Thursday, September 28, 2006


I love to play fantasy football, and each year it seems like I end up with more teams than the year previous. I limit myself to one league per year with an entry fee and prizes, and give that team most of my attention--this year, the fee and prizes were higher than ever. So you can imagine how psyched I was when I drew the number one pick--there was no question who I was going to take: last year's MVP, Shaun Alexander of the Seahawks. I couldn't lose with him, right?

Not even a week after the draft, I picked up my copy of Madden 07...and went to my league's message board and left a post with an expletive title, because there was my #1 pick on the box's cover.

Let's look at past Madden cover boys (excluding the big man himself) and their fates (all years listed are release years, not "model years"--the 1999 cover boys were for Madden 2000, and so on):

1999 - Barry Sanders: Shared the cover with Madden, and avoided the retiring before the season started.
1999 - Dorsey Levens: Alternate cover; his '99 season was pretty good, but he was pretty much done after that.
2000 - Eddie George: Yeah, anyone remember him? Didn't think so. He did OK in 2000 but pretty much dropped off the planet due to injuries. Too bad--he dodged the Heisman Curse, only to fall victim to the dreaded Madden curse.
2001 - Daunte Culpepper: Suffered his first knee injury during the '01 season; missed the last third of the year.
2002 - Marshall Faulk: He claims he's coming back, but he suffered what thus far has proven to be a career-shortening ankle injury during this season.
2003 - Michale Vick: Broke his leg in the preseason; missed most of the regular season.
2004 - Ray Lewis: The only defensive player on the box appears to have missed most of the curse. He missed the last game of the season due to injury, and failed to get any interceptions, but other than that, he had an average season for him.
2005 - Donovan McNabb: Hernia. T.O. Your humble blogger laffs and laffs.

Coincidence or spooky curse? It was revealed earlier this week and confirmed today that after three disappointing weeks, Alexander will miss a month or more with a broken bone in his foot. Man, I wish I'd gone with LaDanian Tomlinson.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Friday Videos

She ain't big, she's a whole lotta woman!

And, in honor of tonight's Law and Order season premiere...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What Would Willie Smoke

Talk about a "dog bites man" story....Willie Nelson got arrested with pot. I don't know about the 'shrooms, but can we just go ahead and decriminalize marijuana already? There has to be a more constructive use of cops' time than chasing after old men smoking a little reefer...especially in Louisiana.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

End of an Era

I love the time of year when Sundays are essentially wasted days, spent on the couch watching the NFL, drinking beer and eating junk food. It's very different this year, and from my perspective most of the changes are positive. I don't have the expensive Sunday Ticket package, though I do get NFL Network, so from my perspective, the extra nationally televised games are a very good thing. I'm going to get to see a few extra Giants games this year that I wouldn't get to see otherwise, and other than when Joe Buck does play by play for games from a remote location, his addition to the Fox pregame show doesn't bother me as much as it does Mike over at the Outhouse Times-Picayune.

But something was missing from my football experience this Sunday. After the Jags-Cowboys game ended, I flipped to ESPN, as I have every football Sunday for almost two thirds of my life, to catch the highlights of the eight or so games I didn't get on NFL Primetime. But it was nowhere to be found...and as I found out yesterday when I went searching for its next airing on good old Google, it's gone for good. Now I understand how some of the younger set felt when they heard the Crocodile Hunter had died. I didn't watch it last night, and probably won't watch much of it in the future--it doesn't matter what they call it; if it's not on Sunday nights and not hosted by Chris Berman, it ain't Prime Time.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Fifth Anniversary

Here's hoping that our country, and civilized peoples around the world, will take a moment to reflect today on how important it is to defend our nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic, with action rather than rhetoric, and just how much can be at stake if we fail to do so.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

2006 NFL Predictions

With the new season kicking off (bad pun intended) on Thursday, I thought I'd throw out some predictions to ridicule later, just like you can ridicule my baseball predictions from this spring, even though the pre-playoff "stretch run" has just started.

AFC East:
1. Patriots 11-5 - Even if Branch stays out for the year, Brady still has lots of weapons, and rookie Laurence Maroney will prove an excellent complement to Dillon at RB.
2. Dolphins 9-7 - If new QB Culpepper stays healthy, he's also got a top-tier receiver in Chambers, and the absence of Ricky Williams can only be a good thing.
3. Jets 6-10 - Chad Pennington is iffy at best, the Killer B's won't match Martin's production, and their defense is week.
4. Bills 4-12 - Holcomb or Losman? Who cares? They both suck.

AFC North
1. Bengals 11-5 - Palmer bounces back, the Johnson Boys put in their usual consistent performance, and the defense is solid as ever as Cincy hangs on to take the division.
2. Steelers 10-6 - If it wasn't for bad luck, Big Ben wouldn't have no luck at least until it's game time. He'll bounce back, and the Steelers will return to the playoffs.
3. Ravens 8-8 - Captain Questionable (secret identity: Steve McNair) won't be able to pull off a full season, Boller returns at QB, and Mike Anderson returns to Earth without the Denver O-line.
4. Browns 6-10 - They're the Cleveland Browns. Meh.

AFC South
1. Colts 10-6 - Edge's departure hurts, but not as much as some critics think.
2. Jaguars 8-8 - An average team has an average year. Fragile Freddie misses at least 6 games throughout the season.
3. Titans 6-10 - Vince Young isn't ready, and Volek wouldn't start anywhere else. Neither of them will have a good receiving corps to throw to--their #1 is a #2 anywhere else.
4. Texans 2-14 - Bet you wish you'd drafted Reggie Bush now, don't ya?

AFC West
1. Broncos 10-6 - He won't win a Super Bowl, but Jake shows he's The Snake and not The Mistake. The running back by committee system works better here than anywhere else.
2. Chargers 9-7 - Rivers still has a lot to learn that you can't get holding a clipboard, but he has the tools. Defense doesn't suffer much from LB Steve Foley's idiotic behavior and subsequent shooting.
3. Chiefs 6-10 - The defense improves slightly as the offense continues to age and decline. Larry Johnson accounts for most of his team's total offense, to the delight of his fantasy owners and the chagrin of Chiefs fans everywhere.
4. Raiders 4-12 - Management had so much confidence in Aaron Brooks that they gave Jeff Freakin' George a tryout. That should tell you how this season's going to go.

NFC East
1. Giants 10-6 - It's a homer pick, but this is the best Giants team I've seen in years--maybe better than the squad that went to the Super Bowl in the 2000 season. O-line and defensive tackles are the only question marks.
2. Cowboys 8-8 - They start strong, but T.O. blows up his latest team in only a year after clashes with Parcells. If he wasn't happy with McNabb throwing to him, how happy can he be with Bledsoe/Romo?
3. Eagles 7-9 - The flip side of the T.O. coin--if the Eagles couldn't win with him, how well can they possibly do with Stallworth as their #1 target?
4. Redskins 5-11 - Other than wide receivers, they haven't added much to a team that was mediocre on good days last year.

NFC North
1. Bears 9-7 - Offense wins games, defense wins at least this weak division for Chicago.
2. Vikings 8-8 - Brad Johnson is just like Daunte Culpepper, except old, white, and without the arm strength or ground speed.
3. Lions 5-11 - See the Redskins, except without adding at wide receiver.
4. Packers 4-12 - This team is at the beginning of what will prove to be a long and painful rebuilding process. Favre goes out to a hero's sendoff, but a schmo's record.

NFC South
1. Panthers 12-4 - This is a Super Bowl caliber team, if injury-prone Steve Smith and DeShaun Foster can stay healthy.
2. Buccaneers 10-6 - Chris Simms isn't his father, but this team has great backs and receivers, and a defense that's better than it's been in years. Definite wild card.
3. Falcons 8-8 - Another team that pretty much does exactly what it did last year.
4. Saints 6-10 - Better than last season, but they're not there yet. Brees is an improvement at QB and Deuce's health becomes a non-factor with the addition of Reggie Bush.

NFC West
1. Seahawks 11-5 - A couple of minor adjustments over the offseason will be enough to keep Seattle dominant in this division.
2. Arizona 8-8 - An improved club, but their QB situation resembles that of the Titans with an inexperienced rookie backing up a vet who'd be a backup anywhere else.
3. St. Louis 6-10 - Decent backs and receivers, a weak defense, and a mediocre quarterback add up to a losing season.
4. San Francisco 4-12 - Frank Gore will be a pleasant surprise; Alex Smith will struggle with poor receivers.

Wild Cards
AFC: Steelers, Dolphins; NFC: Buccaneers, Cowboys

Super Bowl Prediction
Panthers over Bengals (after Peyton Manning keeps the Dan Marino analogies alive one more year).

Feel free to critique my picks or submit some of your own in the comment section!

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Beast's Cookbook: Quick 'n' Easy Cornbread

A couple of my pals are coming up to party over the Labor Day weekend, and I've got a pot of my semi-famous Beast's Bitchin' Beer and Two-Bean Chili waiting for supper. But chili by itself doesn't make a meal, so for a side dish, I've got some cornbread waiting to go along with it. You can dunk this cornbread in the chili, but I prefer to put it in the bottom of the serving dish, then put chili on top of it. There's no picture with this recipe, because I think everyone who tries my recipes knows what cornbread looks like, but this is a really simple way to whip up a decent batch. Making the batter takes about 5 minutes--you can pretty much do it all during the commercial break of a baseball or football game. I can attest to that.

1 cup flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

3. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together milk, oil and egg or egg whites. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and, using a fork, stir until just combined. Do not overmix.

4. Spread batter evenly in pan and bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cut into squares or triangles and serve immediately.

This recipe also goes swimmingly with jambalaya, gumbo, or other Cajun soups and stews. I've got some recipes for them as well, so keep a look out for them here as well.

Bonus tip: Glad Ovenware is the perfect size and shape for a pan of this cornbread. Put a squirt of cooking spray on it before you put it in the oven.