Friday, May 25, 2007

The Assault On Reason

Al Gore on Letterman, Part 1:

Part 2:

Here's a lengthy excerpt from his new book, The Assault on Reason, from Time magazine.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


After the debacle with the Celtics' draft lottery results, a little perspective may be in order. Derek Jeter just passed Joltin' Joe DiMaggio on the Yankees' career hit list.

That's the Yankee Captain passing the Yankee Clipper with the first of his 3 hits tonight on his way to helping the Yankees take 2 out of 3 from the Sox. 9.5 games...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Lottery Primer

Today's the big day: the NBA Draft Lottery. Sometime between 8:30 PM EST and 9:00 PM EST tonight we will know the fate of the Boston Celtics and I'm a touch nervous. More than a touch. I was going to post a picture of the Celtics' logo, but I think that would be bad luck. I don't want to see that thing until the 2nd or 1st pick in the 07 draft is revealed. One of the top 2 picks would be a jackpot. Major celebration going on in the Nolan household if that logo hasn't shown up after the 3rd pick is revealed. 3 through 5 would be a bitter disappointment, mostly because I don't trust Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers to use it intelligently. It could conceivably be a valuable pick, but in their hands, I'm not sure. Rather than packaging and trading it for a veteran star that can help Paul Pierce out sometime before he's 45, they will draft Upside Brandan Wright and while that might be a neat UNC connection for VTK reader Scoutie as she heads down to grad school (congratulations, Scoutie), it will force me to boycott the Celtics until both Danny and Doc are fired.

's everything you need to know about the C's chances tonight. Here are the important percentages for the Celtics:

Celtics' Odds Of Receiving Each Possible Pick
Pick - Probability
1 ------ 19.9%
2 ------ 18.8%
3 ------ 17.1%
4 ------ 31.9%
5 ------ 12.4%

The ping pong balls are drawn for the top 3 picks, then everyone remaining is put in order according to their records. The Celtics had the 2nd worst record, so if 3 teams other than them and the Grizzlies (worst record) luck out and win the lottery, the worst they can do is the 5th pick. There are 14 teams in the lottery. Pay attention to slots 14 through 6 as they are revealed inversely; this is what we want to see:

14 - LA Clippers
13 - New Orleans
12 - Philly
11 - Indiana
10 - Sacto
9 - New York
8 - Charlotte
7 - Minnesota
6 - Portland

If 3 of those teams do not end up in those spots, then the # 5 pick will be the C's. If one or two are not in their expected spots, the C's still have a chance. The revelations of slots 6 and 7 should be particularly interesting (read: nauseating), because each of those teams has about a 1 in 5 chance of landing in the top 3, which is statistically much more significant than the 8, 9, and 10's 7% chance, and the 11 - 14's 3% chance. Any movement in the bottom 4 would be a fucking coup. If no one has moved up and Seattle is revealed at # 5 (meaning they missed out on their 30% chance of getting in the top 3), start getting excited and prepare to soil your drawers at the revelation of the 4th team. If the leprachaun does not show himself there, the next envelope that is opened will be the most important one in the last 10 years for the Celtics.

If they get the # 2, Kevin Durant, I implore you to stay away from the cocaine tonight.

If they get the # 1, I'm going to get a tattoo of 17 on my chest.



Sunday, May 20, 2007


Time for the seasonal, monthly State of the Yankees post. You have, no doubt, noticed that it's 3 weeks into the month and the Yankees.5.7 is just now popping up. Clearly it's been a
tough month and the State of the Yankees is not good - 19 and 23, and 10.5 games back of the Red Sox in the AL East. Understandably, I've been having some trouble getting up the motivation to do this post. But the Bombers won 6 to 2 at Shea last night behind bombs from The Captain, The Other Captain (Posada), one from A-Rod, and behind a strong performance from the 11th starter of the year, the rookie Tyler Clippard, who went 7 innings and looked fantastic, only giving up 3 hits in his major league debut (the gang was jacked up about him before this debut and is even more so now). So, with a critical series against the Red Sox starting tonight, and all rational perspective taking its leave for the next three days, this is as good a time as any to do this post.

Scrolling back, I realize that Yankees.4.7 was posted on Opening Day, which was a good 7 weeks ago. Obviously, quite a bit has happened in the interim. We saw A-Rod start off the season on fire, with a record 14 home runs and 36 RBI in the month of April, leading an impressive offensive assault that was wasted due to pitching injuries, inconsistency, and Joe Torre's criminal inability to manage his bullpen. I'm starting to believe that Mel Stottlemeyer was a much bigger part of the Yankees' success than he has gotten credit for. I love the Louisiana Lightning, but he clearly hasn't been able to talk any sense into Joe. I really hate to say this, and I've held out a long time before coming to this conclusion, but I think it's time to put an end to the Torre Experience. He was the man for those teams, but these are not those teams, and they may require a different skipper. And as much as I love Donnie Baseball, I'm not sure if he's the guy to do it. Joe Girardi? Bobby Valentine? They really should have locked up Sweet Lou Pinella in the offseason, but they let him slip away to the Cubs where he'll probably stay, as he should, for a few years. What to do? The next couple weeks will likely dictate that, though I think they'd have to lose the next 6 games to the Sox for the Boss to pull the plug on Joe during the season.

What else? Mariano's getting shelled, but I'm still not really worried about him. He's started rough in recent seasons and has come around and I'm confident he'll be there in the end again this year. The question is whether the rest of the team will be able to put him in the position to be The Sandman again. The first month it was all hitting and spotty pitching; the second month it's been spotty hitting and spotty pitching. I'm a long long long way from giving up on this season, but I'll admit that I'm starting to get a bit nervous. I'm a 4 out of 10 on the Panic Scale. Time to start turning it around. Maybe last night will turn out to be the gut check game they've been needing. I'm still optimistic. If Hughes and Clemens turn out to be effective, Clippard and De Salvo can provide some long relief, the bullpen gets rested, Abreu gets on base (like he did tonight), Cano gets his stroke back, and Jeter and Posada keep hitting, I like this team's chances. Which reminds me: how about Jeter and Posada. Posada's hitting .390. Hip Hip Jorge!

Anyways, the Yankees won last night and baseball is a one day at a time sport, so it's a good day today. For the next 90 minutes at least. Hopefully, Wang will keep the ball down, get a load of groundballs, Cano will remember how to field, and the Yankee bats will be lively enough to get a few runs off Yankee killer, Tim Wakefield. If we can get 2 out of 3 from the Sox, I'll feel pretty good about it, even though that would still leave us down 9.5. It'd be a start. Go Yanks!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Jazzfest 07, Part II



ok. just wanted to let that settle in a little. and now for those promised pictures of me and the Southern Louisiana Rock Cougar at the ZZ Top show (mind you - these are not photoshopped):


and settling ...

and one more of me and what might more accurately be described as a Southern Louisiana Rock Post-Coug (you should have seen the teeth on this one - sorry, "teeth"):


Jazzfest 07, Part II - pictures courtesy of longtime Jazzfest traveler and VTK reader, C-Mac. Friday was a watery mess. The real torrential downpour waited until we were at the Fairgrounds and walking between tents in search of food. I got some fried chicken, then got completely drenched, and got a kick out of walking up to people in the rain while eating the chicken and saying "I think the chicken's a little dry this year." It killed, I tell ya. The aftermath:

Saturday brought the heat, the rest of our crew, and the food.

the heat:

the rest of the crew:

the food:

Crawfish Monica:

Crawfish Etouffee:

Sunday... jeez, what the hell happened on Sunday? I know we saw one of the Mardi Gras Indian parades through the Fairgrounds:

and some kids playing in the dirt during Steely Dan. The kids' pile of dirt and rocks had a little twig with a white napkin flag poking out of it which got trashed by the addition of more mountain. I fashioned them a new flag from a fork and a paper towel I found on the ground. Our mental capacity was very similar at this stage of the bender. They were probably a little smarter.

The last night in the Big Sleazy was obviously a bit blurry. But I did manage to capture this little bit of video which nicely exemplifies the last soldiers, those of us who were still chasing the tiger, pounding high lives and pork chop sandwiches at 3:30 in the morning, 3 hours before we had to get up to go to the airport:

Crazy indeed. That flight was rough. As was the five day gastrointestinal illness I contracted, presumably from some sort of Post-Katrina, government ignored, bacterial situation that must have made its way into the ice cubes that made their way into my cocktails. See you next year, New Orleans!

someecards - "when you care enough to hit send"

"We are the Diamonds!"

Non-sports fans will enjoy this one too. Thanks to the Brothers McCarthy for the tip.

I thought this was a joke, but apparently not according to the youtube description:

"low budget music video from the Glasgow Diamonds American Football team in Scotland, from 1986. The song is called 'Diamond Rap' and is sung by Paul Birchard. The video was made by Brian Keeley, and was voted best football music video by CBS Television and screened during CBS's Superbowl broadcast in 1987."

Sunday, May 13, 2007


The Hammers of West Ham United have done it! With an incredible 7 wins in their last 9 games of the season (and 4 of the last 4), the Londoners have avoided relegation to England's second league and will remain to play in the Premiership another year. And who else would the gods of sports stories possibly allow to score the lone goal of the match against the hated Red Devils of Manchester United at Old Trafford, but West Ham's controversial catalyst, Carlos Tevez. What a bitter pill that must have been for Sheffield United, loser to Wigan and the last team to get relegated out of the Premiership, after weeks of complaining and threatening legal action over the Hammers' acquisition of Tevez. Hey, Sheff U, F U!! Ah, this is great. I don't really know what I'm talking about, of course, but that never stopped me before. I love it.

And this isn't me jumping on the bandwagon either. I'm not rooting for a legit powerhouse like Man U, Chelsea, Liverpool, or Arsenal out of the blue. I started rooting for West Ham earlier this year during a crushing loss to Tottenham Spurs, their 6th loss in a row, when the Spurs scored once in the 90th minute then again in the last play of extra time on a full field breakaway to steal a 4-3 decision. The Hammers were almost assured of relegation after that loss and I cancelled my plan to shell out $80 for a West Ham Tevez jersey (Ok, ok, a real fan would have bought the shirt anyways, but cut me some slack - I'm a broke artist). I started rooting for them because of the scrappy Gaucho who rose from obscurity to become my favorite player in last year's World Cup, and after 95 minutes of rooting for them in that contentious match, they were my team. Those VTK sports fans who have known me for some time know that I am loyal to a fault with my teams and once I've picked a team, they're my team for life - a practice that has been much criticized, but will remain my practice nevertheless (Christ, I ruin my NCAA brackets every goddamn year by picking Gonzaga in the Elite Eight at a minimum solely on the basis of fond memories of getting kicked out of a bar in Florida for yelling Gonzaga at people). Anyways, I continued to follow them and cheer their results despite the dim outlook. They were several points back of safety and they still had to play Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Bolton, and Man Utd in their final 9 matches. After a 1 - nil win - why is it that we American sports fans tend to adopt soccer language when discussing/watching soccer matches and abandon it when we return to American sports? When else would I find myself yelling "Have it!" or "Good ball!"? - after a 1 - 0 win against Arsenal, the Hammer's third straight win since the Spurs match, I began to have hope. Then a 3 - 0 loss to the aforementioned lowly and hated Sheff U, and 4 - 1 loss to the Chelsea Juggernaut, things looked bleak again. They might be able to tie on points but losing 6 on goal differential surely was not good. But then they rebounded with wins against Everton, Wigan, and Bolton, to leave their fate to be determined on the pitch today against Premiership champion Manchester United. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the match on demand on my "telly" and the toll that New Orleans took on my wallet and my intestines prevented me from going down to the pub at 10 AM for 2 pints and an Irish breakfast, so I had to settle for the unsatisfying updates on ESPN Soccernet gamecast. Unsatisfying until the word "final" flashed and the Hammers officially catapulted ahead of Sheff U, Wigan, and Team America Fulham into a respectable 15th place. Fantastic.

Questions remain
as to whether the losers in this relegation match will continue to pursue legal action to try to force the Premiership to increase their penalty against West Ham from the 5.5 million pound fine to a 3 point or more points deduction that would drop them behind the loathsome Sheff U Blades. But for now, they are the champions of not getting relegated. Which is a little like congratulating someone for not getting laid off, but because of the drama in this case, I'd say it's a worthy congratulations. There is also uncertainty as to whether Carlos Tevez will remain with the Hammers next year. He doesn't speak English, would undoubtedly be more comfortable in Spain, and will get plenty of offers after his Premiership performance this year. But West Ham supposedly will be able to afford him as far as the Premiership goes next year, he claims to enjoy playing in the league, and he is a veritable cult hero in Upton Park at this point, so let's hope he returns. Otherwise, I'm stuck rooting for West Ham for the rest of my life for no good reason. I mean - Go Hammers!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Jazzfest 07 - Part I

blllllllllech. It's TTPTP Day, 07. Time To Pay The Piper. Time to put a cork in the annual New Orleans Jazzfest bender. Never a fun day, but always tolerable after a fun time like this weekend. Fortunately, the weather has been nice all day and the Yankees are winning, so I'm not dealing with any extra irritants.

I took a bunch of photos but most of them aren't that interesting, so I'm not sure I can produce a photo-diary as amusing as last year's collection. (how many drunken photos can one take of young hotties leaning up against a fence that says "NOPD Police Line - Do Not Cross" and still think it warrants another photo? The over under is 10) My cohorts actually took more and better photos than I did, so when they pass them along, I'll post them (including a classic of me in a fake mustache grinding with a Southern Louisiana Rock Cougar during the ZZ Top show. Pretty sure that one will make it into the Creepy VTK Hall Of Fame).

The festivities started out on a bit of a sad note when C-Mac and I went into one of our favorite spots, Evelyn's Place, to say hi to one of our favorite New Orleanians, Evelyn. We ordered up a couple of buds and a couple of bowls of gumbo and noticed the big picture of Evelyn on the bar next to us. Then we noticed her conspicuous absence from the bar and the big black bow and Mardi Gras beads hanging off the picture. The bartender let us know that she had indeed passed away a few months ago and we shared our condolences. She will definitely be missed. The old lady was a true salty American classic. According to this online remembrance, the 4 foot 10 inch 80ish bad-ass once beat up Mickey Rourke to get him out of the bar. Maybe that's what motivated him to quit acting and become a professional boxer. Fortunately, we never had a problem with her and she was always great to us.

The sadness soon ebbed as the tide of Bourbon Street debauchery exerted its pull (clever, eh?). A visit to one of the local establishments immediately put to rest any pretenses I had about being frugal this year. Man, that city knows how to take your money. When AK joined the party a couple hours later we managed to find our ways to The Chart Room which provided us with $1.50 High Life drafts, good company, and the comedic highlight of the weekend. It was torrentially raining at this point and everyone in the bar was waiting out the storm. One guy was nodding off at the bar, entertaining the bartender and the other patrons who kept talking about him and slamming the bar occasionally to see him wake up and then pass out again. Eventually he woke up enough to start talking to AK, me, and this other guy who was busting his balls. AK asked our new wasted pal what he did for a living and in a response that only Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, or reality could have provided, he deadpanned, "I'm an air traffic controller". I jumped off my stool and started running around the bar, unable to contain myself. The guy who was busting his balls starts going nuts too. At first I thought he was just laughing like me at the absurdity of the token barfly drunk being an air traffic controller, but I then realized that he appeared to be more disgusted than amused. I asked him what he did and he responded "I work for the fucking FAA!" Swear to god. That happened and neither one of them was joking.

That's about all I have in me to write at this point. Part II might take a couple days but it'll be worth the wait as, in addition to a few photos, it will cover the Dirty Dozen Brass Band's onstage toe sucking incident, the Mayweather-De La Hoya fight, and our discovery of Jazzfest absentee Tim's female doppelganger and my unfortunate lip lock with her. Yeah. But I won't leave you with that image. I'll leave you with this one:

Rock on.