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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Politics: RNC Night Two 

I'll pick up the slack tonight for Drew.

Tonight's theme was "compassion", and that was certainly felt with the speeches from keynote speakers California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Laura Bush.

Arnold tells his American Dream story


When I was a boy, the Soviets occupied part of Austria. I saw their tanks in the streets. I saw communism with my own eyes. I remember the fear we had when we had to cross into the Soviet sector. Growing up, we were told, "Don't look the soldiers in the eye. Look straight ahead." It was a common belief that Soviet soldiers could take a man out of his own car and ship him off to the Soviet Union as slave labor.

My family didn't have a car — but one day we were in my uncle's car. It was near dark as we came to a Soviet checkpoint. I was a little boy, I wasn't an action hero back then, and I remember how scared I was that the soldiers would pull my father or my uncle out of the car and I'd never see him again. My family and so many others lived in fear of the Soviet boot. Today, the world no longer fears the Soviet Union and it is because of the United States of America!

Arnold's tale of oppression in his home country really hit the heart as Arnold tells his tale of going from nothing to the governor's mansion.

My fellow immigrants, my fellow Americans, how do you know if you are a Republican? I'll tell you how.

If you believe that government should be accountable to the people, not the people to the government...then you are a Republican! If you believe a person should be treated as an individual, not as a member of an interest group... then you are a Republican! If you believe your family knows how to spend your money better than the government does... then you are a Republican! If you believe our educational system should be held accountable for the progress of our children ... then you are a Republican! If you believe this country, not the United Nations (news - web sites), is the best hope of democracy in the world ... then you are a Republican! And, ladies and gentlemen ...if you believe we must be fierce and relentless and terminate terrorism ... then you are a Republican!

There is another way you can tell you're a Republican. You have faith in free enterprise, faith in the resourcefulness of the American people ... and faith in the U.S. economy. To those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say: "Don't be economic girlie men!"

This was the heart of the speech as Schwarzenegger (type that really fast) hit the traditional Republican values and struck them home. He managed to reach out to the base and to bring in the moderates at the same time.

And even manages to poke a little fun at himself and deflect the recent criticism with his inclusion of the "girlie men" line once again.

He's a man of inner strength. He is a leader who doesn't flinch, doesn't waiver, does not back down. My fellow Americans, make no mistake about it terrorism is more insidious than communism, because it yearns to destroy not just the individual, but the entire international order. The President didn't go into Iraq because the polls told him it was popular. As a matter of fact, the polls said just the opposite. But leadership isn't about polls. It's about making decisions you think are right and then standing behind those decisions. That's why America is safer with George W. Bush as President.

He knows you don't reason with terrorists. You defeat them. He knows you can't reason with people blinded by hate. They hate the power of the individual. They hate the progress of women. They hate the religious freedom of others. They hate the liberating breeze of democracy. But ladies and gentlemen, their hate is no match for America's decency.

This is the beginning of Arnold's case for President Bush as he emphasizes the need for a leader who is unwavering and strong in his convictions.

My fellow Americans ...I want you to know that I believe with all my heart that America remains "the great idea" that inspires the world. It's a privilege to be born here. It's an honor to become a citizen here. It's a gift to raise your family here to vote here and to live here.

Our president, George W. Bush, has worked hard to protect and preserve the American dream for all of us. That's why I say ... send him back to Washington for four more years!

Thank you, America — and God bless you all!

The end of Arnold's speech, and he ends with a strong endorsement for President Bush. I must say that I had no idea that Arnold was such a great public speaker.

Perhaps California isn't such a reach afterall for the Republicans...

Laura Bush softens the edge

I can't find a transcript for this one yet, but make no mistake that Laura Bush did her husband and her country proud tonight, as she laid out the case for her husband. She told of the struggles that her husband endured in the days leading up to the war, the steady determination in the days after 9/11, the character of the man she met in a backyard of a home in Midland, TX and the story of her own father who helped close down a concentration camp in Nazi Germany and the parallels between stories such as that and those of today.

Night two a hit as well

Last night's Reaganesque speech by Senator McCain followed by the intimate words of Rudy Giuliani were powerful, but tonight was just as moving with the rags to riches story of a optimistic America by Arnold Schwarzenegger and the warmth of Laura Bush.

Tomorrow night Vice President Cheney hits the stage, along with his wife Lynne. Democratic Senator Zell Miller gives the keynote address, and a tribute to the late Ronald Reagan is on the schedule as well.


Longhorns: Counting Down 

Days Til texas Football!


Monday, August 30, 2004

Politics: RNC Night One 

Is it just me, or does seeing Ron Silver pimping for President Bush throw off anyone else? I mean, he did get Josiah Bartlett re-elected on The West Wing, but GWB isn't a liberal Yankee Democrat.

'Moore' of McCain

John McCain defends the Iraqi War and labels Michael Moore a "disingenious filmmaker." I love that he didn't use the bomb-throwing liberal's name, and I love even more (no pun intended) that we're going to get to see that clip on evernew show and update for the next twenty-four hours.

Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!

Rudy Guiliani on Sept. 11, 2001: "Thank God George Bush is our President." You aren't the only one who thanked God on that day. I said the same thing then, and I say the same thing now.

Liberal watch

Michael Moore laughs out loud when McCain blasts him. Al Franken applauds when Guiliani thanks John Kerry for Kerry's service. I'm still trying to figure out why these guys are in attendance? Franken I can see; he's apparently covering the convention for the two markets that still have Air America. But Moore?

More Rudy


My point about John Kerry being inconsistent is best described in his own words when he said, “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.”

Maybe this explains John Edwards’ need for two Americas - - one where John Kerry can vote for something and another where he can vote against the same thing.
As funny as that quote is, Guiliani actually topped himself moments earlier with (according to this pre-released transcript) this ad-lib:

When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, John Kerry voted against the Persian Gulf War. (crowd begins to boo) [ad-lib]He evidently heard you booing. [/ad-lib] Later he said he actually supported the war.

Who needs Obama?

Great speech overall from Guiliani. If you missed it, then go read the transcript above. He might not have the oratory abilities of a Barack Obama or a Bill Clinton, but he connects with the crowd just as well. And unlike Clinton, Guiliani relies on more than just snide barbs meant to belittle the opposition. Rudy's speech tugs at the heartstrings. I'm sure those on the Left will cry foul, charging Guiliani with "politicizing 9/11," but if there are two men on the planet who have that right, they are Rudy Guiliani and George W. Bush.

I said that I agreed with Guiliani when he said "Thank God George Bush is our President." But I also thank God Rudy Guiliani was Mayor of New York on that day. Dire moments demand strong leadership, and Rudy Guiliani embodies that, as he showed tonight.

Mea Culpa

I was busy trying to type during the finale of John McCain's address, and I think that I sold him short. His final few lines rivaled something that Ronald Reagan might have uttered. As Fox replayed it, I noticed something that I missed the first time: tears. McCain fought back tears as he wrapped up the address, and as I re-read his words, I found myself doing the same.

Take courage
from the knowledge that our military superiority is matched only by the superiority of our ideals,
and our unconquerable love for them.
Our adversaries are weaker than us in arms and men, but weaker still in causes. They fight to
express a hatred for all that is good in humanity.
We fight for love of freedom and justice, a love that is invincible. Keep that faith. Keep your
courage. Stick together. Stay strong.
Do not yield. Do not flinch. Stand up. Stand up with our President and fight.
We’re Americans.
We’re Americans, and we’ll never surrender.
They will.
Day One Impressions

The GOP "gets it." They've put up their more moderate front -- the guys that don't always toe the party line when it comes to some Republican ideals. But the act of using people like McCain, Guiliani, or even the Governator or Zell Miller, shows that the party is unified behind one central theme -- national security. The endorsements from moderate conservatives reinforce the idea that this election boils down to that issue. America wants a leader that will protect us from Terror and stand up for the best interests of our nation.

Look at Zell Miller, or even Dennis Miller. Look at the fiery introduction given tonight by Ron Silver. These are people that understand the reality of a post-9/11 world. I would guess that some notable (or at least semi-recognizeable) public figure might have distanced his or her self from the GOP/Right Wing because of the Bush doctrine, but I have yet to find one.

I would almost guarantee that the support of moderate to liberal opponents, which President Bush's stances and actions in the War on Terror have attracted, outnumber the resentment of former allies by a healthy margin. "The president is doing exactly the right thing," lifelong liberal Ron Silver screamed in his intro. Yes he is, Ron. And the GOP is doing the right thing by showcasing that kind of bi-partisan support.


Astros: Keep it Going 

As has been the case lately, the Astros get production from all spots in the batting order. The Reds erased a 3-0 deficit in the 5th, but Brad Ausmus came up with a huge three-run, two-out homer to put Houston back in front, 6-3.

He didn't just go deep, he crushed a pitch into the deepest part of Great American Ballpark. You know things are going well when Brad Ausmus is imitating Carlos Beltran. Pete Munro looked shaky in the 5th. We could use a strong inning from him before the pen takes over.

Quote of the Night

Jim Deshaies: "It's the most important game of the season. Until tomorrow."

One day at a time

Chalk up another win -- another big win -- for a red-hot Astros ballclub. But they can celebrate for a grand total of about ten minutes, because right now this team is only as good as its most recent game. Losing tomorrow can wipe away two week's worth of good play.

I feel like I've been holding my breath for the past week. I get to watch meaningful games in September, though, and the oxygen will still be there in another month.


Politics: Bush Bouncing 

I was listening to Sean Hannity on my drive from Salado back to Austin this afternoon, and he had Dick Morris on to discuss the bounce that President Bush stands to gain from this week's convention.

Morris contends that Bush will come out of this week with as much as an eight- to ten-point lead. He believes that that margin might shrink back to five or six points heading into the debate, but that the President will stretch it to a few points more as the two candidates hit the last few weeks before the Nov. 2 election.

Newsweek's Howard Fineman doesn't see the lead growing quite that large -- not yet at least. During a Hardball panel discussion, Fineman said that the President will likely gain five points from the convention.

No matter the exact number, one thing seems pretty clear: John Kerry is in trouble. The President has overcome the deficit of the past few months in almost every major poll, and he's moved ahead in several of them. With the push he'll get this week -- five points, eight points, however many he gets -- George Bush has solidified his standing, and even though a lot can change in two months, he's clearly going to be ahead as the true general campaign begins.


Politics: The Elephant Stampede Begins 

The RNC is officially underway. A host of credentialed bloggers have descended on NYC to cover the events first-hand, including Karol, who is guest-blogging for Dean's World, as well as her own site.

Her first post is up, and it looks like the festivities have brought out kooks from both the right and the left.

I won't have much time to keep up this afternoon. Between finishing up the month at work, and my grandmother's 97th birthday luncheon, blogging is pretty much out for the next eight hours.

Tonight I'm looking forward to covering both the RNC and the Astros' Wild card chase. I might even throw in a few thoughts on the Cowboys' preseason game.


Longhorns: Counting Down 

Days Til Texas Football!


Astros: Rumors of Death Greatly Exaggerated? 

Whaddayaknow? The Stros show a pulse and take three in a row from the Cubs (who will forever be known on this site as "Those Bastards"). And they don't just win, they win big.

Twice the Astros posted double-digit run totals, and on consecutive days they roughed up Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano and Matt Clement. Sure, Those Bastards tried to take out Carlos Beltran and Lance Berkman with "accidental" beanballs in yesterday's finale, but Houston responded with a five-run 8th to seal the deal.

I'd like to think that after Those Bastards won on Thursday, Phil Garner gathered his club in the locker rook Friday morning, and gave a pep talk that went something like this:

The local press seems to think we'd save everyone a lot of time and trouble if we just went out and shot ourselves. Me, I'm for wasting sports writers' time. So, I'd like to hang around and see if we can give 'em all a nice big shitburger to eat.
Four games back. Thirty-two to play. Fifteen in a row between Pittsburgh and Cincinnatti.

Anyone ready to count this team out yet?


Friday, August 27, 2004

Random: Burger Talk 

Scott Chaffin celebrates the hamburger's 100th birthday with a rundown of his favorite burgers.

Austin has a number of great burger spots. You can't go wrong with the Crown & Anchor's cheeseburger basket (it includes some of the only fries I'll actually eat), which fills you up for less than four bucks. A few other campus legends -- Dirty's and Player's -- also rank near the top of any local burger rankings.

Hut's, home of specialty burgers like the Ritchie Valens and the Kitchen Sink, never fails to hit the spot, though their prices exceed their quality. And no list of Austin spots would be complete without tipping the forty to the departed greatness that was G&M Steakhouse, the only place in the world that charged you extra for a burger without cheese.

As far as chain restaurants go, Fuddrucker's has no equal. I'll put it right up there with any of the local dives. And when you're in the mood for fast food, the list begins and ends with Whataburger. Our Yankee friends might disagree (it seems that non-Texans never end up liking WB as much as the natives), but a Whataburger with cheese, bacon and jalapenos, complemented by a side of onion rings, makes a meal that befits any true Texan.


Olympics: Complete and Utter Crap 

The FIG, gymnastics' ruling body, has asked Paul Hamm to give up his Gold medal.

In a dispute over scores that has turned into a political squabble, the head of the International Gymnastics Federation suggested in a letter to Hamm that giving the all-around gold medal to South Korea's Yang Tae-young "would be recognized as the ultimate demonstration of fair play by the whole world."

FIG president Bruno Grandi tried to send the letter Thursday night to Hamm through the USOC, but the USOC refused to deliver it.

In a letter back to Grandi, USOC secretary general Jim Scherr called the request "a blatant and inappropriate attempt on the part of (FIG) to once again shift responsibility for its own mistakes and instead pressure Mr. Hamm into resolving what has become an embarrassing situation for your federation."
I'd like to take this opportunity to advise Mr. Hamm on the most suitable response.

Dear FIG-

Kiss my ass.

Paul Hamm
If that's too much trouble, then just take a picture of yourself, wearing the gold, while giving FIG the finger. Fax it on over and then go celebrate.


Politics: Bush Edging Ahead? 

Scott Elliot links to a new LA Times poll that shows President Bush with a slight lead on John Kerry. As he points out, "one poll does not a trend make," but it's good news still. Ten again, maybe it is a trend. Gallup also shows the President with a slim lead.

With the Republican Convention coming up next week, I can't imagine a better scenario for the GOP. Sure, you'd like to see a comfortable lead already, but it's not necessary. A lead of any kind means that the Bush camp can now hope for a convention bounce that does more than just catch them up. Now they can possibly open up a lead that exceeds the margin of error, meaning that a few of those battleground states could move from the "toss-up" category to the "lean Bush" one.

ADDED: For what it's worth, Gerry Daly shows President Bush leading 260-259 with Oregon and Colorado the only two states "too close to call." He has Florida, Missouri and Ohio all in the Red (though his site actually colors the Dems Red and the GOP Blue), but acknowledges that the three polls used in those states sampled registered, as opposed to likely, voters.


Longhorns: Counting Down 

Til Texas Football!

(not the best picture of an "8" I know, but Ced Griffin apparently isn't the most frequently photographed Longhorn)


Thursday, August 26, 2004

INsite: The Pregame Tailgate (September 2004) 

(The September INsite hits stands next Friday)

The Pregame Tailgate
by Andrew Fox

Presenting the official TPT 2004 Texas Longhorns game-by-game predictions:

North Texas- On the first play from scrimmage, Vince Young fakes a handoff and sprints eighty yards for a touchdown. Young and Cedric Benson alternate carries the rest of the night in Texas’ 56-3 win. Asked why his team never passed, Mack Brown says that they’re saving page two of the playbook for the Oklahoma game.

@Arkansas- Behind 14-0 at the half, due to three Young interceptions, Brown phones Darrell Royal for advice. “Three things happen when you pass,” Royal says. “Two of them are bad.” Texas runs for 150 yards in the second half alone, but still trails 14-8 in the fourth. On fourth-and-three Young shocks the crowd as he drops back and hurls one deep, where TE David Thomas makes the catch. Young’s keeper three plays later gives Texas a 15-14 win. Penn State’s Joe Paterno, watching on ESPN, scoffs and declares his team better than Texas.

Rice- To honor the ten year anniversary of their last win against Texas, Rice engineering students attempt a bizarre experiment that would recreate the monsoon-like conditions of that 19-17 upset. The wet field proves disastrous, though, for Rice’s option attack. Derrick Johnson scores two defensive touchdowns in the 45-10 Longhorn win.

Baylor- The Bears have scored 24 points in the past five meetings with Texas. The Horns have scored 256. I’ll go easy and say that Texas wins 52-6.

Oklahoma (Dallas)- Frustrated at his team’s inability to waltz through Texas’ secondary for a second straight year, Bob Stoops’s Oklahoma squad grows restless. Neither team has managed much offense through three-plus quarters, but with a 7-3 lead and three minutes to play, Stoops opts to pass on third-and-long from inside his own twenty. Sophomore Garnett Smith busts through the line on a blindside blitz and levels reigning Heisman-winner Jason White. The ball pops loose and into the arms of CB Tarell Brown, who skips into the end zone to give Texas a 10-7 upset! Mack Brown apologizes to all Sooner fans after the game.

Missouri- ESPN Gameday visits Austin to hype the Brad Smith-Vince Young battle. Smith faces the unenviable task, however, of facing a confident Texas defense. Derrick Johnson buries him for four sacks in the 24-10 Texas win, and Benson moves into Heisman contention with his third 200-yard game of the season.

@Texas Tech- The plains of Lubbock are rarely kind to the Horns. But the Texas Tech secondary is often kind to opposing quarterbacks. Young has a career passing day against the undermanned Red Raiders, throwing for 250 yards and three touchdowns. The Texas defense struggles some, but play well enough to give the Horns a 38-28 win.

@Colorado- Buffaloes coach Gary Barnett angers the Longhorns during a halftime performance by the Texas Pom Squad, in which one member severely turns her ankle. As she’s helped off the field, Barnett tells a reporter, “she wasn’t any good anyway.” Texas responds with a 42-7 blowout.

Oklahoma State- Relegated to the spoiler role, the Cowboys hope to pull an upset against the No. 2 Longhorns. They instead serve as a promotional video for the Ced Benson Heisman campaign. Benson picks up 180 yard in the first half, before giving way to Selvin Young, who cruises to 120 himself in the 37-17 win.

@Kansas- Texas wins 48-12 in front of a mostly-empty Memorial Stadium crowd. Meanwhile, the KU basketball team plays to a sold-out Allen Fieldhouse, where the Jayhawks are scrimmaging… themselves.

Texas A&M- The Aggies haven’t won in Austin since 1994, and they won’t again until at least 2006. Vince Young breaks open a close game with third quarter touchdown passes to Limas Sweed, Tony Jeffrey and Brian Carter, and the Horns drop A&M to 5-6 on the season with a 43-17 win.

Nebraska (Big XII Championship)- Four first half turnovers dig the Horns a 36-10 hole. Then Brown inserts Chance Mock to revive the Longhorns’ offense. His first pass goes 80 yards to Limas Sweed and the Horns have life. Two field goals pull them within 36-23, before an ill-advised Nebraska fake punt ends up as a Michael Huff touchdown. Texas forces another punt late in the game, and Phillip Geiggar bursts through the line and right at the punter. He hangs in the air for what seems like five minutes, before smothering the ball as it leaves the punter’s foot. Texas recovers and Cedric Benson punctuates his Heisman Trophy-winning season with a three-yard touchdown, giving Mack Brown his first conference title. Texas wins, 37-36!

Georgia (Fed Ex Orange Bowl)- Texas moves the ball well, but red zone difficulties force five field goal attempts. Dusty Mangum hits on three of them and the Horns cling to a 9-3 lead in the final quarter. The Texas secondary, which limits Heisman runner-up David Greene to 124 yards through the air, stops Georgia on third down with about five minutes to play, and the Bulldogs choose to punt. Convinced that a fake is coming, Mack Brown leaves his defense on the field. Georgia kicks away, though, and safety Michael Griffin sprints to try and field the ball. From out of nowhere, former Longhorn Craig Curry runs onto the field and blasts Griffin before he touches the punt. Curry is arrested for trespassing, but the Longhorn offense takes over and runs out the clock. Texas wins its first national title in thirty-five years.


Politics: Dole Speaks Out 

Today at lunch I heard Laura Ingraham discussing Bob Dole's appearance on Scarborough Country last night, and I wanted to blog about it earlier, but just didn't get the chance.

You can't accuse me of being the biggest Bob Dole fan (though I do often regret not voting for him in 1996), but I agree with everything he says in this interview.

DOLE: I don’t know. I’m not out trying to stir up a lot of trouble.

Wolf Blitzer is a friend of mine on CNN. He’d asked me three weeks in a row to come on the program. I ducked him. I finally said, “OK, I’ll go.” I knew what he wanted to ask me.

But this is after we’d had somebody called Vice President Cheney a coward. They’ve called Bush “a deserter” that he was AWOL, that he’s condoned torture, that he’s condoned poisoning of pregnant women. I mean, all these nasty, nasty, over-the-top attacks.

And they spent $65 million trying to defame President Bush. I told John Kerry on the telephone the next day. I said, “John, President Bush is my guy. And when I see all the people dumping on him, and all the misstatements and—and untruths, it kind of riles me up a little.” So maybe I expressed that on Sunday.

SCARBOROUGH: So you spoke with John Kerry. Did he call you, or did you call him?

DOLE: He called me the next day and said “I’m very disappointed.”

I said, “Well, John, I’m disappointed, too, in all these undeserved attacks on President Bush. If you want to question Dick Cheney’s deferment, that’s fine. If you want to question the National Guard, that’s fine. But John, these other guys, these swift boat veterans are a lot of them that have a different view of what happened than you have, and they have a right to speak. We live in the United States of America. It’s a free country. You may not like what they say, but they have a right to say it.”

SCARBOROUGH: And what did Senator Kerry say to you in response?

DOLE: He said, “I haven’t spent one dime in my campaign on a negative ad.”

Well, he doesn’t have to. He’s got George Soros, who put in $15 million. He’s got Harold Ickes up there cranking out millions of dollars of ads. He’s got his former campaign manager in Boston in another group called Bringing America Together.

President Bush to his credit, and I wish John Kerry would follow suit, said, “Let’s stop all these so-called 527 ads, all these soft money ads that have been so critical. Let’s talk about the issues.”

And the American people, they like to know that you’re a veteran, or not a veteran—you know, they actually don’t like some of the negatives and all this. But they also like to know what’s going to happen next year, not what happened 30 or 35 years ago.
I'm tired of hearing about the swift boat ads. Dole is absolutely right that you can't criticize this group for their message, without criticizing the other side, which has used the 527 loophole to a much greater extent.

And the point remains that as long as Kerry continues to campaign on a single issue -- his Vietnam service -- then he's going to open himself up to these types of hits. There's a simple solution to fix all of this, but that would require formulating a real vision for leading the country. Kerry has yet to do that, and it doesn't look like he's planning on it.


Politics: Voting Early 

It seems that more and more Americans -- the ones that actually vote -- opt to vote absentee, rather than going to the polls on Election Day.

That's a good thing, I think. So what if "Election Day" becomes a misnomer? The reality is that schedules might not always allow for getting to the polling location, so if someone has the opportunity to vote early, then he or she should go for it.

I personally prefer voting on Election Day. There's this mysterious feeling that I find appealing. People are walking in and out, and the election judges are pointing you toward your booth. All the while, everyone is really looking around at everyone else, trying to figure out which candidate they'll choose. Plus, as a representative of the apathetic under-30 demographic, I enjoy getting the "wow, some young people still care about the political process" looks from all of the older folks.

If I knew that I might have a problem getting to the polling location, however, I'd vote early without thinking twice.


Blog: New Blogroll Additions 

In honor or my two new blogroll links, I've created a new category: Texas Bloggers.

Charles Waldie's The Discerning Texan provides a healthy dose of political coverage, while Scott Chaffin's The Fat Guy takes the same approach that I do -- cover any and everything that comes to mind.

Check'em out if you haven't before.


Longhorns: Counting Down 

Days Until Texas Football!


Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Sports: The Week That Will Be (8/28) 

How things can change in a year.

The LFZ tailgate went from one to two to one again...Wheeler may or may not be buried in the endzone of DKR....Our friend Simon is $5 richer...and Mack Brown went from losing to Oklahoma to getting his whipped up and down the field by OU...and then getting his ass whipped up and down the state of Texas in recruiting.

But it's a brand new season, and everyone from Tallahassee to Southern California to Ann Arbor to Austin have aspirations of a national title (well, maybe not Baylor), but as we all know, only 3 teams at the end of the year can bitch that they are national champions in college football. And only 32 teams end their season on a winning note.

So sit back, take your pants off, grab a bottle of whiskey and enjoy....Matt's Preview of the College Football season.

Perhaps we should begin in the ACC, where powerhouse programs Miami and Virginia Tech join the fray. So now when a FSU kicker misses a field goal, he will cost his team not only a chance at the national title, but also a chance at the conference title, therefore putting FSU in danger of getting no metal for the warchest.

Miami should more than hold their own in the conference despite the impending annual Frank Gore knee injury (resident TWTWB handicapper Roxy Roxborough has the Louisville game on October 14th at 4-1 odds at the LM Hotel and Casino) and the impending suckitude of Brock Berlin.

Virginia Tech will have a little more trouble, but at least Marcus Vick can follow R Kelly around the country on his upcoming tour due to his season long suspension.

In the Big Ten, optimism is high that the conference won't continue to be the most overrated conference in all of college football. The deal that Ohio State signed with the devil apparently expired after one year, although Jim Tressel continues to wear the sweater vest that was part of the original deal.

Michigan has their eyes set on a national title despite the loss of John Navarre (good or bad?) and Chris Perry. Penn State has their eyes set on Joe Paterno not dying on the sidelines.
But cheer up Illinois, Mack Brown is apparently on his way.

In the Big East, all eyes are on the calendar as basketball season starts in mid-November.

The SEC is loaded with excitement as not only is the conference as loaded as ever, but the 2005 models of automobiles are coming out, much to the delight of starting quarterbacks and potential recruits.

At Florida, Ron Zook continues to watch game film despite Steve Spurrier taking measurements of his office. Georgia hopes that Mark Richt isn't the big southern dummy version of Mack Brown. Phil Fulmer takes to wearing Groucho Marx masks on the sidelines to avoid supoenas.

The Pac-10 promises to be as exciting as always, as Mike Stoops brings his over-intensity west to Arizona. Because we all know while John Mackovic is a wine-sipping hard ass, Stoops prefers sleepovers and lemonade.

USC appears to be the Misti May of the conference as everyone will be behind it and looking at it's ass, but the conference is always unpredictable as evidenced last year by Cal's defeat of the Trojans. Perfect fodder for the drunk ass fans in other time zones as they look upon the late night games out west.

Which brings us to the Big 12...

Oklahoma tries to deal with the loss of defensive tackle Tommie Harris. His 3 big plays will be looked upon with much appreciation from the crimson and cream faithful. But the OU program will go on, and they appear to be the front-runners for the conference crown as Jason White returns for his 8th year.

Missouri appears to be the front runner in the North, as Nebraska was last seen trying to coach it's quarterbacks the forward pass, Kansas State again goes against the odds and tries to win with a white quarterback in Manhattan, and Colorado players learn the difference between "yes" and "no".

And of course in Austin, Mack Brown is hoping that it was all Bevo 13's fault.

On to the games, er game....

USC (-17.5) @ Virginia Tech (Landover, MD):

I've gone back and forth on this game.

My first impression was that no way USC covers that against Tech, a squad that is known for it's running game, defense and special teams. Teams like that don't lose that big in basically a home game.

Add that to the fact that the defense is usually ahead of the offense at this point of the season, and Virginia Tech was my pick.


Virginia Tech lost Kevin Jones, Nathaniel Adibi and DeAngelo Hall off of an already disappointing team. Nobody appears to be ready to step into Jones' shoes in the backfield, and the defense gets no pressure on the QB (their leader only had 6.5 sacks last season). It's going to take a perfect game by Bryan Randall throwing to no name receivers, because USC just happens to return the nation's best rush defense.

USC, meanwhile, loses Hershel Dennis and Mike Williams for various reasons, but has the athletes to take their place with little to no dropoff. VT would kill to have Reggie Bush or LenDale White on their team, and USC has both.

Oh yeah, they also have a quarterback in Matt Leinart who if he doesn't win the Heisman Trophy will be the biggest upset since Bayside beat Valley on homecoming.

I don't see this one being much of a game at all.

USC 41 Virginia Tech 14

For entertainment purposes only. Your money would be best served planning a bus ride to Stillwater, OK.


Longhorns: Counting Down 

Days until Texas Football!


Astros: Home Run Derby! 

If you'd have told me ten days ago that Houston would win seven of their next nine games, against Philadelphia and Chicago no less, I would have called you an idiot.

If you'd have told me at that time that they'd win those seven games with late-inning comebacks, I would have called you a liar.

If you'd have told me then that the anemic Houston offense would homer four times to close out a season sweep of Philadephia -- including two from Jeff Kent -- in the ninth game of that stretch, I would have punched you in the gut for taunting me.

Call me an idiot. Call me a liar. Punch me in the gut. Jeff Kent just homered the Astros past Philadelphia. Mr. Pornstache himself launched his fifteenth and sixteenth blasts of the season to give the Astros a 7-4, come-from-behind win.

If Montreal beats the Cubs today, Houston would trail Chicago by five games, heading into the teams' weekend set. Man oh man. I really shouldn't do this tomyself.


Baseball: Longhorns in the Show 

The Baseball Crank links to a new feature at Baseball Reference -- the mecca for all baseball statheads -- which now lets you search for players based on college attended. His alma mater, Holy Cross, accounts for 77 future big leagues, while my Longhorns have sent 86 to the majors.

I feel compelled to create a lineup now:

C: Bob Kearney (.233, 27 HR)
1B: Joe Hague (.239, 40 HR)
2B: Shane Halter (.249, 41 HR)
SS: Spike Owen (.246, 46 HR)
3B: Pinky Higgins (.292, 140 HR [only UT alum with 1000+ RBIs in the majors])
OF: Bibb Falk (.314, 69 HR [Yep, that's as in Disch-Falk Field])
OF: Ernie Koy (.279, 36 HR)
OF: Keith Moreland (.279, 121 HR)

SP: Roger Clemens (310-160, 3.19)
SP: Burt Hooten (151-136, 3.38)
SP: Greg Swindell (123-122, 3.86)
SP: Shane Reynolds (114-95, 4.05)
CP: Bruce Ruffin (60-82, 4.19, 63 Sv)

Mgr: Ron Gardenhire (184-139 [Two AL Central titles])

That's not as good as I had thought it might be. The lineup lacks power and speed, though the starting rotation is solid. I didn't do a complete 25-man roster, but even if I had, the offense wouldn't get any better. Middle relief, on the other hand, would look strong with guys like Mark Petkovsek and Calvin Schiraldi. I'm sure Gardehire could manage a few wins with this club.

I didn't go through and look at ever school, but USC's one-two punch of Randy Johnson and Tom Seaver might lock up the best rotation. Arizona State's powerful offense would intimidate opposing pitchers with Barry Bonds and Reggie Jackson occupying the middle of the order. It appears to be the best offense.


Random: First Ricky Williams, Now... 

Michele from A Small Victory has taken a sabbatical from blogging.

It looks like I'll have to find something else to fill the daily half hour that I used to spend perusing her site.


Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Longhorns: Counting Down 

Days til Texas Football!


Astros: Can We Do It Again? 

Phil Garner evidently thinks so. He sends in ace pitcher Roy Oswalt to relieve Carlos Hernandez in the 8th inning. Roy O, sumarily dismissed for beaning Michael Barrett in the 3rd inning of Sunday's loss against the Cubs, makes quick work of the Phillies, and now the Stros have a chance to break a 2-2 tie.

Two-out hitting!

Back-to-back-to-back singles from Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman and Mike Lamb put Houston ahead for the first time tonight. Credit Brad Ausmus for getting things started with an infield single to lead off the 8th. I don't have any numbers handy, but I would estimate that Houston's "close and late" batting average has to be about fifty points higher the past month as in the previous two or three.


That headline usually means Carlos Beltran went deep. Well it means that tonight, too, but Beltran wasn't the best Astro named Carlos. Carlos Hernandez showed Houston fans what they've waitied a long time to see -- the promise that he dazzled the Astros faithful with during a late 2001 call-up. Hernandez allowed just two runs in seven innings, and the second came after a potential third out pop-up struck a beam in foul territory (Minute Maid ground rules deem such a play a dead ball). Phillie Placido Polanco used his second chance to give his team a 2-0 lead with a home run into the Crawford Boxes.

Strange stat

Brad Lidge closes out the 4-2 win, Houston's fifth of the season against Philly. With his one inning of relief work, Oswalt earns the win. If he weren't one of the NL's best starters, I think Roy could be an elite closer.

What now?

Houston moves back above .500. But the road doesn't get any easier. Pete Munro gets the task of trying to close out Philadelphia tomorrow (13-game winner Eric Milton pitches for the Phils), and even if they finish the sweep, the four-game season finale with the Cubbies awaits in Chi-town awaits this weekend. Without the services of Andy Pettitte or Wade Miller the rest of the season, fill-ins like Hernandez, Brandon Backe and Munro have to provide quality starts almost every night.

I'm hesitant to call the next five games "key." Sure, I'd love to see Houston win tomorrow and then go take three of four from the Cubs. But even a split keeps hope alive. After Chicago, the Stros face a 14 game stretch against the Reds and Pirates. We know what happened in the "breather" stretch with Montreal and NY (I'm still in disbelief about that debacle), but the fact remains that Houston stands a better chance of catching up with the likes of Cinci and Pittsburgh, than against LA or San Diego.

The only thing that really matters is that tonight's win kept hope alive. At this point, that's all Houston fans can expect. Let's go get it done again tomorrow.

Don't give up.


Olympics: That's Gold, Jerry, Gold! 

Victory! USA! USA! USA!

I would like to take this opportunity to profess my love for Misti May.

Yeah, I know. Me and a few hundred thousand other guys.


Random: See the Future 

Are you ready to get into your time machine?

Q: How does this work?
A: Current scientific theory states that Time Travel may be possible, however the technology is a long way off, perhaps hundreds of years in the future... As with any technology, Time Travel will get less expensive as time goes on... Time Travel, once it becomes feasible, will initially be very expensive yet it will become more and more economical as time goes by.

Q: How does this help me?
A: The concept is that one day, it may be possible for people living far in the future to retrieve you from your current frame of reference (their past - your present) and bring you into the future (their present - your future.)

Q: Why would they want to?
A: That is the purpose of the fund. The simple answer is, we pay them to bring you into the future.

Q: How?
A: We establish a fund in current time. You make a small contribution to the fund, and in a few hundred years that small amount grows to a very large amount. From that fund, moneys will be taken and used to retrieve you, perhaps seconds after you join, perhaps even moments before your recorded death, perhaps some other point in your lifetime. Further, the fund may even pay to have you "rejuvenated" medically (assuming this is scientifically possible at that time,) and support you financially for a number of years. (Note: Retrieving you just before the moment of death is just one possible scenario, but one that would avoid any Star Trek(TM) type paradoxes. There are an unlimited number of other possibilities, and we do not know what they will do, we can only make reasonably informed guesses.)
Wow, for just $10, I can travel into the future? Sign me up! Wait, but is there a catch?

Q: Are there any restrictions?
A: Yes, several:
You will not be retrieved if you die by suicide. Sorry, but we don't want your family blaming us for you killing yourself because you think you will get to the future sooner.

You will not be retrieved if you die by execution, or are killed in the process of, or the result of, committing a crime. You are responsible for your actions, and the fund is not an excuse for you to take your frustrations out on society. (Note: You are not automatically excluded if you are the victim of a crime.)

There are no guarantees. None whatsoever. This is pure speculation, but it is a chance. Should something happen such as the people of the earth bombing themselves back to the stone age, you probably won't be retrieved. The fund is a chance to visit the future, not a guarantee. If you want a guarantee, go buy a savings bond and wait for seven years.
I call BS. If they can't guarantee my time travel, then I'm not guaranteeing my $10 payment.

I wonder if for $1, they could just come back and tell me if and when the Astros ever win a World Series?

Link via Hornfans.


Sports: USA! USA! USA! 

The Olympics might have a few days remaining, but International competition doesn't end with the closing ceremony. Next week the World Cup of Hockey begins. As I've stated on here before, my interest in hockey has waned since its late-90s peak, but anytime the USA straps on the skates in a major tournament, I'm glued to the TV.

America topped Canada in the first World Cup in 1996 with three goals in the best-of-three series finale's final minutes. Two years later came an embarrassing non-medal showing in the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, but the U.S. rebounded to take Silver in the 2002 Salt Lake City games.

With a labor impasse threatening the 2004-05 NHL Season, this World Cup could mean the last major hockey competition of the year, so something tells me that the players will treat this as more than a mere exhibition.

You hear that, Canada? I realize that 40% of you think we're evil. Just wait until we kick your ass in the World Cup, and we'll see how high that number can climb.


Monday, August 23, 2004

Olympics: My Favorite Olympic Scenes 

Watching the athletes stand atop the platform during the medal ceremony always gets to me, even when the non-Americans take gold. There's something about the scene of a champion standing at attention, saluting his or her flag, that I find noble.

Through the Games' first ten days I hadn't really gotten to watch many of the ceremonies. Tonight I've seen a few memorable ones, starting with the U.S. Softball team, which cruised to an expected Gold. American pitcher Cat Osterman helped contribute to that medal. I've followed Cat's career -- and I actually had the opportunity to interview her prior to 2003's Women's College World Series -- since her sensational freshman year at the University of Texas. Seeing her represent both school and country at her sport's highest level was a definite highlight.

Justin Gatlin also took home Gold for the USA today, claiming the "fastest man alive" honors in the 100M sprint. With the Star-Spangled Banner seranading his victory, Gatlin's beaming smile gave way to another emotion. He fought back tears as he sung along to the national anthem (speaking of, I think the version that they've used during the Games is the best one I've ever heard).

I also want to mention Russian Alexei Nehmov's performance in the Men's High Bar gymnastics event. Nehmov fell prey to a controversial judge's scoring, which cost him a chance at a possible medal. His routine drew thunderous applause from the crowd, which soon changed to a chours of boos when his score placed him only third. Despite his obvious disappointment, Nehmov's classy demeanor in defeat showed why he ranks among the great Olympians in recent memory.


Astros: Getting Their Phil 

Can we seriously play Philadelphia every night? For some reason, when Houston squares off against the Phillies, they remember that they're not only a Major League club, but also one that was supposed to contend this season.

Tonight the Phils jump on top of Roger Clemens 2-0 in the 1st inning. No big deal, says the Houston offense. They respond with a four-spot in the bottom of the inning, and then Rocket settles down to pitch seven strong.

Not content with a two-run cushion, the offense actually (gasp!) scores more runs for Roger, and even Mike Gallo's best attempt (i.e., giving up a two-run bomb in the 8th) can't prevent Clemens from moving to 13-4 on the season. Oh, and the 8-4 win moves Houston a game above .500, keeping those feeble playoff hopes alive.

I'm not giving up my postseason hopes until the day we're mathematically eliminated, so no "looking toward next year" posts until that day. But, two things I'd like to say about 2005, based on milestones reached tonight, are:

1. Craig Biggio deserves a final season in Houston. He collected his 2600th hit tonight, and it's not unreasonable to think that he could reach 2750 by the end of next year, which I think would erase any doubt of his Hall of Fame credentials. He'll play somewhere in 2005, if he wants to, and it'd be a shame to see him put the finishing touches on a HOF career in another uniform. Granted, he could likely wind up with another team after 2005, but he's got at least one season left as an everyday player. It should come as an Astro.

2. Re-sign Carlos Beltran. Do whatever it takes. He wrapped up a 30 HR/30 SB season with a HR tonight, and he also made an outstanding catch to save at least one run. With Minute Maid's expansive center field, Beltran's glove proves just as valuable as his bat. Drayton might have to open the wallet more than he'd like in order to keep Beltran, but if you asked me who I'd honestly rather see Houston build their club around -- Beltran or Lance Berkman -- I'd vote for Carlos. That's not to say that I don't appreciate what Berk has done, but five-tool players like Beltran are rare. Streaky power-hitting outfielders with suspect defensive skills are not.

I keep thinking that Houston has to have a seven- or eight-game winning streak in them. Are four in a row really the best we're going to see from them this year? Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Montreal have all done better than that this year. At this point, even eight straight wins might not get Houston into the playoffs, but the club hasn't given up. Maybe they have enough scrap to claw they're way back into the race.


Random: Beware the Paper Napkin 

I'm not the most smooth-talking guy in the world (though I like to think I'm not completely inept with women), but even I would probably never resort to asking for a girl's e-mail address in lieu of getting her phone number.

That saves me the potential for getting rejected via Paper Napkin:

Subject: Nice to hear from you

Ha ha, just kidding. Actually, this is a rejection letter. The person who gave you this email address does not want to have anything to do with you.
Check out their rejection blog.


Politics: A Hypothetical Nightmare 

Dean Esmay asks:

In November, the Democrats pick up 40 seats in the House, 8 Senate seats, and John Kerry is elected in the greatest electoral landslide since Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Pretend it happens. If so, will you still love America as passionately as ever?
Dean will. So will I.

I'd be disappointed, but thankfully there's no chance that all of that will happen. The GOP will pick up seats in the House, though the Dems could wrest control of the Senate. Kerry might win the White House, but not in a landslide.

To elaborate, though, on the hypothetical: the beauty of the American political system is that we're allowed to make up for our mistakes. Say we do elect Kerry. If he does well then he does well, but if he's a miserable failure, we have the opportunity to replace him in four years. In the meantime, we could have just as much fun being the stubborn, pig-headed contrarians that the Democrats have been the past four years.

That raises another question: Is it almost better to be the opposition party in America?


Football: Ouch! 

Something tells me that Miami fans might not have gotten over Ricky Williams' retirement.

Screw Ricky?


Politics: Denzel Washington a Republican? 

I'm bombarded about 20 times a day with e-mail from my Towhnall Meetup group. Since a lot of it is of the "forward" variety (thus lacking veracity), I'm never quite sure what to believe and what to merely discard.

This, however, caught my eye.

Meryl Streep and Denzel were on the today show "live" with Katie Couric to talk about the movie "Manchurian Candidate."

At one point Katie asked Denzel, "have you seen Fahrenheit 9/11?" To which Denzel replied, "No, and I have no intentions on seeing it." Katie and Meryl were "so noticeably" taken aback! It was so cool!

Then, a discourse (or more preferably, a fight!) began between all three of them with Denzel being barraged with all kinds of anti-Bush, anti-republican comments,
but "the man stood his ground" and soon enraged the women so much that they couldn't get a word in edgewise. Meryl Streep turned blood red and she sat with her legs crossed and her one leg shaking up and down, fuming! Then Katie uttered the words that put the final nail in her coffin, she said to Denzel "you see, that's the problem I have with "you people."

She of course did not get to finish her sentence because Denzel pounced on her verbally by responding "YOU PEOPLE! YOU PEOPLE! Just what do you mean you people! Do you mean "You People" as in me as a Christian, or do you mean "You People" as in me as a REPUBLICAN? She then tap danced her way through the next minute of the show. But Denzel went out fighting and declaring that Fahrenheit 9/11 is nothing but propaganda and lies distorted to support a cynical democratic film director's views.
It's the first e-mail I've read this morning, so I have yet to hunt around for any other recaps or even a transcript. Did anyone else see this? If so, is it accurate?

ADDED: A simple Google search pulled up this transcript:

Couric: "Denzel, are you-- do you feel-- you know some people say Hollywood folks should stick to acting."

Washington: "I don't know what Hollywood folks are, first of all. Hollywood is a town that has some stars on the sidewalk. I don't know anybody from there. So, I don't-- that's like saying-- calling you a type of folks. I'm not a Hollywood folk. I don't know who they are."

Couric: "Okay, all right, well, let me rephrase the question. Are you one of those people that—"

Washington: "Ah, there you go. Am I one of those people? Hmmm, isn't that interesting?"

Couric: "Oh, stop, stop, stop."

Washington: "No, don't stop. I heard what you just said. "Am I one of those people?" No, I'm not."

Couric: "No, are you an actor who would rather not—"

Washington: "No, I'm not that either. I'm a human being. My job is acting."

Couric: "Okay, are you somebody who would rather not express his political views publicly? I mean how do you feel about that? Some people are more outspoken than others. And what I meant, are you one of the people who would rather keep it private? Don't make my questions loaded when they're not."

Washington: "Would I rather keep it private? No, I'm not one of those people. I think I speak what's on my mind."

Couric: "And how do you feel about the current political situation?"

Washington: "You know, I haven't seen ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,’ because I live in America. I grew up here. I'm an ex-slave. I'm a result of what this country can do. So it's nothing knew to me. I'm not surprised at all. It's just business as usual. What I want to talk about is, what are we doing right now, today, for these young kids that are coming home? Are we embracing them? I don't hear about them being lifted up. I mean, I'm not just talking about a parade but—"

Couric: "Are they getting the support they need."

Washington: "Are they getting the support and love they need from us? And maybe that story's being told, but I sure haven't seen it that much in the news. Yeah, they're pointing fingers about who was right and whose wrong and who started what and where the weapons of mass destruction. But these kids are coming home."
Interesting exchange. The e-mail I recieved is embellished no doubt, and he never said that he's a Republican, but he did appear to hold his ground. Again, if anyone saw it live, I'd be interested to get an opinion on who bested whom.

The interview is almost a month old, by the way, coinciding with the release of The Manchurian Candidate. It's certainly not a "stop the presses" incident, but I'm surprised that it got no mention in the blogosphere.


Sunday, August 22, 2004

Politics:Maybe I I Made a Mistake? 

I voted for Alan Keyes in the primary four years ago. But now I'm thinking that I'm glad he didn't win. What is this?

You're unlikely to find a bigger proponent of civil rights than myself. But reparations? Come on.

Blacks aren't the only group to experience discrimination in our country's history. Jews have suffered the same ill-treatment, as have a number of groups (e.g, the Irish, Hispanics, etc.). The answer isn't giving people preferential treatment.

Discrimination is a horrible thing. But retroactive action isn't the way to go. I'm of the firm belief that people are ultimately responsible for their own actions. As long as a candidate espouses a position that says any group deserves that kind of preferential treatment, then I can't in good conscience support him.

Maybe Keyes is just trying to garner the middle-gound support, but this is the wrong way to go about it. I belive that class differences are more influential than racial ones. i came from a family that made little money, but I worked hard in college to get past that.

Now I'm in a postion where maybe I'm not working my dream job. But I do at least have a job, and everything I have, I have I owe to my own hard work and determination. My racial background has not helped me at all.

Rugged Individualism is the defining American characteristic, and it should never be compomised, especially not by those who claim to be conservatives. Keyes is barking up the wrong proverbial tree on this issue.


Friday, August 20, 2004

Re: Tailgating 

Here is what I call a hardcore...


Blog: Search Results 

I was checking out the site's stats and saw that one person found his or her way here via a Yahoo search for "hardcore Longhorn fans."

The LM Blog was the #6 and #7 result. Only #6? P'Shaw.

The #3 entry included this picture, which I suppose is hardcore. But more hardcore than this crew?

I think not.

Speaking of hardcore... the first Friday night tailgate is two weeks from tonight. People sometimes try to tell me how they tailgate before games. But until you've floated the night's second keg at 4 a.m., seven hours before an 11 a.m. kickoff, crashed for a little while, and reported back to the lot to doublefist your hangover away with a bloody mary and a Lone Star, then I don't want to hear about it. Some Texas fans think that arriving two hours before the game, setting up a hibachi and splitting a six pack is tailgating. That's the reason the local LSU contingent makes fun of us.

We do it right at 18th and San Jac, though. You Orangebloods out there should come by and share in the fun.


Astros: Showing a Pulse? 

Houston color announcer Jim Deshaies, yesterday:

"You know those machines that monitor your heart? There's a flat line and then suddenly you hear a beep, beep, beep. That's the Astros. They were flat-lining, now they have a sign of life, a little beep"
5.5 games back with 42 to play? Hmmmm...

Remember the 2000 election? I was sitting on my couch, shaking my head at the thought of President Gore, when the Fox crew, from seemingly out of nowhere, took Florida out of the blue column (the other networs soon followed) and announced it was back in play. Bush had life again, and 37 days later he was the President-Elect.

That's the Astros right now. Mayve Jimmy D's analogy was better, but either way, Houston once again has a chance to make a playoff run. It's going to take winning at least two of three from Chicago this weekend. Can they do it? Can we get Katherine Harris to count our runs?


Random: Sleep -- Good; Going Out -- Bad 

My future sister-in-law turned the big 2-1 last night, and since the night life in Temple, Texas, ain't what you call stellar, she came down to Austin with my brother and some of their friends. I acted as their guide, leading them to about 6-7 different bars downtown.

Normally I would have taken today off, but because I'm a little behind at work, I needed to come in. Turns out that when I finally got home around 3:30, I left my cell phone (I use the alarm feature on it in lieu of an alarm clock) in the living room. I woke up a little after 10, and now I get to work late tonight, skip lunch, nd come in early on Monday.

So... I probably won't get to do much blogging today.


Thursday, August 19, 2004

Politics: Lots of Love on the Dems Ticket 

A match made in Heaven?

Not that there's anything wrong with that!


Astros: Four In a Row! 

Amazing! Houston goes into Philadelphia and sweeps the Phils for their first three-game sweep since April.

Not only did they sweep a series... from a team as good as they are... on the road... they did it by coming back from a 7-2 deficit. Houston used HRs from Biggio and Berkman to put a 7-spot on the board in the 7th.

Now we get the Cubs this weekend. Please Lord, I know the Wild Card is pretty much just a pipe dream at this point. But for all that is holy, can we please beat the Cubs at least twice? Please?


Baseball: Looking Back at the Strike 

Ten years have passed since the strike of all strikes prematurely ended the 1994 MLB season. In fact, the work stoppage went into effect ten years and one week ago today.

Ten years? Wow.

In the time since, we've seen Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa reduce Roger Maris to an afterthought in the record books. Barry Bonds would later do the same to them. We've seen Cal Ripken Jr. out-Iron Man Lou Gehrig, and then retire a few seasons later. Ripken still awaits a Hall of Fame phone call, but a number of 1994 stars -- Ozzie Smith, Eddie Murray, Paul Molitor and Kirby Puckett -- have retired and already visited Cooperstown, seeing their respective busts enshrined alongside Babe Ruth and Bob Gibson.

Those players helped bring the game back from the stike's devastating affects, but there was a time when fans weren't sure that was possible. We didn't know when the game would come back, and we weren't certain that we would come back with it.

Baseball came to a halt in August of 1994, shutting down MVP seasons, and slamming the door on pennant races. Half of baseball's six divisions featured teams within one game at the top of their standings. I attended an Astros-Goants game less than a week before the season's final day, and as we left the Dome, my dad and I wondered whether Houston could catch the NL Central-leading Reds. Sadly the Stros would close to within half-game of Cinci on Aug. 11, never to overtake them. The Aug. 12 Baseball Tonight didn't air highlights of Jeff Bagwell v. Barry Larkin. No, the only contest shown that night was Bud Selig's owners v. Donald Fehr's players.

Who won? The owners or the players? It didn't matter. The only losers in this battle, which spanned into the early months of 1995, were the fans. Yankees fans missed seeing Don Mattingly restore postseason glory to the floundering franchise. Rangers fans missed seeing 33 years of futility discarded with their club's first-ever playoff performance. And all baseball fans missed seeing the Monreal Expos claim a world championship, cementing their place as one of the best teams in baseball history (The Crank has more on this). Fans missed seeing these milestones because none of them happened. The 1994 season had no playoffs; it had no champion. Baseball teased us with glory and then vanished.

Would the fans come back? Many pondered that question. Even the most hardcore of hardball nuts had their doubts. "Fool me twice..." they said when pitchers and catchers finally reported the next year.

Things started to return to normal, though, in 1995. Despite a shortened season, fans slowly came back. Ripken's 2,131st consecutive game helped un-do much of the previous season's bad PR. Sosa and McGwire's traveling fireworks show did more of the same in '98, as have a slew of true Fall Classics in the past few years. But for all the goodwill of those years, a conspicuous blank spot remains beside the number 1994 in the baseball history book.

Labor peace has ruled the decade since the strike, and though steroids and drug testing represent the game's big unresolved issue these days, baseball doesn't face the imminent work stoppage that threatened the sport for so long back then. I like to think that baseball learned its lesson, and has put 1994 in its rearview mirror for good.

This fall the AL will battle the NL in the World Series. Yankees? Braves? Red Sox? Cubs? It won't matter. The fans will tune in to cheer and jeer and curse and rejoice. We'll see one team emerge victorious, and our distant memories of that bleak Fall a decade ago will be long gone.


Astros: Hey, Whuddayaknow? 

With last night's 8-9 win, Houston managed to (a) clinch a series win against a team that came in with a better record, and (b) put themselves in position to match their longest winning streak of the season -- four games.

Regarding point A, Houston took two of three from both Cinci and Milwaukee last month. I don't recall exactly, but I think both of them came in slightly ahead of the Stros in the NL Central standings. Houston hasn't upended a clearly better team, though, since the July 4 weekend series against Texas.

The season-long winning streak of four games actually happened twice: April 11-14 and May 4-7. Since then Houston has managed as many as three consecutive wins just twice. Compare that to losing streaks of five games, four game, and three instances where they dropped three in a row.

We'll call that the resume of a very mediocre ballclub.

I'm still convinced that the final turning point that doomed this team to early Octobe vactions came in the most recent Atlanta series. Blowing a 5-1 lead late in the series' rubber match turned a series win and a 10-5 recent stretch into a heartbreaking loss. An obviously defeated squad limped into the following nine games with Montreal and NY, winning just three times. Even a .500 mark during that ten-game stretch (including the final Atlanta game) would have Houston sitting four games out of the Wild Card right now. I dare say, though, that beating ATlanta that game could have impacted those next nine differently. With something to play for, I think the Stros would have taken at least five of the nine.

Now all we have left to play for is the chance to keep the Cubs out of the playoffs. It will be a small consolation, but I'd celebrate it anyway.


Politics: The Ideology of Tolerance? 

We all know that Ted Rall is just another Liberal bomb-thrower, cast from the same mold (albeit a slightly smaller one) as Michael Moore. His column, "NYC to GOP: Drop Dead," a hateful rant that spews 905 words of petty vitriol, is par for the proverbial course.

"Drop Dead." Wow. And here I thought that those on the Left were advocates of life (for cop-killers and homicidal maniacs, that is, not unborn children of teenaged mothers-to-be). "Drop Dead." If I didn't know better, I'd think that he was just making a Seinfeld reference.

In the great Liberal tradition, Rall seems confident that the New Yorkers will bond together to run the GOP out of town. He obviously ignores the great American resolve. If our troops in the Middle East can stick it out against actual bomb-throwers, then I think the GOP -- which let's face it, is the party that still cares about the traditional American spirit -- can hang tough against a petty lot of all-talk-no-action hooligans like Rall.

ADDED: Michele gives Rall the fisking he deserves over at ASV.


Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Sports: Rangers Keep Rolling 

Pat Green's "I Like Texas" is once again blaring at Ameriquest Field in Arlington tonight, as the Texas Rangers extended their win streak to 6 and won their second straight series with a sweep of the Cleveland Indians, 5-2.

Hank Blalock picked the night that his first child was born to hit two home runs, his first of the month and Kenny Rogers showed some promise of getting his year back on track as he wins his 14th game.

The Rangers remain a half game out of the divisional lead and tied with Boston for the wild card. They have their first off day in quite some time tomorrow before traveling to Kansas City this weekend.

They need some more wins to put pressure on Oakland and Boston.


Blog: New Friends in the Blogosphere 

It's always a cool feeling when someone adds you to his or her blogroll.

Much obliged, Karol (does that sound Texan enough?)! If you're not already a regular Spot On reader, then you're really not spending your web-surfing time very wisely.

By the way, as Karol points out, she shares the same birthday as Matt and I -- April 18, 1977. That reminds me of a semi-interesting story from a few weeks ago. Despite Matt and I still getting carded regularly for adult beverage purchases, no one ever seems to comment on our shared birthday -- not since our early days as legal drinkers anyway. Recently, though, we swung by the neighborhood HEB to pick up beer for a pool party. Matt paid first, and had already started walking to the car as I handed the clerk my ID.

"Are you two twins?" the guy asked me. "I see you and your friend have the same birthday."

He probably thought I was trying to be rude when I told him no, we weren't related. I really wasn't. I was just perplexed that the guy obviously examined the IDs close enough to discover the matching birthdays, but not close enough to see that we have different last names. Maybe he just didn't look at the names at all. Sometimes I wonder if bouncers think we're underagers that happened to buy our IDs from the same maker.

ADDED: Hey, I see we're listed at Dummocrats, too! Thanks to James, Kris and Betsy!


Politics: Debunking the "Family of Nations" 

If you've never read the work of Conservative wunderkind Ben Shapiro, then I highly recommend his latest column as a good point to start. The 20 year-old UCLA senior uses an anti-Israel Olympic incident to illustrate the flawed concept of a true "world community."

Those on the Left insist that America should rally International support for our domestic policies (in essence, gain permission from the United Nations before we act ion our own behalf). But that thinking is based on the naive premise that the rest of the world actually wants what is best for all of humanity. It just isn't so.


Sports: My Fantasy Football Draft Part I 

My league had two guys (more girlie men than real guys) drop out yesterday afternoon; one had to go buy his wife a new car, and the other had a work project spring up "at the last minute." Rather than scrambling to recruit two replacements, we all decided to play with a 10-man league, which if nothing else, might shave time off of the 20-round draft process.

In past years, my fantasy draft prep consisted of maybe printing out a mock draft or a player rankings sheet, and picking straight down the list. When in doubt, I took a Cowboy. It's not that I didn't know anything, it's that I didn't really care. Few things annoy me as much as the football "fan" that will cheer against his own team if it means that his #3 Flex WR gets three extra points. I don't care about that. If I'm watching Dallas go into Giants Stadium on Monday Night Football, and I need Tiki Barber to run for 30 yards to give my team a win, I'm still hoping Roy Williams or Dexter Coakley knocks him into next week everytime he gets a yard past the line of scrimmage.

This year I decided to put a little more effort into it. Sure, the Cowboys still come first and my inevitable wagers will come second, but it's much more fun to talk trash when the fantasy team has a winning record. I started compiling various rankings sheets and mock drafts a few weeks ago, complementing those with team reports and strategy pow-wow with my friend Robert. When I walked into Draft Central (aka my buddy Porter's place) last night I felt like a dork for sure, but a prepared dork.

The draft took slightly more than four hours to finish. We drank, played Madden 2005, made fun of each other's selections, and debated which guys had the best teams. I probably wouldn't call mine the best, as of yet, but I think I came away with a solid squad. Here are my picks, 1-20:

1: Randy Moss, WR-MIN (6 overall)
2. Domanick Davis, RB-HOU (15)
3. Tiki Barber, RB-NYG (26)
4. Tyrone Wheatley, RB-OAK (35)
5. Steve Smith, WR-CAR (46)
6. Marc Bulger, QB-STL (55)
7. Charlie Garner, RB-TB (66)
8. Brett Favre, QB-GB (75)
9. William Green, RB-CLE (86)
10. Jason Taylor, DL-MIA (95)
11. Justin McCareins, WR-NYJ (106)
12. Drew Bennett, WR-TEN (115)
13. Byron Leftwich, QB-JAX (126)
14. Justin Fargas, RB-OAK (135)
15. Ryan Longwell, K-GB (146)
16. Mushin Mohammed, WR-CAR (155)
17. David Carr, QB-HOU (166)
18. Kevin Faulk, RB-NE (175)
19. Byron Chamberlain, TE-DEN (186)
20. Sean Taylor, DB-WAS (195)

My league employs a QB-RB-WR-TE-K, 3 O-FLEX, 3 D-FLEX lineup. Thus, I'll need to grab a defensive player off of the waiver wire, but defensive players always seem a like a crapshoot anyway.

The only "reach" I felt that I made was Wheatley in the 4th Round. But because I opted for Moss over Alexander with my first pick, I needed another RB. My sheet showed Wheatley as the best available at that position, and drafting Fargas later on provided insurance.

I'm sure that I'll explore a few trade options, but we have plenty of time before the season starts. This afternoon I'll analyze more of the draft, including some of the best and worst picks of the night.


Politics: Wictory Wednesday! 

Today is Wictory Wednesday, and it's time to ask: What's at stake in this year's presidential election? My former professor, Marvin Olasky, offers an answer to that question in his latest column.

This period between the major political party conventions is a good time to think through what's at stake in this year's presidential election. Leaders of voter registration drives on both sides speak of a "pivotal election” -- is that hype or truth?
As is usually the case with his columns, Olasky takes a close look at the ramifications regarding the election's affect on Christianity in America. He also cites defense and the War on Terror as the two key national issues, a point I have made repeatedly in the past.

And then there is the nagging problem of judicial activism. Our next president will likely make at least one appointment to the Supreme Court, if not more, and that's not something voters should ignore.

As Supreme Court justices continue to grab power, we can either curse their dark robes or push for the appointment of candles rather than smudgepots. With several justices perhaps waiting until after the election to retire, the next president may have his judicial way for the next 30 years.
I fear that a Kerry Administration could lead to the appointment of over-reaching Supreme Court Justices, who would like to see America become Europe Lite. And if he doesn't cede our national sovereignty to the United Nations, then they very well might.

You only have two weeks left in which you can donate to the Bush campaign. Every little bit helps in the fight to preserve our Nation. And with the Loony Left relying on any and every possible tactic to unseat President Bush, it's important to make sure that our side works to counter their efforts. If nothing else, make sure your friends -- especially those in battleground states -- register to vote!


Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Politics: Bush and Blogs 

WaPo's Dan Froomkin writes today that the White House "wants ... to get bloggier." (bypass registration)

I've read the B/C'04 "Morning Read" on occasion, and it's a pseudo-blog at best. Froomkin's piece, which cites White House "Internet guru" Jimmy Orr as the Bush camp's apparent chief blog proponent, indicates that the campaign does realize the influence that blogs hold. If they can tap into that, I believe it can positively affect Bush's re-election bid, now in the crucial stretch run toward November.

"Here's what the bloggers do. They notice something in the news or something they've observed that maybe the 'traditional' media hasn't covered or isn't spending much time on. But they think it is significant. So, they give the story a second life (or first). And they talk about it. And others talk about it. Before you know it, it is leading the news."
I can see Glenn Reynolds shaking his head with a "what-took-you-so-long-to-realize-it" look on his face as he reads that. As expected, Reynolds' Instapundit is included among Orr's daily reads.

Though I didn't see Dummocrats.com listed, I have to wonder if Orr might lurk there as well. This decision to freshen up the Bush camp's blogging/online strategy comes less than 24 hours after Krissy Fedora's "Dos and Don'ts of Online Campaign Marketing." Orr and his colleagues should read the list and take it to heart.


Timewaster: Ranking Words 

Need to kill 15 minutes? See where your favorite word ranks.

Mine -- "egregious" -- checks in at #48,168. "Drew" ranks #2,012, while "Andrew" is #2,248. "Fox" lags behind at #3,836. "Blog" does not rank anywhere among the site's 86,800 words ("word" is only the 487th most popular word). I suppose Blogs aren't as trendy (#17,598) as some detractors (#29,864) claim.

Via Karol (#65,613)


Longhorns: Silencing the Vince Young Detractors 

Does the University of Texas have another QB controversy brewing in 2004? Mack Brown has said that Vince Young is his guy, but plenty of fans still see Chance Mock as the better pure QB.

Count me among the fans that enjoy watching VY's electrifying athleticism, but who still question his passing ability. This analysis, from Burnt Orange Fan Zone's jcdenton, seems to put VY's talent in a better light.

And the bottom line is, in terms of leading the offense to touchdowns Vince has been the most effective QB we have had in the Mack era by an enormous margin, and is already one of the most effective quarterbacks--as a freshman--that Texas has had in the modern era.

Two things still worry me about Young:

1) Has Texas' O-Line improved their blitz protection? VY can evade guys in the backfield, but if the Hors face another Washington State-like blitzkrieg, he won't get away the whole game. Consistent defensive pressure means quick decisions, which leads me to the other thing...

2) Has his release gotten faster? I know that the preview stories all talk about VY working on his throwing style all Summer. But his release still looked slow to me on Sunday night. A Hideo Nmomo wind-up won't cut it when the pocket breaks down.


Music: Comparing PJ 

This topic came up over at LM Fanzone.

Better Pearl Jam CD: Ten or Vs.?

I vote for Vs. "Even Flow" and "Black" kicked ass on Ten, but I don't think anything on that album rivls the greatness of "Rearviewmirror", "Daughter" or "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town."

In fact, I'd place "Rearviewmirror" among my five favorite songs ever. Hmmm... now there's a subject I might blog about later.

Anyway... Ten or Vs.? Discuss amongst yourselves.


Monday, August 16, 2004

Olympics: Silver for the USA 

Yeah, that's a vague headline. Sue me.

I was going to blog about the impressive performance from the U.S. Men's Gymnastics team, but at the risk of sounding like an immature homophobe, it's impossible to comment on those events without sounding awkward.

Instead, I'll just say congrats, guys!


Music: Texas Music 

I know that most of the music content here has been Old 97's related. What can I say? They're my favorite band, and they just don't get the press that they should. But I do like other bands, and of course I enjoy propping up deserving lesser-known groups.

One such group is Yellow Belly, TX. This Dallas foursome originally hails from my hometown of Temple, TX. I caught one of their sets a few months back at a Temple bar, and I liked what I heard. Their blend of down-home Texas twang and rockin' upbeat melodies is best suited for the live stage, but their recorded material is pretty good as well.

Yellow Belly has a new single out -- "Bad Foot Down." Check it out, and if you live in the Dallas area (or Temple), they play regularly at some of the best venues around.


Olympics: Baseball Just 'Greek' to the Hosts 

The Olympic rules allow Greece to field a team in each Olympic sport. So maybe it doesn't matter that the ragtag baseball team they've assembled might not know the difference in an infield fly and a sacrifice fly.

They should know the term sacrificial lamb?

Determined to field a team in Athens, as is their right as the host country, the Greeks set out on a recruiting mission. Manager Rob Derksen scoured North America for anyone whose great-grandpappy - on either side of the family - might have been from Greece. Or maybe passed through the motherland long enough to vote or get a driver's license.

Finally, Derksen found enough Americans with Greek ties, flimsy as they might be, to fill out a roster. The Greek government waived the mandatory military service requirement and declared them all citizens.
How great is that? The U.S. didn't even qualify in baseball, but they end up sending a team anyway -- to play for Greece. I use the term "team" lightly.

This reminds me of that Joe Mantegna movie, The Comrades of Summer, except for that team was at least comprised of Russians, not Americans whose grandfathers earned their rubles in Ukranian mines before defecting to America. But that was just fiction (as evidenced by its depiction of the Seattle Mariners winning the World Series). This almost-Greek team reinforces that old notion that truth is stranger than fiction.


Sports: Olympics Thus Far 

If I were flipping channels on a lazy Saturday afternoon and came across Synchronized Diving, I'd likely keep flipping. But during the Olympics, I can't get enough of lesser sports like Volleyball, Swimming or Water Polo.

Between the PGA and the Olympics, I hardly left my couch from about 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. yesterday, and again from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. What did I watch?

Beach Volleyball- Americans Dax Holdren and Stein Metzger staged a thrilling win over their Australian opponents. While I'm glad to see the USA win, I was dismayed by the quality of ball the American duo played. Floating serves, dinks and dunks, sparse displays of power... It was the kind of volleyball I'd expect me and my friends to play at the pool after a 12-pack of beer. Maybe they played tentatively after dropping the first set, but I don't think we're going to win the Gold by playing booty ball.

Indoor Volleyball- Lots of jawing between the USA and Italy. Even though we lost, the teams put on an entertaining game. Is it me, or does the USA always field a scrappy bunch of hotheads in men's volleyball? Remember 1992? Bob Samuelson (or was it Bob Ctvrtlik?) was involved in a controversy about a officials ruling. Then whole team shaved their heads in protest, en route to a bronze medal.

Water Polo- Team USA won on a goal as time expired. That game looks fairly easy, but when you think about treading water for that long and still throwing/playing defense, you realize what tremendous shape those guys are in.

More Beach Volleyball- The American women's team of Misti May and some other girl easily beat the Japanese. Misty May is pretty good looking, or at least I think. And man, she can ball. She was hitting with more power than either of the guys.

Boxing- I don't think I saw any Americans. Some Russian beat the hell out of a third worlder.

Swimming- I love watching swimming, maybe because so many ex-Longhorns compete for Team USA each Olympics. I saw the 400M Relay team in the prelims, but missed their disappointing bronze medal finish in the finals. Maybe Gary Hall had a reason for being angry?

Basketball- Everyone is talking about the USA's blowout loss to Puerto Rico (aren't they part of the USA?). I won't pile on, because I don;t agree with a lot of the sentiment out there. People think they're overpaid ninnies that don't want to be there. I think they do want to be there, but they're not built for success. We didn;t send our best talent, or our best possible team. And it's time to face the fact that the rest of the world has caught up to our basketball ability -- if not in talent, then in fundamentals. I think we'll bounce back, though, and at least medal.

Major Gripe: Because of the time change NBC airs its marquee, prime time events on tape delay. Thus, the swimming final you watch at 7 p.m. actually took place at noon. I can handle that. What irks me is that NBC updates its website in real time. So a minute ago, when I went to check on some overnight events, I learned the results of tonight's much-anticipated 200M Freestyle swimming final. I guess I can play Madden 2005 instead of tuning in to see Michael Phelps go for the gold. NBC should really make seperate links to learn of the day's events. Just because we know it's tape delay doesn't mean that we don't want to maintain an element of surprise.


Blog: Lack of Updates 

Sorry for a lack of posts this weekend and through this morning. Either Blogger or my system had something worng, because everytime I tried to update, I'd get an error page.

I posted my Longhorn practice report from yesterday's evening session, and I hope to get to the PGA Championship and the Olympics later today.


Sunday, August 15, 2004

Longhorns: Putting on the Pads 

It's just the second day of full pads, so I wasn't expecting much from my first practice of the season. That said, here's some of what I saw (disclaimer: I'm still learning faces/numbers, and it was my first practice, so take this for what it's worth):

- Vince Young is huge. Huge. Threw mostly intermediate passes... A few deep balls... Release didn't look much different than last year... Dangerous in the open field, as we'd all expect.

- If I didn't know Roy Williams was gone, I would have though he was still out there. Limas Sweed has a similar build, and he was catching almost everything thrown his way. I know today's AAS said that if the season started today, Carter and Jeffrey would be the starters, but Roy didn't begin the season as #1 either. Sweed, I'll say, is the best we have right now.

- Carter and Jeffrey were hit and miss. Nothing special from either one, though Jeffrey did make one nice catch as he was falling down near the sideline. He dropped a few balls, though.

- MIA: Ced Benson. Selvin took all the snaps at tailback. He looked good, too.... Thicker than last year, almost like a Quentin Griffin. He made a few nice moves, staying low to the ground and making quick cuts in the open field.

- Speaking of Griffin, Ced was hit or miss. He made one nice break to pick off a pass in goalline D, but both Selvin and Vince juked him in the open field and made him look bad.

- Pass offense was out of sync and looked downright awful at times. WRs weren't getting open, and we didn't hook up many 10 yard+ routes. That should improve... I hope.

- MIA2: Mock and Nordgren. VY and Eric Foreman took almost all of the snaps at QB during the full O v. D drills. Nordgren threw a few times at the end, but Mock never got into the action. Don't know if he was hurt, but he didn't do squat while I was watching.

- Foreman looks uncomfortable throwing. He had one nice deep ball to Brian Carter, but most of his throws were wobbly and off the mark.

- Drew Kelson and Jordan Shipley matched up a few times in the WR v. DB drills. Shipley is quick as hell. He didn't get a lot of work overall, but he did have one nice catch-and-run, stopping on a dime and reversing field to pick up an additional 10 yards after the catch. Kelson isn't really a cover back, but he could stand to improve in the area. He actually fell down on one deep route and the WR caught an easy TD.

- Michael Huff looked pretty good in the 1-on-1 drills. He had the unenviable task of covering Sweed a few times, but he stuck with him.

- Starting DBs during the full O v. D drills: CB- Huff and Ced Griffin; S- Geiggar and Michael Griffin. No sight of Tarell Brown, and I don;t think I saw Marcus Griffin.

- Robison was at the DE opposite Crowder. Neal Tweedie got some quality time at DE as well. Tully Janszen was on crutches.

- Stevie Lee is huge. He got quite a bit of PT at DT. Okam looks pretty big himself, but I couldn't see how much PT he got. It didn't look like much, but I had a bad vantage point for part of the workout and was unable to see the lines for a while.

- We threw to the FB a few times! Will Matthews looks rock solid back there. He caught a couple of passes and was maintaining blocks down the field.

- Anthony Johnson is gone, so I have no idea who the #3 RB is. Possibly Fr. Ramonce Taylor. He got a few snaps in the goalline drill, and Matt Melton absolutely lit him up. Taylor tried a dive off tackle and Melton hit him mid-air, knocking him back. Taylor's other carry got stuffed inside the 1.

- Other freshmen I noticed: WR Myron Hardy looks like he could get some action at WR. WR's George Walker and Nate Jones were also active in the Wr v. DB drills, as was DB Ryan Palmer. I wouldn't expect to see those guys on the field during the season.

- I didn't stick around to see much Special teams work. I saw one punt, and Greg Johnson was punting. He got off about a 35-40 yarder with good hang time, and Selvin fair caught.

- Akina wasn't his normal animated self. He was actually somewhat reserved. Robinson seemed to have more of a presence back there.

- Pedestrian report, I know. I'll take a pen and pad to Saturday's scrimmage.


Friday, August 13, 2004

Politics: Another Politically Driven GOP Warning? 

The GOP is obviously just trying to scare Florida residents for political gain.


Thursday, August 12, 2004

Movies: "Well That's Just Like, Your Opinion, Man" 

I went to lunch today with my friends Justin and Porter. Driving back to work, Justin hesitated on a left turn and ended up stopping with his front end jutting out a few feet into the crosswalk. We all knew what was coming next...

Porter and I (in unison): "OVER THE LINE! Mark it zero."

It was about the fourth time during lunch that one of us quoted the greatness that is The Big Lebowski.

I dare say it's the most quotable movie ever made (and I'm thinking Michelle at ASV would agree).

Am I wrong?


Music: Austin City Limits Festival 

The ACL organizers released this year's schedule today.

With so many good bands playing, I forsee a lot of walking that weekend, in order to cover the entire Zilker Park set-up. Here's my initial plan (must-see's in bold), subject to change based on fatigue, friends' interests and the proximity of the nearest beer tent:

1-2:00 Asleep at the Wheel
2-2:30 Dale Watson
3-4:00 Blind Boys of Alabama
7-8:00 Ryan Adams
8-8:45 Franz Ferdinand

2-3:00 Josh Rouse
3-4:00 Old 97's
4-5:00 The Gourds
5-6:00 Modest Mouse
6-7:00 My Morning Jacket
7-8:00 Dashboard Confessional
8-8:45 Reckless Kelly
9-9:45 The Pixies

3:30-4:30 Ben Kweller
4:30-5:30 TBA
5:30-6:30 Drive-By Truckers

I didn't make it down there on Sunday a year ago. We'll see what happens this time. I really want to see Ben Kweller, and the Truckers might have been my favorite set last year.


DVD Review: The Perfect Score 

What do you get when you combine The Breakfast Club with The Italian Job? The Perfect Score -- a teenybopper movie with one of the most absurd premises this side of Can't Buy Me Love. That's not necessarily bad -- teen movies tend to inherently ooze with schmaltz. This movie, though, breaks the schmaltz boundary about three times over.

A group of six cliched high school seniors have grand future plans. But they all share the same predicament; none scored high enough on the SAT to pursue the respective colleges of their choice. With a re-test only a few weeks away, Kyle (Chris Evans), who's desparately wanted to study architecture at Cornell since building a popsicle birdhouse as a kid, and his buddy Matty (Brian Greenburg), the lovestruck underachiever that wants to join his girlfriend at Maryland, devise a plot to steal the SAT scores from the EST corporate headquarters. Huh? God forbid they just study for the test, right? Anyway, needing an "inside man," they recruit Francesca (Scarlett Johannson), the daughter of an EST bigwig, with a massive "daddy doesn't pay enough attention to me" syndrome. With a chip on her shoulder the size of the pony daddy evidently never bought her, Francesca can help them gain access to the building.

Along the way they pick up Anna, the straight-laced salutatorian (Erika Christianson). Now why would an honors student need to steal the SAT answers? Of course it's because her mother has put untold pressure on her to attend Brown, and she of course cracked during the test, leaving half of it blank. Anna in turn brings in Des (NBA star Darius Miles), the all-city power forward that could jump to the NBA if his mom weren't pressuring him to go to St. John's. The last addition is the local stoner, Roy (Leonardo Nam), a brilliant-but-unmotivated oddball.

This motley crew is apparently as skilled in heists as they are in taking the SAT. The job goes awry when they find the filing room, where the answers should reside, empty. But Kyle won't give up that easily. He gets Roy to hack into a computer, and when they learn that multiple passwords are needed to print out the file, the group works together to take the test and figure the answers out themselves. It's a sugary-sweet lesson in cameraderie and law-breaking.

The Perfect Score could be an enjoyable hour-and-a-half of campy fun if it weren't the typical self-righteous MTV production. Like most of the network's fare, it plays on inequality and placing blame somewhere else. We wouldn't expect today's teenagers to show a little responsibility for themselves now would we? At its heart, the movie hits some of the classic teen genre hotspots, but I really don't need a civics lesson from the loony Left.



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