Pittsburgh Steelers 27 Arizona Cardinals 23

Ginevra de Benci by Da Vinci And wasn’t that one of the cruddiest Superbowls ever.
Definitely in the top 5. If it weren’t for the final 10 minutes it would have been number 2. TenWeekend Murders minutes isn’t a game.
The grand finale of the season was partially ruined by nightmarish bad officiating. When one team uses two challenges to get two horrific calls over turned you do have reason to question the ref’s impartiality.
Still the most jaw dropping calls were the non-ejections of two Steelers. Their dirty play was disgraceful, a bad example to kids. Virtual GirlThe worst was allowing James Harrison to remain in the game. Driving his fist into a player who was down on his knees is terrible but then to hit the guy in the throat while he’s staggering to get up deserves the most powerful punishment.
James Harrison has worked hard to play this game. He had a magnificent season. For me it will be forever tainted by his twisted and dangerous antics.
The Cardinals’ play calling was absurd. I still can’t figure out what they were thinking of. Their most successful drive was off the no huddle and exploiting the brilliant play of Larry Fitzgerald, Bolden and Breaston. Then they forgot about it.
When all they had to do was stop the Steelers for two minutes they went into a weak prevent instead of maintaining the inspired play that got them the lead. The coaching got them to the Superbowl but the coaching cost them the championship.
Rockwell Poncho by Paul Gilligan I managed to miss Bruce Springsteen . . .
Now comes that fallow part of the year. They’ll be the Football Combine in a couple of weeks. There’s enough Trojans invited to make that mildly interesting. I’ll be curious about Clay Matthews and Mark Sanchez.
I’m one of those who think that Mark made a mistake in entering the draft early. I honestly think that a senior year could have seen him as at least a Heisman finalist. It would have let him learn to control his emotions and set him up for a solid NFL career.
As it is now I think he’ll get the signing bonus he craves but will either set on the bench for two years, which would not be a bad thing, or get thrown to the lions too soon and end up shuffling around as a back up until he gets a fair chance somewhere down the line.Wicked Wicked
I still hope for the best for him. He is a fine young man.
Then there’ll be the draft in April which is always lightly amusing. I wonder if USC can beat last years record for first round picks.
There’s baseball season and there’s spring ball and then a dearth until August.
Nice cycle of life. I don’t think I would want to change it.

Today I plan to watch a movie, “Outlander”. Its about a spaceship that crashes on Earth during the Iron Age and mixes the Space Man up with some Vikings who have to work together to kill a space monster.
There’s this sci-fi writer, David Drake, who wrote a book with a near identical idea. Except in his book there was no space man, only the space monster. The monster was a baboon like creature, slightly larger than man sized and incredibly viscous.
The monster lands in ancient Rome and is hunted by Gladiators!! Drake is too prolific (I can’t even remember the title of this book) to be great but he has written a couple of great books. This one and “Redliners”.
What made this one great was the history of Ancient Rome he threw in not only for atmosphere but to advance the plot.
The gladiators aren’t horrified by the creature, but like the mice in the Sufi legends seek only the most expedient professional means of killing it. Their vengeance and anger has no place in their plans to destroy something bigger and stronger than they are. They move like Gladiators, with no fear but only the need to finish the task.
Dogs Great book, I wish I could remember the title . . .

I was hoping that we’d hear about the car loan by now. The loan officer doesn’t seem to be in. So we have to be patient.
I hate being patient sometimes. There should be no problems at all but with the economy the way it is now I trust banks even less, which is something I thought would be impossible.
My friend needs that car.
I need for her to have what she needs.
The dogs could care less.

Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal
George F. Will

Now You See Him My friend got her new car yesterday. Not really, not yet but all is nearly finished.
The car lot was pretty interesting. The lot itself was just about a quarter mile long and it had fourThe Stuff rows of cars jammed side by side. Just a huge amount of cars.
Their system is that you inspect a car and then go to the main office where you give the the number of the car you want. They give you the key, copy your driver’s license and that’s about it. You drive the car as long as you want and then take out the next one you’re Zathara interested in.
RAH! No sales pressure at all. There’s was a windy snow storm yesterday and the place was still packed! One of the cars we were interested in was sold wile we were there! We drove about 90 minutes to get there based on a recommendation and was very glad for the experience.
We checked out 6 cars. All makes, all models there for easy comparison. Aside from the thirty mile an hour winds and blinding snow it was a great experience.
After you pick the car you want you have to sit down with a salesman . . . that was painless too. The only thing that was tried to sell to us was a warranty. Its a good warranty but hyper-expensive. A thousand bucks for 2 years! Since its also like 90 minutes away I didn’t see much value to it but Ninety Degrees by A Brito did think my friend should get the 6 month warranty to get into spring.
My friend went to the bank Friday evening. Did all the loan stuff. The guy said there should be no problem but it was too late to get the final approval. If he doesn’t see a problem I’d ho[e that means there won’t be any problems.
My friend was totally chuffed but a little bit dismayed that her favorite car was also the cheapest car we looked at! She felt even better that a local dealership had the identical car with 20 thousand fewer miles for FOURTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS MORE!
The way this place works is that they get the car in and just set it in the lot. When the car is purchased they throw it into the shop, detail it, tune it new tires and do any work they find. You get to say any problems you saw. Like I pointed out some light staining on the rear seats and felt reallyThe Unholy Four anal for doing so, but so what.
Then in a week to 10 days you go and pick the car up. Seems odd at first but also seems incredibly fair.
Since my eyes got to bad to drive its been a long time since I got to shop for a car. It was fun, especially doing it this way. I was tired but not in the usual weary way that car salesmen usually inflict.
On the way home we stopped at Taco Bell to celebrate. She had gluten free bean tacos (yeah, they make them) and I had a bean burrito, meximelt and a chicken taco.
When we got home we continued to celebrate – she took a nap and I shoveled snow. Since I keep the yard so well shoveled out it only took me about a half hour to shovel the two inches of snow that fell. As soon as I finished it started to snow again!
My friend’s nap was cut short. My puppy was sleeping with her and my puppy likes to cuddle, except she so big and so strong that her cuddling has the usual effect of pushing you off the bed!
So we watched the Chinese movie “Ip Man”. Ip is best remembered today as the guy who first taught Bruce Lee.
The film was very good. Donnie Yen is still amazing. His hand speed is staggering.
The first two thirds of the movie are supposed to be pretty accurate. They had the two legendary episodes in Ip’s life that I knew about: Ip fighting a swordsman armed with a feather duster and his famous fight with ten Japanese karate experts where he thrashed them all without ever being touched.
Marvelous recreations better than I had imagined from just reading about them. Like the final third Gothic of the film which is a weird amalgamation of fantasy and fact, if that wasn’t the way it really was this is the way it should have been.
Good stuff and a good movie to finish a celebratory day to.

Today’s the Superbowl. The end of football for another year.
Once again the Superbowl is in a fair weather city. I always sort of wish the game were played in a driving snowstorm, an ice bowl, a real pit where the intensity would have to build and it could become a savage contest of men and nature.
While I don’t think this game will be as bad as the Steelers-Seahawks debacle I don’t expect a very good game.
The Steelers have all the tools to stage a massive blowout. If Heinz Ward is 80% or better it will be a long turgid day for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals just don’t match up well. Their offense is too quick strike to wear the Steelers down. I expect Larry Fitzgerald to exploit an overly aggressive Troy Polamanu and avoid the shut out but Tombs of the Blind Dead that’s about it.
There is an X Factor. Kurt Warner. He’s been here before and knows he will probably never get here again.
He’s won strong and lost to Tom Brady is Brady’s first start and the beginning of his legend. He could rise up angry and dismantle the dream but it seems to miraculous.
Even though the Cardinals have been bigger underdog’s than this in every single one of their playoff games. No one thought they could handle Carolina and felt certain that the Eagles would trounce them easily.
There’s a pretty good chance the game will go to the back ups. Rothlisberger still holds the ball too long. His astonishing effectiveness on third and long this season justifies it but it makes him vulnerable.
Warner will have a hard time surviving the blitz. When it gets down to back-up QB’s Matt Linehart World Wide still comes up short against Steeler back up Byron Leftwich.
It maybe herd like but I see the Steelers covering the spread in almost every scenario. That doesn’t please me at all.
The half time show. A good reason to hate Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake. Their nipple ring fiasco ensures that we will never see decent bands at the Superbowl. A strong performance by Tom Petty last year just proves to those old dinosaurs in the NFL (and I’ve met too many of the old untrustworthy bastards) that this is the ticket.
Bruce Springsteen . . . does anyone care? Springsteen’s cred with me drops even lower, that he’d do such a gig smells like sell out.Under Age
He couldn’t possible be as bad as Paul McCartney (the Superbowl and an aged Beatle??) and no one could be horrifying as the Rolling Stones but this should be an incredibly dreary show. I wonder if he opens or closes with Reagan’s fave tune, “Born in the USA”.

Before that we still have some errands to run while we have the rented car.
My friend will be gone for 3 days next week. Need FOOD for ME!
Its been so long that I’ve been able to drive I’m used to having to walk a few miles in bad conditions to feed myself, but there’s no sense in being macho all the time.

Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit
Frank Borman

Cruel Shoes
Click images for desktop size: “Untitled” by Cruel Shoes
Things aren’t going great today.
There was about 6 inches of snow over night. Interesting stuff. New self anointed snow shovelingThe Falcon's Alibi masters have to anticipate being regularly tested.
I was up at six and making the phone calls to handle the garage and rental cars.
The garage gave me the second worst answer a mechanic can give you, “Uh oh!” when I told him the engine had seized.
The worst answer is some variation of laughter or “Seychelles! Here I come!”
Won’t know until this afternoon what the final verdict will be. My friend had reality settle in and is now pretty upset. She was very attached to her little car. It fit her and it fit her personality. From Crunch Time.jpg
Click image for desktop size: “Crunch Time” by NFL Films
experience I can say it was little but still held four dogs and two people.
Then I called the car rental joint an hour before the pick up time. I was assured everything was in place and in order.
Four calls later and 1 hour past the pick up time the driver finally showed up. The car rental place is only about 10 minutes away. Three dogs and I could probably walk it in an hour or close to it.
My friend got there to find out that they had no car ready. Since we reserved it on Saturday and with the lateness this was sort of irritating. I guess the attitude was bad too. It wasn’t the best on the phone either.
Anyway I had to do a quick search for another car rental joint. Went to one of the big national chains. Oddly, they were about 60 bucks less for the week then the recommended place that created the fiasco.
DC Unknown
Click images for desktop size: “DC Comics” by Unknown
They’re on their way to pick her up at the first rental joint.
My friend isn’t much given to teary eyed histrionics but I think she’s feeling close.
She was wondering if she jinxed herself by calling this “Hell Week”. She still has about 100 hours of work to get through this week, barring complications. (She doesn’t schedule for contingencies.)
Hopefully, before I finish writing this I’ll have word that everything is sorted.

The football yesterday was good. The Philadelphia-Arizona game was very edifying. Great lead changes, each team dominating a half with a socko conclusion. The final play of the game was cool and wild and a suitable championship conclusion.
The Steelers-Ravens match up was pretty much as advertised. I was disappointed in the injury to Fire Maidens Of Outer Space Willie McGahee. It looked devastating. I hope he’s okay.
I still blame the Steelers for two of the worst Superbowls in history. Their win against Seattle and the loss to I can’t remember who! That’s how dull that one was. I think it was against the Dallas Cowboys in the late 90’s.
The saddest part is I know they’ll be favored. But maybe Larry Fitzgerald, Edge and Kurt Warner can keep the game exciting enough to enjoy.

Just got word that the second rental joint has picked my friend up from the first rental joint. What a mess.
For me, everyone knows that in the face of disasters (and this is a mess albeit a minor one in the face of the world).
When thing go wrong I can’t help to think back to what I could have done to make things better or to not happen. Hindsight, yeah, but you need hindsight to expedite the future.

I have to go shovel snow. One bright spot is that the neighbors haven’t dumped anymore snow on top of the gate. They’ve still blocked the man gate but should still be able to get the rental car into the parking space tonight. Amazing what things you find to be grateful for; people not being jerks for even just a little while.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr day. Its a shame they couldn’t have re-scheduled the inauguration to happen on today. It would have been touching. It already will be.

Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith
Paul Tillich

Computer Games
Click images for desktop size: “Computer Games” by Unknown
Unfortunate trouble today. Car trouble.
We went out in the morning to get dog food. The oil light was on/ I opened the hood and saw that oil was splaying out from the oil filter. I filled the engine with the oil we had in the car (justThe Desperate Hours purchased).
So we made a quick call to Jiffy Lube to get a new filter and on the way there the engine seized . . .
Not very good news.
We got a tow truck to a to a garage that’s nearby. Walked home in the snow. Cold, snow and no ride. Just time to think about can’t afford a new car, probably can’t afford a new engine. I’d guess the bearing probably burned. Maybe not.
The engine seized on a busy bridge, going uphill. I got out to push it while my friend steered. It was slow going. I was full extended and Cone Nebula
Click image: “Crab Nebula NGC 2264” by NASA
looking at the ground, trying to make sure I didn’t hit any ice and fall on my face. Suddenly the pushing got easier. I thought maybe the ground had leveled or something, I looked up and this fellow had just decided to help and was pushing for all he was worth. We got it to a driveway and even between us we could not get it up over the hump when suddenly anther car stopped and this fellow got out and finished helping.
They left as quickly as they came. Big city instincts had me reaching for my pocket and calculating how much money I had. But they left well before I was able to reach. Rah!
I had my mobile on me, fortunately. I walked to two garages, both closed on a Saturday of course. My friend managed to ring up a tow truck on her AAA. Funny thing was she thought her card had expired but the girl on the other end said it was paid for the year. So the tow was free.
We had to wait for it but less that 20 minutes. It was cold but not deadly cold inside.
Then we walked home and felt sad and then not so sad.
Coffee
Click images for desktop size: “Coffee” by Unknown
I told her that chances were good it would be three to four thousand to fix or replace the engine. Can’t afford it. Can’t afford a new car either, or a used car.
This is the busy week for my friend. Where she works is 30 miles away. There’s public transportation. It runs twice a day and takes over two hours. So we reserved a car. About 240 for the week. Can’t afford that either.
But we’re still smiling.
That’s what friends are for I guess.
The weekend seemed to be off to a good start too. On Friday my friend too the giant dog into work with her. This greatly offended the gentle dog. He’s still pouting today! He believes he is the working dog!
But the giant dog did well. He was protective without being aggressive. There’s about a 6 acre fieldDivided Into Zero by my friends workplace and he played in the snow with another working puppy. And he was off lead! And came back!
There’s a place near us that does a gluten free vegetarian pizza. That night we had pizza. My friend her gluten free one and the dogs and I our terrible bad for you pizza. We enjoyed it and felt all woozy and content.
Until my puppy decided that a piece of pizza I was holding was too tempting. She snatched it from my hand. She gave it right back but then scuttled away rather than go to place, or puppy prison, the big house for bad dogs, or the bathroom with the DOOOR CLOSED! For five whole minutes.
Daybreak
Click images for desktop size: “Daybreak” by Unknown
Then the car thing happened. Stress and cold weather has made my friend sick again. Funny, she was born and bred to this climate but I deal with it better. As we walked I put it off to my building my endurance by taking the dogs out for an hour or so everyday. When we got home it seemed to be that she was just more dressed for running from car to store than for endurance.
First time I ever knew there was a difference.
So I’m waddled in stress and worry. Its only a car but we need a car to survive. It is the centerpiece of our survival universe. It will sort out. It has to. This is the sort of problem that can be dealt with it just ripples and makes things difficult and, hopefully, doesn’t destroy.
Thank god for football and movies.
The AFC and NFC Championship games are today. And its certainly odd.
The two six seed teams, the two who barely qualified are in the Championship. Baltimore andEyes Without A Face Arizona looked unreal thrashing favored opponents. Philadelphia looked no nonsense in thrashing an inept Eli Manning and a disorganized New York Giants team while the Steelers destruction of the Chargers seemed predicated on the Steeler’s O-Line finally remembering how to block.
I was 2-2 in my picks. Careful study that couldn’t anticipate the emotional swings of the teams. My friend was 2-2 because of lucky guesses.

My picks are in bold.

Philadelphia at Arizona – A few weeks ago the Eagles just trounced the Cardinals. It was an embarrassing defeat for them. It was also a meaningless game for the Cardinals. The question is: “Can the Eagles keep up this surprising run?”
They probably can but the Eagles were pretty dinged up after whomping the Giants. Most importantly the Eagles resurgence has hinged upon Brian Westbrook and he is dinged up pretty badly. He’ll play but it would be tough to expect him to play at the level he has been at this past month.
The Cardinals are playing ball as well as they have all season. They’re bashed up some but reasonably sound. Their X-Factor is Kurt Warner, the evil genius who worked his way into the NFL after years in Arena football and the WFL, worked his Confined by Julie Bell
Click images for desktop size: “Confined” by Julie Bell
way into three Superbowls and two MVP’s. This is no doubt his last chance to again prove the world wrong.
The Eagles secondary can handle him. No one can handle Larry Fitzgerald right now. With Antaun Bolden set to play they can’t even afford to double cover him unless they wan to rush just 3 linemen all day.
With James and Hightower being just effective enough to get the play action pass working the Cardinals will get their points at home.
The Cardinals’ Defense has looked good in the playoffs. Westbrook is too good a back not to make a few great runs. But Donavan McNabb will likely throw a couple of picks against the ball hawking Cardinal’s secondary. DeSean Jackson will face a rougher set of jams and presses then he’s seen previously. They’ll open up the middle for him where he’ll get cleaned out.Dracula
This should be the most entertaining game of the day.

Baltimore at Pittsburgh – I’m taking the Ravens almost on a whim. Joe Flacco has gotten a lot of e-ink for being the first rookie to take his team this far, but I keep remembering that Rothlisberger did it with the Steelers in the most boring way possible.
This is going to be a ugly brutal game. The two best defenses in the league playing angry. The Steelers Troy Polamanu is banged up. At 905 he’s still the best player on the field.
I don’t think the Steelers O-Line can hold up against the Ravens as well as it did last week. They’ll bash a fragile Rothlisberger around and do whatever it takes to take him out of the game.
The game should come down to field goals but in nasty weather and cruel winds the kicking game will spend most of the game on the sidelines.
Its should be mean, cruel football today and I think the Ravens feel too maligned to back down, give up or consider losing.

When you have a dream, you’ve got to grab it and never let go
Carol Burnett

Wave Outline
Click images for desktop size: “Wave Outline” by Unknown
Still feeling thin. My friend isn’t doing much better. Only two dogs at the dog party. They had a weeks worth of fun looking at the pictures.
She had a bad day. Creepy co-worker who reports to her. My friend went ballistic and gave herselfA Quiet Place to Kill a 26 hour (and counting) headache.
We took the dogs out for a late night walk. It was fun. Everyone felt a little bit better for it. What was nicest that the park near us was completely empty except for two guys who had somehow stomped out a 10 yard square ice skating rink. The dogs had never skating before and they were enthralled to the point of not even barking at Surf
Click images for desktop size: “Surf” by Unknown
the strangers.
It was cold. My friend asked me, “Can you feel your face and fingers?” I said, “Of course!”
But then thinking about it I realized that I couldn’t. Not at all. I didn’t realize it.
I’m also worried about a dear friend who works at Starbucks. What that corporation is doing is pure evil.
Recently they closed down nearly 700 shops, throwing an estimated 2,800 people out of work. The company disputed all unemployment claims stating that they could have transfered to another store . . .
Their new ploy to force attrition, is to demand that all employees makes themselves available for work for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Not being available is cause for termination. They make no guarantee that any employee will receive the hours for which they may have been hired. Meaning that you could wait for work for 84 hours and only get 4 hours Welcome to Hell by Jakob P
Click images for desktop size: “Welcome to Hell” by Jakob P
of work.
I’ve been in that situation. Watching the rent clock tick and scrabbling for money to pay the phone bill so you can call in and be told there’s nothing now, check back in a few hours or tomorrow. You can’t even look for another job because you relied on your paycheck that barely met your minimum survival needs. Can’t take a part time gig because you have to be available. So you sink into depression clinging to hope and a lifeline that doesn’t ever materialize.
This is a pretty cynical move by Starbucks. I’m sure the exec’s are still drawing full pay. They have to take care of their families. They are too cowardly to think about yours.
I’m also sure that this has led to a sweet amount of corruption for those low level store managers. Fifty to a hundred bucks a week to get you 30 hours a week. Small bribe when it lets you avoidAlmost Human starving.
The move has given the Union movement a bit of a kick, but its too late now.
When Ronald Reagan destroyed the unions he knew full well that he was destroying the American dream. Even superstar athletes need a union.
I remember Walter Payton had to go through hell to get paid 700,000 a year after leading the NFL in rushing for 4 years. He never got it. Had to settle for 600,000.
It was Reggie White, then a Philadelphia Eagle, who showed the way. He was making 225,000 and wanted a raise to 350,000. The oner of the team said it was impossible. The Eagles were losing money and they couldn’t afford to pay him a fraction of what he was worth as a player and a box office draw.
White went to court. HE got the Eagles to open their books. What they found was surprising. The Eagles were losing money. The largest expenditure was a 25 million dollar a year salary paid to the owner. The second largest was the 15 million that went to pay for the owner and his families homes, the fourth largest was for cars, boats and personal vehicles.
Dark Tower
Click images for desktop size: “Dark Tower” by Marvel Comics
Its the same at Starbucks. Its the same for those employees as it was for Reggie White. Dedicated good employees cast aside and their needs ignored.
I’ll never drink a cup of franchise coffee again.

At least this is the best week of NFL football this season. All four games have a burgeoning promise that ascends to the imagination as a falling star in the desert beckons to the cave men.
Last week I was 3-1 one in my picks. I missed on Arizona. I was glad to lose it. The Cardinals were brilliant.
My friend was 2-2 in her picks. I guess I just can’t teach her anything!
My picks are in bold.

Arizona at Carolina – I don’t think the Panther defense can stop the Cardinals. They can slow themA Nymphoid Barbarian In Dinosaur Hell down especially since Boudin, my pick for courageous player of the year, may not be able to play. Still I can’t see them stopping Larry Fitzgerald or the quick strike. Meanwhile the Panthers rely on Steve Smith and Deangelo Williams. I think the Cardinals can stop Deangelo and slow down Smith but not at the same time. There’ll be a lot of junk passes that will set up a few pass interference calls when Delahome goes deep to Smith. It could be a Panthers blowout but more likely will be a shootout. The Panthers barely won a shootout against the Saints a few weeks ago. That was on the road. I think they’ll win a shootout today in the final moments.

Baltimore at Tennessee – If the Titans could have avoided Baltimore I think they had a sure path to the Superbowl. Last week Joe Flacco made history by being the first rookie QB to win a playoff game. He has shown he has no regard for that kind of history. That’s a good thing. Every step he has taken has been something new for him and the league. The Titans have enough D to make him nervous but not to stop him completely. Meanwhile the Ravens defense is looking better than anyone since the Ravens won the Superbowl. They match up against the Titans strength for strength. This will be a smash mouth encounter. I pick a surly swarming defense against a great running game. And then there’s the Ray Williams fire. The Jake Reed hunger. I can’t wait.

Eagles at New York Giants – The games both won at the others house this season. This is the tie Chinese Dancer
Click images for desktop size: “Chinese Dancer” by Unknown
breaker. The game will have almost a college feel. Two rivals who hate each other playing down in the cold and the dirt, true NFL style. There’s too much intensity here. The Giants have played cruddy ball since the Plaxico Buress incident while the Eagles have played their best ball in the last four weeks, mainly thanks to studly play by Brian Westbrook. But the Giants have had the bye week to heal. They’re completely healthy. The Eagles are in good shape but had a physical game last week. That and the fact the Giants have more talent makes me give them the pick. If all the games weren’t so good this would be the game of the week.

San Diego at Pittsburgh – A few weeks ago they played in Pittsburgh. The Steelers won 11-10. ThisArena week the Chargers won’t have super stud Ladainian Tomlinson. But the Steelers QB, Rothlisberger is coming off a severe concussion, the kind where you think you’re someplace else dreamy. Rothlisberger will get battered. Holmes will pick up some of the slack. If Tomlinson were in the game I’d take the Chargers. Derrick Sproles (who grew 2 inches just by joining the NFL) is a nifty little back. He can’t survive the battering from the Steelers and Polamanou. Last week against the Colts they were saying how Philip Rivers was willing the Chargers to the wind. What I saw was Rivers throwing a lot of iffy passes into too tight of a window. I think the Steelers won’t let him get away with that. I can see the Steelers winning on a defensive score.

As usual these picks are for my contest and for laughs. I wouldn’t pay any attention to them unless your idea of laughs is losing money to bookies . . .

When you have a dream, you’ve got to grab it and never let go
Carol Burnett

Wave Outline
Click images for desktop size: “Wave Outline” by Unknown
Still feeling thin. My friend isn’t doing much better. Only two dogs at the dog party. They had a weeks worth of fun looking at the pictures.
She had a bad day. Creepy co-worker who reports to her. My friend went ballistic and gave herselfA Quiet Place to Kill a 26 hour (and counting) headache.
We took the dogs out for a late night walk. It was fun. Everyone felt a little bit better for it. What was nicest that the park near us was completely empty except for two guys who had somehow stomped out a 10 yard square ice skating rink. The dogs had never skating before and they were enthralled to the point of not even barking at Surf
Click images for desktop size: “Surf” by Unknown
the strangers.
It was cold. My friend asked me, “Can you feel your face and fingers?” I said, “Of course!”
But then thinking about it I realized that I couldn’t. Not at all. I didn’t realize it.
I’m also worried about a dear friend who works at Starbucks. What that corporation is doing is pure evil.
Recently they closed down nearly 700 shops, throwing an estimated 2,800 people out of work. The company disputed all unemployment claims stating that they could have transfered to another store . . .
Their new ploy to force attrition, is to demand that all employees makes themselves available for work for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Not being available is cause for termination. They make no guarantee that any employee will receive the hours for which they may have been hired. Meaning that you could wait for work for 84 hours and only get 4 hours Welcome to Hell by Jakob P
Click images for desktop size: “Welcome to Hell” by Jakob P
of work.
I’ve been in that situation. Watching the rent clock tick and scrabbling for money to pay the phone bill so you can call in and be told there’s nothing now, check back in a few hours or tomorrow. You can’t even look for another job because you relied on your paycheck that barely met your minimum survival needs. Can’t take a part time gig because you have to be available. So you sink into depression clinging to hope and a lifeline that doesn’t ever materialize.
This is a pretty cynical move by Starbucks. I’m sure the exec’s are still drawing full pay. They have to take care of their families. They are too cowardly to think about yours.
I’m also sure that this has led to a sweet amount of corruption for those low level store managers. Fifty to a hundred bucks a week to get you 30 hours a week. Small bribe when it lets you avoidAlmost Human starving.
The move has given the Union movement a bit of a kick, but its too late now.
When Ronald Reagan destroyed the unions he knew full well that he was destroying the American dream. Even superstar athletes need a union.
I remember Walter Payton had to go through hell to get paid 700,000 a year after leading the NFL in rushing for 4 years. He never got it. Had to settle for 600,000.
It was Reggie White, then a Philadelphia Eagle, who showed the way. He was making 225,000 and wanted a raise to 350,000. The oner of the team said it was impossible. The Eagles were losing money and they couldn’t afford to pay him a fraction of what he was worth as a player and a box office draw.
White went to court. HE got the Eagles to open their books. What they found was surprising. The Eagles were losing money. The largest expenditure was a 25 million dollar a year salary paid to the owner. The second largest was the 15 million that went to pay for the owner and his families homes, the fourth largest was for cars, boats and personal vehicles.
Dark Tower
Click images for desktop size: “Dark Tower” by Marvel Comics
Its the same at Starbucks. Its the same for those employees as it was for Reggie White. Dedicated good employees cast aside and their needs ignored.
I’ll never drink a cup of franchise coffee again.

At least this is the best week of NFL football this season. All four games have a burgeoning promise that ascends to the imagination as a falling star in the desert beckons to the cave men.
Last week I was 3-1 one in my picks. I missed on Arizona. I was glad to lose it. The Cardinals were brilliant.
My friend was 2-2 in her picks. I guess I just can’t teach her anything!
My picks are in bold.

Arizona at Carolina – I don’t think the Panther defense can stop the Cardinals. They can slow themA Nymphoid Barbarian In Dinosaur Hell down especially since Boudin, my pick for courageous player of the year, may not be able to play. Still I can’t see them stopping Larry Fitzgerald or the quick strike. Meanwhile the Panthers rely on Steve Smith and Deangelo Williams. I think the Cardinals can stop Deangelo and slow down Smith but not at the same time. There’ll be a lot of junk passes that will set up a few pass interference calls when Delahome goes deep to Smith. It could be a Panthers blowout but more likely will be a shootout. The Panthers barely won a shootout against the Saints a few weeks ago. That was on the road. I think they’ll win a shootout today in the final moments.

Baltimore at Tennessee – If the Titans could have avoided Baltimore I think they had a sure path to the Superbowl. Last week Joe Flacco made history by being the first rookie QB to win a playoff game. He has shown he has no regard for that kind of history. That’s a good thing. Every step he has taken has been something new for him and the league. The Titans have enough D to make him nervous but not to stop him completely. Meanwhile the Ravens defense is looking better than anyone since the Ravens won the Superbowl. They match up against the Titans strength for strength. This will be a smash mouth encounter. I pick a surly swarming defense against a great running game. And then there’s the Ray Williams fire. The Jake Reed hunger. I can’t wait.

Eagles at New York Giants – The games both won at the others house this season. This is the tie Chinese Dancer
Click images for desktop size: “Chinese Dancer” by Unknown
breaker. The game will have almost a college feel. Two rivals who hate each other playing down in the cold and the dirt, true NFL style. There’s too much intensity here. The Giants have played cruddy ball since the Plaxico Buress incident while the Eagles have played their best ball in the last four weeks, mainly thanks to studly play by Brian Westbrook. But the Giants have had the bye week to heal. They’re completely healthy. The Eagles are in good shape but had a physical game last week. That and the fact the Giants have more talent makes me give them the pick. If all the games weren’t so good this would be the game of the week.

San Diego at Pittsburgh – A few weeks ago they played in Pittsburgh. The Steelers won 11-10. ThisArena week the Chargers won’t have super stud Ladainian Tomlinson. But the Steelers QB, Rothlisberger is coming off a severe concussion, the kind where you think you’re someplace else dreamy. Rothlisberger will get battered. Holmes will pick up some of the slack. If Tomlinson were in the game I’d take the Chargers. Derrick Sproles (who grew 2 inches just by joining the NFL) is a nifty little back. He can’t survive the battering from the Steelers and Polamanou. Last week against the Colts they were saying how Philip Rivers was willing the Chargers to the wind. What I saw was Rivers throwing a lot of iffy passes into too tight of a window. I think the Steelers won’t let him get away with that. I can see the Steelers winning on a defensive score.

As usual these picks are for my contest and for laughs. I wouldn’t pay any attention to them unless your idea of laughs is losing money to bookies . . .

Inspiration is an awakening, a quickening of all man’s faculties
Giacomo Puccini

Pin Up Art by JW McGinnis Its going to be 62 today. All the snow is gone. There are a few treacherous ice patches still lingering but they’ll be gone soon too.
Thirty mile an hour winds. The wind is icy and feels like life struggling.2001
It feels like a beautiful spring day. Which also sounds stupid to say 3 days before the new year.
I’m discovering I like the cold and the snow. Maybe its just my body and will bending to the inevitable but it feels right.
Garbo as a Trojan I’ve spent most of my life in the warmth of the sun or in temperate regions. Cold was a thing to visit and to see, and marvel at. Now I look forward to the warm shower spray hitting me while the air around me is frigid and cruel while I stand naked.
I like layering clothes and surviving the harshness of the weather. Walking the dogs who leap and cavort in oblivious excitement.
The cold makes a simple walk to the store seem like an adventure, an exciting accomplishment that marks the day with a white stone.
This December spring day is yukky. The mud instead of soft snow and slippery ice is ugly and of no value to the soul or to the eye and heart.
I like the snow. I like watching the dogs play in it and stop to bury their faces in it. I even like shoveling it. It feels like a victory.

The dishwasher is in a few dozen pieces. It stopped cleaning the dishes. Took it apart. There’s a lot of calcium build up but nothing that would explain its futile efforts as splashing the dishes.
Glittering Hallways of Heaven We’re going to soak the screens, filters and spray arms in CLR today. It might do something. There’s a few other parts that need checking out. I feel like a bumbling handyman, but so far seem to have broken nothing.

My friend is enjoying being home. I enjoy her being around. She seems worried that she’s bothering me or something. Can’t quite read it and the things that could be bothering her play in my head in horrifying cinerama.
We had a good Christmas. The toys, the food, even my CHristmas cookies were okay. My unbaked oatmeal cookies didn’t set properly but they were still edible until the stupid cat decided to get on the counter and put cat poison on them!
The dogs are still over joyed. I love them so it pleases me as little else could.Charley Varrick
I keep thinking about the Rose Bowl. If nothing else Joe Paterno and Pete Carroll will give us the classiest bowl game of the season. That counts for a lot to me. Why USC is so heavily favored surprises me. I could see them being maybe 3 point favorites but I think Penn State should be up by about 2. They hammered Oregon State, the only team to beat USC this year and they beat Ohio Marylin Manson State in a tense gritty smash mouth affair. USC destroyed Ohio State but not as convincingly as Penn State destroyed Oregon State. So, I wait.

This has been, I think, the worst NFL season in years. The on,y real bright spots are the two rookies, Matt Ryan of the Falcons and Joe Flacco of the Ravens playing so well and Matt Cassell coming off the Patriots bench to become a star.
The offenses have all been dull and repetitive. The defenses have settled in and know their jobs. The last time the NFL looked this dour it took the old AFL to wake them up.
Roger Goodell, NFL commish, has created this environment. He’s cheapening the product, bending to the whims of the owners and and the gamblers while treating the stars of the game like flotsam that get in the way of his vision for the Death Rattle game. Which is sort of like George Martin firing John Lennon from the Beatles because Paul wrote catchier tunes.
Last week I started out 8-1 in my picks! I was the national prize leader by two points!! I then proceeded to be wrong about every single late game and finished the week a dolorous 10-6. I wanted that NFL team watch and was viewing a lifetime supply of beef jerky as proper recompense.
My picking this year has been terrible. Usually I was always in the top 10%. This year I’m in the top 70% or the bottom 30% if you chose to be unkind.
What’s worse is my friends picks. She was an unsightly 9-7 last week. Clearly she has not been learning from my masterful examples.
The Servant
As usual my picks are in bold.

New England at Buffalo – This had game of the week potential but Buffalo has been to flat. It should still be close. Teddy Bruschi is out for the Patriots so is Richard Seymour. Its a must win for the Pats while for the Bills this is nothing but pride and setting themselves for next years contracts.

Kansas City at Cincinnati – There are actually worse games this week, worse than this! I think the Bengals gave all they had last week in beating the Browns while the Chiefs keep playing better, not well enough to be good but better. Larry Johnson should do well and Thigpen to Anthony Gonzales is pretty to see.

Detroit at Green Bay – This is an exciting game for all the wrong reasons. The Lions are looking to Untitled by Soa Lee become officially the worst team in NFL history. Only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their debut season managed to lose them all. The Lions have already lost more games in a season than ANYONE! They’ve sewn up the number 1 pick. Wonder if they’ll take a receiver. The Packers are a mediocre team (who sure have the Bears number) but should have enough self respect to not spoil the Lions bid for immortality.

Oakland at Tampa Bay – And anther meaningless game . . . The Buc’s have more talent but since they flamed out so badly in their two must win games they may already be on their winter vacations. The Raiders might fire it up but probably not.

Tennessee at Indianapolis – The Titans have already announced that 7 starters are sitting down to get ready for the play offs. The Colts will probably follow suit. Keep the big guys primed and then A Tale of Two Sisters send in the back-ups. How unexciting. The Titans won when this matchup earlier in the season, when it meant something. Here I’ll take the Colts because they have a tiny bit more to play for.

New York Giants at Minnesota – Picking the Giants as they’re more sensitive and not looking at all indestructible. The Vikings have to play them My Life Savings later on the road (if they advance that far). It would be easy to take the Vikings in this case but I’ll stick with the Giants because they take so much heat when they don’t win big that they’ll take a loss as the end of the world.

Carolina at New Orleans – This game only means something to one guy. Dru Brees has a shot at the all time passing record for a season. The Saints need something to show pride in after this dismal mess of a season. The Panthers still look terrible to me as well. NFL football shouldn’t always rely on miracles to win games.

St Louis at Atlanta – And this game means nothing to nobody. I don’t think the Falcons could manage to throw the game to the Rams. They’ll like having a live scrimmage before the playoffs. Who knows, the Rams may forget their place and pull out a squeaker but I can’t see how.
Korean Woman
Chicago at Houston – The Bears looked horrific against the Packers twice. They can still make the playoffs? The Texans aren’t revitalized. They’re weak. The Bears should have enough gritty pride to not want to be embarrassed completely this season. Whether the Vikings or the Bears make it to the playoffs they figure to be first round exits.

Cleveland at Pittsburgh – This is the cruddy game of the week. Worst offense in the NFL against the best Defense. The only drama is how long will the Steelers wait before bringing in Bryon Leftiwich for Rothlisberger. Since the Browns couldn’t move the ball against the Steelers 2nd and third stringers we may even get to see the third string QB for the Steelers.
An American Werewolf in London
Jacksonville at Baltimore – This one of the more interesting meaningless games. Interesting because there’s a chance both teams will play hard. The Jaguars are looking at a housecleaning and some may want to keep their jobs. The Ravens haven’t clinched a playoff spot yet and know they will be underdogs. The defense will burn through the Jags.

Seattle at Arizona – Another meaningless snore-er. These games get scary for people foolish enough to bet them. The Cardinals have nothing to play for. In many ways they’ve already accomplished everything they wanted this season. The Seahawks stink but have nothing to lose. They’ve been improving. It will also be Seahawks coach, Mike Holmgren’s last game. That almost makes me lean to the Seahawks. They played their hearts out last week against the Jets to win his final home game. Running on emotion leaves you burned out and empty. I don’t think they Mini Watogla by Newsman Pro can bring that much fire to the game again. It would be something to see if they can. Would they parade Holmgren on their shoulders and carry him off the field? They should anyway.

Miami at New York Jets – Game of the week, if only because Chad Pennington comes home to face the guy who replaced him. This lover’s spat will make things exciting for the Dolphins while Brett Favre’s right arm will keep things tense for the Jets. This is the big stage, Favre owns the big stage. Pennington owns the Meadowlands. This will be good. A loss takes the Jets out of the playoffs. A win gives the Dolphins the Division title and pushes the Patriots out of the playoffs.

Dallas at Philadelphia – This is the media’s game of the week. I’m not that interested. The Cowboys Attack of the Crab Monsters sold their souls and cheapened the game far more than making snow angels in the end zone ever could, and have little to show for it. The Eagles have looked dreadful too many times this season, even in a couple of games where they pulled out surprising wins. Winner gets a wild card spot. Loser gets to go home and read. The Cowboys fit that role better I think.

Denver at San Diego – Embarrassing game of the season. If the Broncos lose the Chargers win the Division and go to the playoffs as 8-8 champions. This has already been a cruddy season so I’m picking the Broncos to avoid that debacle. The Chargers should be favored. I still think Jay Cutler is a very good, approaching great QB.

Washington 13 at San Francisco 9 – And the season ends Sunday night with this meaningless travesty. Redskins coach Jim Zorn, so highly touted mid-season has been under the gun and dealing with serious job threats. If the Redskins have anything in them at all that should give them enough edge to win this one. Mike Singletary is no sentimentalist and the 49er’s will come looking for bear cocky and confident. It will be better than it should be.

Not responsible for brain hemorrhage or apoleptic seizure that may occur when considering these picks.

The secret of creativity is knowing how to hide your sources
Albert Einstein

Fallen Angel IV by Luis Royo
Click images for desktop size: “Fallen Angel IV” by Luis Royo
We had tostadas for dinner last night. Made from scratch tostadas. Nearly blew up the pressure cooker cooking the beans.
Sort of made us both sick . . . To much tos and not enough tada I guess . . .The Killers
Everything is still feeling good. My friend couldn’t sleep from her tostada illness so she ended up working on some project for her job. Heck of a way to spend your Christmas vacation.
She explained everything she was doing to me in fine detail. I don’t think it was very important that I didn’t understand a thing she was talking about. She seemed very content and proud of herself for solving a problem and I could appreciate that. Even if I had no concept what the problem was or anything else much about it.
Typography Greeting by Blur
Click image: “Typography Greeting” by Blur
Last night we watched Jim Henson’s “The Christmas Toy”. Mildly amusing but nothing to go out of your way for. Then we watched an episode of the old TV series, “Kung Fu”.
It’s my friends favorite TV show ever. I enjoy it because I keep discovering a lot of friends had parts in the show. I still get a charge out of seeing my friends work.
It’s become the tradition to watch an episode every Sunday night. Were about a third through season two right now. Last night the show was pretty good. David Carradine still bugs me. He can’t fight but I do like his halting way of speaking english and Keye Luke is Keye Luke (Master Po). From Charlie Chan on I’ve always thought he was awesome.
Last night the show actually got into some Chinese history. It seemed accurate. At least it didn’t contradict anything I already thought I knew.
It explained the story of the Manchus’ burning the Shaolin Temple and killing all of the monks and how the five surviving monks formed the Tongs. How they convulsed their beliefs in order to use violence to not avenge but regain the place of their religion Christmas
Click images for desktop size: “Christmas” by Unknown
and in their convulsions metamorphed into bandits.
Then there was an interaction between a missionary and Caine that surprisingly showed the parallels between Christianity and Buddhism! Surprising and pithy stuff for a TV show. It didn’t go that deep into it but it was enough to fire up some imaginations I’d imagine.
Then Richard Lo playing the venerable aged Tong leader gave a fantastic portrait of calm and logical evil. Approaching his problems and issues with reverence and ruthlessness. An elegant portrait of the evil men do for the betterment of society and themselves.
It would have been a much better show if David Carradine could at least look like he could fight . . .
Last night my puppy did a strange regression back to when she refused to go outside unless I wasSpiderman with her. I don’t mind trekking through the drifting snow with her but it bothers me that she might suddenly have lost her inner sense of security, a feeling the two of us worked hard to instill.
She seems better this morning. More focused on having fun. That’s the way it should be.

I’ve got a dozen Christmas tracks today.
Christmas Card by S4W
Click image: “Card” by S4W
I don’t much like rap. I like the old school stuff, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Public Enemy, NWA and, of course Snoop Dogg. Snoop seemed to have lost his way a bit lately but he’s come out with a new album that is a Christmas record!!
So far I like it. Very little tedium, the nice quasi-jazz mixes and lush production values. “Landy in my Egg Nog” is cool, funny and real.
I talked to Mamie Van Doren and she told me how Elvis had invited her to see Louis Jordan in Vegas. She didn’t get to go because her then husband, Ray Anthony, was a jealous guy. For some reason what fascinated me was that Elvis wanted to see Louis Jordan. I checked him out and he was sort of a wild man playing within the big band croonermentality of the time. His Christmas tune “Santa Claus Santa Claus” does nothing to dispel the image. He is for sure worth listening to.
Christmas Pets
Click images for desktop size: “Christmas Pets” by Unknown
And speaking of Elvis The Holly Twins’ “I Want Elvis For Christmas”is okay but gets legendary when you know that its a teen Eddie Cochran playing the guitar and doing the hiccupy background vocals!
And when you go there you have to mention Dora Bryan’s “All I Want For Christmas Is A Beatle”
Carla Thomas made it personal with her “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. Cool Stax sound and soaring voice.
Going even more old school is jazz legend Dave Brubeck. Rah. His “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” is very cool and has the right sense of mellow for wrapping those last minute Christmas gifts.
Stepping slightly ahead in time we’ve got yet another new Christmas album. This one from Little Steven Van Zandt, the guy from Bruce Spingsteen, the Asbury Jukes and the Disciples of Soul. He just recorded a bunch of new garage stuff for a thing called “Christmas A Go Go. It is definitelyThe Two Mrs Carrolls alright. This is The Electric Prunes doing “Jingle Bells”, from the day when a name like Electric Prunes made sense to somebody.
From the same album we have The Chevelle’s doing the elegantly titled “Come All Ye Faithful Surfer Girls”. Get your jaw ready to drop.
From the authentic era is this righteous tune, Davie Allan and the Arrows going all Yuletide with “Ho Ho Ho Seven-Hark The Herald Angels Sing”. Which is possibly every old biker’s favorite Christmas tune.
Madonna tried to ruin the Eartha Kitt klazzik and here The Dollyrots redeem the legacy of “Santa Baby” with this gravely distant purr.
Joey Ramone died. The world is a darker place without him. He left a lot of stuff out there that’s being ignored. One of them is his truly cool cover of Darlene Love and Phil Specter’s Christmas smash “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”. It should not be missed.
Eventide by Stag
Click images for desktop size: “Eventide” by Stag
And finally we have one of the little promo things I’m so fond of, Jan and Dean wishing you a “Happy New Year”. Not much better in life than that.
We have to go out and get dog food. Have to beat the weather. Its sunny and cold now. Snow is promised before the day ends.
I’m kind of looking forward to that. Even with all my snow shovelling muscles sore and tired it still makes things pretty and fun and adventurous.
What’s irksome is that Christmas eve is supposed to break 40 and then to rain . . . and then freeze. We’ll survive. We always do.

I’m not a genius; I’m just a tremendous bundle of experience
R. Buckminster Fuller

Cruxificion of the Goddess
Click images for desktop size: “Crucifixion of the Goddess” by Unknown
Some torpid news yesterday.
We’d been buying special gluten free oats for oatmeal and stuff but it turns out that my friend is still having bad allergic reactions.
My only food restrictions are fat and sugar and that causes me some minor distress. My friend can’t Sex Kittens Go To College eat wheat, gluten and now oats. Kind of sucks.
My little blind dog couldn’t have wheat, beef and who knows what else. He’d go crazy if he got any. Somebody needs to make a pill. That’s the American way isn’t it?
I was also pretty dismayed to see that the USA General in Iraq is refusing to comply with Obama’s demand for troop withdrawal. Its nice to know that Bush has succeeded in turning the US into a South American puppet government. This appears to be the start of a junta. Obama is crazy if he doesn’t have the guy relieved from duty the second he takes office. I’d think that having him charged with treason, mutiny and a few other charges wouldn’t be out of line.
Yesterday we got the tree up. That’s great fun. The dogs are fascinated but then disappointed because they’re not allowed to eat the ornaments.
I still like it. I like remembering the friends who gave us the stuff. I liked the copper ornament that the little blind dog gave us. I like it Lights Of Christmas
Click image: “Lights of Christmas” by Unknown
all.
Nearly finished vacuum sealing all the doggie secret Santa gifts. The stickers look nice but don’t stick to the packages real well. We’ll figure something out.
No one came to my puppy’s Christmas party. Last time I let her handle the invitations. She didn’t care. She had fun.
There’s another 3 inches of snow on the ground this morning with more expected. I have become the master of the snow shovel.
My friend gave her spare snow blower to our new neighbors as aSanta Dog
Click images for desktop size: “Santa Dog” by Unknown
bribe really to get them to take care of the 30 yard driveway that leads to both of our houses. The neighbors still perplex me. That means I don’t think I like them but have only a few reasons not to. The guy is a rude jerk so that’s easy to explain away. He is a total jerk.
His wife is pleasant but I keep getting a nasty tang of insincerity. She’s a bartender or a bar maid at a local rather scuzzy bar. Its honest work but she shows all the signs of being a heavy drinker. Maybe that’s what I’m reacting to. My own innate prejudices.
Or there’s a good chance she’s a jerk too. But we have seen her at two of the dog walks which is normally enough to warm me to almost any person. And I do like their dog. It upsets the husband that the dog likes me. He yells at it when it comes up to say hi and never acknowledges me. He’s,Superman And Santa Claus like I said, a total jerk. I keep trying to keep things amenable. At least to the point of them calling the fire department if the house is on fire.
But now the snow blower my friend gave them is frozen to the ground!
Today I watch football and I plan to make cookies. CHRISTMAS cookies. I was going to make Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies but with my friends revelation . . . I could still make them and just keep them all for myself! Most likely I’ll make the coconut flour cookies. They’re okay too.

Last week my courageous picks resulted in me going 8-8! An impressive display of guts and risk taking on my part. My friend played all the safe picks, made all the easy choices and ended up an embarrassing 10-6.
My friend is not a Christmas music nut, but she is fond of one song: “Little Drummer Boy”.
To teach her a lesson I managed to find about 30 versions of the tune. With I’m finished with her she’ll never want to hear “rump a tum rum” ever again! That’s her penalty for trying to look like she is beating me in NFL picks!

The Harry Simone Choral did the original “Little Drummer Boy”. When I was a kid and driving around with my mother they would play it ad nauseam on the radio.
Which is why its cool that my peers have done what they could to renovate, some might call it destroy, this little ditty. Tech band Low’s version of the drummer song turns the tune into a trance Elemental by Skywalker
Click images for desktop size: “Elemental” by Skywalker
dirge. Not very tasty but appropriate somehow.
Heavy metal guitarist, Gary Hoey had a surprise hit album of Christmas music. He basically played heavy distorted guitar over jams of Christmas tunes. It was so successful he had to do a sequel! Here’s Gary Hoey’s metallic take on the drummer boy song.
Steve Vai noticed Hoey going platinum so he organized a bunch of hard rock guitarists to do the same thing. The Merry Axemas albums are interesting but not very. Guys like Steve Stevens, a fine guitarist who kind of blew his chances by taking the quick and easy path with Billy Idol kind of typifies the album. For the most part each track starts off with some delicate and fine playing before it suddenly just rips into a loud more or less formless jam. Alex Lifeson does our featured track. Not much more to say than that other than I would hope that some part of this Something Weird record went to a charity or something. No mention of it but one can hope.
One thing my search discovered is that Joan Jett is still in business. I still remember her from the Runaway days where Kim Fowley and Rodney Bingenheimer were promoting them. Fowley to continue making money and fame and Bingenheimer because he’s a lonely guy looking for love or a reasonable facsimile. Jett was the most talented musician in the band. Now it seems she even has her own record label and has produced a new sampler of the bands she’s signed! Cool. We have the lady herself Joan Jett doing “Little Drummer Boy” replete with fat barre chords!
Next up is the 60’s band who had the big hit with “Wimoweh” – the lion sleeps tonight song. The Tokens’ version of the drummer boy is kind of sweet. The soaring falsetto takes over at times and moves the tune back into a primal mode.
The Dandy Warhols, of all groups, did an interesting cover. It still sounds like the Dandy’s too. That’s fine by me.
No song is any good unless you can make it into a rollicking surf tune! Los Straitjackets prove that wrestling masks, surf guitars drums and Christmas rock.
But I’ve save the best two versions for last.
The Little Drummer Boys by Mike Watt and the Crew of the Flying Saucer was, I thought, the most insane version of this track I’d ever heard. And how could you not love a band name like that! But then I heard something better. A coolness not heard of since Hal Blaine or Sandy Nelson Dusty Watson Complex leaves no doubt that the most dangerous weapon in the world is still a simple trap kit and the willingness to take no prisoners.
Snowflakes
Click images for desktop size: “Snowflakes” by Unknown

And now to week 16 of the NFL.
My picks are in bold.

Indianapolis at Jacksonville – As the NFL plays out it string more and more of the games are the sheerest tedium. The NFL should follow baseballs lead and use these dead games to highlight new players, try some new strategy. Instead its just the same boring plays that having worked for 14 weeks but maybe they will now . . . that wasn’t the case for the Jaguars Thursday, but only because of the tremendously moving appearance by Richard Simmons in a wheelchair. They played spirited football like they should have played all season. They lost because Peyton Manning doesn’t care about opponents teammates or gutty performances. He only cares about winning and getting to the Superbowl. I wrote the Colts off 10 weeks ago. With the win they clinched the wild card. Show to Bug Bunny Christmas go, shows to go . . .

Baltimore at Dallas – The Cowboys are choking big time while the Ravens have that glint of desperation that just might carry them through into the playoffs. Superstars bickering vs aging superstars looking for a collision, looking for the hit to end it all. The choice is clear to me even though the Cowboys are pretty heavily favored. Game of the week contender.

Arizona at New England – Matt Cassel played brilliantly following the death of his father. He plans to finish the season the same was a s a tribute to his dad. That’s a powerful mojo. The only hope the Patriots have is to win out. Arizona is already in the playoffs, even has at least one home playoff game their first in like 35 years. So Larry Johnson and Arrington are going to sit out this meaningless game . . . The Cardinals haven’t won a game on the East Coast this season. Can’t expect much effort from them here.

San Diego at Tampa Bay – Coaching had probably cost the Buccaneers their shot at the playoffs. Pin it all on Jon Gruden and bizarre strategy in back to back must win games, both of which they lost. The Buc;s aren’t eliminated. The Chargers were everybody’s pick to go to the SuperBowl the minute Tom Brady went down. Now they The Sandman Maxfield Parrish
Click images for desktop size: “The Sandman” by Maxfield Parrish
are fighting to get to .500. They’ve no heart and never should have fired Marty Schottenheimer.

San Francisco at St Louis – Until Mike Singletary took over the 49er’s this was a early pick for cruddy game of the year. Right now you’d have to think the Niner’s would be idiots to not make Singletary the permanent HC. With what he has done with this team in 3 weeks is astounding. They are playing hard edged football, entertaining football. The idea of them having a few draft picks and a training camp is scary stuff. The Rams are hoping not to get relegated to a lower league.

Pittsburgh at Tennessee – After four freakish wins they’re call ing the Steelers the “Team of Destiny”. I see it as inept officiating that has only gone against the Steelers once. This is going to be a good game, especially with Haynesworth out for the Titans. These teams will probably meet againStrange Bedfellows in the playoffs. Having Haynesworth out will help the Titans in that game more than it will hurt them in this one. The Titans will not be able to run or pass the ball very consistently. Even without Haynesworth the Steelers haven’t been moving the ball well at all. Unless the ref’s decide to cheat again I think the Titans win a squeaker. Oh yeah, game of the week.

Cincinnati at Cleveland – Cruddy game of the week. Sad really. Both teams looked so promising coming out of camp. Taking the Bengals because, well, why not. Nobody has anything in this one. Slight edge to the Browns for their defense and ball hawking but the offense will cough the ball up as much as they take it away.

Miami at Kansas City – I’m taking the Dolphins because, well, its just common sense really. But the Chiefs aren’t looking good but they’ve gotten more dangerous. An upset wouldn’t surprise me here. I still expect it to be close.

New Orleans at Detroit – The Bears gamesmanship cost the Saints Reggie Bush and their season. Dru Brees is still looking like he’s going for the Hall of Fame and against the Lions that should be enough. In fact the Lions only real hope is that the Saints are so heartbroken about their Elysia by T Hecker
Click images for desktop size: “Elysia” by T Heckler
season that they forget to show up.

Houston at Oakland – Cruddy game of the week contender. The Texans are not looking better. they’ve been lucky and played teams that have given up. Like the Raiders this week.

Buffalo at Denver – Here’s a game so dull I don’t even want to think about it. Lynch should get some big yards. Trent Edwards is due back but its hard to figure how shaky he’ll be. Jay Cutler is all the Broncos have and probably all they’ll need n this one.

New York Jets at Seattle – The Seahawks stink but I’m nervous about Favre playing in a hostile environment. He could throw four picks in this one. Which still wouldn’t be enough for the Seahawks to win.The Great St Louis Bank Robbery

Philadelphia at Washington – The Redskins have rolled over and learned to play dead. The Eagles have a shot at the playoffs. That’s about all I can muster for this snorer.

Atlanta at Minnesota – The Falcons are looking tired. The Vikings aren’t looking good. If they were this would be a game of the week contender. Still Adrein Petersen and the Williams boys will keep the Vikings in it and disrupt the Falcons ground game enough for a home win.

Green Bay at Chicago – A few weeks ago the Packers spanked the Bears. That’s the last game they won/ They’ve looked terrible losing too. The Bears stink but they’re at home and eager to repay the humiliation they suffered. Oddly, the Bears Christmas at Rockefeller Center
Click images for desktop size: “Christmas at Rockefeller Center” by Unknown
have an outside shot at the playoffs.

Carolina at New York Giants – I don’t think much of the Panthers. See the Steelers comment above. Winning games is not the same as having a winning football team. The Giants have looked tired lately, stressed about Plaxico Buress and young receivers not handling the pressure. This is a game they need to right themselves to avoid an early exit from the playoffs.

Veiw these picks at your own risk. Not responsible for any physical damage due to excessive laughter and/or hysterics.

Is it Sunday yet?

The Vet

Click images for desktop size: “The Vet” by Unknown
The giant dog vomited this morning. There was blood in it.
Being a dog he’s staying pretty perky but refused his food even though it had egg in it.The Boogie Man
Have to watch him closely.
We went out and did four hours of shopping yesterday. Not Christmas shopping but just get supplies in survivor type shopping. I started to weaken at about 2 and a half hours. Too much time on my feet with no food and no pain pills. Got through it by steering all the carts and seeing how close I could come to the too many other shoppers out there.Christmas Lights 34

Click image: “Christmas Lights 34” by Unknown

We have discovered that the Salvation Army Store here is pretty good.
Got home and tried to watch a dog movie, “The Twelve Dogs of Christmas.” Great title. Movie seemed to have everything, Christmas AND dogs. It was dreadful. Acting so poor that it couldn’t be called amateurish. Only the crazy dog lady had a spark of talent but even she got sucked into the poorly conceived role and terrible writing. Even the costuming was insipid, and I’ve yet to comprehend the reason this “depression era” film was shot through constant heavy diffusion filters.
My friend thought it was exploitive. I just thought it was bad. Had to turn it off when, well, the plot is that this town has banned dogs, which is kind of “huh?” but I could bear with that. They have a Zen Garden

Click images for desktop size: “Zen Garden” by Unknown
dog catcher who seems to have some great disturbance mentally, or at least that’s the way they decided to play him. He catches up the dogs in the town and they just disappear. It appears that he hates dogs so much that he sells them to one of those notorious depression era dog fighting clubs . . . okay. I guess there’s a lot of money to be made catering to the blood thirsty desires of the homeless and unemployed. I see that’s evil but the dog fights are between a female Old English Sheep dog (who was very cute) and a neutered German Shepherd . . . I figure the headline fight was a pekinese against a Chihuahua.
The only commonsensical thing was they didn’t show any dog fighting. Instead a 10 year old girl City Without Baseball (with the stupidest hat and pig tails in movie history) swoops down and rescues the dogs while 20 adult men stand around and watch her escape. There’s too much dumbness to list and it all comes off as just dull.
The dogs are cute but clearly not movie trained. They claim, as an odd plot point that there are 51 dogs at the crazy dog lady’s house. But through out the movie I saw less than a dozen all toll.
This is just a movie to avoid.
Then watched the problematic “Frost/Nixon”.
Frank Langella gives a great performance. Its Oscar worthy for sure. All the acting is top notch. The film was . . . not that good. I liked that they hammered home a bit too incessantly that what Nixon was despised for is the same stuff that party boy frat house cheerleader George W is doing and laughing at us about. Its a point worth making.
The focus is too much on David Frost. A Brit mid-atlantic man who comes off pretty despicable in his own right.
I mean here’s a guy flying first class, staying in the best hotels and eating at all the best restaurants in LA ad we’re supposed to feel empathy because he’s using his own fortune and borrowing from his rich buddies to make this massive interview.
I didn’t buy it. It made the whole affair feel sleazy, like being in the house of a famous porn star. Langella’s performance made it work and held things together. He makes Nixon human and vulnerable while not letting us forget the monster and destroyer that he most surely was.
Christmas-Best Night of the Year

Click images for desktop size: “The Best Night of the Year” by Unknown
Its a fine line he walked and he did it gracefully. It would be like watching someone do a portrait of Hitler.
I was up and down all night. I’ll put it off to no college football anymore . . . and worry about Steve Sarkasian proving to me he is a total jerk by trying to hire away the entire USC coaching staff to go with him up to Washington. Doesn’t he know that there are other good coaches out there?

Today Christmas music focuses on punk Xmas. I always thought it was funny that punk bands paid any attention to Christmas at all. The first Christmas punk single I heard was from some Gardena band. They did a thrash version of “O Come All Ye Faithful”. It wasn’t very good. The record had a yellow label. And that’s all I really remember about it. That yellow label and its adolescent scream of “we’re so rebellious we even hate Christmas, but we still like Boys' Prison presents.”
The Dickies thrashy “Silent Night” is the first song I remember having an impact. I got it on this wild 45. It was pressed on clear vinyl that was shaped like a Christmas tree! The other tracks I’ve lost but they were great too. (Maibooz “Santa’s Gone Surfin'” and some turgid mawkish thing I don’t remember. I don’t have either of them to post.)
That was soon followed up with the freakish follow-up “(Its Gonna Be a) Punk Rock Christmas” by the Ravers. Its bad but funny and incredibly dated. I never heard of the Ravers before or since. Figure they were a mock band made up by some producer with dollar signs in his eyes who figured this could be a novelty hit.
Later on we got the awesome Shonen Knife doing “Space Christmas”. A nice bouncy Christmas tune with nice crunchy guitar.
Which somehow leads us to The Presidents Of The United States doing “Space Piglet”. This is on a Surfer Sihlouette by Chris Welch

Click images for desktop size: “Surfer Sihlouette” by Chris Welsh
punk compilation. I don’t like that the new punk would accept this.
I think that the tradition started with the Seattle garage punks of the 60’s. The sonics were part of a compilation album that the producer figured would generate a lot of interest. Its a pretty collectable album. Pretty amazing because its sort of dull. The Sonics stuff rules okay, but the Wailers are mawkish and dull and I can’t even remember the other tracks because they’re nothing but bad.
The Sonics tune, written to the tune of “Farmer John” was so good it was covered by Gruesomes covering “Santa Claus”. The coolness of the chorus, “I want a twangy guitar, a cute little honey and lots of money, Santa Claus,” says all I need it to say.
Before they eventually folded like a giant star collapsing in on itself the Sonics did another Marvel Holiday Special Christmas tune, “It’s Christmas” doesn’t destroy civilization like a lot of their tracks but nothing the Sonics do is ever dull or without interest.

Last week I was 11-5 in my football picks. In the past couple of years that would have been one of my off weeks. This season its one of my best. I figure corrupt officials! Its the only thing that explains the bizarre calls that have become a part of every game recently. My friend was 12-4. Which is easy to explain. She cheated.
With only three games left in the season the really cruddy games out number games of interest and good games. No one is really dominating are looking uncrushable. No one’s looking that good either. A lot of teams are looking that bad and a record number of teams are looking remarkably mediocre and boring.
As usual my picks are in bold.

New Orleans at Chicago – I picked the Saints. This was an incredibly unimpressive game. That the Bears will probably end up in first place this weekend is a shame. They’re a really poor team. The Saints have broken my heart. They looked just as bad as the Bears.

Washington at Cincinnati – The Redskins are in serious meltdown mode. Their stars are complaining, the intensity is fading as they are looking at another 8-8 season. Personally I don’t know how they played so well during that early stretch. The Bengals are officially a disaster. The bright spot of the season being a tie with the Eagles. So the Redskins should pull out of this one Christmas 31

Click images for desktop size: “Christmas Tree” by Unknown
pretty easily and build up some confidence.

Tampa Bay at Atlanta – A game of the week pretender. The Buccaneers looked pretty horrid against the flimsy Panthers last week. Matt Ryan is good but showed signs of the fatigue of the long season against the Saints. Both teams have their back against the wall. You’d have to figure this one to be low scoring and close. Normally I’d pick Buc’s coach Jon Gruden to do something stupid to cost them the game, but Ryan looks like he’s dealing with a tired arm and dead legs. He might be able to pull it together but the Tampa Bay defense should be too tough.

Tennessee at Houston – Since the Titans have clinched everything you can in the regular season the Texans best hope is for a total loss of concentration by the 12-1 Titans. Otherwise this could beCaptain Video really ugly. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see the Texans jump to an early lead before Tennessee wakes up and brings down the hammer.

Detroit at Indianapolis – I can think of no reason whatsoever to watch this game. Its a live scrimmage for the Colts. Calvin Johnson will play well for the Lions but no one will be able to get the ball to him.

Green Bay at Jacksonville – A strong contender for cruddy game of the week. Two teams with lost seasons playing out the string so they don’t have to give refunds on the season tickets. No offense for the Jaguars. The packers looking more than a little bit lost and dazzled. I suppose Green Bay could get crazy like they did against the Bears but it seems unlikely on the road.

San Diego at Kansas City – The AFC West is so poor the Chargers aren’t officially eliminated yet. These guys are playing for pride and next years contract. Kansas City has some talent but very little on defense. This is another cruddy game but Ladanian Tomlinson might wake up and go crazy. So

Click images for desktop size: “Swarm – detail” by Tessa
might Larry Johnson . . .

San Francisco at Miami – I’m sure the Dolphins were looking at this as a lock game but after the fire Mike Singletary has bought to the 49er’s and proven last week in their thumping of the Jets the Dolphins had better be leery. They’ve got much more talent than the Niners and they still have a shot at the playoffs. They still have a shot at winning the division. This suddenly is a game of the week contender!

Buffalo at the New York Jets – A lot of the luster is off this game. Two badly exposed teams. This could be competitive for all the wrong reasons. I’m going with Brett Favre to make a march to the playoffs. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t throw at least one incredibly painful pick.

Seattle at St Louis – Cruddy game of the week. This could top the Auburn 3-2 game for inept The Crawling Eye humor.

Minnesota at Arizona – The two worst divisions in football put their two best teams against each other. What a yawn. The Vikings D will harass Kurt Warner a little bit but he’ll still get his 300 yards. The Cardinal D will still give the Vikings their 13 points and we can all get to sleep early.

New England at Oakland – The Patriots are still mathematically alive in the playoff hunt but Matt Cassel’s, the Patriot’s QB, father passed away this week. Who can imagine what he’s going through. I’m not sure he’ll even play even though he returned to the team to practice. A tragic game whatever happens.

Denver at Carolina – Two teams playing bad football even with division leading records. Jay Cutler could lead the Bronco’s to a win but their defense is way to poor to stop the Panthers too few strengths.
Santa Checking it Twice

Click images for desktop size: “Santa Checking it Twice” by Unknown

Pittsburgh at Baltimore – Game of the week. Running scared Willie Parker won’t do much against a healthy and vicious Ravens defense. The Ravens believe in themselves and are nasty enough to prevent any miracles. The Steelers are leading the division due to inept calls and miracles. The Ravens have seen them already. Joe Flacco, Ravens rookie QB, is playing like a vet and not showing the expected fatigue. this game will have more hard hitting than the rest of the league. This is for the division lead, for pride and for honor. Ray Lewis is fighting Father Time and knows this might be his last chance to be on top of the world. They’ll be focused and ready to break the other teams heart. This might be the game of the year. If it goes to overtime we’ll se who has the bigger heart.

Cleveland at Philadelphia – The only thing this game will accomplish is to give the sportswriters the Beast of Blood chance to exclaim how the Eagles have pulled a dramatic turnaround and have gotten hot at the right time just like the Giants did last year. Its still a snoozer.

New York Giants at Dallas – The hyped game of the week. It should still be interesting. The guys are pro’s so I don’t put too much worry into Witten, Romo and Romo punching each other out during the game. What is a worry is just inept the Cowboy offense has looked for the last 8 games. The Giants won’t have their top rusher which will keep the game closer than it should be.

As usual these picks are a certain test of your laughing muscles. Even my puppy thinks she do better picks . . .

Giant dog going up and down. Outside by himself now, gorging on grass. We didn’t do any Christmas decorating yesterday as my friend has off from the 19th until after New Years. Seemed smart to wait until she could relax and have fun. Sick giant puppy might cause some plans to change. No difference to me or her so long as the big galloot feels good.