Week 17 picks.

I know I just said I was done with football posts, but I went out on a limb this week, so I want documented proof when it turns out I picked a perfect sheet.

Giants in the playoffs? Seriously?!

NEW ORLEANS over Carolina
Saints want a first-round bye. Panthers have nothing left to play for.

HOUSTON over Cleveland
Um, do I have to pick this one? Texans are coming together lately.

DALLAS over Detroit
Could I be more upset that this is the game my market gets on Sunday? I submit to you that I could not.

Jacksonville over KANSAS CITY
Frankly, the Jags have a better run defense, and that's all the difference in this game.

TENNESSEE over New England
Titans are going to fight to the death to make the playoffs.

NY JETS over Oakland
This game I'm not really all that sure of. It could be the choke of the year.

CINCINNATI over Pittsburgh
Did you know that Jerome Bettis is from Detroit? It's true. I just heard about it.

Seattle over TAMPA BAY
Giants in the playoffs? Seriously?!

MINNESOTA over St. Louis
Brad Childress should just let the offensive coordinator do playcalling for this game. Seriously, give him some practice. It couldn't be worse.

Arizona over SAN DIEGO
Only because San Diego is going to phone this one in.

When are people going to learn that quarterbacks (Garcia) are much better when they have good receivers to throw to (Brown)?

BALTIMORE over Buffalo
I want to pick the Bills, but I just can't make myself do it.

T minus one week until the collapse. I hear Vanderjagt is available.

San Francisco over DENVER
This is my stone cold lock of the year. Bet your house on this. Seriously.

CHICAGO over Green Bay
Think Favre will get a standing O at Soldier Field?

Another storm.

Last week there was a blizzard that slammed into town on Wednesday morning and didn't leave until Thursday afternoon. It wasn't a very long storm, but it had a lot of force to it. I was sent home from work just after lunch on Wednesday and by that time it had already become the worst weather I've ever driven in. (And that's really saying something.) I spent the next 20-some hours cooped up inside, and the resulting snow piles still haven't been completely cleared away or melted.

There was virtually nonstop coverage of the storm on at least three channels. It was infuriating. I can see giving a quick, 3-minute update every half hour, but this was ridiculous. The people already inside generally don't want to keep being reminded of how cold and blustery it is outside, and the people outside don't need to be told how bad it is, not to mention the fact that they aren't in front of a TV anyway.

Now there's another storm about to roll in. There are conflicting reports over how much snow it will bring, but it's following essentially the same path as the storm that shut down the city last week. The local news last night said 10 to 16 inches, the National Weather Service says 5 to 10. It definitely looks like it will take longer to get through here than its predecessor though. My plan is to avoid television altogether. I may watch some movies, I may dip into the second season of 24 on DVD, I may play guitar. But I will not be bombarded by yet another mind-numbing slew of interruptions.

Great, even as I'm typing it just started to snow. It looks so innocent right now, we'll see how innocent it is when it goes away on Saturday (or Sunday?).


Ah, graveyard week.

It's that heady time of year that makes you believe anything is possible. That one magical week between Christmas and New Year's where leftover cookies are flowing, deadlines seem less pressing, and formal attire (along with work ethic, for that matter) is entirely optional. To tell you the truth, I went a little stir crazy in the last week. First a "legendary" blizzard makes me stay inside for two days, then one day of work, then four days off for Christmas. No wonder I shaved my head last night. This always happens when cabin fever sets in.

Yes, I'm really happy to be back at work today. I'm the only one in my department this week, so the music is up and spirit is high. This happens to coincide with a light patch in my workload. It's a party all up in here. A mellow, kinda boring, but welcome party.

I'd just like to update everyone to the fact that I don't give a crap about football for the rest of this season. I'm burnt out on fantasy football, weekly pick 'em and my inevitable inferiority to technology, but most of all I'm burnt out on the Vikings. After that Thursday night game I really can't think of much to be happy about in relation to my favorite team. I'm optimistic about next year, but not as much as I should be. Ironically, the biggest thing that I see needing changing is the coaching. Namely, the playcalling. But yeah, I'm mostly done with football posts for the year.

One more time, I've redone the look. But you noticed that already. This is due to my jumping over to the new version of Blogger and the fact that I didn't really like the last look. Maybe this one will stick. Holla!


Wednesday thoughts.

1. AI needs to send a huge gift basket to Isaiah Thomas. Thomas, the Knicks coach, instigates a brawl on Saturday night. The Nuggets' top scorer, the NBA's top scorer, Carmelo Anthony, sucker punches a guy and gets a 15-game suspension. (If you haven't seen the footage yet, watch how much of a little beeoch Anthony is.) So without its leading scorer, Denver is forced to pull the trigger on a trade for Iverson. Now he's on a legitimate contender instead of the worst team in the NBA. Like I said, somebody deserves a really big thank you.

2. Picture this: Your spouse gets a call in the morning saying she doesn't have to go to work due to near-blizzard conditions. You, however, have to go to work. So you pile into your car before dawn and start the slow, agonizing trek over windswept streets toward the office. What do you listen to? I submit to you that Interpol is the best music for this opportunity. I know this is Christmas music season, but I'm pushing Interpol today. Hard.

3. It's about fricken time the Vikings put in Tarvaris Jackson. You're gonna see some fireworks Thursday night, I'm telling you. It's poetic that he's making his first start at Lambeau Field. And I'm refusing to call him T-Jack. I'm sick of these Initial-First Syllable names. Let's start getting a little creativity back in nicknames, people. For instance, I will be referring to Tarvaris Jackson as "Grabthar's Hammer" from now on. Nod in agreement if you get the reference.

4. Gregg Easterbrook joins my starting lineup of sports columnists. His column, Tuesday Morning Quarterback, is always spot on, even if it deviates into unknown realms.

5. Oh man, too funny.



In a recent post an "anonymous" commenter said that the new art is in architecture. And to some degree I concur. Architecture is a much easier and holistic way to connect with an artist's vision than, say, a painting. But it too has been swayed by the elitist, "I don't need to explain my art to you" kind of view to some degree. I came across this quote from Ned Cramer, founder of the recently-launched Architect magazine:

"My primary position is that I'm sick of professional infighting. I think it probably does more damage than the most aggressive ideologically driven development by any camp. As I wrote in my first editorial, I look at the profession as trying to recover from the collapse of urban renewal, the modern movement, and divorce from the day-to-day lives of end users. By blinding itself to the needs of the marketplace, it limits its capacity to be socially, politically, and environmentally relevant. I would venture that every architect in his or her way is trying to seek a way back to relevance and a greater sense of professional responsibility, and we really want to be a part of that."

If architecture as a whole, and architects in particular, can find a way back to responsibility and a drive to reach the end user, then I totally agree that architecture could be the new art. It will be a while before we really see the fruits of this kind of thinking, but I would urge other mediums to take notice.

As for graphic design, I think we're still at the point where we are connecting with audiences, even with the recent design boom. I expect this to change sometime. I expect that we'll become drunk with power, overly fragment our industry, lose our audience, and that we'll eventually (hopefully sooner than later) have to find our way back as well. Yikes.


Week 15 picks.

I just don't have it in my to write an engaging football column today. So on with some really shallow pick 'em info:

SEATTLE over San Francisco
Yeah, I really blew that one, didn't I?

Dallas over ATLANTA
I think we all saw this Atlanta show last year, didn't we?

BALTIMORE over Cleveland
I wouldn't feel safe about the -11 1/2 on Baltimore. Cleveland shows up for one out of three games.

GREEN BAY over Detroit
Conceivably, Millen must be fired sometime, right? Right???

NEW ENGLAND over Houston
I don't care.

TENNESSEE over Jacksonville
Jaguars love laying eggs after they take a step forward.

Miami over BUFFALO
Remember when games between these two meant something?

Come on Chester, carry me just two more weeks.

Pittsburgh over CAROLINA
I don't care.

CHICAGO over Tampa Bay
Another week for Rex Grossman to fool people into thinking he's over his troubles. Playoff embarrasment coming soon.

NEW ORLEANS over Washington
Chasing a Reggie Bush box score worked last week, I can only hope it happens again.

Denver over ARIZONA
The perfect learning curve for both quarterbacks.

NY GIANTS over Philadelphia
Eventually I'd love the NFC East hype to die down, but I know it won't. Poo.

OAKLAND over St. Louis
I really really really don't care.

SAN DIEGO over Kansas City
What KC team is showing up? Does it matter?

Cincinnati over INDIANAPOLIS
Never before have so many fantasy football playoff games rested on one reality football game.


When my alarm goes off at 6 a.m., I'm greeted by the station ID for a Colorado Public Radio station. It's followed by a daily feature called Space Crap or Space Quest or something like that. It's one to two minutes (I can never tell on account of my undeniable grogginess) of virtually useless astronomical information.

Today's Space Crap was about how we're finally going to figure out if Einstein was right in saying that gravity worked in the same way throughout the universe. Some scientists in New Mexico are going to do this by shooting laser beams at the moon. This will somehow enable them to measure the distance between the Earth and the moon to the millimeter.

First, that's crazy go nuts. A distance that takes astronauts days at very high speeds is going to be measured to the millimeter? Is that really possible? Are we sure that this is a measurement that doesn't constantly change with, say, the elevation of the measurer on Earth, or season, or the fact that the moon will kill us all someday?

Second, I have absolutely no idea how this is supposed to test the universality of gravity. They didn't really explain that in great detail, probably because 1. it's a short program and they just don't have the time, and 2. we're all idiots who wouldn't get it anyway. Just trust them. But they did say this: "If [they find that Einstein was wrong], scientists will spend the next few years coming up with a better theory of gravity." Ah, science. Is there anything you can't solve, given a few years? Truly perfection will be achieved in my lifetime.

Third, I strongly feel that it's about time people started shooting lasers at the moon. It's one step closer to blowing that blasted sun out of the sky.


Artistic musings.

I just finished listening to a track made by Graham Coxon in response to Franz Kline's Meryon. I wish I could say it was a great experience. I ended up feeling like I just wasted fifteen minutes. I could dink around in a studio for a while and call it art too you know. I just get so irritated with modern art (anything after about 1960) and its insistence on being so dense that it's completely inaccessible. They stand behind the excuse that you need to make your own conclusions, so they won't actually tell you what their art is about. Or give you a definite foothold, for that matter. But art needs to hit you where you're at and take you someplace you're not. That's art. Standing in front of an eight-foot canvas for ten seconds before you say, "I don't get it," and move on isn't art. But the people at the Tate actually came up with a good idea, to let contemporary musicians make a soundtrack to a work of art. Then Graham Coxon comes in and just adds to the titanium veil over an otherwise unmemorable painting. I want to like art so bad, why do they make it so hard?

It's been a long time since I've been all about an album. I've been dabbling and drifting in music for a few months. Well a coworker introduced me to Melpo Mene and I've been all about them for a few days now. Their album, Holes, is really good stuff. Mellow, playful, distinct, catchy. In the great pantheon of Swedish music, they're up there with ABBA, Europe, and Ace of Base. They have my recommendation fo' sho'.


Let's hand out some awards.

2006 Gamutless Best Peanuts-related Blog Post Award:
Good grief/bad moves by Ken Jennings
Until this post, I always thought the dancing was worth emulating. I admit, I've done it from time to time. Moulzolf knows. But now I guess I know just how white I am.

2006 Gamutless Funniest Commercial Award:
Singing Bunny by Skittles
Absurdist comedy is hilarious. The more random, the better. Starburst really started a nice uptick of weird, non-make-sensical commercials, and for that they really deserve some kind of award. But Skittles took them just one extra step, and for not actually doing most of the risk-taking I'm proud to give this award to Skittles.

Guinea Pig by Midnight Spank
Man was this a close call. So close that I thought you really had to see this one too. There's a series of them, but this was the only one of the three I saw that made me LOL in the office. This one is also the runner up for...

2006 Gamutless Creepiest Commerical Award:
Long Beard by Skittles
Weird isn't always good. Sometimes it can just plain scare the poop out of you. Do you think anyone came to the writer of this commercial and gave him the ol', "WTF?!"

2006 Gamutless Next Pixar Voiceover Candidate Award:
Charlie Murphy
This cat has gone from obscure celebrity family member to top three people I want to hang out with in a matter of three years. Not bad. Seriously though, if they did a movie of my life, Charlie Murphy absolutely must be in it somehow. On a side note, feel free to quote lines from this in any professional or social situation. It's good times.

2006 Gamutless Most Recent Song Posted by Me Award:
The Armory
G-Money needed a track for his media player (link coming soon hopefully), so I busted it out. Respect.


Me vs. ESPN braintrust, week 14.

Man, this is getting ugly. I don't remember another year when it was so tough to get a handle on so many teams. Parity might be great for the NFL, but it's doing nothing for my ego. Guess I'll have to fall back on my fantasy football playoff win. And what's with Allen? Has he been on a tear lately or what?

Accuscore 134-74 (9-7)
Golic 128-80 (10-6)
Allen 127-81 (10-6)
Schlereth 126-82 (9-7)
Jaworski 124-84 (7-9)
Salisbury 123-85 (7-9)
Me 122-86 (7-9)
Hoge 121-87 (8-8)
Mortensen 114-94 (9-7)


Week 14 rundown.

Zwounds! What a Sunday! Let's run this down propa.

Vikings 30, Lions 20
It would've been the absolute worst loss of the season if the Vikes had blown this, as they've owned Detroit for the past five years. Don't go picking up Artose Pinner for next week in fantasy though. Or at least, watch the reports out of Minny if you absolutely need to.

Bengals 27, Raiders 10
I kept seeing the stat line on Palmer and his INT total kept going up. I was afraid my fantasy team's playoff hopes were shot. Somehow he ended up with decent points. I really need to figure out the scoring system.

Ravens 20, Chiefs 10
This one was ugly. It really was. Paul gets my sympathy after this utterly deflating loss.

Dolphins 21, Patriots 0
With all due respect to the Jaguars, this was the eye-opening score of the week. Not because Miami won, which in itself is a surprise, but because they absolutely SHUT OUT New England. Wasn't it just a couple weeks ago that we were touting the Pats as the AFC frontrunners? Looks like it's a race from the playoffs for more than a couple teams.

Falcons 17, Bucs 6
Yawn. Wake me up when Atlanta loses in the wild card weekend again.

Eagles 21, Redskins 19
Yawn. Wake me up when Philly loses the other wild card game. Dang, I need some coffee.

Giants 27, Panthers 13
I was flipping over to this game a lot, not because I like either of these teams, but because I love feeling like I'm fourteen years old again every time the announcers say, "Weinke."

Jags 44, Colts 17
J'uh?! This was a surprise. I think we all expected at least four more weeks out of the Colts before they completely fell apart. And please, let's not all get in a tizzy about how great Jacksonville is. Remember, they've lost twice to Houston.

Titans 26, Texans 20 (OT)
This one scores a 7.8 on the vindication scale for Vince Young. I think he and Travis Henry are going places, as long as they're together.

Packers 30, 49ers 19
Wow. Looks like they put a little extra juice on Favre's defibrulator before the game. Keep it up Brett, you'll need this mojo if you're going to hold your team hostage again this offseason. As for the rest of us, let's remember these days well. Someday we'll say to our grandchildren, "I remember seeing Brett Favre take a young but talented squad and lead them to a glorious 7-9 record."

Bills 31, Jets 13
Yawn. Wake me when the Jets are shredded in the wild card too. And where's my fricken latte already?!

Chargers 48, Broncos 20
I really can't say much about this one, I think it's enough to bask in the glow of Bronco fans' dashed playoff hopes. Big ups to LDT.

Cards 27, Seahawks 21
Man, is there anyone in the NFC that even wants it anymore?

Saints 42, Cowboys 17
Ah, here we go. What a great breath of fresh air this is. New Orleans has my official fanship now. I'd love them to make the Super Bowl, mostly because the two weeks of hype could actually find some decent stories in a city like the Big Easy. Sean Payton, I'm convinced, is a genius. He game plans so well, and not just against Dallas. He deconstructed a hot Atlanta team in week 3, a hot Philly team not too long after that. I'm telling you, he's a great coach. Conversely, when I listened to Grammatica shank a field goal right before halftime, here's what I said to myself, "Oh heavens, how unfortunate for that poor fellow. I suppose his coach must be a mite perturbed by this. Alas, I fear it cannot be helped. Pity though." Really. That's what I said. There was no gloating, mean-spirited, profanity-laced tirade involved. Honest.


A couple things.

While I have a moment or two:

1. Remember the name Andreas Nodl. For those following college hockey (all eight of you), he's a freshman at St. Cloud State. He tallied three points this weekend as the Huskies extended their unbeaten streak to a best-ever eleven games. It took until after the holidays last year for the Huskies to find their stride. Being a top ten team this early in the year, it bodes well. Of course, this all means nothing if they can't win an NCAA tourney game come April.

2. I know that I'm completely riding the coattails of Bill Simmons on this one, but I heard a color comment during the Ravens/Chiefs game that just got stuck in my craw. Greg Gumbel (I think, I can't tell with announcers these days) was plugging tonight's 60 Minutes feature on Ultimate Fighting Championship. Fair enough. But then Dan Dierdorf (I think, I can't tell with colormen these days) chimes in with something about what it says about our society that something so barbaric can be so popular.

Now, I'm not really a huge UFC guy. I've seen a couple, it's entertaining enough. But Dan, don't you think that your audience might just have some UFC fans thrown in? Is it at all possible that the audience for the most violent mainstream sport in America might overlap a little with the audience for the most violent non-mainstream sport in America? Do you really want to piss them off?

I'm serious, I've had it with these color commentators. Oh really? UFC is barbaric? Well Dan, then why don't you just tell us what's happening on the effing football field already!!! Temper check, ok. I don't know what it is that makes television announcers feel obligated to give moral opinion, but isn't it time that we as the viewing audience started fighting back?


Week 14 picks.

Two things I love, graphic design and football picks, together at last.


Me vs. ESPN braintrust, week 13.

It might look like I'm slipping, but I'm actually closer to the lead than I was four weeks ago. Is anybody else not impressed by the way the computerized Accuscore really isn't any step up from human intelligence? I mean really, what are the societal ramifications of this experiment? And the heck with it, we'll throw Theismann back in there, just for holiday kicks.

Accuscore 125-67 (8-8)
Golic 117-75 (11-5)
Jaworski 116-76 (9-7)
Schlereth 116-76 (8-8)
Allen 116-76 (8-8)
Me 115-77 (9-7)
Salisbury 115-77 (9-7)
Theismann 107-72 (8-7)
Hoge 112-80 (9-7)
Mortensen 104-88 (9-7)

NOTE: AccuScore has been updated. As it turns out, human intelligence has nothing on superior computer programming. Just one more form of humility, it seems. Thank you, anonymous commenter!


Random Monday Thoughts

1. It's always sad to say goodbye to Brad Johnson. Stop by Winter Park to sign his retirement card.

2. New Mexico has made it to the New Mexico Bowl. Also, Hawaii will once again be in the Hawaii Bowl. Phew, that was close. Sadly, Texas has declined invitation to the Texas Bowl in favor of the Alamo Bowl. Sellouts.

3. Tonight's the final episode of "Heroes" until 2007. For the unitiated, that means that tonight is the final episode of "Heroes" until "24" starts up in January and nobody could give a crap anymore. They had their shot. I'll pass.

4. Number of times I wanted to punch Jeremy Shockey yesterday: 18. Number of times I wanted the commentators and camerapeople to forget that Jeremy Shockey was even alive: 18. Number of times I had to tell my wife that the crybaby's name was Jeremy Shockey: 1. Coincidence?

5. An acrylic praying hands napkin holder is, without a doubt, the worst white elephant gift I have ever seen. Ever. If you hate your family or coworkers, this is the way to go.

12.4.06 - 29/365

6. Teachers love to drink. Ain't no way around it.


Week 13 picks.

It's almost playoff time in my fantasy league. I'm getting nervous. The bright spot is that anything better than a last-place finish is a step up from last year. Rejoice!

CINCINNATI (-2 1/2) over Baltimore
Yeah, this already happened. But I did call it, Paul is my witness. I just wanted to point out that these weekly Thursday night games could be such a good thing if they weren't on the NFL Network, where almost nobody sees them. It reminds me of the Victory Sports experiment with the Twins a couple years ago. Nobody wins here. Do the NFL Network people realize how much money they stand to make on these games if they get them on cable? Just give in already. I halfway expect that chain sports bars and restaurants are behind this one.

New York Jets (+1 1/2) over GREEN BAY
The main Packer fan from the office left, so I'm back to being downright nasty about the Pack. Brett Favre cost his team another game last week, which was awesome. But I keep hearing people say that he's looking good enough to come back for another year. My head starts to spin with giddiness if I give this too much thought. In a related story, only twenty more days to go until the MIN/GB showdown at Lambeau.

Dallas (-3 1/2) over NEW YORK GIANTS
I really don't care about this game. I don't. All the off-field hullabaloo doesn't matter to me. They're all idiots. I'm just picking this game so I can officially document something I said earlier this week:

If the Cowboys make the Super Bowl, I'm swearing off pro football (except for the Vikings) next year. No fantasy football, no pick 'em pool, no weekly blog posts, nothing. I'm serious.

Seattle (+3 1/2) over DENVER
The Seahawks are sitting pretty right now. In perfect position to run away with the division, they saved a few miles on their offensive stars, and this cake game against the Broncos. I'm really actually happy that the Jay Cutler era has started. I was tired of hearing Broncos fans complain about Jake Plummer (it's been going on since last year's draft). It'll be a nice change to hear them start making excuses for Cutler. It's going to be a wonderfully Bronco-free January, folks. Let's all give thanks to the Lord above.

Minnesota (+9 1/2) over CHICAGO
My resolve to always pick my team is leading me into delusional territory. I actually think the Vikings could pull this off if everything goes right. If the offensive line plays up to their potential, if Brad Johnson doesn't feel any heat, if the defensive backfield comes up with two or three big plays, if special teams plays a shut-down game, and if Brad Childress decides that he'd like to call a proper game instead of his trademark thumb-twiddling, then I can totally see this game going to the Vikings. Any of those things going wrong spells the end of not only the game, but probably the season. And I'm okay with that. I'm almost cheering for the Purple to blow it, so they can start putting in some fresh faces to see what they got.

If you need me, I'll be boiling my hands.