Friday, November 30, 2007

2008 Presidential Election Q&A

As you can tell, I've been too busy this week to post anything that takes more than five minutes to write. Well, today, I set the timer to twenty minutes, because I think the 2008 elections are that important.

What's the worst-case scenario?

Rudy Guiliani will be voted our next President. He's just awful. Rudy isn't as bumblingly stupid as George is, but he's just as power-crazed, corrupt, and hawkish. McCain is a hawk too, but I don't think he would continue Bush's drive to make the legislative and judicial branches subordinate to the executive branch. And don't give me any nonsense about Guiliani being liberal on social issues. Just because he's fond of dressing up like a woman and living with gay men doesn't mean he won't nominate socially conservative supreme court justices.

Guiliani scares me just as much in 2007 as George W. Bush scared me in 1999. Maybe even more so, because back then I thought he might hire smart people around him and be a figurehead in the mold of Reagan.

What can the Republicans do to win?

The Republican nominee can't throw George under the train, but he'll have to separate himself in some way. He'll probably do this by hinting at the fact that the problem with George wasn't his ideology, but his competence. And then smear, smear, smear...

What can the Democrats do to win?

Nominate a generate candidate who can run against George Bush's disastrous legacy without being a lightning rod to the right-wing smear machine. Unfortunately, John Edwards appears to be slipping, so that leaves Hillary (aka The Ice Queen) and Barack (aka Obama bin Laden). Obama is actually my favorite candidate, but I don't think he's electable.

The other thing the Democrats need to do is make the election about George W. Bush. The Republican nominee represents More Of The Same.

Why would you be upset if a Republican won?

I want a landslide election to force the Republican away from the extremist fringe and back to traditional conservative values like small government, fiscal responsibility, and hazy corruption. If a Republican wins, they'll continue to cater to the neocons and religious right.

P.S. Any George W. Bush fans out there? If so, please leave a comment. You don't know how much this would delight me. I miss the old days when Bush fanatics would turn on ALL CAPS and cut loose with rants against the mainstream media and leftist know-it-alls who thought Operation Iraqi Freedom might last longer than six months. Where did all those clowns go?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I Have a Great Golf Swing

Here's something you don't know about me. I have a fantastic golf swing. There are subtle differences between a pro golfer's swing and my swing. Specifically, a pro golfer's swing has a smooth arc in which the club head reaches it's greatest speed at the point of contact, whereas my swing is more v-shaped as I like to swing hard down on the ball. For me, it feels best to generate the most club-head speed at the very beginning of the swing, thereby demonstrating commitment, and I like to yell "Aack!" as the ball is struck. A pro golfer typically hits his drives between 280 and 320 yards, whereas I hit my drives between 180 and 220 yards. Drive for show; putt for dough.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My New Favorite Band

A couple weeks ago while flipping channels, I stumbled across Ryan Adams in concert. I liked what I heard, but my high-def channel was wigging out, so the sound came and went. This frustrated me, naturally, and it made me desperate to hear the song. So I checked out a Ryan Adams & The Cardinals album from the library. The very first song blew me away with its soulfulness. "Magnolia Mountain" has a timeless quality that made me feel like I'd been hearing some variation of the song my whole life. It wouldn't surprise me if it was written by Roy Orbison, Jerry Garcia, Neil Young, or Ryan Adams himself. I did a search on YouTube hoping against hope that someone had posted this song. It turns out that there are about a dozen different versions. I guess Ryan Adams is not exactly unknown.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Rambling Thoughts on Assembling Movies

Malcolm Gladwell discusses the idea of using a formula to predict hit movies. He interviews a smart lawyer who reviewed movies and screenplays and came up with a system that assigns dollar values to scripted movie scenes. For example, a hero's moral crisis in an early scene may be worth $7 million, a gorgeous red-headed eighteen-year-old female lead who scores well on her likeability ratings may be worth $3 million, and a bonding moment between the male lead and a four-year-old boy may be worth $2 million. I'd really like to learn more about their ratings, but they're tight-lipped about the whole thing because they're trying to sell their process to powerful, insecure movie executives.

[Digression] Edgar Allen Poe came up with a similarly reductive argument about assigning values to art, deriving a twisted sorite to determine the best subject of a poem. Basically, his line of reasoning went like this: a poem should elevate the soul; the poem that most elevates the soul deals with tragedy; the greatest of tragedies is death; the most tragic deaths are those of women; the most tragic death is that of a young woman -- a beautiful young woman. Ergo, if you want to write a great poem, don't pick a middle-aged man or an ugly young woman as your subject, and for damn sure don't let them live when the poem ends. Write about the death of a PYT, make sure it rhymes, and you're golden. Either that, or write about black birds with one-word vocabularies. [/Digression]

I suppose one approach to this formula is to write a sarcastic blog entry, but I'm in a more somber mood since I live in Seattle and all. So I'm going to discuss my favorite storytelling conceits. Of course, I should skip the obvious ones, because they're obvious: Man vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Himself, Man vs. Society, and Man vs. iPod cords. I'll also skip Revenge, which is too easy, and Falling in Love, which is the same as Man vs. Nature.

Moral Dilemma That Involves Revenge - I know I said I wouldn't mention Revenge, but that got me thinking about good types of Revenge. First, here's the kind of revenge plot that bugs me the most: (1) bad guy does something very bad, (2) good guy chases bad guy and catches him near the end of the movie, (3) good guy doesn't kill bad guy outright because he's good, (4) bad guy tries to kill good guy anyway, (5) good guy gleefully kils bad guy, restoring the moral order. I prefer Hamlet's perverted revenge, or the great revenge scene in Minority Report in which the Tom Cruise character confronts the guy who seems to have kidnapped his child.

Low Person Faces High Person - A lowly peasant confronts the king. Aron meets Cathy in East of Eden. Dorothy meets Oz. Jane Eyre meets Rochester. Gandalf confronts Saruman. Elizabeth chats with Lady Catherine.

Escape - If this were a top 5 list, Escape would go at the very top. Whether it's physical escape (Papillon, Cool Hand Luke), psychological escape (Five Easy Pieces, Office Space, The 40 Year Old Virgin), or some other kind of escape, I'm hooked.

Full Frontal Nudity - I like any plot twist that causes one or more attractive women to remove their clothing. Peepholes are especially effective.

Mystery Solving - I can imagine a story with someone solving a mystery while escaping capture. As the mystery unfolds, the protagonist realizes he must seek revenge, and only a new love interest can dissuade him.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Fall Moab 2007 Awards

Fall Moab is all about rituals. It starts with the insulting email exchanges we send each other to plan for the event. When Dug gives the final word, the date is set, and Rick gives Kenny an action item to create a poster. (This year's poster is a takeoff on a Mormon movie called Passage to Zarahemla. I guess you have to live in Utah.) The whole thing is very organized. When we return from Fall Moab, Fatty writes a summary for his blog, and I give out awards based on movie quotes. The Fall Moab 2007 movie quotes come from The 40 Year Old Virgin, which is appropriate for three reasons: (1) we quoted from the movie several times during the trip, (2) the movie has an interesting clash between innocence and experience, which is appropriate for our group, and (3) I've never seen Passage to Zarahemla.

Cal: "Oh, man, I had a weekend."

The first award goes to the whole group. In the movie, Cal goes down to Mexico to see a horse show that, um, fails to be uplifting. We fared better. Eleven of us drove down to St. George on Friday morning, set up camp near the Gooseberry Mesa trailhead, and did three rides: Gooseberry on Friday afternoon, Little Creek on Saturday, and a different part of Gooseberry on Sunday morning. Here's how good the weekend was -- the bike riding in that part of Utah is spectacular, and I’m not sure whether biking was more fun than camping.

By the way, we went on three long rides in three days, and didn't take a shower. By day 3, I couldn't even run my fingers through my hair. Amazingly, none of us smelled bad. Isn't that interesting!

David: "Did you just flick me in the balls?"
Cal: "No. I flicked you in the fleshy patch where your balls used to be."

This award goes to . . . Kenny, who rode tentatively most of the weekend. I suppose he could use the excuse that he was still recovering from the hip he broke a couple of months ago, and that he flashed all the crux moves anyway, but I expected a little more aggression from him. Kenny, here’s a flick in your fleshy patch. Flick.

Did you happen to notice that Kenny was wearing a sissy helmet? Flick.

Andy Stitzer: "I think I've got all the advice I can handle, thank you."

For this one, we're giving out a special Lifetime Achievement Award to ... Rick. The five greatest mountain bike rides in Southern Utah – Gold Bar Rim, Gooseberry Mesa, Reverse Porcupine, Slickrock, and Little Creek – all have one thing in common: at least one crux move where most riders take turns trying to make it up and over. The guys who flash it set their bikes down at the top, take their place in the victor's circle, and shout encouragement to the other cyclists. Except Rick. He shouts advice. And it's not even useful advice. If he said something like "You're shifting your weight too soon" or "Think 'cold fury'," that would be one thing. But his advice is "Begin with the end in mind" or "Try not to fall down, Chico." I've got all the advice I can handle, Ricky, thank you.

In an odd reversal, here's a video of Rick asking me for advice while trying to ride over a string of boulders. I was stunned.

David: "You know how I know you're gay?"
Cal: "How? How do you know I'm gay?"
David: "Because you macramed yourself a pair of jean shorts."

This goes to all the riders who took Ambien because they have a difficult time sleeping when camping. Pfff. Real men take melatonin.

Andy Stitzer: "Einstein rode a bike!"
Trish: "He had a wife."

This award goes to ... our wives who graciously watched the kids while we were out of town. Hang in there, Susan.

Waxing Lady: "So this is your first time getting body wax?"

This award goes to ... Brad.

As I mentioned, the trip was a little different this time because we camped. We built a huge bonfire, circled our chairs around it, and told stories while eating beer-soaked brats. After chopping wood, spitting, and peeing on juniper bushes, we weren’t in the mood for chatting about mutual funds or elementary schools. We wanted raunchy stories.

By the time Brad had drunk enough alcohol to declare that he wasn’t drunk, he claimed his new favorite activity was having his balls waxed, and he went into horrifying detail that is not only inappropriate for this blog, but inappropriate for eleven grown men scratching themselves around a campfire. (The next morning he claimed that he was making the whole thing up. Whatever.)

While eating dinner in a Mexican restaurant the following day, something odd happened. The restaurant was crowded, and there was a group of men and women sitting at the table next to us. At our table, several conversations were going on simultaneously. Just as we all stopped talking at the same time, someone at the next table said in a loud voice, “This is going to sound crazy, but one time a girlfriend waxed my balls!” Half of us stared in disbelief while the other half burst out laughing.

Is ball waxing really that popular? Never mind, don't answer that.

David: "You're a whore."
Amy: "I am not a whore! I just didn't like you!"
David: "Hah, this is so us."

The award for best gag in the movie goes to … Rick, who pulled off the best gag of the weekend. When the server in the aforementioned Mexican restaurant brought our food, she asked Rick to pass the plate down. Rick asked her if the plate was hot, which is a good question in a Mexican restaurant, and she said no. As soon as he took the plate, he yelled "OUCH!!" The look on her face just before she burst out laughing was priceless. She was a good sport.

David: "I'm gonna kick you in the nuts, asshole."
Haziz: "Hey, hey, hey hey hey, watch the language, ok? I have a family."

This goes to ... Steve, a first-timer to Fall Moab. Steve is Paul's brother, he was my roommate in college, and he lives in Dug's neighborhood. Steve is a straight-laced conservative guy with a good sense of humor, but I'm afraid he heard some thing he'd like to un-hear.

Andy: "I think my first time might be your best time too."

I love this line. This award goes to ... my new singlespeed bike. Fatty currently owns my singlespeed on paper, but I can tell he wasn't treating it right, so it'll be mine soon.

When people were telling me about singlespeeds, I never understood the attraction. I get it now. As much as I love my full-suspension Mountain Bicycling System™, it's dead to me. I probably shouldn't be saying this because I still need to negotiate the price with Fatty.

Paul had a similar experience with a singlespeed. Over the last several years, the only time he rides his mountain bike is with us during Fall Moab. For this year's event, he bought a singlespeed and loved it so much that he's actually going to start riding again.

Here's the thing. Riding a singlespeed isn't about being more macho: "Hey, look at me! I'm only riding one gear! And I have broken glass in my shoes!" It's about simplicity. It's about power. It's about stealth. That's right. A singlespeed lets you ride sneakily. That's the best I can do to explain it. If you doubt me, you'll just have to try it.

David: "You know how I know you're gay?"
Cal: "How?"
David: "You like Coldplay."

The best line of the movie goes to the best crux move of the weekend… the Little Creek gulley. There are two ways up the ledge. There’s a rock pile up the middle or a narrow, rocky trail around the right side in which you have to make the turn by climbing over a root while dodging an overhang. Once you get up on the ledge, you have to climb a deceptively long pile of rocks through a narrow opening up the left side. So far, no one has come close to riding a singlespeed up the middle rock pile (Dan tries it in the video below), and you have to hit it perfectly to make it up on a geared bike. While we were trying to ride up the crux move, Gary and Paul tried to rock climb up an inverted wall. Everyone else sat around cheering and cajoling. Good times.

David: "I gotta tell you something. I'm really excited about it. Uh, for the first time, today, I woke up, I came to the store, and I feel confident to say to you that if you don't take this Michael McDonald DVD -- that you've been playing for two years straight -- off, I'm going to kill everyone in the store and put a bullet in my brain!"

This goes to Fatty, who took my iPod and cranked an obscure playlist I have called “Cheese Rock,” which includes music that I listened to as a teenager. He could have picked one of the more contemporary bands I have, like My Morning Jacket or The White Stripes or Arcade Fire, but no. He announced to everyone that we’d be getting a sampling of my music, and cranked it up. Boston, Journey, Kansas, and 38 Special could be heard all over Gooseberry Mesa. You know you're humiliated when people are asking why Styx isn't on your playlist. I suppose I should hold on loosely to this grand illusion, because all we are is dust in the wind. Thanks Fatty. You're a man I'll never be.

Cal: "Is that the Six Million Dollar Man's boss?"
Andy Stitzer: "That's Oscar Goldman."

This line goes to ... Dug. I don't need a reason. Enjoy!

Andy Stitzer: "You know what? I respect women! I love women! I respect them so much that I completely stay away from them!"

This award goes to the group of storytellers -- especially Gary, Cori, Rick, and Kenny -- who all managed to tell hilarious stories with an undercurrent of sad truthfulness. Of course, anything I write here can't match the time-honored tradition of campfire storytelling. I can only offer a glimpse.

One of the interesting things about this group is that all eleven of us were Mormon missionaries. Some guys are no longer involved in the church and were passing around a bottle of whiskey or tequila. Some guys were chatting about their church callings. A couple guys were doing a little bit of both, or neither. We told stories for hours on both nights, but there was one stretch that was particularly memorable. We got on the subject of how common it is for people to claim that God wanted them to marry someone. I better not name names.

Story 1 - One guy told a story about a friend of his. When the friend was near the end of his mission, a woman claimed that God revealed to her that he would marry her daughter. The daughter was not attractive by anyone's standards. The fact that the mother died the following day of a heart attack shook up the missionary. When he got home, his dreams haunted him for a few weeks, so he went back to the mission area and married the girl. The storyteller then did an impersonation of how his married friend acted when he visited him: "Yeah, work is okay [turning and shouting] -- Martha! -- [turning back] work is good, you know, I'm just livin' the dream [turning again] -- MARTHA!! KEEP THEM QUIET IN THERE! [turning back] How about you?"

Story 2 - A Sicilian woman was married to a mob guy, which isn't as crazy as it sounds in Palermo. When the storyteller was teaching her about the Mormon church, she wanted to break up with her sinning husband and get baptized. She also happened to fall in love with the missionary and tried to seduce him. [Several juicy details omitted.] The mafioso wasn't too happy about the situation. Church officials intervened and sent the storyteller to a different area and warned several people to be extra careful, including the missionary's girlfriend back in the states. The storyteller still gets letters from the woman more than 20 years later.

Story 3 - Someone's overbearing father was a religious extremist. Surprise! He turned out to have an ugly secret.

Story 4 - A 30-ish woman fell in love with one of the guys when he was only 15. She kept inviting him over to her house and confided in him that she had a revelation -- her husband would die in a plane crash. Her family moved away, and a couple years later, her husband ... died in a plane crash. She used part of her lucrative settlement money to move back to the area and buy a home near the storyteller's. The woman stepped up her advances and bought the kind of car that he really liked. They started dating. One night, the woman snuck into the boy's basement bedroom and climbed in bed with him. Later that night, the phone rang. Her five-year-old daughter was calling the house in a panic, telling the storyteller's parents that her mother was gone. The story kept going...

Andy Stitzer: "Do you ever notice how... like, in a relationship... one person's always like "blal blah blal blah" and the other person's like "What are you talkin about?" and one person's like "blah blah blalablah...?"
Cal: "How much have you had to drink, man?"

This award goes to two guys who couldn't make the trip . . . Tom and Rich. They're lifelong buddies who constantly bicker with each other, kind of like Artoo and C3PO, only meaner.

Jay: "Nastiest shit you've ever done? I'm talkin' about nasty!"
Andy Stitzer: "Ah... wow! Soooo many stories are running through my head right now. I dated this girl for a while... she was really a... nasty freak. She just loved to... get down with... sex all the time. It was like... anytime of day... she was like, 'Yeah, let's go! I'm so nasty!'"

This solid quote goes to the most solid move on Gooseberry ... Sidewinder. You have to scramble up a couple of switchbacks. After the last turn, there's a steep 15-foot rock that you have to climb to make it to the top. In granny gear, this isn't much of a problem (even though you look totally ridiculous spinning your pedals that fast), but on a singlespeed, it's devilishly tricky, as a British announcer would say.

[There is no video of Sidewinder because Fatty is holding out and refuses to answer my emails.]

Mooj: "Life is about people. It's about connections."
Andy Stitzer: "It's all about connections."
Mooj: "It's not about c----, and a--, and t---."
Andy Stitzer: "Yeah."
Mooj: "And butt---- pleasures."
Andy Stitzer: "It's not about butt--- pleasures at all."
Mooj: "It's not about these rusty trombones, and these dirty Sanchez."
Andy Stitzer: "Please stop."

The most otherworldly dialogue goes to the most otherworldly section of trail ... Hidden Canyon on Gooseberry Mesa. The overhanging rocks makes it seem like you're riding through a cave. I wouldn't be surprised if bats flew out.

In conclusion, we had fun.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Youtube Loser

I finished writing a long summary of Fall Moab 2007. While trying to upload movies to YouTube, I've run across a couple of technical glitches. I'll try to get everything worked out by tomorrow so that I can post the long-awaited summary of Fall Moab (St. George edition), complete with video footage. Promise. For some reason, playing around in YouTube lowered my self-esteem a few notches. Maybe it's the fact that movies seemed to upload just fine but never showed up. And that one video that did show up had the audio out of sync. Or maybe it's something else.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Singlespeed Bikes

For this year's Fall Moab, I left my expensive full-suspension mountain bike at the bike shop and committed to riding a singlespeed bike the whole weekend. I was nervous about this because I love the Fall Moab trips and I didn't want to ruin the experience by riding a new bike that didn't work out. There are four main differences between my bike and Elden's bike:

1. Multiple gears vs. one gear - While the full suspension bike has three rings in front and eight cogs in back, a singlespeed has -- you guessed it -- only one gear.

2. Bigger wheels - Standard mountain bikes have 26" wheels; the new wave of singlespeed bikes have 29" wheels, like hybrid/touring bikes.

3. Rigid fork - My bike is very bouncy with front and rear suspension. Elden's bike has no suspension.

4. Different pedals - Elden's Time pedals are a little more difficult to clip into and out of than my Speedplays. Within fifteen minutes of the first ride, I stalled while going up a ledge, couldn't clip out, and fell 8 feet onto my back. I had a headache the rest of the weekend, but it's always fun to claim you're "concussed."

Advantages of the Singlespeed

One of the reasons I didn't want to ride a singlespeed bike was because of an experiment I did a few years ago. While on my geared bike, I rode side-by-side with Dug and shifted until we pedaled the same revolutions and speed. I ended up in the middle ring and fifth or sixth gear, and there's no way I wanted to push that gear all day. What I didn't realize is that I was comparing apples and oranges. Having multiple gears comes with a price -- the drivetrain absorbs some of your energy and the bike is heavier. When you're riding a singlespeed, the gear you're pushing is much easier than its standard mountain bike equivalent. This means you have more pop.

When you ride a singlespeed, you have to get used to going fast over obstacles and going easy on the brakes. The bigger wheels and higher speeds allow you to roll over obstacles that snag bikes with smaller wheels. This is perfect for riding in Southern Utah. There are some moves -- especially drops -- that I can do on a singlespeed but not on a standard mountain bike.

There's also something to the feel of riding a singlespeed bike, but I don't know how to describe it. It just feels good.

Disadvantages of Singlespeeds

When you want to ride fast down a long hill, you spin out. Also, certain moves can't be done on a singlespeed, and that's frustrating. Any difficult move in which you lose all your speed and have to pedal up a steep incline has to go unconquered (this can also be a benefit in that certain moves that we've mastered on a geared bike have now come back into play on a singlespeed). Also, the larger wheels make tight turns more difficult -- a definite negative for riding in the Northwest.

Another drawback is that you get more beat up on a singlespeed. By the third day, I no longer enjoyed just riding along the trail because my hands and forearms were so sore.


I am going to purchase Elden's extra singlespeed bike for all Southern Utah riding, and I'm going to convert my old backup Stumpjumper into a singlespeed for riding in Seattle. It'll have the same small wheels, but I'll replace the old suspension fork with a rigid fork.
I'll have more details on the bike trip later.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Fall Moab 07 Preview

My favorite weekend of the year is coming up: Fall Moab. This year's version, Fall Moab Aught Seven, should be spectacular. Here are my five favorite things about the Fall Moab tradition:

5. Road Trip

I usually don't like being in a car, but the road trip is one exception. There's the usual amount of ball-busting, movie reviews, book reviews, and sports chatter, and we usually find time to discuss work and families. On the return trip, the discussions inevitably turn to analysis of human sexual habits.

4. Parking Lots

Before the ride, there's the bike assembly and nervous chatter. Rick does his impersonation of Richard Gere or Bono. After the ride, there's the drinking of beer and the tossing of footballs. Paul breaks out his impression of Robbie Bosco.

The Slickrock parking lot has a special significance. We've been riding Slickrock for almost 20 years, and I get a stomach tingle every single time.

3. Food

Food tastes great after a long ride. Especially Hostess SnoBalls.

2. The Open Country

I love the wide open sky and sunshine in Southern Utah, especially coming from Seattle, where there isn't much sunlight even when the sun is out.

1. The Moves

I love trying the same move over and over. I love watching the other guys trying the same moves over and over.

Wrinkles: This year, we're actually doing Fall Moab in St. George, I'll be riding a singlespeed mountain bike instead of The System, and we're camping. More details soon. Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Turtle Diary

I let Wendy talk me into getting turtle pets for Luke and Max. I know this is a mistake. I have a theory that pets teach children that their parents will neglect living creatures and let them die, and I want to at least pretend to be a nurturing father to my children. Wendy got the turtles from the father* of a 12-year-old girl who no longer cared about the turtles and even forgot their names. Bob and Bob 1 or Paul and Paul 1, or something like that.

The boys decided on new names right away. Taking the George Foreman approach, Luke and Max named the turtles Luke and Max, respectively. Wendy shot that idea down, so the boys named them something like Poony and Gartran. We had no problem with this, but the names were quickly forgotten, and the turtles had to be renamed yet again. Luke called his turtle Speedy (pronounced "peedy") and Max called his turtle Gumby (pronounced "dummy"). I thought those were perfectly good names, but this morning I found out they were being called Mr. Turtle and Mr. No No. What the hell? I'm giving them one more day to come up with solid names, or I'm going to intervene. Here are some possibilities (one is a male; the other is either female or a eunuch):

Brady and Belichek
Darcy and Elizabeth
Gawain and Green Knight
Nicholas and Rasputin
Huckleberry and Jim
Dick and George
Lenny and George
Porgy and Bess
Guildenstern and Rosencrantz

Got any suggestions?

* For ye olde WordPerfect folks, the former turtle owner is the one and only Mike Grayson.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Election Day

After work, Wendy and I are going to walk the boys down the street to the Lutheran church so that we can vote. Today's election will be a little bit odd for me because I'm not paying attention to local issues and I'm going to vote anyway. I suppose there are a couple of important propositions,* but I have no idea who's running for office. That won't deter me because my line of reasoning is simple and right on this one: I shall vote against every Republican on the ballot. Wendy forwarded a message to me from a Democratic friend who thought the Republican candidate was an excellent, fair-minded man and would do a better job as County Prosecutor than his Democratic opponent. I don't care. The extremist faction has taken over the Republican party and is doing terrible damage to our country. The Democrats are the lesser evil. Let's do a test. How would you vote in the following case?

O Abraham Lincoln (R)
O William Jefferson (D)

I don't care that Abraham Lincoln was a great orator and fine all-around man and that William Jefferson was busted for having $100k in his freezer -- I'm putting my check mark next to Jefferson. Lincoln is a Republican (plus, he's stone cold dead). When the fiscal conservative, small-government Republicans regain control of their party, I'll change how I vote. Until then, anyone with an (R) next to its name gets voted against. How do you like that, Dick? Not feeling so smug now, are you George?

* There's a big transportation issue that no one seems to care about because the proposition tries to appeal to both right-wing SUV nuts and left-wing public transportation nuts. Wendy is going to vote Yes to it, and I suppose I should too since I drive an SUV and ride my bike to work. I'm going to vote No for two small-minded reasons: (1) the proposition doesn't include money (excuse me -- monies) for fixing the viaduct, which will have to be torn down soon due to earthquake damage, and (2) Seattle was well on its way to having a monorail that went from West Seattle to Ballard through downtown. They pulled the plug on that project allegedly because it was going to be too expensive. So this new transportation initiative is way more expensive, but it doesn't do jack shit for West Seattle, which is going to have horrible congestion when the viaduct is torn down. Full disclosure: I live in West Seattle. More full disclosure: I torture baby seals in my basement. Anyway, the proposition is all about the East side bridges and reducing congestion on I-5. That work needs to be done, and the measure does throw a bone or two to bicycle commuters. Still, vote No to Proposition 1! This public service announcement was paid for by the Committee to Being Nice to Babies, Puppies, and Kitty Cats.

Monday, November 5, 2007

I'm OK

When the Colts went up 20-10 yesterday, I high-fived the kids, who were playing with the girl next door, and gave out unwanted hugs. When the game ended, a 24-20 loss to the hated Patriots, I went into a little funk. First, I no longer cared about professional football. It's a ridiculous game played by people wholly unrelated to me. Second, I wandered around the house looking for a book to read -- there were none -- or for little things to do. I did the dishes. I removed the babyproofing locks from the kitchen. I listened to my gabby neighbor gab. I payed just enough to say "um hum" at the appropriate times, but deep down I was wondering what happened to Manning's protection. When I was getting the boys ready for bed, they did their normal delay tactics, and I came close to smacking one of them. I really wanted to hit one of my kids. Finally, I couldn't sleep at night without thinking about the defensive collapse in the fourth quarter.

In time, I'll be OK. I'll miss football.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Colts vs. Patriots, What else?

No one else seems willing to talk about the upcoming game between the Colts and Patriots, so I guess I'll have to take up the slack. I have a new theory that accounts for the Patriots running up the score in all their games this year. The consensus opinion is that the Patriots are upset about (1) getting busted for cheating and (2) having their championship seasons called into question because they'd been cheating all along. The more extreme opinion, and one that I cannot in good conscience deny, is that Bill Belichek is the devil, and the devil does things like run up the scores of opponents and steal all the deposit envelopes from ATM machines. But I have a new theory, which I developed after watching the replay of last year's Colts-Patriots AFC championship game. (Yes, I watched the entire replay of a game that took place last year. Isn't that cool?) In that game, the Patriots went ahead 21-3, the Colts came roaring back to tie it at 28-28, and then the Colts finally won it 38-34. From what I saw, four things cost the Patriots that game:

1. One slow linebacker too many 

There was some guy named Alexander whose name was constantly being called, but in negative ways like "Alexander pushes Fletcher out of bounds after a 22-yard gain." The Colts were busting up the Patriots with routes up the middle between the linebackers and safeties. And Alexander was often seen running after them.

2. The inability to shut down the running game 

The Colts offensive line pounded the Patriots, especially in the second half. On their final touchdown, the center drove the Patriots' 340-pound noseguard five yards down field and then pancaked him. Several other Patriots found themselves on their back during that play. If the Patriots blow out the Colts this Sunday, Colts fans may want to put that play on a continuous loop for a few hours.

3. Mediocre receivers 

The leading Patriots receiver dropped two passes in the second half that him him right in the stomach. Late in the fourth quarter, with the Patriots up by three and with a chance to put the game away, a receiver ran the wrong route, and Tom Brady had nowhere to throw. Punt. Touchdown. Interception. Game over.

4. A lack of killer instinct 

After the Patriots went up 21-3, they seemed to go soft. I think you see where I'm heading. If you watch that game again, you have to think the Patriots had them down and let them up. There may be something to the notion of playing intensely for all four quarters. Forget sportsmanship. The Patriots have retooled for one reason -- to beat the Colts. To win, they have to get a lead early, build the lead, and keep building the lead. They have to suppress any urge to let up at any point.

I know what you're thinking: The Colts barely beat the Patriots last year, and the Patriots have gotten way better with their new receivers; therefore, the Patriots are better than the Colts and should crush them. But you forget, sports fan, that the AFC championship had gone against recent form. The Colts had learned to beat the Patriots. During last year's regular season game against the Colts, the Patriots were overmatched in a home game. They looked desperate as they went for it on fourth down and tried onsides kicks early in the game, and they still took a 40-21 beating, their second in a row to the Colts. 

I know what else you're thinking: Who do I, Bob, think is going to win? I think the Patriots are going to take a lead, and build that lead, and keep building that lead. They know how. The bastards.

Picturesque Pictures

One of the reasons I allow Minette to continue to be my friend is because she's an excellent photographer. Every now and then, she resorts to gimmickry and goes nuts with an infrared lens, but check out her more honest photos. She shows a keen eye for depth of field patterns et cetera, and her many Flickr friends are continually flagging her photos for e-awards. Even printed magazines are getting into the act, purchasing her photos (but failing to give her credit). I myself have lifted several photos from Minette's site without properly attributing them, but I do not apologize for this, because I see Minette as a chippy understudy.

Check out Minette's Flickr page. You won't be disappointed.