Monday, June 29, 2009

Chris 'Beanie' Wells will be the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year 2009

Baring injury or legal entanglement, Beanie Wells will be the NFL's Rookie of the Year 2009. I just want to go on the record and say that so that nobody calls me a band waggoner, claim jumper, Johnny Come Lately when it happens. I suspect he will run for at least 1300 yards. He only needs 81.25 yards per game to achieve this goal. He'll get it.

So why would I say this? This is why:
  1. He was the best back in the draft. Screw the position where he was drafted.
  2. He is large, powerful and fast. He reminds everybody of Eddie George.
  3. He goes to a Super Bowl team
  4. He goes to an offense which has been an aerial circus, and spectacular at times.
  5. He goes to a team with a good offensive line
  6. He goes to a team which needs a running back, and a running game.
  7. He goes to a team that is planning to use him immediately. They cut Edgerrin James the second they drafted Wells. You know what this means.
  8. He will be the 6th or 7th rated threat on the Cardinal offense at the start of the season.
  9. He will rise to become the 3rd rated threat on the Cardinal offense, but I doubt he will rise higher than that.
  10. Statistically speaking, the winner of the AP offensive rookie of the year award is almost always a running back.
  11. No running back drafted this year is better set up for success than Beanie Wells.
The AP offensive Rookie of the year award began in the year 1967. One of my UCLA brothers, Mel Farr, was the first man to win it. He was a running back for the Detroit Lions. The prize has been awarded a total 43 times. Only 3 positions have ever been awarded the trophy: Running back, Quarterback and Wide Receiver. A running back has won the award 31 times. A Quarterback has won it 4 times. A wide receiver has won it 7 times.

We can say now that there is a 72% chance of a running back winning the award in 2009. We can say that thee is a 9% chance that a QB will win it. We can say that there is about a 16% chance that WR will win it.

This tells you a couple of things:
  • The world does not value offensive linemen, and that sucks.
  • The world does not value tight ends, and that sucks.
  • It is very hard to come in and make an impact as a rookie QB.
  • Receivers have an easier time that QBs making the transition, but the pro passing game is different from the college game. They need time to make the transition.
  • Running backs have the most difficult job in terms of punishment, but an easy job in terms of transitional difficulties. The position is the same in college and in the pros.
Believe it or not, Ben Rothelisberger was only the 2nd quarterback ever to win Rookie of the Year. Do you know that Dan Marino, the greatest rookie of all time in my estimation, did not win Rookie of the year award? He was beaten by a running back name Eric Dickerson. Yep, my brother Ram Eric Dickerson defeated Dan Marino for the rookie of the year award in 1983! This tells you how slanted the field is in favor of running backs. It is not just a matter of how difficult the QB position is to play. The electors favors running backs. Even when a sensational rookie QB emerges, he can and will loose to a sensational running back.

So this is how the story of 2009 goes, IMHO. Most defensive coordinators are worried about the Cardinal passing attack. They pretty much open with a nickle defense. They play pass first. To beat the Cardinals, you must stop the passing game, not the running game. Wells is not a serious threat in their books... at first. Wells gets the ball on draws, delay hand-offs, shotgun draws, shovel passes, quick outlets. He beats people up. By the 4th quarter of the season (game 13), Wells rises to the 3rd ranked threat on the Cardinal team, according to NFL D.C.s, but he rises no higher than 3rd. Most defensive coordinators don't believe Wells is a bigger threat than Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Bolden. They can't justify allocating primary resources to stop Wells first. Rated no higher than the 3rd priority in defensive meetings, Chris Beanie Wells prospers throughout the entire 2009 season.

The next thing you know, Wells has 1300+ yards, and he is the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Nootropics 2: Just what is a Nootropic?

In my previous piece, I set the ground work for serious minded discussion of Nootropics. We discussed how poorly adapted humans are for their new line of work. We discussed the fact that humans are outliving their natural lifespans dramatically these days, and particularly the problem of the cessation of learning around age 40. We discussed the problem of the age pyramid turning into an age cylinder, and how this must bring about the collapse of Ponzi retirement scheme, like Social Security.

So with this in mind just what is a Nootropic?

Nootropics have been described as Steroids for the mind. They are referred to as smart drugs. These are a collection of prescription drugs, non-prescription drugs, supplements, and nutraceuticals that purportedly improve mental functionality. Various Nootropics are said to have the following effects:
  1. Improved cognition
  2. Faster recall of long term memory
  3. Better detail of long term memory
  4. Faster formation of new long term memory.
  5. More detailed new long term memory
  6. Increased IQ as measured by standardized IQ testing.
  7. Improved focus, clarity, motivation, concentration, attention span.

There are more claim made by various vendors. The claims listed above are the empirical claims that are subject of scientific testing, via standard educational testing tools and psychological methods. So far the experimental tests are looking pretty good.

How were Nootropics discovered/designed/developed?

Most of the good and effective Nootropics were discovered as part of medical research into curing or mitigating the effect of several of the degenerative diseases and/or trauma. For instance Piracetam was first developed to combat brain damage resulting from stroke. Piracetam was later discovered to have a positive impact on victims of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

Curious medical researches wondered what impact Piracetam would have on normal health brain function. Many experimented on themselves. They began with the hypothesis that Piracetam would have no effect (positive or negative) on normal healthy brain. They were surprised to find measurable improvements. Many question the sincerity of the original hypothesis. Given what little we know about its mechanism, many believe these pioneers actually did expect positive results from Piracetam, but this is conjecture.

What good are Nootropics?

I don't know. You tell me: Do you think you would benefit in life from improved cognition, memory, focus, clarity, motivation, concentration, and attention span? If you are C# programmer, you understand that you cannot be wrong by so much as one upper case or lower case letter. The same is true for C, C++, and Java. Do you think any of these things would help you?

So just what is a moral difference, if any, between use of Nootropics for a programmer, and the use of Steroids for a Football or Baseball player?

First of all, we are not talking about athletic events between kids & teams here. We are talking about scientists, doctors, and engineers responsible for saving and building the world.

If you were about to undergo quadrupole bypass surgery, I think you would want the doctor in his sharpest and most focused state. I don't think you would be inclined to think about whether he 'cheated' to reach that level of concentration. The IOC rules for fair competition do not apply or pertain to this domain. This is not about fair competition. This is about doing a stupendous job in order to save a human life. You are throwing a flag for illegal formation at an Easter Egg hunt.

Likewise, if you had an engineer responsible for designing the new Oakland Bay Bridge, you would want to ensure that man was in the best possible mental condition to approach these large scale design problems. One major design flaw and it could cost society thousands of lives when that bridge collapses. Let's leave out the billions of Dollars lost on a bad bridge and a good replacement. The IOC rules for fair competition do not apply or pertain to this domain. This is not about fair competition. This is about doing a stupendous job to guard human life. You are throwing a flag for illegal formation at an Easter Egg hunt.

By the same token, the programmer who is on the verge of obsolescence and the employer who pays him both have a vested interest in ensuring that this guy is mentally sharp, ready to adapt to the new prevailing conditions, able to learn new tricks of the trade, capable of staying current in an ever-radically changing industry.

If said programmer works at a bank, and he is responsible for the transactional integrity of your banking website, you'd better hope he is sharp and functional. A few mistakes here and there and your payments for vital services (such as gas and electricity) will fly off to no where. The money may disappear from your account, and you may never see it again. You got nothing out of it, and you might as well have been robbed. Whether you know it or not, that programmer is vital to your financial health and well being. You depend upon him for your financial survival. If he slips up, you are in trouble. I think you want him to be as sharp as a scalpel, and you are disinclined to worry about how he got that way.

By my writing, I think you can gather that I don't believe the morality of international athletic competition applies or pertains to these trades at the core of our survival. I think I can make that argument stick. You bring me any moral philosopher you like. I'll argue him down.

So just what is the moral difference, if any between the use of Nootropics and other mind altering drugs such as LSD and Heroine?

This is a specious question and it leads to a specious argument. Some believe all drugs are created equal. No human should be ingesting any drug. Leave them all out. Go natural all the way. This is the Christian Scientist or extreme Pentecostal argument. I don't buy it. I never have.

For the record, let us recall that LSD and Heroine belong to the FDA Schedule-1 list of illegal drugs. These are drugs with no medical application or redeeming quality to recommend them. Many have poked holes in the Schedule-1 philosophy, but we won't consider that here. The purpose of these drugs is to run away from reality, and achieve an altered (high) state of mind. Rather than improving brain function, the brain actually takes damage, and the vital centers of judgement are impaired immediately. Over the long term, the brain incurs terrible damage.

Nootropics have quite the opposite effect. Rather than incurring brain damage, pre-existing brain damage can actually be reversed. Rather than impairing cognitive function, cognitive function is enhanced. Rather than running away from reality in an altered state of mind, you deal with reality in a more focused and clear mindset. Over the long run the brain gets healthier. If you are an Alzheimer's victim, the progressive degeneration the disease foments will be retarded.

But Nootropics don't do anything positive for healthy brains, do they?

Once upon a time in the 1960s and 1970s, Football players, Olympic Weight Lifters, and Power Lifters were all trying and using Steroids. To be quite frank with you, they still are. One strategy used to deter them from using Steroids was to form a conga-line of medical experts who all protested that Steroids were the latest snake oil sold by patent medicine con artists. Steroids don't work, or so they said. This was a pretty stupid strategy. Those who used Deca Durabolin, Anavar, Nanadrolone Deconate, etc., could measure explosive growth in strength. It showed up loud and clear at competitive lifting events. Increases in lean body mass with decreases in fat mass could also be measured. Losses in strength and lean mass were also obvious during off-cycles. Quite frankly, everybody knew these items worked as advertised.

Right now, a few individuals are forming a new conga-line of experts who claim that Nootropics don't work. The line is surprisingly short. They are getting surprisingly little respect.

Medical experts learned from the Steroid epoch that simple denial doesn't work. People do experiment for themselves. They can tell whether or not "it" works, whatever it is. Many experts are debating the question of how to use these agents, when to use these agents, how much to use, and just how broad the distribution should be. Many, such as the experts writing articles at Discover Magazine, argue for a broad spectrum deployment of Nootropics.

The argument focuses on the issues laid out in my first blog entry about Nootropics.


In my next piece I will outline the several different categories of Nootropics, and explain their functions.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Odds of winning SB44, Feb 2010 in Dolphin Stadium

So guess what? It appears that Vegas has just published its deep preseason verdict on the 32 franchises of the NFL. The Las Vegas odds of your team winning SB XLIV were just published by I am laughing my ass off. These little fuckers will never learn will they? I just blogged that all forms of predictability have broken down. I used their choice of Dallas vs. New England last year as the ultimate example of the folly of their method. Guess what? The little fuckers just went and did it again. I guess there is no fool like an old fool. The man assigned to pick the Super Bowl in preseason has been given a fools errand.

Guess who the favorites are to reach and win the Super Bowl? If the Odds makers are correct, New England will meet Dallas for the second straight year in the Super Bowl... er... they didn't play last year? You mean neither of these teams even qualified for the playoffs last season? But they were supposed to meet for the championship? How did the Cards get past Dallas? But... But... But... New England was supposed to go 16-0 again due to the weakness of their schedule?!?!? What happened?

You guys were full of shit, that's what happened. I know yah like to thank yo shit don't stank, but lean a little bit closer see your predictions smell like poo-poo-poo. Your predictions really smell like poo-poo-poo.

This all reminds me of Chris Berman picking the fucking Bills and 49ers 8 years in a row. It never happened. He just couldn't get off his obsession. Likewise for Vegas. Does anybody remember how many times Vegas picked the Raiders to meet the Cowboys during the 1970s? I think they were picked to meet something like 5 times and 3 straight between 1976 and 1978. Do you know how many times the Raiders met the Cowboys in the Super Bowl? Zero.

Now the Giants have 10/1 odds. The Steelers have 10/1 odds. The Cards have 30/1 odds. This is only slightly better than Buffalo who has 35/1 odds. The Jets have 25/1 odds. This means the Jets are more likely to reach the Super Bowl than the Cards, despite playing in the same division with the biggest favorite. How the fuck does that work?

The biggest long shots on the board are Kansas City and Detroit. Both have equal 100/1 odds. The next lowest odds belong to the Rams and Raiders at 75/1. The third match of the Bengals and 49ers is rated at 60/1.

Let's just say that this is the most amazing crock of shit I have yet smelled cooking a crock pot. If you think the Jags and Packers have better odds than the Cards, you are smoking something. Vegas must use the PFA method.

Yes, I know that the Super Bowl looser's jinks is real and powerful and effective. I said as much here. This time I am in doubt. Further, I just don't see a really powerful competitor for the Cards in the NFC, save the Giants. I know I am going to piss off 14 NFC cities with this statement, but I think the Giants are the only clear-cut quality team in the NFC. I'm not talking about talent. I am talking about team. The fallacy of preseason predictions is this: It is based on tallent evaulutation, not team work evaluation.

I don't buy the Philly story. I think that is bullshit. I don't buy the Viking story. I think it is equally bullshit. The Skins have proven again and again that you can't buy victory. $100m for Albert Haynesworth won't change that story. The Saints and the Falcons are the most interesting prospects, but there are many reasons to be uncertain of them. In the West, the Cards are alone and extremely tallented. I think they switched on and ignited as a team unit last year. Their offense was borderline sensational. Their special teams were excellent all year. Their Defense was inconsistent during the season, but tremendous during the playoffs.

Cards vs. Giants in the NFC championship.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Prelude to a discourse on Nootropics

A recent issue of Discover Magazine featured an article called "Building a better Brain". The pitch below presented the question "Should Everyone be on Ritalin?" For any cognitive worker, this is a very interesting subject. For a software developer in his 40s, this is probably one of the most pointed questions you can ask.

I majored in Anthropology. Not the study of cultural basket weaving techniques, mind you. Not the excavation of ancient cities. I do have an interest in Cultural Anthropology and Archaeology, but I majored in human evolutionary biology. I graduated Suma at UCLA with departmental honors. I was also elected the Golden Key Honor society. I know a little something something about human biology. My expertise will be sufficient for the following treatise.

Human beings were not designed to sit for long hours at a desk solving complex logical and mathematical problems in 3GL and 4GL OOPs code. We were not designed to work with automata, interpreters or compilers. We are designed to engage in nomadic hunting and gathering behaviors in a Pleistocene environment. Homo Sapien Sapien have been roaming the Earth for some 105 thousand years now. Some would say 150 thousand years, but this is a bit outside the pale. It is possible, but not likely. It is only the past 15K years that some of us have been living in cities. It is only in the past 5K years that most of us have had a hand in complex political economies and agriculture. It is only in the past 10-20 years that most of us (in the U.S.) have taken a seat at a desk.

The overwhelming majority of our time on this earth has been spent in several Pleistocene hunting and gathering environments. Our genes, our bodies, our minds have been shaped by a process of natural selection to fit that ancient prehistoric environment. The human animal is ill suited for this new line of work we are now engaged in. This is why good programmers are rare. This is why good programmers are weird people. We are both statistically abnormal, and anomalies within the natural order. This is also why programmers burn out, get stuck on one language or technology, and are unable to keep up with the current flow and progress of technology. It is a miracle when one programmer learns one language and technology. This is why people leave our field at a remarkable rate, and change career paths frequently. This is why programmers have a very difficult job to do. This is why so very few in the power structures of this world comprehend the first rudiments of what we do.

There is another important series of fact which anthropological study confronts us with. There is no evidence to suggest that any average man would ever live past the age of 50 in the EEA (environment of evolutionary adaptedness). A rare and exceptional man might live to the age of 50. Most men would die before that time. Speaking in natural terms, Michael Jackson was not too young to die. He outlived most men who have ever passed through this veil of tears. Truly old men, say 65 or older, were incredibly rare and venerated elders. Very few would ever have seen this age. Women had it worse. Death in child birth was quite common. Death after menopause due to ovarian and uterus problems was probable. A study of the bones teaches that women usually died before the age of 40. Bones of women over 40 are extremely rare. Most female remains discovered by archaeologists belong to women who died before 40. In most cases, we can find no apparent reason why these women died. No signs of violence. No signs of accident. No teeth marks or animal attacks. No signs of extreme infections. They just dropped dead. Forensic examiners are left to speculate about indeterminable organ failures killing these women.

One theory of menopause suggests that women are simply outliving their natural lifespan these days due to modern medical miracles. Women loose fertility around 40 because this is when they were supposed to die in a natural environment. This is the natural lifespan limit of the female body in the EEA. Pleistocene women may rarely have hit menopause. Rather, they simply died before reaching Menopause. If they reached menopause, they most often died shortly afterward due to organ problems that often develop during menopause.

Humans don't learn well as we get older. A lot of evidence in the field of education indicates that most humans stop learning around 40. Old dogs don't learn new tricks. We become hardened and set in our ways. We don't even want to learn new tricks. Once again, it appears that we are pressing against the natural limits of our lifespan. Perhaps we stop learning because we should be dying around this point in the lifespan?

There are other theories about the cessation of learning. A man over the age of 40 would have been a venerated father/grandfather/clan leader. He would be expected to govern and lead conservatively based on his experience in life, not devise entirely new and radical notions about what aught to be done. For complex reasons, it is believed natural selection would favor men like this. He would also be at the end of his natural lifespan. There isn't a lot of need for learning at this point.

With all this in mind, lets talk about today. Humans are living into their 80s. The demographic tables show that we no longer have an age pyramid in our modern industrial and post-industrial societies. There are almost equal numbers of very young humans and very old humans. This is absolutely without precedent in the entire history of our species. Throughout all of human history, there have been many young humans, and very few old ones. One of the most stable and reliable demographic facts about human society is now dead. This age pyramid is a feature of almost every species on the Earth. Many are born, few make it to old age. It is true for snakes, frogs, spiders and sharks also.

One major problem we will very soon be faced with is this: there are not enough young humans to support the lives of the old humans. Soon, one young worker will have to bear the full weight of one retired worker. This is categorically impossible and unworkable. The young worker is having an incredibly difficult time getting by and financing his family as-is. The core concept behind Social Security is now empirically refuted and invalid.

In the future, most of us will never be able to retire. Some may be fortunate enough to slow down. Most will not retire. Current projections by T. Row Price suggest that a guy like me needs to have $5 million USD in good core investments before he can even consider retiring. I don't know how I will ever amass $5 million. How will you? If you already do have $5 million, will it survive the coming bought of hyper-inflation our Federal Government is fomenting? In the future, the retirement figure will be larger that $5 million.

Knowing that I may need to work for the rest of my natural life, how can a 42 year old computer programmer on the cusp of the biggest parallel processing revolution ever seen stay relevant and competitive in this world? How can I learn to use the new languages and technologies necessary to perform this style of programming well in the future? How can I learn to change the entire way I play the game? I need to learn to work all over again. It was a miracle that I ever learned to do this work in the first place. How can I remain a productive and valuable programmer until the age of 84, when I am expected to drop dead? I may only be half done at this point. Perhaps I have only 21 years to go. Perhaps I have only 1 hour to go. The actuarial tables suggest I am half done at this point.

Let's be honest: It may not be possible. I may not be able to stay self-sufficient, productive, independent, or useful. I may become a burden to society and my family. How can I give myself a shot at the title?

Well, for one thing I could loose 77 to 100 pounds. If I did that, I would be in all-around better health. I would sleep better. I would breath better during my sleep. I would probably not have a case of mild sleep apnea and/or narcolepsy. I probably would be able to do without Armadofinil, which my doctor has now prescribed for me. My arthritic knees would love this. I would be able to exercise more. My circulation would be better. This is a wonderful idea, and major steps are underway to ensure this happens... permanently. We shall discuss this subject some other time.

On the other hand, there are other problems of aging that cannot be addressed by weight loss and exercise. Demyelination of the neurological system cannot be stopped through the loss of body fat. Some say aerobic exercise helps, but not per se. As stated, this prescription is wrong. What about the cessation of learning? How will you learn Scala at 42? How will you learn the next thing at 53? What do you do about the preliminary bits of short-term and long term memory loss that naturally accompany aging?

With all of this in mind let us now discuss the subject of Nootropics. This will be the subject of my next blog.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Two surprising deaths today...

So we had two significant deaths today. One was long expected, the other was quite unexpected.

Farrah Fawcett died at approximate 9:20am Pacific times this morning. She had been struggling with cancer for several years. This is very sad. I am a member of the generation of young guys who were utterly obsessed with Farrah. Me and all my friends had the famous poster, which is officially the biggest selling poster in the history of the game.

I can confirm that the reports of her popularity are not an exaggeration. She was that popular. Maybe even more than suggested. I was not as enamored of her as were some of my friends, but I was also enamored. Naturally, I am very sorry to hear this news. It is good that her suffering has ended though. May she rest in peace.

The most surprising thing was the type of cancer. It was not colon cancer as some have reported, but a much more rare form of cancer called anal cancer. I personally never heard of this type of cancer and have a difficult time understanding how this can be fatal. Nevertheless, it was fatal.

Second, Michael Jackson died today. Evidently, he was found unconscious and not breathing at 12:21pm. Evidently, he suffered sudden cardiac arrest. The LAFD paramedics were summoned to his rental home in Bel Air California. They arrived by 12:26pm. They performed CPR, but he was non-responsive. Nobody knows how long he was down before he was discovered. He was rushed to my Alma mater, UCLA just 2.5 miles away. He was in a deep coma, and did not respond to treatment. Doctors pronounced him dead.

L.A. Law Enforcement has confirmed his death. The County Coroner's office has confirmed his death. The Jackson's family attorney, stopped short of confirming the death, but he walked right up to the fact and dropped it.

It was apparently not congestive heart failure, but sudden cardiac arrest. Medically, the difference is pretty clear cut. Congestive heart failure describes a process where the veins and arteries of leading to the heart become clogged by cholesterol build up. Eventually the heart cannot function because of congestive blockage. Sudden cardiac arrest is usually a consequence of electrical nervous system failures. Electrical signals from the brain to the heart become erratic, or are cut off entirely.

The Jackson family attorney believes his death is a consequence of abuse of prescription medications. There is another fact that must be considered. We know Michael Jackson was a plastic surgery addict, although he could never admit to this fact. Rumors say that he had more than 40 confirmed plastic surgeries. I would not be surprised to discover that the actual number is higher.

The human body was never intended to be cut upon in this fashion. The first vow of the Hippocratic oath says "Do no harm". You should never cut into a healthy human body for any reason. To be put under anesthesia 40 some times and surgically altered is horrendous to say the least. There must be health consequences stemming from this number of surgeries.

To be perfectly frank with you, I was never a fan. Never liked the guy. I could never see what you guys saw in this guy. As you know from my last blog, I am no fan of pop music. Metal is my thing. I remember being tremendously annoyed by the dominance of Michael Jackson on MTV during my last year in High School. I had (have) a Michael Jackson joke list you probably would not appreciate at this moment. Still, I did not wish the man dead. I regret this news. My condolences.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Are you ready for the biggest Heavy Metal band in the history of the known universe?

Three Dallas Cowboy offensive linemen have formed a band called Free Reign. They just got signed. The album will be released this fall on Australia's Riot Entertainment Label.

The three Cowboys are:
  1. Leonard Davis: Quite possibly the biggest SOB on God's earth. He stands 6'6" and weighs 354 pounds at last count.
  2. Marc Colombo: Also a very large SOB. He's 6'8" and a paltry 315 pounds.
  3. Cory Proctor: He is the peewee of the group, He stands a mere 6'4" and is a flyweight at 297 pounds.
The guys in Slayer will shit themselves when they see these guys coming. I would hate to see Colombo next to Ronnie James Dio. These guys could easily make Motley Crue eat their own assholes.

How good are these guys? I listened to a couple of excerpts of their music published on their MySpace website, and they very not bad. I need to listen to some more to be sure, but at this moment, they get more than a passing grade.

Incidentally, I know what I am talking about. I have been a Heavy Metal fan since 1980 and the AC/DC Back In Black album. Yes, I remember when it was absolutely brand new stuff. I now have a collection of Metal/Industrial/Hard Rock which tips the scales at 330GB. That is 330 Gigabytes. That is not a misprint. I own the moral equivalent of the library of congress of Heavy Metal. I cannot stuff all my music into my 160GB iPod classic. I am quite pissed. We are long overdue for a 320GB unit, and I want it now.

Anyhow, Free Reign will be joining my collection soon.

So how do you turn things around?

Truth be told, we know exactly how you turn a football team around and make them champions. It has been done plenty of times over the course of the past 51 years. We know how it is done.
  1. Paul William "Bear" Bryant takes over Alabama in 1958. Truth be told, they were pretty terrible at the time. He runs brutal, grueling, lethal force training camps and practices. A bunch of guys quit. He attracts only the toughest, nastiest, most ambitious men with chips on their shoulders and something to prove. It takes him till 1961 to complete the turn around, but he wins 6 national championships over the next 20 years. During the 1960s, Alabama is the toughest team on your schedule. They were what Miami was in the 1980s and what USC has been in the 2000s.
  2. Glen Edward "Bo" Schembechler takes over Michigan in 1969. Michigan had a glorious past, and a dreadful present. He runs brutal, grueling, lethal force training camps and practices. A bunch of guys quit. Bo nails a big sign over the exit of the locker room. It says "Those who stay will be champions." It's still there. Nobody touches that sign. That is Bo's emblem and mark on the program. He attracts only the toughest, nastiest, most ambitious men with chips on their shoulders and something to prove. He wins 13 Big 10 conference championships. He should have had a couple of national championships.
  3. James William 'Jimmy' Johnson takes over the Dallas Cowboys in 1989. They are the worst team in the NFL. They are drafting first, and not because they made a trade. He runs brutal, grueling, lethal force training camps and practices. A bunch of guys quit. He cuts a bunch more. Jimmy flushes the toilet. Guys who don't love the sport and who are just collecting their large paychecks are thrown out on their faces. He attracts only the toughest, nastiest, most ambitious men with chips on their shoulders and something to prove. Jimmy's Cowboys win 3 Super Bowls, despite tremendous competition from the Redskins, 49ers, Giants, Packers and Bills. They win the 3rd one without Jimmy... in spite of pretty terrible coaching.
  4. Richard Albert 'Dick' Vermeil takes over the Rams in 1997. They were considered the worst team of the decade by many. The Bengals would eventually win that dreadful distinction because the Rams would win the Super Bowl in 1999. The Rams are drafting first, and not because they made a trade. He runs brutal, grueling, lethal force training camps and practices. A bunch of guys quit. He cuts a bunch more. Dick flushes the toilet. Guys who don't love the sport and who are just collecting their large paychecks are thrown out on their faces. He attracts only the toughest, nastiest, most ambitious men with chips on their shoulders and something to prove. It takes him two years to do it. Only 8 men from the 1997 roster are left on 1999 roster. Guys like Issac Bruce, Kevin Carter, DeMarco Farr, and Todd Lyght are in that crew. The 1999 Rams are voted the greatest turn-around story in NFL history by a distinguished panel of experts at NFL films. The show only runs between 1999 and 2003, but we are The Greatest Show on Turf. It could have been better, but we fucked up and got rid of Vermeil.
So, as I hope you can see from these stories, there is a clear-cut path to pay-dirt. There is a well established, proven methodology for turning a team around. It has been used by most the of great coaches who triggered great turn arounds. Vince Lombardi didn't exactly flush the toilet, but he ran lethal force practices. He just had more survivors and champions on the roster than he thought he did when he started.

To the best of my knowledge, Bill Walsh is the only guy ever to turn around a team without flushing the toilet. According to rumor, he did not crush the souls of the weak in training camp. He focused on teaching & preaching precision execution. He had many of the same bums he started with on the team when he won SB16 with the 1981 49ers. Don't follow the Walsh model, as compelling as it might be. Walsh is the exception, not the rule. Follow the rule, not the exception.

College or Pro, the story is fundamentally the same. You have to get rid of the posers. You have to get rid of the fashion models who like to look good in the uniform. You have to weed out the guys like Barry Foster, who once said that he liked football but would never play for free. This is like a hooker who says "I like sex but I would never fuck for free." You fuck for the sheer joy of sex, and you play football for the sheer joy and glory of it. Money is nice, but that can't be the reason why.

Many guys like me would have gladly played for free if we could have just played for an NFL team. It is extremely irksome and vexatious to see gifted men, with real ability, who have no heart to play the game. These guys also tend to be whining divas. They are team cancers. You have to get rid of these little fuckers. No duds.

For this reason, I was greatly heartened to learn that St. Louis Rams Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo has issued warnings that he intends to kill everybody in training camp. Let the bodies hit the floor. His plan of action sounds a lot like the one Vermiel used, as documented on the America's Game 1999 Rams video.

This is good. It could take a couple of years, but Coach Spagnuolo should turn things around.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The NFL's all-undrafted team

So did you see the outstanding piece on today regarding the NFL's undrafted? They decided to configure an all-star lineup out of nothing but undrafted free agents. I would say that this great list constitutes a minor embarrassment for the talent scouts. Not a major embarrassment, but a minor one.

For the record the names on the list are these:

1 QB Kurt Warner
2 HB Willie Parker
3 HB Ryan Grant
4 FB Leonard Weaver
5 TE Antonio Gates
6 WR Wes Welker
7 WR Lance Moore
8 OT Jason Peters
9 OT Donald Penn
10 G Brian Waters
11 G Stephen Neal
12 C Jeff Saturday
13 DE Adewale Ogunleye
14 DE Shaun Smith
15 DT Pat Williams
16 DT Tommy Kelly
17 LB Bart Scott
18 LB Antonio Pierce
19 LB London Fletcher
20 LB James Harrison
21 CB Jabari Greer
22 CB Leigh Bodden
23 S Ryan Clark
24 S Brain Russell
25 K Adam Vinatieri
26 P Brian Moorman
27 KR Joshua Cribbs

If we played this team on the field, would they win the Super Bowl? It is possible but unlikely. The unit is extremely thick on running backs and linebackers. You could make a formidable West Coast offense and a formidable 3-4 defense with this crew. That is a truly nasty linebacking corps. Probably the ugliest aspect of this team if you are the enemy unit.

However, the offensive line is a bit thin. Jeff Saturday is the one great offensive lineman in this crew. That ain't enough to guard Warner. Of course, if we are running a bunch of shallow crossing routes and quick releases to the running backs, maybe the line will hold. Joe didn't hold the ball long in 1981, and the 49ers didn't give up many sacks.

I am not wild about our receiver corps at all. Warner has had much better targets than this. Antonio Gates is the only great receiver in the corp. I would have to press Joshua Cribbs into service as a reciever. I am sure he would love to catch a few passes from Warner.

I am not in love with the safeties. I think Ryan Clark and Brian Russell can be beaten. I have personally witnessed Warner lighting-up both of those guys. Do your recall how Larry Fitzgerald scored on the long run with 3 minutes to go in the Super Bowl? Yep, I think that was actually Ryan Clark's sector of turf he ran through.

So what is the moral of the story? Don't draft Linebackers and Running Backs. There are damn good ones availible on Monday after the draft. Don't draft a kicker either. You can get a hall of fame kicker for free.

The latest poll on Blu-Ray

So, this blog indicates that the so-called extinct format of HD-DVD is still outselling Blu-Ray.

The way this piece is written is troublesome. You should never exclude PS3 from the coverage of Blu-Ray player sales. I have no clue in the world why any rational empirical investigator would ever do such a thing, except out of pure study bias. You want to show poor uptake for Blu-Ray, so you exclude the top selling player. The primary function of the PS3 is Blu-Ray playback. Truth be told, it is a distant 3rd place as a game console. People like me seldom play games on our PS3s. We use them because they are the most advanced media consoles on the market. Nothing beats PS3 as a media player.

Nevertheless, this blog does eventually put a grip on the real issue. The poll at the bottom indicates that 41% of the people surveyed believe Blu-Ray movies are too expensive. I would qualify that in with the following tag: to buy and to rent. The cheapest Blu-Ray disks are about $9.99 on the shelf at Frys. These are Universal/NBC/SciFi channel made for Cable TV movies. That is, this is not sort of material videophiles desire in the first place. The more normative price, even when sharply discounted, is around $25. With tax or shipping (hopefully not both) it's $27.

In sharp contrast, the full spectrum of HD-DVDs {which is a very short spotty list indeed} can be had for less than $10. Most can be had for $7.99. This includes some damn good stuff. The whole first season of Battlestar Galactica can be had for $10.00. I can get The Sting for $7.99. I can have the Bourne movies for the same price.

There is a serious lesson here for Hollywood. Drop your prices and they will buy it. For some unseemly reason, Hollywood seems hopelessly fixated on the $30 price point. I understand their logic and it is utterly defeated by the realities of the market. Studios believe you should be willing to pay $30 per Blu-Ray. More than 3 people will watch it, in all likelihood. You can see it as often as you like. It kills both DVD and the theater experience. Since tickets cost about $10 per seat, why wouldn't you buy the movie at $30?
  1. Perhaps we are not willing to buy until we know we like the film
  2. That means we saw it at the theater at a high cost.
  3. Maybe we make far less money than Hollywood thinks.
  4. Maybe Hollywood produces cash at such a vastly different level of scale that they have lost all touch with typical Midwestern average people.
In any case, accept what the market is telling you, oh Hollywood studios. Make $11.99 the top price for any Blu-Ray. Sell many more at $8.99. Watch the system take off and fly.

One thing I want to insist on: If you can't tell the difference between a Blu-Ray and a DVD, you are vision impaired. Seek Lasik vision correction now. You have some real problems. If you say there isn't much quality difference between a DVD and Blu-Ray, you are just plain damn wrong. You can be mathematically discredited very quickly. Further, I can run a controlled experiment that will embarrass you. Of course, we know these kinds of statements, challanging Blu-Ray's undisputable quality, amount to thinly veiled sour grapes.

Of course there is the possibility that you connected a PS3 to a plain old fashioned NTSC CRT. If you did this, you are just a plain old flaming fucktard, and there is nothing I can do to help you.

Monday, June 22, 2009

So my Rams are about to retire David Deacon Jones' #75


I tell you, it is nothing but dirty politics that has kept the team from retiring his number before this moment in time. More than 15 months ago, when we drafted Chris Long, the organization rolled out #75 for Chris. I saw it on HD video on the NFL network. The Rams did so for two reasons. The wanted to express their hopes that he would be the new Deacon Jones, and they wanted to express their hopes that he would live up his father's great standards. Of course, Howie wore #75. Some say he chose that number because of Deacon Jones.

Evidently, Chris turned them down. He didn't feel he should wear Deacon's number. He knew it was a number that should have been retired long ago. Instead, Chris chose #72 which has become very fashionable since Osi Umenyiora. {Incidentally, Osi is not listed on the Giants' depth chart. What the fucks up with that?}

Of course, when Chris showed up for work wearing #72, I thought about Kent Hill, and then I wondered why the hell we haven't retired Deacons number. Certainly, he is among our finest men, and probably the best of them all. He was just voted the most feared pass rusher of all time. Nobody disputed it either. He is the John Constantine Unitas of Defensive Ends. He is one of the Holy fathers of defense--like Dick Butkus--whom you just can't dispute.

Of course, I know the story of why we haven't retired his number until now. It has everything to do with Georgia. Deacon was the first of us to hate her guts. He hated the fact that she fired Steve Rosenbloom {we all did}, he hated the fact that she moved the team to Anaheim {I wasn't so much against that} he got louder than hell when she started talking about moving the team to St. Louis. She hated the fact that one of the greatest Rams of all time was one of her most outspoken critics. Deacon carries a lot of weight too. When Deacon speaks, we all listen.

Some will tell you that the popularity of Georgia's administration was doomed the second Deacon turned against her. She sure seemed to respond as if this were the case. Just like every QB in the league, Georgia hated getting hit by Deacon. According to rumor she flew to pieces every time he drooped a negative quote. In Georgia's book this all added up to one thing: We aren't going to retire your number, David. Take that!

Two good Rams wore that number after Deacon. Irv Panky was the next guy to wear Deacon's number. He was our Left tackle through the 1980s. He was a pretty good run blocker, but not such a good blind side protector. Jim Everett could be seen screaming at Panky in the huddle. Eric Dickerson though he was one hell of a guy.

DeMarco Farr wore #75 also. As you know, he was our runt tackle during the glory year of 1999, and he was one hell of a pass rusher. I want him to come back as our defensive line coach and pass on some of that martial arts knowledge he cultivated. Right now, he is the color commentator for preason Ram games on the Radio & Television, and he is the regular season color commentator on the radio. Evidentally, putting him on the radio team was not a popular move. I personally haven't heard him work since the "West Coast Bias" radio show. He seemed fine to me. I think it is unfortunate that they are giving him such a hard time right now.

DeMarco should be covering the event when the Rams retire Deacon's number (and his number). It will be interesting to hear DeMarco's commentary as he sees his old Jersey hoisted to the rafters. They should invite Irv Panky also. I understand Panky is a professor and assistant coach at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia California. That is approximately 40 to 50 miles due South of my home town. I would like to go by and visit with him some time.

In other news

It appears that we have a new field turf at the Edward Jones dome, which is good. Also we have new AstroTurf at our practice facility, which I consider a little strange.

Fred Smith of FedEx is going to try to bid on the Rams. The big problem is that he is a poor boy compared to Kroenke. Kroenke is 350% richer than Smith. Kroenke also has money on his wife's side of the family. Although Smith is a much more likely contender than Rush Limbaugh or Checkett, I still consider him a dark horse. Look for Kroenke vs. DeBartolo in the final. They may even decide to partner together.

Far more important than Fred Smith or the FieldTurf is the fact that La'Roi Glover decided to retire today. He is a 13 year vet turning 35. That is a bit old for a DT, but not unheard of. I respect his decision. There is no guarantee he would have made the team this year, but his absence leaves us with a hole to fill, IMHO. Our D-Line just got thinner. I don't like that. We better hope that this kid Orien Harris from the Bengals can play immediately. He's been around the league quite a bit since leaving U.Miami.

So when can we expect Ocho Cinco and Solomon Wilcots to bust each other up?

So, one of the best features of the off season this year has been watching Chad Johnson doing a little boxing training here in Los Angeles. As always, he is more fun than a barrel full of monkeys. By far, the most entertaining element within this entertaining saga has been Chad's warnings to Solomon Wilcots that he would like nothing better than to strap on the boxing gloves and show Solomon a thing or two. Solomon says he's going to take the little shaver down to the woodshed and sharpen him up with a leather strap.

I love it. Stop talking shit, both of you. I want a solid date, time and location so I can sell tickets to the event. I want to see to some real fighting also! No bullshitting, damn you! As Matt Millen says, always remember Raider rule #1, cheating is encouraged. As the late Gene Upshaw said, if you're not cheating, you're not trying. Despite the gloves, I want to see a Nightrain Closeline and at least 3 body slams.

All of this reminds me of my days at Edison High School in Fresno California. Icky (shuffle) Woods would play that game with Darnell Tatum. We used to joke that Darnell Tatum was the bastard son of Jack Tatum. (Oakland was only 168 miles away, but the time frame would not have worked out.) Darnell played Middle Linebacker. He played a lot like Jack Tatum. Of course, Icky was our fullback.

These two were always good for a practice fight. Icky wanted to run Darnell over. Darnell did everything necessary to ensure this wouldn't happen. Icky knew he would be an NFL superstar someday. He told us this many times. He didn't think any paltry High School Linebacker (Darnell) should even be able to smell his farts as he blew into the secondary. Of course, Darnell bitterly resented being taken so lightly. He planned to be an NFL superstar also.

Icky and Darnell would challenge each other to 101 fights per week. They would talk endless amounts of shit. The only problem was that the fight was all talk and no shock. They rarely swung a fist in anger. Truth be told, I never actually saw any fists flying in a public or private setting.

Somewhere around the end of our sophomore seasons, I think we all figured out that these two really had no intention of ever slugging it out. The both profited greatly from the illusion of a rivalry. Everybody in the school thought they were big tough nasty guys. Not the sort of fellows you would want to mess with. They gained a lot of prestige from this shit talk.

It was like pro wrestling, but without the wrestling. I have a suspicion that this is what Ocho Cinco and Solomon Wilcots are up to right now. This is good press for both of them. They both could use the notoriety.

Anyhow, I want to go on the record here and now: You can have all the notoriety you want out this deal, but you can't cheat us out of the fight. If you think you can talk shit and not settle it, you got another thing coming! We want to see you two bastards slug it out in a fight to the finish. Texas Death Match in the Steel Cage. One man lives. One man dies. Or maybe both die... That can happen.

Visual Basic is destined to die

Visual Basic is going to die because there are five specific things that kill parallelism:

1. Shared, global, mutable state.
2. Side-effects all over the place
3. Mutable data in just about any scope.
4. Synchronous communication between threads
5. A highly imperative approach to coding.

All of these things are the bread and butter, the day and night, the warp and woof of life for a Visual Basic programmer. I challenge you to show me any sizable Visual Basic App currently in use in any department in any corporation that does not manifest all five of these elements. Element 4 is the only one that might possibly be missing. If so, it is only because the application is absolutely single threaded, with no split between interface and worker threads at all.

For these reasons, I think Visual Basic is going go the way of dBase and FoxPro. I am not alone. There are many within Microsoft who do not believe that Visual Basic can be saved. Better minds, and less biased minds, know the culture of Visual Basic will have to be violently altered to permit a wide deployment of parallel processing through this language community.

Bill himself, does not like notion dead VB in the EOL category. Bill may personally see to it that the system lives a little longer than it should.

How would Bill save Basic and do a really good job of it at the same time? The only way to achieve this is for Microsoft to (once again) make violent changes to the language and overall software pattern of the Basic language. This happened once before. When VB.Net hit the market, VB programmers almost became violent over the loss of COM objects (such as DAO and ADO) and the kind of performance degradation their favorite sloppy language constructs produced. They screamed their lungs out.

So Bill could order the construction of PB--Parallel Basic--that would not allow Global.bas files, enforce class encapsulation, push immutable data, and statelessness, but... Can you imagine how much more upset VB programmers will be if and when they were to discover than Microsoft had removed the Module, the Global.BAS, and the ability to float global variables, the ability to do functions without classes in PB? Can you image what would occur if every DIM statement produced a value identifier that immutable by default?

I believe the typical VB programmer would be livid to the point of heart-attack and stroke.

It might just be easier for Microsoft to place Visual Basic in the EOL category, and offer no further upgrades to this language. EOL means End of Life. They did it to FoxPro. They did it with their Fortran product (which was excellent). They did it to VBScript & ASP.

This brings us to the subject of Oslo and M. Already there is a theory that Oslo, also known as the M language, is being groomed by Microsoft as the declarative and thread-safe replacement for Visual Basic. According to the poop sheet, M is going to be an extremely parallel language system. Lots and lots of parallelism is going to happen under the hood whether you know it or not (as is the case in SQL). More will be availible if you simply learn & implement a few elementary patterns of development. It has to be seen whether a recalcitrant and stubbornly lazy VB community will even be willing to learn this new programming system.

At this point the Visual Basic programmer is probably screaming his head off "AS IF ANY OF THIS IS REALLY NECESSARY?? WHAT THE FUCK IS THE BIG DEAL ABOUT THREADING?" I have stood nose to nose with 54 year old VB programmers paid $95K+ as they insisted that that sort of programming is categorically unnecessary in an LOB departmental programmer's tool kit. "Yeah, but we'll never have to do that kind of thing around here! Why would it ever be necessary? That just isn't necessary."

Make no mistake about it: we are all going to have to program in parallel. We are going to have to use threads and PLinq and everything else that PCP throws at us. This is the only way our apps will be able to handle the terabytes of data we will be required to process in the next decade. The world changed in June of 2005, and most programmers have still not accepted this fact. Processors are not going to be getting that much faster in single-thread execution mode. Processors are going to become massively more parallel. We are only going to get faster by exploiting multiple cores at a time. We can only process increasing volumes of data by abandoning the single threaded and dual threaded application architecture. This means you will not be able to continue making a living programming in single threaded or dual threaded mode. Parallelism is the new God and maximum imperative of programming.

I find that most programmers in most languages are in a vehement state of denial about the gravity of our current CPU architecture. No where is it more stridently expressed than in the VB world. VB programmers are strident because they have great reason to fear. Many of the better VB programmers have tried their hand at threading. Most of them discovered threading caused all manner of problems in their applications. Basically, threading broke their existing application architectures. This is because of shared, global, mutable state, uncontrolled side-effects all over the place, synchronous communication between threads, and a highly imperative approach to coding?

So what about C# and Java? Java and C# programmers have a tendency to thread more in their apps, but these languages may not survive either. C# is a bit better off than Java. C# has absorbed many features of functional programming, although it is much more difficult than it should be to do immutable data. Also, F# is not a very good challenger for C# on the .NET side. Many question whether it was ever indented to be. Java, on the other hand, has not really absorbed anything of the gospel of functional programming. Java still preaches the old-style of lock-based, synchronous communications thread model. Java is also faced with a serious threat of replacement by Scala, which is surging in popularity all over the world. There is no real doubt that Martin Odersky intends Scala to be the general-purpose replacement for Java on the JEE platform. He has explicitly testified to this in interviews.

Neither Java nor C# is guaranteed survival in the coming marketplace, but I firmly believe Visual Basic is dead.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The 2009 Vikings are the 2008 Browns

Last year the big buzz was about the Cleveland Browns. The Browns were the high fashion pick to win the AFC, if not the Super Bowl. They did not make it to the playoffs. They did not challenge the Steelers. The Steelers won the Super Bowl. Romeo Crenell got fired.

The Cowboys & Patriots were the favorites to meet in the Super Bowl according to most. Nope, neither one of them made it into the playoffs. Nobody favored the Steelers and Cardinals. If you had picked the Cardinals... I shutter to think of the consiquences of picking the Cardinals in the pre season of 2008. It would have been ugly.

The Colts and the Chargers were all supposed to be favorites as well. The Chargers had the worst record of any team to win its division. They upset the Colts who went 12-4, but were forced to take the wildcard route through the playoffs.

There is a lesson here: All forms of predictability have broken down. You cannot predict next years results based on last year. The continuity and consistency of teams has been irreparably compromised and destroyed by free agency. Whereas you could count on 6 to 10 years from a good unit in the years of indentured servitude. You can't count on anything now.

Now in 2009 everybody is buzzing about the Vikings. Mike Mayock, my most trusted advisor on the subject of talent, and normally the most reliable guy in the world, is also swept up in this mania. To be perfectly frank, he may even be the primary party responsible for it.

Well, I just want to go on the record here and say I don't believe it. Those who say that the team is loaded have a lot of explaining to do. The way I see it, the Vikings are team with only one legit superstar player. We all know that is Adrian Peterson. They have a modestly talented defense that does a hell of a lot with scheme and discipline. This is good, but remember: they are only modestly talented on defense. Jarred Allen may be the most modestly talented guy on this modestly talented defense, but he is no hall of famer. I do not believe they are a quarterback away from the Super Bowl. I do not believe Brett Farve is the last piece in the puzzle. I believe Brett Farve is beat to hell and utterly exhausted. I believe they have a better chance with the two QBs they have. To be frank, I suspect the Packers will be the team to beat in the NFC North.

Other teams I don't believe in


You know, once upon a time in the year 1980, I watched the two time defending Super Bowl champs, The Steelers, lose two tough games on Monday Night Football. They lost a big one to the next champs, the Raiders. They lost another big one to the San Diego Super Chargers. They finished 10-6. The Oilers 11-5, and the Browns 12-4 went to the playoffs. The Steelers stayed home for Christmas. I knew that was the end of the line for the Steelers. I was never concerned about them for the rest of 1980s. I just knew that was the end. I was right too. It was all down hill from there. I was very confident that that was the end of the dynasty. Many of the Steeler hall-of-famers continued to play for years after that. Still, they never did well after 1980. Chuck Knoll coached for 10 more years.

When the Pats lost Super Bowl 42, I knew that was the end of the dynasty. People have been talking shit about them going undefeated and winning the Super Bowl since the moment the Commish handed the Lombardi Trophy to the New York Giants. Do you realize how stupid you sound? I want to go on the record and say that I don't believe it. Especially now that Brady has had reconstructive knee surgery. A couple guys named Elway and Marino had this surgery. It took them two seasons to get back to something like their normal form. Neither were quite the same. I know the Patroit Dynasty ended two Super Bowls ago. That was the end of the line. Stop talking empty vanities and bullshit. It's over.

The Eagles

Please, bitch! The strength of that team was the defense; the Johnson & Dawkins defense. Both are now gone. The Eagles have done nothing to repair the breach. I am expecting a pretty sizable defensive breakdown from the Eagles in 2009. This Eagle defense will finish no higher than 15th in the NFL, dropping at least 12 slots from 2008. It could be worse than that.

"Oh, but the offense is greatly upgraded!" Let's wait and see how Michael Westbrook's surgically repaired ankle is. He is the West Coast back in the West Coast offense. He is the balls of the offense. They are not the same without him, and he has often been injured. I heard somewhere that he has never turned in a full 16 game season. If Westbrook is healthy and turns in 16 games the offense will be substantially upgraded. If he is not, forget it. All they did was tread water. Even in the best case scenario, offense wins games and defense wins championships. Forget the Lombardi Trophy. The Giants are way ahead of the Eagles.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Hangover

It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't terribly funny either.

The Hangover is essentially the latest stoner comedy about a very lost weekend in Las Vegas. An odd group of buddies (and the future brother-in-law) accompany the groom to be on his bachelor party trip to Las Vegas. The last stop before death... errr... marriage.

It turns out that the future brother in law wanted everybody to have a good time, so he went out purchased a bunch of MDNA, otherwise known as XTacy. He spiked everybody's drink with the stuff. The problem was he bough the shit from a dumb ass drug dealer who didn't know the difference between MDNA and Rohypnol. Rohypnol, also known as Ruffies, is commonly called the date rape drug.

After a large Rohypnol toast on the roof of their Hotel in Vegas, the screen goes black. When the camera focuses again, it is now the morning after. The hotel room is destroyed. The couch has been set on fire and is still smouldering, there is a tiger in the bathroom. Their are hookers walking out of the hotel room. There is a baby in the closet. Dough, the Groom, is now missing and cannot be found. The boys have a LVPD car in their parking place at the hotel, and the valet brings them the keys.

Nobody knows what the hell happened. The Ruffies have destroyed any memory of the night before. The rest of the movie is a quest to find the missing Groom. It is a detective comedy. They have to find out what the hell happened to them so they can figure out what happened to Dough.

As Mike Tyson says "We all do stupid shit when we get fucked up."

So how funny is it? It is not all that funny. There are a few good belly laughs. Surely this is much better stuff than Will Ferrell's work. However, that is damning with very faint praise. There are some things that just ain't funny at all. The Gay Asian dude is almost as funny as a children starving in Africa. That is, not funny at all. Don't get me wrong, I care not for a Lefty critique of the character or script construction. Rather, the actor playing the roll sucks. He just isn't funny at all.

Shockingly enough, Mike Tyson is the funniest guy in the movie. Shockingly enough, he is the source of the biggest belly laughs. No bullshit. If I was in Hollywood, I would situp and take notice of this. If I were a comedy writer, I would try to find ways to work Mike Tyson in to my stuff. He can contribute.

In the interests of full disclosure, I want everybody to know I was never in Mike's corner. I was always for Holyfield. Still, Iron Mike has a promising second act on tap, if he can keep his act together.

Other than Tyson, the only funny moments are the occasional flashbacks, bits of video tape and digital pictures of what the guys did when they were flying on Ruffies. There is a rather shocking photo shown at the end of the movie, during the credits. Stay and be shocked. Be warned, this is not for kids.

So just one last word about interpretation. I had read that The Hangover is ultimately palatable to everyone because it is a morality play and a precautionary tale. It warns us not to get fucked up in Vegas, otherwise all manner of living Hell on Earth will break loose. My dad rejected this interpretation and declared that this is an adventure movie. It is a movie where four guys have an adventure together, then end. It cannot be considered a precautionary tale because one guy gets very positive results out of the journey.

Well, after hearing both opinions--and seeing the movie--I must come down on the side of the Pros. They were right. My Dad got it wrong. Although the movie tries to be amiable about it, these guys took one hell of beating in Vegas. They lost a lot of money. They went to jail. They got taszered. They lost teeth. They got tiger stripes on their backs (from tiger claws). They got sun burnt beyond recognition. They got belted by the champ. They got beat up by little gay naked Asian dudes. They took a pounding. The dude who purportedly got good results got very questionable results at best. You can call it addition by subtraction. I am not sure what the future holds for him.

Ultimately, I did find this stoner movie palatable because it is a moral precautionary tale that warns us not to get fucked up in Vegas. As Mike Tyson says "We all do stupid shit when we get fucked up."

Incidentally, the Bride to be (Sasha Barrese) is absolutely stunning! What a gorgeous woman. I can't wait to see more of this woman. She is evidently of Russian extraction, and lived in Paris for a time. This is a devastating beautiful 28 year old woman here.

One word about Heather Graham: I am shocked by what a tiny part they gave her in this movie. She plays a nice character, but frankly, she was not given nearly enough work to do. At 38 Heather remains one of the most beautiful women on Earth. You & Mittens are always welcome at my place. You can come over and tell all the dirty jokes all you want. I'll even put on a Green Bay Packers game for you.

Hollywood aught to be ashamed that they don't use Heather more. She needs to accept the fact that you can't choose your fans. She always wanted to be popular with the girls, and be a girl-power heroine. Heather, you must accept the fact that your demographic is geeky guys who are into science fiction, comic books and video games. We need to see you in some scifi movies, preferably playing a deliciously clad super-heroine. You will be extremely popular again if you do this. Get together with Josh Wheddon about doing a project. He's the man. You would have been perfect on Serenity.