Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Daily Zen - Wednesday, November 30

In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher.

                       - Dalai Lama

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Turn of Phrase - Seeking Mercy for the Doctor Who Killed Michael Jackson

Dr. Conrad Murray and his
most (in)famous patient.
"Whether he is a barista. Whether he is a greeter at Wal-Mart, he's going to be the man who killed Michael Jackson."

- From defense attorney Ed Chernoff, who was attempting to remind Judge Michael Pastor that in addition to jail time, Dr. Conrad Murray will be forced to live with the infamy of being responsible for the death of an icon.

Daily Zen - Tuesday, November 29

Develop a mind that is vast like the water, where experiences both pleasant and unpleasant, can appear and disappear without conflict, struggle, or harm.

                           - Buddha

Monday, November 28, 2011

Black Friday Results and Holiday Sales Trends

Shoppers waiting in line at Best Buy.

Two weeks ago I wrote a blog post encouraging consumers to avoid the newly created Thanksgiving Day retail super sales, in the hopes of reminding people about the dual impact of patronizing big box stores on a major holiday. When you show up to purchase your crazily discounted X-Box on Thanksgiving, you send a message of encouragement that tells retailers you don't mind shopping on an important holiday, which by default means you are comfortable asking others to enjoy their turkey feast in a break room instead of at home with their families.

Well, the overnight stampedes are over and the pepper spray has been dispersed. Black Friday retail sales results have been reported, and the expert conclusion is that those mega-discount events were indeed successful in driving customer traffic - BUT they have likely only shifted the finite spending consumers planned for the holiday to happen earlier in the season. I suppose if you're Target, Best Buy, or Toys-R-Us this may still be good news because at least you know "you got yours" this holiday season, but at what cost?

Beyond the diminishing respect levels between big corporations and their employees (which sadly is of no concern to most companies), there is also the issue of compromised profitability. Doorbuster sale items are typically sold below the retailers' costs, and if aggressive marketing doesn't somehow convince shoppers to purchase several regular priced add-on items, then the doorbusters simply erode profit margins.

Herman Cain Accused of Adulterous Affair

Photo: Reuters/Brian Snyder
A woman named Ginger White told an Atlanta television station today that she had a thirteen year affair with Herman Cain that ended only a few months ago.

Cain denies the allegation, of course, but this time there may be an abundance of physical evidence. More to come in the next few days for sure...

In the meantime, that banging sound in Cain's ears? It's not a migraine - it's the final nails being pounded into his campaign's coffin. Lucky for Newt, his prior infidelity is already public record.

Coolest Author Recommendation Tool Ever

Those of you who worked at Borders will no doubt remember the amazingly clever Literature Map which we linked in the Atlas look-up application. For those of you who aren't familiar with this awesome tool, the Literature Map is a public website that allows you to enter an author's name into a search box and then be provided with an array of similar authors.

The ability to find related or suggested authors is handy, but what makes the Literature Map so fun is the stylish way in which the "similar author" results are displayed. The author name you entered appears in the middle of a dark blue screen, and the suggested author names are then displayed around the center of the screen, only they are scattered as if in a virtual universe. Those authors in closest proximity to the name you originally input are intended to be the most relevant recommendations. As a bonus, you can then just click on the name of any suggested author who appears, and the Literature Map re-populates with the newly selected author at the center of the universe.

Screen capture from the Literature Map.

I had forgotten about this awesome website until I saw a recent article about on Flavorwire. Since gift-giving time was coming up, I thought I would share it.

Give it a shot - access the site, type in your favorite author, and then enjoy the tiny solar system of writers that materializes.

(If you want to save or share the website, you can save the link or click the little envelope directly below and email this article.)

Daily Zen - Monday, November 28

When we act out of our negativity, the effect is like carving into stone. The imprint remains for a long, long time.

               - Genpo Merzel

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Federer Wins Third Straight Title

Photo: UK/Reuters
Roger Federer prevailed over France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga today in the ATP Tour Finals today in London. With the top three seeds failing to make the semi-finals, only Tsonga stood between Federer and his third title in as many weeks of play.

I hate to say I told you so (see last week's blog post - Federer Poised For End of Season Sweep), but I did.

The ATP Tour Finals tournament concludes the professional tennis "season," and now players will have six-eight weeks off before they have to kick it in gear again and head to Australia. Hopefully, the nearly two month break will allow the younger players to rest up and be prepared for next year. With three consecutive victories to close out the 2011 season and many of his younger challengers suffering various ailments and injuries of late, it seems the 30 year-old Federer may not be finished with his domination of the sport.

Ndamukong Suh Should Be Suspended for Season

Detroit Lions star defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh is facing suspension for his Thanksgiving Day attempt at stomping on an opposing player after holding him down by pinning his helmet to the ground.

Suh, who has already been fined over $40,000 since last year may face another fine from the Lions of up to $25,000, and the NFL is likely to suspend him for at least two games. With a per game salary in excess of $80,000, the suspension will impact Suh far more than the fine.

The NFL will determine and announce the specific extent of Suh's punishment this week, but I believe he should be suspended for the remainder of the year. Clearly, prior fines (and a one-on-one meeting arranged a month ago between Suh and the commissioner of the NFL) have been inadequate in clarifying the rules of the game to him.

This is more than a misunderstanding - Suh is a dirty player, and based on his post-game remarks Thursday, he really doesn't care. Amazingly, the video of his embarrassingly unapologetic press conference is still posted on the Detroit Lions website. In his comments, Suh apologizes to his "true fans" (whatever that means), and then attempts to explain that he was simply trying to remove himself from the situation (I suppose a sharp kick is necessary to remove yourself from the guy whose head you are mashing into the turf).

Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh "removing" himself
I don' think the stomp itself was egregious enough to warrant suspension for the remainder of the year, but in light of Suh's prior dirty play issues, and his utter lack of remorse or even recognition of the impropriety of his actions, I think a severe penalty is in order. Suspension for the remainder of the year would not only provide the two-by-four-to-the-forehead lesson that Suh apparently needs, but it would also send a message to NFL teams around the league to take more responsibility for holding their players accountable.

In his downtime for the rest of the season, perhaps someone could walk Ndamukong Suh down the career track of Albert Haynesworth, whose famous headstomp, slovenly work ethic, and apparent honeybun habit have led to him being tossed around the league like an overweight and unwanted rotten potato.

Week In Review - November 26, 2011

Here are links to a few of the fun and interesting things you might have missed on my blog this week.

The casual pepper-spraying of peaceful demonstrators by police at UC Davis inspired a wealth of creative photoshopping and led me to speculate about the proper etiquette for hosing down non-violent protestors with chemical irritants. While the Occupy demonstrators didn't actively oppose their attackers, Denver Broncos QB Tim Tebow did, as he defended himself and his performance at quarterback in a compelling interview with ESPN's Skip Bayless.

It was also a good week for "comeback" stories in the news. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich surged in the polls, although a cool interactive graph of the rise and fall patterns of the rest of the anybody-but-Romney candidates suggests his success may be short-lived. Ron Paul, who is still waiting on something magical to lift his campaign, did at least reach the level of success needed to be the subject of a hilarious BadLipReading video. Other comebacks this week included the Muppets, who stole the limelight in a sarcastic and fun musical cameo during Jason Segel's opening monologue on SNL, and the NBA, which announced the return of basketball on Christmas Day and a shortened season, which will still feel like it stretches on through eternity.

Lastly, this week saw the return of the Publix Pilgrim couple, the nostalgic salt and pepper shakers I bust out each Fall to adorn the Thanksgiving dinner table. This year the couple portrayed the roles of Paul and I in a silly pictorial representation of our Thanksgiving Day.

As always, thanks for reading.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The NBA Season Is Back

Kobe Claus
Yes Kobe, there is a Santa.

The NBA announced that a tentative deal has been reached between players and owners, and that a slightly shortened basketball season should begin on Christmas Day.

The season is scheduled to include 66 regular season games, which is 16 less than the normal 82 game season, but still enough to ensure that basketball will feel like it goes on indefinitely.


Rise and Fall of the Anti-Romneys

Newt Gingrich
The anti-Romney shooting star pattern we have seen with Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain has been so consistent that it's practically become a predictable scientific phenomenon.

I stumbled on this very clever interactive graph of polling data that demonstrates the trend perfectly.

The remaining question is whether Newt, the most recent contender in the Republican field to twinkle, has enough staying power to present a real challenge. I'm hoping he follows the pattern and flames out like the rest within a few weeks of his peak, so that former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman's star may finally have a chance to rise.  Given the opportunity, Huntsman will stand tall over the intellectual dwarfism of his peers and demonstrate what a legitimately qualified candidate actually looks like.

Of course, armed with only his incredibly relevant experience and his intellect and good sense, and in the absence of the non-stop foaming-at-the-mouth ideological rhetoric that seems essential to gaining the approval of the far right wing, I doubt Huntsman will garner enough support to pose a serious threat to Romney.

Here's wishing on a star...

Weekend Zen, November 26-27

You must learn to be still in the midst of activity, and to be vibrantly alive in repose.
                       - Indira Gandhi

Friday, November 25, 2011

Daily Zen - Friday, November 25

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.

                        - Albert Einstein

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Our Thanksgiving in Pictures (Portrayed By the Publix Pilgrim Salt and Pepper Shakers)

This year Paul and I enjoyed a holiday that included most of our usual Thanksgiving activities and traditions. My goal was to capture the events of the day in pictures and share them on the blog, but since we never left our pajamas, I decided we needed to employ our understudies.

In the photos below, we will be portrayed by the Publix Pilgrim Shaker Set. The part of Jeff will be played by Salt, while Paul is depicted by Pepper. What Salt and Pepper lack in charm and animation, they hopefully make up for in realistic and appropriate Thanksgiving garb.

We started the day with mimosas...         ...and then got busy cooking.

Next we called our loved ones...         ...and watched football games all day.

Later we enjoyed a tasty dinner...        ...but then our turkey comas set in.

Of course we still had "work" to do...    ...but we finished before the sunset.

In the end we were grateful for a peaceful day. Hope your day was nice too.

Muppets Steal Jason Segel's SNL Monologue

Jason Segel, Miss Piggy, and Kermit on SNL

SNL monologues are hit or miss, but you can't go wrong when you mix sweetly funny Jason Segel with some of your favorite Muppets and a clever piano ditty. It's also particularly enjoyable to see the Muppets perform when they are in an "adult" venue like Saturday Night Live, where they can push their humor a little further toward the grown-up end of the spectrum.

Here's your Hulu video link, and my apologies for the 15 second commercial you have to watch. (I guess we can only get so much for free on the internet.)

Thanksgiving Zen - Thursday, November 24

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you,"that would suffice.

                     - Meister Eckhart

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tebow Steps Up and Speaks Out

Broncos QB Tim Tebow
ESPN's Skip Bayless

If you know who Tim Tebow is then you probably either love him or hate him.

Tebow, the NFL quarterback who wears his commitment to Jesus on his sleeve (and figuratively on his shoes and helmet and pants) continues to be a remarkably divisive figure in the world of professional sports. He was interviewed this week on ESPN's First Take by Skip Bayless, the journalist and sports personality who arguably has a giant man crush on Tebow. 

To Skip's credit, he pulled no punches with Tebow, tackling tough topics head on such as Tebow's anemic passing accuracy rating, critical comments about Tebow from other legendary NFL QBs (John Elway, among them), and of course, Tebow's very public and often controversial passion for praising Jesus. 

To Tebow's credit, he answered each question honestly. At first, I felt the Broncos QB was being overly politically correct in the interview, or perhaps naive, but by the end, I came to realize he was simply being genuine, 100% Tebow. I came away from the interview with more respect for Bayless (who didn't hold back at all) and with more appreciation for Tebow. 

Take a look at the video clip and decide for yourself. 

Daily Zen - Wednesday, November 23

When you are guided by compassion and lovingkindness, you are able to look deep into the heart of reality and see the truth.

                    - Thich Nhat Hanh

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How Do I Pepper Spray Peaceful Protestors Without Looking a Bit Douche-y?

Not since Rodney King has there been such an uproar over unnecessarily brutal police treatment of the American citizenry. By now you've seen the video clips of police pepper spraying peaceful Occupy protesters at the University of California Davis. For those of you who don't have television and who only read your news in old school newsprint (and on my blog)...

With the capture of this event on video, technology is once again shaping our dialogue about current events. Interestingly enough, the YouTubing of this incident has done much more than raise public awareness and ire. The proliferation of these specific pepper spray video clips across the internet has indeed spawned scorn at the behavior of the police, but it has also produced a bizarre brand of police brutality humor. The sight of police officers taking such an incredibly casual "watering the lawn" approach to pepper spraying the faces of peacefully seated protesters is so striking that clever technology types couldn't resist the urge to insert the image into dozens of other iconic scenarios. Here's a sample of some of my favorites.

Just in time for Thanksgiving....

Artists aren't safe either...

And my favorite...

Not satisfied with just a few doctored images, internet satirists have also taken to writing Amazon reviews of the specific pepper used by the UC Davis police.

Note: Click the image to enlarge it.

All these attempts are humor are brilliant indeed, but they are also potentially very insensitive to the real victim of this horrific incident. Sure, a few protestors were hospitalized and there was probably some blood coughed up, but what about that poor cop. His family and friends, his pastor, hell his entire community, have now seen him inflict great pain and suffering on a group of nonviolent protestors. And they saw him do it with no more emotion than he would exhibit if he were using a garden hose to dissolve away a few piles of dog poop in the backyard. Imagine his shame.

I put myself in this guy's shoes, and I wonder - how should he have acted? Should he have gotten down on his haunches and taunted the protestors as he sprayed their faces? "Eat it fuckers." Or should he have looked mournful and weepy, offering an apology to each protestor? "Pardon me, excuse me. Sorry for the poisoning." Hard to say, but if I'm that UC Davis police officer, what I'd be asking all these clever internet comedians is - "How do I pepper spray peaceful protesters without looking a bit douche-y?"

Daily Zen - Tuesday, November 22

It is not length of life, but depth of life.

              - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, November 21, 2011

Daily Zen - Monday, November 21

The only wisdom we can hope to acquire is the wisdom of humility; humility is endless.
                         - T.S. Eliot

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Week In Review - November 19, 2011

Here are links to a few of the fun and interesting things you might have missed on my blog this week. 

Cities across America took steps to end Occupy camps this week. Some felt this was bad for the movement, but I argued that it may be time to euthanize the encampments and force Occupy into its next phase. Speaking of taking action against corporate greed, I asked that we all boycott the manufactured "events" announced by retail giants like Target and Toys-R-Us, who plan to start black Friday sales at midnight or earlier on Thanksgiving night, screwing tens of thousands of retailers out of quality time with their families on Thanksgiving.

It was not the best week for Herman Cain, whose only remaining shreds of credibility were destroyed this week by a video of his answer to a question about Libya. On the sexual harassment front, Cain's wife predictably but unhelpfully stood by her man. Lastly, in light of the news that Cain will now have official Secret Service protection, we published a humorous list of the top ten things Cain wishes the Secret Service would offer him (but won't).

We covered a multitude of sports this week on the blog. Roger Federer is in top form for the final week of the tennis season, while the NBA season is postponed again - and no one cares. In professional soccer, midfielder David Testo came out of the closet this week, and I came out in defense of Broncos QB Tim Tebow.

Emma Stone hosted Saturday Night Live this week and the video of the group cry-along to Adele's Someone Like You is hilarious.

As always thanks for reading. 

Weekend Zen, November 19-20

If you fail to achieve freedom in this life, when do you expect to achieve it?

                      - Wu-hsin

Friday, November 18, 2011

Top Ten Things Herman Cain Needs But Won't Get From the Secret Service

Herman Cain is the first of the Republican field of presidential candidates who will receive protection from the United States Secret Service.

The Secret Service will coordinate logistics and provide security for Cain, but his ailing campaign needs a helluva lot more than that.

Here's my list of the top ten things Herman Cain needs from the Secret Service that he probably won't get.

10. Legal representation from Gloria Allred
9. An economic strategy that offers more than a clever name
8. Rescue from declining poll numbers
7. A capacity for empathy
6. World History lessons
5. Geography lessons
4. An internal filter
3. A refresher on the definition of pro-choice
2. A safety word to use when faced with difficult foreign policy questions
1. The location of the secret cave where Mitt Romney hides the rest of his wives

Daily Zen - Friday, November 18

Events and hopes seldom agree; he who can step back does not worry.

                   - Stonehouse

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Daily Zen - Thursday, November 17

Worldly ups and downs should be treated as lightly as clouds gathering and breaking up.
                      - Anonymous

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Are Cities Euthanizing the Occupy Movement?

Tear down of the Occupy Oakland encampment. (Photo: Reuters)
Cities around the nation, including some of the most liberal locales, are shutting down overnight Occupy Movement encampments. Local police officials in Portland, Seattle, Oakland, and other cities have raided downtown Occupy camps, torn down tents, and collectively arrested hundreds of resistant protesters.

In New York City, at the very heart of the Occupy Movement, Mayor Bloomberg ordered the dismantling of the original Occupy Wall Street camp located in Zuccotti Park, and a judge has ruled that protesters may return to the park, but that their constitutional rights to assemble and speak freely do not extend to bringing tents, blankets, and sleeping bags in order to live in the public space around the clock.

With the Department of Homeland Security providing strategic support for these coordinated efforts at shutting down Occupy camps, many strong First Amendment advocates have leapt to the conclusion that the federal government has now conspired with city officials to squelch the civil rights of the economic injustice protesters. In the wake of increasing issues with crime (including a murder in Oakland, for example) and sanitation around the camps, I view the actions of city officials against the camps more as follow-through on their commitments to ensuring the safety and security of the public in general.

As I said in a post two weeks ago, the Occupy encampments were initially constructed on the firm ground of high-visibility protests that served to raise awareness and ire about economic injustice in America. In the absence of unified leadership though, and without the development and promotion of meaningful corollary resistance tactics, the encampments and to some extent the entire Occupy Movement are slowly hedging toward a cliff of irrelevance.

Boycott Stores on Thanksgiving and Christmas

Big box retailers Target, Toys-R-Us, and Best Buy are among the chain stores who will open their doors at midnight or even earlier this year on Thanksgiving night.

I won't be there to greet the holiday shopping season, and for that matter I won't spend a dime in any store anywhere on Thanksgiving day or Christmas day.

Enough is enough.

For salivating shoppers who have created a holiday tradition out of attending "black Friday" door-buster sales, these midnight openings may add a fun and twisted new element to the holiday shopping circus. For tens of thousands of retail employees though, this represents another thoughtless business decision that further separates people from the essence of what makes holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas special - the opportunity to take a single day away from the rat race, to breathe deep and reflect on what really matters, and to spend quality time with people you love.

I understand, better than most, that retailers are scrounging increasingly harder every year to capture their piece of the all-important Christmas pie, and frankly, while the commercialization of Christmas can be a bit annoying from time to time, that's not what bothers me.

Daily Zen - Wednesday, November 16

Delight in meditation and solitude. Compose yourself and be happy. You are a seeker.
                 - The Dhammapada

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

SNL's Someone Like You Skit

Emma Stone hosted Saturday Night Live this past weekend, and the office weeping over Adele's hit "Someone Like You" was hilarious and far away the bright spot of the show. Enjoy the video!

Turn of Phrase - Mrs. Cain Stands By Her Man

Cain and his family
(and Greta Van Sustern from Fox)
"I seriously, in my soul, don't think he's that type of person...he would have to have a split personality to do the things that she said."

- From Gloria Cain during an interview with Fox News, in defense of her husband against multiple sexual harassment accusers, including Sharon Bialek.

If you're 65 years-old, and you've been married to a very wealthy and successful businessman for 43 years, and you have two kids and three grandkids together, how else could you feel? Even if she's troubled by the accusations she's heard, believing in her husband's innocence is self-preservation at this point.

I wonder if Jerry Sandusky's wife feels the same way.

Daily Zen - Tuesday, November 15

A mind troubled with strong passions is never able to see the Way. It is like stirring water with your hands; you may wish to find your reflection, but you'll never see clearly in disturbed waters.
        - Sutra of Forty-Two Chapters

Monday, November 14, 2011

End This Herman Cain Nonsense Now

Herman Cain made an unadulterated dumbass of himself when trying to answer a simple question about his position on Libya, during an interview Monday with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. I personally have not decided to run for the presidency of the United States, but I could have answered the question more thoughtfully than Cain did. In fact, I could have faked a better answer too.

On several occasions when Cain has proven to be under-prepared and ill-informed, he has fallen back on the bullshit reply that Presidents can't possibly know everything - that's why they surround themselves with the best people. While that is generally true, and while that kind of answer might fly if a reporter is asking you trick questions about "Uze-beki-beki-stan-stan," this question was about LIBYA. Maybe pleading ignorance flies with the board of directors in the high-intensity world of pizza making, but it's an unacceptable and downright shitty answer to give when you're asking to be the guy who holds the fate of the free world in his palm.

The pizza man cometh.
Even without the swirling sexual harassment controversy, this video should be enough to send the staunchest Cain supporter packing. Cain might be smart enough to succeed as a motivational speaker or pizza magnate, but he has never held elective office, he has zero experience in public governance, and his understanding of important and weighty presidential responsibilities is riddled with gaping holes.

No NBA Before Christmas - Does Anyone Care?

Derek Fisher, president of the players' association.    
Photo: Seth Wenig/AP
NBA players have rejected a "final" proposal from team owners this week, and in case that wasn't enough to put a dagger in any hopes for professional basketball in 2011, the players also decided to disband their union, the National Basketball Players Association. The move to end the union comes as negotiations have gone absolutely nowhere in recent months, and it allows players to sue the NBA individually under anti-trust laws.

According to David Stern, commissioner of the NBA, a "nuclear winter is coming." I understand this statement, inasmuch as the commissioner is attempting to characterize the move by players to disband the union as the "nuclear option," a devastating decision, the fallout from which cannot be easily undone.

But really? A nuclear winter? Could that be a modest overstatement? I doubt the cancellation of the 2011-2012 NBA season will precipitate months, or years even, of reduced sunshine, and I'm fairly certain that the earth's atmosphere will not be filled with soot and smoke and ash because there won't be professional basketball for a year.

There is, of course, be a significant financial impact to a canceled season, including $4 billion in "basketball income" lost for NBA owners and players. There will also be a dark wintry melancholy in a few smaller NBA markets that don't have other professional sports franchises to rally around. I feel bad for the folks in Oklahoma City and Memphis, and in my beloved San Antonio, where the superstars can hardly afford to age another year. And consider the wretched souls in Indianapolis who will suffer like no others, as there will be no Pacers basketball to erase the memories of the 2011 Colts season.

As for me, I think the NBA season lasts too long anyway. If they insist on dragging the playoffs out through the month of June, then I say, let them start the season sometime around the first week of February. In fact, now that I think about it, that's the perfect time for the season to begin. If there is no NBA in February and March, during the period between football's Superbowl and baseball's Opening Day, I may be forced to watch hockey. Then again, there's always tennis.

Turn of Phrase - Pro Soccer Player Comes Out

David Testo
Gay Pro Soccer Player
"We knew David's orientation prior to him joining our club in 2007. During his career in Montreal he has always been a professional and dedicated player to this club, on and off the field. His decision to go public must have been a difficult one, and we respect it."

- From Joey Saputo, president of the Montreal Impact soccer team, on the recent coming out of professional soccer player David Testo.

Testo was an Impact midfielder from 2007-2011.

Several thoughts crossed my mind when I read about the soccer player's bold announcement.

  1. Well done, David Testo!
  2. If soccer were more popular, this would have been much bigger news.
  3. When will other gay professional athletes sack up and come out? (There have been a few brave souls, but not enough, especially from the big three - football, baseball, basketball.)
Lastly, good for Joey Saputo and his sports organization. We can only hope that when more American athletes eventually make the tough decision to announce their gayness that our professional sports teams and executives will be as gracious and supportive as the Canadians have been.

Daily Zen - Monday, November 14

We have long forgotten that activities can be simple and precise. Every act can contain simplicity and precision and thus can have tremendous beauty and dignity. 

                   - Chogyam Trungpa

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In Tebow We Trust - QB Facts and Stats

Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos Starting QB
The Facts
Tim Tebow is not an accurate passer and he boasts a scant 45% completion rate. Most of the time when Tebow drops back, balls are grotesquely over or under thrown. Sometimes, he scrambles around the backfield in such a frenzy that he looks like a true college freshman sent out to execute the two-minute drill against a Ravens-Steelers all-star defensive squad. There's no denying it, sometimes it's ugly. But...

The Stats
Tim Tebow is 3-1 as a starter, since taking over as quarterback in Denver.
  • Tebow's NFL QB rating is 81.6. That's higher than:
    • Phillip Rivers (80.2)
    • Michael Vick (79.8)
    • Joe Flacco (75.6)
  • His 81.6 QB rating is also better than most other high visibility college QBs who recently entered the NFL including: Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford, and Christian Ponder.
  • Tebow's 81.6 QB rating also exceeds anyone who has thrown a pass this year for Washington, Tampa Bay, Seattle, Miami, or Jacksonville.
  • In his four starts with Denver this year Tebow has thrown 8 touchdowns and 1 interception. In the four Denver games prior to Tebow, Kyle Orton also threw 8 touchdowns but had 7 interceptions.
Oh yeah, and Tebow has run for 320 yards this season and averaged almost 7 yards per carry.

I won't bother going into the intangibles Tebow brings like leadership, guts, and a never quit attitude (and maybe an occasional extra set of downs, as the hand of God almighty nudges the first down marker back a yard or two). 

I'm not saying Tebow is a rock solid NFL quarterback. I'm just saying we all jumped on this kid pretty quickly after seeing some sloppy and sophomoric execution in his first couple of weeks, and to be fair, now that there are some statistics to look at, they can't be ignored in evaluating him. 

Federer Poised for End of Season Sweep

Roger Federer at the Western Southern Open.
Roger Federer returned to championship tennis form this week in Paris winning a second consecutive ATP tour event.

With a straight set victory in Sunday's final over mammoth Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Federer won the ATP 1000 Parisbas Masters Series event, securing his biggest tournament win of the year.

Last week, Federer ended a nearly 10-month title drought by prevailing in an ATP 500 event held in his hometown of Basel, Switzerland.

With only three tournament victories in 2011 and no Grand Slam championships, this is arguably Roger's worst year since his reign at the top of professional tennis began eight years ago. In light of his lackluster season, it would be easy to discount his chances at next week's Barclay's ATP World Tour Finals in London. Federer's late season surge, however, seems to be coming just in time as he prepares to compete next week against seven other top players in the world.

Any of the seven players participating next week can beat Federer, but only the top three players provide consistently strong opposition to him. It happens, thought, that the three men ranked higher than Federer in the ATP rankings have not been completely healthy of late.

Among the top three - Serbia's Novak Djokovic withdrew from his final match this week in Paris, citing a serious shoulder injury that continues to plague him, and Andy Murray of Great Britain has been bothered off and on by a minor hamstring pull. Rafael Nadal will return from a several week hiatus to heal various niggling late season injuries, and while he should be rested, his absence from other recent indoor tournaments may leave him a little rusty.

Federer manages his play, his body, and his tour schedule brilliantly, and even as we reach the end of another gruelingly long tennis season, the thirty year-old continues to be in excellent physical condition. With a healthy Fed, and every aspect of his game from serve to net looking crisp and sharp in the last few weeks, my money is on the Swiss master to successfully defend his ATP Tour Finals title in London next week.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

'Jack and Jill' - Worst Drag Ever

This is the look you will have on your face if you
pay movie theater ticket prices to see Jack and Jill.
I confess, I haven't seen the new Adam Sandler movie Jack and Jill, and apparently, neither should you. This just released flick, in which Sandler plays two roles badly (a man and his twin sister), has mustered only a 3% critics approval rating on RottenTomatoes. To give you some context, this means Jack and Jill has received less than half the critical praise given to Gigli, the 2003 hot mess starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez that garnered a whopping 7% approval rating.

When a movie sucks as bad as Jack and Jill, the critics really step up their game. Critic Mike Ryan wrote a great tongue-in-cheek piece entitled, Jack and Jill: The Most Important Movie Ever Made, and several other critics have outdone themselves as well. Here's a sample of some of my other favorite comments about the new Sandler movie.

  • "Movies like this should be stricken from film history and put in a closet never to be seen again." - Matthew Razak (
  • "Howard the Duck, Gigli, Showgirls, From Justin To Kelly. What do they all have in common? They're all widely considered to be among the worst big studio movies ever made. You know what else they have in common? They're all better than Jack and Jill."  - Mike McGranaghan (Aisle Seat)
...and the winner...
  • "Guess what's showing in movie critic hell?" - James Verniere (Boston Herald)

If you're looking for big blockbuster movie fun this weekend, all is not lost. While there may be no worthwhile films opening in theaters (sadly, J. Edgar is languishing at just the 41% approval mark), you can still enjoy an entertaining afternoon reading about movies on Rotten Tomatoes. Staying home and reading the reviews of Jack and Jill will provide more laughs than actually seeing the movie, and you'll save $10 or $11 bucks on popcorn.

Week in Review - November 12, 2011

Here are links to a few of the fun and interesting things you might have missed on my blog this week.

In light of this week's big news from the Big 10, I made a strong case in favor of the firing of Joe Paterno, and speculated about the future of Mike McQueary, the key witness at the center of the sexual abuse scandal. Thousands of Penn State students rioted over JoePa's termination, making themselves look stupider than an Ashton Kutcher tweet, so I wrote the students a scathing open letter reminding them who the big losers really are in this sordid affair.

While Penn State students were in denial, Herman Cain was busy issuing denials. I encouraged him to take a page from Bill Clinton's sexual harassment accusation notebook. Speaking of smooth-talking politicians, President Obama gained ground in the polls, even when saying very little, while SNL spoofed Rick Perry's public speaking impediment.

Director Brett Ratner put his foot in his mouth, using a gay slur and losing his a gig at next year's Oscars ceremony. In a kind of related story (well, the word Oscar shows up in both stories), I posted a video of Oscar the handstanding dog, who urinates while walking upside down. Really.

Lastly, with Thanksgiving approaching, I asked that we all stop bitching about our "first world problems," and I became a bit preachy about gratitude. I expressed my thanks for Brick Stone's video ass-kicking of Westboro Baptist Church, and for the shocking video of the Occupy Oakland protester who was shot by police with a rubber bullet. NFL fans in Denver were thankful (again) for Tim Tebow, who secured another victory, effectively postponing his fall-back career as a politician for at least another week.

As always, thanks for reading.

Weekend Zen, November 12-13

Do not be led by holy scriptures, or by mere logic and inferences, or by the authority of religious leaders. But when you realize something is unwholesome and bad for you, give it up. And when something is wholesome and good for you, do it.
                        - Buddha