knows LSU won't be Saban's last coaching job, and he's structured Saban's contract in ways that reward his sticking around without trying to force him to.

As Skip said in an Advocate (the Baton Rouge daily, not the national gay newspaper) piece this week:
"The reason Nick is going to stay is because he wants to stay," Bertman said. "He's not going to stay because there's a lot of money because we can't compete with the pros. What we have to do at the university is show Nick that he is appreciated.

"There is no contract that I am going to be the architect of that will lock Nick Saban in. There is no 'golden handcuff' contract. That's not the way to court your best coach. What I want to do is indicate to Nick and his family how valuable I think he is."

Skip's pretty bright for an old baseball coach.

His strategy for retaining Saban is to offer the moon to stay at LSU, but leave the door open if and when Saban decides it's time to go.

Saban reportedly will get a $1 million annuity if he stays another two years. He'll be guaranteed to be the NCAA's top-paid coach if he wins the national title. The new contract Skip plans to offer Saban after the Sugar Bowl will add even more long-term retention goodies.

And despite having an automatic-renewal clause (with built-in raises) in his contract, there's absolutely no buy-out penalty if Saban leaves LSU for another job.

In effect, the LSU job is Saban's as long as he wants it (unless LSU buys him out), and he's free to leave whenever he wants (with no penalty).

It's a counter-intuitive move of brilliant proportions. Most programs look to retain their coach by making it painful to leave. LSU, recognizing early on how hot a commodity Saban is, plans to retain him by letting him be free to leave, but demonstrating how much we'd like him to stay.

BBD, The Destroyer

I had to go to PetsMart at lunch yesterday to pick up a new bark-collar battery for the Little Black Dog (yes, in addition to all his other charms, he also barks incessantly). While I was there, I thought I'd pick up a new inside toy for the Big Brown Dog, who has a fondness for sneaking his nice indoor toys out into the yard and turning them in to mudcakes.

The only toys that don't eventually end up outside are those that suffer an early death. The BBD is a frustrated predator, so anything he can "kill", he does. We spend a lot of time picking up shards of tennis balls, little bits of toy stuffing and the remnants of various other toys that couldn't stand up to the torture of the BBD.

So as I'm shopping toys at PetsMart, I'm evaluating things for durability as much as for the potential enjoyment of the BBD. Yesterday I settled on a canvas-covered stuffed toy shaped more or less like a plump star. No arms or legs to pull off; no obvious and easy way to gut the thing, and priced right at $3.99.

The perfect BBD inside toy, I thought.

After dinner last night, I bust out the new toy and present it to the BBD. He settles in on the family room rug to "play".

Within three minutes, he's ripped the toy apart, pulled out all the stuffing and made his way to the little plastic squeaker inside. The squeaker, you see, is what he wants to play with.

Goal one with the squeaker is, of course, to make it stop squeaking. After that's done, he brings it over for me to throw for him. Seventy-pound dog, 1/2-ounce smashed piece of plastic.

In between playing fetch with the silver-dollar-sized squeaker, the BBD revisits the corpse of his former toy; making sure to rip the hem completely off the rest of the canvas. At one point he's standing on top of the toy, hem in teeth, pulling up as hard as he can. I guess it's the modern dog's version of picking apart a beaver.

Tonight, with the canvas corpse officially dead, the BBD went back to offering up the squeaker for fetch. That is until the wife decided it was smashed up enough to be a choking hazard.

Now that was $3.99 well spent.

The squeaker's in the trash, and the wife just tossed the BBD a new tennis ball to play with. It'll be wet shards within 5 minutes.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

When I think how my life was in danger ...

Another followup from the SEC Championship Saturday night is also a followup on my post about "security" at Philips Arena (it involved me having to empty my pockets - except that I didn't empty all of them, which was not a problem).

TCL and I got up to the Ga. Dome entrance about 7:45 Saturday night, pretty well tanked up on Maker's Mark and TCL with a very nice silver flask (oddly enough with the initials "TCL" engraved on it) full of 101 Wild Turkey. I'd said earlier that he might want to leave it in the car because of "security", but we'd had enough Maker's by the time we headed over we'd forgot to swing by and drop it off.

So how tough was "security" at the SEC Championship - probably the country's highest-profile event that evening? By kickoff we were sippin' de-flasked Turkey and Diet Cokes in our seats.

No "empty your pockets, please." No "please take your cap off." No metal detectors, patdowns or delays. I think they may have been looking into some purses, but TCL and I breezed right in.

Yet three days earlier I'd attended an insignificant, regular-season hockey game next door and the "security" measures involved this ridiculous "empty your pockets" routine.

Am I to think, then, that the 12,000-person hockey game was somehow a bigger "security" risk than the 74,000-person SEC Championship?

Radial Café

I owe a payoff from our exploratory journeys to Radial Café for brunch. This sprang from a spirited discussion here at C.K.H.W. and the wife’s place about brunch spots in the ‘hood (consensus is that Heaving Bowl now officially sucks; Good News is good unless you’ve suffered food poisoning there.)

So in those discussions, Woodhill Will threw Radial out as one of his favorite spots for eggs and whatnot. Thus the wife and I arranged brunches with Char-lez and Grant Park Tony over a couple of weekends.

Overall I give the place about a 7 out of 10. The eggs are passable, and they seem to do a good job with interesting pancakes (on our second visit the wife got a pumpkin pancake special that was damn good).

But there are a couple of things about Radial that will keep me from making it a regular spot.

First, there’s way too much of a vegan / hippie vibe. My first hint was the menu item “Vegan Biscuits and Gravy.” They make gravy out of rosemary and fennel instead of good old pork sausage. That’s fine, I suppose, but I’ve found that most places that go out of their way to make vegans happy tend to give the shaft to those among us who prefer to eat animals. Which leads into my next point ….

Second, you’d think the place bought just one pig to serve a year’s worth of brunches. On our first trip, the side of bacon that came with my breakfast included two little shriveled bacon shards that wouldn’t have made up a half-piece of proper bacon. Same with the side of bacon Char-lez got on the second trip. The second time around I got sausage as a side. That choice entitled me to one entire quarter-inch-thick sausage patty. Thanks!

Also on the second trip, the wife and I both got their “special” grits dish – Bacon and Cheese Grits. Sounded good, as we enjoy making yummy cheese grits at home. This “special”, however, consisted of a regular bowl of grits with a tablespoon of bacon bits and a slice of American cheese sitting on top of it. That was a big waste of $2.50 each.

So given Radial’s stinginess in the pork department, the abundance of hippies floating around the place, the huge grits disappointment and the fact that they have a really cute waitress but gave us the less-than-cute one both times, it’s not becoming a regular stop.

It’s not going on the banned list (Heaving Bowl at all times, Ria’s on the weekends), and I’d join folks for brunch there if they asked. But it’s not becoming the regular place, either.

Still searching for brunch happiness …

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Look at the sugar falling from the sky ...

Nobody in the LSU section of the Ga. Dome got my Larry Munson reference [above] near the end of the SEC Championship game. That's ok. And I think I did see some sugar cubes getting tossed out onto the field.

When Marcus Spears swallowed David Greene in the backfield on UGA's last 4th down, the notion that we might play for the national title began to sink in. And at 3:15 this morning, as Boise State finished off Hawaii - a move BCS experts correctly predicted would give LSU a 0.32 strength of schedule advantage over USC - it was all but set. I finally went to bed at about 3:30. [note: TCL and I had intended to stay out with Tiger fans until the wee hours, but we were consumed with BCS analysis, so it was back to the EAtl to break out the spreadsheet]

Then this morning came the computer rankings, the Coaches' Poll and finally the AP. We got what we needed from the machines, and the pollsters rightfully dropped Oklahoma behind us, sending my Tigers (and me) to New Orleans Jan. 4.

College football observers say this year's "controversy" of a USC team ranked No. 1 in both polls but not going to the BCS title game is evidence the system has to be scrapped. It's an outrage for the consensus No. 1 poll team to not be in the title game, they say.

There's an outrage here, alright. The way I see it, the outrage is that the pollsters would elevate USC to the No. 1 spot above LSU (and Oklahoma). A team never drops in the polls when they win, of course, and to boost LSU to No. 1 would throw disrespect on the proud Trojan tradition.

But after Saturday, how do you argue USC is No. 1? Six of the seven BCS computers say Oklahoma and LSU are better. USC's schedule strength lags behind both Oklahoma and LSU as well. And USC played one less game than either Oklahoma or LSU.

So of all the elements one might use to determine the two best teams out of three 1-loss schools, only the human ones say USC is among the two best. Simply put, the humans are wrong.

Only humans would look beyond all the on-the-field factors and rank USC No. 1 ahead of LSU and Oklahoma.

Did anyone notice that USC gave up 485 yards passing (and a total of 543 yards of offense to go along with the 28 points) to 7-5 Oregon State Saturday? Anyone check to see that those 485 passing yards were the most Oregon State had rung up all year? USC's 52 - 28 win only looked good because Oregon State turned the ball over 5 times.

By comparison, LSU held 10 - 3 Georgia (now the No. 11 team in the polls) to just 249 yards of total offense, the fewest yards gained by the Bulldogs this year. UGA's 13 points were the fewest for the Bulldogs since the Florida loss and the only team to hold UGA to fewer points than LSU did on Saturday was ... LSU, who held them to 10 points back on Sept. 20.

On the other side of the ball, LSU rang up 444 yards of total offense, the most yards the Dawgs have given up this season. And the Tigers' 34 points were 11 more than UGA had given up in any game this year.

But any chance LSU would pass USC in the human polls after these performances? Of course not. USC got 42 of 65 first-place votes in the AP and 37 of 63 in the Coaches' Poll. And they don't deserve it.

The voters obviously didn't compare USC and LSU's Saturday games to decide who's No. 1, and the didn't compare the seasons USC, LSU and Oklahoma are having, either.

Even after USC rang 52 up on Oregon State and Oklahoma was held to 7 against Kansas State, USC is averaging 3 points and 10 yards of offense less per game than the Sooners. USC scores 7 points a game more than LSU and gains 25 yards more on offense, but LSU's defense gives up 8 points and 77 yards per game less than USC.

And keep in mind USC has the weakest schedule of the three teams (37th in the country, compared to LSU at 29 and Oklahoma at 11). And, of course, they didn't play a conference championship game (or any 13th game, for that matter) like LSU and Oklahoma.

The one place you won't hear complaints about a No. 1-ranked USC missing the BCS is ... USC. See, if Oklahoma had won on Saturday, the Sooners and Tigers would still be the ones going to New Orleans (I did the math on that), and USC would have no real shot at an AP national championship. Getting to No. 1 in the polls is all that saved USC's (split) national championship hopes.

So the BCS is working as it should ... to reduce the influence of the purely subjective (human) rankings.

USC is the third-best team in college football this year, and they get a shot at a (shared) national championship anyway, just because tradition says you don't bump a team down on a weekend they win a game.

That's the outrage here. And it's the human system, not the BCS, that needs to be overhauled.

P.S. I was 1 - 0 on my picks this week, bringing the non-bowl total to 76 - 22 and 12 - 1 on my Tigers.

P.P.S. Damn but did we destroy Georgia Saturday night. Geaux Tigers!!

Friday, December 05, 2003

SEC Week 15 picks

Well, not a lot of games to pick this week … just that one here in Atlanta.

Georgia’s a better team now compared to our Sept. 20 game, mostly because they’ve gotten over the injury hump. But LSU has probably improved even more, given the emergence of our freshmen running backs – giving us 5 high-quality backs to throw in the mix – the adjustments forced on the defense by Florida’s ability to crack our pressure and the trials by fire against Florida, Auburn, Ole Miss and Arkansas.

UGA would have been better served to not play Vandy, UAB, Kentucky and Georgia Tech as 4 of their last 6 games.

This game should be a great SEC contest, pitting the 3rd (LSU) and 5th (UGA) ranked offenses in the conference against the 1st (LSU) and 2nd (UGA) ranked defenses.

We score 35 a game and give up 10.5. UGA scores 27 a game and gives up 11.8.

So how does it shake out? A defensive struggle is likely, and the game will probably come down to a big play near the end.

Of course I’m taking my Tigers. I’ll go LSU, 17 – 10

On a semi-related note, the effort by myself (and apparently a bunch of other LSU fans) to convince AP voters to not automatically pick USC as the No. 2 team has succeeded in spurring football writers to address the question.

And that’s all I asked – don’t just vote USC No. 2 because they’re No. 2 right now and didn’t lose. There’s a case to be made for LSU passing them if both teams win Saturday. The least the sportswriters can do is mention that possibility.

In today’s Advocate (The Baton Rouge daily, not the national gay newspaper), Scott Rabalais wrote a piece specifically about the AP voters and their thoughts on the No. 2 question going into the weekend. Scott gives a lot of play to the email campaign in his story.

Yesterday, AJC writer Tony Barnhart, whose piece that failed to even mention the possibility of LSU passing USC in the polls sparked my own little crusade, wrote a piece about the AP struggles and why USC is still considered the “right” pick for No. 2.

Over the course of a couple of days, I got replies back from about a dozen AP voters, all of whom seemed to appreciate the fact that my email was a original, hand-crafted piece (not a form email as most were). Most of them seemed open to the idea that a 12 – 1 LSU might be a better No. 2 than an 11 – 1 USC, so we shall see.

One jackass replied “Beat Georgia, then start your advertising campaigns.” To that I replied a) Saturday night would be too late to ask that you not blindly keep USC No. 2 and b) if the sportswriters were expressing any thoughts that a 12 – 1 LSU might be better than an 11 – 1 USC, the “advertising campaign” would not be necessary.

I got no reply to that.

Geaux Tigers!

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Fortunately, my pockets were filled only with lint

Char-lez and I went to the Thrashers game last night (I finally won one of my company's ticket raffles - damn good seats), and as we're going in the doors we met with the requisite "security" procedure.

In the case of Philips Arena, "security" consists of a guy standing next to a card table who tells everybody in line to empty their pockets into a little plastic basket (note to Philips ... if you're going to do this, you need more than one little plastic basket at each table).

So I get up there and the guy says "Can I ask you to empty your pockets, please?". Being that it was 35 degrees last night, I figured maybe this was to ferret out bad stuff that could be in a jacket or somesuch. So I asked him if he meant all my pockets - pants and such. "Yes," he said.

This is the point during "security" checks when I either a) tell the "security" dude that what he's asking me to do is completely pointless (see The LAX Meltdown); b) comply with the pointless, feel-good "security" measure and fume silently or c) only partially comply with the pointless "security" measure as a demonstration of the "security" measure's complete lack of a point.

Being that I did, in fact, want to see the game; I plan to spend my free cash on SEC Championship tickets and not bail; and the fact that the "security" guy was apologetic to the point that he must know how stupid his assigned task is, I chose option C.

I dumped my keys, some change and my wallet in the little plastic basket. I purposefully held out on presenting my cellphone and gloves, which were tucked away in an inside pocket of my jacket.

"Thank you, and sorry for the inconvenience," the guy said. I scooped my stuff out of the little plastic basket and moved on.

OK, so the point of that was what, exactly? To make Philips Arena 100% free of dangerous items the spectators volunteer to surrender at the door? My cell phone could have been 9 ounces of C-4; the gloves could have been pointy sticks I might use to hold Ilya Kovalchuk hostage at center ice. But "security" was only interested in seeing the things I told them I had.

Of course, there is no point to this exercise other than to provide a "sense of security" to the moronic public who believe that searching old women at airports makes us "safer" and to let the Philips Arena staff show that they take "security" seriously.

I admit that I was selfish last night. I've ranted here and in the real world that if we sit back silently and take this bullshit as we go through our daily lives, it will just encourage more bullshit. I should have said something - in a polite way since the "security" guy seemed to understand the pointlessness of his task - but for the sake of my own convenience I didn't.

To make up for my selfish act last night, I will reinforce my position about "security" here.

1) Nobody is ever "secure", nor will they ever be. Life is full of risks, and if somebody wants to kill you bad enough, they will.
2) If you feel "more secure" in airports and public places like hockey games because of the post-911 changes, you are stupid
3) If you never complain about stupid "security" measures, you are part of the problem
4) Making airports 100% free of bombs and boxcutters would do exactly nothing to reduce the threat of terrorism in the U.S.
5) Searching for bombs and boxcutters instead of searching for terrorists will make us lose the war on terrorism

Monday, December 01, 2003

And now back to football ...

Big props to one John Adams of the Knoxville News Sentinel. In his column about the BCS today, he not only explains why LSU should be rated ahead of USC, but he - an AP voter - goes on the record as having moved LSU ahead of USC on his AP ballot this week:
After going through the schedules and the numbers, I moved LSU ahead of USC on my AP ballot. And if LSU beats Georgia again in the SEC championship game, I expect other voters will do the same.
It's about freaking time the notion that a 12-1 LSU would be better than an 11-1 USC starts getting some play in the press. The AJC's Tony Barnhart - also an AP voter - wrote a piece about what LSU needs to make the Sugar Bowl this morning, and nowhere did he even mention the idea that LSU could pass USC in the human polls.

So, obviously, what we need here is a little education and maybe a bit of a grass-roots movement. Below you will find the names and MailTo links for the other 64 sportswriters who cast votes in the AP poll and haven't made their No. 2 vote known. If you are so inclined, I invite you to write to these folks and express your opinions about who should end up No. 2 if both USC and LSU win this coming Saturday.

For the convenience-minded among you, here's a link to email the whole bunch at once.

Elton Alexander, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland

Neil Amato, The Herald-Sun, Durham, N.C.

Greg Archuleta, Albuquerque (N.M.) Journal

Paul Arnett, Honolulu Star-Bulletin

Lee Barfknecht, Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald

Tony Barnhart, Atlanta Journal and Constitution

Steve Batterson, Quad City (Iowa) Times

Joe Biddle, The Tennessean, Nashville

Jack Bogaczyk, Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail

B.G. Brooks, Rocky Mountain News, Denver

Jimmy Burch, Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram

Scott Cain, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Little Rock

Jenni Carlson, The Daily Oklahoman, Oklahoma City

Jim Cnockaert, The Ann Arbor (Mich.) News

Chuck Cooperstein, KESN-FM Radio, Arlington, Texas

Paul Coro, Arizona Republic

Barker Davis, The Washington Times

Pat Dooley, Gainesville (Fla.) Sun

Pat Forde, The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.

Chris Fowler, ESPN

Robert Gagliardi, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, Cheyenne

Artie Gigantino, Fox Sports Net

Adam Gold, WRBZ-AM, Raleigh, N.C.

Charles Goldberg, The Birmingham (Ala.) News

Lee Gordon, WCTV-TV, Tallahassee, Fla.

Herb Gould, Chicago Sun-Times

Lance Griffin, The Dothan (Ala.) Eagle

Tim Griffin, San Antonio Express-News

Brian Hamilton, St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press

Todd Harmonson, The Orange County Register, Santa Ana, Calif.

Doug Harris, Dayton (Ohio) Daily News

Kevin Haskin, Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal

Joseph Hawk, Las Vegas Review-Journal

John Hoover, Tulsa (Okla.) World

Kirk Johannesen, The Columbus (Ind.) Republic

Mike Kern, Philadelphia Daily News

Tim Layden, Sports Illustrated

George Lehner, WTVN-AM, Columbus, Ohio

Mike Lewis, The Salt Lake (Utah) Tribune

Tom Luicci, The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J.

Susan Miller Degnan, Miami Herald

Ted Miller, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Tom Mulhern, Wisconsin State Journal, Madison

John Niyo, Detroit News

Neill Ostrout, Connecticut Post, Bridgeport

Tim Peeler, News & Record of Greensboro (N.C.)

Mike Prater, The Idaho Statesman, Boise

Scott Rabalais, The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.

Dave Rahme, The Post-Standard, Syracuse, N.Y.

Ray Ratto, San Francisco Chronicle

Rick Scoppe, The Greenville (S.C.) News

Mike Shalin, The Boston Herald

Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Jerome Solomon, Houston Chronicle

Mark Tupper, Decatur (Ill.) Herald & Review Bee

Michael Wallace, The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss.

Steve Warden, The Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette

Marek Warszawski, Fresno (Calif.) Bee

Jeff White, Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch

Ryan White, The Oregonian, Portland

Jason Whitlock, Kansas City (Mo.) Star

Keith Whitmire, Dallas Morning News

Scott Wolf, Los Angeles Daily News

Lee Zurik, WWLTV, New Orleans.

Hey, look ... a non-football blog

So I was out at lunch today and decided to swing by Media Play. I've been on somewhat of a mini-quest to legitimize my music collection by buying CDs of artists whose music I've borrowed through Kaaza and have begun to dig. [NOTE: The mini-quest is not driven by MP3 guilt, fear of the RIAA or anything like that. This is how it's supposed to work - get exposed to music, figure out which music you really like, then go buy it.]

My target today was Kings of Leon. I read about KOL some months back, jumped on Kazaa for some tunes, dug 'em, put their songs in heavy rotation on the work PC ... and today bought their stuff.

At Media Play, I found both the Youth & Young Manhood LP and the boys' Holy Roller Novocaine EP. The LP includes 4 of the 5 songs from the EP, but I figured I'd go ahead and pick up both discs, if for nothing more than to see the band's sound evolved in the 6 months between the release of the EP and the LP.

Both the EP and LP were produced by Ethan Johns, this odd little British alt-country producer. So how can the same band working with the same producer record the same 4 songs twice within 6 months ... and make the second set sound so much worse than the first?

In fairness, I'm much more a fan of DIY, straight-forward, low-production-value independent records (i.e. the EP) than major-label studio efforts (the LP). So on three of these songs (Molly's Chambers, Wasted Time, Holy Roller Novocaine) some might make a case that the LP versions are better.

But California Waiting (my favorite song on either disc) is so damn much better on the EP, I had to double-check that the crappy version was on the big-label LP.

The LP version literally sounds like a demo. Uninspired vocals, uneven riffs and bad production elements turn the best piece of the EP into one of the worst spots on the LP.

The bad news with KOL is that the band's big-label debut didn't capture the greatness of these boys. But the good news is they got it right the first time.

SEC Week 14 wrapup

C.K.H.W. is not a football blog, I swear ...

But LSU football is on my mind 24/7 nowadays, thus it filters into the blog. Again, sue me.

My Tigers, of course, took care of business in a big way against the Hogs. Fate, however, was not so kind to us. On Saturday we were let down by Kentucky, Florida, Alabama and even Louisiana Tech in our drive to outsmart the BCS formula and pass USC. Bastards.

It looks like our hope of rising to No. 2 in the BCS (if we beat Georgia, of course) rests in the human polls. And, if we beat the team both polls have ranked No. 5 to go to 12-1 while USC finishes up against an unranked 7-4 team to get to 11-1, what self-respecting AP writer or coach can claim USC is a better team?

To that end, the Anderson & Hester (a BCS computer) site has a very telling stat on their site this week. LSU has played 4 of the teams currently ranked in the A&H Top 25 (No. 10 Georgia, No. 20 Arkansas, No. 23 Florida and No. 24 Ole Miss) and has beaten three of them. If we beat Georgia again, that will be 5 games and 4 wins against their Top 25. By contrast, USC has played only 1 current A&H Top 25 team (No. 17 Washington State), and the second-best team they've played is No. 37 Notre Dame.

USC has played just 4 teams with winning records this season (9-3 Washington State, 8-4 Hawaii, 7-5 Auburn and 7-6 Cal - who they lost to).

LSU, on the other hand, has played 6 teams with winning records (10-2 Georgia, 9-3 Ole Miss, 9-3 Western Illinois [I-AA], 8-4 Florida - who we lost to, 8-4 Arkansas and 7-5 Auburn).

We're hurt in strength of schedule by playing I-AA Western Ill., because their wins don't count in our SOS (but their losses do). We played Western Ill. because Division I Marshall backed out on our game. So fuck Marshall and their Thundering Turd.

But I digress.

If LSU beats Georgia and ends the season with two wins over a 10-win, Top-5 team, we deserve to pass USC in the polls. I like our chances to pass them in the coaches poll, and maybe even the AP.

So, Tiger fans, get on the phone this week and call your local sportswriter and/or college football coach and read them this blog. Every vote counts.

Now back to the wrapup. The week of wishful-thinking picks hurt me. I got LSU right, of course, and got the Georgia and Ole Miss games right. But I missed on Florida, Kentucky and Bama.

So a 3 - 3 week leaves me finishing the regular season at 75 - 22 (.773 winning percentage) and 11 - 1 on my Tigers.