Odds on the headline of the inevitable Sports Illustrated cover story about UH quarterback Case Keenum
Off the Board - On the Case: Houston's Quest for the Championship
3/1 - A Difficult Case: Keenum's Cougars Baffle the BCS
4/1 - Case File: Houston's Rise to the Top
8/1 - Cold Case: Houston's QB Is Cool Under Pressure
15/1 - Just in Case: Going Undefeated Isn't Enough for UH
50/1 - Case Study: How Keenum's Cougars Just Win
100/1 - Brief Case: Everything you need to know about the Cougars
130/1 - A Case for Perfection: Houston Might Go Undefeated
175/1 - Head Case: Keenum is just crazy enough to win
8 Million/1 - Paul's Case: Keenum Owes It All to Willa Cather
Odds on the headline of the inevitable Sports Illustrated cover story about UH quarterback Case Keenum
Zack Greinke Should Win Both Cy Young Awards
And maybe next year's, too. Now, lest you think this is just hyperbole, let's look at his numbers against the NL during interleague play:
Good but not so fantastic relative to the rest of his remarkable year, but let's look at the current NL Cy Young favorite, Adam Wainwright, and his performance against the AL:
Comparable, right? Ah, but one of those games was against the Royals and the Royals scored 5 runs off him in six innings. This despite the Royals being terrible at baseball. Naturally, the Royals still lost that game and Wainwright got the win, but the point is this: Zack Greinke would dominate the Royals.
So let's imagine what would happen if Greinke got to face his own Royals team. This will be like when two friends both pick the same team in a video game, same rosters, different uniforms, two virtual Mark Teahens winking at each other from across the field. My guess for a line is this:
(Naturally, since Zack would still have the Royals playing behind him, he'd lose the game after an Alberto Callaspo-A error extended an inning and Mike Jacobs-A went 0-4 with 3 Ks. Kyle Farnsworth-B would get the win then promptly start a fight with Kyle Farnsworth-A).
I guess my point is this: Zack Greinke should get all the Cy Youngs we've got. Until the NL can produce a candidate who didn't allow a HR to Jose Guillen and his .367 slugging percentage, I'm not changing my mind.
Postcard to Houston
My car broke down, but it was all okay. I met a nice man who tried to help me push it until I told him it was stuck in park. He said, that's okay and asked me for money. I said, I've only got a dollar. But really I had a twenty, too. I had 21 dollars. But that's too much, I thought. I was probably wrong. He was nice. Later, when he came back, I told him I was still waiting for a tow truck. He told me he was still homeless as a motherfuck.
People in Nebraska are taking that loss to Virginia Tech hard. Like forgetting how to do math hard:
Good lord, when I can spot the math error in the headline of the Journal Star's lead story, things must be bad. Not making a video with Hitler in it bad or dying during a biblical flood bad like here in Texas but still bad.
What? We made our own Hitler video? Oh, Christ. 7/8ths of me is upset and not just because that 50% of me is underwater.
Dave Madden needs to write a letter to the editor about one or both of these things. And I want a Sunday letter to the editor, Dave, not this Thursday crap you've been pulling lately.
SpringGun Press is a great new web journal coming out of Boulder that you should read. Here's how they describe themselves:
SpringGun is a not-for-profit web-based journal promoting all forms of previously unpublished quality contemporary writing and interdisciplinary digital art. We’re interested in the internet as a medium both for its networking potential and accessibility; we want to create a platform for newer art forms to emerge, and simultaneously pull new intelligent voices into the literary fold. We’re interested in writers who read vigorously and are invested in the continued advancement and development of poetry, fiction, video art, or screen literature. We’re looking for artists who believe that it’s important to interact with a community of ideas and artists, who believe no good art happens in isolation.Sounds good, no? Their first issue is right here. Lots of great stuff there, including Todd Seabrook's awesome multimedia exploration of the game Hangman.
It's really great. I laughed. Click on that picture to check it out.
Oh, and I have some things up from that Sire Lines of America project I mentioned a long time ago. If you're just dying to know what I wrote about Teddy Roosevelt, Germany, and Jesse Owens...
Things I Learned While Walking the Dog
1. There is apparently a high school right on my street and no more than 30 yards from my door. I guess it's a charter school of about 250 students and not the area's big public school (Reagan High). Note: Reagan High School is--shockingly--not named after Ronald Reagan. Cheers for Texas. Sadly, it's named after a prominent Confederate and was not desegregated until 1970. Double boo for Texas.
2. The park at the end of my street is called Love Park. I find this to be an admirably progressive name for a park. That said, most of the people at night seem to congregate in Flash Your Headlights Twice Park on the other end of the street. Note: Flash Your Headlights Twice Park is not named after a prominent Confederate. Cheers for Texas.
3. It is apparently illegal to build more than 24 consecutive feet of sidewalk on one side of the street. After one side's 24 feet are up, the other side of the street gets its turn. Boo for Texas.
4. Love Park is exempt from that law and, I'm guessing, most others. Wash for Texas.
5. Everything here needs to be smelled for 65 seconds to be fully appreciated. Cheers for Texas.
Um, hey, Texas, I think it's time we have a talk. I think you're great. Really. No complaints here. I can deal with the weather and the trucks and the talk of secession. Hell, I even enjoy those things more often than not. And I really like Lone Star Beer. But, um, I was just wondering if you could, you know, maybe explain why there's an inch-long translucent lizard on my wall.
I'm not messing with you.
I would never mess with you.
Stock Photography Review
Much thanks to Maggi for passing along this incredible piece of misguided stock photography. Honestly, I've been sitting on this for months because I just didn't know what to say about it. In the end, I decided to give it a shot with various taglines to find the target market.
I don't think Burger King serves hotdogs. Nope, I don't think they serve uncooked hotdogs at all. Unless that's the way you want it.
I don't know why I even tried this one.
And there we go.
Fantasy Football Draft Recap
Because why not.
I've done these sort of recaps every year and there's no reason to play it cool now. If long posts about ice makers aren't going to convince you I'm not worth paying attention to then nothing about my agonizing over starting virtual Ray Rice is going to change that. Although maybe seeing how poorly I drafted will at least make you question me a little. Coming out of the other drafts I recapped in the past (here, here, here, here) I think I felt good about my teams. Great names, solid starters, some good jokes made at the draft.
This year I'm only doing one team and it has a horrible name, some awful players, and because I live here I was doing the draft over the computer which led the autopick to take someone who's suspended when it dropped my connection. Things I've learned from this year already:
1) Neutral Milk Hotel should never be playing during a fantasy football draft. Some things just don't work well together.
2) If when you're thinking about drafting a quarterback and you check his status before making the pick, "Rejected settlement in rape case" is just as bad as a torn ACL
3) When you have the #2 pick and someone sends you a text message that says the guy picking #1 isn't going to take the obvious best player, so then you get excited about taking that player, then you get another text message saying he's changed his mind and he is taking that player, it is okay to instantly quit the league
4) If you think you're getting a steal on a wide receiver, you should always check to make sure he's not catching passes from a quarterback thinking about whether or not he should have rejected that rape settlement
5) Having good names is better than having good players. My receivers are named Roddy, Antonio, Santonio, and...Greg. I don't care if Greg is the best one, I'm cutting him and find a guy named Pantonio.
And so this is the Houston Whitney:
First Round - Michael Turner, RB. He's good. Arguably in line for a better season than Adrian Peterson. But did I mention Adrian Peterson's last name is Peterson. I think Andy should have let me draft my cousin. I would have let him draft a player named Ruiz. Okay, so I just checked and there are no draft eligible players named Andy or Ruiz in the league. Some of us just have better genes, I guess.
Second Round - Roddy White, WR. Maybe I should have mentioned that Michael Turner is apparently cursed. Is that important? Well, I saw Drag Me to Hell so I guess I'd say...oh holy jesus this is awful no no no.
Third Round - Greg Jennings, WR. My first mistake. I should have been on the lookout for a Pantonio Ruiz here. I'm feeling pretty good about my receivers at this point, and I'm thinking I'll be able to get a good running back next.
Fourth Round - Marshawn Lynch, RB. This is what I'm staring at after my connection to the draft resets. Apparently he was the highest ranked player on the computer's board. Problems with this: A) He's suspended for 3 games; B) His team just fired their offensive coordinator a week before the season; C) They keep cutting their starting offensive linemen; D) They are easily the worst team in a solid division; E) His suspension is for getting arrested for having a handgun and pot in his car (note: this is not his suspension for hitting someone with his Hummer, that was last year). Otherwise, he was a great pick, Computer. Jesus, I feel like I need to go find Steve Guttenburg and Fisher Stevens to go put the Yahoo computer of its memory. It's apparently a Bills fan, so I think I know where to start looking.
Fifth Round - Antonio Bryant, WR. Another timeout pick, technically, but this one I saw coming and was ready for it. Honestly, he could be great or I could cut him next week. I really don't know what to think about him other than that he's got more than a bit of Jake Taylor in him. I wish I would have had him one year ago, not two or three years ago, but then four years ago. He's also on a team that just fired its OC. Oh, and his quarterback is apparently Brian Leftwich now. By which I mean his QB for weeks 1-3, 8, 10-13 is Brian Leftwich. The other weeks it will presumably be someone without an eating disorder so that's...good?
Sixth Round - Ray Rice, RB. Hey, everyone, it's my starting RB for weeks 1-3. Okay, so I actually really like this pick. I also like that his name is Ray. I hope him and Greg become friends over a game of Go while the (S)antonios and Marshawn are out clubbing.
Seventh Round - Santonio Holmes, WR. Okay, I forgot I took him before Roethlisberger. That makes me feel a little better. He's the best WR on a good team and one of these years he's actually going to make the leap. Between the (S)antonios, someone is going to step up, right? Right?
Eighth Round - Zach Miller, TE. Hey, did you know he had over 700 yards receiving last year? Can you name another Oakland receiver who is going to make an impact? Yeah, I'm trying to talk myself into him. I'm pretty sure after I made this pick the Neutral Milk Hotel song, "You've Passed" came on. Yep, Fantasy Jeff Mangum, pretty much. I don't know why you didn't write a song called, "Wait Until the Last Round Then Grab Anthony Fasano He's Just as Good."
Ninth Round - Ben "My Television is Broken" Roethlisberger, QB. Why do I always wait too long to take a QB and end up with this clown? For what it's worth, I wouldn't be making fun of his current legal troubles if it weren't so widely speculated that this thing is going to get very ugly for the accuser (if you don't know, it was a civil suit, there have never been criminal charges, and it seems like the alleged victim is trying to drop the case without getting sued herself). That doesn't change the fact that he's clearly an asshole and just as soon as I can I'm going to cut him and pick up pretty boy Chad Pennington. Now that's a face you can trust at a celebrity golf game in Phoenix.
Tenth Round - LeSean McCoy, RB. So maybe I took him because both his first and last names have capital letters. So what? If we'd let Johnny 18 on the Yahoo server pick, I'd probably have Jim Kelly on my team right now.
And then there was probably a kicker and a defense in there somewhere. Like I said, a pretty weak team. Unless we're counting ongoing legal cases. Then we win. We win big. Hey, but in googling to find that Whitney Houston picture, I just learned her new album debuted at #1. Omens, people, omens.
This woman played for twenty minutes or so at a club we went to for Marti's birthday on Saturday. She was incredible. I sort of figured there was a story to the 60-something who wailed on her left-handed guitar. Yep.
I guess she wrote this song when she was 19 or 20 and it was a #1 hit in 1962. The Rolling Stones covered a song of hers on The Rolling Stones, Now a few years later:
She looked great.
A Place Like This
I've been at this university for two weeks now, and while that probably doesn't qualify me to make the broad critique I'm going to make, I feel comfortable in my assessment anyway. Colleges are funny like that. Or maybe I'm just pompous like that. Either way.
But I want to acknowledge that I know nothing about this city. Okay, so I know Lyle Lovett is the greatest person to come from here. That's about it and that's about enough.
And so it was probably spending time with an architect--happy birthday, Marti--or visiting Rice's beautiful campus, but I've been thinking a lot about the physical makeup of the university. Not the administration or degrees or students but the actual buildings and landscape and how they're situated in the city. It's something that's been bothering me since the first time I visited the campus, and it only has become more clear in my time here because of this typical conversation (this one in particular I had with the guy opening my checking account):
Guy: What brought you here?
Me: School at UH.
Guy: Ha, how do you like the neighborhood there?
Me: Can I get any Ninja Turtle on my debit card or just Raphael?
UH knows the neighborhood around UH is bad. I know they know this because they talk about it as constantly as everyone else does. They tell us not to walk to our cars alone at night. They send us campus alerts when the Burger King across the street gets robbed. They have video cameras and emergency phones and anything else they can do to reinforce the idea that A) the neighborhood outside the campus is scary and B) aside from the occassional intrusion of this scary element, the campus itself is a protected space.
Obviously the university's first priority is the physical safety of their students and they should do everything possible to protect them/us. Unfortunately, they seem to have bought into this narrative that the campus can and should exist in isolation from the community around it. One gets the sense that everyone--except for, you know, the people living in the Third Ward--would be happy if around the hallowed borders of the school there was white space until Montrose and its American Apparel definition of urban.
It's such a pointless and anti-educational way of thinking about the space of the university that I hope I'm misreading the situation. I don't think I am. There really doesn't seem to be any engagement or even desire for engagement with the rest of the neighborhood, and its a shame to treat the campus as if it's some kind of colony on Mars where this will happen if you go outside of the compound without a helmet:
As a teacher--and, yes, I now say things like that just like I now have to care what Stanley Fish and Gerald Graff think about whatever--it feels like the physical campus is already setting up for at least a kind of failure. If the university can place itself in a sphere, should we be surprised if students keep their knowledge in one? If the university can't even confront what's across the street, what do students do when asked to confront the world? Being a public school, being a largely commuter college, hell, even being in the academic shadow of Rice, just isn't a good enough excuse to write off participation as part of the academic experience for students and professors.
(other things I do now that I'm in graduate school: ask inane rhetorical questions, wake up 30 minutes later than before, wear an academic gown around the apartment, have an opinion on standardized testing)
The university is--rightly--proud of their students. They makeup (allegedly) the most diverse student body in the country, they work jobs, they are often the first in their family to go to college. Which is why it's so perplexing that their chosen college seems to be afraid of the world many of them come from. Not only does it waste an opportunity, but it detracts from the education they're able to provide a truly unique student body. Building a moat around the university does nothing except reinforce the idea that the academic world is something that's closed to their membership and irrelevant to their lives beyond going through the checklist of their degree in hope of a better vocation.
(addendum to list of other things I do now that I'm in graduate school: use multiple metaphors for same situation often times involving either space or knights or both)
None of this is to say I want a campus like the oak-lined East Coast academia of Rice or for UH to use its clout to force gentrify the area, but I would like to see some understanding from the university that their responsibility to their students and their neighborhood goes beyond emailing the police blotter and patrolling the outlying parking lots. When I step into the classroom, it's the only time my students and I even have the opportunity to live in the same world in a very large, very diverse city. But if we can't agree where we are, if we're pretending not to be in a city at all, then we're nowhere and there are no implications outside of the classroom.
If the university thinks it needs to isolate itself in order to protect itself, the university doesn't even know what it's protecting.
About Having an Ice Maker
I don't know for certain, but I assume it's exactly like having a child. I think about the ice maker in class. I take time out of my day to make sure everything with the ice maker is okay. I hear it make noise as I'm reading and feel comforted because if it's quiet too long my heart races.
I guess I assumed ice makers shut themselves off. Maybe some do. The one I have--the first ice maker I've lived with as an adult--will just keep making ice until it consumes the world. You're lucky I realized this when it was just my fish sticks and frozen waffles that were consumed. But someday it will come for yours, too.
You know ice-nine in Cat's Cradle? It's like that--exactly like that--only minus the nine. Our sole weapon against it is the large Roy Rogers. We're going to need prayer and grenadine.
(Ed note: by this weekend I should be over my fascination with my new city, apartment, and appliances. Some time after sharing my thoughts about my dishwasher, I will revert back to whatever I wrote about before. You know, books and candy bars and what not).