Monday, November 29, 2010

A Case of the Mondays

RIP Leslie Nielsen.  Surely, you will be missed. 

Thanksgiving was fine overall, but I did have to work Friday and Saturday so let's skip right to yesterday's NFL Game of the Week- that's right, the Chicago Bears vs. the evil Philadelphia Eagles. 

I guarantee I am more annoyed at Michael Vick because I had to listen to all the media experts tell me how Vick is the "real deal" and "the most exciting player in football" and how he is going to destroy the Bears' defense.  I must give credit to Steve Mariucci, though.  He in fact did pick the Bears to win on the NFL Network pregame show (meanwhile Michael Irvin scoffed in the background- what an ass.)  However, immediate annoyances aside, Michael Vick plays 5 solid weeks of football this year and all of a sudden everyone wants to talk about how amazing he is and how he's re-paid his debt to society?  This guy killed dogs!  He organized and financed an entire dogfighting ring!  I'm glad he's talking to kids about his mistakes, but damn America- did we really get over this as soon as he scored 6 TDs against the Redskins? 

Enough of my rant.  We can either believe that Vick is a changed man or not- it doesn't affect the main point of this post which is the Bears/Eagles game. 

The Bears defense did a great job containing Vick and playing their whole "bend but don't break" style of D.  It can be frustrating watching them at times, but I've learned that they usually get the job done.  The interception in the end zone near the end of the 1st half was HUGE.  I think that play changed the entire game and was the reason the Bears ultimately won.

The most impressive thing, in my view, was how well the Bears' offense played.  Jay Cutler was awfully efficient.  4 TDs and 0 INTs shows that Cutler was at his best.  He was making great throws to his receivers.  More importantly, he wasn't making dumb "gunslinger" throws right into the teeth of the Eagles' D.  I could definitely get used to more performances like that from Cutler. 

It also proved to me that Julius Peppers has a GREAT signing in the off-season.  He has been such a difference maker.  Even if 4 tackles and 1 sack aren't groundbreaking numbers, he definitely helped create pressure that ultimately allowed Vick to make some crucial mistakes.  Obviously, Vick still passed for 333 yards, so he wasn't awful, but the pressure coming from Peppers and the rest of the Bears' D caused Vick to rush a bit and make mistakes during some big moments. 

No one wants to believe in the Bears, and yet they keep winning.  As a fan of the team, I even understand why people don't believe in them.  Their offense can go from dynamic to sputtering very quickly.  Their defense allows tons of yards, but buckles down in critical moments.  It is not the prettiest brand of football.  However, it has been getting the job done and I fully enjoyed watching the game yesterday.  Great victory and I hope they can keep it rolling.  Playing at Detroit next week will not be a cake-walk, so I hope they are ready.

How weird was the Walking Dead last night?  I hope this CDC thing ends up being cool, but with one episode left, I don't know if they can give us a decent closure before Season 2.  Dexter was badass as usual.  Season 5 has been amazingly great after setting the bar so high in Season 4.  Well done!

Also, if Tim Hightower doesn't score 13 points, I'll win both my fantasy football leagues this week!  Point, point, point!

Last but not least, Happy Birthday to my beautiful wife!  You're the best Mrs. B.!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanxgiving

Hope you all have a great holiday!  Don't forget that my album makes a great Holiday gift for your Mom.  Seriously.  Buy it.

Besides that, have a great time gorging yourself with football and food.  ♪♫Love to eat turkey...♪♫






And let's do one thank you note for the road:

Dear Phillip Rivers,

Thank you for your lateral incisor teeth.  They are pointy and make me believe you are a vampire.  After the season you could be on "True Blood" and you'd help them save on the CGI effects budget. 

Have a great Thanksgiving!
Tony B.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"We're Not Having Fun Right Now"

Really, Bron Bron?  That's all you've got to say? 

"We're not having fun right now," is what LeBron James said after losing to the Indiana Pacers on Monday night.  Well, the good news is, you got what you wanted.  You wanted to join the Heat and team up with your friends Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.  You wanted to move to Souf Beach where the weather is clearly nicer than in Cleveland, Ohio.  You wanted all eyes on you while you made your "decision."  You got all of that and you're still not having fun? 

Oh that's right- you and the "friends" you listened to during this whole charade have never heard of externalities.  Want a definition?  You got it, dude!

In economics, an externality or spillover of an economic transaction is an impact on a party that is not directly involved in the transaction. In such a case, prices do not reflect the full costs or benefits in production or consumption of a product or service.

Let me break it down- when making any decision, there are usually hidden effects that are unintended (some good and some bad.)  Here are some obvious externalities that everyone could see coming in LeBron's self-made situation- well, besides LeBron and friends. 


- LeBron's hometown now hates him.  It took all of 3 seconds for ESPN to find a shot of Cleveland fans burning his jersey.  The look on LeBron's face when they showed him that made me believe that he did not see that one coming. 


- LeBron's public image is damaged.  I can't imagine LeBron knew in advance that his public persona would take such a hit.  I'm sure he thought some people would be upset, but that they'd get over it quick and most of the angry people would be stationed in Cleveland.  Unfortunately, he went from being a star athlete that everyone at the very least respected, to the 6th most hated athlete in the country! 


- The rest of the Miami Heat won't be very good.  I don't think LeBron and Co. thought about the kind of supporting cast they could legitimately get behind them once Bosh, Wade and James all signed huge deals.  I'm not sure I even believed this in years past, but you MUST have capable bench players for your team to succeed in the NBA. 


And yet the biggest thing that the new-look Heat underestimated was how much pressure they put on themselves.  They are not having fun right now because they are 8-6 and an awfully beatable basketball team.  They are not having fun right now because they all went from fairly likable players to the second coming of the Galactic Empire in the eyes of the public (or in Chris Bosh's case, no one really cared about him- but now they do- in a bad way.)  They are not having fun right now because their master plan needed to show immediate results, and now that it hasn't, they are cracking under the pressure. 


The next time a high profile athlete decides to make such a vain and bold proclamation of where they plan to suit up next year, they should think about the hidden ramifications of what they are doing.  More than likely, that athlete will decide to hold a 30 second long press conference and make it as humble as possible.  Otherwise, they will reap the hidden costs that their actions will bear. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Case of the Mondays

Friday: I was just happy to done with work at 5pm.  It was quite the busy week and I was plenty glad to go home and sleep before before working on Saturday. 

Saturday: I was working at the UC Davis/Sac St football game (The Annual Causeway Classic) so I had to go in around 10am.  I was at Aggie Stadium by around 1pm and kick off was at 4pm.  Everything was going along fine until part of the way through the first quarter.  It began to rain.  It began to pour.  It was, dare I say it, beginning to storm. 

I had gone outside for a second to check in on the game, but retreated by to the office quickly due to the rain.  Then I thought I saw a police car's lights outside of the office window.  A second later there was a massive BOOM.  It was not police lights, but lightning that struck dangerously close to the stadium.  This happened seconds into halftime. 

Of course, they couldn't allow a football game to continue with lightning- 22 guys running around with metal objects on their heads is probably a worse idea than putting Brad Garrett in another sitcom.  They delayed the game 30 minutes extra. 

We normally close the ticket office after the 3rd quarter.  With the storm raging, and the game delayed, it was obvious we weren't going to sell another ticket.  We closed up shop and I drove to my friend John's house to hang out. 

Oddly, because of the delay, I was able to watch the end of the game at John's.  It was actually a fun game to watch and the Aggies were able to come from behind and score the only 3 points of the second half.  Aggies win 17-16. 

Sunday: I watched some Red Zone in the morning, so here are my quick impressions of the games:

- The Bengals are awful.  Just a train wreck of a team.
- Welcome home Raider fans, it's nice to see you back down to Earth.
- I went up against a team that has Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings... it was not pretty.
- Brett Favre has checked out.  I won't be shocked if he retires before the end of the year.
- The Redskins played an overtime game- AGAIN.  It is not fun to watch Donovan McNabb, but it is impressive that they bounced back this week from that demolishing they were served on Monday.
- Colts/Patriots was a fun game to watch.  It usually is.
- The Niners are awful.  Just a train wreck of a team.
- What in holy hell was Eli Manning doing fumbling for no reason?!?!? 

It was a pretty fun day of football with no pressure as the Bears had already advanced to 7-3.  This season is shaping up to be quite exciting for the stretch run. 

That's about all I have for the weekend.  So glad this past week is in the rear view mirror!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Dirty Hippie

This story is a tale of loneliness and perseverance.  Well, maybe not total loneliness... I did have the Chicago Bears' defense to keep me company, but I digress.

I had to stay in Davis last night because my work required me to go back around 8:15/8:30 to check in and finish up an event report.  So I decided to kill time at the Grad watching the Bears game.  I ordered my food and drink and was sitting front and center right before kickoff.  I hadn't eaten at the Grad in awhile and the Grilled Chicken Sandwich and Fries did not disappoint.  The massive Spicy Brown Mustard dispenser did a lot to enhance the experience.

Anyway, I posted up near some Bears fans in the hope that they would not be annoying.  They were all ok, but one of them had a friend who was a Dolphins fan who showed up 5 minutes into the game.  They sat right behind me and were somewhat annoying to listen to.  But then again, who am I to judge- if I wasn't alone, I wouldn't have even paid attention.

The first half was boring with the Bears putting up a dominant 6 points.  Luckily, the defense was stout and allowed 0 points throughout the game.  Just before the end of the half, I noticed a youth sports team was setting up for a party at the tables near where I was.  Now, the Grad has long tables with bench seating, so realistically I'm ok with sharing the space.  However, when an older guy plops down right next to me and says, "No one's sitting here, right?" I was forced to say, "Uhh... no."  Then he waves over three more folks and they all sit right next to me despite the room on the other side of the table.  I would've appreciated a, "Do you mind if we sit here?" rather than just forcing your presence on me, but the end result would've been the same.  Either way I would be sitting next to an old guy that smelled like a wooden barrel of red wine.

After awhile, the party was moved behind the main screen/DJ booth, so the people got up and were out of my space for the rest of the game.  The game progressed with little fanfare.  The Bears won without much fight from the Dolphins and they are now inexplicably 7-3 (and realistically could've taken down the Seahawks and Redskins, but I guess they could've lost to the Lions and Packers, so I might as well not play that game.)

Near the end of the game, I decided it was time for me to go back to work.  I got up to head to the bathroom.  I walked into the men's room and immediately smelled a homeless person's smell.  There was a hippie that exited the bathroom soon after I entered.  I'm not sure if he was trying to wash up (unlikely) or just go #2 (highly likely) but he definitely didn't wash his hands on the way out.  I thought it was gross, but I peed, washed my hands and proceeded out of the restroom.

I stood in the back and watched one more Bears' offensive series.  I leaned against one of the speaker-boxes near the back of the wooden floor and watched the game.  The hippie crept over to me and was looking around suspiciously.  There was a table a few paces in front of where I was that had a half eaten salad, 1/3 of a large Bud, and some other cups on the table.  No one was there, so it looked like the people who were sitting there had left.  The hippie comes up to me.  I am overcome with the sour smell of his dreadlocks.

"Hey man, do you know if the people who were sitting there left?"

"No man.  No idea."  I replied, completely uninterested in continuing this conversation.

"I mean, there's a lot of beer there that the bus boy is just going to dump out."

I say nothing but look at him with a combination of confusion and disgust.

"I mean I'll drink it- I'm a dirty hippie."

"Whatever man.  I don't care," I said with even more disgust.

He actually went over and drank the beer.  No regard for if people were actually coming back or if they were infected with bear AIDS.  I wonder if this guy often goes into bars and swipes leftover scraps of alcoholic drinks.  I suppose I'll never know because after he drank the beer, he disappeared from the Grad... hopefully never to be seen again.

And that is my experience watching the Bears game.  At least they won, otherwise I would've had a breakdown.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

We've Got Multiple Situations

Don't ever let anyone tell you Northern California is soft. Sure we have tons of peaceful folks, but if you find yourself at the wrong Denny's, you could be in the middle of this: (This video is not for the young or the timid)



I'm not sure what the best part of that video was. The chair throwing? The plate throwing? The part where the ladybug is too tired to run for cover any longer? Or maybe it was the commentary in the background?

The point is, don't go to a Denny's in East Oakland on Halloween (I'm assuming it was Halloween) unless you're ready for a situation like this- and not a "Situation" like this:



Yes, that was the worst thing I've ever posted on this blog. Literally the two worst people to talk about abstinence and safe sex in the history of the universe.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Two Quick Things

1) I worked Monday morning at the Governor's Green Energy Conference at UC Davis.  I was just making name badges as necessary and helping with student tickets.  It all went fine and was very successful.  This story begins as I was walking back to my car around 1pm to go back to my office. 

I walked past a number of protesters that had signs saying "Global Warming Is A Lie!"  Also, they had pictures of Homer Simpson and signs that read "Science By Homer Simpson."  My first thought was, I haven't seen that episode of the Simpsons.  My second thought was, does Homer even know he's the mascot for a "Global Warming Is A Lie" protest?  My third thought was, I wonder if that is copyright infringement?

But most importantly, my last thought was about the irony of 6 people picketing a Green Energy Conference using Global Warming as the bad guy while it is 81 degrees outside in mid-November.  I'm smart enough to realize that one hot day in Northern California does not prove that Global Warming exists, but it is hilarious it happened to be much warmer than usual on the day these people decided to picket. 

I'm not even sure the Conference was all that much about Global Warming, just about better ways of utilizing energy in more efficient manners.  But then again, I was just outside helping with registration, not inside hanging out with Han Solo (Harrison Ford was there.) 

2) Listening to Colin Cowherd today made me dumber.  I know G$ addressed this yesterday at his blog, but holy football gods did this guy say some dumb stuff today.  He was talking about McNabb's contract and how the Redskins are going to draft Andrew Luck and cut McNabb.  It was one of the dumbest things I've ever heard. 

He assumed that the Redskins would end up 6-10.  While that's entirely possible, he then claimed that all the bad teams ahead of the Redskins in the draft already have quarterbacks.  Therefore, the 'Skins will be able to draft Andrew Luck.  This was after he called Andrew Luck "the safest QB pick in the draft in the last 10 years." 

I'm no brain surgeon, rocket scientist, or NFL GM, but there's no chance Luck falls that far.  Any of these so-called teams that already have QBs will get rid of (via trade, bench, or cut) their current field general and bring Luck in.  He cited the Bills loving Ryan Fitzpatrick.  OK, that's cool and all, but if you have an opportunity to draft "the safest QB pick in the draft in the last 10 years" you make that pick! 

To be honest, I do think the 'Skins will cut McNabb during that window of time where they are allowed to escape from a large contract, but I don't think Andrew Luck is in their future.  Kevin Kolb, maybe.  Jake Locker, maybe.  Hell, Rex Grossman, maybe.  Let's put it this way, they have a chance at Luck, but they'll have to trade up to make it happen. 

My point is really not to analyze the Redskins QB situation, it's just to illustrate that I hate it when radio folks make dumb arguments.  Obviously, opinions are a different matter because we're all allowed to have them, but don't tell me that a fantastic QB prospect will get passed on because the Carolina Panthers love Jimmy Clausen.  That is just stupid. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"It's All About Cyber Monday"

I completely love my wife.  That might be an obvious statement, but it's true.  I love her wonderful and quirky qualities.  For example, one thing I love about her is her outgoing nature and lack of filter.  This doesn't always benefit her in the real world, but the results are hilarious.  Here is a tale from Saturday night:

Mrs. B. and I needed to go to Target to pick up some odds and ends, so we drove to the closest store to our place- Broadway and Riverside.  This location is a little ghetto, but they have plenty of security around to make sure it is safe.  We walk in and head to the electronics section.  I don't know if you're like me, but I go to the electronics section every time I go to any Target.  I usually don't need anything there, I just go there, look around, and typically leave without buying anything.  I don't know why I do this, but I do. 

While I was perusing the DVD section, Mrs. B. wandered elsewhere.  A few minutes later I vaguely heard her talking to someone a few aisles over.  I got curious as to what she was saying.  I quietly positioned myself around an end rack and listened in. 

She was talking to a Target sales guy.  The guy was probably a 20 year old Asian dude and he was asking her about what kind of holiday shopping she'd be doing.  I immediately recognized that his tone was one of an awkward guy trying to make conversation with a cute girl, but his game was not great.  I listened for a little while longer and he was saying, "So what are you going to buy online during the holidays?"  I peeked my head around the corner to rescue Mrs. B. and she said, "I can't say- my husband's right here!"  She was implying that she'd be buying me a gift and that she wasn't able to talk about it. 

This poor guy looked suck punched.  I don't think he ever thought that she had a husband.  I know when I was younger, I just figured everyone was fair game and didn't think about people being married (not that I was an ultimate home-wrecker or anything.)  As we walked away, I inquired as to how that conversation evolved.  Mrs. B. be laughed embarrassingly and told me the story. 

I'm paraphrasing a bit, but here you go:

Mrs. B was looking at a Blackberry Torch.

Target Guy: Hi, can I help you?
Mrs. B.: Just looking at the Blackberry Torch.
TG: Are you scoping out the deals for Black Friday?
Mrs. B.: No, I don't usually shop on Black Friday.
TG: Really?  That's where all the best deals are.
Mrs. B.: There are too many people and they end up putting all the excess merchandise on sale online the following Monday. 
TG: Oh, really?  I just recently learned about Black Friday.  Do they always put stuff on sale online that following Monday?
Mrs. B.: Yeah, it's an actual thing.  It's called "Cyber Monday."
TG: Are the deals really good?
Mrs. B.: Definitely.  It's all about "Cyber Monday." (then she winks at him.) 
TG: Oh cool, well what are you going to buy online?

(This is when I make my presence known.)

Mrs. B.: I can't say- my husband is right here!

Upon talking with Mrs. B. about the conversation, she realized that winking at someone after telling them "It's all about Cyber Monday" could easily be taken as flirting and she turned a little red with embarrassment.  We had a good laugh about it because she was, in her mind, making general conversation when the awkward Target Guy was probably thinking, "This chick is flirting it up with me!" 

What a hilarious misunderstanding!  The moral of the story: It is, in fact, all about Cyber Monday. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Case of the Mondays

I'm not sure what is going on with me, but I think I've been pretty run down recently.  Friday night I stayed in because I wasn't feeling all that well, but I was also bored.  I decided to check out the Virtual Console on the Wii Online Channel.  I found that I could download Tecmo Bowl from the original Nintendo system.  I immediately picked "Chicago" and got to playing. 

This version is a little worse because it no longer has a NFLPA license.  It still has the old school numbers, but no names attached.  Luckily, my knowledge told me that #18 was Mike Tomczak and #35 was Neal Anderson.  I was still a solid player, but it took me a second to recall the old strategies.  After a few games, I realized that Tecmo Bowl was still a lot of fun, if not a little easier than I remember it.  That is, until I was forced to face "Los Angeles." 

The Raiders are such a tough team on this game.  I decided that I would pick Bo Jackson's running play every time and allow them either Marcus Allen or both of their pass plays.  The first time I played the Raiders, Bo Jackson scored 3 TIMES.  3 TIMES!  It didn't matter that I picked his play, this guy was just that dominant.  It was amazing.  Rarely have I seen athletic feats of such as Bo Jackson's performance on Tecmo Bowl.

Luckily, in our rematch (I obviously lost the first game) Bo Jackson was mostly contained and "Chicago" was triumphant.  I finished off "Indianapolis" in the final game on Saturday morning.  What a lame story of me playing an old video game!

The only thing worth mentioning on Saturday is that I finally got around to watching the movie "Zombieland."  Not a bad little movie!  I was fully entertained at Woody Harrelson being a fully capable zombie killer.  The celebrity cameo in the middle of the movie is surely one of the best cameos I've seen in a long time.  I won't spoil it in case you haven't seen it. 

On Sunday, I went over to my friend John's house to watch the Bears game and the Red Zone Channel.  Once again, I was quite entertained by the Red Zone channel action.  It has to be the best channel ever created. 

Bears/Vikings - I agree that the Cutler made a few bad throws and that one of his two interceptions were completely his fault (the INT he threw in the end zone.)  However, I was pleased for the most part with the Bears performance.  They moved the ball with their run game much more than other games, and could've easily let the dysfunctional Vikings steal a game at Soldier Field, so I am happy to see the Bears at 6-3.  They have A LOT to work out if they want to be considered legit, but they are in a much better situation than other improving teams that have already dug themselves massive holes (49ers.) 

49ers/Rams - Speaking of the Niners, how in the heck are they still involved in the division race?  They are now 3-6, 1-1 in the division, 4 division games left and 2 games back of the Seahawks.  It's not a preferable situation for them, but am I crazy to think that Troy Smith looks great under center and that a division run is still possible for them?  The key for them is to work on eliminating dumb holding penalties and I actually think they could get back in the NFC West race.  Every week is huge though. 

The Raiders - They have a bye week and things still go right for them!  The Broncos pounded Chiefs behind a stellar performance from Kyle Orton.  I'm glad to see him statistically doing well in Denver, but it does make the Bears' trade for Cutler look pretty bad.  Anyway, the Chiefs dropped to 5-4 and are now tied with the Raiders for the division league.  What a terrible division.  The Chargers are the best team by far, but they are inexplicably 4-5, meanwhile the Broncos are impossible to figure out and the Raiders and Chiefs sit at the top of the division.  Both AFC and NFC West divisions are embarrassing. 

The Walking Dead - This show is ridiculous.  This episode wasn't the most exciting all the way through, but Rick and three others going back to Atlanta after Rick realizes his family is alive ups the stakes quite a bit.  They were just reunited and now his running right back into the haven of zombies!  The guns should be worth it and of course they need to extend the tension on the whole Rick/Lori/Shane love triangle.  If you haven't started watching, what is wrong with you?  Get on it!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thank You Notes

I took this idea from Jimmy Fallon, wanna fight about it?

Dear Veteran's Day,

Thank you for honoring our Country's Service Members.  Oh, and also thank you for getting me the day off from work!  Sleeping in late on a Thursday never felt so good!

Well rested,
Tony B.

----------

Dear The League,

Thank for for coming back for season 2.  I don't know why I never watched the show last year, but I'm loving the show this year.  Friends getting in trouble, talking smack, and pranking each other all over a fantasy football league seems like the perfect premise for a sitcom- and that's probably because it is.  ¡Bro-Lo El Cunado!

Gracias,
Tony B.

-----------

Dear Failure,

Thank you for being an awesome band (though I don't think they are still together) and putting out this song back in the 90s:



Upon searching for this video, I found out that the band Paramore does a cover of it. The Paramore version is inferior- by a lot.

Best,
Tony B.

------------

Dear Heat,

Thank you so much for being 5-4. I can now officially have a hearty chuckle at the people who predicted them to go better than 72-10. They are currently at least worse than the Celtics and Magic, not to mention a number of the Western Conference teams. This team is fun to hate and I hope they continue to flounder.

What should I do,
Tony B.

-----------

Dear Clinton Portis,

Thank you for wearing a Phillies hat to practice yesterday. I mean, I'm sure no one in the Washington area will care that you are wearing an article of clothing supporting the city your team is playing against this Monday night. And by no one, I actually meant that the entire Washington DC area will care. Not that it is a big deal in general, but it is amusing. I did love the excuse of "No one sent me [a Nationals hat.]" Brilliant!

Rock on,
Tony B.

------------

Dear My Alma Mater,

Thanks for making an appearance on the Fail Blog.  It looks like our Risk Management building is putting people at risk every time they go to the front door.  I imagine it like a cartoon- you ring the door bell and the entire air conditioning system falls on you.  ♪♫Wah wah wah...

Not visiting that building any time soon,
Tony B.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

No post today in observance of Veteran's Day.  See you all tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Walking Dead

I don't have much today after a night filled with band practice and heavy rocking.  So let's talk about "The Walking Dead" on AMC.  I had heard of the comic (though I've never read it) and was interested to check out how well zombie apocalypse would translate to cable.  The answer?  It translates fantastically.

A quick summary of the story: Sheriff Rick Grimes is shot on duty and put in the hospital.  After essentially going into a coma, he awakes and finds the hospital abandoned- at least abandoned of all living humans.  He quickly realizes that a zombie infection has swept through his hometown (and probably the rest of the world.)  The show introduces us to groups of survivors doing what they can to not get eaten by the undead zombies roaming the streets and country-side.

In my view, the show is successful because they focus on the the human survival story first and make the zombie outbreak the backdrop for the entire show.  There is blood and guts, but there is also creative use of tension, sounds, and a solid soundtrack of background music to ramp up the creepy vibe.

It's this human aspect of a show that has hundreds of undead walkers that creates great drama.  I'm quite interested to see the reunion of Rick with his wife Lori after she a) thought Rick was dead and b) has been romantically involved with Rick's best friend Shane.  Looks like there will be trouble in paradise.

We really have only see some phenomenal groundwork laid in the first two episodes, with some great zombie drama and even human conflict (the dude handcuffed on the roof of the building in Atlanta is one overly racist dude!)  I'm debating reading some of the comics, but I almost don't want to because I don't want to ruin the show.  However, this first season is only 6 episodes long and while AMC has already renewed the show for season 2, that might be too long to wait.  I may have to get my zombie fix on.

So what do you think?  Is the show awesome?  Are you interested to see where they go from here?  Does anyone even care where the zombie infection came from?  Are Rick and Shane going to have to have a bat fight when they meet back up?  Should I do a live blog of the show?  These are all very good questions.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Playoffs?

How BAD is the NFC West?  To say it is the worst division in football is not only obvious- it may also be an understatement.  It could be the worst division of all time.  As usual, my crack team of researchers are on vacation, so I can't back that up with factual evidence, but I can't think of another division from any other year that was worse.  Let's look at the standings:

Seattle 4-4
St. Louis 4-4
Arizona 3-5
San Francisco 2-6

So which of these teams scares you?  The correct answer is none.  Which team stands a chance at winning a playoff game?  I don't see it at this point.  I know that any team can get hot and make a run to the Super Bowl (2008-2009 Cardinals) but right now, I don't see any of these teams making noise. 

One more scary thing about these standings is that the San Francisco Mike Singletaries are 2 games out of first place.  2 games out!  With 5- count 'em 5 division games left.  I know I had a hardy chuckle when their president Jed York said they would still make the playoffs after their loss against the Eagles.  I laughed harder the following week when Mike Singletary said they were going to make they playoffs.  Then came a loss against the anemic Carolina Panthers where Alex Smith was injured. 

Of course, former Ohio State Buckeye, Ted Ginn's childhood friend, and third string QB Troy Smith came in the following week to guide them to a victory over the Denver Broncos.  This gave the Niners win #2 and motivated Coach Sing to praise Troy Smith and say that the reason the Niners have lost all of the games they have was due to lack of leadership at the QB position. 

This team is a disaster.  You have Coach Singletary and Alex Smith trading comments through the media, a defense that is not as good as advertised in the preseason, and they've lost at least 3 games that they could have won.  AND YET, look where they are.  2 games out with 5 division games remaining.  Am I losing my mind, or could the Niners still win this division and go to the playoffs? 

This is probably more of post about how awful the NFC West is, but it is interesting to think about how the Niners could still dig themselves out of this Chilean mine size hole they've dug themselves.  The better question might be if they were to make a run and win their division, would that save Coach Singletary's job by the end of the year.  My guess?  Probably not. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Case of the Mondays

This weekend was not the most productive for me, but I was able to watch the Red Zone Channel on Sunday morning (adding to my lack of productivity), so let's talk some football:


Bears vs. Bills - What a terrible game.  It was so bad that I think the Red Zone channel went to this game maybe 3 times.  Jay Cutler was unimpressive, but at least he didn't throw any interceptions (one lost fumble, though.)  Almost getting beat by the Zero Win Buffalo Bills is not the way to instill confidence in the Bears' fan-base, but a win is a win.  After losing a couple games that they should have won, I'm happy to say the Bears ruined Chris Berman's Sunday. 

Chargers vs. Texans - Phillip Rivers keeps tearing the league up with his arm (which hasn't led to as many Charger wins as one might think) but I'm more concerned with his opposition from Sunday.  I have Matt Schaub in one fantasy league and he has been under-performing to say the least.  Luckily, Peyton Hillis is also on that team so I was able to grasp a comfortable victory.  I am a bit worried about the long term viability of Schaub as my starting QB (Sam Bradford is my back up which is not the best option either.)  Why didn't I title this section "My Yahoo Fantasy Football League?" 

The San Francisco 49ers - They didn't lose this week!  A week without a loss is a successful week, in my book- and probably in Coach Singletary's book as well.

Jets vs. Lions - Is there any team that the NFL loves more than the Jets?  First, there was this year's Hardknocks that followed this Jets team.  Then, there was the constant talk on ESPN about whether Mark Sanchez is ready to guide this team to a Super Bowl.  Now, I see that the Red Zone channel can almost be called "The channel with the Jets game on it."  After being held to 3 points in the first half, the Jets made a comeback and beat the Lions.  The first half of the game was boring, so why did I see so much of it?


Cowboys vs. Packers - The Sunday nighter was out of hand almost immediately.  The Cowboys are a bad, bad football team.  I'm not sure how they got to be this bad, but they are.  This makes me think back to what a great win I thought the Bears got when they beat Jerry Jones' crew, but now I see it was actually just another easy win that the Bears were lucky to get. 


My ESPN Fantasy Football Team - Luckily, I played against a team that scored 37 points so I will easily win this week.  Both my teams sputtered to start the season, but have come back to be 5-4 and right in the thick of the playoff hunt.  This league has my 3 RB system of LT, Forte and Burner Turner which helps overcome my lack of quality at the QB position (Palmer and McNabb.) 


I'd love to also talk about Brett Favre- no, wait- actually I would not like to talk about him.  How is it possible that I see his postgame press conferences every week?


Raider Nation looks to be back.  After a sad loss to the Niners a few weeks back, they have since hammered the Broncos, destroyed the Seahawks, and beat the first place Chiefs in overtime.  Get ready for the Super Bowl Oak-town.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Bandwagon

Since the Giants won the World Series, the jury has been out on all the "bandwagon jumpers" (for purpose of this post we will NOT call these people BJs.)  There are so many takes on what is a "true fan" and what legitimate claim any individual has to enjoy a championship.

The reason this year's Giants team has created such a sudden bandwagon is because their rise to a championship was meteoric.  In 2009, they won 88 games and missed playoffs.  This was their first winning record since 2004.  In 2004, they won 91 games but missed the playoffs.  To say the Giants from 2005-2008 were mediocre is a very fair statement.

Even this year, the Giants needed the San Diego Padres to absolutely tank at the end of the season in order to win the NL West by 2 games.  It was a combination of the Giants playing quite well, and the Padres going on a 10 game skid and being unable to rebound (the Giants still would have won the Wild Card I suppose, but that would've made the playoff match ups quite different.)

Most people expected the offensively inept Giants to be a nice story that would get bounced in the NLDS or at best the NLCS in their first playoffs since 2003 (where they lost to the dastardly Marlins- I still hate that team with a passion.  They may or may not haunt my dreams.)  What actually happened was that the Giants went to the playoffs, finished off the Braves, took out the defending NL Champion Phillies and then beat a Texas Rangers team that looked like they were emotionally spent after defeating the defending Champion New York Yankees.  The rise was so quick that people had to jump on the Giants bandwagon with record speed and it was quite noticeable to the rest of the Northern California community (and possibly the rest of the country.)

So is this a bad thing?  Why are people so offended by bandwagon jumpers?  Who deserves to celebrate a championship?

Let's start with the first question- Is this such a bad thing?  The short answer- No.  Every single fan-base has true fans.  Search your soul.  You know if you are a true fan of a team.  I know in my DNA, I am a Cubs, Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks fan.  There is no way around it.  It was ingrained into the fabric of my being and I will never cheer for any other team over the four teams mentioned.  (I even wavered on the Blackhawks during their down times because I'm not a huge hockey fan and I wanted to support the local Sharks, but when they faced off in the playoffs last year my true colors bubbled to the surface immediately.)

If the Cubs won a championship next year (unlikely) the bandwagon would be so large that they could start registering citizenship, form a government, then form an army and take over France.  This would all happen within 12 hours of the Cubs final out to win the World Series.
















Does that mean that the casual fan who doesn't have their day ruined by a June loss to the Astros doesn't deserve to celebrate?  Heck no!  Jump on!  The more the merrier.  And while you're at it (and this is my main point) buy some Cubs gear!  You know you want to.  And your purchase will filter money back to the club to make them better

Take note of 2003.  The Cubs didn't even win a championship, just the taste of going to the NLCS ramped up Cubs fans (and more importantly Cubs ownership) to demand a better product on the field.  It has been hit and miss with them since then, but they did spend big money on Alfonso Soriano and a few other free agents and this is in part due to bandwagon fans' money.

The main point is that bandwagon jumpers can financially benefit a team.  The Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Mets, and Dodgers all benefit massively from this type of behavior and it looks like the Giants will now reap some rewards.  Hopefully their ownership group continues to invest it back into the club.

Why are people so offended by bandwagon jumpers?  This one is easy.  If you're the kind of person that follows a team (especially a baseball team because they play damn near every day for 6 months) and lives and dies by every game, you feel the extreme joy and pain that your team can bring you.  The Giants have branded their type of baseball "torture" and the fans have really bought into that brand.  Having never won a San Francisco championship, every SF Giants fan there ever was had not tasted a championship until this past Monday.  So if you are that type of fan that follows every single day, you feel more entitled to celebrate a championship than another person who may be a casual fan or maybe didn't even care about baseball ever before in their life.

So why would I say a loyal fan for years shouldn't be offended by someone who just started paying attention?  Well, there is that whole financial aspect that I addressed above, but there is one more thing- this could be the moment where they fall in love with a particular team or sport.  If someone who never liked baseball is swept up in the emotion of the recent Giants run, they may have arrived late to the party, but they might stay for the rest of their life.  And that can't be a bad thing.  The Giants almost moved to Tampa in the early 90s, but a new ownership group came in and saved the franchise, brought SF a top notch baseball stadium in AT&T Park, and helped pave the way for this championship.  To make sure that baseball stays forever in SF you need fans to support the team.  The more fans there are, the easier it is to support a team.  Someone ask the Oakland A's if they would like more than 10,000 fans per game at their stadium- the answer is YES.

So who deserves to celebrate a championship?  I think any true fans are an automatic shoe in to celebrate.  I remember the day the Cubs beat the Braves to clinch the 2003 NLDS was a Sunday night.  I went to the store and bought a blue bottle of Hurricane mix and made my (Giants fan) roommate Sean celebrate with me even though we had work the next day.  True fans will celebrate in their own way when a team is going well.

I think bandwagon jumpers can celebrate as well.  It makes them feel good and ultimately their short term purchases of gear will help the winning team.  Most of them are harmless and let's face it, it is far worse to watch a community like Tampa NOT SHOW UP to their winning team's games.  The Rays games near the end of the season were a joke and that is far more embarrassing than having a million people show up for a victory parade.

I also think anyone in the local community should be able to celebrate (assuming you don't hate the local teams.)  I have nothing against the Giants (besides the 1989 NLCS- damn you Will Clark!)  I cheered them on and I'm happy for their fans.  I attended Game 3 of the NLCS and had a great time cheering for the Giants.  I know in my heart that I can't go crazy and fully enjoy their championship because it's not the Cubs, but I do not mind watching the success of the Giants.  They are a pretty likable group with DOMINANT pitching that I love to watch.

I hope I've dispelled some problems with bandwagon jumping.  Ultimately, these people financially benefit your own team and fill in any gaps in seats to create a stellar stadium experience.  I suppose the one downside would be that the demand for tickets would go up causing ticket prices to rise- damn my Econ degree for creating a counterpoint to my argument!

Overall, I have no problem.  People enjoy sports differently and deserve to celebrate when possible.  If a celebration allows a moment of escape and happiness, I say allow it.  The world is better when good vibes are flowing in an entire area- even if it is over a sports team.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Show Tonight at Fox & Goose!

You should definitely make it out to Fox & Goose tonight at 8pm if you can.  It's the last show I have scheduled for a little bit, so you it will be well worth your effort to come out.  Remember, F&G is at 1001 R St in Sacramento.  I'm playing from 8-11pm, so come on in and have your favorite pub brew.

In other news, the Giants parade was pretty awesome.  I actually really liked The Governator's speech (even though he got booed by a lot of people- c'mon folks, knock it off.  Yesterday was supposed to be a happy day, not to mention he's going to be out of office quite soon.)  Arnold said something like, "I may be the Terminator, but now San Francisco has The Machine," then he pointed at Brian Wilson. Great moment!

I also enjoyed South Park last night.  Cartman riding around on a demon like it was the "Neverending Story" puffy white dog, Mysterion's identity revealed, and the fact that Kenny is actually aware of the fact that he can't die were all quite awesome.  Also, the LeBron commercial spoof was hilarious!  Should be a good finale for this epic chapter of South Park next week.

But seriously, come out to the show- it will be a fun time!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Chat With AT&T

Chat InformationPlease wait for a representative to respond.
Chat InformationYou are now chatting with 'Jessica H' (rep. from AT&T)

Jessica H: Welcome to AT&T Premier online sales. How may I assist you with placing your order today?
Anthony Bataska: i just placed an order for a new iphone and the estimated tax was over $50 on a $217 order- this seems very high. Will the final charges really be that high?
Jessica H: I am really sorry to hear that. I will be glad to assist you today the best that I can.
Jessica H: Are you located within the states of California?
Anthony Bataska: yes
Jessica H: That maybe the cause for that high tax, I do apologize, unfortunately, CA taxes are actually on the retail price of the phone that is the price before the discount. That is a tax law for the state of CA.
Jessica H: I do understand. The local tax office in California requires tax to be charged on the full retail price of the phone before any online discounts are applied. Any concerns about the tax rate can be directed to your local tax office, but these are the requirements they have set. I do apologize.
Anthony Bataska: what is the retail price of the iphone 4 16 GB?
Jessica H: That would be $599.00 for the iPhone 4 16gb at the retail cost.
Jessica H: Have I answered all of your questions today?
Anthony Bataska: that's a pretty crazy pricing structure that does not actually help the customers out. i don't actually feel like i'm getting a $600 product but i'm getting taxed as such
Anthony Bataska: you've answered my questions though
Anthony Bataska: i'm not pleased
Anthony Bataska: especially to add that on after i've submitted my order and payment
Jessica H: I am really sorry for that inconvenience as we do not apply the tax online that is done by your state. The local tax office in California requires tax to be charged on the full retail price of the phone before any online discounts are applied. Any concerns about the tax rate can be directed to your local tax office, but these are the requirements they have set.
Jessica H: I am very sorry for that inconvenience.
Jessica H: Thank you for choosing AT&T!  We appreciate your business.
Chat InformationChat session has been terminated by the representative.

She shut that down as quickly as it started.  I was just getting revved up.  Why would AT&T say that the iPhone's retail price is $600?  To make it more exclusive and have a monopoly on sales to ensure that a 2 year contract takes place?  Of course!  What a genius idea!  And now the problem is with the California tax office?!  Actually, the tax office should take some beef on this as well, but AT&T doesn't need to make customers think they are getting a better deal than they are.  It's dumb.  3 seconds into my new contract with AT&T and I start mad.  Damn you AT&T!  Damn you Apple!  And damn you State of California Taxes!  I know you will be irresponsible with my tax money!!! 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The World Champion San Francisco Giants

What a freaking playoff run!  I can't believe the Giants actually won the whole damn thing.  Not that this team wasn't able to get it done, but historically one would think that of all the SF Giants, it would be far more likely for Mays, McCovey, Will Clark, Matt Williams, Barry Bonds, or even Kevin Mitchel to have a San Francisco Giant World Championship ring over the likes of Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff.  But in the end, this TEAM got it done the way great TEAMS finish- with the first San Francisco championship since 1994 (49ers.) 

How in the holy hell did this happen?  I have some theories and impressions from this great playoff run. 

- Pitching wins championships.  The Giants are nowhere without their absolutely sick home-grown pitching staff.  Timmy the Freak was just incredible last night, and was a beast throughout the playoffs.  Matt Cain didn't give up a run during the playoffs (and I was fortunate enough to attend Game 3 of the NLCS where Cain dominated the Phils.)  Jonathan Sanchez was the weakest link during the playoffs, but even he had some stellar pitching performances (well, at least Game 3 of the NLDS.)  And what can I say about Madison Bumgarner?  The guy is a 21 year old stud who pitched 8 ridiculous innings in Game 4 of the World Series (not to mention 2 shutout innings in Game 6 of the NLCS.)  Brian Wilson anchors a fantastic bullpen that was built to finish games in high pressure situations.  The pitching staff should get all the credit in the world for being one of the best staffs in playoff history (yep- I said it.  What other staff was able to win playoff games and series with such minimal offense?)

- Sometimes, timely offense is better than being explosive.  Well, at least in the Giants' case, no one on the national media outlets believed the Giants could win it all because their offense was not dynamic enough.  I think we all found that the offense was just dynamic enough.  Every night there was a new person getting huge hits to produce runs against Roy Halladay, Derek Lowe, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, or Cliff Lee.  For guys like Cody Ross, Edgar Renteria, and Aubrey Huff to be such huge parts of a world championship team is simply amazing.  It was a lot of fun to watch. 

- Brian Wilson's interviews are the best ever.  Is there a more entertaining guy to listen to than Brian Wilson?  Doubtful.  His post-game and post-series interviews were top notch.  I still laugh thinking about when Chris Rose told B-Weezy that CJ Wilson had tweeted, "See your beard real soon," and the bearded Wilson replied with, "Sounds delicious."

- There is not one singular formula that creates baseball championships, but I've got a good one.  True, everyone gets mad at the Yankees for buying players.  Everyone is annoyed at the Red Sox because their fans have gone over the edge since winning two championships.  And everyone either feels sorry for or likes to rub it in to Cub fans for the Cubs' futility.  Those are your top 3 payrolls in baseball.  Why are the Yankees consistently good/great, the Red Sox are pretty consistent, and the Cubs up and down like Randy Moss's employment status.  That was too long of a set up, here is the real deal- teams that spend money in scouting will ultimately be more competitive than other regardless of major league payroll.  How on Earth are the Rays competing in the AL East?  They've hit on a many great draft picks and are reaping the benefits.  How did the Giants just win the World Series?  Home-grown pitching.  How are the Phillies competitive every year?  Home-grown talent like Howard, Utley and Hamels have allowed them to strategically go out and pay for big name players (Halladay and Oswalt, among others) to continue to play at a high level.  Why are the Yankees good every year?  It STARTS with their core of Jeter, Posada, Rivera, and Pettitte who are ALL home-grown talent.  It always helps to have the money to go out and sign big name players, but you need a core of players from your own system to make things really go. 

- I want this SO bad for the Cubs.  Watching the Giants was a lot of fun.  I was actively cheering for them to get it done.  As soon as they did, I immediately wished it was the Cubs.  I really think that this Giants team was a hybrid between the 2003 Marlins and the 2003 Cubs.  The 2003 Marlins were pesky hitters that just annoyed the opposition with clutch hits (the Marlins were a lot faster at the top of the line up, but did include a mix of journeymen and young studs.)  The 2003 Cubs had a great pitching staff.  In fact, had those pitchers stayed healthy, I think the Cubs would've been able to to turn their losing fortunes around.  That year, they their 1-4 was Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Carlos Zambrano, and Matt Clement.  Awesome stuff.  In 2004, they went out and signed Greg Maddux to add to that depth.  Unfortunately, we know how that all ended up and we never got to see just how dominant that Cubs staff could have been.  Hopefully, we will get to see these young Giant pitchers grow into an even more dominant staff.  My main point, I want the Cubs to figure this out.  Whatever it takes.  I think their focus on young players is going in the right direction, but please put it all together.  One would hope that in the end, they don't run into the buzzsaw that is the Giants pitching staff, but I'll welcome it if they can get that far. 

So that's it.  The Giants are World Champions.  Wow.  What a great day for Northern California.  Enjoy it- it is well deserved!

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Case of the Mondays

The weekend got better as it went along because I was so spent from the week.  Friday night, I was bummed to have been canceled at Pyramid Walnut Creek due to bad weather.  However, it probably was a good thing as I'm not sure how well I would've played.  If there was any show to cancel, this was probably the best option. 

Saturday, I had to work all day at the rainy UC Davis football game that happened to be kicking off at the EXACT same time as the first pitch of Game 3 of the World Series.  I'm as supportive as possible to the UC Davis program, but even I know that most people are going to choose to stay in a warm place and watch the Giants in the World Series rather than go outside in the cold and rainy environment to watch UCD get smacked by Southern Utah.  Bummer. 

After the game, I was pretty damn run down.  Mrs. B. and I were invited to a party that surely would've been a great time, but I didn't have the energy to dress up and go out to a party (Sorry Garret- I am lame!)  Mrs. B. and I threw on some sweatshirts and went to zone out in front of Saw 3D.  You want my review of the movie?  Well...

Mrs. B. and I have made a sick tradition out of going to see Saw movies every year.  If you don't like the series, don't even come close to checking this movie out.  This movie is a direct continuation of the last one (and Saw 6 was decent in the grand scheme of Saw movies.)  The return of the Dread Pirate Roberts (AKA Carey Elwes) was a welcome addition to this movie, but in the end it was not salvageable.  The 3D glasses were as unnecessary as it gets and I would've saved money and seen it in 2D if that were an option (it wasn't at the theater we went to.)  Some of the kills/traps were interesting, but the acting was a low point in the entire series.  The only reason to see this movie is if you want to know what happens with the plot in the overall series, and even then I can't really recommend the movie. 

After a long night's sleep, I was feeling a bit more energized so I did some house cleaning on Sunday morning before football started.  Once football started, my fantasy teams cleaned house on the electronic battlefield.  I squeaked by in my ESPN league, but in Yahoo, my team is winning 122 to 62 going into tonight.  Granted, my opponent has Peyton Manning and Arian Foster tonight, but I'm feeling good about it.  I even started Sam Bradford over Matt Schaub and while I don't know what Schaub's numbers will be tonight, Bradford dropped a solid 20 points on the Carolina Panthers. 

On to Game 4 of the World Series.  This game can be summed up in one quick sentence- MADISON BUMGARNER IS THE MAN.  That's it.  He controlled the entire game for 8 innings and The Machine closed it out.  With the Giants up 3-1, they look to be in control.  I'm thinking Cliff Lee will pitch well tonight and the series may get closed out by Matt Cain on Wednesday in San Francisco.  That would be fitting and the place would go nuts. 

Here's to a week full of getting organized, sleeping regularly, and possibly even getting to the gym more than twice!  It's time to get back on track and there's no better time than right now.