Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Reflections

Hope everyone out there had a Merry Christmas. Mine was excellent, as I got to watch my daughter almost jump out of her skin with happiness over her presents. More importantly, Christmas marks the end of those greaseballs at the mall that shoot toy helicopters at you. If a helicopter ever touches me, one of those dirtbags is going down. That's a promise!

Anyway, my gifts were more interesting. On Thursday, I got a card from my lefty sister saying she made a contribution of $50 in my name to heifer.org, which is an international food bank or something. She actually said in the card, "Isn't this better than a Best Buy card?" They send you an itemized e-mail telling you that your $50 bought some ducks and a goat for a farmer in an impoverished country. I'm wondering when I get my first letter in the mail from the goat.

I'm actually thinking I should send her an e-mail telling her "thanks for the goat - he just got here yesterday. He's enjoying grazing in the back yard." There is also a 100% chance I rig the family secret santa drawing next year so that I get her name. Won't she be surprised when she gets my card informing her she just made a $50 contribution to Wisconsin Right to Life?

Make sure ewe sign up for the "Women's Lambing" program. I know I have some guy friends interested in the "Women's Porking" programs, but I think those can be found at a different website altogether.

We went on Sunday night and caught a Kid's Christmas Pageant. I can only imagine how proud the parents of the kids in the pageant are. I'd start getting my 4 year old daughter ready for the pageant next year, but I'm pretty sure she has Satan's cell phone number. They probably talk regularly about how fun it is to draw on the walls in crayon.

She asked me a whole slew of Baby Jesus related questions, and I wasn't exactly sure how to answer. For instance, she asked whether Baby Jesus is all grown up. I told her that he died for our sins, which drew me a stern rebuke from my wife. Maybe I should just tell her that Jesus has been reborn in the form of Dwyane Wade and make everyone happy.

Santa brought my daughter a two-wheel bike, which was her number one gift request (number two was a candy cane). To go along with the bike (which still has training wheels), my wife went and bought the full helmet-elbow pads-knee pads combo pack. When she puts it all on, she looks like she's a stormtrooper.

I'll never understand the constant over-protection of kids that society demands. If she just wants to go out and ride her bike on the sidewalk, I have to dress her like she's going in to root out Baathist insurgents. Is there really a problem with 4 year old girls smashing into things and injuring their heads? My friends and I used to build ramps at the bottom of our street and go flying off of them, pad-less. It's called being a kid.

One last thing - if we ever find out that Jews have it right, I'm forwarding my post-Christmas credit card bill directly to the Vatican.

And for the fan of this blog, look forward to some big things in the new year. For instance, I plan on starting to wear men's underwear.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bloggers for Bonaduce

This video is all the rage over at The Corner:

Seriously, how pathetic are you when a child star completely obliterates you? Can we send Haley Joel Osment after Kevin Barrett?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

York in the News

Melanie Conklin has strengthened her case for a 2006 Pulitzer Prize by including me in her "what I want for Christmas" column today. I'm way at the end.

Oh, and that quote is actually wife-approved. How great is she?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Burning the Yule Blog

For the last few days, I've just been laying around, completely uninspired and without original thought. So as us gentiles get ready to celebrate the birth of Santa, I'll probably remain lazy and not post a lot. I reserve the right to post something if so inspired (like if Flavor Flav once again touches my life in a particularly profound way), but it's unlikely.

In closing, I would like to congratulate myself on being named Time's person of the year, just narrowly beating out Barbaro and lasagna. I was clearly who they had in mind when they breathlessly wrote:

And for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 is you...

It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.

I concur completely. And to validate their point, here are a couple world-changing posts I wrote about farts, poop, bikini waxing, and boners.

Oh, and before I forget - it's been a while since we visited The Kid From Brooklyn, so here you go - he's got a song for you.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The High Court of Funk Has Spoken

The defense rests in the case of Get On Up v. Shake Your Booty.

What follows is a re-enactment of the closing argument:

Have a good weekend!


A story whose subject actually serves as a palindrome:

Man Feeds, Rats Eat, Rats Eat, Feed on Man

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

My Favorite Albums of 2006

I know, I know - nobody cares what I listened to this year. But since I spend so much time cranking out these posts, I beg your indulgence. It helps me think back through the year and reminisce about simpler times... like, two months ago.

As I said when I did this last year, I am obviously not a professional reviewer, nor would I ever purport to tell you what the "best" CDs are. I just had to buy a new expensive set of prosthetic eyebrows, so I don't have a lot of extra cash to spend on music. But I can tell you what CDs I enjoyed this year, which I will do right now. And I'm not going to waste any more time, so I'll just get right to it. So without further ado, here they are. My favorite CDs of 2006 are listed below, for your consideration. I'm going to tell you all about them without further delay. Here they are:

1. Bonnie "Prince" Billy - The Letting Go

As opposed to last year, when I knew the entire year which CD I was going to list as my favorite, this one kind of snuck up on me. But whenever there was a lull and I needed a "go-to" album to listen to, this was always number one on the list. A quiet, lush album from an enigmatic singer, The Letting Go makes you feel like you're on your front porch in the middle of summer watching the world go by. I'm a sucker for acoustic guitar buttressed with soaring strings, and this album delivers in spades. As Kermit the Frog once said, "It's like an ocean cruise, except there's no boat and you don't actually go anywhere."

Read a good Badger Herald review here, and check out the video for "Cursed Sleep" here.

Bonnie "Prince" Billy MySpace Page

2. Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

Ah, Neko. I couldn't pry this one out of my iPod all year. She has almost too much talent for one person. I'm actually shocked she hasn't made the transition from Indie Queen to soccer mom favorite (a la Natalie Merchant). She deserves a lot bigger fan base than just lovelorn messy haired indie guys with horn-rimmed glasses.

Sadly, she has failed to reply to any of the 48 hand written letters I sent her this year. My next one might do the trick - it's a crayon drawing of me and Neko riding a llama together. 100% chance I get a response, althout there's a 99% chance it's from the FBI.

Check out a live performance of "Maybe Sparrow" here.

Neko Case MySpace Page

3. Jim Noir - Tower of Love

Ridiculously catchy - instantly likeable, and humanly impossible not to know the words and sing along by the third listen. It sounds as if the Beach Boys were making music today and using electronic loops and samples, but still has a folky, organic feel. Plus, the video for "My Patch" features Noir fighting a giant chicken - how does it get better than that?

Jim Noir MySpace Page

4. M. Ward - Post War

From The Onion AV Club Review:

M. Ward easily overcomes the inherent limitations of the "guy with guitar" genre by virtue of his dusty, vintage style, marked by deep echo, cracked vocals, and a guitar that sounds like it blew in on an island breeze. And with each new album, Ward has gotten better at writing to suit the presentation. His latest record, Post-War, is full of songs that evoke sea chanteys, campfire songs, carny barkers, and varsity rags—whatever sounds charmingly out-of-date.

Watch the video for "Chinese Translation" here.

M. Ward MySpace Page

5. Horse Feathers - Words Are Dead

A virtually anonymous band with a terrible name from Portland that a friend turned me on to. Should attract fans of Iron and Wine, as there's a similar acoustic/violin base and breathy vocal delivery. Definitely check out "Finch on Saturday" on their MySpace site.

6. Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass

An epic album that ricochets from style to style, with each genre working equally as well. Reminiscent of the White Album in that regard. I'm old.

Yo La Tengo MySpace Page

7. Wolfmother

A total rip-off of '70s bands like Zeppelin and Sabbath, but wonderfully so. If you're looking for a hard rock album with foot-stomping hooks, this is the album for you. If not, I would suggest a chocolate malt from Michael's Frozen Custard - they're delicious.

Contains a lyric that I originally thought was "we drank from the serpent's mind," which would have made it the awesomest lyric of the year. Unfortunately, it's something else more normal. If I ever record an album, all my lyrics are going to be what I think other singers are saying in their lyrics - since I'm always wrong, but my misinterpretations are generally amusing. Anyway.

Check out the video for "Woman" here.

Wolfmother MySpace Page

8. Nina Nastasia - On Leaving

A friend of mine described this as "coffee house chick music," and he's absolutely right. Sounds like something you could hear at an open mic night anywhere downtown. But the songs are really strong, most notably "Our Day Out," which details a day of skipping work, wandering around, and generally wondering what happened to your life. Or something like that. Roast Beef gave me this one, which means he's obviously getting in touch with his feminine side - good job, Beef.

Chiggity check out a live performance of "Bird of Cuzco" here.

Nina Nastasia MySpace Page

9. Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

An example of a band that receives a ridiculous amount of praise from hyperventilating critics when their album comes out, then suffers from the criticism from the inevitable backlash. In the end, this album is what it is - a really good rock record, not the cure for cancer. Everyone already knows that ground up beaver eyelids cure cancer anway. Duh.

Arctic Monkeys MySpace Page

10. Dieselboy - The Human Resource

I'm not exactly a big drum and bass guy, but this double album is an exceptional technical achievement. Flies by at breakneck speed, and keeps the listener interested, unlike most of the more repetitive electronic music. Listening to the whole thing at once will numb your brain, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I imagine it would sound a lot better if you used something to self-numb your brain before listening. Should be listened to at 11 on your volume dial.

Dieselboy MySpace Page

Here are some more that missed the cut, but are worth checking out:

The Roots - Game Theory
Eef Barzelay – Bitter Honey
Belle and Sebastian – The Life Pursuit
The Eraser – Thom Yorke
Sonic Youth – Rather Ripped
Built to Spill – You in Reverse
Rainer Maria - Catastrophe Keeps Us Together (albeit a homer pick)
And, it kills me to say it - Jim Doyle's Favorite CD

Also, another couple of special awards: Smoking Popes issued a live CD (complete with DVD included) of a reunion show at the Metro in Chicago. Definitely worth picking up. Also, The Mooney Suzuki re-issued their Maximum Black EP from a 1999, and it has a couple of monster songs that will blow out your speakers (That's a good thing, for my older readers).

Betta Recognize Pocan's a P-I-M-P

Something struck me about this Melanie Conklin article detailing State Representative Mark Pocan's marriage to his partner Philip. There's no real manly way to say this, so I'll just come out with it. Look how good looking of a guy Philip is... not to denigrate Pocan, but he appears to have overmarried (much as I have).

Clearly, the Gentleman from the 78th District has unlocked the mystery of good lovin'. If Pocan started teaching seminars to single older women on how to land a stud, he'd be a millionaire. I'll front the first five bucks as an investment.

There is one part of the article, however, that troubles me. Apparently, they spent two weeks in Bali. I only got to spend one week on my honeymoon. What kind of crap is that? It's outrageous - and my anger is fueled solely by jealousy.

Finally, if Kathleen Falk actually did send Pocan a book about gay marriage, that seems a little condescending. I'm sure my black friends would appreciate getting the gift of Richard Wright's Black Boy from me, to show them what being African-American is like. "Yeah, thanks Kathleen - tell me all about gay marriage, given your lifelong experience as a heterosexual (excluding college)." He probably would have preferred a really nice nose and ear hair trimmer. As would we all.

The Stem Cell Arms (and Legs) Race

From the BBC:

Ukraine babies in stem cell probe
By Matthew Hill BBC Health Correspondent

Healthy new-born babies may have been killed in Ukraine to feed a flourishing international trade in stem cells, evidence obtained by the BBC suggests. Disturbing video footage of post-mortem examinations on dismembered tiny bodies raises serious questions about what happened to them.

Ukraine has become the self-styled stem cell capital of the world.

There is a trade in stem cells from aborted foetuses, amid unproven claims they can help fight many diseases. But now there are claims that stem cells are also being harvested from live babies.

Wall of silence

The BBC has spoken to mothers from the city of Kharkiv who say they gave birth to healthy babies, only to have them taken by maternity staff. In 2003, the authorities agreed to exhume around 30 bodies of foetuses and full-term babies from a cemetery used by maternity hospital number six.

One campaigner was allowed into the autopsy to gather video evidence. She has given that footage to the BBC and Council of Europe.

In its report, the Council describes a general culture of trafficking of children snatched at birth, and a wall of silence from hospital staff upwards over their fate. The pictures show organs, including brains, have been stripped - and some bodies dismembered.

A senior British forensic pathologist says he is very concerned to see bodies in pieces - as that is not standard post-mortem practice.

It could possibly be a result of harvesting stem cells from bone marrow.

It is clear that the UW-Madison needs to pick it up if it wants to reclaim its title of "Stem Cell Capital of the World." Obviously, the Ukraine is far more progressive than Wisconsin in extracting stem cells - where are our mass graves of baby body parts, UW? Shouldn't we be doing everything we can to help grandma with her Parkinson's? Think of all the high paying jobs it would create - aren't we passing on big-time economic development potential?

We need to be aggressive in targeting pregnant mothers for their little life-saving packages. When they go into labor, I propose we make them sign a confusing document that gives them the right to not donate their child to the UW. If that doesn't work, we can try special promotions - "Get a $50 gift card to Ann Taylor with the donation of any canned good or live baby."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Savior Theft

Generally, I’m in the “all religions should get along” camp. But I’ve noticed something that’s kind of bothered me, and I need some direction as to whether I should be offended or not.

I’ve been working my way through all of the Curb Your Enthusiasm DVDs, and I’ve noticed how often Larry David, who is Jewish, uses the phrase “Jesus Christ!” to express shock or disgust.

Traditionally, people say “Jesus Christ!” when they really want to add a little kick to their expression of disbelief. This is especially true, albeit wrong, for Christians - since they are taking the name of their Savior in vain. This has led to such well known sayings as “Jesus Christ – that camel is going to eat my whole Cinnabon!” and “Jesus Christ – his nose is so hairy, it looks like he inhaled a bunny rabbit!” In fact, I regularly work the Lord’s name into new and exciting 18 word phrases during Packer games.

But for non-Christians, the phrase doesn’t really pack the same punch. Since Jews aren’t really big on the whole “divinity of Christ” bandwagon, they could literally pick anyone to use as an interjection and it would be equally as effective. They could say, for example, “Burl Ives, why can’t our mother wear underwear in public?” and it would have the same impact. So why do they get to choose our guy JC?

So basically, non-Christians get to use the Christian Savior as a punchline without having to do all the sucky crap that good Christians have to do (go to church, contribute financially, threaten abortionists, etc.). It’s kind of like when people within certain ethic or religious groups can make jokes and use disparaging words about their own people – because in the end, everyone knows that they are still in alignment with that group.

But when a member of any group steps outside and begins making comments or using words used by another group, there tends to be trouble. For instance, I would never say something like “Oh, Mohammed! That enchilada gave me fire ass!” See, that would be offensive – and I don’t see how it would be any different for a Muslim to say the same using Jesus’ name.

I am willing to find common ground on this. As a concession, I am willing to relinquish Christian control of such popular religious sayings as "For the love of God," "God dammit," and "Turd burglar."

I hate to get all Mel Gibson on this, but it did kind of bother me a little. Incidentally, look for my new film, “Chocalypto,” which tells the harrowing story of how Count Chocula was able to fend off invasion by the white milk.

And on the scale of things that irritate me, this is low on the list - well behind people that throw cigarettes out their car windows.

Madison Sights and Sounds

I think I’m going to officially decree Greenbush Bar as my favorite Madison restaurant. It’s a cozy little neighborhood bar on Regent Street that has an inviting feel and great food. I usually get the spaghetti and meatballs, and the sauce is out of this world. In fact, I’m trying to hunt down where I can buy sauce like that – it’s a lot lighter in both texture and taste than the stuff you buy at the store, which tends to be pasty. The menu says it’s “Sicilian style,” so is that a real type of sauce? Oh, and the personal pizzas are the best pizzas in Madison, which unfortunately isn’t saying much.

(I’m expecting a call any minute from the State Journal to do restaurant reviews.)


I had to go to the Radio Shack on University Ave the other night to pick up some cable stuff. That Radio Shack is right next to a Bikram Yoga studio, so I stopped to watch a little of what was going on inside. You may know that Bikram Yoga as the sweaty-butt yoga where they crank the heat up to like 200 degrees so everyone is slimy and gross. Every dude that was in there had his shirt off – like it’s a requirement or something. It was unspeakably foul. At some point, women in this class have to decide – “I can either not eat this meat loaf or I can go work out next to some guy’s sweaty armpits that are gushing like fire hoses.” I would exercise my option to never eat another meal.

I was thinking, though, that they could change the class up to save costs and take care of the sweaty guy problem. If the whole idea is to sweat, you should just keep the studio at room temperature and make everyone wear parkas and long underwear. It’s genius – you save the extra expense of cranking up the heat, and you don’t have to look at slimy shirtless men. Plus, everyone will get the sweaty workout they seek with a lot less overhead. In fact, I’m looking for investors now.*

I have to register a complaint with the City of Fitchburg - it's absolutely ridiculous how many handicapped parking spots there are at the Qdoba on Fish Hatchery Road. They could be holding the World Flag Football Championship between the Special Olympics and the AARP All-Stars and they wouldn't need that many handicapped spots. Consider this my plea to the city council - let's help the lazy able-bodied people out here a little, huh?

* - Dividends will be paid out in the form of hugs.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

New War Strategy: Pulling Out

While you're busy roasting your nuts with your family over the holiday, make sure you don't forget that December 22nd is Global Orgasm Day. In an effort to protest by doing something they would be doing anyway, a group of hippies has decided to voice their displeasure with the war by having everyone in the world have sex at the same time.

From their website (which isn't nearly as awesome as it sounds):

The mission of the Global Orgasm is to effect change in the energy field of the Earth through input of the largest possible surge of human energy. Now that there are two more US fleets heading for the Persian Gulf with anti- submarine equipment that can only be for use against Iran, the time to change Earth’s energy is NOW!

The intent is that the participants concentrate any thoughts during and after orgasm on peace. The combination of high- energy orgasmic energy combined with mindful intention may have a much greater effect than previous mass meditations and prayers.

The goal is to add so much concentrated and high-energy positive input into the energy field of the Earth that it will reduce the current dangerous levels of aggression and violence throughout the world.

Of course, there is hard scientific evidence to back up their claims:

The Global Consciousness Project (http://noosphere.princeton.edu/), runs a network of Random Event Generators (REGs) around the world, which record changes in randomness during global events. The results show that human consciousness can be measured to have a global effect on matter and energy during widely-watched events such as 9/11 and the Indian Ocean tsunami. There have also been measurable results during mass meditations and prayers.
It should suprise no one that I think this is a fantastic idea. Although at the "climactic moment," I'm generally not thinking about peace - I'm usually thinking, "I wonder if she'll be able to break a twenty?"

First of all, it totally gives you an excuse when you "protest" a little too early. When everyone finds out that you protested about 10 minutes before everyone else, you can just blame it on your extreme dislike of Bush. High fives all around! (but wash your hands first).

It's also exciting to know that I may have been a political radical all throughout my teenage years and not even known it. Actually, given the fact that I held my own one man protest every time the JC Penney catalog came, I might as well have been the Che Guevara of White Oak Lane.

Furthermore, I have figured out that sex can actually be part of your civic duty. I know that every time I have it, it reminds me that there's a congressional election coming up.

Remember, Think Globally, Bone Locally.

Thanks, Al

Nice anecdote by Al Michaels on the Sunday Night Football game tonight when he reminded us about how the Packers interviewed Saints coach Sean Payton and decided not to hire him.

Next week, Michaels will just personally come to my house and plunge a broken bottle into my jugular vein.

SIDE NOTE: I might actually trade flooding the city of Green Bay for the Packers making the playoffs next year.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Nerd Porn

There seems to be this weird underground movement of nerds filming themselves opening newly bought electronics and posting the footage on the internet. I know... I didn't really understand it myself at first. But apparently some people derive pleasure from watching others open Playstation 3 boxes. In fact, there's even a website dedicated to this activity, which has been given the name "unboxing" by the Worldwide Council of People Living in Their Parents' Basements.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

Note the lack of furniture in the room - I doubt that's a coincidence, just a matter of nerd priority. This is actually too lame even to be funny - just deeply disturbing. Can't these guys just get off to the shower scene in Sixteen Candles like in the old days?


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

News You Can Use

I've complained in past posts that 80% of local newscasts is now weather forecasts. At this point, you're just tuning in to the weather to see what the news is like. They go on and on about the dew point, relative humidity, barometric pressure, and other things you couldn't care less about.

So here's my suggestion to local meteorologists - if you're going to hog the newscast, at least give me information I can actually use. When it gets cold out, there's only one thing I need to know when I leave the house:

Am I going to need to wear a hat?

You see, whether to wear a hat or not to work is an important decision. When men get out of the shower, it takes a long time to do our hair to make it look like we didn't spend any time doing our hair. But when you throw a hat on a wet head, it makes you look like you combed your hair with a pork chop by the time you get to work. You may begin to notice people not sitting near you in the work cafeteria anymore.

So I propose the creation of the MHI (Messy Hair Index). Just figure out the proper temperature at which I need to throw on a lid, and let me know when the MHI is in play so I can plan for it. I need to know this about a hundred times more than I need to know whether there's a high pressure system hovering over Nebraska.

I'm issuing that challenge to you, Gary Cannalte. Are you man enough to accept?

Hey, Have You Heard There Was a Scandal in the Capitol?

In their never-ending quest for campaign finance "reform," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel treats us to this article today, which begins with the following sentence:

Reeling from a Capitol scandal that led to the criminal convictions of five former lawmakers, new leaders of the Legislature on Tuesday laid out reforms they plan to pass next year.
Oh really? The Capitol is "reeling" from a scandal? Did something happen recently that has shed new light on corruption under the dome?

Well... no. Actually, the "scandal" to which the article refers is the campaign activity which occurred in 1999 and 2000 which led to charges being brought against elected officials in 2002. However, you'll notice the article doesn't mention a single date to give some context as to what "scandal" the article is referencing. Your average citizen would pick up the paper and have no idea what scandal happened or when it occurred. Tomorrow, I expect to pick up the paper and read that creepy white guys are still "reeling" over the Dahmer verdict.

This is typical of the print media in the state, who can barely help editorializing in favor of free speech restrictions in their news articles. They fully support restricting the ability of individuals and organizations to express their opinions on candidates during campaigns, as it allows the media more influence in shaping election season rhetoric.

In order to push for their beloved "reforms," they must constantly create an atmosphere of scandal. They take it upon themselves to create an environment that demands "action," which generally means shutting the public out of campaign debate. One would think that several major politicians ending up in jail means the current laws are - at the very least - adequate, but the Journal-Sentinel thinks it means we should be using taxpayer money to run campaigns.

And what are these groundbreaking reforms that are being pitched by Senate Democrats? A one-year cooling-off period before former legislators can become lobbyists; an end to paper ballots used by Senate committees; and more advance notice before legislative committees vote on legislation.

Presto! There you have it - clean government. Chuck Chvala wouldn't be in jail today for extorting money from lobbyists if only legislators hadn't been using paper ballots to vote in committee. Everyone knows that Brian Burke solicited campaign contributions in his Capitol office and filed false per diem reports solely because committees only gave 24 hours notice on their agendas. When that handful of legislators that leave their seats and try to make a living with a lobbying job can't do it anymore, it will turn everything around.

Of course, you'll never see anyone quoted in these articles that makes a rational argument about why campaign finance reform is a bad idea. The paper goes about trashing elected officials, then plays on the anti-politician sentiment to get what's in its best interest - silencing everyone else. It seems freedom of speech doesn't extend much past the newsroom.

UPDATE: The article also makes reference to a bill that would merge the State Elections and Ethics boards. As I've written before, I'm still skeptical that such a bill would make any meaningful difference, aside from lessening Jim Doyle's stranglehold on the Elections Board.


Skeleton Pirate Update

For all the people concerned about whether I finally got to see "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," my wife and I watched it last night. Well, actually I fell asleep about an hour in (when the squid-faced guy showed up). So I finished it tonight.

You may now all return to the business of your daily lives.


Monday, December 04, 2006

My Audition Tape

Too bad someone found my audition tape from the early '80s for a Stanley Kubrick open casting call. Actually, this has been all over the interweb, but I thought I'd pile on.

H/T: Super Secret Rantings

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Bucks Watch: Season Observations

With the Packers having completely bottomed out, I've turned my attention to the Bucks. (SIDE NOTE: Thank God the Packers hired the offensive coordinator from a 4-12 team, who didn't even get an interview with any other NFL squad. It would have totally sucked to have Eric Mangini (7-5) or Sean Payton (8-4) coaching the Packers. I will now go immerse my head in lime jello.)

Some Bucks observations:

Three of the Bucks' starters have the letter "C" on their jersey, indicating they are team captains (Mo Williams, Michael Redd, and Andrew Bogut). That's most of the starting five - wouldn't the other two feel a little left out? What do you have to do not to be named a team captain? Smoke Marlboros at the free throw line?

The Bucks will never be a winning team with Mo Williams as their starting point guard. He's a selfish, me-first guard who doesn't play any defense and isn't interested in running any kind of offense to make sure that the players that can shoot are the ones taking the shots. Because of Mo, Michael Redd disappears for whole quarters while Ruben Patterson, Steve Blake, and Charlie Bell are jacking up long jump shots. He's killing Andrew Bogut's development as a player, since he always settles for his own jump shot instead of forcing the ball inside. With Williams at the point, there's no theme - no plan for how to attack a defense. Everyone just runs around, clueless as to who is going to take the shot at the end of the possession. Most importantly, he has a disturbing amount of hair on his shoulders.

Andrew Bogut and Charlie Villanueva are 14 feet of pure, uncut ugly.

I don't understand why the Bucks' front office hasn't figured out what every Bucks fan already knows - that Steve Blake isn't an NBA player. Sure, he tries hard, but he simply doesn't have the skill level to play point guard at the highest level. He can't defend quick guards, his shooting has been horrific, and he turns the ball over at inopportune times. And this is what the Bucks got for a former all-star seven footer (Jamal Magloire)? It's like the Bucks had a halftime fan shooting contest and someone forgot that the guy they pulled in from the stands is actually still on the court.

Everyone likes the stories of second round draft picks that make it onto an NBA roster and succeed. However, if you have an entire team full of second round picks, it might be time to re-evaluate whether the talent level of your team is where it needs to be. Here's the current makeup of the current Bucks that see any amount of playing time (and yes, it took me 30 minutes to look this up):

Charlie Bell - undrafted
Steve Blake - second round
Andrew Bogut - first round
Dan Gadzuric - second round
Lynn Greer - undrafted
Ersan Ilyasova - second round
David Noel - second round
Ruben Patterson - second round
Michael Redd - second round
Bobby Simmons - second round
Brian Skinner - first round
Charlie Villanueva - first round
Mo Williams - second round

That's eight second-rounders, three first-rounders, and two undrafted players. Granted, second rounders can turn into great players (see Redd, for example). And Lord knows, there have been plenty of first round busts (Shawn Respert, anyone? Tractor Traylor?) But there's a reason players fall out of the first round - generally they have a significant deficiency in their game (like the ability to play it, in Steve Blake's case). Do you really want to roll the dice as a GM on an entire team made up of significantly flawed players?

One of the benefits of having the NBA Full Court package is being able to see local team announcers from around the country. This has allowed me to confirm what I already suspected - that the Bucks' announcers are the worst in the NBA. As if the team isn't bad enough, Paschke and McGlocklin make watching local games nearly unbearable. It's always the same - McGlocklin's old stories about Kareem, the Bucks never commit a foul, excessive use of the term "reload," and on and on. I need McGlocklin as my personal representative to my wife for when I screw up - "There's NO WAY he forgot to pick up milk on the way home from work. THERE'S JUST... NO... WAY!"

Paschke trying to push the nickname of "The Cowboy" on Desmond Mason because he went to Oklahoma State was the low point in local sports broadcasting for the last 20 years. I love being able to turn to a game and not be able to tell which team's announcers are calling it. When it's the Bucks announcers, you're better off throwing on the headphones and listening to some tunes.

I had planned on just killing Terry Stotts for using a ridiculous zone defense for the recent west coast swing. But with the Bucks going 2-1 on the road trip so far, it's hard to argue the results - although they are winning in spite of the zone, not because of it.

Playing an exclusively zone defense in the NBA is absolutely ridiculous. Professional coaches and players are too good not to figure it out. As a head coach, it amounts to waving a white flag and conceding that your team either doesn't have the heart to play any defense, or you as a coach aren't willing to teach your team to defend. It worked in the first game of the road trip against the Lakers, because it took them by surprise and they can't shoot.

Playing zone the entire game against the Phoenix Suns, one of the best shooting teams in the NBA, was absurd. Yet the Bucks sit back and let Steve Nash get to the middle of the lane and hit shooter after shooter for wide open three pointers. Plus, it's harder to rebound in a zone (you don't have an assigned man to block out), and it's harder to defend in transition (you don't have an assigned man to pick up, which is why Golden State's Troy Murphy hit five three pointers in the third quarter against the Bucks).

The Packers are dead last in the NFL in points per game allowed. The Bucks are second to last in the NBA in points per game allowed. The Brewers were 25th in major league baseball in team ERA at the end of last year. The State Legislature can't even keep gay people from scoring. There truly is no "D" in "Wisconsin."

Oh, and the Bucks uniforms look pretty good. That is all.


Early Review: "Blood Diamond"

The wife (Weezie) and I decided to catch a sneak preview of the movie "Blood Diamond" on Saturday night. So I am proud to be able to provide you with this early review before you'll even read about it in the papers: