NFL Playoff, Championship round…

So, here is what I wrote before this past weekend’s full slate of games:

The Steelers are going to beat the Chargers this week.

The Ravens are going to beat the Titans this week.

The Cardinals are going to be crushed by the Panthers this week.

The Eagles will lose to the Giants this week.

Apparently I am much better at picking the winners in my own conference, the AFC.  I was so very, very wrong about the NFC games.  How was I supposed to know that Panthers QB, Jake Delhome, would throw FIVE interceptions?  How was I supposed to know that the Giants couldn’t defend their home field?  Oh well…

Here is what I think is going to happen next weekend.  And again, I will probably be wrong.

The Steelers are going to beat the Ravens.  I say this knowing how difficult beating a team 3 times in one season can be.  And I say this knowing that when the Steelers and Ravens play anything can happen.  It is going to be a defensive struggle all 60 minutes.  But the Steelers will win.

I think that the Eagles will beat the Cardinals in Arizona.  I am not confident in this thought, but pretty sure.  The Cardinals have been on fire during the playoffs, but Donovan McNabb is playing in prime form.  If this prediction turns out to be wrong, I would be kind of happy.  I would rather that the Cardinals win, but I just don’t think they will.

Not nearly enough snow…

Again, I love snow.  I am in full glory when we get 12+ inches.  Over the weekend we got big snow on Saturday and then a couple more inches on Sunday.  Good times.

Here is Rummy, enjoy the fresh snow Saturday morning:

blogbigsnow

I thought that S should wait to dig us out until after the snow stopped, but she had other ideas.  She actually enjoys shoveling snow.

blogsshovel

The owner (I think) of the little gas station around the corner from us is a very industrious man.  He has a Jeep and this winter he put a plow on it so he could run a side business plowing driveways.  I want to hire him on the days that we get ton of snow, but S wants to do it all by herself.  Seriously?  This picture only shows half of our driveway:

blogneedaplow

All day Sunday S complained about how much her arm and back muscles hurt.  I had very little sympathy.

I love snow…

I particularly love snow when I have no place to go.  We’ve gotten about a foot of snow in the past 24 hours and it is beautiful.

NFL Playoff Predictions update…

So, last week I wrote the following:

In the AFC:

The Colts will beat the Chargers next week.

The Ravens will beat the Dolphins next week.

The following week, the Colts will beat the Titans and the Ravens will lose to my Steelers.

The Colts and the Steelers will meet in Pisstburgh for the AFC Championship game and the Steelers will prevail.

Over in the NFC:

The Falcons will beat the Cardinals next week.

The Eagles will beat the Vikings next week.

The following week, the Panthers will beat the Falcons and the Giants will beat the Eagles.

The Panthers will meet up with the Giants in New Jersey and the Giants will prevail.

Finally, the Steelers and the Giants will meet up for The Big Game (because the NFL does own “that” word) and the Steelers will beat the Giants like they should have done during the regular season.  Probably James Harrison will be the MVP, unless the league is biased against giving it to a defensive player.

I also predicted that I would be mostly or totally wrong.  Well, I was wrong.  The Chargers beat the Colts (with the help of the refs) and the Cardinals beat the Falcons in a surprisingly good game.

Here are my updated predictions now that conditions on the ground have changed.

The Steelers are going to beat the Chargers this week.

The Ravens are going to beat the Titans this week.

The Cardinals are going to be crushed by the Panthers this week.

The Eagles will lose to the Giants this week.

That sets up an AFC Championship game between the Ravens and the Steelers in which the Steelers will prevail.  Also, an NFC Championship game between the Pathers and the Giants in which the Giants will prevail. 

All of which will set up a powerful “big game” between the Giants and the Steelers, which will cause great conflict in the heart of actress Kate Mara who is the grandaughter of a Giants owner and a Steelers owner.  Steelers win.  James Harrison as the MVP.

Books I have been reading…

In November, S took me along with her on an after-school outing with some fellow teachers.  The outing was to a pub near where we live and it seems to be a regular Friday hang out for many of the teachers in S’s school.  It was a good time, nice, clean pub, good beers on tap, good company.  I got engaged in conversation with a math teacher who is a big fan of humor writers.  You know, like David Sedaris.  But also comedians who turn their sets into short books, like John Stewart and Ellen Degeneres. 

Now, I enjoy David Sedaris, but I am not a fan of the comedian books.  And the thing is, I don’t so much enjoy reading David Sedaris so much as I love to hear him read his stuff.  Every year on NPR they have Sedaris on reading excerpts from his brilliant Holidays on Ice.  Right before Christmas I found the audio of the book at Half Price Books and S and I listened to it three or four times during our holiday traveling.  I must warn you, in case you don’t already know, the Macy’s Elf chapters are so funny that they caused me to choke several times and almost crash the car.  Be careful out there.

Anyway, back in the day I used to listen to NPR all of the time.  I used to think talk radio was just the three hours that Rush Limbaugh was on, so I had to fill the rest of my day with Morning Edition, Fresh Air and, my favorite, This American Life.  That is how I first discovered Sarah Vowell, even though I didn’t realize I was discovering her.  I just knew that I liked her little stories and I liked her quirky voice.  A few years ago I was watching C-Span’s Book TV and there was a little woman talking about a book she had written about the presidents who had been assassinated.  It sounded interesting because I am fascinated with the presidents and assassinations and then, after a few minutes of listening to her voice, I realized it was the chick from This American Life, Sarah Vowell. 

I took note of the book but not the name of the author at the time.  I figured I would read it someday and I would just recall the information if I found myself in a bookstore where it was on sale.  Well, I sort of forgot about it.  I knew it was out there in the back of my mind, but I had stopped listening to NPR so much and there were just so many other books to read.  Which brings me back to teacher’s pub night.

The math teacher and I were talking Sedaris and then she asked me if I “totally loved” Sarah Vowell.  The name rang a bell but I confessed that I couldn’t quite place her.  That is when math teacher reminded me of the presidential assassination book.  I got excited, like hearing about a long, lost friend.  Turned out that math teacher “totally loved” Sarah Vowell and had most, if not all of her books.  She offered to loan them to me since she was long finished reading them.  I thought it was a nice offer and took her up on it.

I don’t like borrowing books because it makes me a hypocrite when I hate to loan out my books.  I don’t even like it when S takes one of my books off the shelves to read because she leaves them on the floor or on the back of the toilet or spills coffee on them.  I have loaned out books in the past and never gotten them back.  Or loaned them out and gotten them back years later with the cover ripped off.  But I knew I wasn’t going to go out and buy these Sarah Vowell books because I hadn’t in previous years and they were being offered up to my by math teacher, so I accepted.

When math teacher handed me to books I placed them on the passenger seat of the car.  S then got into the passenger seat and put the books on the floor of the car.  See?  That’s what she does.  I forgot to take the books into the house when we got home because the weather was crappy and I was just trying to get us in the door without getting frozen or soaked.  Two days later I grabbed the books off of the floor of the car, out from under one of S’s travel mugs.  Do you know where I am going with this?  One of the books, a paperback, was stained black with coffee and it’s pages were warped.  It was the book on top of the pile and the others had been spared.  I went into panic mode knowing that I would one day have to return the books and one of them was wrecked.  Only partially my fault, at that.

I immediately jumped into Assassination Vacation because it was the one that most interested me.  The gist of the book is Sarah Vowell going all over the country visiting mementos from the assassinations of Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley.  Odd mementos, like the bullets and bone fragments in museums, the place where the assassins were found, or hanged, the burial sites, and so on.  It is, as weird as this sounds, quite fun reading.  Quirky to be sure, but good fun.  I also learned something I had not known before reading the book: Robert Lincoln, Abe’s oldest son, was with his father when he died, with Garfield when he was shot and showed up in Buffalo to meet up with McKinley just minutes after McKinley was shot.  I love trivia like that. 

I thought Assassination Vacation was brilliant even if I found her fetish of Lincoln undeserved.  She loves the Lincoln that is taught to you in fourth grade history, not the real Lincoln and his blatant violations of the Constitution.  She builds Lincoln up and when she switches focus to Garfield and McKinley, she makes them out to be such lame men that one wonders why anyone would bother killing them.  Vowell describes herself as an atheist who hs replaced God with government making Lincoln her Jesus and the Lincoln Memorial her church.  I suppose that is fine for her, but it is a little childish to me. 

Anyway, I am happy to have finally read Assassination Vacation.  It was well worth the paper it is printed on.  I cannot say the same for The Partly Cloudy Patriot, the second Sarah Vowell book I read.  I suppose it is not fair the order in which I read the books.  I read the great one first even though the other two came first.  Someone else reading Vowell start to finish would have gotten to watch her grow as an author.  I watched her regress.  The Partly Cloudy Patriot is 19 essays, most of which focus on government or history or presidents and a couple that are about Tom Cruise , Tom Landry or popular culture.  In one essay she visits a couple of presidential libraries and then writes advice to President Clinton on what he should do with his library.  She hero worships Clinton although not quite like she does Lincoln.  If Lincoln is her Jesus, then Clinton is just her televangelist who has taken her life savings but she’s still willing to give him more.

With Assassination Vacation, I relayed bits of the book to my mother in phone conversations.  I can still see my favorites parts on the pages and I still get a chuckle over a humorous turn of a phrase.  But with The Partly Cloudy Patriot, the impression I have is fogged.  I know I read it, but it didn’t leave much of an impression.  There were some funny parts but a lot of it was grating and I cannot, for the life of me,  tell you why.  The only essay that stands out in memory is the Tom Cruise one because she came right out and called him creepy… and this was before the Oprah couch stuff.  If you find yourself wanting to read some Sarah Vowell, skip this one.  It is disappointing.

Last but not least, the coffee stained copy of Take the Cannoli.  I never took this book up to my bedside table.  It wasn’t overtly about politics, which meant it wasn’t must read and only muct read books are on my bedside table.  You see, even if I am slipped a heavy dose of NyQuil, I am going to read at least four chapters before I turn out the lights at night.  My bed is my must read place to be.  Take the Cannoli is not must read.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is Don’t Read.  In Assassination Vacation and her work on This American Life, Sarah Vowell is quirky and the quirky works for her.  In Take the Cannoli, Sarah Vowell is trying so very hard to be quirky.  She writes about her “secret” addiction to the first Godfather film and seems to think she is the one who discovered how cool the movie is.  So cool she even titled her book after her favorite line in the movie.

Seriously, The Godfather is a classic for a reason.  Everyone knows how cool it is.  Sarah Vowell is not quirky because she has watched it a tousand times.  She is not quirky because she loves the criminals in it.  She is dorky for thinking that this “secret” love is quirky.  She also has some essays about how embarassing her parents are.  She is cool because she is worldly and lives all cosmopolitan and her dad makes guns and lives in Montanna.  She is obviously so much better and smarter than her dad.  Quirky.  Not so much.  What twenty-something** doesn’t think they are smarter and more worldly than their parents?  The whole book reads like exceptional high school girl writing.  Yes, exceptional for  high school girl, but not an adult in the world of published books.  You know how sometimes you hear some popular singer who is crap and you wonder how in the Hell they ever got a recording contract?  That is how I feel about Take the Canoli.  Who in the Hell read the draft and green-lighted its publishing?    Bad, bad book.  I still feel bad that it is coffee stained, but I feel worse because now I have to go buy a new copy of the crappy book because I cannot return the damaged book back to the math teacher.

Over Christmas I saw that there is a new Sarah Vowell book for sale.  I will, of course, have to read it, just to see if she has progressed or actually regressed.  But I will wait until I find it at Half Price Books or is loaned to me.  I will actually purchase a copy of Assassination Vacation to add to my presidential library though.

 

**Sadly, I just realized she was probably in her early thirties when she wrote this book, which makes it even worse.

Vince Flynn Shout Out…

I mentioned in a previous post that S had given me a Vince Flynn book for Christmas.  Rush Limbaugh had been talking up the author on his radio show and that got me interested in the author even though I am not much of a fiction fan. 

Well, yesterday I read Protect and Defend.  I read it in a matter of hours because it was too good to put down.  It was better than I had expected and better than I could have inagined.  And it only took me about 75 pages to get past the main character’s stupid name, Mitch Rapp.   The characters in the book are well fleshed out and all of the CIA/spook details give one the feeling that one is not so much reading fiction.  I also loved that Mitch Rapp was a masculine man, not some uber senstive male.  I’d be curious to know how many women love reading Vince Flynn…

I am now on a quest to get all of the Vince Flynn novels that I can get my hands on.  Hopefully they will be just as good as this on.

Make it stop…

I hate the Geico commercials with the cavemen.  So much so that I want the person who invented the advertising idea to be beaten into a bloody pulp.  But I am really, really hating the new Geico commercials with the eyeballs on top of a stack of cash.  What the hell?