Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sometimes you wanna go...

where you can take a couple of decades off your surroundings, enjoy velvet wall coverings, and an old fashioned drink. Yes it's LAMAR'S Chatt-town's finest! This is just a trip to an old favorite for many contributors.
Cheers gents!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

And with the second pick the Atlanta Falcons take...Calvin Johnson from Georgia Tech University!!!

O.k., so maybe I’m dreaming, but oh how freakin’ sweet it would be to hear Roger Goodell utter those words (while wearing a Pacman Jones jersey) on draft-day.

Anyway, I’m particularly excited about this year’s draft as my beloved Dirty Birds’ best case first pick is to trade up and take the best receiving prospect to come along probably since Michael Irvin (I say Irvin only because their skill sets are comparable as they’re two of the few to have both the incredible size and speed that they do) in Calvin Johnson, and their worst case first pick scenario is to take a safety whose college career I’ve followed closely out of both a love for his ability as well for fear of it being put on display in my backyard in Laron Landry. Simply, we desperately need help at both receiver and in the secondary and we’re going to get a surefire plug for one of those spots.

Personally, I’d call Cleveland up and say “Look, Vick, Brooking, and Jerious Norwood are off limits…Other than that you tell me what you want for that pick”…I’d make the deal and draft Johnson.

Moving along, though, I do love the draft for the maneuvering and dealing and such which is the purpose for this post. I came across this article on the best composite first round in NFL history. I figured our shared love for football and lists would spark some conversation.

Click here:


An Inconvenient Truth

Now, I really will get around to publishing a post on a topic of gravity and substance sometime soon, but I'm afraid I must comment on European football once again. The Champions League semifinals have begun, and Manchester United posted a victory at Old Trafford against Milan, with Wayne Rooney scoring the tying and winning goals in the second half. Today, Liverpool will face Chelsea at the latter's home stadium, Stamford Bridge. The Champions League presents the Reds their final chance for a major title this season, as they have fallen from contention in the Premiership and the FA Cup. These last honors will be contested solely between Manchester United and Chelsea, who will play each other twice in an eleven-day span next month. The Pensioners (Chelsea) have already won the Carling (or League) Cup, which makes possible an unprecedented "quadruple," should they win the three remaining competitions. Man U, likewise, is in position to repeat the "treble" from their glorious (ugh!) 1998-1999 season. With the exception of (AC) Milan, who will need to outbattle Manchester United at home in next week's second-leg semifinal, only one team stands in the way of preventing a Chelsea-Man U monopoly...Liverpool. Though I will give Rafael Benitez's squad even odds against Chelsea, I must pose a distasteful question to the Reds' supporters, should their team end up "walk[ing] alone": Can you actually cheer on the Blues to spite Man U?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Momma I'm comin' home...

Folks, I'm off to the durty durty for an interview...and some old school home cookin'. Blogging will be sporadic, at best, but I'll try to give updates. I'm thinking I might even break code and tradition and post pictures from the TED. Until then, here, for your listening pleasure, is one of the greatest songs ever recorded/performed. One memory for me....standing in San Marco Square(Venice, Italy for those less inclined to travel)...coming from a gondola ride....and a lone saxophone was playing this song. I stopped....sat down....took it in....and nodded....Ladies and Gentlemen....Mr. Ray Charles....

* normally, I would put the video in this space, but, for some reason, blogger won't let me. so, follow the link for a live performance.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

You're on notice!

In times of tragedy, there is a need for levity. In that spirit, I turn to Mr. Colbert of The Colbert Report. He has a spot on his show where he puts people 'On Notice', and it is incredibly ridiculous and funny. I've gone here and created my own list. These folks/things are officially On Notice!

*begrudging credit due to micah world....and this is the only reason why he isn't atop those rapacious global warming alarmists on the list.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What to say?

I don't have much to say right now about the tragedy and horror in Blacksburg, Va. yesterday. There is going to be a lot of political posturing over the next few weeks, and we can talk about that then. For now, let's just pause, say a prayer for the families that have lost the irreplaceable, reflect on our own lives and communities, and tell those we love how we feel.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Let's talk about something race relations!

This topic has been at the fore of my thoughts recently...race relations in the good ole' U.S. of A. With the recent happenings in Durham, N.C., the Imus vs. Rutgers vs. Al Sharpton fiasco, the Obama presidential campaign, and cannot help but think about it. And we should...but the question isn't one of should...but how...and when...and with whom. The following are some random, yet mildly connected, thoughts on the matter:

1. My first thought is this...racism is not a thing relegated...or specific to...the United States. In fact, we, as a nation and people, have done a remarkable job of healing wounds and reconciling the past with present and future. Having lived abroad for an extended time, I can say, and do, that there are cultures far more steeped in a racist world and cultural view than ours. The Chinese culture is ensconced in it. While teaching there, I was present when a science teacher actually taught, in class, that I proved evolution to be true...because I had more body hair...and, was therefore, obviously closer to apes than the Chinese who have little to no body hair. Racial superiority based on a Darwinian idea of that's good old fashioned racism for you. If one follows this logic to its conclusion, one can then imagine what this woman thinks/feels about other races. My point here is that many in the States think that our 'race problem' is a result of slavery and the legacy of Jim Crow, and is consequently unique to America...and while that is partly does not mean that others don't deal with issues of strident racism...people who have no idea what 'Jim Crow' means. Again, look at the Chinese...the Han feel a distinct superiority to the Man. The simple fact is that every single Nation and culture deals with racial issues...the thing is that we deal with them more openly than most....and most of us don't realize this. Which leads me to...

2. How do we deal with racism and racial connection? This is a point of serious consternation and frustration for me. There is such a dearth of open and honest dialogue about race these days. And when there is a slight sliver of honesty uttered...benignly, or not...the P.C. crowd goes apoplectic. We've allowed for too long the conversation to be dominated by the likes of Sharpton, Jackson, and others who have a vested interest in discord and disunity. If we, as a society, are afraid to be honest out of fear of name calling and social branding, we will never progress...we will never heal...we will never be of one mind and heart. which leads me to...

3. Sharpton, the dukies, Imus, and others. A look at the two recent events regarding race tells a painfully obvious story. Let's start with Imus. I don't particularly like the guy...never have...and have no compulsion to defend what he said. In fact, I love that he got fired. Meaning, I see no problem with the public holding people to account for things said and done. If society decides that he doesn't deserve to make millions for talking, because of something that he said...I say great. Freedom doesn't remove responsibility from adds more. Civilization has the right to self govern and regulate. My problem here is the ridiculous hypocrisy of the whole thing. Sharpton gets on his high horse named Charlatan and starts beating the drum for 'apology' and 'justice' usual, while Jackson calls CBS to see how much money he can shake them down for...when just a few short months ago, they were in Durham, N.C. doing the same thing...standing in front of a church...invoking the name of Christ...when it was obvious that that girl was lying...and those kids were innocent of the charges against them. Hypocrisy is not the worst thing in the world....I love Jonah Goldberg's thought here...that it is hypocritical for a father who steals to teach his children not to steal, but it doesn't make the lesson invalid.....but what is egregiously offensive to me is that Sharpton and those of his ilk get away with this. Also, look at the Hip-Hop culture. It is infused with, and defined by, misogyny, violence, and debauchery. The very words that Imus used...are words that 11 year old African-American girls sing along to all day long...every day. Here is a sample of lyrics from a song called Hoes...done by Lil took me 5 seconds to google and find them...showing how prevalent this stuff is...warning: if you mind bad language, don't read:
I got this rat name Shelly dat loves Makaveli
Number 5 combo meals its bad she K-Y jelly. Our
old school shorty still drinkin 40's. Grab the mic
start a fight,fuck up the whole party. Maybe you
should leave, just yo weave thats velcro hell no bitch
go wit Steve. Got this lead singer bitch from a popular
group I would say her name but she bought me a coupe. Got
this poor hoe Shonna swear like Marijuana she dig lil wayne
but she love the big tymers. Got pretty gurl Patrice found out
Im fuckin her niece she tried to stab her so I grab her and we
call the police. Mr. Officer, dat bitch den lost it bra she goin
to jail oh well, I be fuckin her. See two dykes, spanish twins nuts
press on they chin, will we go belly low well nigga that depends

Hoes! Lets just talk about Hoes!
Can we talk about Hooooooeeeeesss Hooooooeeeeesss!

I want to long as these are the voices of a community...and people like Sharpton are given the room necessary for his type of hyperbole and public rants...we have no chance for honesty, fairness, and forgiveness. Which leads me to...

4. The white man and velvet racism. The lack of honesty here also rests with whitey. So let's be honest...a large number of white folks are still racist. Heck, I can admit, though it is difficult, that I have to fight the easy urge of racist condescension. That's why I love the Maury Povich Show so much....the ridiculous names, the ridiculous behaviour, the ridiculous reality of it...this all supports racist assumptions and stereotypes that reside in me. I use the term velvet racism because...this kind isn't overt or even malicious. It is the kind that is understated, soft, and easy...but also informs who the person is...that adheres to this type of thinking. Simply, until white people stop...and realize...and admit openly... that just because they don't use the 'n' word... and that they don't actively root against other races...that they can still have a problem with race...that needs addressing through honesty, openness, and truthfulness...this issue will not be resolved...true community will never be accomplished...and other races will continue to be suspicious of white folks and our motives....and rightfully so.

4. I want to make perfectly clear that my frustration with this topic is born from a place of strong desire for community between races in the U.S....specifically, with white and black peoples. And the thing is...I believe it is attainable...because I've experienced it on a personal level. I've been blessed with friends of all sorts of different heritages, cultures, and colors...and have learned so much from them...and will continue to. When I've reached a place of comfort and respect with my friends, the door has opened to an honest and loving dialogue about our similarities and differences...with the result of deeper understanding and care. We can have this...but not without honesty, forthrightness, and understanding.

* i'd like to say thank you for all of the kind things said regarding my birthday. you all mean the world to me, and i'm lucky to have you in my life. this does not mean, however, that i will forget the john denver're on notice dr. z...

Friday, April 13, 2007

Here's to you, 33!!!!

(Herodotus: age 15 after first, and last, guitar lesson)
Happy Birthday Herodotus!...

For all of you who may not know, today is Herod's, I mean Herodotus’, 33rd birthday.

I’m constructing a birthday “package” to send to you, but it, of course, will not come even close to getting there on time. (in some ways, I am my mother’s son)


Euro Soccer Organization 101

In response to a request from our very own Dr. Zeius, I'm beginning a brief "tutorial" on the subject of European football. Since the UEFA Champions League has been the focus of recent posts, I figure that this tournament is as good a place as any to commence a lesson on the sport.

Unfortunately, as the good doctor has probably noticed, the organizational set-up of European football leagues and their various tournaments can be very difficult for an American to understand (I don't claim to get all of the several "coefficients" that determine eligibility to compete in them), especially in contrast to our relatively straightforward systems of regular season-playoffs-championship format. To begin with, there is no American-style playoff format in European football per se. Each country has its own professional football league, loosely administered by UEFA---the governing body for Euro football. The more highly-regarded leagues are (in no particular order) England's Premiere League, Spain's Liga Primera (La Liga), Italy's Serie A, France's Ligue 1, Germany's Bundesliga 1, Portugal's Liga, and the Netherlands' Eredivisie. In a sense, each of these leagues is more "democratic" than, say, baseball's Major Leagues, in that there are several lower-tier leagues in each country that compete each year to reach the top league, providing a form of "upward mobility." Since herodotus, Vox Inferus, and myself tend to be more interested in the English Premier League, I will use it as a case study here.

England has four professional leagues directly beneath the Premier League (think of them in terms of Minor League baseball---AAA, AA, and A), with more small-scale conferences below them. The Premier League, set up in 1993 as a reorganization of all the club teams in the country under the Football Association (FA), fields twenty teams each year. The three teams which finish last each year are relegated to the Championship League---one tier down (AAA), and the top two Championship teams, along with the winner of a playoff, ascend to the Premiership...and so on through the ranks of the lower divisions. Each year's champion is simply the team which finishes atop the standings with the most points (each team plays each of the other nineteen twice throughout the season---once at home and once away). There is no playoff tournament, no championship match. There is, however, the FA Cup tournament, which roughly coincides with the football season, August to May. I don't quite understand the rules for the calculations or "coefficients" which qualify teams for this competition, but suffice it to say that MANY teams are invited. Last year, a record 687 teams entered the knockout tournament from all the various tiers. To further confuse matters, there is also the annual League Cup tournament, which allows only the top 92 teams (from the top four leagues); although the oldest competition in European football, it is less prestigious and less popular than the FA Cup. The lower-tier leagues also feature their own annual tournaments. The League Cup is a bit of an aberration in European club football, in that most country's leagues feature only one top-tier cup tournament; as you might have guessed, it is a vestige of more than a century of organization, reorganization, and consolidation of the leagues (think of it as incompletions in the NFL-AFL merger, only more than a century old and including Arena Football leagues and the XFL). Obviously, the pinnacle each team aims for each year is to win both the League championship and the FA Cup.

I have described how European football can be seen as more "democratic," through its "upward mobility." The way in which it is more "undemocratic" than American sports is that each country's professional league is typically dominated by only three or so teams. For Spain, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia tend to finish each year atop the standings. In Italy, it is (AC) Milan, Juventus, Internazionale (Inter Milan), and lately, Roma. In the Netherlands, Ajax (Amsterdam), PSV (Eindhoven), and Feyenoord (Rotterdam). The German Bundesliga is perennially dominated by one team, Bayern München. The Premier League features probably four top teams (Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, and lately, Chelsea), along with Tottenham Hotspur and Everton finishing toward the bottom of the top teams each year. There is no salary cap in European football, and, as a result, only a handful of teams ever win the top competitions. Now, the Champions League...

The Champions League is an annual competition--the most prestigious European international---that features the top professional teams (from the previous year) from all of the European leagues. In the fall, most of the teams from smaller-scale national leagues (Greek, Russian, Turkish, Romanian, et al) duke it out in the early rounds to qualify for the group rounds, where the field is narrowed to 32. This format should be familiar to followers of the World Cup: a round-robin is played within the eight groups, and the top two teams from each group advance to the elite Champions League Round of 16. These games are played in late February and early March in two legs, one at home and one away. The winner is determined by the higher aggregate score, and ties go to the team which scores more goals away. If that is not enough to break the tie, the second game plays into extra periods until a winner emerges. The same format applies to the quarterfinals and semifinals. The final is played at a predetermined stadium (this year at Olympic Stadium in Athens), and is European football's version of the Super Bowl. We have just finished this year's quarterfinals, and three English teams have advanced to the semis: Liverpool, Manchester United, and Chelsea. The fourth team is (AC) Milan. The semifinals will begin at the end of April, and the final is played on May 23.

Again, to further confuse matters, UEFA administers the UEFA Cup, a tournament featuring---generally---the runners-up from all of the top European national leagues and some of the champions from the lower-ranked leagues. And again, I don't know how the qualifications for this tournament are determined, exactly. Furthermore, club teams---usually in the summer off-season---will play exhibition matches against other international club teams and even against some national teams. The winners of the Champions League and the UEFA Cup play each other every year in August for the European Super Cup, a relatively minor event. Japan used to host (1980-2004) the Intercontinental Cup, played between the Champions League winner and the Copa Libertadores (South America's international club tournament) winner. This has since been replaced by the FIFA Club World Cup, which features 12 teams, the top two clubs from each of the six continental associations. It has not yet, however, gained much popularity in Europe. The Reverend Sun Myung Moon has recently established a biannual Peace Cup, and there are all kinds of other competitions and cups.

So, here it all is in a nutshell...the Champions League is the most sought-after championship in European football. Its only international rival is the South American Copa Libertadores. Manchester United, in its celebrated 1998-9 season, secured the unprecedented "Treble," in winning the Premier League Championship, the FA Cup, and the Champions League all in the same season. This is the loftiest goal for all English clubs, and is paralleled in all of the other top national leagues. Listed are the five most prestigious championships in international football (nos. 2-5 in disputable order):

1. FIFA World Cup---national teams, every four years
2. UEFA Euro Cup---European national teams, every four years between World Cup Years (2004, 2008, etc.)
3. CONMEBOL Copa América---South American and some North and Central American teams, every two, three, or four years (don't ask!) (the U.S. will be participating in this year's tournament)
4. UEFA Champions League---annual club competition for European professional teams
5. CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores---annual club competiton for South American professional teams

I will leave the task of elaborating on specific teams and players to herodotus and Vox Inferus, although I hope the latter refrains from propaganda (Liverpool is generally favored by Catholics and Celts). I hope this helps somewhat to dissipate some of the mystery surrounding the organizational labyrinth that is European football, and perhaps it will enable one or two readers to more easily engage what is really a very enjoyable and exciting sport.

(Anyone, please feel free to apply graphics liberally---stupid Blogspot-Apple incompatibility!)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


  • Liverpool advances at ANFIELD after a 1-0 win and a 4-0 agregate victory over PSV Einhoven. Sorry oranje, I guess the Erendivisie will have to do. (Fat Chance!) Come On Reds! Just like 2 years ago, let's dismantle the Russian machine!


Staring down a tiger...

In one of the best Masters tournaments in recent memory, Zach Johnson accomplished something that few can say...or will ever be able to say...that he beat Tiger Woods at Augusta...and did it in convincing fashion. He showed grit, heart, humility, and patience...and in doing so, changed his life, and his young family's life, forever. This guy, and his performance this year at Augusta, is why I love this tournament, and the game of golf, so much. There really is nothing else like it...

Monday, April 9, 2007

No one asked, but I'm giving my magic seven anyway.

Herodotus informed me that I am not eligible for “tagging” as we occupy the same blog. He did however encourage me to post my current “seven songs” so here goes.

1. Otis Redding: “Good To Me” – Simply put, this song has replaced “Dreams to Remember” as my favorite track by Mr. Redding who is one of my favorite artists. My instinct says to describe the wonder of this song, but my good sense tells me that words cannot possibly suffice.

2. Stars: “Your Ex-lover Is Dead” – Off the album entitled “Set Yourself On Fire”, this track is one of the best indie-pop songs I’ve heard in a good while. This song is very melodic and describes a scenario in which one encounters an ex-lover only to realize that the part of them that was so enamored with the ex-lover is dead and gone…A scenario that speaks to me and probably most everyone else.

3. Gypsy Kings: “Love And Liberte” – I live in the deep south where, minus the last few days, spring has sprung which means that Gypsy Kings will find my player frequently. This song, however, is one that I have missed until recently, and I can’t get enough of it…It’s just sheer beauty in music form.

4. Ryan Adams: “Come Pick Me Up” – This is the best “I wish you loved me just half as much as I love you” song I have heard in a long, long time. I simply love, love, love this song.

5. Dinah Washington: “To Forget About You” – In purely emotive terms, Ms. Washington had a voice rivaled, in my opinion, only by previously mentioned Otis Redding. Well, through the beneficence of one Herodotus, I have come into possession (temporarily) of a rare-and-incredible cd by her that contains this song which I have only recently discovered. If you’ve ever found yourself with a desire to stop loving someone that is surpassed only by the weight of the reality that you cannot, this song is for you…Thanks Herodotus, and I’ll return it promptly.

6. David Gray: “Gutters Full Of Rain” – David Gray is, in my opinion, the best lyricist of our generation, and I know very few people that have actually absorbed his body of work in its entirety that take issue with such a statement. Still, because of the commercial success of “Babylon” as a poor representation of his overall feel as a musician, he is often quickly disregarded by many as a sort of second-tier artist. I’ll say this, I absolutely ADORE this man’s work, and have been profoundly influenced by it in my own artistic endeavors (as insignificant as they may be). This song is off of one of his earlier albums (“Sell, Sell, Sell”) that I had not listened to in far too long. Just the other day my itunes used it to remind of how foolish I am for allowing this to be the case.

7. Van Morrison: “I’ll Be You Lover": - I’ve always loved Van Morrison but had somehow missed this one. Well, a few years back now, an old girlfriend sent me a mix-cd with this song on it, and ever since it has occupied a solid third spot in my “top-three favorite Van Morrison” songs list. Just a classic, classic track that will make anyone with any measure of a romantic sensibility ache on the inside.


Sunday, April 8, 2007

Saint John Paul the Great!

The initial phase of the Church's scrutiny of John Paul the Great's life in the process of his cannonization has concluded. The first phase was completed April 2nd. His Holiness, Benedict XVI stated of his former shepherd,

Especially with the slow but relentless progression ofhis illness, which little by little stripped him of everythinkg, he made himself an offereing to Christ, a living proclamation of HIS passion, in a hope filled with faith in the resurrection. Like his divine Master, he lived his agaony in prayer. He died praying. Truly he fell asleep in the Lord.

Agony, and the Christian example with which that agony is carried, is a critical aspect of the Church's scrutiny of a candidate's life. One should note that the Koine Greek term for saint is Αγιος the word from which English derives "agony."

Those who know me know my thoughts on JPII, even so I would like to know your thoughts and perhaps some memories. What, in your opinions, were his most significant moments?

Dona nobis pacem

Friday, April 6, 2007

Consummatum Est

I might consider life,

had today never been,

just as Sisyphus' stone.

In my children I'd see,

had today never been,

a cruel perpetuam.

Nihilists creed accept

had today never been,

Epicurus embrace.

To grasp at pagan roots,

had today never been,

and pass as Denethor.

But dark clouds filled the sky

when today was

and sacred viels defiled

So now consider life

since today was

a gift of sacrfice

Breathe deep hopefullness

since today was

and "consummatum est"

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Masters 2007!

Well, the greatest golf tournament, and arguably the greatest sports event, in the world is upon us...The Masters. I can say from experience, having been there, that the Augusta National Golf Club is one of the most beautiful places in the world...and I mean it....the Palace at Versailles, the Cliffs of Dover, the Great Wall of China, The 12 Apostles in Australia, Cotopaxi in Ecuador...they are all beautiful and amazing...but Augusta ranks. As for the tournament is sure to be exciting...if for no other reason than the weather and it's effect on course difficulty. Here are a few thoughts:

1. The Course. One thing to know is that this course is old school. It isn't nearly as long as some others(despite 'Tiger Proofing' it), but the difficulty is in the short game. There are almost no level lies, and each green has anywhere from 4 to 8 tiers. To win at Augusta, you have to hit crisp iron shots...but, most have to putt well. If you can't putt...especially from 10 to 20 are dead in the water, as it were. This year there is a tangible excitement about course readiness and weather. You see, most years, the course winds up getting some rain during the tournament...April showers and all...slowing the greens up and allowing approach shots to stick...all leading to lower scores. Every now and then, though, mother nature says...o.k. boys let's see what you guys can do...and keeps the rain away...making even the most seasoned and prolific golfers shake in their cleats. This, my friends, is what this year is shaping up to be like. The forecast is for no rain...only tears...and lots of high numbers.

2. The Players. There is really only one name that one absolutely needs to know...and he goes by Tiger. Still, there are others of note that could, and might, walk away with the Green Jacket this year:

I. Eldrick 'Tiger' Woods. I'm not going to waste my time here. If you don't know anything about stopped reading this post a long time ago...and care nothing for golf. I will say, though, he is playing extremely well...and if he wants it...and I think he's his. This would give him 3/4 of his second 'Tiger Slam'...can you say "the best ever'?

II. 'Fat' Phil Mickelson. The guy you hate to love. He's broken more hearts than Ava Gardner...but we always come back to him. The question here is 'The Meltdown" of Jean Van de Velde proportions last year at the U.S. Open...and whether he can recoup. Early this year he looked unbeatable...but had another meltdown on the 18th out in California. As I write this, he is already (+4) on the front after 7. While the defending champ, I'm afraid this just isn't his year. This said, if his short game is on...and he can keep the driver in the bag on 18...he's always got a shot.

III. Ernie Els. The 'Big Easy' has got the game for Augusta, but isn't playing that well in recent weeks.

IV. Charles Howell III. The local boy...and my sentimental favorite. He has played well this year...and has got a chance. Though, the pressure of playing in front of the home crowd hasn't always proved productive in the past. I gotta think that last year's disaster of a showing has to be motivation to play well...he finished behind Charles Coody...who is 180 years old.

V. Retief Goosen. He's been quiet lately...playing mostly overseas..and that's the way he likes it. In short, he's got the game. He proved that at Shinnecock.

VI. The Europeans and Aussies. This very well could be the year that a foreign player wins the Green has been over a decade. All of these guys have game...and really want to be the one to reclaim the tournament. Look out especially for Henrik Stenson(Scary good), Adam Scott( Playing very rounding out his game), Paul Casey( All-around game), and Jose Maria Olazabal...who is freaking amazing. He's won two already....plays three tournaments a year..but always shows up to play at Augusta.

VII. Others to Look For: Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, David Toms, and Davis Love III.

3. Predictions. I really don't know what to expect. Other than to say that...1. If the rain stays away, the winner shouldn't be under (-7) after 4 days of golf...and that's playing well...and 2. Again, this is Tiger's tournament if he is putting. If not, there are others that could jump up...but if his putter is on, forget it.

4. Enjoy it only comes once a year...and is always entertaining. Man...I love the freakin Masters.

* I should say, too, that Vaughn Taylor is another local boy from Augusta and that I'll be pulling for him to do well...though, it is unlikely.

Day one recap:

The morning groups had it a bit easier than the afternoon is usually the case. Consequently, Justin Rose set the early bar at (-3). He also gave us the stat of the day....only five greens in regulation...and only 20 putts on the day....let me say that again...20 putts all day. Amazing. Tiger did what he always does in the early rounds...he keeps himself in contention. Phil did what he usually doesn't do...he played in the first round the way he usually plays on Sunday. And...there are a host of could've/should've beens hanging around the leader board. My dad taught me a life lesson early in life...and it involved this tournament...he would say, " boys, it doesn't start 'till the back nine on Sunday". When I was a kid, I thought him crazy. How could someone win The Masters and be 7 strokes back after the first day. Then...Jack won in '86. were right then...and you're right now. 'Setting the table is important...and necessary...but there's a lot of golf to be played.

Day two recap:
1. The course is dominating this tournament. Watching this play out, I would be very surprised to see anyone finish on Sunday in red figures. I just don't see it. Not much to say other than: I. Phil will be lucky to make the cut. II. Woods is right where he needs to be to make a move on Saturday. III. Look out for Vijay Singh...that guy is creeping...and he can grind as well as anyone. IV. Patience...patience....patience. Scores are going to vary should be fun to watch...I certainly wouldn't want the task of playing...well, o.k. I lied...of course, I would...

Day three recap:
1. Never in my life have I seen Augusta play this tough. Speaking with my dad yesterday, I asked him if he ever remembered the course like this and he said that it had been a good 30(+) years. I mean...growing up, I always heard that it could be this difficult...but weather and technology mitigated the innate treachery. This year, though, we see just how forceful and unrelenting this beautiful place can be.
2. Now...what is going to happen? Who the heck knows. Conventional wisdom says that Tiger is in the last group...and therefore, has the advantage. Still, he looked just a confused and frustrated as anyone coming off of 18. I know for a fact that no one will finish in the red. The winning score will probably be (+)1 tying the highest winning score in the history of the Master's. The guy who goes out and shoots a 70 or 69 has a great chance. If I'm in the last few groups....course management is the name of the game. Be patient ...take your pars...focus on the par fives...hope to get 70 and watch everyone else shoot 75....with a decent round. Regardless, it's Sunday at Augusta....

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

I've been tagged!

Micah from Micah World tagged me today. I had no idea what that meant...until this afternoon. Apparently, it's kind of like a chain mail type thing. Anyway, the topic is 7 Songs That I'm Digging Right Now. So, here you go...with a brief explanation for each:

1. Sam Cooke-Bring It On Home to Me. I really can't get enough of this particular song. I'm familiar with most of Cooke's stuff, but for some reason, this one had escaped me. No longer. If you like blues, soul, and desire...this one's for you. Hat tip: Testudineous.

2. Mika-Grace Kelly. I was just given this cd by Micah. Possibly, the official Song of the Summer. The jury is still out...but what isn't up for debate is that this is a great pop song. He's eerily similar to Freddie Mercury...but in a good way. I seriously can't get this song out of my head.

3. Frank Sinatra-You Make me Feel So Young. It is the live version from the Sinatra at the Sands. The entire album is fantastic, but this track really stands out. He was still involved with a much younger Mia Farrow, and undoubtedly had her in mind when singing it. It is playful and all, just a great version of a great song.

4. Shelby Lynne-Dreamsome. This is a very mellow track that is perfect for summer. I just compiled a two disc cd compilation for springtime/summertime listening and this was the first track included on the chill cd. It is a perfect song for background ambiance or for end-of-day relaxation and reclination.

5. Hotel Lights-A.M. Slow Golden Hit. Another extremely mellow track, but with a bit more electronic experimentation. The juxtaposition of the bold electronics and his very understated voice is both soothing and intriguing. I can't recommend these guys enough. It is a must have.

6. The Beatles-Dear Prudence. I was late in reaching my Beatles phase...but, when I did, there was no going back. For those who really love music, and who are affected by certain songs, there are moments and times when one hears a song for the first time, and he/she remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing. This is one of those songs for me. I busted out The White Album the other day and was reminded of how much I love it.

7. Allison Krauss-Let Me Touch You For A While. I don't think I need to explain what this song is about. But I will say that this song is a perfect reason why this lady is a national treasure. If you aren't familiar with her...become so. If you haven't seen her so. You won't be disappointed.

8. Finally, as is my supposed duty, I'm now tagging Spydrz. You're it, biatch. Also, the following is the video for Mika's Grace Kelly. Listen to it a couple of times, and try not to sing along...I dare you.

The Sex in the City-ization of the American Woman.

Spydrz and I were having a conversation on the traps and travails of the modern dating life and something was posited...that much of the trouble can be traced back to that awful show from the late 90's Sex in the City. Let me explain further:

1. The entire premise of the show, as I understand it, was to highlight the lives of 4 single their late 30's/early 40' in New York...while trying to find love and romance. This insightful look into their lives usually led us into their bedrooms...and often. In fact, part of the supposed charm of the show was that it showed an honest portrayal of the modern that is empowered by her sexuality...rather than held captive by it. If I'm wrong about this, then I apologize, and feel free to correct me. Yet, for these purposes, I'm moving forward with this understanding.

2. The first thing wrong here is the idea that one can act without consequence. There is no more proven fact in life than that of consequential action. In the show, we see four women risque-ly and casually falling in and out of bed...and other places...with no physical or emotional consequences involved. Physically, we all know of the unintended consequences of promiscuity(here I would point you back to the statistic that 1/4 of all women between the ages of 14 and 59 have HPV.) Still, the emotional results of this kind of mentality and action are sometimes more devastating and controlling. Simply, people are fragile creatures that are made of complex psycho/physiological needs....and we seek the fulfillment of these needs in others who are equally fragile and complex. The idea that we can pack all kinds of experiential baggage just to have someone else try to help us unpack it during a long term relationship is both selfish and naive.

3. Here we also see nihilism supplanting service. Meaning, when one is young, he/she usually has all kinds of wide-eyed expectations for the modern romantic ideal. Yet, that romantic ideal has shifted from one of promise and optimism to a fatalistic resignation. In Blake's Songs of Innocence/Songs of Experience we see the result of time and life, and their residual effects, on an individual. It is inevitable that we change with time, but placing a fatalistic albatross around youthful romantic dreams is different...and I believe this show has had that effect. Many women and young women believe wrongfully that relational failure is requisite...and even admirable for finding 'herself'. This, of course is couched in the language of empowerment and liberation. Is it realistic to think that failure is a part of relationships and romance....absolutely. But there is a fine line between realism and a nihilistic and hedonistic application of that realistic understanding. Ultimately, the latter becomes self-defeating.

4. Penitent reflection is another thing to consider. One of the things that Sex in the City promises is that when one extricates herself from idealism and embraces sexual liberty, she is relieved of regret, as failure and disappointment are all a part of the process. Now, when consequences appear from past action, we as humans choose penitence, recalcitrance or ambivalence. I believe the penitent path, in relation to inter-personal and intimate relationships , is the only one here that allows for growth...both in self and in relationships. This show only offers the kind of superficial reflection...followed by the ambivalent shoulder shrug...that seduces one into thinking that growth has occurred. This not only fails the self...but also the one that you're in a relationship with. It fails everyone involved. We all are doomed to make mistakes...but penitent reflection gives us a chance for self expansion and relational understanding.

5. The simple fact is that the Paris Hiltons, Britney Spears', Tara Reids, and Lindsey Lohans of the world have bought into the ideas proffered by Sex in the City...and it has had an effect on women, in general, today. I know more than a few girls that have spent their time in overt promiscuity and sexual ambivalence and are now looking around wondering where all the good men are. It doesn't make them worse people's just sad. Simply put, girls can't act like intransigent prostitutes and ask to be treated like innocuous princesses.

* this post isn't written from any kind of personal thing or misogyny...just merely observation.

** anyone who might think me unfair for not having discussed the 'problem of the modern male'...that will come at a future date.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Topical musings.

I've been away for a while now, and there are many things on my are a few thoughts:

1. Florida Gators. Anyone who knows me knows that I can't stand the folks from Gainesville, but one must appreciate and acknowledge greatness when it presents itself. The simple fact is that the athletic department at the University of Florida is the standard bearer now for excellence in athletic performance. What an impressive year. This, of course, will only make it sweeter when my beloved Bulldawgs beat them in October.

2. Summertime and country music. It is getting warmer...and so is my attention to country music. Now, country music isn't my first choice for listening pleasure...but there is just something about warm weather...being outside...the slight sting of the sun on your skin...grilling...and a good country song.

3. The Hotlanta Braves. In keeping with my earlier point about warm is here folks. I'm more enthused this year about this season than I've been in a long while. My Braves won yesterday...proving that the bullpen is revived and revamped....along with our chances for a stellar year. Also, congrats to Testud's Twins. Maybe we'll see them in October...

4. Iran and the British hostages. I struggle to come up with the necessary words here to convey my disgust at how this whole thing is playing out. First, let me say that I can't believe the feckless and effete response that the West, in general, and Britain specifically, has given. I think this shows how truly weak and facile western civilization has become when faced with a visceral and existential threat like the one found in a nihilistic enemy such as modern Islam. Second, why is it that the media refuses to report that one of the reasons Europe has been so silent on the whole affair is that they are so economically tied to Iran that they are willing to turn there heads when a fellow E.U. member is attacked? Finally, let me say that historically....if Persia were to kidnap British naval officers on the high seas...there would not be a naval port in Iran left intact. How far we've come...

5. When a boy meets a girl. I'm hesitant to turn this space into a confessional, so let me just say that, recently, I've begun spending time with one of the fairer sex, and it is amazing how good it feels to make that kind of connection. There's no way to know if anything serious will come of this whole thing...but the feeling of nascent affection is one of promise and expectation.

6. Democrats, protesting, and patriotism. I can't find the article, but I recently read one detailing an anti-war protest out west where they burned a U.S. soldier in effigy. Now, we're always hearing that just because one doesn't mean that they are unpatriotic...and that dissent is itself a patriotic exercise. Let me say...dissent is not necessarily unpatriotic, but the manner in which one protests can be. Liberals seem incapable of understanding this. Also, let me say that one usually doesn't find this sort of thing emanating from the Right. It is usually a result of a radical Liberal mindset....and is one of the reasons that I have contempt for the modern Democratic party.

7. Fred Thompson. My man is going to run...and look out. There is a tangible connection that he makes with the voting public. There is a sense that, although he's led an incredibly ambitious and dynamic life, he has remained 'common'....that he is unaffected by success. Good luck Fred...we need more people like you in public service.

8. Armenian genocide. I've been reading Norman Rich's book Great Power Diplomacy, 1814-1914., and I highly suggest picking it up. His treatment of the Armenian question from 1892-1898 really intrigues me. Most don't realize how close Britain came to intervening. Imagine how different things would look today if the Brits or the French had intervened during this crisis or the one in Poland during 1863....amazing.

9. French engineering. A french train has broken the speed record...which is impressive. My first thought, though,, another method to retreat from the Germans.

10. Al Franken and Minnesota. Franken is running for the U.S. Senate seat there, and looks like he might be a formidable candidate. Minnesota....for the sake of all that is holy...please don't do this. Isn't Jesse Ventura enough? We get're a quirky bunch. Let's just leave it at that, shall we?

11. Turkey and the coming Islamist turn. Erdogan has been slowly moving Turkey away from its secular past. This is bad for the region...and stability in general. This article is about the confiscation of objective news media outlets by an Islamic court. Whither, Turkey?

12. Finally, here is a country song that I've been listening to lately. Go up the grill...crack one open...and turn it up.