Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

As we glide into this new year, it is good to reflect back on the past and figure out what out objectives are for the new year. So I thought that I'd just post this note today to get this started. 2006 was good in many ways, but there are several areas that I'd like to improve for 2007. I'll get to those in individual posts, but today I'd like to thank my wife and family for all that they have done for me this year and wish them all the best for the year to come. It should be an exciting one. And yes, I'll spend most of it on the couch.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Book 7. Finally.

So billionaire author J. K. Rowling decided to officially title her book today. In case you are surfing the web from under a rock, it will be called Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Not exactly falling off of the tongue, but it could be worse. I am an unabashed Harry Potter freak, and yes you will find me somewhere at midnight when this is released purchasing this book, but isn't this book a huge risk for Rowling?

I respect what she has accomplished, but let's be honest here, she could have finished this a few years ago if she would have spent less time fiddling with the movie aspect of her empire. The movies are a massive disappointment, as both movies and adaptations. The movies would work better as movies if she were to let some of the storylines be excised for the sake of time and bloat. You can forgive these digressions in the novels because they add flavor and color to the books, but in a movie, it just adds butt-numbing time to the equation.

At the end of the day though, Rowling doesn't care about what I think, after all I'll buy the book, probably see the movies, and she'll pocket the cash. I just hope she stays vigilant and finishes the books in the manner in which she has envisioned. It would be easy for her to be reactionary and kill Harry off so there will be no sequel, or to leave it open to her return in a few years. She has stated on many occasions that she knows how the books will end, I hope we will get to read that vision. She hasn't dodged difficult issues thus far, so I'm hopeful. Ultimately many people will love these books and others will be disappointed, but I am looking forward to the resolution of the series and hope that Rowling will find new avenues to mine in her writing future. And if not, she can always have a Smithers-esque moneyfight to brighten her day.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bad Light Liz

I know today has been mammary-heavy, which really is never a horrible thing, but wow, I didn't know that Elizabeth Hurly had a scruffy-looking twin. It reminds me of that Seinfeld episode when Jerry was dating that one lady who looked good in some lighting, and terrifying in others. These pictures are Bad Lighting Liz, she's not scary, but the lighting is very unflattering.

This girl is underage?

I know it is a cheap excuse to post pictures of a coke-snorting, drunken bisexual like Tara Conner, but I was stunned when, in the course of reading about her travails, I found out she is under twenty-one. If this young lady isn't careful she's going to look like Tara Reid in about four years. Maybe five. I don't watch beauty pageants due to their inherent hypocrisies, but I just want to know what her talent was on the show. Maybe it wasn't laughing when the Donald approached her for the judges "Seal of Approval." It was either that or she didn't mind when that ferret he has stapled to his head bit her.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Suspect unfit for trial in Elizabeth Smart case

So what was their first clue? The kidnapping, the unkempt appearance, or the suspects belief in his own purity and religious significance? I mean who among us hasn't tried to kidnap a 14 year old girl in order to complete God's mission for us? So what if he isn't fit for trial, throw him in a crazy bin and wait for him to become fit. If he gets Dahmerized while he's in there too bad.

Suspect unfit for trial in Elizabeth Smart case

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (AP) -- The man accused of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart from her bedroom in 2002 and holding her for nine months was again declared unfit to stand trial Monday after screaming at a judge to "forsake those robes and kneel in the dust."

A hearing to review Brian David Mitchell's mental competency was quickly ended after his loud stream of outbursts and discussion of a report by his doctor.

"Repent ye, repent ye. Forsake your idolatry," said Mitchell, whose hands were cuffed to a chain around his waist.

"How dare you sit in those filthy robes, those robes of false priesthood," he told Third District Judge Judith Atherton. "Forsake those robes and kneel in the dust."

Mitchell is charged with aggravated kidnapping, sexual assault, aggravated burglary, and conspiracy to commit aggravated kidnapping.

Mitchell, 53, and his estranged wife, Wanda Barzee, 61, who also is charged with kidnapping Smart when she was 14, are being held at the Utah State Hospital.

Doctors have been trying to treat Mitchell without drugs, but prosecutor Kent Morgan said after Monday's scene in court that a request likely will be made for permission to forcibly administer drugs.

The Utah Supreme Court is considering whether Barzee, who also was found unfit to stand trial, can be forced to take drugs to improve her mental health.

In 2003, Smart was found walking along a street in suburban Sandy with Barzee and Mitchell. All were wearing robes, and the teen also had a veil over her face.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.

Pink is a girl?

I know it's a cheap shot, but really, who is more manly in that picture? I know her husband was the sane one in his season of the Surreal Life (not a difficult task when you are in a house with Janice Dickinson, Jose Canseco, and C.C. DeVille), and he seems like a genuine guy, but come on. He is either gay and in denial or Pink is the world's greatest practitioner of the oral arts.

I'm going with option one, but that's just me. It is sad that their marriage is reportedly in trouble, but how hard would it be to end the marriage as most states wouldn't recognize it anyway?

Self-check out lines; indecisive drivers; Edward Van Halen

Three things that just make me want to scream. I was in Wal-Mart today (which is the topic of a completely different rant altogether) to deposit a check and grab a couple of things for dinner. I was the third person in line in a self-check out line. The two people in front of me didn't look qualified to breathe and blink their eyes at the same time let alone operate that intricate piece of machinery. When you consider the quality of individual that mans the check-out lane at the local Wal-Mart, this should tell you something. These people should have been hunted down and sterilized so they could live happily without the responsibility of children or what their progeny might do to the culture of our fine country.

Indecisive drivers is a topic that has been taken on by far better writers and thinkers than I but they still deserve mention in this rant along with stupid Wal-Mart people and Eddie Van Halen, because these are all people who should by all rights know better than to do the stupid crap they do. I think I have alluded to the fact that Van Halen is going to tour with his son as the bass player. His son, who is almost sixteen and been playing the bass for about five months now. But he is some kind of musical genius. The really sad part is that there are people out there defending EVH. What a joke. Van Halen the band is dead. The quicker the corpse realizes this the happier we'll all be. What is really funny is that they are trying to get David Lee Roth as their frontman, as if it were 1986 again. Obviously Ed didn't see any of the publicity from DLR's bluegrass/Van Halen album. Horrifying. What a summer is in store for us all: there will be more and more Wal-Marts built, Van Halen will be touring with the Crypt-master singing lead, a living corpse playing guitar and a neophyte musician playing live for the first time; and all of the sane people will be driving with their head on a swivel to try and avoid all of them.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

On a related note

In the last post I noted the dearth of quality men's magazines. It seems you are either half-gay or 17 years old in the eyes of editors, but that was the last rant. Anyway, I was watching CNN last night and they ran a brief story about how the "men's magazine" business is so cutthroat. Apparently, not very many people actually buy Maxim, FHM, or any of their knock-offs. They also reported that FHM USA, which publishes an American version of the British magazine FHM is closing it's doors. I'm not sure what the world is going to do without another outlet for C-list starlets and borderline porn stars to hawk their wares, but we must be brave.

Again, maybe if editors didn't act like it was rush week and all of their readers were pledging for their frat, they could sell more magazines. But that might just make too much sense.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Sausage Fest

I have a subscription to ESPN the magazine. I’ll admit it, I love
sports. This magazine is really pretty interesting, but the main reason I receive it is the fact that the ESPN website is fantastic for sports fans, but most of the really interesting stuff is considered “premium content.” Because of that, you need to pay to be an “ESPN Insider” to read it. So what do they use as an inducement to read their web site? They include their magazine for a year with your Insider payment. It’s a pretty good trade-off but that is not why I am posting this.

No, I am posting this because despite the fact that the readership of
this magazine is nearly 100% men, it is littered with the same overtly
homoerotic advertising as GQ, Esquire, and Details. Look, I don’t need to see semi-naked women in all of the advertising in magazine, but since I don’t subscribe to Advocate or any of the other “alternative lifestyle” magazines, why do I want to see effeminate men pouting to the camera for me to buy a watch for $1000? And that is the ad with Derek Jeter in it. It would be nice to read a magazine for real men; how to get into shape reasonably, how to look good from a fashion sense without looking like you are trolling for dudes, and how to further your career/financial opportunities in order to get more stuff. Actually I think that I just described what Playboy used to be, without the nudity of course.

The greater point is this; there are too many media outlets missing the point about men. We are a diverse and difficult to pigeonhole group. We like lots of different things, but mostly we are not looking to act like frat-house rejects, drunken louts, or Haute couture fashionistas. And damn it, when we do we want to feel like men while we are doing it.

Anyway, rant over, I wonder where I can get a manicure and a Movado 800?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Sun Devil Pride

Back in November ASU fired Dirk Koetter. It was time for him to go, but the search for his replacement seemed to never really gain "traction," which is Lisa Love's term for what she is looking for in her football program. Well yesterday she hired Dennis Erickson to guide the underachieving Sun Devils.

At first glance, I hated the move. He has been a vagabond coach; moving from team to team, always looking for a bigger platform. But after giving it some thought, I like the hire. Erickson's too old to go anywhere after this. He's 59 and if he turns this program into what he did at Oregon State; a fast, physical team that goes 11-1, I don't think a bigger program is going to take a chance on a 62-63 year-old coach to start over. Either way, his teams win and win big and I am excited about the prospects in Sun Devil land.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Stupid Fantasy Football . . .

I am writing this post to express my disgust for all things fantasy football right now. My team is fighting for the playoffs and I am playing against the guy who is in third place. His running backs have been horrid the past couple of weeks, but what happens in Thursday's game? Willie Parker runs for 223 yards and a touchdown. Not cool at all. So basically, I have a playoff game this week as well and if the game continues the way it is now, I may have to jump off of the ASU water tower. Wish me luck!

Oh yeah, the pictures are of some of the guys on my team:

32-Rudi Johnson
46-Ladell Betts
21-Willis McGahee
80-Andre Johnson

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Historian Review

The Historian is a novel about Dracula, vampires, and strange Cold War-era locations. It sounds really creepy, and Nay stopped reading the story because she felt that it would be too scary. I guess that I will address this early; this is not a scary book. Dracula and the vampire aspects of this story are used more for suspense, rather than scares.

At its core, this book is about the author’s love of history and the searching for answers to problems in the distant past. The way in which the author detailed searching for those little scraps of information hidden for hundreds of years in library collections was fascinating. A few years ago a fellow teacher went to Oxford for a summer exchange program and he came back with all of these pictures of Oxford’s libraries, some of which appear in this book, which are exactly like you would expect. These types of libraries are almost museums to the past, where secrets are still waiting to be discovered. Ultimately, Dracula’s desires in the book have less to do with blood and sex and more to do with ferreting out the secrets of history.

The novel tells the story of a young woman who finds a book in her father’s library. It is an old leather-bound book with a woodcut of a dragon in the middle. There is nothing else in the book. The girl’s father is an American diplomat who travels from country to country mediating international affairs, and in the course of these journeys, she asks him about the book and he begins to tell her the strange story about that book and how it related to his past.

The history of Vlad Dracula is sick and twisted, but intensely interesting and Kostova obviously has a firm grasp of what is known about the Wallachian prince. The mystery of what really happened to Dracula plays into the story’s main ideas. The Historian is a very good novel. It does have some flaws, but as a first novel it is an impressive work. It is too easy to generalize Dracula as a character worthy of a hack like Clive Barker or Anne Rice, but The Historian shows that vampires can be the basis of a more mature work as well.

According to reports The Historian was optioned as a movie, which I can only hope avoids the pratfalls of most literary adaptations. I would hate to see this turned into another Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula. I enjoyed the book and am interested to see what Elizabeth Kostovoa writes next.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Historian

So I am in Costco about a year ago and there is a book sitting there in hardcover for about $13.00. It's titled The Historian and there is a pretty good buzz going on about the book. I'm feeling rich that day, so I pick it up and promptly read about five pages. I am bored stiff by the writing and put it in my closet, chalking it up to me being a sucker.

Fast forward about a year and I am bored at work without a novel to read during Silent Sustained Reading. Sitting in my closet is that book. It is a story dealing with the legends and history of Vlad Dracula. So I start reading it again and it is really interesting. He was one sick man. The great thing about the book is that it has found a way to be informative, with real information about Vlad the Impaler, and at the same time be pretty entertaining. I am almost finished, so when I get done I'll review the book in depth.

Oh, the picture of Kate is because in the movie Van Helsing she was a vampire hunter or something. It works, trust me.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Which one is wearing more make-up?

So I'm browsing online tonight and see that Christina has a wax figure that looks amazingly like her. I think it was easier for the wax artist, because Christina wears so much make up that she really doesn't have skin tones. I wonder if the new Brittney figure will have razor burn on her choochie?

Friday, December 01, 2006

When people ask why I don't coach anymore

I just need to show them this article in this weeks San Francisco Chronicle. I never had to deal with anything like this, but to a lesser degree, all coaches today deal with problems like this. It is a joke and the first thing that I would have told my administration in response to a situation like this would be to cram their $3000 a season job, but I respect the fact that she didn't because then the parents win.

Castro Valley hoops coach can't win

C. W. Nevis

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The results are in at Castro Valley High School. That's where a group of parents were in an uproar over girls varsity basketball coach Nancy Nibarger and demanded that her team be picked by a six-person panel. This week the team roster was posted.

None of the disgruntled parents' daughters made it.

If you think that's poetic justice and the end of things, you clearly haven't been following the situation. The parents are not going to let this go.

"The panel was a joke,'' Patty Goodman, the wife of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Larry Goodman, who has been in the vanguard of the angry parents, wrote in an e-mail exchange with me on Wednesday.

Really? Wasn't the panel their idea?

"The bottom line is that the parents got what they wanted,'' says Clay Kallam, a veteran East Bay women's basketball coach. "But they didn't like how it turned out.''

Sadly, the accusations and innuendo continue to fly. Patty Goodman, for example, wrote to me that "There has been a letter written by one of the panel members stating that the coach was displaying inappropriate behavior during tryouts. Nibarger even got in his face.''

"That absolutely never happened,'' says Bob Oates, who was appointed "ombudsman" by the school board to attend and oversee all the team's practices this season. Oates, who retired as principal at San Leandro High 11 years ago, says he did not know Nibarger when he took the job.

Not only that, he said this week, "I was going to look for anything" to confirm the behavior the parents were complaining about. "And if it had happened, I am sure I would have seen it.''

But try to convince the parents of that. On Internet bulletin boards, they rage that the panel was stacked with Nibarger supporters and that she ran the process. In fact, Nibarger says not only had she never met the panelists before, but "to this day I don't know their names.''

Assistant Principal Marci Plummer, who joined Castro Valley High in August, says she chose one of the panelists from a list submitted by the parents' group and then chose two longtime, "equitable and fair basketball experts whose reputation precedes them.''

And, in case there is any doubt, Plummer adds that the final decisions on cuts were "consensus-based and supported by the vast majority of the group.''

Nope, the parents continue to insist. It was a conspiracy. They wanted Nibarger fired this year, and if they couldn't get that (and they couldn't after formal complaints to the principal, district and school board), they were going to make her life miserable.

After a 12-hour meeting with the school board in August, Nibarger was ordered to have an ombudsman watching her during practices. Nor would she be allowed to pick her own team. The six-person panel -- which included Nibarger and her two assistants, each of whom had one vote -- would do that.

The restrictions seemed so unreasonable that coaches around the Bay Area expressed their outrage, and the entire 12-person football staff at Castro Valley eventually resigned.

But Nibarger stayed and hopes the worst is over.

"We don't need any more war,'' Nibarger says. "Everybody loses in a war.''

Oates, who was a high school athletic director in Southern California before moving to the East Bay, and whose daughters graduated from Castro Valley High and played sports there, might have the best perspective.

"I believe the Goodmans and the other parents are fabulous people,'' he says. "And I think they honestly believe what they have heard. But I think what we will find is that when it is our children that we believe have been treated unfairly, we will go to the ends of the Earth.''

The elusive part of the story is what it is that Nibarger has done. Jay-Marie Hill, a co-captain on last year's team who is now a student at Stanford University, says Nibarger barked at her when she wanted to go to a church event instead of a basketball tournament. Although Hill had a sprained ankle and couldn't play, Nibarger wanted her there as a team leader. The two had words and, depending on whom you speak to, one of them hung up on the other.

"I told her two weeks later that I felt very disrespected by that,'' says Hill, who elected to come to the game after all but was hurt by the fact that Nibarger didn't say hello. "To me, that just shows a lack of character.''

Frankly, it sounds as if Nibarger could work on her communication skills. That's what the school board said after its meeting. But at least Hill had the maturity to go to Nibarger and speak to her personally instead of hiring an attorney.

Still, that incident was all it took to fracture their relationship. Hill, who once spent lunch hours in Nibarger's office chatting, and got a glowing letter of recommendation from her coach, now says she supports the unhappy parents. There's even talk of a lawsuit for "violation of civil rights.''

You think you have a civil right to be on the basketball team?

The season began Tuesday night at the Castro Valley gym, where Nibarger's Trojans were clobbered by powerhouse Foothill High of Pleasanton. But despite the drama swirling around, at that moment it looked like nothing more than a high school girls basketball game.

About 130 parents and friends sat in the bleachers as girls sprinted up and down the court. It isn't hard to imagine that this is how it will be next year. The unhappy seniors will be gone, their parents will be on to other things, and we'll be back to the game -- maybe a little older and wiser.

"There's a lesson here for everybody,'' says Mark Neal, an assistant principal at Creekside Middle School in Castro Valley and one of Nibarger's assistants. "But nobody is listening, because everybody is so upset about what happened to them.''

All that is missing is an attic and a tree

and Kate Bosworth can play the corpse of Anne Frank. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with these people? I know, it's a disease. Bull. Eat a damn sandwich and get back to your C-list movie career. At least at this rate we will know what she looks like without her skin. Of course she is getting more notoriety for her weight than her acting, so on second thought, great move Kate. Way to keep yourself in the public eye. Bravo