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Inspirational Reads

Happy Leap Day, Everyone!

February 29, 2008

Today is February 29th, which signifies that this year has both a Summer Olympics and a Presidential Election! Oh, yeah, and it's Leap Year, one of those years when February gets to shuffle off its inferiority complex for a single day, which only happens 25% of the time.

Historically, this is the day that Columbus convinced the Native Americans that he had the power of a god and could make the moon disappear from the sky for a few hours. He then tossed several blankets filled with small pox at the natives and took their gold and anything else he could find (like their dignity).

Also, Hattie McDaniel won an academy award in 1940 for her roll in Gone with the Wind, making her the first African-American to win and Oscar.

A few years later, Dwight D. Eisenhower announced on February 29th, 1956 that he would seek a second term in office. People around the country declare that they like him. Again.

Not much else seems to happen on this day. It's like it pops up once every four years or something. Sheesh.

Also, today is the birthday of my childhood friend, Chris Long (not the dude from UVa also known as "Howie's Kid"). Happy Birthday, Chris, you're 8 years old. Hope you get that bike you've always wanted. Take heart! In another 32 years, you'll be old enough to drive! In 40 years, you can buy smokes, lottery tickets and porn, and in 60 years, you can have a drink.

He shares a birthday with Carolina Hurricanes (ah, local flavor) goaltender Cam Ward, New England Revolution forward and U.S. Team stud Taylor Twellman, sax man Jimmy Dorsey (not to be confused with Texas gunslinger Jimmy Dorsey), and Pope Paul III, who rocked a seriously badass beard.

So go out, enjoy the day, and be sure to tell February you love it, because it needs this propping up from time to time.

Throwdown! Kelvin Sampson versus Brock Samson

February 28, 2008

A few have complained that I've been a little sports heavy on the site recently, so I have been trying to branch out a little bit. Diversify. You know, like all those investment commercials keep telling me to do. I've brought you the Meet the Characters feature and the Lives of the Saints (though that's only run once...there's been a paucity of good saints to make fun of talk about lately). So now to add to the mix: Throwdown! And, of course, this week's version is...sports related. Sorry.

By the way, this could be the most inspired post I've come up with since the ACC Football teams as Clerks characters one that ran back in September.

The matchup today: Brock Samson, the buff, blond bodyguard (alliterative) from Adult Swim's "Venture Brothers" versus Kelvin Sampson, the dial-happy former coach of my beloved Indiana Hoosiers basketball team. Here are the rules: we go ten rounds, whoever is left standing at the end emerges victorious. Gentlemen, keep it clean. Let's get it on!

Round One: Looks Like:
Brock: Former Notre Dame TE and current NFL draft hopeful, John Carlson.
Kelvin: Former Food Network poobah and Martha Stewart's new bitch, Emeril
Advantage: Brock. The Bammage just can't come through in the end.

Round Two: Shares a Name With:
Brock: Biblical strongman Samson, who had a soft spot for Delilah, killed 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass, burnt their fields with the flaming tails of foxes, and could not be felled until he sported the Michael Stipe look.
Kelvin: Centigrade's arch-nemisis. Incidentally, one could say that he slew the dreams of thousands of Hoosier fans by talking on the phone too much, thus killing them by wielding the jawbone of an ass.
Advantage: Did I mention Samson killed thousands when he dropped the temple of Dagon on his followers? The Old Testament beats the absolute temperature scale.

Round Three: Enemies
Brock: The Monarch, Baron Werner Underbheit, Phantom Limb, the Cocoon's henchmen, Mol's celibacy
Kelvin: The NCAA rules infraction committee, Michael McRobbie, referees, bad reception, three-way calls, Bruce Weber
Advantage: Brock. Phantom Limb is terrifying; Myles Brand, not so much.

Round Four: Personal Hero
Brock: Race Bannon
Kelvin: Chad from Alltel
Advantage: Brock. While neither will be put off by a bunch of nerds in their van, only Race Bannon has the balls to actually do something about them.

Round Five: Signature Look
Brock: Blond mullet.
Kelvin: Blue oxford with red tie.
Advantage: Kelvin. A mullet versus looking respectable? Hands down this one goes in favor of Kelvin, though it does appear that Brock keeps his hair nice and clean.

Round Six: Leading Lady
Brock: Take your pick. I'll choose the sultry, comely red-headed sexpot and international spy Molotov Cocktease.
Kelvin: Wife Karen, who is a rather fetching lady and steadfastly supports her husband.
Advantage: There's something to be said of the unconditional love of a good wife, and, while Karen is a lovely lady, she's not going to totally kick your ass during foreplay, nor tie you to a bed, set the hotel on fire, and take away your smokes. Molotov Cocktease wins.

Round Seven: Brush with Fame
Brock: David Bowie, who then turned into an eagle and flew off, eliciting the "Dude, the guy from Labyrinth just turned into a bird and flew away!" monologue.
Kelvin: John/Johnny (Cougar) Mellencamp, IU alum and big donor to the school, who once told Bob and Tom: "The sun never sets on the cool".
Advantage: "Blood on the Scarecrow" is one of my favorite songs. David Bowie has two differently-colored eyes and a package that makes women swoon. I'm going with Mellencamp on this one. Advantage Kelvin.

Round Eight: Anger Management
Brock: When he's angry, he kills henchmen, trashes supervillains, and hollows out hot women. Also, has a tell-tale facial twitch which warns you that you're about to die.
Kelvin: When he's angry, he takes his jacket off, yells, waves his hands, and stomps. Also, will bench your ass if you don't match up in the 2-3 zone.
Advantage: Brock; you don't want to be a member of the Monarch's cocoon when he goes off. Even if it is just to amuse the Monarch.

Round Nine: Best Defense
Brock: His own two hands; also, once defended Zepplin as being more than "jock rock" and explained that "they were on a lot of stuff" when they sang a song about Hobbits.
Kelvin: 2-3 matchup zone
Advantage: I always prefer man-to-man defense. Brock wins.

Round Ten: Fall from Grace
Brock: In college, killed the deaf quarterback of his varsity squad while in practice, thus getting him expelled from school. Got drunk, trashed his roommates, and joined the army.
Kelvin: 577 illegal phone calls at Oklahoma, 106 illegal phone calls at Indiana. Was bought out and quietly slipped into the night.
Advantage: Brock, again. Kelvin's violations were lame, but they were violations nonetheless. After trashing his roommates, Brock became the body guard of one of them, Thaddeus "T.S." Venture (later known as "Rusty").

At an impressive 8-2 clip, Brock Samson emerges victorious in this initial run of the Throwdown. Better luck next time, Kelvin. Maybe you could call for backup (too soon?). Now, why don't you take a break from kicking ass and go celebrate, big fella.

I Can Has Komuhdee Now?

February 27, 2008

Long about the sixth grade, I thought Garfield was the funniest thing going. This was fostered by my teachers, as Jim Davis--Garfield's creator--was from Muncie, IN. Being a born and bred Hoosier, I was spoonfed from an early age that all things Indiana (minus the things sullied by Purdue) were practically set upon the Earth by the Almighty himself. I guess feeling proud about your state meant that you had to love Garfield (and Robert Frost, but he's still pretty cool, and beside the point). It was impossible to check out a Garfield collection from the school library; all the copies of all the books were already taken in someone else's name (incidentally, the picture book that came out about the Return of the Jedi was also impossible to get ahold of...when I finally did lay my hot little hands on it, I was underwhelmed...but I digress). We would sometimes have a reading of the daily Garfield strip aloud in the class. My teacher, Mrs. Van Dyke, would read it in her awkward, not-quite-connecting-with-the-kids old lady way. I think that actually made the strip a lot more funny than it was.

A lot of things have changed since then. For instance, I've found a sense of humor. And some common sense. Both of these things have led me to realize that Garfield is pretty lame. Imagine my confusion a couple of years ago when the computer-generated fat cat made it to the big screen (only about 13 years too late, as I feel Garfield's height of hilarity was sometime in the late 80s). To date, I have not seen either of the Garfield movies, and I don't plan on them, either. I don't care if Jennifer Love Hewitt appears topless and is rolled in a vat of honey. I have zero desire to see those movies.

I think the big downfall for me was the introduction and continued use of Nermal, the world's cutest kitten. About the only thing that I gained from that was a sense of where Abu Dhabi is on a map. Also, what the fuck ever happened to Lyle, Jon's buddy who came over from time to time? Concurrently, the Garfield cartoon on Saturday mornings sucked. Hard. The only saving grace was that there were also episodes of U.S. Acres included in the episodes, and even calling those a saving grace is a stretch. And by "stretch", I really mean "my ass is way to fat for these black spandex pants". Again, the cartoon suffered from way too much Nermal, who was not only most definitely not the world's most cute kitten, as he claimed, but also had one of the most historical instances of a really bad name. Odie is saved from this title simply because I made a joke in the ninth grade during a vocab section of English. We were discussing the meanings of our new vocab words, and I defined "odious" as "Garfield's Latin friend." Mr Cotton (my English teacher) and Kathy Jeandevin, the girl who sat in front of me (and who I thought was cute until she wore a Purdue t-shirt to school one day--no lie!), thought the joke was great.

I did find a new appreciation for Garfield a couple of months ago when I was shown the following cartoon:

Yes, that would be a near perfect mixture of Garfield and lolcatz, two things which, taken separately, are annoyingly unfunny (I will admit to being mildly amused by lolcatz for a brief time, but the grammar-and-spelling Nazi inside of me has since won out and now I simply find them tiresome), but put together are suddenly sheer, comedic brilliance.

Another thing that I've learned, thanks to my stumbling across "Garfield Minus Garfield", is that Garfield is hilarious once Garfield no longer exists in his own world. Feel free to follow either the link provided to you above or the one listed in the sidebar. I feel that the brilliance of the man behind Garfield Minus Garfield knows no bounds, and he should be celebrated for the magnitude of his comedic genius often and loudly.

If you're a Robot Chicken fan, you should also appreciate the greatness that is the sketch titled "Cat Court" in which Heathcliff sues Garfield for being a copycat. I won't ruin the end, but it's very satisfying. The final joke of the segment is hilarious, especially if you sat through the shorts during the Saturday morning cartoons as a kid during the 80s.

EDIT: Ok, I found this. It's totally nerdy, but if you've dedicated time to any of the Final Fantasy games (I think this is a take off of the American Final Fantasy III), you'll appreciate the hell out of it: Youtube Link

Meet the Characters: House John

February 26, 2008

I know, I'm a day late on this, but I had some back issues last night and so I didn't hang out and blog like I should have. And, based on the reaction to the story of Red Paul, I can tell that everyone is clamoring for more Character Introductions. Who am I to withhold such treats from my ravenous fan-base? I'd be a black-hearted bastard if I did, that's who I would be.

Today, let's meet House John, one of the first sets of characters I developed for The Hundred Kings Saga, and thus one of my favorite clans in all the land of Kallabria.

House John:

House John is the oldest of the Houses of Kallabria and all the known kingdoms. Sailing from the ancient empire of Rengor in antiquity, Arken John [1] first discovered Kallabria by following a red comet in the sky. When he first sighted the shores of what would become the kingdom of Kallabria, the comet seemed to set behind the high, stony walls of the shore. Arken John established his kingdom from the aptly named city of First Landing and named the land Kallabria in honor of his wife, Kallah. Little is known of Kallah, other than she was the daughter of a minor lord of Rengor. Aside from his "heroic" exploits in discovering and founding Kallabria, little is known of the character and background of Arken John, and much of what is known is mired in myth and lore. For instance, nothing is known of why he was on the voyage from Rengor in the first place.

After several generations, House John lost control of his own kingdom, being defeated by Bron Aevan, and the kingdom that was forged by Arken John was reduced to a mere dukedom in the southern-most part of Kallabria. The current Duke of First Landing is Stuart John. Stuart is an older man, but still tall and powerfully built. He casts quite a regal pose with his long, silvery-white mane and close-cropped white goattee. He has a brilliant mind and a sharp wit and is fair and friendly with most all of his sworn men, but he demands excellency from those who serve his house as well as those who are in it. Currently, he is squiring Nathaniel Montgomery's eldest son, Alexander as well as Vincent Giles' only son, Stephen. [2]

The heir to House John is Stuart's grandson, Patrick. Patrick is a young, handsome man with curly brown hair and bright, brown eyes. Like his grandfather, he is tall and solidly-built, though he is not as deft with a sword as Stuart was as a younger man. Patrick has a brother, Jeremy, who is taller than Patrick and just as handsome, with darker hair and more angular features. He is a young knight of some renown, though he is mostly untested in battle and has only been knighted (by Vincent Giles, the Duke of Irvington) two years prior. Jeremy dreams of founding a landed holding near the mountainous western border of First Landing, where he could guard his home against the restless threat of Jesportrock, the neighboring kingdom to the west.

During the time they are together, Patrick, Jeremy, Alexander and Stephen become fast friends.

Patrick and Jeremy's father was killed in a horsing accident when he was thrown over the neck of his steed. Stuart's son (also named Patrick), was killed instantly when he broke his neck. Patrick and Jeremy's mother, Jessica, died two years later of severe melancholia, leaving Stuart to raise his juvenile grandsons.

Patrick is married to Jillian Tallhart, the daughter of Royce Tallhart, the Duke of neighboring Tellchester. She is slight and blonde, but bold of heart and character. Patrick jokes that her strong nature helps keep him in line. Together, they have an infant son, named Stewart. [3]

House John is symbolized by a comet gules upon a field Or (a red comet upon a yellow field). Their motto is "First to Land, Last to Fall".

[1] Arken John was originally "Prester John", a tip of the cap to Tad Williams' character from Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. I even had permission to use the name "Prester John", however, as I developed the character more and more, I decided to give him his own identity, and thus he was converted into "Arken John". The tallest mountain in Kallabria is named "Mount Arken". There is also a holding within the dukedom of First Landing named "Mount Arken".

[2] This becomes very important as the action of the story begins to heat up, so that's why I threw it in.

[3] Stewart's name was originally "Saban", which was a tip of the cap to a character from Final Fantasy III (the American version) named "Sabin". However, when Nick $aban arrived on the college football scene, I changed his name out of disgust.

Kissing Zelda: Link's Time to Shine

February 21, 2008

I'm feeling lazy, but I'm also amused by the misfortune of others this fine afternoon. So I thought I'd just toss up some goofy stories and let you all enjoy.

My daughter's basketball team lost last night, booting them from the tournament and thus ending yet another bittersweet year of youth basketball. The final score was 16-12 (her team had an 8-3 lead at halftime). Of course, their night was not nearly as bad as Scotland Country Day from Pennsylvania's District 3. The final score puts me in mind of the 124-12 whipping my girl's high school team put on Wabash my senior year to open sectionals. Story.

No word about wheather a prehistoric man locked in a block of ice was found: Story.

Screw KU; check out where she went to undergrad! Somewhere, Bob Broadman is smiling. Story.


And then of course, there's this. You didn't think I could let a day go by without bringing it up, did you? Story.

The Corruption is Complete!

Yesterday, when we got in the car to go to school, my daughter asked me:

"Did Indiana win last night?"

Resistence is futile. You have been assimilated.

When Darkness Falls

February 20, 2008

There's a full lunar eclipse tonight. Being an astrogeek, I'll be out there watching it, probably through my little telescope that Santa brought me. Totality is supposed to start around 10:01 pm EST and last until about 10:51 pm. If you want to scare your children into thinking the moon has gone away and/or that you have the power of a god and can summon it back into the sky, that would be the time to do it...especially if your kids are 6 and 3 and don't really know any better. Adjust accordingly depending on your time zone.

Also, in case you care, Saturn will be the bright star to the left of the moon and Regulus to the right. I think I have that right. If you have a telescope, check out Saturn, too.

Eclipses are cool. So cool, in fact, that the climax of the action in the first book of The Hundred Kings Saga, titled King of Shadows, revolves around an eclipse ('s starting to make sense now!). Without giving away the ending, something big happens when complete darkness falls over the land, and several people die. This was actually difficult to pull off, considering my world has two moons. However, one of my moon's faces is always full while the other moon has traditional phases, like our moon. I realize this is scientifically inaccurate, but I really don't care. It serves my purpose. So there.

Well, today, while I was pouring test tubes full of deliciously impure fractions back into a 500 mL flask (and rinsing them with methanol to get all the juicy bits off the inside of the glass), one of my characters got a reprieve. As Joel has already read the story, and I don't want to give away which character just got a second life (Joel's smart and can figure it out, I'm sure), I won't reveal too much. I had, for a while, though, been thinking this over and debating whether I wanted to do it and if so, how.

Well, for some reason, inspiration struck me today while recollecting my impure fractions for further purification (or, more likely, they're going to be tossed into a flask and hammered on until the reaction proceeds to completion). I suddenly figured out how I could save this character and make it believable, work it seemlessly into the story, and how this character's role would change and impact the endgame. Awesome. I even came up with a clever nickname for the character after going through this life-altering event. Fab. You. Luss.[1]

The character also has a sister that will also get a new outlook on life. The sister will play an increased role in the endgame of the story, as well. The other night, while going through my character lists, I realized that I didn't have a lot of good female characters [2], and so I'm trying to fix that. All the while, I'm going to strive to avoid making them all the same character (like Robert Jordan or David Eddings). We'll see how I do.[3]

In the meantime, hopefully you have clear skies tonight for eclipse viewing. Skies here are supposed to cloud up during the overnight hours, and I am not happy with that. I put a work order in several weeks ago to keep tonight clear, but apparently my request has fallen on deaf ears. I blame the local weather people. Greg Fishel, I'm looking at you.

Oh, and for geeky trivia that you probably already knew...a lunar eclipse can only happen when the moon is full. So there you go.

[1] Not the character's nickname.
[2] Good as in "likeable", not good as in "not evil"
[3] Probably badly


February 19, 2008

I just got done watching the Indiana/Purdue game. A tip of the hat to Purdue (yes, I did just throw up a little after typing that). Damn, they're going to be good for years to come. With the revelation that Matt Painter grew up an IU fan and with the looming termination of Kelvin Sampson, I'm suddenly very upset that Bob Knight never offered Painter a scholarship. He's going to be a great coach. Check that. He's already a pretty damned good coach.

Also, I'm glad that Steve Lavin is starting the D.J. White for Player of the Year talk. I personally think he'd humble Tyler Hansbrough. Consummate Dumbass David Glenn might disagree, but that's what makes him a Consummate Dumbass. Mike Davis may have been a mediocre coach at best, but he did bring D.J. White to Indiana, and D.J. has turned into one of my all-time favorite Hoosiers, right up there with Damon Bailey, Calbert Cheaney, Alan Henderson, Lyndon Jones and Michael Lewis.

I also want to serve notice to NC State fans who are bitching and moaning and wailing and gnashing their teeth (the g is silent, Wolfpack fans) and beating their breasts (that means chests, Wolfpack fans) and crying in their beer because their team sucks. Their biggest excuse is that they don't have a point guard. Number one, perhaps your coach should go out and, you know, recruit a point guard rather than shop for red blazers. Number two, Purdue doesn't have a point guard, and look what they're doing. Oh, right, leading the Big Ten (which, by the way, has more than two teams in it), nationally ranked, and building a program. Matt Painter also doesn't have to resort to questionable wardrobe decisions when it comes time to fire up his team and fanbase. Purdue probably could also handle Presbyterian at home.

The big reason for this post, however, is Jim Delaney's bone-headed move of allowing this game to only be played once a year. This year (luckily) it was at Assembly Hall. Purdue and Indiana should be played twice every year, especially now that the league has gone back to an 18-game conference schedule (much to the chagrin of Illinois Coach Whinin' Bruce Weber) and especially since the rivalry seems to be picking back up to match the fevered pitch of the Knight vs. Keady years. Fix this. And fix it now!

A couple other things...if I were Matt Painter, I'd hunt down Brent Musburger, grab him by the throat, get in his face and growl, "Never call me 'Matty Painter' ever again." That's just me. I hate the name "Matty". Ugh. Don't get me started. I broke up with a girl once because she called me Matty. I told her to stop, and she did it again on purpose, and my next words were "Seriously, stop." She countered with "Oh, come on, Matty, stop playing." I then snapped, "Bitch, get out." And that was it.

Five IU students also held up a series of signs that read: "Hunting Accident" "Choked Player" "Thrown Chair" "Who Cares About" "Phone Calls". Apparently, the new regime does, as Sampson is reportedly going to be suspended Friday and will be terminated afterwards. Good-bye, Kelvin. We hardly knew ye.

The Dumbest Thing I've Heard in a Long Time

Ugh. I think my brain oozed out of my head earlier.

I've told you about David Glenn, the ACC "guru" (remember, he who reported NC State was just moments away from announcing John Calipari as their next head basketball coach and he who also said that Chuck "The Chest" Amato wasn't on the hot seat) who chokes the airwaves in the afternoons around here with his mindless drivel.

Today's topic, and I quote, "We're trying to figure out why it is that Duke and North Carolina get under each other's skin so much."


Sweet Jesus...where's the Tylenol?

Meet the Characters: Red Paul

February 18, 2008

I'm trying a little something different here. We'll see how it goes. I've been a little sports blog heavy lately (but it is the season that I revel in most: college basketball), so this is an attempt--albeit sad--to get back to my roots. Er, something like that.

I'm going to write tonight a little bit about a character I developed a while ago for a story. He, in fact, is one of my favorite creations, but he has to be used in a different story because he just doesn't fit into either of the worlds I've created, whether it's in The Boar War or The Hundred Kings Saga. For a while, I'm going to write a little bit about a few of my characters, mostly for the sheer delight of writing. I'm a graphophile like that.

So, tonight, I'm going to write about Captain Paul Redpoll, more commonly known simply as Red Paul.

Red Paul is a pirate without a ship. He had, at one point, been a captain of some renown, but one day his crew mutinied and cast him adrift in the sea. The reason for the mutiny was unclear, but most rumors revolve around Red Paul being notoriously cheap and not paying his crew members what they were worth after a tour on the seas. Once his crew had cast him into the briny deep with nothing but a spare plank to float upon, the crew turned the ship over to piracy and have since been part of the pirate scourge that commands the southern oceans.

Red Paul was eventually picked up by another merchant vessel and worked on the ship as repayment for his rescue. However, when the ship return to port, he was turned out. Red Paul never left the port, being too proud to work on another ship that he wouldn't captain and too unwilling to leave the life of the sea to turn inland and search for work. Instead, he works odd jobs around the docks, helping to load and unload merchant vessels, telling himself and anyone else who listens that he's saving the money to purchase a new ship and crew so that he can hunt down his old ship and kill the pirates that run her through the waters. Unfortunately, after a long day's work, Red Paul wastes his money in the local taverns and brothels. He's particularly fond of a certain whore named Drea, and she, in her own way, loves him.

Red Paul is a hulking man, with a broad, barrel chest and arms that would better suited on a blacksmith. When he was captaining a ship, his voice boomed like thunder or the sound of wind filling the sails, and his swordsmanship was nearly unmatched by any other man on the open sea or in many of the ports along the southern and eastern parts of the world. The only man who had bested him in a duel was a man named Nicklos Thrush, normally known as "Nik Thrush", who had been his first mate before the mutiny.

Time away from the open sea has diminished his voice and his sword skills, though the drink and the smoke of the taverns are probably more to blame for his downfall rather than not being able to stride upon the pitching decks of his ship. His chest and shoulders are still broad, but his walk is slightly stooped as he has spent more time crouched upon a barstools than walking tall and proud. Also, the color has begun to drain from his great, red beard, which, along with his skills with a sword, helped give him the moniker of "Red" Paul. The name is as much a play on his last name as it is a pronouncement of his deadly ability with a blade or his physical attributes.

So, there you have it. Red Paul fits into a story that I'm currently trying to develop. Yeah, yeah, I know. Publish the others first. Yes. I'll probably focus on more...time appropriate characters in the future.

Dead Man Walking

Saturday night, I was a torn individual. I watched the Indiana/Michigan St. game, and I saw Kelvin Sampson get all emotional. I watched as the outcome of the game became less and less unknown...kind of like the outcome of the investigation that is set to wrap up at the end of this week. It was like Sampson knew what was coming, and he was taking that moment to celebrate and thank the kids who mean so much to him. It was a very emotional, very touching moment.

And I was torn.

On one hand, here is a man who is an excellent coach and, from most reports, a very nice, well-respected person (taking the NCAA violations away for a moment). It was never more evident that he loves his players and his players love him back as it was at the end of the IU/MSU game. I felt bad for wanting him fired last week. How can you put such a nice guy out on the street?

On the other hand, he was an idiot with the phone at Oklahoma. He brought that with him to Indiana and go pinched again for more impermissable phone calls. His graduation rates are dismal (and that's probably an understatement). And, according to the NCAA, he lied to both them and Indiana.

Let's get one thing in the clear, here. Hubert Davis, during the pregame, made an excellent point: he didn't pay his players, he didn't bribe them with cars, he didn't bribe them with bags full of money. He participated in three-way calls, which are not impermissible by the NCAA. They were for Sampson as part of his probation. His violations were minor, at best, but the NCAA termed them major. I think, honestly, the major issue here is that Sampson was boneheaded about it.

Seeing the way that he was celebrating a big win--possibly the biggest of his stint at IU--with his players and their response to him made my sour thoughts about him sweeten. The chant by the student section at the end of the game further softened my stance. Now, I'm unsure of what should be done.

I think, possibly, the best thing would be for Sampson to resign, effective at the end of the season, kind of like how Davis did it. There doesn't need to be a lot of turmoil. There doesn't need to be a lot of drama. This way, we know how things are going to end and IU can get the jump on a new coaching search and possibly salvage what could very well be a very special season. IU should also do the honorable thing and release their recruits from their binding letters of intent. I'm sure Bruce Weber will be all over that, if it happens.

Again, I don't know. This is just my opinion. But, I do know this: however this whole mess plays out, it is possibly one of the saddest endings to what could have been a promising career.

Let's Move On, Folks

February 15, 2008

First...I strive to be humble and everything, but the Valentine's Day blog made me laugh when I reread it this morning. I hate laughing at my own jokes, but I feel that this particular entry was amusing, nonetheless. I might start making that a more regular part of the entry here, or something similar. Once a week, I might look at a saint's feast day and give you the history of it. Certainly, St. Patrick will be one of the next in line.

Speaking of, I did almost buy a cat-in-the-hat-esque green and white hat yesterday while at Target buying chalky hearts for myself. I felt that I need an appropriately goofy hat if I plan on attending the Notre Dame/UNC game in Chapel Hill this October.

Anyway, let's move on.

Speaking of moving on, I have a message to Hoosier Nation: Let's move on, folks.

Look to the future, not to the past. It's not 1976 anymore. Or 1981. Or 1987. Or even 1992 or 1993.

Bob Knight did not resign from Texas Tech last week because he was tipped off by someone that Kelvin Sampson's days at IU were numbered. Who would have told him? The NCAA, run by Miles Brand, the man who fired him from IU? Or IU President McRobbie, who is little more than a pawn of Brand's in the first place? I doubt either man would secretly whisper rumors of the allegations brought against Sampson into Knight's ear. Unless Grima Wormtongue is employed by the NCAA.

The other thing? Seriously, drop the Knight is coming back to IU hopes. Do you remember the Simpsons where they did the retrospect on Maggie's birth? Do you remember how Homer left the power plant? That was essentially Knight leaving Bloomington, rolling down the window and tossing the Zippo on the wooden bridge.

Not only isn't it going to happen, but it shouldn't happen. Since I'm in the area, let's look at UNC. When Matt Doherty tried his best to make UNC into NC State, UNC didn't go back to Dean Smith to coach the program. Yes, Dean has his hands deep in the athletics department at UNC, but at the same time Dean wasn't fired from North Carolina for demanding some punk treat his elders with respect. Instead, they went with someone who had UNC ties and hired Roy Williams. That's worked out for them fairly well.

However, I don't feel this is a good idea for Indiana. They need to get away from the Knight coaching tree completely. This time, however, they need to make sure that whomever they bring on board doesn't have a pile of baggage coming with him.

My pick? Barack Obama. He's managed to wade through a political fight with the Clintons and look squeaky clean, and he's come up through the political ranks of Illinois without too much baggage, so that speaks of the man's character. Also, his brother-in-law coaches at Brown. of my ancestors was married to the founder of Brown University. That makes me and Barack practically brothers. Maybe cousins.

Seriously, though, I think Indiana needs to take a long, hard look at themselves in order to figure out what they want to do. And then they should call Sean Miller at Xavier, who does get the official Crown of Thistles stamp of recommendation for next IU basketball coach. His "vice president" (or the second man I think that IU should look at) is Scott Drew. Drew is a young coach, but he'll be inheriting a program that's going to be suffering under sanctions for a few years. While IU gradually comes out of them, Drew can be learning and growing as a coach so that when the kiss of death has finally worn off, both Drew and IU can rise back to national prestige. Third in line is Mark Few, coach at gonzaga. He's so far down the line because I don't know if IU would want to pay to get him from gonzaga, plus it's not like former gonzaga coach Dan Munson worked out all that well for Minnesota.

Most importantly, IU needs to not even entertain the idea of bringing back Knight or one of his former players, such as Steve Alford. Roy Williams has worked somewhat well at UNC, but for every Roy Williams out there, there's a dozen Matt Dohertys.

Happy Valentine's Day

February 14, 2008

Things have been plenty negative around here the past few posts, so why not offer something a little more positive.

Today is St. Valentine's Day. Being Catholic, I feel the need to cram my religious beliefs down your throat educate folks as to the meaning behind today's festivities.

There are two Catholic feast days held today, one for St. Valentine of Rome and the other for St. Valentine of Terni. Both men are said to have been martyrs for Christianity and thusly were rewarded with sainthood. There is, allegedly, a third Valentine who was martyred somewhere in Africa, but the Encyclopaedia Catholica doesn't give any further explanation. At one point, there were 11 Valentines who were attributed to the feast day celebrated on February 14th.

The first linkage of "love" to St. Valentine's day was done by Middle English guru and poet extraordinaire Geoffry Chaucer (as an aside, it is widely accepted--at least according to the excerpt about him that I read in the Intellectual Devotional--that, if it wasn't for Chaucer, English would never have caught on as a literary language...either French or Latin would have been used instead of what was becoming the English language). In the poem, Parliament of Fools, written in honor of King Richard II's engagement, Chaucer linked St. Valentine's Day with the time that birds began seeking mates.

So there you have it.

The legend has grown around St. Valentine of Rome (or Valentine of Terni...or perhaps they were the same person...difficult to say at this point) as being the first man to link love to his day. According to the most popular legend, Valentine was persecuted by Emperor Claudius for holding secret weddings of young, single men. Claudius felt that married men did not make good soldiers, and thus decreed that young men could not be married, thusly he would have an army of soldiers who didn't worry about their lady loves back home and would therefore become more savage in their ferocity on the battlefield. Or they would be savagely horny and would therefore take out their sexless frustrations on the enemy. Anyway, Valentine was tossed in prison and sentenced to death. The night before he was to die, he sent a note to his lover/mistress/gal...whatever...who happened to be his jailer's daughter (whom, in another arm of the legend, he had healed from blindness). The note was signed "From your Valentine."

So, there you have it. I prefer the horny bird explanation, myself.

There is another tradition that says that St. Valentine spent an exorbinant amount of money on chocolates (which at that time were not as sweet, but yet still thought of as an aphrodisiac) and roses in hopes of getting laid. Instead, his jailer's daughter just wanted to cuddle on the couch in front of the fire. This caused Valentine to become a priest and swear a vow of celibacy. The jailer's daughter ate the chocolates anyway.

I hope you are having a lovely Valentine's Day, nonetheless. In the Jenks household, we are sworn Godiva chocolate fans, and so my wife and I each got each other small samplers of Godiva truffles. Oh em effing gee, they're good. Or they were. I already polished mine off. On my way to work after dropping my daughter off at school, I swung in to Target, seizing the day and buying a bag of those chalky, tiny hearts with the messages on them. I love those things. Of course, I eat so many of them, I make myself sick. *opens drawer of desk and pours out another handful* Oh look, a green one saying "Mad 4 U". Damn, now I'm thinking about Paul Reiser...

The saddest part about Valentine's Day...ESPNews will no longer be running the Pajamagrams commercial. I should have recorded that one, sent it to my friend Chris, and had him prepare an entire four hour tape where that thing just runs on endless loop. The best part about it is that the pajamagram comes with a little sign that says "Do Not Disturb." I can see that actually being hung around the recipient's neck after she puts the pajamas on. Heh.

Absolute Zero

February 13, 2008

What does Assembly Hall in Bloomington, IN and Absolute Zero have in common?

Both should be at zero Kelvin.

And not even Boltzmann can save him now.

Enough nerdy references for you?

How did I put this earlier when discussing Bruce Weber? I'm going to call a spade a spade, or in this case, a piece of shit a piece of shit.

There's the door, Kelvin. Don't let it hit you in the ass on the way out.

The NCAA sent a letter to Indiana yesterday citing major violations. They'll be known later. I guess they say that Sampson lied about the phone calls he made. Whatever. I don't care. That's two years and two violations found; some he brought with him from Oklahoma, others he's done while wearing the Cream and Crimson.

Now, I will say that I am not an alumni of Indiana University, but I grew up a Hoosiers fan, and that's where my interest lies. Still. Up until yesterday, there was one major, storied basketball program in the country that was clean of NCAA violations. And now that is no longer true (Duke and UNC both had their violations a while ago, before K and Dean Smith showed up).

Bob Knight might have been an arrogant boor, but he ran a clean program. He self-reported even the slightest of violations. Sampson, apparently, can't be bothered to either check himself or follow the rules. He already threw coach Senderoff under the bus. I think he should do the same to himself now.

This pains me, too, because I liked Sampson. He was my pick to follow Davis. He's a good coach, but he just can't keep himself within the bounds of the NCAA rules. Now he needs to go. He needs to go as soon as possible. It's over. The Kelvin Sampson era in Bloomington has come to a close as far as I'm concerned.

Rick Greenspan, the AD, should go with him. He brought Sampson on board, knew that he had violations following him, and didn't keep an eye on Sampson, obviously. Fall on your swords, men, and take the honorable way out by resigning. For a school that fired one of the greatest coaches in the history of the sport for grabbing a kid's forearm and wanting him to treat his elders with a bit of respect, this should be a no brainer. Fire Kelvin Sampson.

Get on the phone with Mark Few. Or Scott Drew at Baylor; he's managed to clean up that mess AND make Baylor into a decent team. Rob Jeter at Butler might also be a good call. Bust out the check book and call up Thad Matta (which should have been done a year before hiring Sampson, anyway). Keno Davis at Drake might also be on the radar. I don't care who it is, just be sure not to hire someone with baggage this damned time.

The other thing that disgusts me is, if there was any hope at all, no matter how slim, that Gordon would have stuck around for another year, they're gone now. Completely gone. Ugh. Great. I'm going to go throw up.

I Can't Believe I'm About to Do This...

February 11, 2008

...but I'm not going to complain about Illinois' student section during the Indiana game. I'm not going to defend them other than to say they're young, passionate, drunk and God knows I did lots of dumb stuff while young, drunk and shirtless (Sparklebelly).

I will say that Bruce Weber is a classless piece of shit. I know I called him a whiney duck at one point, but now I'm going to just call a spade a spade. Or, in this case, a piece of shit a piece of shit.

First there was the whining after Indiana beat Illinois the first time. "We're just one good player away from being good." Yeah, and I'm just 33 fucking years away from retiring and a busted rubber away from being thrice a daddy. Why not just come out and say it, Weber? If we had Gordon, we'd be good. Also, why not say "If it wasn't for Bill Self's players, I wouldn't have made it to the Final Four and I'd be standing in the unemployment line today. I suck as a recruiter and a coach."

Wow. That was cathartic.

So not only does he do this little "feel sorry for me because I can't recruit worth a shit" song and dance, but then he also lets Chester Frazier "chest bump" Gordon at mid-court. And by chest-bump, I mean anally violate him. And then he revels in the antics of the Illini crowd. What a classy guy, that Bruce Weber.

Last week, a coaching legend hung 'em up. Yeah, I'm talking Bob Knight here. Like him or hate him (I think we all know where I stand on this one), there's no way in hell Knight would have put up with that shit either from his players or the students in the crowd. Frazier's punk ass would have been at the end of the bench for the entirety of that game and probably the next one, too, were he playing for Knight. Knight would also have gotten on the PA system and told the crowd to either settle down or get the fuck out of the Assembly Hall. Probably in those exact words. I've seen him do it.

Even the man under whose tutelage Weber came up, Gene Keady, would have sat Frazier and told the crowd to act like they didn't belong in a day care. Or Philadelphia.

I guess the other thing that grinds my gears is Matt Painter at Purdue getting in on the act. When commenting about his talented Freshmen players, he chimes in with "Yeah, and none of them are ready to jump to the NBA, so they'll be around for a while." I see Painter is following in Weber's douchebag footsteps. Gee, I wonder just who he might be talking about.

Purdue plays at Indiana this week. Hopefully that will shut his punk ass up for a while. I couldn't stand Painter when he played for Purdue; I can't stand him now that he's coaching. Bring Gene back already.

Also, last week, one of my...heroes (for the lack of a better word)...decided to up and retire. I have already talked about my man-crush for Bob Knight here, so I won't go into it again. I just wanted to take a moment and congratulate him on a great career and thank him for the great memories at Indiana. Good luck to him, and to Pat, his son who took over the reins at Texas Tech. From what I've seen so far...he's going to need it.

Sorry I've been away. I was sick last week. It's a nasty flu. My family has shared it and shared it well. You know it has to be bad to incapacitate me for five days. I'm normally pretty healthy. I think it's all the whisky and hatred coursing through my veins.


Being that I am from the state of Indiana and I love a good pun, I am contractually obligated to post this.

No Excuses

February 1, 2008

I went on a rant against how awful Minnesota is/was when my beloved Hoosiers went up there and tried their best to crap the bed and lose. If it wasn't for Spencer Tollackson's piss-poor [1] showing at the free throw line, Indiana most likely would have lost that game. I ranted and raved about the unfairness of the refs and making Gordon sit and everything else.

Not today, my friends. Nope, the editors of "A Crown of Thistles"[2] demand some form of objectivity, and by that I mean if you suck, I need to call you on it.

Indiana, you suck.

At times, you can be brilliant. DJ White is a workhorse underneath the basket. Sure, Wisconsin's big men (and by big, I mean glacier big) were flopping whenever you'd make a move toward the basket, but you need to be sure to keep your head in the game. You're the only star on the team right now because Gordon hurt his wrist. Ohio State fans, I know your misery with the whole Greg Oden saga: you have a superstar from Indianapolis on your roster who is probably going to be there for only one year and he's playing with a hurt wrist. Not much fun. I feel you.

Still, someone needs to step up. DJ White can't do it alone, and DeAndre Thomas (all 290 pounds of him) is going to get called because he's big and, no matter what, the slightest brush with him is going to look like a foul. At the same time, someone, anyone! needs to figure out how to box out. Wisconsin's big players (and by big, I mean corn-fed and strong enough to bench-press tractors) owned the glass on both the offensive and defensive end.

And now for some personalized constructive criticisms:

Lance Stemler: stop heaving the ball at the basket and then running in trying to poke or slap the ball away. In fact, your sole mission should be to get the ball to Eric Gordon or Jamarcus Ellis or Jordan Crawford to shoot. It doesn't matter who you throw the ball to, as long as the shooter's name isn't "Lance Stemler".

Coach Samson: Lock Eric Gordon in a cage and poke him with sticks while playing Yanni. The only aspect of his game you can improve is his mental toughness. Sometimes he gets that hang dog look when the three isn't falling or the refs are calling it tight or his left hand is about to fall off his arm.

Luke Harangody: You're a stud. You're glacier big and corn-fed and can benchpress twenty tractors. Damn you (but bless you) for going to Notre Dame.

Steve Lavin: I like you. Just stop with the phrase "one and done". Be creative. "Another empty possession." "That's just as good as a turn over." "Lack of presence on the offensive glass." "What a fucking piss poor shot. Pull your head out of your ass!" "Indiana's playing on the offensive end like a sorority chick at a bar: one shot, and it's all over." Any of these will suffice.

Erin Andrews: Stacy Dales was giving Brad Nessler all sorts of grief during the UNC beatdown of Couldn't Cut it at ND U [3]. Maybe start giving Musberger a hard time, especially when he talks about wanting to take you to the Playboy Mansion. It could get him out of the booth sooner and then you can move in.

NC State: No one can piss away a 9-point lead and lose by 20 like you guys. Better keep hanging your hat on that bass fishing national championship from a few years ago.

I shut the game off at halftime last night because I was so disgusted. I turned it on again when there was two minutes to go, saw Indiana down by ten, and then went to bed. There used to be a time when Wisconsin was the bottom of the league. Indiana won 32 straight against the Badgers. I wish we could go back to those days, mostly because that's back when Indiana was consistently pretty good. I'm not saying Wisconsin is a bad team, but they're also not a great team. I think Indiana's steady diet of cupcakes during the early season is beginning to surface. Sure, beating Kentucky by a lot was nice, but that was at home. The win at Southern Illinois was also nice, but the Salukis need to really step up in the Missouri-Valley in order for that game to look impressive. And winning by a few over Georgia Tech is another glaring issue, although there's a chance that Georgia Tech will overcome the defections to the NBA from last year and end up third [4] in the ACC. Still, your rpi is somewhere around .500, and for a team ranked as highly as you are with a good inside-outside game like you have, you should be ashamed.

Ugh. Anyway. The sooner I can wash the bad taste of this out of my mouth, the better. Plus, I need to go home and reteach my daughter how to dribble. If nothing else, I at least want her to look better than Lance Stemler out there on the court.

[1] And by "piss-poor" I mean "0-for-7"
[2] me
[3] aka Boston College
[4] which isn't saying much, as it's pretty much "everyone after Duke and Carolina".