Saturday, November 28, 2009

Post-Thanksgiving Thoughts

1. (This thought is because of Tyler Cowen and UrbanSpoon.) I love my mom's turkey. I love cheeseburgers and spaghetti. I seriously think that a good pecan pie could lead to world peace. But I judge restaurants (other than fast food) by a different standard. I want them to give me something different. I don't want a regular cheeseburger, I want a different cheeseburger. I had never really thought about this until a couple of weeks ago when I ate two of the best salads I have ever eaten. I usually never buy salads at restaurants, but these just blew my mind. I guess what I am saying is that I will now look at the whole menu and order the most interesting-appetizing-cheapest thing on the menu. I will not look for comfort foods, but look for something that if it is done right I will enjoy but if done poorly I will hate.

2. My dad says that stores being opened on Thanksgiving was a "race to the bottom." A few stores did it, now customers expect it, and we're all worse off. His idea being that there is no holiday anymore. Some people are off, but now they wait to Thanksgiving to get food or "run to the store" when they should be with their family. And others have to work and can't be with their family.

3. I kind of see number 2 as a "race to the middle" or a "race to the inconsequential." The idea being that holidays have lost meaning, but I can't see any other way.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday Morning Sports Stories Posted On A Sunday

I have slept in four different beds in five nights. I haven't been able to really keep up with things, but two stories have stood out to me, the Mark Mangino story and the France-Ireland World Cup Qualifying game.

Jason Whitlock has a couple of commentaries on Mangino. This morning's article basically asks "How important is winning?" This is also the underlying question of the France-Ireland handball. At what lengths should coaches, organizations, teams, and player go to win? I played enough athletics to know that most coaches, organizations, and players would answer "anything within limits" to win. The limits differ, but the objective of sports is to win.

The things that bothers me about Mangino are the personal nature of his attacks, and his commitment to the idea that he is helping his players succeed in life. He probably has helped a lot of players do better than they would have if they didn't have a college scholarship. His "tough love" has probably helped a lot of players get past bad habits and lack of discipline. But what for? Winning college football games? I guess the question becomes is winning football games closely correlated with winning in life? I know they are somewhat correlated, but how closely?

It is the same thing with the France-Ireland thing. I know if I was Irish I would be pissed. I know the French feel that the win was tainted, but what is the right thing to do? And a bigger question, does the outcome of the game really matter in the grand scheme?

My philosophy has developed to the point where I believe the games don't matter as much as the seasons, and the seasons don't matter as much as the decades, and so forth.

The real thing that amazes me is that we are wealthy enough to care. Bill Simmons is paid millions of dollars to write about games. He gets to write a long column on one decision in one game that will in all likelihood not make a difference. And I get to read it even though I haven't slept in the same bed in consecutive nights this week.

Is the "win-at-all-costs" attitude what has gotten us to this place? Is the commitment to the attitude the difference between Bill Simmons success and writing a blog that no one reads? Is it the difference between six and five figures? Is it the difference between finishing and not finishing?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Opinion On The Decision

This post demonstrates my poor use of time, but I have to say it.

I agree with Belichick's decision. I am believer that a coach has to demonstrate confidence. There is nothing worse than a coach punting on fourth and one when a team needs a shot in the arm. There is nothing that pumps up an offense or defense when a head coach goes to them and says "It is on you."

The football season for a player is monotonous. Week after week of the same thing wears on a player and team like nothing else. You see it in high school. You see it in college. Winning helps. But the key to success, and the difference between good coaches and mediocre ones, is to maintain focus. Having a coach who demonstrates immense testicular fortitude with his decisions really helps quell the monotony and maintain focus.

Now there are a million different ways to demonstrate testicular fortitude, and I can understand some people questioning Belichick's decision. But if I am a player on the Patriots, I still want to sell-out for Belichick.

(With this being said, I hate the way Belichick interacts with the media. You can run a team without looking like a jackass 95% of the time you're on TV.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Outcomes Matter, Probabilities Don’t

Bill Belichick demonstrated what I was trying to say in this post. I just listened to Bill Simmons and Cousin Sal say Belichick went against the odds. Joe Posnanski links to a guy who says he played the odds perfectly. Neither link matters. They didn't get the first down. The Patriots lost.

The probabilities don't matter. The outcome does. Bill Belichick will only have once chance to make that call. He made it. Now the game is over. And he has to start preparing for the Jets. And I bet that is what he is doing.

Yesterday’s NFL Thoughts But I Am Not Getting Sucked Backed In To The Redskins

  1. The question is not Manning or Brady? It is Jason Campbell or Kyle Orton?
  2. Besides Wayne, Manning's best receivers are a former walk-on at Iowa and a Division III player (even though Mount Union is as close as Division III comes to big-time college football).
  3. A Division III player was getting a pretty big push on Football Night In America.
  4. Besides Moss, Brady's receivers aren't much better than Manning's.
  5. Again the question is not Manning or Brady, it is Campbell or Orton? And the answer goes something like if you put the right guys around a mediocre NFL quarterback, you might win one championship but you're not getting a hundred wins in a decade.
  6. I would be satisfied with one championship.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Uncomfortable Or Unfortunate Situations I Have Been In Today

1. I have to get up at 4:30AM to catch a flight. I put on a shirt that is about half-a-size too small. A big man knows that this is one of the worst things one can do. It makes you self-conscious all day. It also makes you look like a fat idiot as you are walking through airports, hence, the self-consciousness.

2. I go into a bathroom at a fairly large airport. There is a man, an attendant, sitting there. I have to drop a sizable load. He sees me go in. Ten minutes later, he sees me go out. I know he understands, but like the shirt, it is just an uncomfortable situation.

3. I also don't know what to do with the attendant. He doesn't have an official tip jar. There are some mints and Listerine with a money jar, but that looks like it goes to a charity. Again, I don't know what to do.

4. I shotgun 40 ounces of Diet Coke. The caffeine and and liquid causes bladder spasms. I have to piss 4 times in the next two hours. This situation amplifies the uncomfortableness of 2 and 3.

5. Since I left this morning, I missed the opportunity to see Kevin Durant, the emerging Thunder, and maybe this year's champs, Spurs.

Just an unfortunate day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Some Things On My Mind

1. The idea that "funny" is an objective term. Adam Carolla and his guests have talked about this some. I certainly think that Norm MacDonald is funnier than Larry the Cable Guy. But I have always thought that "funny" was what made me laugh. I guess what I am saying is the economist in me says funny is what puts people in seats and money into comedians' pockets.

2. I really think that in five years 50-60% of my income will go to taxes. I am not saying this to be pessimistic. And I am not overly concerned about my or "this country's" future. It is just what I think.

3. Health insurance doesn't equal health care. Health insurance doesn't equal health care. Just like life insurance doesn't equal life.

4. I am reading Bill Kirchner's A Miles Davis Reader. I am not that far into it, but Miles is the man.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

NASCAR Is Still A Good Sport To Write About

Joe Posnanski sheds some light by not shedding light on Jimmie Johnson.

NASCAR is and has always been about crazy men. Men who can drive 200mph. Men who can quell their fear of death like very few other men can. The Car of Tomorrow and Corporate NASCAR doesn't allow these stories to come through. They don't allow fans to appreciate how absolutely crazy these men are.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Too Many Movies, Not Enough Work

I enjoyed Whatever Works. Watching a Woody Allen film isn't like Forrest Gump's "a box of chocolates." You know what you're going to get. It isn't going to be sweet. It isn't going to be dark. It is going to have a few nuts in it. But when you're finished, you're going to say "that wasn't too bad." You are also going to laugh.

I also enjoyed The Assassination of a High School President. Both it and State of Play openly plagiarized All The President's Men. But at least Assassination and Bruce Willis had a sense of humor. State of Play had better actors, but no matter how hard they tried, they couldn't make it a fictional All The President's Men. I have never liked when a fictional movie tried too hard. All The President's Men was true, and that is what it made it so good. State of Play wasn't true, and that is why the twists and turns kept me watching but didn't impress me in the end.

I really liked Management. I thought it was funny and also spoke to the struggle of "home" versus "the world" and "ramblin'." Life, love, charity, and moving forward isn't simple. And neither is being part of a family business.

Like Assassination, Adventureland impressed me. A "coming of age" story that uses Lou Reed's "Satellite of Love" reminded me of listening to U2's cover version on their "One" single and marveling over "I love to watch things on TV." Like the characters in Adventureland, I soon realized that watching things on TV and dreaming about things on TV and looking up to guys like Ryan Reynolds' character did not get you closer to "being on TV." In fact, all it did was keep you stuck.

I did not like Transformers 2. I slept through a 1/4th of it. I liked Transformers as a kid. I usually like cartoon super-hero movies, but no matter how much action and noise Transformers 2 had, I didn't care about what happened to any of the characters including my friend Optimus Prime. It was disappointing.

My wife made me watch Confessions of a Shopaholic. I will never get that hour and forty minutes back.

Observe and Report was absolutely crazy, a manic movie about a bi-polar person. It was funny and deeply sad at the same time similar to Swimming With Sharks. A demented world can be entertaining to watch, and I couldn't wait to see what happened at the end of Observe and Report or Swimming With Sharks.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Some Things

1. I have never been addicted to drugs. I have heard that crack-heads spend the rest of their life searching for the high of that first hit. Warm, fresh, right-off-the-assembly-line Krispy Kreme donuts is all I am going to say.

2. Vista sucks. The Mac commercial makes sense. Microsoft has been selling empty promises since I have started using computers. Windows will work most of the time, but when it doesn't, it will make your life miserable.

3. Wireless mouses were a great invention.

4. I bought a cord to hook up my laptops to my TV. I have no idea what I am going to do with it, but I am really glad I have it.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

"Truck His Ass" Or The Pursuit

"Truck his ass" is what I said when I saw Howard coming home on Damon's throw.
My wife and I watched the first game of the World Series. She has no idea about baseball. No idea whatsoever. But she and I enjoyed the game. The Phillies won.

I hate the Yankees. I have never liked them. It really started when they came back against the Braves in '96. I never thought they could get four wins in six games against the Braves' starters. But even before then, my grandfather told me to not like teams from New York, especially one named the Yankees.

I am not a big fan of the Phillies or Philadelphia either. I grew up watching the Redskins. Washington fans have very little respect for the other NFC east cities. Philadelphia, New York, and Dallas don't get "my team isn't playing" fandom.

But I enjoyed game one, prefer the National League to the American League, Charlie Manuel is from Virginia, and I started rooting for the Phillies. I couldn't watch Game 2, and they lost. I stopped wanting to watch the games. I couldn't handle it. I couldn't handle watching a baseball game, caring about the outcome, but knowing that my desired outcome probably won't happen kills me.

I don't want to watch anything sports related especially with the Redskins the laughingstock of the NFL and the Hokies choking away another season. And here I was enjoying the beautiful game of baseball in HD, and I don't even hate this Yankees team as much as usual (except Joe Girardi), but once I have a rooting interest, I can't watch the damn game without increases in blood pressure and yelling. I find the whole thing sad.

Then I am watching Mad Men, and President Kennedy gets assassinated. I remember September 11th and April 16th. I remember that baseball and sports and most everything else is a distraction from the only important thing: