The Knife Came Down, Missing Him By Inches, and He Took Off

Random 10

  • 3 Libras – A Perfect Circle Mer de Noms
  • Time and Time Again – Counting Crows August and Everything After
  • Safely Forgotten – Onesidezero(self-titled)
  • Dumb – NirvanaLive at Reading
  • Coral del Arrecife – Atlanta Symphony OrchestraOceana (O. Golijov)
  • Soldier’s Daughter – TonicLemon Parade
  • Don’t Fake This – ChevelleWonder What’s Next
  • The Nurse Who Loved Me – A Perfect CircleThirteenth Step
  • Beskhu3epnm – Aphex TwinDrukqs
  • It Overtakes Me / The Stars Are So Big … I Am So Small … Do I Stand a Chance? – The Flaming Lips At War with the Mystics

Random 10 Fiction

The drugs are wearing off again.  Groggily I lift my head and see the letter resting at the foot of the bed.  The seal depicting 3 libras on the envelope leaves me speechless.  Time and time again, I had wondered whether she would find me or if I was safely forgotten.  This letter just showed how dumb that wish was.  Inside the envelope is a photograph of the Coral del Arrecife in the Carribean.  That’s where I will find her.  She is a true soldier’s daughter, she can’t leave me behind, no matter how much she wants to.

Now I have to get out of this hospital. I’d prefer to wait until I get better, but if I don’t fake this recovery tonight, I may never leave.  By a stroke of luck, the one that answers the call button is the nurse who loved me.  Any hope I have of convincing her to let me just walk out is quickly dashed.

“How are you feeling tonight?  Let’s see if you’re improving.  Can you recite the alphabet?” she asks.

B..e..s..k..h..u..3..e..p..n..m..yellow..g..sigma..” I give up sheepishly, I know that’s not right.

“That’s better.  You’re getting there.”  She tries to soothe me, but the impossibility of me finding my girl hits me then. My disappointment is crushing.  As I look out the window, almost it overtakes me.

The stars are so big.

I am so small.

Do I stand a chance?

Wild Six or Seven Pack – Vol. 8

Record Home Away Goal Diff. EV-Time EVGF EVGA EVGF/60 EVGA/60
Gm. 1-7 1-6-0 1-0-0 0-6-0 –10 310:29 7 21 1.35 4.04
Gm. 8-14 4-3-0 3-1-0 1-2-0 –1 349:12 10 11 1.72 1.89
Gm. 15-20 2-2-2 1-1-0 1-1-2 0 288:02 13 7 2.71 1.46
Gm. 21-26 4-1-1 3-1-1 1-0-0 2 297:00 12 12 2.42 2.42
Gm. 27-33 5-2-0 2-0-0 3-2-0 2 352:29 14 10 2.38 1.70
Gm. 34-40 4-3-0 2-1-0 2-2-0 0 339:03 14 16 2.55 2.91
Gm. 41-47 4-3-0 4-2-0 0-1-0 1 347:25 20 16 3.45 2.76
Gm. 48-54 3-3-1 2-0-1 1-3-0 2 350:10 15 15 2.57 2.57
TOTAL 27-23-4 18-6-2 9-17-2 –4 2633:50 105 108 2.39 2.46

Wild still three points out of a playoff spot.  They’re going to have to make a move at some point.  And that will probably involve winning a game or two on the road.  8 wins in 27 games is terrible.

PP Time PPGF SHGA PPGF/60 SHGA/60
Games 1-7 61:36 8 1 7.79 0.97
Games 8-14 39:09 5 2 7.66 3.07
Games 15-20 43:18 3 2 4.16 2.77
Games 21-26 39:44 5 0 7.55 0.00
Games 27-33 35:41 3 0 5.04 0.00
Games 34-40 44:43 4 1 5.37 1.34
Games 41-47 39:29 3 1 4.56 1.52
Games 48-54 43:45 5 1 6.86 1.37
TOTAL 347:25 36 8 6.22 1.38
SH Time SHGF PPGA SHGF/60 PPGA/60
Games 1-7 51:03 0 3 0.00 3.53
Games 8-14 38:34 0 3 0.00 4.67
Games 15-20 38:40 1 8 1.55 12.41
Games 21-26 34:44 0 3 0.00 5.18
Games 27-33 39:41 0 5 0.00 7.56
Games 34-40 36:14 1 2 1.56 3.31
Games 41-47 38:04 1 6 1.58 9.46
Games 48-54 31:07 0 2 0.00 3.86
TOTAL 308:07 3 32 0.58 6.23

Zombie Fish

“He’s dead.”

“Again?”

I cast about for a reason not to help.  If I could convince you I was busy, you would take care of the situation yourself.  Nothing caught my eye, and so, sighing, I promised to be over as quickly as I could.

——
Glancing around the living room, I noticed the bowl, with its inhabitant floating belly up, had been moved to the top of the bookcase, where one’s eyes wouldn’t chance across it.  You were carefully avoiding glancing in that direction.

I tried to lighten the mood: “Well, there’s your problem, the poor fish drowned.”  Your smile was as tight and forced as my attempt at humor.  Only dead for an hour or two, it had already started to take its toll.  The longer the fish was dead, the worse you would feel, so the sooner we got this process started, the better it would be for you.  Knowing that, you went to vomit while I got the bowl down from the top shelf.

——
Taking its first gasping, flopping breath in over three hours, its tail splashed beads of your blood onto the sides of the now empty bowl.  I bandaged your cuts, cleaned my knives, and took the fish out of the bowl and placed it on the other side of the table, away from the pool of blood.  I sprinkled droplets of water on the newly resurrected, and considered how normal this fish looked.  It gaped and thrashed, and even as it struggled to breathe you were beginning to look better.  No matter how long it stayed out of water, it wouldn’t asphyxiate.  No matter how much I wanted that fish gone for what it did to you, it wouldn’t die.

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday to Mr. Gretzky.  Now, a quick question – who is the greatest hockey player ever born on this day? Let’s compare NHL careers:

Gretzky 1487 Games 894 Goals 1963 Assists 2857 Points
Big Mak 0 Games 0 Goals 0 Assists 0 Points

That’s not really a fair comparison, though. He’s got a 21 year head-start.

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

Here we go, the actual first book of the Wheel of Time series (I wrote about the prequel a couple weeks ago).  I originally read this in high school on the recommendation of a friend.  With the release of the later volumes in the series I’ve read this at least four times now and every time I would guess that it takes me less than 3 days to read the entire thing.  If fantasy is your thing, this is a great example of the genre.  The story is actually a pretty straightforward peasant to hero plot with a cross-country journey involved.  Even so, there are some differences that make this an interesting read every time I pick it up.

First off, the eventual hero isn’t the only focus of the story.  A total of five villagers undertake this quest to find the Eye of the World, with each of them unsure of what will be their ultimate role in the finding.  The three young men are all tormented equally by the main evil figure (who postures himself as the Devil) throughout this journey.  No one, not the villagers, not the evil chasing them, not even their protectors are sure who will become the Dragon Reborn, prophesied to lead the forces of good against the Dark One in the ultimate battle of good and evil.

Being the Dragon Reborn comes with a price, of course, the one so named will be a man who can channel the One Power (essentially, a wizard).  This is widely viewed as a death sentence, because every man who channels the Power eventually goes insane, destroying those around him with his magic.  Jordan is able to communicate the absolute dread his characters feel about this and make real the separation that the chosen one will undoubtedly feel in a more concrete sense than the clichéd “you’ve changed, and forgotten your old friends” device.

It’s amazing how much of the later books is set up here.  It is not done in a heavy-handed way at all, the first read will not be hindered by any obvious foreshadowing.  But in my case, knowing what comes after the events of this book, I was constantly surprised at how early some key elements were introduced in this saga.  Even with all that information packed in, I think this book stands alone very well.  Even if you don’t feel like tackling the entire series (and I won’t blame you if you don’t), this is an enjoyable, fast-paced read.

A Year of Random 10

It’s been a little over a year since I started posting random 10’s on Fridays.  In 53 weeks since the first post, I posted 50 lists.  The question isn’t which band has shown up the most, the question is how many more Nine Inch Nails songs have there been than any others.

First this weeks Random 10

  • One More Time – KornUntouchables
  • Stay – Onesidezero(self-titled)
  • For All the Sin – NothingfaceViolence
  • A Story at Three – AFIThe Art of Drowning
  • N.I.B. – Black Sabbath(self-titled)
  • Electric Red – MeshuggahObZen
  • One Inch Man – KyussAnd the Circus Leaves Town
  • Rushmore – Erik FriedlanderBlock Ice and Propane
  • Tangerine – Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin III
  • Just a Taste – Fiona AppleTidal

Clearly the only way to finish off a list that started with that loud of a half hour was Fiona Apple.

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FA Cup Round 4

The first season I started following Premier League Soccer, I got extremely confused when all of a sudden Sunderland was playing against teams that weren’t in the EPL, and the wins (or losses) wouldn’t show up in the standings.  Eventually, I learned of the Cup tournaments, which include teams from multiple levels of the various English soccer leagues and are separate from league play.

The biggest of the tournaments is the FA cup whose field is so large, it seems like all of England lined up and counted off to eleven like choosing sides in gym class.  All these teams (762 teams were accepted into the tournament this year) go through round after round of preliminaries just to reach the first round (about 90 teams are given exemptions to the qualifying rounds with half of those exempt through the third round).  At this point there are 124 clubs remaining, and we can start to draw brackets that make some sense.

This Saturday, Sunderland, having won their first match in the tournament against Barrow (one of four teams to advance to the third round from the English Conference, the fifth-highest conference in England), moves on to round 4 to take on Portsmouth, bottom-dweller in the Premier League this season.

After the jump – brackets!

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The Machine by Joe Posnanski

I feel I’m safely in the majority among the online baseball community when I say that I love Joe Posnanski’s writing.  If you have had your fill of people pointing out how awesome he is, you may want to just skim the rest of this, because there’s nothing but praise for Joe here.

I will start by saying that I don’t care about the 1975 Reds.  They had played and retired by the time I was old enough to follow baseball, I grew up following the Twins in the American League, when they never played the National League Reds.  I’ve only ever known Pete Rose as a gambler, and Joe Morgan as an announcer.  The only reason I picked up this book was The Soul of Baseball, which is right up there with W.P. Kinsella’s books for my favorite baseball books.  I read some of the excerpts posted at Sports Illustrated’s website and decided this was worth a read, just because Posnanski can write baseball so well.

The entire lineup (one of the most famous in baseball history) is discussed, with tidbits and such about each players relationships with each other, with manager Sparky Anderson, and with the media.  As you read, you feel like you’re on Joe Poz’s shoulder as he interviews these players for the book.  It definitely reads like a memoir, not a documentary – and I think that’s intentional, and a good thing.  This is a book about a team that dominated the author’s childhood years.  He can’t possibly tell this story objectively, and it’s a better story because he doesn’t even try.

I went to one of Joe Poz’s book signing events here in Kansas City* and when he talked about this book, he talked about how different it was from his other one.  Where The Soul of Baseball was a personal story that he felt very deeply about, The Machine was just a fun book that he wanted to write.  I think that’s evident upon reading this book.  The conflict of Buck O’Neill trying to impress his memories upon the sport that drove the previous book is gone here.  This book defines an ‘easy read’ – a really good baseball story written by a really good baseball writer.

* Yes, I got my copy signed.  Yes, I had him sign it “Gardy’s a genius!”  Yes, he was a great sport, and a generally nice, engaging person.**

** That’s right – a Pozterisk in an entry about Posnanski’s book.  How meta is that?

m1drna0o

Random 10:

  • The Hives Introduce the Metric System in Time – The HivesVeni Vidi Vicious
  • Getaway Car – Audioslave(self-titled)
  • Young Lust – Pink FloydThe Wall
  • It Only Took a Day – DredgEl Cielo
  • Intelligent Guy – Butthole SurfersWeird Revolution
  • Source Tags and Codes – … And You Will Know Us by the Trail of DeadSource Tags and Codes
  • Tonight – SupergrassIn It For the Money
  • Bend the Bracket – ChevelleThis Type of Thinking Could Do Us In
  • Section XI – Grand Valley State University New Music EnsembleMusic For 18 Musicians (Steve Reich)
  • Valley of the Low Sun – Jakob DylanSeeing Things

A lot of bands that I really don’t ever listen to.  I guess that’s why it’s called the random 10.  Although this did remind me that I like that Hives album (all 20 minutes of it).

Wild Six or Seven Pack – Vol. 7

Record Home Away Goal Diff. EV-Time EVGF EVGA EVGF/60 EVGA/60
Gm. 1-7 1-6-0 1-0-0 0-6-0 –10 310:29 7 21 1.35 4.04
Gm. 8-14 4-3-0 3-1-0 1-2-0 –1 349:12 10 11 1.72 1.89
Gm. 15-20 2-2-2 1-1-0 1-1-2 0 288:02 13 7 2.71 1.46
Gm. 21-26 4-1-1 3-1-1 1-0-0 2 297:00 12 12 2.42 2.42
Gm. 27-33 5-2-0 2-0-0 3-2-0 2 352:29 14 10 2.38 1.70
Gm. 34-40 4-3-0 2-1-0 2-2-0 0 339:03 14 16 2.55 2.91
Gm. 41-47 4-3-0 4-2-0 0-1-0 1 347:25 20 16 3.45 2.76
TOTAL 24-20-3 16-6-1 8-14-2 –6 2283:40 90 93 2.36 2.44

After game 41, the Wild were exactly halfway through the season with a record of 20-18-3 (43 points) in 11th place in the conference.  Curious as to how teams in a similar position have fared in the second half in the past, I created the graph below which plots second half points as a function of first half points (this represents the Western Conference in the four seasons post-lockout – average of 46 points in both the first and second half).

What can we learn from this?  Teams with 50 points in the first half are almost guaranteed to get 95 points (only 2 of 19 teams failed to do so), so we can pretty much put these teams in the playoffs based on their first half performance.

  • San Jose (59 pts)
  • Chicago (59 pts)
  • Calgary (53 pts)
  • Phoenix (53 pts)
  • Colorado (52 pts)
  • Nashville (51 pts)

The teams with 40-49 points in the first half are almost impossible to predict (this season that applies to – Vancouver, Los Angeles, Detroit, Dallas, Minnesota, and St. Louis).  10 of 30 teams ended up with less than 83 points, 9 of the 30 ended up with more than 95 points.  If those trends hold, it would seem at least 2 of those 6 teams mentioned above will surpass 95 points.  That means it’s going to take 95 points or more to reach the post-season.  The Wild need to pick up 52 points in the second half to reach 95, that’s 1.27 points per game (leaving out their 0-5 road trip the Wild have been earning 1.19 points per game).  An interesting point is that the team in 11th place after 41 games has made the playoffs in the last two seasons (Dallas last year and Anaheim two years ago) so the Wild are practically guaranteed a spot.

PP Time PPGF SHGA PPGF/60 SHGA/60
Games 1-7 61:36 8 1 7.79 0.97
Games 8-14 39:09 5 2 7.66 3.07
Games 15-20 43:18 3 2 4.16 2.77
Games 21-26 39:44 5 0 7.55 0.00
Games 27-33 35:41 3 0 5.04 0.00
Games 34-40 44:43 4 1 5.37 1.34
Games 41-47 39:29 3 1 4.56 1.52
TOTAL 303:40 31 7 6.13 1.38
SH Time SHGF PPGA SHGF/60 PPGA/60
Games 1-7 51:03 0 3 0.00 3.53
Games 8-14 38:34 0 3 0.00 4.67
Games 15-20 38:40 1 8 1.55 12.41
Games 21-26 34:44 0 3 0.00 5.18
Games 27-33 39:41 0 5 0.00 7.56
Games 34-40 36:14 1 2 1.56 3.31
Games 41-47 38:04 1 6 1.58 9.46
TOTAL 277:00 3 30 0.65 6.50