Monday, July 30, 2007

Back to Work

Well, I've be hitting the books the next couple of weeks as I prepare myself for a job certification during my Reserve time, so I'll try and make sure I take a little bit of time to make some shorter entries and keep this blog fresh....

First things first:
Transformers rocked! I feared that Michael Bay would ruin it, but it turned out to be an inspired choice, the king of the car chase in a movie featuring "Autobots" (yeah I know that's not what it stands for). Transformers proved to be the perfect vehicle for a dude who likes to blow things up as gigantic fighting robots turned into a perfect excuse to decimate the landscape. Were there flaws? Sure were. But I tell you this, they were easily overlooked/forgiven by the sheer amount of whiz-BANG fun that Bay instilled in the 2 hours and 15 minutes.

In the real world: The Eagles wrapped up the rookie/young guy portion of training camp and all the veterans will report tonight, er, now (as I write this). So the real work begin tomorrow. Trying to read all I can about it and stay in touch with what's going on. I'll provide some impressions of how things are going later on.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Training Camp is Here!

The drought is over!
Eagles news can flow once again.
Are you psyched? - You should be
Are you hopeful? - damn skippy
Are you still wondering how the the various issues (injuries, rookies, roster spots) surrounding the Birds will play out? you bet

But we'll finally start to get seeing some answers.

Now this has lead to the usually pre-camp/day of opening "what to watch for articles"

Here are a few I found useful:
Ray Diddy's piece for Comcast - I really like what he had to say about Stewart Bradley.
Les Bowen's piece, which doesn't offer much new, except for the fact that he links to Donovan McNabb's BLOG! I'll go check it out after I post this.
And of course the coverage from Wherein I first read that Andy Reid said during his opening press conference that Donovan will wear a knee brace (as added insurance during camp) but that during the season he expects they won't have it on (that's both a good sign AND a little bit of a risk).

Okay, so now that I've given you some good links, you probably asking, alright dude, but what do YOU think? (and if not, why'd you come here? Both of you, I mean it)...well here are my top issues for the 2007 training camp:

Team-wide: Injuries. Okay so this one is easy, almost too easy. The franchise QB is on the mend from a torn-ACL....and let's face it, no realistic SuperBowl aspirations will be reached if Donovan is not able to come back strong. Can they be a dangerous team with A.J. at QB, sure, they beat a few teams with him, but I'm much less confident about being able to make a legit-run at things with our second-string (not unless the Eagles do a complete 180 and become a running team with a rock-solid D...hmm, don't hold you breath, the 2007 Eagles are not going to transform into the 2005 Steelers during August.)

Its also easy to forget that there are two other key players returning from injury: Jevon Kearse (who its thought might've been able to return, late, late last year {if of course, the Eagles had gone deep enough AND he wasn't already on IR}) So what does that mean? It means Kearse's injury occurred so early into the '06 campaign that he's the farthest along in his rehab. The opposite is true for the final in our injury trio: TE L.J. Smith, who had surgery to repair the dreaded "sports hernia" this off-season. Matter of fact, it looks like L.J. is the only Eagle that will be limited as camp starts (considering that some teams have already lost players to some injuries, etc, its not a bad start).

Other key issues, by department:
Offense - not many big question marks on the offense side of the ball (other than the injuries one I just spent two paragraphs yammering about). Two things strike me:
1. How will our new "big backs" look. If you're like me and lamented the fact that the Eagles didn't really have a large option in the backfield to complement Westbrook then you're also probably juiced about the fact that the Eagles drafted RBs Tony Hunt and Nate "Big Nasti" Ilaoa. NOW, we get to see if these two young guys make any sort of impression. I know it'll just be pre-season games, but I'm telling you, after I get reassured that Donovan is going to be ok, my #1 priority for this TC offense will be watching the running backs.

2. Kevin Curtis. I will also be intrigued by seeing our newest Stormin' Mormon in action. He is, after all, our new "burner", and I tell you, I loved Donte' Stallworth's play last year. I'm hoping Curtis is the same type of performer.

Defense - lots of questions on D but I will limit myself to a few major ones:
My top concern/question mark: with me it all starts on the line. How do the new DTs (Montae Reagor, Ian Scott) mesh into JJ's rotation? Is Broderick Bunkley serious about become a pro football player? Will 2nd rd pick Victor Abiamiri (an impressive young man from Notre Dame) be able to make a dent at DE (he would be our biggest DE, by the way - Kearse, Cole and Juqua Thomas are all slightly smaller fastballs).

2nd of my personal concern list: how will the LB corps evolve over TC. Ok, last year was an unmitigated disaster with the linebackers. We got next to nothing from them last year (No big plays, heck, damn few normal plays), with the lone exception of rookie Omar Gaither (who gave us a glimpse of what other teams LBs tend to do for their teams - some crunching hits, the occasional INT, etc). Now with Takeo Spikes in the nest, Trotter vowing to keep the weight off and come back refreshed and two BRAND new guys likely to compete for time on the strong-side -- Chris Gocong and Stewart Bradley -- how are things going to pan out.

going on down the position chart: we come to Safety. Now the Eagles did NOT use a high round pick to bolster the secondary - something I was damn near SURE they would prior to the draft. (ed. - shows you what YOU know). Will Sean Considine validate the Eagles coaches' faith that he is a starting-caliber safety. He apparently dedicated this off-season to putting on some bulk, so he doesn't get run-over against the run. Besides that: this camp will decide WHO is the Eagles 4th safety. I am sure that Dawkins, Considine and Mikell will be the top 3, who rounds out the group? Draft pick Gaddis (who played both S/CB in college?) probably....there are a LOT of roster question this camp. Competition and nearly every position along the defense is WIDE OPEN.

That's it for now. Stay tuned for more analysis as training camp progresses.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Wheee the Wii is HERE!

Well folks, our household has gone from NO current generations game consoles to two in a matter of weeks thanks to the arrival of our Wii yesterday (Monday for me, Sunday for most of you).

The Wii is an absolute BLAST! The toughest thing turned out to be actually finding one to buy! I mean you go online, and NO ONE will sell just the Wii console...they all force you to put this big package together, with games and extras and everything, so buying one from Walmart was going to cost me over $500, and other places like EB/Gamestop weren't much better ($470)...

So anyway, a few long-distance phone-calls, and more than a couple treks by the 'rents back in Delaware and we finally secured the objective - a plain ole Wii console.

My out-of-the-box impression: wow this sucker is small....but slick, and set-up is a breeze (the toughest thing to do is to decide if you want to place the remote sensor bar (to capture all the swingin' and flickin' you'll be doing with the Wii-mote) on top of the TV or below it. (I chose on top). The really cool feature, is geared for WiFi right out of the box (matter of fact I think it HAS to be wireless, cause I don't recall any place for a hard-wired connection (like my Xbox 360). Anyway, it found my network is a flash and within a minute I was browsing the Wii online store.

I will say this: other than a few nostalgic games I might download, Nintendo's online features are not, at present, really comparable to Microsoft's. I mean, the online XBox Live stuff is the REASON I got an Xbox (scroll down to read about that) - the reason I got the Wii, is frankly, the idea that Christina and I will be able to share some good times, play some mini-games and generally enjoy the revolutionary gaming experience that the Wii presents. I mean, criminy, its one thing for gamers to have sore thumbs from all the button-mashing, but a sore rotator cuff from playing Wii Sports Tennis? C'mon now.

Another cool aspect - your little in-game avatars, which you can create (heck I spent at least and hour creating a whole bunch yesterday). These are called (appropriately enough) Miis....I mean they're mini-version of you, and since Austin Powers ingrained the term "Mini-me" into the American lexicon, using Mii is simply marketing genius. And your Mii's can migrate! You can choose to share them, and if they're not in use (i.e. you are not using that particular Mii in a game or even if the Wii is powered down) they'll float out on the net and show up on other people's Wiis (if they choose to let other Miis appear that is). I did, just to see if any other Miis show up. You can do a Mii Parade and watch they mingle about....its neat, not necessarily funny or cool or a show-stopper, but cute.

Am waiting for Christina to return from Korea before I try out Mario Party 8 or Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (and since I'm re-reading book 6 right now, I'm jonesin' to see how the Wii handles the wand-based magic of the Potter-series games).

Monday, July 23, 2007

Three Cheers for Roger

Roger Goodell, new commissioner of the NFL, did the right thing. He told embattled Falcons QB Mike Vick to take a seat and not show up to Falcons training camp. Goodell doesn't have the responsibility to determine guilt or innocence, he has a responsibility to the NFL, and Vick has tarnished the league, plain and simple....regardless of the extent of his involvement, Vick stands at the center of a horribly cruel dog-fighting scandal that generated an incredibly poor perception, and sometimes perception becomes reality if not dealt with swiftly. To not act, would have been an indictment of Goodell's ability to protect the best interests of the league.

Let me say this again, Goodell did the right thing, and just as important, he did it at the right time. You see the indictment came down last week, and up went the hue and cry condemning Vick. Now if Goodell has done something immediately (or within say 24 hours), it would've come off as a knee-jerk overreaction. By waiting until this week, it shows that the NFL Commissioner deliberated, thought it out and presented a forthright, moral reason for asking Vick to stay home.

In a letter to the quarterback, he explained that due process is a constitutional right for the accused, not a privilege accorded to those with a roster spot: "While it is for the criminal justice system to determine your guilt or innocence, it is my responsibility as commissioner of the National Football league to determine whether your conduct, even if not criminal, nonetheless violated league policies, including the Personal Conduct Policy."

I think its rather obvious that at the very least, Vick lied to the NFL Commissioner in April when he claimed to have no knowledge of, and nothing to do with dog-fighting at this West Virginia property. That alone would give most employers a reason to ask for a temporary suspension. This is the right decision - Good on ya, Rog.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Order of the Phoenix Rises to the Top

Ok so with all the hoopla around Harry Potter these days, you're probably wondering what yours truly thinks of all this....(and if you aren't you should be).

Well the local BX on base advertised a "pre-sale" (pre-buy the book at 0800, and then pick it up for real at 0900 (cause we are 9 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, the "midnight" sale in Britain was 9am here). Well they decided to cank that, so we had to wait. Check out Christina's blog for pics the stupendous "event". There were some 150 people or so in line (a lot for this base) and the entire shipment of books for the base was just 450...

Well what to I think of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? I can't tell you. I haven't started reading it yet (though a friend of mine was done by about 2pm that very same afternoon). Why? What's this? you ask....well, I'll tell you. Christina had a trip to Korea (of the southern variety) and our copy of HPatDH went with her. You see we originally ordered a copy from Amazon but since Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix we've also gone to the bookstore and bought one for me (yes we get two, because, she reads so fuckin' slow, I can't stand to wait). Well our Amazon copy should get here sometime this week (hopefully) and I didn't want to deprive Christina the joy of reading I let her take it with her. (Husband of the Year award nominee, uh huh)

I figure, I've got a test on Wednesday for which I should be studying (but am not), plus its not that much of a burden to wait, just have to avoid any spoilers in the news, that's all. I imagine once I get going, I'll blaze through the book. But part of me would like to read is slowly, savor it a who knows...

Anyway, waiting in line for Harry Potter 7 came just hours after we went to Shimoda Mall to catch Harry Potter 5 in the theater (no way in hell was I waiting until August 3rd to see it on base). So I know you all want to know: is it any good? Yes.

Wait that's it, just a yes. Hold on a sec,let me go on. The critics are correct, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the darkest of the Harry Potter movies to date (just wait till they see HP6 and the downer that one ends on....). Its also one of the shortest, which is odd, since book 5 is the largest of the books.

What does that mean for movie-goers? HPatOotP is a trim 2 hours and 15 minutes (that's positively anorexic for a HP movie) and I think that overall, the director did a fine job, creating a briskly paced movie that hits all the major points of the books. There's just one "teensy" problem. It wasn't quite enough...and it puts me in awkward position critically, because I've harped on film-makers for a long time now to trim the fat and stop gives us these bloated, exposition-filled bore-fests.

Yet with Harry Potter 5, I felt a sense of something askew. I know some critics have said it lacks some of the joyous childhood innocence of the first movie. I say: and well it should. My complaint isn't about that. Its about, well, the lack of the Order, for one big one. I mean the movie/book are titled Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but there's damn little, "Order of the Phoenix" in the movie!

Ok, so they show a few of them, when they escort Harry to London after the dementor attack (though there's no sense of foreboding like in the book), and little bits and piece after that. But precious few scenes and zero tension about the idea that the dastardly Severus Snape is part of the order....I think HP5 is crying out for a director's cut...because while I appreciate the effort to get me in and out of the THEATER before my ass falls asleep, I could DEFINITELY deal with another 20-30 minutes in an extended cut while chillin' on my Lay-z-Boy at home watching it on my big screen.

I don't want to make too big a deal of it, its just a personal preference and one of the rare few exceptions to my general movie standard #3 "Less is more". I'm not going to pick any more nits, because frankly I don't have any. The casting was spectacular as usual, with Imelda Staunton and Helena Bonham Carter joining the already all-star cast seamlessly as villains Dolores Umbridge (the uber-hatefully sweet and clueless nazi Ministry bitch) and Bellatrix LeStrange (the tormentor of Neville Longbottom's parents) respectively.

I just want MORE! Is that so much to ask?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Math Through the Decades

Math 1950-2007
Last week I purchased a burger at Burger King for $1.58. The counter girl took my $2 and I was digging for my change when I pulled 8 cents from my pocket and gave it to her. She stood there, holding the nickel and 3 pennies, while looking at the screen on her register. I sensed her discomfort and tried to tell her to just give me two quarters, but she hailed the manager for help. While he tried to explain the transaction to her, she stood there and cried. Why do I tell you this?

Answer: Because of the evolution in teaching math since the 1950

1. Teaching Math In 1950
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?
2. Teaching Math In 1960
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?
3. Teaching Math In 1970
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit?
4. Teaching Math In 1980
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.
5. Teaching Math In 1990
A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a
profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers. )
6. Teaching Math In 2007
Un hachero vende una carretada de maderapara $100. El costo de la producciones es $80. Cuanto dinero ha hecho?

She's Too Sexy for the Bus

Guess some German girls have nice hooters, cause this story I ran across tells a story that a German bus-driver had to ask a woman to move to a different seat because he couldn't stop staring at her tits and it was endangering everyone. Hilarious....I imagine in the States, a lawsuit would follow.

This article has a photo of the lady, sans aforementioned distracting cleavage....damn....

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Like a Lamb to the Slaughter

That what taking the new DLPT V test was much for my tingli nengli (that's listening comprehension to you non-Mandarin types). Whew...I thought I'd done a lot better than I did, but unbeknownst to my delusional brain, my ass was getting pounded more than a $5 gigolo on Castro Street (that's in San Fran, in case that makes the allusion any clearer for you).

Oh well. No use crying, just got to keep on trucking, get some reading practice and hopefully take less of beating next week on part 2 (not counting on that).

So what else is new?
Well the Phillies continue their up-n-downs....getting their ass reams on day and returning the butt-scouring the next with a 26-hit, 15-3 smackdown on the Dodgers.

Oh yeah, how could I forget? Michael Vick, the dog-fighting dickhead, got indicted by the Feds. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. I had to turn on the slingbox and watch ESPN News for that one. What a dumbshit. I have to say, I ragged on last week cause I think they've gotten a little high and mighty, but the site has been fairly informative on this Vick stuff. I'm not a big fan of their pissing match with ESPN (they've really got it out for Len Pasquarelli - but hey, maybe the dude deserves it), because I think its better form to take the high road instead of constantly finding fault and pressing the case that "we're right, he's wrong, he's a bad guy".

Other than that, I like the depth of their reporting on the Vick case. The link above goes to an entire page which chronicles the story.

And oh, I played a demo for OVERLORD on the Xbox 360 - who knew evil could be so much fun? I mean "liberating" the town of Spree from the little fat halfling "oppression"...that's grand. If you've ever wanted to control some "minions" and watch them gleefully run about to loot and pillage (all at your command) try this game out.

Monday, July 16, 2007

10,000 Losses? Nothing to see here, move it along people.

Ok, ok, so its no secret, the Phillies lost game # 10,000 the other night. Enough, let it be. Yes, the franchise sucks. Drop it. It doesn't really impact this year in any way (it was inevitable that they lose at least 45 games this year; no team goes 120-42. This thing is, by reaching the 10,000 plateau so quickly, they've really hamstrung yet another season.

The Phillies talked about how much they needed to have a good April. Oops
Then they have their customary-pick-up-after-the-opening-faceplant-streak. Check.
Wherein, sportswriters once again get fooled into writing about the Phillies as if they were actual contenders. Check
But the Phillies simply bounce around .500, forever looking up at the clubs they purport to be better than. Check

This season is progressing right on schedule I tell you.

I mean good ole' Cholly Manuel talked about needing to start off fast in the second half (hmm, when have we that before?). And the Phils look great for two games, hammering the World-champ Cardinals twice....and then, with their typical aplomb: they give right back and take a shellacking, so they win the series, but all they manage to do keep pace a steady 5 games behind the leading Mets (heck they actually LOST ground to the Braves)...oh yeah, didn't you know? The self-annointed "team to beat" in the NL East is trailing not just the Mets, but the Braves as well. So it won't matter if they get their heads out of their asses long enough to overtake the Mets, cause if they do, the Braves will probably have beat them to it, and be another tauntingly close 2-3 games ahead of the Phils....sigh

Everyone ready for another "oh-so-close" September?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Unsung Eagles in 2007

Garry Cobb recently wrote a piece on his site about the 5 most indispensable Eagles. The formula was fairly standard. Start with the QB, take the top skill-player on offense, select LT (w/right-handed QB), select defensive leader, and in the Eagles case, the all-Pro Kicker. OK. Some might go with the top two D guys, or the best RB and the best WR...but its not earth-shattering to read Cobb's case that McNabb, Westbrook, Thomas, Dawkins and Akers will be keys to success in 2007 or that legitimate contendership will be impossible w/o those 5. (Ok, we do have a guy named Winston Justice waiting in the wings at LT, so its POSSIBLE that Tra Thomas isn't a make or break guy.

But rather than rehash what GCobb put out there, or even critique it, I've decided to go a similar route, but rather than choose so-called "indispenable players"; I would like to identify a few key position/players that people are NOT giving much attention to right now.

If there positions work out, we could have a very strong team, if numerous holes appear and they guys don't step up, the Eagles will have some weaknesses.

First up:
Akers' place-holder. What? I can hear you all the way in Japan. But let me tell you. Last year I thought Akers struggled a but with P Dirk Johnson holding for him. The two lacked the chemistry Akers had with former QB Koy Detmer...I mean to the point that we brought Koy back to hold at the end of the season last year. We can't afford that shit this year. The coaches need to make damn sure Akers is comfy with his holder this year. We need Mr. Automatic back.

The long-snapper (detect a trend?). Here's the deal folks. Jon Dorenbos, the guy who replaced long-time TE/LS Mike Bartrum, just snaps. That's it. And the way roster are so tight these days, its hard (not impossible) to have 3 pure special teams guys. Bartrum was our 3rd TE, and while the term "seldom-used" was entirely appropriate for him, his could and did get out there on the field and make a play now and then. I have a feeling that with LJ Smith coming off the sports hernia injury, that AR & Co. wouldn't mind having a viable 3rd TE (perhaps the draft pick Celek). Depending on where the way the roster shakes out....if could be someone who can do double-duty. We Philadelphia fans were spoiled by the quiet, deliberate mastery of long-snapping by Mr. Bartrum. Dorenbos appears fairly capable, but his place on the roster is not guaranteed. If he is replaced, a big glaring spotlight will hit the new guy every times he lines up over the ball.

3rd Cornerback - Will James. We've heard the off-season talk about how he wants to start, and he's on a one-year "show me" contract, so James has all the motivation in the world to go out on the field and shine. But you see having an adequate-to-good 3rd CB isn't a luxury anymore. (its true the Eagles along with a few other teams seems to have regularly blessed with having pretty dang good 3CBs (First Al Harris [behind Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor] and then Rod Hood [behind Lito and Sheldon]) we'll see if Will James is the next-in-line.

The Fullback - Thomas Tapeh (Incumbent). Lots and lots of talk this off-season about placing greater emphasis on running the ball (yes, I think we to do so as well). Guess what alot of the really good RBs (LT, Shaun Alexander) in the league had last year - an excellent blocking FB. Now Tapeh has plenty of work to do in this area (to his credit, he has pretty decent pass-catching skills). But what direction will the coaches go in. A more ferocious blocker would be a clear indication that the Eagles are going to get a little more serious when it comes to pounding the rock.

C - Jamaal Jackson. It's easy to forget that 2006 was Jamaal's first year as a full-time starting center in the NFL. He entered 2006 as a question mark, and left it as yet another rock-solid piece to our granite O-line. Well guess what? Time to get even better JJ. Flanked by Herremanns and Andrews, Jackson will be the cog that make our O-line shine. He adjust the blocking at the LoS, he snaps, and he (along with the rest of the OL) is who is going to determine whether or not all this talk about running the ball more works. Coaches feel like bustin' Buck or Tony Hunt up the middle on 3rd and 2? Well having a C that get movement is a key. Overall, he's not any more or less important than his fellow line-mates, but I think right now Philly fans have gotten a bit used to having a rock-solid O-line (trust me, as any long-time fans can tell you, the 80s and 90s were far, far different) and I wanted give a little credit the guy who's going to calling shots and directing traffic in the trenches. Its a mostly thankless job, but take heart JJ, now maybe 10 more people will know all about you. :P

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Air Banjo strums into the Big Easy

One of the Eagles forum-dwellers (BodyBagGame) posted this on the board, and I found it awfully amusing: (new) Saints LB Dhani Jones, quoted in The Times-Picayune regarding his expectations of the team after signing as an unrestricted free agent last Thursday: “It was a difficult (decision), but at the same time we're excited about going to New Orleans. What Reggie Bush and Coach Sean Payton bring to the table, it's going to be an exceptional year. … They have Scott Fujita, Mark Simoneau, Scott Shanle and a host of linebackers that are coming in,” Jones said. “I will provide the depth, but also will push those linebackers so that we can compete going into next season.”

First off, what the hell was so difficult about the decision? You're a mediocre (at BEST) linebacker, clearly on the downside. Your friggin' agent probably had to do cartwheels to get his foot in the door, Dhani.

I imagine the conversation went something like this:
Agent: Great news Dhani, I really pulled a rabbit out the hat for you on this one? New Orleans is interested
DJ: But I don't like Cajun food
Agent: STFU asshole, do you have any idea how hard it is to generate interest in a non-impact player like yourself.
DJ: Do they like bow-ties in New Orleans?
Agent: Bow-ties??!! Who gives a fuck about bow-ties, I just got you a paying gig idiot, that's a lot better than trying to pay the rent with that fucking air-guitar routine at the entrance to the subway.
DJ: But I don't like Cajun food....
Agent: Look, there's no way you'll start, but there at least a chance, a small one that this could mean a full season of employment and not just a ploy to learn the Eagles scheme...
DJ: Can you play the Blues with a banjo?
Agent: (sigh)

Now the most compelling reason for wanting to hire a dud player like Jones would be, theoretically, said player's familiarity with the schemes run by a tough opponent you expect to face in the coming season. And yes, we play the Saints again this year, in the fucking dome again. So if the Saints feel that they poised for another long playoff run, and they look at the competition within the NFC, one the teams I guarantee they see as a potential roadblock is Philadelphia (just as we see them as such). So you pluck Jones and try to glean clues as to what makes the Philly D tick and how to exploit it.

Here's the problem with the above paragraph: One tried-and-true way to run ball on the Eagles: "Pick on Dhani Jones" is no longer available!! (LOL)

Consider this: When former all-universe RB Marshall Faulk broke down the collapse of the Eagles run defense after the playoff loss to the Saints (this appears on the NFL Network months ago shortly after the game) he called out Dhani Jones' THREE times as misplaying the read and being caught out of position/not making the tackle on the final game-sealing possession.

Given THAT level of understanding of our D, perhaps its to our benefit that Dhani divulge "all he knows" :D

Things that Caught my Eye today

Oh, call me a homo-phobe or whatever, but I think it was a bit awkward for the San Diego Padres to schedule a kids' hat giveaway on Gay Pride Night at PETCO Park in San Diego. I have no problem with have a Gay Pride Day at the park, but I have to admit, it'd be a bit awkward if I had kids and took them that day....And its not that you can't run into gay people in every day life..that's perfectly true, folks who take their kids to mall probably see WORSE behavior every day. But for me, you know, going to the ballpark was a special occasion. Its not a time to have to explain to your 6-7 year old why two dudes are kissing in the stands (or why daddy is staring lasciviously at the two ladies kissing in the stands ;) .

On the other hand, I can understand "tolerance learned early is tolerance learned for a life-time" angle, and I don't think any event like that should be boycotted or protested. Its just...I dunno, did Gay Day have to be on the same day that the organization is running a promotion to attract young children to the stadium? Can't the kids have one day, gays the next, Latin night two days after, etc, etc etc?

Leave it to China to have the world's largest public restroom...I bet the water table drops just thinking about all those flushes....

Only 10 more days until the final Harry Potter book! Its going to be so weird reading it, knowing its the last one. (The Globe and Mail knows how I feel)..I might take some extra time with it, just to savor it....that's, er, gay, I know, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the series. I wonder who bites it? I totally didn't see Professor Dumbledore buying the farm in Book 6.
Other Harry Potter-related new links:
Businessweek writes about how Harry Potter is more than a "just a book"
Wal-Mart employees have pledged not to leak/spoil the ending.
And I guess the movie already kickin' ass.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

13.2 BILLION Light Years Away ??!! I wonder what the frequent flier mileage would be....

Astronomers have found evidence for the most distant galaxies ever detected. The galaxies are seen as they existed just 500 million years after the birth of the universe. Their light, traversing the cosmos for more than 13 billion years, was seen only because it was distorted in a natural "gravitational lens" created by the gravity-bending mass of a nearer cluster of galaxies. Way to go Hawaii! Mauna Kea rocks...

But hey, I thought the Earth was only a few thousand years old???

Who Died and Made PFT God?

I've been going to less and less and less...I used to go there for the humor mostly and because the site didn't take itself too seriously....but as they've acquired sponsors et al I grew less enamored with them...

They still have the occasional witty line or good piece of analysis...but the site seems to posit itself as some of arbiter of what's right...their "Turd Watch" was entertaining at first, but tracking every little scrape with the law that every football player has is getting tedious. Government watchdogs are one thing, but I doubt very many of us in the private world would appreciate this sort of scrutiny. Does it come with the territory? Perhaps. I think a reasonable argument can be made that is DOES....I am just saying, are we as fans so hung-up on tearing people down that we need to keep score???

Now as you know, I am an Eagles fan. This blog, especially during football season, becomes engrossed with all thing green and white, so I took umbrage at one of PFT's latest grievances. They posted: "EAGLES SITE OFFERING UP GAMBLING ADVICE" in which they take issue with Spuds (that Dave Spadaro, unabashed Philly-homer who writes on for the uninitiated) writing: "I noticed in the newspaper the other day that the Eagles are three-point favorites for the opening game in Green Bay. Maybe I'm wrong for addressing this, but take the Eagles right now. I love the Eagles in that game against the Packers."

Of course, this comes a few lines after their "we know we're picking nits" caveat....and how news in the slow in the off-season and they wouldn't normally talk about this sort of stuff much.

My response: THEN DON'T! For Chrissakes, right after that they offer up the arrest of Bill Maas, and while they don't draw a line, the two issues do not belong anywhere in the same article. Period. End of story. Spuds is trying to show his excitement for the season; that's he getting stoked, like a lot of other Eagles fans are now that training camp is in sight. Let it be.

The title itself is fairly misleading and the assertion that what Spuds wrote may indicate that he is somehow advocating gambling is the REASON most of us HATE LAWYERS...PFT needs to put down the gavel and stop the self-appointed cop routine and stick to actual football analysis...

I doubt they will, you see they have sponsors now. So that means they have to keep generating web-hits to justify why the hell Sprint (and others) is paying cash to advertise on their site. Oh and the little paragraph entry hawking Sprint-shit? Lame. That was my first indication that the site was going downhill.

Just my rant for today....

An Xbox sorta Tuesday

Well with the weather so dreary it wasn't hard to decide what to do today....actually, I got up around 0900, and didn't stop "moving" (moving being a relative term: I didn't go outside or travel anywhere - not even to base) and settle down until like 1500...Spent a bit of time chatting on MSN, and we have a plan in place for trying to find a friggin' Wii....

So I settled in an fired up the Xbox and tried out Catan (as in Settlers of, so that was a pun back there at the beginning of the sentence y'all). First I place the computer to get a feel for the game and I then I tried out a match on Xbox live - which basically matches you up against people of similar skill level. So I got matched up against 3 other noobs and guess what, I kicked some major ASS - baybee! I busted out the biggest army and was the first to 10 points. Then right at the end of the game I get this message - network error prevented you from connecting to the game...and I don' think it saved the victory....I played against, and got trounced because my Choose Wood on the Red 8 (sorry no time to explain the scoring) and having a Red 6 on the side of the board with the Wood Port-strategy failed miserably....The number 8 got rolled so few times....and w/o access to stone to build cities (again, didn't I tell you no explanation this time?) I was royally fucked...but again I got the same error message right as it flashed this Japanese girl (at least I think she was Japanese) as the error and I don't think my loss was recorded either...What the hell? Anybody familiar with Xbox know what the heck this means?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Why Does it Feel Like October?

Dang folks, its windy, overcast, gloomy and almost July...Look I know its not COLD cold, we went through the winter...but the wind (not breeze) has a chill to it. The sun really hasn't been out all day, but it hasn't rain either (it just looks like its going to)....It reminds me of a blustery, overcast gloomy day in October back in the Northeast...

Oh and another is frickin' July and I haven't taken the heavy mink blanket or the comforter off the bed struck me last night as I was changing the sheets...I know those of you sweltering through a hot July and probably thinking "fuck you and your cold weather asshole" but I'm just saying...

And another thing, why is it so GD hard to find a Wii???? Its been almost 8 months since its release and NO one has any in-stock (and I found one possibility, but I ain't sharing that info until I confirm it/order one)....

Ever Have "One of Those Days?"

I'm not sure what the heck happened today. The dogs got me up fairly early (considering the time I went to bed) and it was cool and misty most the day (I did venture outside...once). Things were promising this morning....I held off on the Xbox for a while and got some necessary things done, but after I came back from base and had lunch, it was like tired, had a pulsing sort of headache which made sleeping, well, not in the cards.

Ironically enough, it was about then that I fired up the Xbox and made my way through a couple games of Carcassonne, and I started to feel better, then I unlocked the fun game of the old coin-op Gauntlet on Xbox Live Arcade. I was hoping to find some other players online, be there weren't any open games to join...which sucked

I'm sorta hoping a could of my friends back in the States get broadband connections, that way we can play so of those old-school games over the Xbox Live servers, which work GREAT by the way (ok, I do have to hand to Microsoft there, when it comes to making sure the online stuff is smooth, easy, and fast, they hit it out of the park with Xbox Live.)

Well anyway, I whittled away the late afternoon and all of sudden its 9pm, I don't really feel all that tired, but I'm not hungry either...just sort of in a fugue state....I need to get some chores done around the house, just cause Christina's gone doesn't mean the maid gets the week off. See ya

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Have I Gone to the Dark Side of Gaming by Buying an XBox?

As an avowed PC gamer I feel nearly every type of game, except for sports and fighting -- two genres for which I now longer have the twitch reflexes necessary to compete, -- are better, PLAY better, on a computer than on a console. First-Person shooters? Fuggedaboudit - I am long past trying to use two little directional pads with my thumbs (though I was weened on DOOM via the Playstation). Real-time Strategy games (like Command and Conquer, Starcraft, Supreme Commander, etc) - mouse and keyboard are a MUST.

So how in the hell is my family soon going to own not one but TWO (my wife is currently scouting for a Wii while she's in Florida, no luck so far) of the latest generation of console game machines (especially after resisting for so long)???

One word: FUN

I played the Wii the other night as a friend's place: It was an absolute blast! And all we did was play Wii Sports. But it gets you up and gets players in motion. Man its fun. I can see why its trouncing the PS3 in sales.

But the real question was the XBox, my wife is not a very big Microsoft (heck neither am I), and for the longest time the foot was down. No XBox is our house. Well, when I was as my aforementioned friend's place he showed me the XBox 360 (he's got everything, PS3 too) and I was impressed. Damn impressed. The graphics are high-end computer worthy, the controllers can be wireless, hell if you like the cheesy music on some of the games, you can plug in your iPod and play your own! (DRM-free only, so only those you've punched into iTunes from your CDs at home or bought the DRM-free version from iTunes - gay, but still, I've gotten dozens of albums to listen too - I chilled out playing Bejeweled 2 to Pink Floyd last night)

But what sold me? It was the downloadable games. And not just any games: easy-to-learn, difficult-to-master strategy games like Catan and Carcassonne. I mean these are german-made board games that some other friends introduced me to a few years back. Never got the chance to play them much, because, well board-games are very old-fashioned. But there they were, electronic versions, with cool graphical updates, every rule variation. Within minutes of finally scoring some MS Points (long, boring tangent there), I had downloaded Carcassonne and was playing a live game online against 3 different people, from I think, 3 different continents (me in Japan, a couple of dudes from Europe and 1 in the States).

I haven't tried Catan yet...I need to get some things done before I sequester myself with the XBox today.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Recent Occurrences and Other Things

A lot has gone on this week.

This is what I liked:
Finally breaking down and getting in on the Beta-build for Sins of a Solar Empire....the Beta is open until 9 July, and when I saw that I could get in on the ground floor of this game and perhaps help shape it in some small way. I jumped. If you like empire-building games (Civ, Galactic Civ2) or real-time strategy games (Command & Conquer, Supreme Commander) or space, battle-oriented games (Homeworld) - this game is an absolute must buy.

The Flyers finally getting with the program in the new NHL and picking up speedy, skilled guys and ending their fetish with finding another Lindros-LeClair-Renberg "Legion of Doom" line to beat-up the rest of the league. So they nabbed Daniel Briere from a team I despise, the Buffalo Sabres. They also swapped an under-achieving D Joni Pitkanen to the Oilers for, get this, the Oilers team caption and defensive stalwart Jason Smith (and some winger, Lupul). HA...I bet that move had Tasha groaning....Throw in the fact that the Flyers traded for and signed prospective free-agents Kimmo Timmonen and Scott Hartnell from the Predators....and its been a very productive off-season for the Flying Ps. Of course, they have nowhere else to go but up after the most miserable season in their history. Hopefully, this is a start of new direction for them.

The Shield - Season 6. This is simply the best police drama to ever grace television. Period. Bar none. NYPD Blue? fuck them. Hill Street Blues? don't make me laugh. Dragnet? ok, different era and I won't rag on a show that clearly would never have thought to go place the Shield has gone. The only thing I wish for: more episodes. 10 episodes is simply not enough for junkie.

What I didn't like:
The aborted terror bombing in England. Ok. Not the aborted/we-stopped-em part. That I loved. But the fucking idea that these home-grown or imported fucks are still at it. I don't know how to stop it without a pogrom....

The wife having to scrap some leave and go to Florida early because the military couldn't find her a flight on the day she was supposed to leave. So instead of a week apart, its 10 days.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Marathon Weekend

Just getting back to normal today (Monday). Have a LONG-ass weekend. A real good one, but long... why is that you ask? We'll I have a bunch of the fellas over on Saturday, beer, and Twilight Imperium, with a few movies thrown in.

Well anyway, Game 1 of what turned out to be a double-header went pretty well. 7 players on a huge split-galaxy board. Interesting dynamic splitting it up like that. Well anyway, the game progressed fairly quickly, one player got knocked down and out pretty early, setting up 3 civs on each side of the board. Its was getting onto about 1030-1100 pm and two players, myself and this other AF guy, James, had the most points, with Kirk (a retiring Navy grognard) close behind (but with the biggest fleet, biggest threat to score a lot - quickly). And out comes a weird political card, effectively granting two victory points to every player. What are victory points you ask? Nevermind, its too much to go into. Suffice it to say: you win with them, and that at the time Those two VPs would effectively GIVE the game to James. Now, you'd THINK, that that would be no-brainer....James would vote YES, and every other player would vote no and shoot down the proposed law....uh...guess not....It seems another player, who did in fact have the votes to swing it in James favor felt like ending the game....and blammo, there is was....the vote pass 21-19 and the game was over.....

but the night wasn't! After a few folks left to go home, a few hearty souls and I figured on making the most of the night (since the wife was working mids). So we continued the Star Wars marathon and decided to kick off a smaller game.

4 players, 1 galaxy (James, Alley, Whalen and myself). The double-header was definitely a closer contest. We had a incredible trade dynamic, with two players (Alley's geeky tech race and James' Lion-esque Hacan traders) scooping up mad dollars every turn via trade. My humans were not nearly so lucky, but as the clear-cut expansionists, I made up for the last of trade by conquering planets much faster than anyone else and getting my resources the old-fashioned way. The key to the game turned out to be another one-off law. Trade swap....basically it allowed Whalen and I to swipe the War Sun (think Death Star) technology from a trading partner (we both had trade agreements with the techies) and it radically altered the balance of power in the galaxy (away from the techie Jol-Nar and money-grubbing Hacan and towards, well, me)....well anyway, the human race eventually won out, and I scored a end-game victory, punching out the Jol-Nar on the last turn and having everyone concede that nothing could be done to avoid a Sol victory....good thing too, we wrapped up the game about 0600 and my wife came home about 20 minutes after everyone went home.

The funny part? The marathon part of the day had just begun....the wifey then informed me that we were going to the farewell brunch for some of the folks about to deploy. The time 1000...We got back about 1130, but I'd caught my second wind....Christina passed out by noon, but I stayed up...for whatever reason...I cannot say...all I know is that I stayed up, playing around on the computer most of the day. I got her up about 5 pm just because I didn't want to let her sleep all night (had stuff to do on Monday ya know). We had dinner, and shortly afterwards (sometime between 7-8pm) I finally succumb....35 hours or so of consciousness was enough for me...

Its thrown off my entire taking so long to post this blog....