NFL Week 8 breakdown
Monday, October 27, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
To quote my father, just when you think the Bills are going to do something right... While the Bills managed to lose, every other team in the AFC East pulled off a win, erasing the 2 game lead the Bills had on 2 and allowing the Patriots to pull even with them. They MUST win next week against the Jets, or things will start to look pretty bad for them.

On a purely selfish note, I need Peyton Manning to throw 450 yards and 4 TDs in order to squeak out a win in my fantasy league tonight. Since he is going against one of the toughest defenses in the league, I doubt that's going to happen. However, the Colts rose to the occasion last time they faced a ferocious defense (the Ravens) so you never know.

Sometimes when you lose you win. Certain clubs lost tough matches yesterday, but shouldn't come away thinking nothing was gained. For example, the Falcons put up a good fight against the Eagles. Right now, the Eagles are simply just a better team. However, the Falcons have to feel good about the continuing development of both Matt Ryan and Roddy White, and can look at their performances as yet another sign that this franchise has some key elements for future success in place.

Similarly, the Rams had a good game against the Patriots, coming up just short of a third victory in a row. Consider what might have happened if star running back Steven Jackson hadn't been injured. Meanwhile, the offense seems to be clicking, with Bulger connecting with Donnie Avery again (in a moment that brought back memories of the Greatest Show on Turf). The defense has staunched the bleeding (for now), with #1 pick Chris Long racking up 2 sacks on the day.

The Chiefs also almost stole a win from the Jets, and had to feel good about Tyler Thigpen's performance at QB. Their first rounder Brandon Flowers returned an INT for a TD as well, so perhaps there's hope for both Missouri teams after all, despite their wretched starts.

But sometimes you just flat out lose. On the other hand, sometimes a loss has nothing good that you can take away from it. If ever there was a better time for the Bucs to assert their command of the NFC South, this would have been it. You can't ask for a better chance to face the Cowboys than after they're reeling from losing several games in a row, with their star QB out of the game. The Bucs offense couldn't get anything going, unfortunately, and failed to pull off the win.

The Bills forgot that the Miami Dolphins, despite their record, are a dangerous team, particularly when Joey Porter is feeling inspired. They paid the price, and Trent Edwards showed poor decision making through the game, including stretching the ball out in the pile for a first down, which resulted in a costly fumble. The Bills are a better team than the Dolphins, but they sure didn't play like it. Also, who the hell let Ted Ginn Jr. rack up that many yards? Poor, poor showing from the Bills secondary this week.

The 49'ers had a miserable loss against the injury-wracked Seahawks, with the starting QB getting benched in the 2nd quarter, and their #1 draft choice from 2006, Vernon Davis, kicked off the field by brand new head coach Mike Singletary. I will commend Singletary for having the cojones to do that (plus, kudos for that brilliant post-game interview), because I love that old school football mentality. Too bad the rest of the team doesn't seem to share that commitment and passion.

Studs of the week. The Jets won, not on the back of Brett Favre (though he'll get the "comeback" credit anyway), but on the mighty little legs of Leon Washington, who had 274 all-purpose yards and 2 TDs. The Drew Brees show rolls on with a big performance (30/41, 339 yds, 3 TDs) in London. Ted Ginn Jr. made the Bills look like fools, with 13 catches for 175 yards. I'm sure the Eagles were glad to get Brian Westbrook back, who tallied up 167 yds rushing with 2 TDs, plus 6 catches for 42 yards. In the last 3 weeks, the Texans' Andre Johnson has caught 178, 141 and 143 yards. That's how you help your team recover from an 0-4 start to go 3-4, only 1 game away from .500 on the year.

Teams I like this week. The Giants are looking more and more like the team to beat this year in the NFC. Great win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The Ravens also recovered from their recent skid, with the young kid Joe Flacco turning in a sweet performance. Brilliant call to have second string QB Troy Smith come into a game and throw a huge reception to Flacco, who lined up as a receiver for the play. Good win by the Panthers at home, overcoming a tough Arizona offense with a little offensive razzle-dazzle of their own.

Teams I don't like this week. The Chargers offense looked pretty good, with Philip Rivers turning in a fine performance, and LT finally looking like his old self running the ball. But if their defense can't stop leaking like a sieve, they're not going to make it past the first round of the playoffs (which they will only make by virtue of being in one of the worst divisions in football). The Bengals and Lions are just hopeless. Lastly, the Bills squandered a golden opportunity and have forced themselves into a "must win" situation they didn't want to be in.
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Truthful TV Cards
Friday, October 24, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
These Truthful TV Title Cards from Glark are genius. Here's two of my favorites:





Go visit his site and enjoy the goodness.
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Internet Dating - Part 2: Setting Up Your Profile
Wednesday, October 22, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
continuing from Part 1: Getting Started...

Now that you've gone ahead and selected which sites you plan to troll for that special someone, you need to put yourself out there so they can find you. Today's post is all about crafting the perfect profile, that will best illustrate why someone should pick you out of all the people out there.

You need to put a profile out there that reflects the unique snowflake that you are, that captures the essence of your personality, while at the same time not looking creepy, needy or weird. Mind you - I haven't used sites like eHarmony, so their matching system may or may not be enough for you to get started.

Tip #1: Nobody Likes a Long Talker
When crafting your profile, don't get super excited and write a whole novel about yourself. Remember that people are perusing many different ads and are looking for something that jumps out at them - you need to make a quick impact.

Tip #2: Be Clever, Be Original
There's nothing worse than perusing the headlines of various online personals and seeing the same old tired stuff. For the love of God, put a little thought into what you put out there - the headline is the first thing that people are going to see. Does "Looking for Love" really grab you? How about "Just Want To Find a Nice Guy"?

Remember, every part of the profile needs to be about illustrating what makes you special. The two headline examples I gave don't give you any new information. I automatically assume that a person who registers a profile on an online dating site is looking for love, and is probably interested in nice people only. Now, a headline like "Would love to find a man to mistreat me" would at least tell you something you couldn't guess (though obviously that's an icky thought).

Your unique headline can be clever, thoughtful, sassy... whatever you feel best represents you as a person. I'm actually not opposed to the more forward, salicious headlines, because at least it tells you something about that person immediately (e.g. "You Bring the Paddle, I'll Bring the Bum to Use it On").

Let's say someone uses the headline "Sarah Palin-type looking for someone to be her Todd". Yes, that's twisted, but here's why it's effective: you get a ton of information in that one simple sentence. In just 10 words you've communicated the following about yourself:
  • You are conservative.
  • You look like Sarah Palin
  • You like rugged, outdoor-sy men
  • You are interested in politics
  • Bears don't scare you
  • You like small towns
  • You are probably pro-life (so you may want to make sure you take condoms on any dates with this person)
I joke a little here, but seriously, tell me that you didn't read that and immediately get a mental image of the type of person who would write that. I know that many of my readers would probably be repelled by the type of person who would write that, but that's the idea, and allows me to segway into my next point.

Tip #3: Red Flags and Green Flags
The purpose of a good profile is not be liked by everyone, but rather, to attract the special few people who you might connect with. Remember rule #1 from yesterday - Be Honest. Honesty means knowing who you are and accepting that you may not be right for everyone.

Again, because space is limited and you need to grab your reader right away, you need to seed your profile with certain sentences and words that are coded "red flags" and "green flags".

Some are pretty straight forward. In my own profile, under a section titled "What I'm looking for", I listed "I am looking for someone who is intellectual, feminist and liberal." Obviously, for like-minded people, those are green flags that tell you I care about politics, women's issues, probably enjoy high falutin' debates about books and so forth. On the other hand, for a Todd Palin type (to continue my example from above), this would be a red flag moment. That's good - Todd Palin-types don't want me and I don't want them either, and that's quite alright.

On a more subtle front, you can list interests that are green flags for certain kinds of people. As another example, I put a fun little bit in my profile, offering "bonus points" for any person who could use the words "there"," their", and "they're" correctly, as well as name the 5 pilots of the Voltron lions. One person responded to me with a single sentence using all 3 forms of the word. I was pleased, because the fact that he picked up on that and then was clever enough to put it all in one sentence told me that he "got" that weird, anal grammar nazi part of my personality. I had other people who wrote and told me that the Voltron lions part was what caught their attention. Since my fascination with toys, videogames, etc is a big part of who I am, it was important for me to put that out there as a green flag for people who were also into that sort of stuff.

You can take these examples, and apply them to your own profile. Love a particular author? Perhaps seed a green flag in your profile that references and/or quotes one of their books. Sports fanatic? Make some sports analogies (or just flat out say "On Sundays, no one is allowed to call from 1pm until the 4pm game has ended").

Tip #4: To Upload or Not To Upload....
I have mixed feelings on uploading photos on the web. There are some privacy issues here, so you're going to have to make your own call on this. I will say this: profiles with pictures are much more likely to get looked at. However, do realize that a photo of you means that anyone who knows you in real life can stumble upon your profile. If you are in the closet, have written weird and saucy things in your profile, or whatever, think long and hard before putting up a picture. If you do put up a picture, make sure you don't use one with other people in it, because that's just rude. You may consider a picture where the person can get a sense of what you look like, but not necessarily one that people could recognize you from.

Tip #5: Things to Address in Your Profile
I'm going off the Spring Street network profile set up here, but I've found this general format usually works for me. They have sections labeled "What I look like (hair, eyes, race, general physical appearance), why you should be interested in me, what I'm looking for, and a general notes."

Here are some dos and don'ts.
  • Do: List general info about your physical appearance.
  • Do Not: Lie. If you are a chunky monkey or a skinny minnie, say so. If you have purple hair or a shitload of piercings, say it. If someone is shallow enough to ignore the rest of what makes you awesome because of some aspect of your physical appearance, you don't want to waste your time with them anyway.
  • Do: List your hobbies, interests, favorite books, movies and shows
  • Do Not: Make an endless list of crap you like. 2-3 favorites in each category should suffice.
  • Do: Be honest about what you're looking for.
  • Do Not: Be a douchebag. If you like skinny girls, fine, but don't write crap like "No fatties!", unless you are trying to communicate what a dick you are.
  • Do: List attributes your ideal mate would have.
  • Do Not: Be vague. "Nice guy" doesn't tell you anything. "Outgoing, sense of humor, should love cats and cooking" at least gives some guidelines for potential suitors.
Tip #6: Get a Second Opinion
Everyone should have at least one best friend in their life who's not afraid to "tell it like it is" and offer blunt feedback. Find that person and have them proof-read your personal ad. Ask their opinion on the vibe they get from it. What kind of person do you come across as, based on what you've written? Take that feedback, and if you like and agree with what they say, go ahead and click submit. If you don't, go back and fix the specific areas that are causing problems.

Tip #7: Go For It.
You've got nothing to lose by putting yourself out there, so take a chance and put up a profile. The only thing it's going to cost you is the 30 minutes or so that you spent writing it up.

Hopefully, this was of some use to people. Tomorrow I'll discuss the "first contact" scenario - how to set up the first real life face-to-face.

Questions/comments/hate-or-love-mail:
  • Email me at askmyblog@gmail.com
Coming up tomorrow: how to set up the first real life face-to-face
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Internet Dating - Part 1: Getting Started
Tuesday, October 21, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Continuing from yesterday's column about internet dating....

So, you've decided that perhaps this wacky internet dating might just work for you. But how do you get started?

Rule #1: Be Honest

This is super important, so let me stress that again: you MUST be honest during this process, or it will not work out for you. If you think that you're going to fool someone into going out with you, and that they'll just learn to love the "real you" once they get to know you, you're kidding yourself. Part of the great thing about internet dating is that you hopefully won't waste as much time with non-compatible people, because you'll be able to screen out the bad ones in advance. If you lie, you're just going to end up wasting time - both yours and the person you duped into going out with you in the first place. So don't do it.

The other thing about honesty is making sure you're being truthful with yourself. By this I mean, be honest about who you are as a person, the things you value, and what you're really looking for here.

Decide what you're looking for

Take a moment and think about relationships you've had that worked for you. Then think about the ones that didn't. List the top 3-5 qualities you're looking for and the 3-5 things you consider turn-offs. Again, be honest with yourself here.

As an example, here's my real life list that I used.
YES: intellectual, feminist, and liberal; must also have sense of humor
NO: dumb, too young, too chipster-y

This list will help guide you through the next sections.

Step 1: Finding the online service that works for you

Now, there are lots of different internet dating sites available to you, plus some others you might not know about, so how do you go about finding the one that's going to work best for you? Many of these sites allow you to create profiles for free. Usually they get you by charging money for x number of "contacts" allowed - the mechanism by which you send a note to another member to initiate a real life date. So feel free to choose multiple sites. 1-4 sites is fine, just make sure you remember to check your inbox at each site (many don't allow email forwarding).

Regarding which sites to look for, my friend Johnathon has the following advice:
Try to join sites that match your interest (not necessarily dating sites)
I met my current ex on a online journal site called melodramatic.com. It's kinda of an alt/counterculture answer to myspace (might have been around longer). Gist here is don't go to Myspace expecting to find someone who's extremely intelligent and not carrying drama. You probably won't find it.
I agree with him - the key is to again look at the kind of person you are and the kind of person you might like to find, and then pick the site you want to go with from that. Again, knowing the type of relationship you prefer is also important here - some sites are more for people looking for long term relationships, others are more about making casual connections for those looking for some company without much commitment.

A run-down of some of a few popular sites, just to give you an idea.

eHarmony.com
  • general: This site is very much focused on people looking to form long-term relationships, with the end goal of finding someone to marry.
  • pros: Has lots of members (increasing your chances), intricate application which (in theory) helps better pair you with people based on a number of different personality traits. Does reject members, which may help weed out crazies.
  • cons: May be too "vanilla" for my more alternative readers out there. Won't accept/match gay members. Pro-marriage focus may turn off people looking for something more casual. Not a good site for those looking for friendship-only relationships.
personals.theonion.com (or other sites on the Spring Street network)
  • general: This series of sites tend to gear towards younger, hipper crowds, who are probably more open to alternative culture in general.
  • pros: More "non-normies" then the more traditional sites, good number of overall members. Good for people looking for something with less commitment pressure. Young and "cool" members. Gay friendly.
  • cons: Wild west style membership means any crazy can put up a profile. Harder to find people looking for LTR. Limited search capability requires you to do some more digging to find quality matches (need to read each profile carefully).
myspace.com or facebook.com
  • general: Social networking sites that focus on creating online groups of people who share common links such as academic background, etc.
  • pros: Easy to find people with a specific common interest (e.g. Obama supporters, Star Wars fans, Libertarians, fans of polka, whatever) who live in your local area. "Friend of a friend" connection means that they're not totally random strangers, and your IRL friend can help set you up on your first date. Wealth of knowledge on personal pages gives a more in-depth feel for who the person is.
  • cons: Many members not looking to meet people via these sites, so you may find yourself contacting people who just aren't interested. Myspace is infested with teeny boppers who will write crap like "LOL!1!! OMG!!!" to you, often via text message. Also, beware jail bait here.
craigslist.org
  • general: You can find almost anything on this online classified site... perhaps even looove
  • pros: No frills site, no annoying ads. FREE to contact members. No forms to fill out - just write what you feel and see if anyone likes it.
  • cons: Anyone can post (watch out for psychos), awkward search interface, your ad may be buried 10 pages deep within a few days. Need a decoder ring to figure out some of the shorthand (what the hell is a SWF seeks MBM for LTR and CDL anyway?)
These are just a few off the top of my head. I can personally vouch for all of the above sites - I have friends who all have successfully met their significant others on each of the sites above (I used the Spring Street network to meet my boyfriend). You can also try match.com, chemistry.com and a whole bunch of other sites. Just do a little homework, get a feel for the typical demographic that would frequent that site, and then see if it still sounds good.

There are also good sites for those with more specific tastes. Again, there's no shame in having a preference for a particular physical attribute, up to and including race. I have several friends who prefer to date others in a particular race, so a site such as blackplanet.com may work for them (or whatever group they prefer). The same is true for sexual orientation - if you 're gay, you may find it easier to go to curve.com or gay.com or whatever and find their personals section.

Once you've found the sites where you want to start looking for that special someone, you then need to put yourself out there. Tomorrow I'll be discussing tips for writing the perfect online profile.

Questions/comments/hate-or-love-mail:
  • Email me at askmyblog@gmail.com
Coming up tomorrow: how to write your online profile to attract the right people
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NFL Week 7 breakdown
Monday, October 20, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Let's get to the important news first - the Buffalo Bills are now 2 games up in the AFC East (assuming New England loses tonight), thanks to their defeat of the Chargers and the Oakland Raiders improbable win over the NY Jets. Go Bills!

Now that we're in week 7, we're starting to see which teams are legit, and which teams are starting to look over-hyped.

Contenders.
  • As stated above, the Bills now must be considered legitimate contenders for the AFC East title (or the wildcard slot at worst), if they continue to play the way they are now. Their next 3 games are against division rivals. If they win, it's going to be hard to catch them in that division. Trent Edwards played a masterful game against the San Diego Chargers, but I was most impressed by their defense who rallied in spite of injuries to two key players and held the explosive Chargers to a measly 14 points. Kawika Mitchell stepped up in a big way yesterday, with a pick in the end zone against Philip Rivers, and forcing a key fumble later in the game. Why Tony Gonzales declined to be traded to them is a mystery to me.
  • The Tennessee Titans are also no fluke at 6-0 this year. Their 1-2 tandem of Chris Johnson and LenDale White can just grind a defense down. Speaking of defense, Tennessee also looks fierce on that side of the ball as well. You can tell that even when a team manages to beat them (they will lose eventually), it may cost them in terms of how worn out and beat up they'll be afterwards.
  • The Giants bounced back this week and returned to form. All teams are going to have bad weeks where they lose or almost lose. The measure of a team is how it bounces back from that, how they rally in the 4th quarter or in the next game. The Giants had an off week against the Browns (who played the game of their lives), but showed they were still the #1 team in the NFC East for a reason.
  • Ditto for the Washington Redskins, who rode Clinton Portis to another win (they can't all be pretty I suppose). Right now it looks like the Giants and Skins will go to the playoffs, with one team winning the division and the other taking one of the wildcard spots.
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers also look pretty fine. No Willie Parker and no Rashard Mendenhall? No problem. Just put in Mewelde Moore and the offense keeps on ticking. That's the sign of a solid team - they can handle injuries to key players and still win games.
Pretenders.
  • The Cowboys usually wait until December or so to start falling apart, but I see they've gotten a jump on that this year. At the beginning of the year a lot of experts picked this team to win the Super Bowl, but right now they're in danger of perhaps not even making the playoffs. The problem with the Cowboys is that they're a collection of highly talented individuals, instead of a team. They play sloppy football and are unable to come together as a true team because they lack leadership on all sides of the ball. Their secondary is terrible, and it's becoming evident that Tony Romo's incredible scrambling ability was covering up a lot of glaring flaws on that O line.
  • I'm putting the San Diego Chargers on here with a few caveats. One: if LaDanian Tomlinson can get healthy, they become a much more legitimate team. That big toe injury is clearly hindering his ability to be explosive off the line, and the whole offense suffers because of it. I'm sure they're looking at Michael Turner's stats this year and regretting letting him get away. The ability to allow LT to take 3-4 weeks off to heal his big toe may have made the difference in their season. Two: the AFC West is weak enough that the Chargers can still rally, especially if the Broncos stumble tonight against the Patriots. However, it's going to take a much higher level of play (particularly on defense) if the Chargers want to be taken seriously.
  • Much like the Cowboys, the Minnesota Vikings spent a crapload of money to make the team into a "Win Big, Win NOW" type of unit. And like the Cowboys, the Vikings have shown an inability to win when it matters. Their defense can't defend the pass still, the special teams are atrocious.
  • Brett Favre is clearly the lipstick to the NY Jets pig. They're still a mediocre team even with Favre at the helm. The Raiders tried as hard as they could to let the Jets win and they still couldn't close the deal.
  • The Indianapolis Colts are too young on the O line, too old at the WR spot and clearly unable to replace Bob Sanders at all on defense. Peyton Manning is really struggling this year, and I blame a lot of it on the fact that you can tell he lacks confidence in the offensive line, which is leading him to rush the pass and make some stupid throws. Has Manning's magic finally left him?
The following teams are wildcards right now - good enough to beat any team on the right day, but not yet showing the consistency to group them in either group above. Consider this the "Maybe, Baby" list: Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers.

Hooray for more upsets! Props to the St. Louis Rams, who won their second game in a row this week. It's impressive because it wasn't like they beat some similarly crappy team - they beat the 2 legitimate teams from the fearsome NFC East. What's going on with St. Louis? Was Scott Linehan that bad of a coach? Is Jim Haslett that good? It's hard to say. I do know that that offense is too talented to have been playing so poorly, so it was only a matter of time before Steven Jackson exploded in a game. Part of the problem had been the defense - they were playing from behind so quickly in the first 3 games that the run game got neglected, which then made it difficult for the passing game to succeed, because every defense knew they'd be throwing the ball and played pass defense accordingly. With the defense finally stepping up these past few weeks, the offense has finally been allowed to win the game for them. Regarding Haslett as a coach, reports are that the Rams are feeling inspired under his leadership, which is perhaps all this team needed.

The Oakland Raiders still suck. They tried everything they could to lose the game (including disobeying my "Stop this 'icing the kicker' bullshit" edict from last week, which almost cost them the game). However, props to the defense for finally holding solid while the offense struggled, carrying the team until late in OT, when the offense finally got something going and won the game. While I still think the way Al Davis handled the Lane Kiffin situation was incredibly lousy, the fact is that the team is now free to focus on football instead of wondering when the head coach was finally going to get fired and all the baggage that goes along with that. It was a ballsy call by Cable to kick the loooong field goal in OT, as a miss would have given the Jets the ball in great field position.

Studs of the week. Did you see that kick that Sebastian Janikowski made for the Raiders to win the game in OT? It would have been good from 62 yards or better. Just awesome. Steven Jackson ran for 160 yards and 3 TDs and carried his team to their 2nd straight victory. Clinton Portis is campaigning for Stud of the Year with his performance this year, notching another 175 yard, 1 TD performance. Continuing the running back theme this week, LenDale White and Chris Johnson combined for 300+ yards and 4 TDs. Andre Johnson put up 141 yards this week and Steve Smith had 122 yards and an amazing TD catch.

Teams I like this week. If the St. Louis Rams put up another strong game next week (win or lose), I'll officially apologize for mocking them earlier in the year. I also like the Bills, who look like they're back on track, and the Panthers who looked great. Lastly, I like the Ravens who showed what they can do when Joe Flacco plays a decent game.

Teams I don't like this week. Yes, they won, but the Raiders still continue to vex me. In OT, JaMarcus Russell literally looked terrified at the prospect of making a mistake while throwing. The playcalling reflected this same fear from the sideline. I don't know why they used a #1 draft pick and gave out such a huge contract, if they're not going to trust Russell to win the game when it matters. The Cowboys played another pathetic game, and are 1-3 now in the past 4 games. The Cleveland Browns collapsed again. Braylon Edwards isn't doing his QB any favors with his drops, and starting the game going something like 3/17 isn't going to help Derek Anderson keep his starting job much longer. Lastly, Herm Edwards cravenly went for a FG with 4:56 left in the game, when his Kansas City Chiefs were down 27-0. Pathetic - not even trying to win, just trying to make sure you don't get completely shut out.

No pictures this week, because I'm lazy :)
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Internet Dating - An Introduction
Monday, October 20, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
So I've been meaning to talk about the subject of internet dating for some time now. I met my current boyfriend via the internet, and when we first got together, we found ourselves fibbing about how we met. But then we said to ourselves, "Is meeting on the internet so taboo that it's more unsavory than meeting someone in the bar and hooking up solely on the basis of their looks?"

I've met a lot of people (both in person and online) who have expressed skepticism over the idea of internet dating. Some seem intimidated, others don't know quite how to get started. Hence, this week-long series here at Cultural Cuisinart. I'll be covering some basic tips and tricks on how to successfully navigate the big, scary world of internet dating.

What do I know about internet dating?

I've met several people via various online dating sites, with various results. I have several friends who have met their significant others via the internet (some of whom will be sharing their stories and advice here as well). Some of those friends have even gone on to marry people they met online. In other words, I've been there, done that, have some good war stories and feel like I have a few things that I can share with you all.

Who is this series for?

This series is focused mostly on people looking to internet date for the first time (or perhaps those looking to give it another try). I'm mostly aiming at the vanilla crowd, if only because if you are a fetishist or "non-normie" of some kind (into bondage, group stuff, furry sex, whatever), you probably already know all about the wonders of meeting people via the internet. I have several non-normie friends out there, and I love them and endorse their kink whole-heartedly, but I doubt I have much to share with them on this topic.

If, like me, you are mortified at the thought of having to approach people in bars/clubs, and just want to get your good old fashioned date on with another human being, you may find something useful here (this applies to both gay and straight readers).

My own personal story.

To start things off, let me share my own little story. I started exploring internet dating about 7 years ago. I got started because a friend actually asked me to check out her online profile (to see if it sounded good), and in order to do so, I was forced to register my own account. Since I had gone that far, I went ahead and created a profile for myself. Over the next couple years, I had a few responses and went on some dates. Most of the guys were very nice, but I didn't have much chemistry with them. During this time, I was also dating people met in real life (IRL) - mostly through friends, at work, etc.

My own personal theory of meeting people via the internet is this: be open to all possibilities, including meeting people who are cool but you have no chemistry with. People who are cool tend to have other friends who are similarly cool. And some of those friends you may find you have a spark with. That's why I enjoy keeping relationships up with people I meet on the internet, even if it doesn't work out romantically. Several of my IRL dates I met through my online dates-that-didn't-work-out.

I met my current boyfriend (who, to protect his identity, we'll just refer to as "Boy" from here on out) via the Spring Street dating network (they provide online profile stuff to various sites that aren't dating specific, like the Onion online, Nerve magazine, etc). I had been attracted to his profile due in large part to the simple statement in his profile that "I'm tired of meeting people in bars." I was too, plus a boatload of my friends had just left Hawaii and returned to the mainland, so I was feeling like having some new faces in my life. In truth, I was just hoping to find a nice new friend who would have hot friends that I would then date. It was a perfect plan, except that he surprised me by being cool and attractive himself.

Boy and I actually did the friend route for several months, and then we sort of stumbled into a relationship along the way. We've been together now for 4 years, and have lived together for 3 of those years. If I were into marriage, I suppose that would have come up by now, as we own our house together, plus 2 insane cats, so our lives are completely intertwined (Co-ownership of property/livestock = Serious Relationship).

Okay, so that's my story.

Questions/comments/hate-or-love-mail:
  • Email me at askmyblog@gmail.com
Coming up tomorrow: how to get started and how to write your online profile to attract the right people.
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Tony Romo Wants To Play on Sunday
Thursday, October 16, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
As reported by various news sources, Tony Romo is considering playing on Sunday despite having a broken pinkie finger on his throwing hand. Initial reports had suggested he would have to sit for at least 4 weeks, but apparently after Brett Favre (his hero, by the way) called him, Romo was inspired to ask to "play through the pain."

Now, here's the thing - Brett Favre is some kind of physical superhuman freak, but that just means that us normal humans shouldn't listen to his advice about whether to play or not, especially since it could lead to further injury. So I think Romo would be stupid to try and play this Sunday. I mean, if the Cowboys can't beat the Rams of all teams without Romo, they're doomed anyway. At a minimum, Romo should take the week off and then maybe he could return after that.

But on the other hand, if I'm the Tampa Bay or Giants defense and Romo is in the game, I blitz the hell out of him, try to force him to make awkward throws with that taped up finger, or even better, swat the ball out of his hand, since the pinkie injury is going to limit his ability to hold onto the ball (something he was having trouble with this season already, even with a healthy hand).
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Video Games That Make You Cry
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
I got all excited when I saw this article over at good old mainstream MSNBC entitled "When has a video game ever made you cry?". I had been foolishly hoping for a discussion of video games and how far along they've come as valid storytelling mediums. I suppose I should have expected the sub-title that hit me when I opened the article: "Indie titles prove that games can evoke the same emotions as films, books".

The article goes on to seemingly assert that only these new indie games have themes exploring deep emotional issues.
...Rohrer’s game isn’t the only one mining some surprisingly deep emotional territory. From the awkward and sometimes comical feelings that arise during sex to the poignant experience of confronting childhood memories to the joyous and heart-wrenching juggling act that is fatherhood, a host of independent titles are busy proving that — despite much evidence to the contrary — video games really can explore and evoke the kind of emotional experiences that movies and books do.

“One critique of contemporary commercial games is that they have less emotional breadth than, say, novels or film,” says Celia Pearce, the festival chair. “Imagine if the majority of films that came out every year were action and horror films, which is exactly the situation we have currently in the mainstream game industry. Now, imagine that games had the breadth we are used to in film. Imagine a ‘love story’ game or a ‘coming of age’ game or a game about mortality, parenting or spiritual enlightenment. These are some of the themes tackled in games featured in IndieCade.”
Now, I'm all for mainstream press discussing exciting new video games that break from tradition and explore new boundaries of possibility (i.e. the cool "Dark Room Sex Game" described in the article). On the other hand, I dislike the article's implication that "regular" console and PC games lack the emotional depth of films and books.

Video games are particularly difficult for non-fans to evaluate, since their level of immersion requires more time investment than other mediums. To me, this feels like yet another article written by a non-gamer trying to discuss something they know nothing about. There are many games, particularly within the RPG (role-playing game) genre, that have story lines and emotional moments that are just as legitimate and moving as those found in movies and books.

Countless gamers will likely site the classic PS2 game Final Fantasy VII as one game that brought tears to their eyes. Recent games for the Xbox360 and PS3 have also made huge leaps in terms of story quality and execution. I recently completed Bioware's latest epic Mass Effect, which has an amazing story, but takes a good 5 hours or so of gameplay before its true scope and heart are revealed. *MILD SPOILER ALERT FOR MASS EFFECT* At one point in the game, your character is literally forced into a Sophie's Choice moment, where you must make a life and death decision that will affect a character you have come to feel affection for. I agonized over the decision, and definitely felt moved by the scene that followed. *END SPOILER* In fact, in most of the recent Bioware games (Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire) you'll find great stories and characters that will move you.

I'd argue that the immersive nature of great video games actually make them more effective than just watching a movie. You aren't just passively watching a character make a decision, you're the one who chooses who lives and dies, which relationships (including romantic ones) you want to pursue, which path you wish your character to go down. Try playing the outstanding Bioshock, meeting the Little Sisters and the ethical dilemma they present, and then tell me you didn't find the plot just as captivating as any movie or book. And guess what - Bioshock was such a great story, they're now working on a movie version, with some pretty big director names attached to it.

Basically, the author of the article is about 5 years too late to this party. There have been many examples of "mainstream" games that are effectively moving works of art. And the indie game market isn't particularly new either - the recently released Braid on XBox Live has been a big success, rightly praised for its lovely story and artwork. Just once I'd like a serious article written about this topic from someone who actually knows what they're talking about.
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Open Call: Internet Dating Stories and Advice
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist

So, I've been planning to do a week-long series about internet dating for some time now, and it's finally time to pull the trigger for me. I think there's a lot of misinformation out there about internet dating, plus I sense that a lot of people may be interested but have been turned off by horror stories, so I wanted to address that here in my blog.

I myself am a successful veteran of the internet dating scene, plus I have several friends, both gay and straight, who have done it and had good results (more than one has gotten married to his/her internet date), so I do have some real life experience that hopefully will be interesting to you all. I will have several columns dedicated to topics such as: setting up your online profile, how to separate the wheat from the chaff when searching other profiles, and tips for when you arrange your face-to-face date.

Now, here's the Open Call portion:

I would like to open the floor, so to speak, to others who have tried internet dating, whether it worked for them or not. I'm interested in featuring your personal stories here at this blog, as well as my other blog. I'm also gauging general interest - are you interested in reading about this on my blog? Do you have questions about internet dating that you want me to answer? Or is this a waste of my time?

If you want to share your story:

  • Email me at askmyblog@gmail.com with the story you'd like to see posted. It can be a success story, a horror story, or your own advice to other internet daters.
  • To satisfy my own anal nature, I may make minor grammatical or spelling corrections, but any other changes I will work with you on.
  • Let me know if you wish to use a pseudonym.
  • If you prefer to post at your own blog, and would just like me to cross-link to your post from my own, that's fine too.

If you have a question you want answered:

  • Email me at askmyblog@gmail.com
  • Again, if you prefer a pseudonym, let me know

If you think this is interesting OR a waste or my time:

  • You can email me at the address listed above, or you can just go ahead and post here in the comments section. Don't worry about hurting my feelings. I don't want to waste my time blathering about a topic that no one wants to hear about.

Al Gore wants you to find love
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How Dare You Say The Emperor Has No Clothes!?
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
As a reward for making a respectful, well-thought out argument in favor of the opposition candidate, Christopher Buckley now finds himself out of a job at the National Review, the very magazine his father founded. What insanity.

I've long wondered how certain conservatives must be feeling right now. Take a look at the Democratic Party - while I think that it's not perfect and they occasionally take stances I personally disagree with, overall I feel at peace with the party. Fundamentally, they represent the values and philosophies that I hold near and dear to my heart. Again, this is not to say that I am not occasionally disgusted by the political games that must be played to hold power in the Beltway. But I forgive those missteps, because at the end of the day, they mostly do a good job with the issues that matter to me.

Conservatives, however, do not seem to be that lucky. Christopher Buckley isn't the first prominent conservative to express dismay at the current state of the GOP. There is a real schism in the Republican Party right now, which is partially why McCain is struggling in the general election (and partially why he got nominated in the first place).

Part of the problem, I think, is the way the Republican Party has conducted itself. It is an intensely rigid party - members have always had massive pressure to parrot and vote the party line, and I've always gotten the impression that dissent (public at least) has never been tolerated. This leads to one faction getting to lead the party platform. But the problem is, many of the major factions have serious philosophical beliefs that seem irreconcilable with each other. The libertarians' desire to have minimal government intervention in any matters is in direct conflict with the social conservatives' desire to legislate personal behavior at the state and federal level (e.g. banning same sex rights, abortion, introducing various bills regulating morality in movies, videogames and so forth) and the hard-liners' desire to increase federal funding for faith-based groups and military spending. I know many Republicans who are classic fiscal conservatives, but social liberal, and they too have to feel strange supporting a party that has expanded the federal government in size and power, while at the same time actively seeking to suppress civil rights for minorities and immigrants.

Contrast that to the Democratic Party, which has always been more comfortable with its motley collection of various groups, and has allowed for a bit more public discussion and debate within its ranks. And at the end of the day, the various Democratic factions - feminists, union guys, environmentalists, progressives, peace activists, etc - all mostly subscribe to the same belief that government has a responsibility to intervene in a variety of issues important to running a stable society and to provide opportunities for the less fortunate. They are less invested in the "no dissent = strong party" notion, and more into coalition-building, which I believe allows the various groups to exist with a touch more harmony.

This is not to get into a "my party is better than your party" sort of post or argument. I personally hate the 2 party system, and have always wished for a true 3rd and 4th party alternative. Up to now, however, that hasn't happened for whatever reason. Still, I look at the state of the Republican Party today, and for the first time I think perhaps there is an opportunity for some of those factions to break away and form a viable 3rd party. I see the libertarian movement as the one most likely to break off at this point (yes, there is already an official Libertarian Party, but has only minimal influence right now), perhaps taking the fiscal conservative/social liberal types with them. I could also see an intra-party revolt by the old school Buckley-types, who believe in intellectual debate and probably despise the far-right types who have engaged in "intelligent = elitist = BAD THING" style politics.
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Gaaah! Dead Space video game
Tuesday, October 14, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
I know I haven't blogged about video games in awhile, so here's a post for my readers who enjoy that sort of thing.

I'm a sucker for a good horror game, even though they give me nightmares and fill me with the irrational fear that weird zombies, Japanese ghosts or demons from hell might be lurking for me in the corporate bathroom or just outside my bedroom door. If you are a fan of horror films and you aren't playing horror games, you're missing out. If you thought watching The Ring was scary, try actually living it out via your virtual avatar in a game like Fatal Frame 2 (hands down, the scariest game ever made). Instead of the passive experience of watching horrible things happen to someone else, you get to engage actively in the storyline. The improved graphics only contribute to the horror, since everything feels more real and the gore/monster effects are much more visceral. Game makers further immerse you by utilizing surround sound to simulate the sound of footsteps behind you, and by utilizing the "rumble" technology in controllers to jolt you physically. In the aforementioned Fatal Frame, the controller begins pulses in your hand in time to the heartbeat sound from the game every time your character gets close to peril.

So naturally I'm intrigued by the new Dead Space game that just came out. The fact that Warren Ellis, the great comic book writer, had a hand in writing the game's script only makes it more attractive to me. I was a little disappointed by Wired's review which gave the game only 7/10, stating:

Real immersion is a lofty goal, and Dead Space just about nails it. But it is a horror game, after all. Is it horrifying? No, not really. Dead Space falls into the widely popular shock-horror pit that's been an industry staple since Doom first hid an imp in the wall behind a suit of armor.

Here's a scenario that's played out all too often: You're walking down a hallway, listening to the voices in your head. Suddenly, the music surges, and a tentacled attack-fetus clambers out of a vent, followed by a few more baddies. You charge, your adrenaline pumping thanks to the furious pace of the music, and get to severing limbs and thwacking foes. Then the music calms down and the enemies leave items behind for you to pick up. Now imagine that this scene is repeated throughout the entire course of the game, with little variation.

.....

While Dead Space certainly isn't the only game to load you up with too many supplies, knowing that you're armed to the teeth definitely detracts from the terror.
That was disappointing to read, as I do hate games that have infinite ammo and a predictable game play pattern. As the reviewer astutely points out, the real terror in a game like Resident Evil is the sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach, as you realized you haven't rationed your ammo smartly and now are just about to run out. So the unlimited ammo thing makes me think this is going to play more like a standard FPS with things that jump out at you rather than a truly innovative horror game.


On the other hand, you have the Warren Ellis story which gets high marks from Wired, and the Meta-review post at Joystiq shows that most reviewers were more generous in their evaluation of the game. Even though the Wired reviewer complains that the game is rigidly linear, I've played and loved games like that (Bioshock), so that's not really a problem for me.

I'm a bit torn. What about you, readers? Does Dead Space intrigue you? Do you plan to buy the game, and why/why not?
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Rachel Maddow vs David Frum
Tuesday, October 14, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
I was watching the Rachel Maddow show last night, and happened to catch this really bizarre interview that she did with David Frum. She started the interview benignly enough, asking him to comment on his recent remarks that seemed to condemn the hate speech heard shouted out at McCain rallies. All of a sudden Frum took this as an opportunity to equate Rachel's show with the same sort of discourse, and then accused her of being too flippant and snide when talking about issues. He actually accuses Rachel of failing to engage in intelligent discussion of the issues.

I've decided that Rachel Maddow must either be some kind of saint, or perhaps just the world's most even-keeled person, because she did not freak out on him. And boy, if ever there was a situation that justified a little freak out, Bill O'Reilly-style, this was it. So I give her massive credit for keeping her calm and engaging him respectfully on the issue. Watch it, it's too weird to believe:



Edited to add: I am struck at how David Frum has absolutely no sense of humor, nor an appreciation for the power of satire. In national politics on a normal day, there's plenty of silly things said that deserve a good mocking. And during this campaign, it's practically dissolved into a farce, with some of strange things both sides have been pitching. I mean, how can you read a headline like "Palin releases results of probe; clears self" and not laugh out loud? When a politician is SO absurd that comedian Tina Fey can just recite her speech verbatim and get a laugh, how can you not see the humor there?

Edited yet again to add: Steve Benen (formerly of The Carpetbagger Report, currently running the Washington Monthly's Political Animal column) has good commentary up about the incident. I am also pleased that I got a little shout-out in the column (I'm the J.L. he thanks for the YouTube link), since I'm a huge fan.
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Guantanamo Prosecutor Resigns
Monday, October 13, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
If you can read this article and not be outraged, you're a cold hearted bastard. When the injustice is SO bad and SO obvious that not even the prosecutor thinks the defendant will get a fair trial, there's something dangerously wrong with the process.

The military tribunals are so fundamentally un-American that it just appalls me. And many of my fellow Americans will happily dogpile on you if you refuse to wear a flag lapel pin or say the pledge, but when it comes to actually standing up for some of the founding principles of our Constitution, their outrage is nowhere to be found. Arrrggggh.
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Another endorsement of Obama
Monday, October 13, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has posted a very eloquent endorsement of Barack Obama.

I particularly like this section, which echoes what a long-time conservative actually said to me recently:
The greatest argument for change is also suggested by history. For the two-party system to work for the good of the republic, the parties need to be held accountable. They need to be sent to the wilderness from time to time to rethink and regroup. Ronald Reagan's success was built upon Barry Goldwater's debacle. The rise of Bill Clinton would not have been possible but for the lessons learned from the defeats of Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis. For every phoenix there must first be a fire and that time has come for the Republican Party, whose arteries are clogged with ideology accumulated at the long feast of power.
I love that last line. As always, I encourage you to read the whole thing, which makes the case both for Barack Obama and against John McCain. That dichotomy (not only is this guy really good, but this other guy is really bad) is a really compelling one for me. I've met some people who will never be sold on Barack Obama, but can see the logic of voting against John McCain, who is increasingly erratic and has shown he cannot be trusted to truly put country first. I've met other people who are okay with John McCain, but like and respect Obama much more.

The article ends with a particularly scathing indictment against McCain:

That the argument about issues has been essentially won by Sen. Obama is plain from the scurrilous attacks now being launched against his character -- increasingly by Ms. Palin -- alleging guilt by association, unpatriotic behavior and worse.

This closing blizzard of slime is another attempt to spread the wizard's curtain further: Don't look at how the economy has impoverished you while a Republican has been in the White House, look at Mr. Obama's passing acquaintance with an old radical who did bad deeds almost 40 years ago, because that is more important.

Yes, they apparently do think the American people are that stupid.

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NFL Week 6 Breakdown
Monday, October 13, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
I went into yesterday thinking to myself, "Ugh, what horribly boring matchups!" and almost considering skipping watching football all day. By the end of the day, my only dilemma was deciding which game qualified as the most amazing game for the day. Here's a quick rundown of all the action.

Upset special! Huge, HUGE upsets all around yesterday. What's more, several of them were decided literally in the last seconds of the game. Let's start with the amazing Atlanta Falcons, who had just given up the lead to Chicago 20-19 with only 11 seconds left in the game. Atlanta then recovered the squib kick and returned it to the 44 yard line, and then young Matt Ryan came in and threw a brilliant 26 yard pass to Michael Jenkins at the Chicago 30 yard line. The pass was thrown such that the receiver was instantly able to get out of bounds, stopping the clock with only 1 SECOND LEFT. Jason Elam, seemingly the goat 10 seconds before for missing a 33 yard chip shot that would have assured the victory, was then able to redeem himself, driving through the 48 yard field goal (not a guaranteed shot by any measure) to win the game with no time remaining.

The Arizona Cardinals, meanwhile, were doing everything in their power to lose to the Dallas Cowboys. The Cards turned the ball over, the offense failed to capitalize on the defense's surprising stands and they were getting stupid penalties at the worst time. They were aided in this quest for defeat by the officials, who made at least 3-4 major mistakes that overturned what were obvious turnovers by the Cowboys offense (one of which, a Tony Romo fumble, would have resulted in a recovered TD for Arizona in the endzone). Nevertheless, the Cardinals defense had apparently decided that for once they were going to turn in a rugged performance, and after holding the Cowboys to a 3-and-out to start the overtime period, the special teams came in and blocked the punt for a TD. Game over. I have never seen a block like that in my life - it wasn't even really a "block", in that the defender came in SO fast, the ball hadn't even hit the punter's foot yet. Just an absolutely stunning performance by the Cardinals defense and special teams.

The Washington Redskins, in contrast, did succeed in their attempt to lose to the St Louis Rams. The Redskins went into yesterday's game with 0 turnovers for the season, but committed 3 turnovers against the Rams, one of which was returned for a touchdown by the Rams defense. Perhaps the Redskins were guilty of taking this one for granted. Or perhaps, just perhaps, the Rams defense was tired of being the laughing stock of the NFL and decided to man up and earn their paychecks. Either way, congrats to the no longer winless Rams.

Meanwhile, watching the winless Texans on third down from the 4 yard line with almost no time remaining against the Dolphins, I turned to my father and said, "You know, I'm surprised Schaub didn't run it himself on that play. The middle was wide open for him." Sure enough, the next play on 4th down, Schaub called his own number and ran straight up the middle into the end zone, putting his team into the lead for good.

That's quite enough of that, thank you. I'd like to call for a moratorium on the following things:
  1. "Icing the kicker". It's stupid. Kickers know you're going to do it to them and 99% of them are completely mentally prepared for it. Really, what's more stressful - being forced to get out on the field, line up and get a kick off within 30-35 seconds, or having a full timeout to relax, take a deep breath and get your squad all lined up at your leisure? Ken Weisenhunt's special teams turned in an awesome block of Nick Folk's field goal that tied the game with no time remaining, only to have it overturned, because Wiesenhunt had called a timeout at the last second. When Folk got his second chance, he drove home the field goal, and gave the Cowboys a chance to win the game.
  2. The "Tuck Rule". Take a look at the game tape of Tony Romo dropping the ball in the end zone, and then you look me in the eye and justify how that could be considered anything but a fumble. That's the sort of call that completely changes the direction of a game, and it's not fair to the players or the fans.
  3. Linemen running with the ball. The Redskins lost because an offensive lineman caught Jason Campbell's deflected pass and foolishly tried to run with it. He fumbled and the ball was returned by the Rams for a game-deciding TD. If I see one more player trying to be the big hero trying to get a measely couple of yards, I'm going to puke. Be aware of the game situation and realize when the best thing you can do for your team is clutch the ball tightly with two hands and immediately sit down on the field. I see this on both sides of the ball. People need to take a lesson from Brian Westbrook on how to be a selfless player and learn how to take a knee when it really matters for your team.
Studs of the week. How does Earnest Graham run 5 times for only 11 yards and make this list? Read this article to find out why. Earnest, you are a great teammate. Meanwhile, Drew Brees (26/30, 320 yards, 3 TD) is marching towards an NFL record for total passing yards in a season. Even with 3 major receivers out for the Saints, Brees is still putting up obscene numbers. Matt "Matty Ice" Ryan had his first 300+ yard game, but really, the only yards that mattered were the 26 yards he threw on that one pass at the end of the game. One of my regular readers, an Atlanta fan, has been resisting Ryan, but perhaps this performance will bring him and the other doubters around. Andre Johnson (178 yds, 1 TD) looked like the stud receiver from a few years ago before he got injured. Patrick Cobbs (who?) had 3 catches for 138 yds and 2 TDs. Much to my relief as a fantasy football player, Peyton Manning (19/28, 271 yds, 3 TD) finally snapped out of his slump.

Teams I like this week. The Atlanta Falcons have proven to me that they can beat a legitimate team, and not just by running the ball a hundred times. I think an 8-8 season would be a huge accomplishment for them, but I'm starting to think that the Falcons might have something more ambitious in mind, since they're tied for first place in their division right now. Another win like this and they'll have playoffs on the brain for sure. In many ways, the Falcons remind me of their division rival the Saints from a few years ago. In 2006, the Saints had come off a miserable season, with a terrible record, the aftermath of Katrina still fresh in everyone's minds, stewing in a case of loser-dom. It was a culture of losing, and that can be really difficult to pull out of. The team took drastic measures - purging almost 40% of the players from the roster, going out and landing a new tough head coach, and bringing in a QB who could be a great leader for the team (Drew Brees). In essence, they created a completely new team, and in doing so, were able to turn a 2-14 team into playoff contenders in a single year. In many ways, Atlanta has done the same thing, purging a roster that had become mired in that culture of losing, and finding themselves several key players (Michael Turner, Matt Ryan) who can step up and be true leaders for this young squad. I also like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week, who I think would be better off if they left Jeff Garcia at the helm for the rest of the season.

Teams I Don't Like This Week. So many losers to choose from... I don't like the Dallas Cowboys, who are looking undisciplined and sloppy lately. The Detroit Lions managed to lose yet again, partially because their idiot QB ran out of the back of the end zone, apparently unaware that that would result in a safety. How much did the Lions lose by? 2 points, the exact amount awarded for a safety. The New England Patriots continued to reap the results of their decision to stick with Matt Cassell against all reason. The Ravens got owned on defense by Manning and the Colts and may already be regretting naming rookie Joe Flacco (28/38, 241 yds, 3 INT) as the starter for the year. Lastly, good to see that firing Lane Kiffin worked out so well for the Oakland Raiders, who turned out a poor performance this week. When the defense has blown 2 close games for you, and then gotten completely blown out in the most recent one, can anyone really side with Davis, who partially wanted to fire Kiffin because Kiffin wanted to fire the defensive coordinator? JaMarcus Russell was wildy inconsistent, but the team seems prepared to sacrifice the rest of the season to get him more comfortable throwing the ball. I'm sure the rest of the team appreciates that.

Breaking news: They just announced that Tony Romo has broken his pinky finger and will be out at least 4 weeks. That is terrible news for the struggling Cowboys. Think TO was bad before? Just wait till Brad Johnson fails to deliver enough balls to him.
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Esquire AND William Buckley's Son Endorse Barack Obama
Saturday, October 11, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Esquire magazine has just published its official endorsement of Barack Obama. Now, what does this endorsement mean? Probably nothing. If you're the type to enjoy the somewhat flowery prose in its pages, chances are you might already be voting for Obama. If you're one of the "Joe Sixpacks" who hate anything even remotely "metropolitan", this is probably only going to confirm that Obama is an elitist. It's stupid, but there you go.

On the other hand, it's a very well written article that I highly recommend you check out. It's got nice balance - it certainly isn't a fawning endorsement implying Obama is best thing since sliced bread. In fact, it starts with a bit of criticism against Obama. However, they do a great job spelling out just what is at stake in this election. Forward this on to anyone you know who's still (inexplicably) an undecided voter.

For those of you still on the fence about reading it, here's a juicy passage that will hopefully entice you:
There is no evidence at all that anything will change under a President John McCain, who has already identified Roberts and Alito as his beau ideals of Supreme Court justices. He has made brave noises about torture and the extraconstitutional prerogatives of the executive, but President Bush and his men went on and did what they wanted anyway, and McCain walked away, begging for votes from fundamentalists who hate him, meeping his displeasure in ways that were barely audible. The virus will gestate and spread on his watch, all throughout the federal government. Bushism must be ripped out, root and branch, everywhere it has been established, or else the presidential election of 2008 is a worthless exercise in futility. Barack Obama may not be the man to do it, but John McCain, for all his laudable qualities, clearly is neither willing nor able to do so.
In more significant (perhaps) news, the son of William F. Buckley (one of the fathers of the conservative movement), has just endorsed Barack Obama. It's definitely interesting stuff to me, and it's nice to see an intellectual perspective with a conservative bent. I have no problem with conservatives - it's just that for so long the only people speaking on behalf of that movement have been inarticulate trolls who prefer to scream their opponents into submission, versus making rational arguments about their point of view.

Some key passages (though I encourage you to go read the whole thing):

A year ago, when everyone, including the man I’m about to endorse, was caterwauling to get out of Iraq on the next available flight, John McCain, practically alone, said no, no—bad move. Surge. It seemed a suicidal position to take, an act of political bravery of the kind you don’t see a whole lot of anymore.

But that was—sigh—then. John McCain has changed. He said, famously, apropos the Republican debacle post-1994, “We came to Washington to change it, and Washington changed us.” This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget “by the end of my first term.” Who, really, believes that? Then there was the self-dramatizing and feckless suspension of his campaign over the financial crisis. His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless. And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can he have been thinking?

All this is genuinely saddening, and for the country is perhaps even tragic, for America ought, really, to be governed by men like John McCain—who have spent their entire lives in its service, even willing to give the last full measure of their devotion to it. If he goes out losing ugly, it will be beyond tragic, graffiti on a marble bust.

and this:

I’ve read Obama’s books, and they are first-rate. He is that rara avis, the politician who writes his own books. Imagine. He is also a lefty. I am not. I am a small-government conservative who clings tenaciously and old-fashionedly to the idea that one ought to have balanced budgets. On abortion, gay marriage, et al, I’m libertarian. I believe with my sage and epigrammatic friend P.J. O’Rourke that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take it all away.

But having a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect, President Obama will (I pray, secularly) surely understand that traditional left-politics aren’t going to get us out of this pit we’ve dug for ourselves. If he raises taxes and throws up tariff walls and opens the coffers of the DNC to bribe-money from the special interest groups against whom he has (somewhat disingenuously) railed during the campaign trail, then he will almost certainly reap a whirlwind that will make Katrina look like a balmy summer zephyr.

Obama has in him—I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy “We are the people we have been waiting for” silly rhetoric—the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for.

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Kath and Kim - Not Nearly As Bad As Expected
Friday, October 10, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
There's almost no such thing anymore as "Must See TV". I DVR almost every show I watch, because I hate watching commercials, and I enjoy pulling up the show I want to watch at my leisure. That having been said, the only lineup I will occasionally sit down for is NBC's Thursday night set of shows. So, I happened to catch the series premiere of the new show in the lineup, Kath and Kim.

Now, I was aware of the show before last night. Much like its partner in the lineup, The Office, the American version of Kath and Kim was originally a sitcom in a different country (in this case, Australia), featuring the adventures of an obnoxiously tacky mother (Kath) and daughter (Kim). I knew that the original was a cult hit here in the states. I was intrigued because the original was so well-received, and the American version was set to feature the fabulous Molly Shannon, who I've always wanted to see featured in her own show.

However, advanced reviews of the new American version were definitely less than kind. Mo Ryan at the Chicago Tribune went so far as to say of the show: "Almost as good as Knight Rider!". That's pretty harsh. That's like telling someone "Your girlfriend's almost as pretty as that one legged prostitute down the street. You know, the one with all the boils." USA Today gave the show 1 star out of 4.

Imagine my surprise, then, to find myself literally laughing out loud at least half a dozen times during the premiere. I was delighted to see the role of Kath's fiancee filled by the awesome John Michael Higgins. I thought Molly Shannon was really funny, and there were several fun zinger lines seeded throughout. Now, was it a knock-out hit? No. There were some clunky moments, and Selma Blair's Kim is dangerously close to coming across as simply loathsome (at times you just want to slap that bitchface expression right off her mug). Still, was I entertained overall and would I watch a second episode? Yes.

What's going on here? Did my low expectations enable me to enjoy it simply because it didn't suck as much as I expected it to? Is Kath and Kim my own personal Sarah Palin? Did the fact that it did not do the TV show equivalent of collapsing into a puddle of its own urine and gibbering about the economy and healthcare mean that it scored a "victory" in my mind? I have to be honest here - I'm a pretty harsh critic of TV, I freely admit that the new version of Knight Rider is quite possibly the worst stinking pile of crap ever foisted upon innocent TV audiences. But that's why the comparison of Knight Rider to Kath and Kim feel so false - I've seen the abyss that is Knight Rider, and Kath and Kim is nowhere near that bad.

I have a theory about entertainment that goes: how good is it, in the context of what it's trying to be? If a film strives to be a great action flick, does it deliver a decent plot and lots of kick-assery? If a show wants to be about a bunch of mentally challenged losers, does it at least make you laugh? In other words, don't expect every single piece of cinema or TV to be the Next Great Thing. To quote my boyfriend, not every show needs to be The Office. Not every show should be The Office. There's a certain joy to a low-brow kind of comedy. On occasion, I just want to sit back and snicker at broad, stupid jokes.

There are two shows that I think offer valuable examples of how to approach Kath and Kim. The first is my beloved 30 Rock. Now, do I think Kath and Kim will ever begin to approach the comic genius levels of 30 Rock? No. But I do think back to 2 years ago when I saw the 30 Rock pilot. Frankly, it was uneven and sort of dull in places. Had I judged the show only on its first 2 episodes, I would have called it a disappointing C+ show at best. The show didn't really pop for me until episode 3 ("Blind Date") and the show didn't really find its footing on a consistent basis until halfway through the first season. Iit's possible that Kath and Kim may similarly just need some time to find its balance, in terms of characters and plotting, so I think we should give it at least 4-5 episodes before we totally condemn it.

The second show I am thinking of is FX's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Last night's episode was entitled "Who Pooped the Bed?". Yes, that's right - they did a 30 minute show almost exclusively about feces. It was crass, vulgar, disgusting, appalling... and very, very funny. Of course, Kath and Kim cannot tread the same taboo-breaking boundaries of It's Always Sunny, since NBC isn't going to let uncensored profanity and poop jokes fly on their network. On the other hand, it's a good example of a show that isn't afraid to plumb the depths of tacky, tasteless humor and come out a winner, so perhaps Kath and Kim can take a lesson from that.

Anyhoo, I suggest you check it out. It's not "Must See" yet, but it's certainly not a bad way to pass 22 minutes of your time. And it may blossom into a pretty good show, if given the chance. We'll see.
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Dangerous rhetoric
Wednesday, October 08, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Perhaps some of my elders can correct me on this, but has there ever been a more disgusting show of dirty politics than what Sarah Palin and John McCain have been pitching on the campaign trail lately? The language they're using in their speeches (particularly Palin, who is revealing herself to be a Very Bad Person) is dangerous, because it's inciting their frenzied crowds into some pretty scary behavior. From the NY Times editorial condemning the McCain campaign:

Ms. Palin, in particular, revels in the attack. Her campaign rallies have become spectacles of anger and insult. “This is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America,” Ms. Palin has taken to saying.

That line follows passages in Ms. Palin’s new stump speech in which she twists Mr. Obama’s ill-advised but fleeting and long-past association with William Ayers, founder of the Weather Underground and confessed bomber. By the time she’s done, she implies that Mr. Obama is right now a close friend of Mr. Ayers — and sympathetic to the violent overthrow of the government. The Democrat, she says, “sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.”

Her demagoguery has elicited some frightening, intolerable responses. A recent Washington Post report said at a rally in Florida this week a man yelled “kill him!” as Ms. Palin delivered that line and others shouted epithets at an African-American member of a TV crew.

Now, any decent human being would have stop what they're doing and call out their supporters for that. But the McCain campaign has yet to address that behavior in any form. What I find most appalling is the thought that they just don't care, that they truly don't realize that they are directly responsible for fostering that sort of sentiment out in the public sphere. That sort of hate-mongering is plain evil. That fact CANNOT be denied.

I won't even bother going into the irony that this is the same campaign that did so much hanky-clutching and hand-wringing over alleged "sexist" comments.
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Gauge Your Manliness
Tuesday, October 07, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist

Per my friend Mark, here is a list of the 80 Things Every Man Should Know How To Do from Popular Mechanics. I've list in bold font the ones I can actually accomplish, with at least 80% probability.

Automotive
1. Handle a blowout
2. Drive in snow

3. Check trouble codes
4. Replace fan belt
5. Wax a car
6. Conquer an off-road obstacle
7. Use a stick welder
8. Hitch up a trailer (I assume this means you have the hitch already attached and whatnot)
9. Jump start a car

Handling Emergencies
10. Perform the Heimlich
11. Reverse hypothermia

12. Perform hands-only CPR

13. Escape a sinking car


Home
14. Carve a turkey
15. Use a sewing machine
16. Put out a fire
17. Home brew beer
18. Remove bloodstains from fabric
19. Move heavy stuff
20. Grow food
21. Read an electric meter
22. Shovel the right way
23. Solder wire
24. Tape drywall
25. Split firewood
26. Replace a faucet washer
27. Mix concrete
28. Paint a straight line
29. Use a French knife
30. Prune bushes and small trees
31. Iron a shirt

32. Fix a toilet tank flapper
33. Change a single-pole switch
34. Fell a tree
35. Replace a broken windowpane
36. Set up a ladder, safely
37. Fix a faucet cartridge
38. Sweat copper tubing
39. Change a diaper
40. Grill with charcoal

41. Sew a button on a shirt

42. Fold a flag


Medical Myths
43. Treat frostbite
44. Treat a burn

45. Help a seizure victim
46. Treat a snakebite

47. Remove a tick


Military Know-How (duh, as a former military person, these are no-brainers)
48. Shine shoes
49. Make a drum-tight bed

50. Drop and give the perfect pushup


Outdoors
51. Run rapids in a canoe
52. Hang food in the wild
53. Skipper a boat
54. Shoot straight
55. Tackle steep drops on a mountain bike
56. Escape a rip current

Primitive Skills
57. Build a fire in the wilderness
58. Build a shelter

59. Find potable water

Surviving Extremes
60. Floods
61. Tornados

62. Cold

63. Heat

64. Lightning


Teach Your Kids
65. Cast a line
66. Lend a hand

67. Change a tire

68. Throw a spiral

69. Fly a stunt kite
70. Drive a stick shift
71. Parallel park

72. Tie a bowline
73. Tie a necktie
74. Whittle
75. Ride a bike

Technology
76. Install a graphics card
77. Take the perfect portrait

78. Calibrate HDTV settings
79. Shoot a home movie

80. Ditch your hard drive


Overall, didn't do too badly, scoring 54. Mind you, I grew up in the country and was in the military, so I just happened to have the life experience in some of these things. We had a huge woodpile that we actually used in our wood-burning stove to heat our house, so it sort of necessitated learning how to split wood. I am proud, however, of my excellent form when doing push-ups.

Consider this an open challenge - post your score on your blog, or just list your score in my comments section.
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Farewell, Opus
Tuesday, October 07, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Very sad news: Berkeley Breathed is ending the Opus comic strip.

I had welcomed the return of my favorite penguin to the comic pages a few years back, so it's sad to see him go again so soon. It's hard to describe just how influential the Bloom County books were to me growing up. I used to spend hours when I was young (10-14) reading those books, immersing myself in the world of Opus, Milo, Binkley, Portnoy, Bill the Cat and all the rest of the gang. It was how I learned about the politics and happenings of the 1980's - I may have been the only 11 year old in America who knew who Jeane Kirkpatrick was.

The strip was influential in my development as a budding young liberal (along with Doonesbury, which I also consumed with a fury). So, thanks to Berkeley Breathed for treating us to such a wonderful character over the years. He will be dearly missed.


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NFL Week 5 Breakdown
Sunday, October 05, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
There were some shocking upsets this week, with both the Dolphins and the Falcons pulling off wins against legitimate contenders, beating the Chargers and Packers respectively. Meanwhile, several teams proved that they are the real deal, with the Titans, Giants and Redskins delivering impressive wins.

Smooth move, Ex Lax. To quote my father, has any player ever done so much to single-handedly lose a game for his team? Several players fit the bill this week and will likely be kicking themselves for the rest of the week. The Texans were up 27-17 in the 4th quarter with 4:04 left to play. That's a difference of 2 scores, and should have been enough to run out the clock with conservative play. Quarterback Sage Rosenfels was flushed from the pocket and decided to run for the first down. He made it, but then instead of just sliding down, decided to be the big hero and VAULT over the defenders. Now, there's a reason most quarterbacks don't scramble - it leaves them vulnerable and running isn't really what they do for a team. Well, Rosenfels took a massive hit while he was in the air, fumbled the ball, which was then returned 58 yards for a TD. On the next possession, he fumbled the ball again, and Indy promptly scored, jumping into the lead. Finally, on the last drive, Rosenfels threw an INT, driving the final nail into the Texans coffin. Mind you, this was Rosenfels chance to steal the starting job from the struggling Matt Schaub, and instead, he has made Schaub's job look more secure than ever.

The Bengals were threatening to pull off a major upset of the Cowboys, down by less than a score. They had just recovered a surprise on-sides kick and had the Cowboys back on their heels. Then Chris Perry decided he'd carry the ball like it was made of paper, and promptly fumbled it away, killing the Bengals momentum. A few plays later, Romo hit Terrell Owens for a TD that broke the Bengals back. Perry has now killed his team several weeks in a row with fumbles at the worst possible moment.

Uh oh! If I were the following teams, I'd be really worried right now: Green Bay is 2-3 and has a pretty tough schedule for the rest of the year. This team could be a .500 team if they aren't careful. Dallas has looked shaky the past few weeks, particularly on defense. Indianapolis and San Diego both have major issues as well. And Jacksonville can't seem to finish a game, or really get their run game going on a regular basis.

Studs of the week. Clinton Portis was a beast running all over the Eagles for 145 yards and TD. I also loved the way that Chad Pennington (22/29, 1 TD, 228 yds, 0 INT) and Matt Ryan (16/26, 2 TD, 196 yds, 1 INT) played. Their numbers weren't sexy, but they did a great job making the throws when it mattered. Brandon Jacobs steamrolled the Seahawks for 136 yards and 2 TDs. And lastly, DeAngelo Williams had a huge week with 123 yards rushing, 2 TDs, and another TD receiving. I was going to put Kyle Orton (24/34, 334 yds, 2 TD, 0 INT) on the list, but you don't get points for stealing candy from babies, nor do you get points for building stats against the woeful Detroit Lions.

Teams I like this week. Think about this: if the Dolphins convert that last throw against the Jets in week 1, they would have been 3-1 to start the season. Bill Parcells and Tony Sparano have done a great job changing the attitude of that team into a group of players who believe they can win. It's not just the trick plays, with the direct snap to Ronnie Brown. It's evident in the way the defense has come alive the last two weeks (led by loud mouth Joey Porter, who is writing the book on how to put your money where your mouth is), the way that Chad Pennington has become the steady leader on offense. Again, this team may not be much better than .500 on the year, but they will need to be taken seriously as an opponent. I also like the Redskins, who are finished with all their divisional road games for the season and have the Browns, Rams and Lions coming up. This is a team that should be 7-1 at the halfway mark. Scary. Speaking of scary, don't look now, but the Titans are 5-0 and looking like a nasty team you don't want to get in front of. Lastly, I like the Giants, who have quietly been steam rolling their opponents. I won't be completely sold till they play the Steelers in week 8 though.

Teams I don't like this week. Yes, the Colts won this week. But if Rosenfels hadn't lost his mind at the end of the game, they'd be 1-3 right now. Manning still doesn't look comfortable in the pocket and the defense looks vulnerable. The Eagles have a brutal couple weeks coming up and are not looking sharp. Poor play calling again this week by Andy Reid. Lastly, yes, Trent Edwards went down early in the game, but it wasn't J.P. Losman who lost the game for the Buffalo Bills. Kurt Warner had a field day against the Bills defense, pretty much marching up and down the field at will. Have the Bills been exposed as this year's Detroit Lions? My father would say yes. I say, this defense better get themselves together on their bye week. Yes, they've had some impressive 4th quarter comebacks in their first 4 games, but that sort of begs the question - what's up with the defense that you need to make a dramatic comeback in the first place?
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