Thursday, January 31, 2008

BDS still incurable

Do you get the feeling that Democrats still wish they could run against President Bush in November? The bitterness of Bush Derangement Syndrome won't go away anytime soon, at least not by checking their continuing Bush-bashing actions.

For example, here's Hillary Monday, trying to pretend that her buddies the Kennedys didn't just endorse Obama: "Tonight is a red-letter night in American history. It is the last time George Bush will give the State of the Union."

Yeah, and next Sunday is Bush's last Super Bowl as president, and July 4th is his last Independence Day as president, and Jan. 19 he'll eat his last dinner as president, and on and on and whoop-dee-freakin'-do.

That didn't stop so many Democrats in Congress from getting to the chamber extra early to be seen shaking his hand as he walked down the aisle, eh?

The weirdest and most bitter example, however, comes from a liberal advocacy group that is spending $8.5 million on ads trying to tarnish Bush's legacy before he even has one! This group is paid for by unions, so if you're in a union, how do you feel about your dues paying for such nonsense?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I wanna be stimulated!

I admire conservatives who are sticking to the principles and poo-pooing the so-called economic stimulus package in the works in D.C., but someone needs to tell folks like Walter E. Williams and Thomas Sowell that they're fighting a losing battle. And against people who normally would agree. Like me.

As a new homeowner and married man whose entire life goal is giving his wife the nice things, I'm looking forward to getting an extra infusion of cash to pay the bills and buy something spiffy or pay for vacation!

Yeah, yeah, big government overspending, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, I wants it!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Jeff's 5th Annual Oscars Contest!

Judging by the lack of clamoring I've heard from all of you, I'd say that there's not much enthusiasm for this year's Academy Awards coming up in less than a month, Sunday, February 24.

But just because none of us have seen any of the nominees, doesn't mean we can't take a guess and make the ceremony interesting! Especially if it means winning prizes, am I right?

Past winners:

2007 - Dad
2006 - Stephanie
2005 - Jeremy
2004 Scott and Joe

Here's this year's list of nominees. Simply post your selections in the comments, and you'll be in the running!

Best Picture
"Michael Clayton"
"No Country for Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"

Best actor
George Clooney in “Michael Clayton”
Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood”
Johnny Depp in “Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”
Tommy Lee Jones in “In the Valley of Elah”
Viggo Mortensen in “Eastern Promises”

Best supporting actor
Casey Affleck in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”
Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men”
Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Charlie Wilson’s War”
Hal Holbrook in “Into the Wild”
Tom Wilkinson in “Michael Clayton”

Best actress
Cate Blanchett in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”
Julie Christie in “Away from Her”
Marion Cotillard in “La Vie en Rose”
Laura Linney in “The Savages”
Ellen Page in “Juno”

Best supporting actress
Cate Blanchett in “I’m Not There”
Ruby Dee in “American Gangster”
Saoirse Ronan in “Atonement”
Amy Ryan in “Gone Baby Gone”
Tilda Swinton in “Michael Clayton”

Best animated feature film
“Surf's Up”

Art direction
“American Gangster”
“The Golden Compass”
“Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”
“There Will Be Blood”

“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”
“No Country for Old Men”
“There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) Robert Elswit

Costume design
“Across the Universe”
“Elizabeth: The Golden Age”
“La Vie en Rose”
“Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

Best Director
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” - Julian Schnabel
“Juno” - Jason Reitman
“Michael Clayton” - Tony Gilroy
“No Country for Old Men” - Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
“There Will Be Blood” - Paul Thomas Anderson

Best documentary feature
“No End in Sight”
“Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience”
“Taxi to the Dark Side”

Best documentary short subject
“La Corona (The Crown)”
“Salim Baba”
“Sari’s Mother”

Film editing
“The Bourne Ultimatum”
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”
“Into the Wild”
“No Country for Old Men”
“There Will Be Blood”

Best foreign language film
“The Counterfeiters”

“La Vie en Rose”
“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”

Original Score
“The Kite Runner”
“Michael Clayton”
“3:10 to Yuma”

Original song
“Falling Slowly” from “Once”
“Happy Working Song” from “Enchanted”
“Raise It Up” from “August Rush”
“So Close” from “Enchanted”
“That’s How You Know” from “Enchanted”

Animated short film
“I Met the Walrus”
“Madame Tutli-Putli”
“Même les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven)”
“My Love (Moya Lyubov)”
“Peter & the Wolf”

Live action short film
“At Night”
“Il Supplente (The Substitute)”
“Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)”
“Tanghi Argentini”
“The Tonto Woman”

Sound editing
“The Bourne Ultimatum”
“No Country for Old Men”
“There Will Be Blood”

Sound mixing
“The Bourne Ultimatum”
“No Country for Old Men”
“3:10 to Yuma”

Visual effects
“The Golden Compass”
“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”

Adapted screenplay
“Away from Her”
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”
“No Country for Old Men”
“There Will Be Blood”

Original screenplay
“Lars and the Real Girl”
“Michael Clayton”
“The Savages”

Sunday, January 27, 2008

HGTV makes it look so easy

The Great Valfrey New Home Fix-It is on!
And it will go on ... and on ... and on ....
I want to extend a ginormous THANK YOU to all who can't be here but contributed advice and fix-up costs (especially Dad and Mom), and for all who have come over this weekend to get us started:
Val's uncle Glenn, who is fixing a couple of cracks on the side of the living room walls and the trim around the patio door in the kitchen that was scratched up by pets and he's contributing a lot of expert knowledge in how to get things done, and even better he and Stephanie took us all out to lunch at Cracker Barrel yesterday;
Gloria, who came over both days to help in the daunting task of removing the master bathroom wallpaper (seriously: daunting, because it was stuck hard to the walls and only comes off in little bits that also rip the drywall much of the time);
Jan, coming over today to help in the bathroom as well;
My wicked awesome in-laws who have been over several times thus far to help clean up (all kinds of elbow grease by Carol in the bathroom and fridge, and Glenn took all the refuse from the backyard out front, and that was the first hour we began!), there's nothing they won't tackle;
Steve, Jenny, Matthew and Austin all came over this weekend to lend a hand. Steve cleaned out the crop garden in the gutters and gladly brought over the blower to sweep away a lot of dirt and leaves, and Jenny and Matthew took care of the wallpaper in the guest bathroom.
We are truly blessed for all of our family and friends support. I can't thank y'all enough.
Unfortunately, I had to leave at 3 both days to get to work, so I feel like I've let everyone down! I'll surely make it up Tuesday and Wednesday on my weekend this week, especially since it's time to start painting!
I'll try to remember to take pictures as we go, so you have good shots of the work in progress, such as me covered in splattered popcorn-ceiling spray. At least it made it look like I was working harder than I was!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Catching up with reality

Reality TV, that is ...
THE AMAZING RACE 12 - After so many unlikable teams have won this and other reality shows lately, T.K. and Rachel winning was refreshing. They never bugged me and I enjoyed their easygoing style. Ron ticked me off early by chastising his daughter and I didn't want him to win, though I like her a lot, and Nic and Don never convinced me that they were the best team or that they deserved it, whatever that means. But it did peeve me when the granddad was going off on Nic about forgetting the bag in Anchorage. Hey granddad, maybe now then you'll carry your own bag around!
PROJECT RUNWAY - Like trying to pick between the Pats and Giants, the past two weeks have been highly unsatisfying. Last week, Kit was kicked off even though Ricky hasn't made a decent garment all season, and then this week Ricky wins the doggone thing and we sweated out to the end until Jillian ended up safe. We won't miss Victorya (too bossy), but at least she won twice, so why does Ricky still deserve to be there?
DANCE WAR - We watch because we really enjoy "Dancing with the Stars." That might not last. These are unknown amateurs, not fun spirits like Helio and Julianne. Now that they've picked their teams, Bruno and Carrie Ann's kids' performances get lamer and lamer as the hour goes on. Another problem, with the focus being on teams, we can't judge them as individuals. Bruno and Carrie Ann may be able to tell, but to me they all sing and dance the same.
AMERICAN IDOL - I'm kind of nervous about the remaining tryout cities. We've yet to have one of the judge meltdowns where Paula's drunk and depressed and storms off as Simon goads her into grabbing the giant bottle of whiskey in her purse. We're overdue.
As for the rest, I'm darn tired of hearing the judges complain about the awful talent they see over and over again. It's all a crock. The producers plan it that way! They pick the crazies from the stadium and actually invite them to come back and be crazy on camera in front of the judges weeks later. If Charleston "doesn't have much talent," then it's because the producers aren't letting any through!
(Stepping off soapbox.)
That being said, every year I complain about the first episodes and all the nonsense that goes on, and yet every show Val and I flip over and watch, laugh and judge for ourselves between the good and very good, the bad and the cover-your-eyes awful.
THE BIGGEST LOSER: COUPLES - Ugh. The show entered "game" territory this week, and with predictably unjust and grating results. Instead of letting people get voted out based on their performance, now the game wants to get tricky. The Yellow Team was picked as the team the rest would like to vote off, so the Yellow Team ended up going up against them all and got to pick a team to go at the end that wasn't in the bottom two at the weigh-in. All because one, maybe two teams threw the weigh-in as pals of the Yellow Team, like teams throwing a challenge in "Survivor" to kick off an unwelcome teammate. Which usually backfires in the end.
Just lose weight and quit the drama! Which won't happen next week, since we're told that the couples will actually compete individually! Hey show, the title is "The Biggest Loser: COUPLES!" Stick with a working formula! The game play takes away the inspirational aspect and makes me dislike some of them, when I want to root for everyone to lose half their weight and look great.

As long as the new Q isn't Jar-Jar

"Quantum of Solace."

Sounds like one of George Lucas' lame Star Wars titles.

But no. That's the name of the new James Bond film, due late this year.

Doesn't exactly roll off the tongue like "Goldfinger," does it?

I think it's safe to say that my doubts only increase when I read that actor Mathieu Amalric modeled his villain, "the worst villain we've ever had," after former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Really? That's the model for being a bad guy nowadays? Can't think of anyone else? Anyone at all that might be a teensy bit more evil?

Producer Michael G. Wilson said the title, chosen only a few days ago, was taken from a story by Bond creator Ian Fleming that appears in the collection "For Your Eyes Only." Star Daniel Craig said Fleming defined a quantum of solace -- it means, roughly, a measure of comfort -- as "that spark of niceness in a relationship that if you don't have, you might as well give up."

What does that mean? Who the heck knows? Might as well have named it "Atom of Quiet," which is just as weird.

Then again, so long as Bond kicks butt with cool gadgets and witty banter alongside sexy women in exotic locations, I'll be there. I'm easy that way.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Our New Home!

It's official, Val and I closed on our new home this morning! Although, having to make, what, two, three payments a year could be difficult, we'll manage.

What? What do you mean we have to pay monthly? But it's OUR house, we can do as we please, am I right?


Okay, so I'm freaking out a little bit. But we're super-duper excited, also. We've already spent a few hundred dollars on supplies and a few important things (like new smoke/carbon monoxide alarm), but we still have to get a lot of fixtures, hardware and every little thing in the home you can imagine!

We'll start cleaning and painting this weekend, and plan to move in around the second weekend of February for good.

If you're looking for us, we're in Lakeland on Breckenridge Cove adjacent to the 14th fairway of Stonebridge Golf Club.

View Larger Map

UPDATE Thursday 4 p.m. - Okay, okay, I took out the street name from the map. I still don't think there's reason to worry, but I understand the concerns. So just click on the map and zoom into Stonebridge Golf Course. We're somewhere among the green highlighted area.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Happy to be proven wrong!

My nattering nabob of negativity reverse psychology worked! The Tigers are No. 1 in the all the land! Take that Kansas! Take that, North Carolina! Take that, UC-Irvine!

A Stomach-Churning Super Bowl Matchup

Trying to pick a team in this year's Super Bowl to root for will be like trying to decide between taking 32 laxative pills or drinking a gallon of liquid laxative. Either way, it stinks. (Pun intended)

I'll be rooting for the commercials to be good, because I won't give a flying flip who wins. I can't pick a New York team to win anything. (Yes, after 9/11, I was pulling for the Diamondbacks in the World Series, because everyone kept telling us to "get back to normal," and rooting against the dang Yanks is as normal as it gets.)

I also can't pull for the Patriots or Coach Belicheat, who would run up the score on his grandmother in a backyard pickup game if she told him he bought an ugly car the week before.

What to do? Eat fattening foods, enjoy the hoopla and ads, and turn off the TV before the final deciding drive.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Tigers set to be number one?

With North Carolina losing at home to Maryland, the stage is set for Memphis to earn the No. 1 ranking in national polls for the first time in 25 years. The only time the Tigers have been ranked No. 1 was in 1983. They moved into the top spot on Jan. 10, but lost at Virginia Tech that same night and dropped to No. 6 the next week.

So Coach Cal's boys should move up from No. 2 to the top spot.

I say should, but in no way am I certain. I half expect No. 3 Kansas to vault over them, if only because the national media is enamored with the history of the Jayhawks and they watch Memphis rip the likes of Southern Miss by 36 points and forget that the boys in blue and gray had one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country, beating Georgetown, USC, Arizona, Oklahoma, Cincinnati and UConn, among big name programs.

Look at the RPI rankings, which are largely responsible for the NCAA Tournament seedings. Memphis was four spots ahead of Kansas last week, with a much tougher strength of schedule. But because Kansas now plays the Big 12 and Memphis is stuck in the weak Conference USA, I'm worried that they won't get the respect they deserve with a No. 1 ranking come Monday.

Not that the Tigers are Hickory High and don't get any recognition, but it would be nice to be rewarded for consistency.

Prove me wrong, sports guys.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Dare we get our hopes up this time

According to our Realtor, it looks like, yes, finally, we will be closing on our new home! No, really this time! I think.

Because of the holiday we have to wait until Tuesday morning, giving the sellers plenty of chances to spoil our party. Meaning, of course, I won't be celebrating until the papers are signed, but hopes are lifted!

Val and I even got a little ahead of ourselves tonight, making a Wally World run for cleaning supplies and to price things like ladders, paint accessories and storage units. Subsequent trips to Lowe's, Home Depot, Sears and JC Penney are anticipated daily for the next three months, or until the gift cards and credit cards are maxed out. And then it's to the black market to sell a kidney for a new rug. Hey, what my wife wants, she gets!

Tomorrow we'll start earnestly packing again, something we'd been slacking on this month so long as the potential for the sale crashing and burning lingered like when you drive over a dead skunk on the highway and the smell lingers for two miles afterwards. Flail away and roll down the windows, but you can't escape it until the AC has been purged.

Tuesday morning, all our worries could be purged, and that's a beautiful thing!

(So Steve, still interested in the house for sale across the street? First cookout is at your place!)

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Huckster strikes again

If it's presidential primary season, it means it's time for the candidates to go to South Carolina and see who isn't afraid to pander to the lowest common-denominator by defending those who think the Confederate battle flag should be flown on top of every black person's house whether they like it or not. (Or the state capitol.)

This year's candidate for Panderer-In-Chief? Mike Huckabee:
"You don't like people from outside the state coming in and telling you what to do with your flag," Huckabee told supporters Thursday in Myrtle Beach, S.C. "In fact, if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we'd tell 'em what to do with the pole, that's what we'd do," Huckabee said.
Good line, but his waffling on whether he supports flying the flag is going to hurt him.

I feel like this needs to be said every four years: I'm proud of my Southern heritage. I wouldn't have preferred to be raised anywhere else. I'm a Civil War buff. I even own a Confederate flag (not the battle flag, the official flag of the Confederate States of America) out of historical value. But y'all, we were on the wrong side of the war. We were the bad guys. We lost. It's over. Fly the red, white and blue of the U.S.A. under your state flag, but don't fly the Confederate flag in an official capacity. When you talk like this, it hurts the GOP nationally, because it makes us look like unreformed mullet-headed hicks.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Amazing elimination!

Ding dong, the awful couple is gone! With the elimination of Nate and Jenn, hope is reborn that a likable couple can actually win a reality show once in a while!

Of course, this assumes that T.K. and Rachel can use their youth and vigor to hold off Nic and Don and Ron and Christina. I like Christina, but her father spent too much of the season berating her, and I can't root for him to win the million dollars. As for Nic & Don, the grandson has made far too many mean cracks about other teams for me to feel comfortable hoping he'll win. When he said this week that he felt like a "bitch" for not being able to beat so many "pansies," that sealed it for me.

Meanwhile, on "The Biggest Loser: Couples," lazy Neill cost he and his wife Amanda the luxury of working out all day in an ideal weight-loss environment. And since they got home, Amanda has lost more than Neill, proving the "Neill is a lazy moron" hypothesis, because when men and women are losing weight and have a lot to lose, it's almost impossible for a woman to lose more unless the guy isn't working very hard. When I went to Weight Watchers meetings two years ago, not even trying I would drop at least five pounds a week, while the women worked their butts off for two to three pounds a week. It's biology, which stinks for women, rocks for men.

I'm still hoping the purple team goes soon, if only because of their constant moping, and I still wonder why Bernie won't see the light and start hitting on his partner. Catch her when she feels fat and vulnerable, dude, and then when she's thin and hot she may go out with you!

Val and I spent more time with "American Idol" last night than Tuesday, but we'd still rather the show hurry up and get to L.A. and stop spending so much time with the most embarrassing people in the country.

Although, it seemed that Simon didn't give a rat's patoot sometimes, and Randy and Paula were advancing the weirdest people who couldn't sing to the next round, meaning the kooks of this round will still be around to get kicked off in Hollywood.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Liquid Diet/Icky Procedure Day 2

Ick warning! Seriously!

So today I got a colonoscopy to see what could be causing the chronic diarrhea I've had since, we think, May. Val and I are wondering if it's related to when I got really sick when the family visited during Memorial Day weekend, either from a stomach bug, food allergy or food poisoning.

After what turned out to be an easier night than I figured, this morning team Valfrey slept in, though I woke up before 8 to take my final drink of water. At 10:30 we left for the office (near Germantown Road and Humphreys Blvd) in Val's car, since she had to drive home and she's not comfortable driving my big car. Some day she'll learn the power of controlling an SUV and laugh at the little people in cars below, but not yet.

By noon we were back in a little cubby - blocked from view by a curtain - that had a gurney, two chairs and a medicine cabinet where the first of what seemed like ten nurses prepped me, and once I put on that sexy backless paper number and laid down, another pricked me with an IV on my hand.

Two nurses both named Janice wheeled me back to the room where I'd get violated, and Dr. Roto-Rooter was waiting with the anesthesiologist ready to give me the good stuff. And by good stuff, I mean it worked fast. Barely had I turned on my side and made a crack about the Craftsman locker beside me meant they had the best tools for the job ("Just in time for Christmas at Sears: The Craftsman Colon Prober!") and that's all I remember. I was out.

What Val tells me was only ten minutes later I awaken to see her smiling at me back in another cubby, still laying on my side. But I was really awake, not even groggy. Man, if I could bottle that anesthesia for people to take power naps at work, I'd be a billionaire!

I might have started to wake up on the way back. I seem to remember one of the Janices telling me to give them credit on TV later, and I think I said something about telling Ernie (Freeman, one of the morning anchors) to give them a shout-out. Or I was dreaming. Or what happens a lot that makes Val giggle, I was dreaming about it and said something and the nurse had no clue what I was talking about.

So Doc Roto-Rooter tells me he didn't find anything in the colon, but took some samples to biopsy that he called proctitis in the rectum. We'll go back on the 29th to see what to do from here. I may request an allergy test, too.

The best part was on the way home, when I was super-duper hungry and doggonit Arby's never tasted better! Two Arby melts, a ham melt and two potato cakes later, I was good to go. Now, spaghetti calls!

UPDATE - Okay, so I didn't exactly bounce around perkily all day afterwards. When I got home I took a long nap, and tonight I'm still woozy and will have to call in sick to work, 'cause I don't think I'll be safe driving at 3 a.m.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Liquid Diet/Icky Procedure running diary

1:51 p.m. - I'm such a wuss. Instead of facing the prospect of being up all day without food, instead I stayed up until 3 a.m. eating chicken, woke up at noon and I plan on doing the same tomorrow. So far, I'm keeping myself busy by cleaning and typing on the computer, too lazy to go downstairs and even think about grabbing last night's pizza leftovers.

Maybe I should log on to and get a temporary tattoo for Pepto Bismol? If I'm going to have to go through this, might as well make some cash, am I right? Here's how it works: You decide on a certain dollar amount that you'll accept for a temporary tattoo and post it to your profile on the site. Then advertisers log on and select the candidates they like. You get to pick the part of your body you're willing to cover. (Link courtesy Clark Howard.) So where to put mine? I'm thinking the back of my neck, where most people see me darting to the little boys' room.

5 p.m. - While Val finished off last night's pizza and cheesy bread for lunch, I had my very own can of chicken broth and two cups of Jell-O. Yummy. My wonderful mother-in-law is stopping to get me some popsicles, too. (But not red or purple - that's a no no. So orange and lemon-lime for me!)

Now, the pills. Starting now, I take four giant pills every fifteen minutes for a total of 20 tablets. At 8, take four giant pills every fifteen minutes for a total of 12. Yeek. I'm supposed to drink 8 ounces of water every time, but it takes a good 12 ounces just to get those big pills down!

10:18 p.m. - Eh, this isn't so bad. I'm not even really hungry, even though I've only had four popsicles and two cups of Jell-O since lunch. And I haven't been sitting in the bathroom with my legs going to sleep after four hours like I suspected. Heck, I still haven't gone through half my reading material! Oop, stomach gurgling, better go ...

Does this make K-Fed the blind British dude?

My favorite part of Britney getting hauled to a hospital for psychological testing (i.e., she's a frakin' moonbat crazy chick) was that she eventually left "via an underground tunnel at the facility."

And afterwards, she jumped a fence on her motorcycle until the secret police caught up and hauled her back to the compound.

(I understand that if you've never seen The Great Escape, first, shame on you, and second, sorry for wasting your time. And also, yes, I pay attention to all this Britney, Lindsay, Paris, etc., crap, and it all makes me happier than watching ten seconds of the primary coverage.)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I'm sure Adam Sandler could make an excellent tasteless movie about this

I apologize in advance for the subject matter the next three days.

Y'all have probably noticed an uptick in the amount of rumbly tummy news the last eight months or so. In reality, it's been a lot worse than I've joked about, such as knowing intimately every public restroom in Bartlett and Millington.

As a result, I've been to the doctor, a specialist, and now, Tuesday afternoon, I'm getting a colonoscopy. Ick, indeed.

If they can figure out what's up, I'm all for it. And hopefully the anesthesia will be awesome.

Starting Monday morning I'm on a liquid diet. I'll be drinking lots of water and Gatorade, sipping chicken broth, sucking on popsicles, slobbering over Jell-O and whining constantly on the blog.

Today, in preparation, I was eating like a bear about to hibernate for winter. Turkey and dressing, extra fried okra, cheesecake, pizza and BBQ hot wings now fester my insides.

My appointment's not until 12:30 Tuesday, so I'll be without solid food again until dinnertime, when again, I'll eat like I've never seen food before.

Oh, and Monday afternoon, I have to take 32 laxative pills in a three-hour period. That should go well. Ick times two. (Hmm, 32 pills for a procedure that shouldn't be done on a 32-year-old. Sounds convenient.)

I wish good luck to my wife and in-laws for putting up with me. Feel free to eat all of my favorite foods in front of me. I can take it. Or I'll be the one crying in the corner, asking the dogs to sneak me some food from under the table.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

NFL Divisional Playoff Picks

Although I don't have any proof, I was 4-0 in my picks for the Wild Card round last weekend. (I did submit four correct picks to one of the fantasy gurus, but for some reason he never got it. I swear.)

So let's see if I'm lucky, or actually have a clue:

NEW ENGLAND over Jacksonville - I'll be rooting for the Jags, but the Patriots have had to listen to pundits fawn over Jax for a week now and will be ready to embarrass them by tonight. New England by two touchdowns.

COLTS over Chargers - Indianapolis played their worst game of the year losing to San Diego earlier this season on the road. At home in the playoffs? Don't count on a repeat. Indy by at least 10.

COWBOYS over Giants. - The NFC is a little tougher, since Dallas hasn't played a good game in over a month. Will they get it together in time to play a New York team that feels all kinds of confidence? Barely, if only because Eli Manning will make at least one crucial mistake. 'Boys by a field goal.

PACKERS over Seahawks - Okay, so I'm not original, going with every favorite. I think Seattle has a darn good shot at winning this one. Green Bay has laid a few rotten eggs this year, but Favre and company have had a couple of weeks to study tape. Green Bay wins late by a touchdown.

UPDATE 2:22 AM Monday - Yuck. With the Colts and Cowboys out, I really don't much of a rooting interest. The Chargers are a bunch of punks, the Patriots are cheaters, the Giants are from New York (or New Jersey, which doesn't make it better), and if Green Bay wins we have to hear another year of Favre worship from the pundits. It's a lose-lose-lose-lose all the way around. Almost like my picks!

Normally I'd also defer to Eli Manning, but he might as well be a dang Yankee. Eli, you are part of the New York Alliance and a traitor! Take him away!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Piece of cake

From the previews, I don't see why the upcoming Fox reality show "Moment of Truth" is supposed to be awkward for contestants. If it's for a million dollars, I'll answer anything they want!

Before going on the show, I'd just tell Val that I'm going to answer everything in the affirmative, and she'll say, "Yeah, fine, whatever, I'll get over it while carrying a $5,000 purse and driving my Mercedes with an easy million bucks!"

Had a crush on the entire 1985 Chicago Bears defense? Yeah, sure.

Ran a bus of nuns off a mountain for fun? Absolutely.

Watched a marathon of "Girlfriends?" No doubt! Now give me my million!

Jeff's Top 5: Overrated Actresses

1. Natalie Portman - I can't forgive her for failing to give a crap in Star Wars Episodes 1, 2 and 3. I know George Lucas is partly to blame, but that nonsense about falling out of a speeding helicopter/speeder 50 feet, rolling over, brushing off and running away without a scratch was the dumbest thing on film in the last ten years. Some of you will point out, then, that she's an actress better seen in indie films. I give you "Garden State," which would have been twice as good with another actress who didn't spend the entire movie trying to be quirkily cute. Surprisingly, Kirsten Dunst was better in a similar role in a similar 20-something angst movie, "Elizabethtown."

2. Julianne Moore - If she's in a movie, I'm guaranteed neither to like it nor to care about Moore's character. Moore acts like she's acting. Which doesn't usually go well. Every time she has to act surprised I feel sorry for her being unable to look authentic; she looks like she read the script that morning and hasn't finished practicing in front of a mirror.

3. Helena Bonham Carter - A weird, strange actress, the same kind of crazy over-the-top squinting in every role, and always bugs me. I'm still unforgiving of whomever cast her in the "Harry Potter" series as Bellatrix, who admittedly is nuts.

4. Susan Sarandon - Because of her politics Sarandon already starts at a minus. And then she pulls this self-righteous act in every movie, from "Bull Durham" to "Dead Man Walking." Everything has to have deep meaning, especially when she cocks her head and opens her mouth agape in confused thought.

5. Angelina Jolie - The most boring action actress, she barely cracked any personality in either of the "Tomb Raider" movies. In indie films she leaves me cold and without feeling, and looks to be trying out for her Golden Globe. Example: "Gia," a big mess (yes, even with the nudity) where the always-lovable Elizabeth Mitchell tried to rein in Jolie in every scene without success.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A $5,000 cheesecake

Not sure I get the reasoning that the most well-adjusted couple should get the boot in this week's "Biggest Loser: Couples." Sure, they did great once they got home, but that means we have to put up with an unlikable couple for at least another week!

I probably wouldn't be the ideal candidate for this show. I don't cry enough. Even if y'all know that I'm clearly one of the more self-deprecating people you've met, I also require a joke to go along with everything, serious or not. While other contestants are shown all the foods they used to enjoy and are clearly supposed to react with horror, I'd be licking my lips, yumming about all the delicious chicken wings and nachos. Not the desired effect, even if I was losing ten pounds a week.

Speaking of, the holidays weren't too awfully bad, it turns out. I started in November at 377 pounds, lost six or seven before crashing over the holidays, and yesterday at the doctor's office I was at 368 on their digital scale. It's all downhill from here, in a good way!

As for the "Biggest Loser," I'm trying to figure out what tricks the show uses to produce 10-25 pound weight losses in week one, only to be followed by zero to 10 the second week. Do they drain the pairs of all water the first week?

No matter how much Mike and Paul were given the "tsk-tsk" treatment for eating 900 calories in a five-minute span for a chance to win $5,000, I totally might have risked it as well for the opportunity. What happens if you are voted out in three weeks? There's still plenty of time to lose bunches for the finale, but five grand goes a long way in the here and now for a piece of cheesecake and some ho-hos!

I was happy to see the Black Team not influenced by the whining of the chick on the Blue Team or the girls on the Purple team who were all boo-hooing about wanting some calling cards to call their parents. Hey, you're adults, suck it up, you've only been gone a week! Let the folks who have kids talk to them, and be grateful you're there at all. Gee whiz, such drama.

Marriage Humor


- There was this woman who had an artist paint a portrait of her covered with the most amazingly beautiful and expensive jewels. Her explanation - "If I die and my husband re-marries, I want his next wife to go crazy looking for the jewels."

- A little boy, at a wedding looks at his mom and says, "Mommy, why does the girl wear white?" His mom replies, "The bride is in white because she's happy and this is the happiest day of her life." The boy thinks about this, and then says, "Well then, why is the boy wearing black?"

- A fellow was telling his friend that his wife treated him "like a god". He failed to mention that this meant she gave him a "burnt offering" every night for supper.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Yearly Jim Rice Lament

I was hoping that with the Mitchell Report coming out this winter, that perhaps sports writers would stop being swayed by the inflated stats of the 90s and look back at the era of Jim Rice more favorably, finally giving the Red Sox stud his due with a Hall of Fame selection.

I was wrong.

I posted this last year from Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, who turned out not to be Nostradamus:
The good news for Rice is that he'll be on relatively weak ballots in 2008 and 2009, the final two years of his eligibility. In 2008, the best new names will be Shawon Dunston, David Justice, Tim Raines, and Mike Morgan. Rice is going to look pretty good next to those guys. In 2009, the strongest new candidates will be Rickey Henderson (unless Rickey returns to the majors yet again), Mark Grace, Matt Williams, and Dean Palmer. Rickey's a lock, but Jim Ed crushes the rest.

Rice was the American League's dominant hitter from 1975-86. He's the only player in big league history with three straight seasons of 35 homers and 200 hits. Among 18 players who've been on the ballot with 350 homers and an average of .290, all are in the Hall except for Rice and Dick Allen. Rice is one of 10 players with at least 382 homers and an average of .298: The other nine -- Hank Aaron, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Mel Ott, Babe Ruth, and Ted Williams -- all are in the Hall of Fame. The Red Sox publicity department would do well to take a year off with the electorate, then come back with those numbers in 2008.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Random Monday Musings

- Possible breakthrough with our home. Our agent says it's possible we could close by the end of the week. Fingers crossed!

- I was excited to see that second half of the season choke expert Matt Clement wouldn't be back with the Red Sox next season, until I saw that the Cardinals signed him, thereby forcing me to listen to the wailing and gnashing of teeth coming from my wife and father-in-law in 2008. Thanks a lot, Matt. Couldn't torture Kansas City or Detroit in obscurity, eh?

- On the lighter side, Shelby County sheriff's deputies raided a home in Memphis, finding hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise stolen from construction sites where new homes were being built. How was the thief discovered? Thank goodness crooks are dumb, because this one was actually using a custom mailbox he took in Mississippi, and the homebuilder who made it recognized it.

- Tom Brady being picked as The Sporting News Sportsman of the Year was flabbergasting, what with Good Guy Peyton winning a Super Bowl in January without fathering an illegitimate kid, but not nearly as much as Bill Belicheat being named the AP's Coach of the Year. Does anyone else remember what happened after game one? Do sportswriters remember that the Patriots are losing their pick in the first round of the draft for what Belichick did? Does anyone remember the bad sportsmanship he showed week after week running up scores this season? Isn't that like voting Richard Nixon President Of The Year after the Watergate break-in?

- King Willie used to be a funny nickname for the Memphis mayor with a giant ego, but now we need a new moniker: Willie Bonaparte, who wants to anoint himself emperor of Memphis and Shelby County. Why else would he propose in his State of the City address last week that county citizens should have their vote squashed in his effort to consolidate his power over the county and the city?

- Continuing our current one-movie-every-three-months trend, Val and I took the time for some cinematic fluff with the sequel to National Treasure. The first was better, but Book of Secrets is the same kind of pop history silliness that's thoroughly enjoyable due to the likable characters, action and conspiracy theories.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Matchmaker, find me a match

Playing with my station's online Political Matchmaker, apparently my orientation on issues matches up with John McCain and little-known California representative Duncan Hunter 63 percent of the time, most of any Republican candidates.

This isn't surprising or alarming, just slightly disconcerting, since to me, McCain is too wishy-washy as the media's formerly favorite "maverick" Republican. At least, he was the media's favorite until he decided to stick with his guns and support Bush in the War On Terror.

I wouldn't support a McCain candidacy, anyway, because I think we've seen what happens, in 1996, when an older and respected senator goes up against a vibrant Democrat.

McCain keeping up with, say, Barack Obama would be too much like watching Rodney Dangerfield attempt the Triple Lindy in Back to School every day for nine months.

I would have predicted that I would match up with Fred Thompson, but even according to this widget he agrees with me less than even The Huckster, Mike Huckabee, and Mitt "How can I flip-flop today" Romney, whom I'm ultimately figuring needs to be the GOP candidate.

Do Goths only eat black candy?

THE AMAZING RACE: I'm a week late, and didn't see the episode before Christmas at all. This season has left me uninspired, which I think is due to it being mostly during the holidays. I wouldn't have said this during week one, but I'll miss Kynt and Vyxsyn. It was unfortunate that a silly mistake eliminated them and kept annoying, bickering and unlikable Nate and Jenn in the competition.
PROJECT RUNWAY: Crazy Elisa gets the boot, which was a surprise, since usually the nutty creative type lasts until the final five, if only to give the judges someone to bounce jokes off. Val and I actually would have tossed Sweet P. instead, since she's always spazzing, never finishes and complains about her challenges constantly.
THE BIGGEST LOSER: Whereas Project Runway did an entire garment based on candy, The Biggest Loser Couples have to do everything they can to avoid it, lest they let their partners down. There's going to be a lot of crying on this show, though we find it inspiring nonetheless due to the amazing amounts of weight lost per week. Need the 22-year-olds to stop their griping that "we're young, we should be doing so much better!" and we felt bad for Bob when most of the pairs chose Jillian first, which is crazy because that is one harda** chick and I wouldn't want her training me on how to spackle, let alone on the treadmill.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Jeff's Top 5: HGTV Shows

In the nearly two months we've been waiting to close on our new house, Val and I have spent thousands upon thousands of dollars in our heads while watching every home improvement show imaginable. TLC and A&E and others have many, but HGTV is king.
1. Save My Bath & Spice Up My Kitchen - Yeah, so I'm cheating with two first-place picks, so sue me. These are interchangeable. On one, homeowners spend tens of thousands of dollars I don't have fixing up their ugly space. On the other, homeowners spend tens of thousands of dollars I don't have fixing up their eyesore room. We say "I wish" a lot watching these.
2. House Hunters - This would have been higher if we hadn't already picked our own place, since we watched it every day with the same dreams of the people on this show trying to compromise on a new home. Plus, it refreshes our algebra skills: "If Home A has X but not Y, and Home B has Y and Z but not X, and Home C has X and Z but not Y, then which is ideal?" I hated algebra.
3. Curb Appeal - This show makes me feel like I could personally install a rock wall along the sidewalk with a stone path leading to the front door, while building a wraparound porch "just for kicks." Chances of this succeeding? Zero.
4. Hidden Potential - This is a show about dreams. About what it would be like to buy a house under price and have a designer show you how great it would be if only you'd budget, oh, $80,000 into fixing up small rooms, ugly kitchens and wild yards. We don't know if the home buyers on the show actually follow the design plans, but we do get to see cool graphics of how the homes will look.
5. Over Your Head - Unlike the shows in No. 1, this is more for folks like us, weekend warriors who can't figure out how to seal cracks, tile floors and refinish cabinets. Watching this one, I'm convinced that no amount of reading Dummies Guide For Home Repair Idiots will make this simple. But it should be adventurous!
Honorable mention: Secrets that Sell; My First Place; Property Virgins; My House Is Worth What?; My Parents' House.

Friday, January 04, 2008

All over but the cleanup

As it's already January 4, let me be the one-millionth person to say that 2008 seems an awful lot like 2007 thus far.
Then again, seeing that this is a presidential election year, by February 29 we may be yearning for the halcyon days of '07 and it's frivolous Lindsay-Paris news of yore. Lindsay's got a younger sister, right? Maybe she'll get preggers by May and give us a temporary reprieve.
To usher in the new year, Val and I braved aches, pains and lack of sleep (your typical Holiday Sickness Trifecta) to drive to Jackson on New Year's Eve with much of The Gang (Heather, Michelle, Melanie and Roger).
Proving that we're all way, way too old and scaredy cats for our ages, we bypassed a nice dinner for Backyard BBQ, where you order at the counter get your "fixins" and drinks elsewhere and the crew was already closing for the night at 8 p.m. Not exactly $125 for Chez Phillipe at The Peabody, but good times nonetheless.
Besides, why waste time eating when we were going bowling! Melrog and Heather took the "competitive" lane while me, Val and Michelle lollygagged in t'other. As they were speeding into game three tossing 12-pounders every which way we had barely managed to start game two. Not that I was in a hurry. Every time I'd go bowl by the time I took my seat I was woozy from the effort and welcomed the conversation that stopped the progress, nibbling on the crackers I brought, washed down with Gatorade to provide strength. I'm such a big baby.
By 11 we retired to Heather's to watch other people party it up on television. Well, except that Fox was the only station that had anything on until after 11:30. Didn't it used to be that networks would start broadcasting from Times Square (or Beale Street here) at 9 and keep going until 1 in the morning? And yet the Jackson ABC station was showing "Everybody Loves Raymond?" Which was a hilarious one with Frank caught stealing at the supermarket. At least we think so. We didn't tune in until the last five minutes.
With Dick Clark giving Ryan Seacrest a hard time on ABC's Rockin' Eve, the clock struck midnight, Val and I shared our first midnight kiss (I had to work last New Year's), we all toasted over sparkling grape juice and excused ourselves to skedaddle back home for some much needed rest. It doesn't seem that long ago that we could stay up all night on New Year's, without having to be at work. I'm only 32, dang it! We couldn't even muster the craziness that makes up one hour of a Wednesday evening at Britney Spears' asylum of a home.
Of course, justifying it to ourselves, it was practical to get to bed by 2 a.m., since we were up by 10:30 to watch the Tennessee game and go over to Glenn and Stephanie's to spend the day eating and playing games with the Burks. Surprisingly, sister-in-law Cheryl's hubby Randy makes chili that tastes an awful lot like Mom's, which we've had so many years at Super Bowls and special get-togethers.
Now, our tree is down, the decorations are packed away and resolutions have been made. Just one, really. Our resolution is the same as everyone else, eat right, exercise, lose weight and win millions in the lottery.
For the realistic portion, we even began watching "The Biggest Loser: Couples" for inspiration. I'm not saying we'll lose 20 pounds in the first week like some of those folks, but then again we're not spending ten hours a day working out and listening to Jillian's constant yammering and yelling, so it works out fine.
Still waiting on the sellers' to stop bickering over their lawyers and sign the frackin' paperwork already so we can close on our first home, so nothing new there.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

It's a Very Valfrey 2008!

Here's hoping 2008 is even Valfrey-er!