Monday, March 31, 2008

Album of the Year

Panic at the Disco - Pretty. Odd.

If you go on Amazon you can read reviews of all these people that are disappointed that this doesn't sound like their breakthrough first album. These people are entitled to their opinions, even though they're wrong. Bands often "mature"--but this isn't that simple. It's a breakthrough in it's own right. If you want to listen to their first album, go ahead. But you'll be missing out.

Update: I'm posting an image of an Amazon review that just kills me. The fact that someone thinks they can adequately judge an album on one listen, just slays me. Tracks 7 and 8 are utterly beautiful and he passes them off as being too slow... I suppose Shawshank Redemption was too long and slow as well. He'd much rather watch a Vin Diesel movie or something. Ugh...this guy.

Cheers and Jeers: Final Four Edition

Cheers to the Big Ten for bowing out gracefully in the Sweet 16, allowing underdog conferences like Southern and C-USA a shot at the Final Four.

Jeers to the racist basketball analysts who keep insisting that Tyler Hansbrough is the best player in the country. Anyone with half a brain can see that it's Kevin Love.

Cheers to Stephen Curry for making the tourney exciting.

Jeers to Curry for not taking the last shot. If you're going to take down my Georgetown pick you had better take down Kansas too, asshole.

Jeers to the Basketball Gods for allowing Kansas and Bill Self to make it to the Final Four by beating a 16, a 8, a 12, and a 10.

Cheers for setting them up to fail so mightily against UNC, proving to their fans that they were better off with Roy Williams, only he didn't want to stay there.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

my wife can rock your face off

she got a streak of 359 on "my name is jonas" - guitar hero 3 for ps2. for a total of 452 notes out of 455.

Update: she got the first 436 before missing one. i think she'll get it perfect later this week.

mon bracket update

savan is out.

If KU beats UNC, Niraj wins the bracket.

If UNC beats KU, it's down to Mark/Dave. In that scenario:

UNC beats Memphis = Mark
UNC beats UCLA = Mark
Memphis beats UCLA = Mark
UCLA beats UNC = Dave

It looks like UCLA/Memphis will be the first game, 5pm CST. I hope it comes down to UNC-UCLA, so that the bracket will come down to the title game on Monday--Mark vs Dave, as it should be.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

sat bracket update

For Savan to Win: He needs Memphis in the Final Four, and he needs at least one of UNC/KU to not make it to the Final Four. He also can't have either of them in the Championship game.

For Dave to Win: I need UNC to get to the championship game and then lose. Addittionally, if Memphis advances to the Final Four, I need UCLA to win it all.

For Mark to Win: UNC takes home the title.

Anything else, and it looks like it's Burnsy's title.

Tonight the game I most need is UNC winning. Strangely enough, if UCLA loses, I can still win--I would just need Memphis to lose tomorrow. But I'm still rooting for UNC and UCLA.

Mark is rooting for UNC & Xavier.

Savan is rooting for Louisville and UCLA.

Niraj is rooting for UCLA, but is a mixed bag on the UNC/Louisville game. He gets 80 points that Savan doesn't for UNC, but he's probably better off rooting against them, since Mark and I have them going farther. So he should be rooting for Louisville and UCLA, but can still smile if UNC wins.

- - -

If I was playing Oddsmakers, I would project UNC winning at 75%, KU winning at 70%, Memphis at 60% and UCLA at 55%. But I also know that all 4 1-seeds have never advanced. And when you look at that way, every opponent seems capable. Louisville with Pitino, Davidson with Curry, Texas the way they beat up Stanford, and Xavier because they're a complete team and Wilbon likes them. Shit, UCLA might be the one to lose--perhaps not the only one.

Friday, March 28, 2008

friday bracket update

All 4 games came up Fymbo last night, even the one that I lost points on, because it hurt Savan more than me.

But now tonight my luck will be pressed. Burnsy can win all 4 games tonight, I can only get points for KU and Texas. Further complicating the matter, is that Burnsy has KU and Texas in the Final Four.

So tonight I'm rooting:

100% for Davidson. Burnsy gets 40 points for Wisconsin.

100% for Michigan State. I don't have Memphis advancing any more--Burnsy has them winning this one, Savan and Mark have them in the Final Four.

80% for Villanova. Burnsy has KU in the title game, so I need them to lose, but it doesn't hurt me if KU wins tonight. But it really hurts if KU gets to the Final Four.

80% for Stanford. Same story. I have Texas winning this game, but not getting to the Final Four.

Regardless it looks like the only way for me to win the bracket is to have UCLA beat UNC. It could happen, but I need it to fall exactly.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

finding new music

So I don't listen to the radio or watch music channels on tv, and it's not that I'm not discovering enough new bands, the problem is being notified that bands that I like are making new cds.

Can't there be a notification system that I put in my artists I like, and it emails me when Jack Johnson has a new cd? Is that too hard?

Sweet 16 by Conference

Pac-10: 3 teams still alive/6 teams originally in tournament
Big East: 3/8
Big 10: 2/4
Big 12: 2/6
Southern: 1/1
C-USA: 1/1
Sun Belt: 1/2
A-10: 1/3
ACC: 1/4
SEC: 1/6

Lunardi's Crystal Ball

So I incredulously posted a year ago, April 10 2007 to be exact, that Lunardi already had his 08 Bracket filled out. Let's see how he did:

1 seeds: He nailed 3 out of the 4. The one he missed was UCLA, which he had as a 2 in the same regional. And he had Louisville which turned out to be a 3, so that wasn't too far off.

2 seeds: 0 right. He had high hopes for NC State and Georgia Tech, who didn't even make the tourney.

Other hits: He had Wash St as a 4, Gonzaga as a 7, Arizona and Davidson as 10 seeds. That's it.

7 out of 64 seeds, a year in advance.

He had plenty that were close, but plenty that were also way off.

But here's the big question? How many tourney teams did he have right?

8 in the East, 10 in the Midwest, 11 in the South, 9 in the West, by my count.

38 out of 64. I'm not that impressed.

Hmm, let's take one last look at the Big Ten.

Projected Seeds:
2 Michigan State
3 Indiana
4 Ohio State
5 Illinois
9 Wisconsin
10 Purdue

Actual Seeds:
5 Michigan State
8 Indiana
na Ohio State
na Illinois
3 Wisconsin
6 Purdue

Far be it for me to say that he really doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about. I'll just stand by my original opinion that it's pointless to start Bracketology until after New Year's.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


After really starting on about Jan 25th, I'm 30% of the way through my first draft of my novel. Although a fair chunk of that was using passages and ideas that I had written before Jan 25th, so I'm not sure that I can claim a rate of 15% every month. Although, the last three weeks, I really didn't get much done, because I was preparing for London.

It's frustrating because I have the outline, and I'd love to wrap this thing up by June or so, but it just takes a long time.

Bracket Analysis

If UCLA wins it all:
Niraj is in the Driver's Seat. He's looking for Texas and UNC to get the Final Four, and he really needs Kansas to get to the title game.

Savan needs Tennessee to get to the Final Four and possibly the Championship, and Memphis to the Final Four.

Dave needs a lot of things to happen. It starts with Xavier winning on Thursday, Texas and Kansas not making the Final Four, and UNC making it to the Championship.

If UNC wins it all:
Mark should be the winner.

If Wisconsin wins it all:
Sakina should be the winner.

If neither of those 3 teams win it all:
too early to tell.

For the record, I. Gasparotto, is a friend named Ivo at work. He's an NBA fan who I convinced to fill out a bracket to get into March Madness for the first time. It's a shame that he picked Kent State to go to the Final Four.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Living on the Tube

The Tube is the way to get around London. In fact, in five days we rode the Tube 21 times, plus once more on Saturday leaving London. The colored lines are places that we've traveled.

*the colors have been preserved, except for the Jubilee line which is gray, and wouldn't have shown up on the map.


22 trips
7 of those 22 included a transfer, for a total of 29 lines

By Line
Piccadilly Line: 16
Central: 4
Jubilee: 4
Circle: 3
Victoria: 1
Metropolitan: 1

Our hotel and Heathrow was on the Piccadilly line so it got us around the most. Abbey Road required a round trip on the Jubilee Line. We ended up using 6 out of the 12 lines in less than a week.

Hot Links

Click here for some hot pictures from across the pond!

How Expensive is London?

I'd heard it's the most expensive city in the world. But what if you weren't going to go to fancy restaurants or luxury hotels--is it possible to do London on the cheap?

Well, with the British Pound worth more than two dollars...

Gourmet Burger
Chicago: $10
London: 10 pounds ($20)

Convenience store pint of Ice Cream
Chicago: $4.50
London: 5 ($10)

Starbucks coffee drink
Chicago: $3
London: 3 pounds ($6)

Semi-casual, nice Italian Restaurant Lunch for two: a personal pizza, pasta, soup, and a soda
Chicago: $35
London 40 pounds ($80)

Navy Pier Ferris Wheel - 150 feet, 7 minutes: ($6)
London Eye - 443 feet, 30 minutes: 15 pounds ($30)

Grocery Store Bottled Water
Chicago: $1
London: 50 pence (1$)

Grocery Store Box of Crackers
Chicago: $3
London: 1.50 pounds ($3)

Indeed, everywhere except the grocery store, the prices were twice as high. (Which, by the way, gives Londoners even more incentive to eat in.) So if you really want to do London on the cheap, go to the free musuems and art galleries and get your food from the grocery store.

But seriously, London is worth doing right. So just save up a little and spend those pounds like they're dollars.

Oh, and the price of a pint of Samuel Smith's Old Brewery Bitter at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub is 1.86 pounds, or a reasonable $3.75. And it's pretty funny when the Brewery that was founded in 1758 is actually not as old as the pub--founded in 1538, rebuilt as is in 1667, after the Great Fire.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

What a two days of basketball?

Boy, was that exciting? Was it? I'm really asking. Here's hoping it was.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Last day in London

I'm flying back tomorrow. Of course, I'm writing this the day before I fly forward. Weird.

Since I don't have much to add, here's a map of where Ludacris has hoes.

a live post from londontown

This is coming to you live at 11:56 am London time. Of course, I've been avoiding bracket spoilers so I can watch on Tivo tomorrow. But I can prove that it's midday Friday. Man U beat Bolton 2-nil yesterday and Chelsea played the Spurs to a 4-4 draw when Tottenham got the equaliser with two minutes til time.

Anyways, have to say this is probably our best vacation ever. In addition to all the sights that need supporting pictures, I've already had fish n' chips, bangers and mash, country style Indian cuisune, Italian style pizza, Italian style pasta, and a takeaway sandwich or two. We're also enjoying the theater.

Anyways, since I had the time, I'd figured I'd just give a short update. Back tomorrow.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bloody Wankers

Guvnah, I'm a wee bit peevish right now. Bollocks, I got bloody pissed on the cheap. I met a fadge with a face like a bag of spanners. And then a Taffy showed me his bloody tadger and well now I'm ready to technicolour yawn.

I had to throw a benny to get the Internet to work, but I managed to make 18 bloody brackets. Brill.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The DaColbert Code: Part Two

Okay, let start with the West Regional...

the West is in Phoenix...

Phoenix Suns...

land of the rising sun...


raw fish...

raw deal...

Deal or No Deal...

Howie Mandel...

Howie Long...

long dong...

Ching Chong Ding Dong...


pizza's here...

California Pizza Kitchen...


Okay, and now for the last Final Four team...

Coming from the South Regional.

Deep South...

Deep Impact...

starring Morgan Freeman...

who was in Shawshank Redemption...

with Tim Robbins...

who's a fan of the New York Rangers...

New York Knicks...

Isiah Thomas...

Dale and Thomas Popcorn...

buttery popcorn...

smooth as butter...

smooth hands...

Deron Williams

Utah Jazz...

Mehmet Okur...

Mem something...

Mem blank blank...

Mem Mem Mem...

Let's just say Pittsburgh Panthers!

So your final four teams are UNC, Wisconsin, UCLA, and Pitt! We can't let this code fall into the wrong hands.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Using the DaColbert Code to predict the Final Four!

In case you're not familiar...

Okay, let's start in the East Regional.

East meets West...

Wild, Wild West...

starring Will Smith...

who was in Enemy of the State...

Secretary of State...

Secretary of Defense...

tenacious defense...

Tenacious D...

Jack Black...

tar is black...

North Carolina Tarheels!

Okay, now let's figure out the Midwest Regional.

The Midwest grows corn...

corn grows on cobs....

Adam Cobb...

Adam and Eve...

Matt and Eve...



which was the city on Ed...

featuring Justin Long...

who was in Dodgeball....

with a cameo by Lance Armstrong...

who dated Sheryl Crow...

the first cut is the deepest...

cut the cheese...

cheddar cheese...

Wisconsin Badgers!

Check back tomorrow for the South and West regionals!

Monday, March 17, 2008

OMG! You call that Selection Sunday?

I'm going all in on Baylor! They made it in, right? Good.

You know what my big sleeper is? Good ol' #13 from the Houston Regional! I'd put all my money on them.

And watch out for #5 from Phoenix. They've got Final Four written all over them.

Back tomorrow with more insight!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

BREAKING: Illinois Got Snubbed

How could they overlook Illinois' super duper win over Penn State in the Big Ten quarterfinals? Didn't they see that the Illini went on a 2-0 run over the last 7 seconds?

This is just another blanket case of East and West coast bias. Look at the Pac-10 and Big East. How many teams did they get in? Like 8 or 9 or something. I can't even count them all I'm so mad.

It's clear what Illinois needs to do to win it all: bring back the Chief!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Illini do something that's never been done before -- in a good way

How do you overcome 24 turnovers?

How do you overcome shooting 8 of 20 from the line?

Well it helps when McCamey goes 6 of 6 from beyond the arc. Illinois shot 30-49 (61.2%) while Purdon't shot 22-56 (39.3%). Not to mention that Michael Jordan's son made every shot he took (2-2, 4 pts).

So Illinois advances to the Big Ten semifinals, just two wins away from the Big Dance. Something that's never been done in the 11-year history of the Tourney, advancing to the semifinals as a #10 seed.

"Maybe we're a team of destiny." - Bruce Weber after the game

Off to London

This is the part where you might expect me to say that there won't be any posts for a week. But aha, next week might be one of the better HC weeks in recent memory. I've got a post queued up everyday from Sunday to Saturday including some prescient bracket foresight. Keep the comments up, I'll see them eventually.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Observing London Time in Chicago

I've tried to fix American time zones before, but even as President, I'd have a hard time fixing time zones around the world. Currently, because American conveniently started DST before Europe, London is 5 hours ahead of Chicago.

Is there a way to reduce jet lag, by preparing in advance to observe the new destination time?

For example, let's say while in London, I'd like to sleep from Midnight to 9 am. That would be 7pm to 4am CST. Incidentally, our flight is overnight departing 8pm Chicago time (1am London), and arriving at 9 am London time.

Today is Wednesday and I got up at 8am, per normal. Perhaps Thursday I should get up at 7am, Friday, 6am, and Saturday 5am. My plane leaves Saturday night, which means that Sunday morning, I will need to be alart at 4am CST, because I'll be departing the plane then, at 9am London time.

Not only should this work, but if I were to actually wake up at 5am on Saturday, by the time I'm boarding the flight at 8pm, I should be ready to sleep all the way through.

So this is great in theory, but will I actually do this? Hmmm...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Chicago Transit Authority, please tell me more about the Information Super Highway

No wonder the trains don't run on time. These are screenshots from March 2008 from here.

Monday, March 10, 2008

10 in a row

The only thing standing between Illinois and a basketball national championship is winning 10* games in a row.

If they win the 4 games in the Big Ten Tournament they will become one of those annoying tournament champions that steal bids from bubble teams that are more deserving. They have to go through Penn State, then Purdue, then presumably Indiana, and then the winner from the top half of the bracket. It's just that easy to get to the big dance.

And from there, it's just winning 6 more in a row to take home the hardware.

*Unless they put Illinois in the play-in game; then it's 11.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


So not only is there nothing in the world of sports worth talking about, but I've sort of put HC on the back burner to focus on my novel. And actually this week, I've put the novel on the back burner to focus on London research. So that's why it's kind of slim pickens around here.

I'm convinced that Obama will be the Dem. nominee and I'm reasonably sure that he will win the election as well. But I'm still nervous about that one.

Luther Head and Deron Williams are both doing well still, so that's nice to see.

The Chiefs aren't making any moves, so there's nothing to get worked up about there.

I'm a little bummed that I have to fill my bracket out from London, but that's the way it is.

I don't mind the temp in the 30's--hopefully it won't go back down to the 20's or 10's this season.
Scotland Yard is a super compelling detective game and I want to play it again.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

saturday art project

blogger wouldn't let me post a picture wider than 1600 pixels without resizing it. bummer.

anyways, here it is.