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  • November 21, 2010

    The state of the Vikings

    [Posted by kris]



    Posted by kris at 06:06 PM | Comments (0)     
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    November 17, 2010

    One for the Smart team

    [Posted by kris]

    I was reading the transcripts of Elizabeth Smart's testimony in the Salt Lake Tribune the other day and I was just completely struck by how awesome she is. While recounting her ordeal, she's sometimes tough, sarcastic and even a little funny. In fact, if the whole thing wasn't so awful & tragic, it would almost be comical because of just how much smarter she, as a traumatized 14-year old girl, was than her captors.

    This additional article in the Tribune really captures some of her cunning:

    Smart said that when Barzee again complained Mitchell was “lusting after me too much and not fulfilling her needs,” he gave Barzee a blessing that included a schedule: He would be with Barzee from morning until midday, and with Smart from midday until the following morning.

    Smart said the schedule backfired on Mitchell one morning while the two of them were fetching water from a spring. Mitchell wanted sex, but Smart reminded him of the schedule. When Mitchell said Barzee would never know, Smart said she would tell her — and Mitchell left her alone.

    Asked federal Prosecutor Felice Viti, “How did that make you feel?”

    “One for the Smart team,” Smart said with a smile.

    It's not in the transcript, but I assume that everyone in the courtroom had to have some kind of "Bravo!" reaction to that.

    And actually, she was even more clever because she reminded Mitchell of his claim that this schedule was divinely determined. Likewise, she convinced her captors to return to Utah from California by claiming that God suggested it to her, knowing that they'd be more receptive to that kind of argument. I love that she was able to use their twisted religion against them just as they used it to torture her. It's the power of street smarts and common sense triumphing over physical and religious power. One for the Smart team indeed.

    Posted by kris at 10:46 AM | Comments (1)     
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    November 15, 2010

    Rockin' the suburbs

    [Posted by kris]

    As often happens to me online, one article leads to another. Tonight, I was reading this article about how Americans have moved away from the communal meal and it lead to another article urging Americans to avoid the suburbs for the sake of the earth. The articles weren't anything special, but I can't tell you how much I love this comment from the latter article:

    If the quote wasn't awesome enough, the picture is. It's almost like it's a caricature of the perfect smug urban liberal, isn't it?

    I don't particularly want to live in the suburbs either, but it takes quite a leap to claim that they're somehow psychologically "deadening". You can grow up in the big city or one of its suburbs, in a smaller town, on a farm, with the circus, etc. and have a wonderful or awful experience or, like most of us, a perfectly average experience.

    It seems ridiculous for some hipster to blame his teenage surliness and alienation on the suburbs rather than on being, you know, a teenager. As Bart Simpson once famously said, "Making teenagers depressed is like shooting fish in a barrel."

    Or, as Ben Folds said:

    Y'all don't know what it's like

    Being male, middle-class and white

    Sha-mon

    Posted by kris at 08:31 PM | Comments (0)     
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    November 07, 2010

    Who should Aaron Rodgers date?

    [Posted by kris]

    I read this in Bill Simmons' latest column:

    Meanwhile, here's the best Packer-related idea of 2010 from Nick in Madison: "How big of an Eff You would it be to Brett Favre if Aaron Rodgers started dating Jenn Sterger?"

    The answer? A gigantic Eff You and the greatest sports-related moment of 2010. So those are the stakes.

    I don't know about that. I think there are at least three people Rodgers could date that would be bigger Eff Yous. And, of course, I'm sure that Aaron's actual girlfriend is lovely & amazing. But still, this is a fun topic and I love me some spite-filled motivation. What do you think?

    Who should Aaron Rodgers date?
    Jenn Sterger
    Deanna Favre
    Brittany Favre
    Bonita Favre
      
    pollcode.com free polls
    Posted by kris at 07:25 PM | Comments (1)     
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    If you liked Zenyatta...

    [Posted by kris]

    (see all of our 2010 Breeders Cup articles)

    I know a lot of casual fans watched Zenyatta's "quest for perfection" (ugh - thanks ESPN) yesterday. It was likely Zenyatta's last race, but there's no reason to make it your last race. One of the wonderful things about racing is that there's always another horse. They won't be Zenyatta, but why not follow one of these horses next year? It's not too early to start thinking about Breeders Cup 2011 (Nov. 4-5 back at Churchill Downs).

    Awesome Feather:

    Why?: She's the likely two-year old filly champion.
    What's Next?: She's actually scheduled to be sold today, so it's kind of up in the air. No matter where she ends up, I'd expect her to run again sometime in late winter/early spring.
    Breeders Cup 2011 Division: Ladies Classic

    Blind Luck:

    Why?: Zenyatta, Jr. She's not quite as good, but she has the same last-to-first running style.
    What's Next?: She'll go back to California and probably rest up until later spring.
    Breeders Cup 2011 Division: Ladies Classic

    Frankel:

    Why?: He's Europe's version of Uncle Mo and named after the great American trainer Bobby Frankel (father of Bethanny for fans of the Real Housewives of NYC).
    What's Next?: He'll aim for the 2000 Guineas and Epsom Derby in England next spring.
    Breeders Cup 2011 Division: Turf

    Lady Giacamo:

    Why?: She's a rare true black filly and a daughter of 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacamo.
    What's Next?: Although based in Texas, she's supposed to ship to Hollywood Park to run in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes on Dec. 11th.
    Breeders Cup 2011 Division: Ladies Classic, Filly & Mare Sprint

    Lookin At Lucky:

    Why?: With the likely retirements of Zenyatta & Blame, Lookin At Lucky will be one of the best horses in training.
    What's Next?: He'll go back to California. Since his connections don't shy away from big events, I wouldn't be surprised to see him aim for the Dubai World Cup in March.
    Breeders Cup 2011 Division: Classic

    Sidney's Candy:

    Why?: He's got a fearless, front-running style.
    What's Next?: He's supposed to be sold, but it hasn't happened yet. For now, he'll go back to California and after his respectable finish in the BC Mile, I'd expect he'd stay on turf this winter.
    Breeders Cup 2011 Division: Mile

    Take Control:

    Why?: He's a lightly-raced 3-year old by A.P. Indy out of the champion mare Azeri.
    What's Next?: He was injured earlier this year and looks to be back in action soon, so look for him this winter at Santa Anita.
    Breeders Cup 2011 Division: Classic

    To Honor And Serve:

    Why?: He's a nice-looking potential Derby horse - your alternative to Uncle Mo.
    What's Next?: He'll go down to winter in Florida, probably starting in February or March.
    Breeders Cup 2011 Division: Classic

    Uncle Mo:

    Why?: He's the unbeaten favorite for the 2011 Kentucky Derby.
    What's Next?: He'll go down to winter in Florida and will probably run again down there sometime in March.
    Breeders Cup 2011 Division: Classic

    Winter Memories:

    Why?: She's an adorable, distinctive gray filly with an explosive stretch run.
    What's Next?: There aren't a ton of good racings for fillies on the turf, but look for her to pop up sometime in late winter/early spring in Florida.
    Breeders Cup 2011 Division: Filly & Mare Turf

    Posted by kris at 11:38 AM | Comments (1)     
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    Breeders Cup Winners & Losers

    [Posted by kris]

    (see all of our 2010 Breeders Cup articles)

    I'm not going to recover from this Breeders Cup weekend for awhile. In the aftermath, here's my take on the winners and losers.

    Winners

    Me: I'm a small win bettor so I'm never going to win serious money, but for me I won good money this weekend, particularly with 37-1 shot Dakota Phone and in the Turf Sprint.

    Claiborne Farm: One of their longtime clients owns Breeders Cup Classic winner Blame, who will stand stud there too. Blame's sire, Arch, is also at Claiborne and his reputation was not only enhanced by Blame but also by being the broodmare sire of Juvenile champ Uncle Mo.

    More Than Ready: He sired both of the Juvenile Turf winners, More Than Real & Pluck.

    Mike Repole: The billionaire owner of Uncle Mo not only owns Uncle Mo, but was a breath of fresh air in the Winner's Circle when he declared that he was going to celebrate Mo's victory by "getting so drunk tonight".

    Racing: Zenyatta brought out a bunch of casual fans and hopefully some of them stay interested in the game. My advice is if you're friend or family with these people, "give" them a few horses to follow next year. They won't be Zenyatta, but at least it's something.

    Zenyatta: She could not have been more gallant in defeat.

    Losers

    Me: I'm heartbroken over Zenyatta's defeat. I have to console myself with the fact that both Man O'War and Native Dancer had one blemish on their record. They didn't deserve to lose and neither did she.

    Bob Baffert: I love Baffert, but his horses didn't really perform. Lookin At Lucky ran well to be 4th in the Classic and will be a force next year, but the rest of the barn didn't do much, which is too bad because I really find Baffert quite delightful.

    Calvin Borel: Much of the goodwill Borel has earned through his popular Kentucky Derby victories evaporated when he acted like a complete maniac during his Winner's Circle brawl with Javier Castellano.

    Racing: While lots of new fans got into Zenyatta, racing doesn't have a plan to keep them, do they? Of course not. Plus, one horse was euthanized yesterday and another, Life At Ten, was completely failed by all of the people who let her run in the Ladies Classic on Friday. The horse needs to come first.

    Zenyatta: She's only a loser in the most literal sense, but it still sucks.

    Posted by kris at 10:04 AM | Comments (1)     
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    November 05, 2010

    2010 Breeders Cup - Saturday Selections

    [Posted by kris]

    (see all of our 2010 Breeders Cup articles)

    Assuming I have some money left after Friday's races, here are my picks for THE BEST SATURDAY EVER!

    Juvenile Turf: I know that, in theory, I should probably pick some European horses in these turf races, but honestly, I think that the two best closers are probably the Americans Air Support & Banned. Fans of Ruffian will be interested to know that her connections own Air Support. I like Banned just a bit better, but I honestly don't have a strong opinion about this race at all.

    Sprint: This year's Sprint perplexes me. I think Atta Boy Roy and Cash Refund are the speed of the speed, but I don't think one is clearly faster than the other, so I don't think they can clear the field. I think there will be a fast & contenious pace that should set things up for a closer. Unfortunately, there's no closer like a Lit de Justice in the field. I think the likely favorite Giralomo will probably be further back, but I just don't really like him. In general, I like California sprinters, so I guess I'm going to go with the best of the west, Smiling Tiger.

    Turf Sprint: This race is absolutely loaded with speed so the logical pick is the confirmed closer Silver Timber. However, I think that Central City can clear the field from the advantageous #2 post.

    Juvenile: Boys At Tosconova and Jaycito are nice colts, but I truly believe that Uncle Mo is something special. His last race was simply a masterpiece. He was tested early, fought off that challenge and pulled away to win, all in only his second start. Let's go Uncle Mo!

    Mile: This is the best race on the card. You've got Goldikova looking for her third Mile win in a row. There are three world class closers in Proviso, Gio Ponti & Paco Boy. And then there's the freak, Sidney's Candy. The setup of the race is simply fascinating. Sidney's Candy will simply wing it from the front - and catch him if you can. He's going to go too fast for the other contenders to run with him without compromising their chances. While Goldikova can lay close to the lead, the pace will be similar or faster to last year's race in which she came from well off of the pace. Proviso, Gio Ponti & Paco Boy are going to wait for Goldikova to make her run before they make theirs. What I think is going to happen is that those four horses are going to be playing cat & mouse games while Sidney's Candy is lengths and lengths in front of them and I don't think they're going to be able to catch him. Sidney's Candy in a smashing performance.

    Dirt Mile: After the epic battle of the turf, the Dirt Mile seems like a letdown to me. My strategy here is simply to pick the classiest horse in the race, who I think is Crown Of Thorns. He's done well at 9 and 7 furlongs, so it's probably logical to think he'll excel at 8 furlongs, right?

    UPDATE: Crown of Thorns has been scratched. Uh...for lack of any other thoughts, I'll go with Dakota Phone who finished behind him in his last race.

    Turf: Looking at the field, I think this is one of those races where everyone is going to lope along and then gun it at the top of the stretch. Everyone is all over the European horses, but I think the Arc winner Workforce looks more like a grinder than a horse with an explosive kick. And while Bekhabad might have had some trouble in that race, it wasn't like he was flying at the end. Likewise, Dangerous Midge just looks like another stalker to me. I know this is probably crazy, but I think the most explosive closer is the American Winchester. USA!

    UPDATE: The favorite Workforce has been scratched because his connections are whiny little bitches about the track. I'm a tad bitter because I hated him in this race and his defection will just lower the odds on everyone else.

    Classic: So clearly, I'm picking Zenyatta. I know it's an emotional pick, so I dug a little deeper in the Form and tried to find a reason not to back her. I don't have one. Saturday she's actually going to get a decent pace to run at. She has the fastest closing kick of any horse in the race and she's going to have that long Churchill Downs stretch to gobble up the field with her giant strides. I believe.

    So, my picks, my the morning line in parentheses:

    Juvenile Turf: Banned (10-1)
    Sprint: Smiling Tiger (6-1)
    Turf Sprint: Central City (12-1)
    Juvenile: Uncle Mo (7-5)
    Mile: Sidney's Candy (10-1)
    Dirt Mile: Crown Of Thorns (4-1) Dakota Phone (30-1)
    Turf: Winchester (8-1)
    Classic: Zenyatta (8-5)

    (follow my results here)

    Posted by kris at 02:24 AM | Comments (22)     
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    November 04, 2010

    2010 Breeders Cup - Friday Picks

    [Posted by kris]

    (see all of our 2010 Breeders Cup articles)

    Breeders Cup weekend kicks off Friday with six races, five for fillies and mares and one for plodders. After much (okay, some) analysis, here are my official picks (please note - once I'm at the betting window, I might get greedy with odds, but this is what I'll pick for posterity).

    Breeders Cup Marathon: This race has a motley mix of American plodders and European also-rans going a strange distance of 1 3/4 miles on the main track. I have no idea. Looking at the field, it looks like everyone wants to either come from far off the pace or stalk the lead. If no one wants to lead, that might set up the race for the European Bright Horizon who has raced on the lead and won races at up to two miles. Of the Americans, I'm most interested in A.U. Miner since he's won at a 1 1/2 miles and has, by all reports, looked good at Churchill Downs this week. Of the two, I guess I'll pick A.U. Miner because he's bred for dirt while Bright Horizon has a strictly turf pedigree.

    Juvenile Fillies Turf: The juvenile fillies on turf are a better bunch than their male counterparts. I'm completely sold on the favorite here, Winter Memories. I think she has the explosive kick necessary to win on the turf and that she's just a special filly that I expect to win going away at low odds. I think one of the other North Americans, Kathmanblu or Wyomia, should be her toughest competition.

    Filly & Mare Sprint: This is a deceptive "sprint" in that it's 7 furlongs, so it's just long enough to require a sprinter with a little starch in her stride. A lot of people really like Bob Baffert's Gabby's Golden Gal, coming off of a long layoff, while others like last year's winner Informed Decision, Dubai Majesty, Sara Louise or Rightly So. Seriously, this is a hard race to pick. I'm going to go with the three-year old Champagne d'Oro. I like her because she's won at this distance and at a mile. I think she has the speed to stalk the pace and get first run, but enough stamina to hold on for the win.

    Juvenile Fillies: This is one of the few races where Churchill Downs jockey specialist Calvin Borel will be on a contender. He'll be riding Tell A Kelly and I expect that he'll take a lot of money with him. However, word on the track is that Tell A Kelly has looked awful this week. The European filly, Theysken's Theory, is interesting with her dirt pedigree and I thought the likely favorite, A Z Warrior, looked awesome in her workout earlier this week, but I don't know that she wants to run two turns and a longer distance. I probably shouldn't do this, but I'm going to pick the A.P. Indy filly Believe In A.P.. She's only won a maiden race, but won it impressively and seems to want a distance.

    Filly & Mare Turf: Last year's winner, Midday, should be a big favorite here and she's been a top performer in Europe all year, as has Plumania. I really like Red Desire in here though. She's raced against the top males both in Japan and Dubai, beating Dubai World Cup winner Gloria de Campeao earlier this year. She ran well to be third last month in her first race off of a long layoff and I think she's primed for an big effort. Plus, it's just time for a Japanese winner of the Breeders Cup, don't you think?

    Ladies' Classic: Without Zenyatta or Rachel Alexandra, this race loses a lot of its luster. I think the long Churchill Downs stretch, however, sets it up perfectly for Kentucky Oaks winner Blind Luck. Blind Luck never makes it easy, but I do think there's going to be enough pace in the race for her to run at.

    So, I've got (with morning line):

    Marathon - A.U. Miner (9-2)
    Juvenile Fillies Turf - Winter Memories (2-1)
    Filly & Mare Sprint - Champagne d'Oro (6-1)
    Juvenile Fillies - Believe In A.P. (15-1)
    Filly & Mare Turf - Red Desire (8-1)
    Ladies' Classic - Blind Luck (9-5)

    Posted by kris at 07:29 AM | Comments (8)     
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    November 03, 2010

    Former Senator Russ Feingold's Top Ten Pickup Lines

    [Posted by kris]

    So Wisconsin's heartthrob, former Senator Russ Feingold, will presumably be headed back to America's Dairyland permanently following his defeat in yesterday's election.

    I feel bad for Russ. He seems like a good guy. Since he's single again and we've dealt with this before, I thought I'd help him figure out how to court those ever-elusive Wisconsin women.

    Ladies and gentlemen, behold:

    Former Senator Russ Feingold's Top Ten Pickup Lines
    (note the new Big Ten styling!)

    12. "As the voters of Wisconsin would tell you, I'm no teabagger."

    11. "You look like you could sure stimulate my package."

    10. "Good thing I voted for ObamaCare, because you've got a pre-condition of terminal hotness."

    9. "I won't leave you for the Minnesota Vikings."

    8. "Hey there, you've got something I'd like a sneak and peek at."

    7. "You look like a gold digger to me, which is good, cuz I'm some fine gold." (hey, it still works!)

    6. "Now's your chance to vote for this Johnson."

    5. "The vote's not the only thing that swings in Wisconsin, if you know what I mean."

    4. "I've been a consistent supporter of 2nd Amendment rights. Wanna ticket to the gun show?"

    3. "Let me be your garage door man."

    2. "Hey sweetie, now that I'm back in town, can you teach me how to Bucky?"


    And, Former Senator Russ Feingold's number one pickup line is:

    1. "C'mon honey, my troubled asset could sure use some relief."

    Posted by kris at 06:59 PM | Comments (0)     
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    Impressions from election night

    [Posted by kris]

    A few observations:

    • I saw some of Joe Manchin's victory speech in West Virginia. I would have voted for him too. I liked his big point about how he'll work with anyone to get stuff done. Maybe I'm naive, but he seemed really genuine about it and it was the kind of message I wanted to hear.
    • On the other hand, I thought Rand Paul's speech was horrible. It was all still about "taking back the country" and "showing those folks in D.C.". He is one of those folks in D.C. now. You can run on anger, but you can't govern on it.
    • Reading comments online, I got a real sense of voter glee at "firing" the incumbents. Everyone seemed to truly enjoy this sense of power, which is a little odd, since we've always had the power to do this. I do feel like a taste of this kind of power is addictive and voters will feel free to vote these guys out again in 2 or 6 years if they want to. That's great.
    • I do feel a little sad about Russ Feingold, even though I think McCain/Feingold was ultimately a rotten piece of legislation. Sometimes I think that representatives think they work for the GOP or the DNC instead of the people that voted for them. I don't think that Feingold ever felt that way. I think he hung himself on two votes (health care and the second stimulus). It's a shame, but it goes to show that representatives really are ultimately accountable to the people.
    • I'm glad to read that some Republicans understand that this election isn't about Americans embracing Republican values. This is about Americans being ticked off about spending. If Republicans try to use this election to do a bunch of crap that doesn't involve cutting spending and working to improve the economy, they too will be voted out. See "glee" above.
    • Facebook, which just two years ago was filled with breathless, unbridled joy about Obama's election, is now filled with anger and terror. I would laugh, but I'm too upset to do so. This election had nothing to do with the social issues that frighten people so much. It's the economy, stupid.
    • Overall, I think America does well with a divided government. It forces people to work together. I think that's what Americans want right now. We want a government that does our business, not the business of either party. I don't know if that will really happen now, but I'm more optimistic than ever that if it doesn't the American people will again hold their representatives accountable in 2012.
    Posted by kris at 08:43 AM | Comments (9)     
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    November 01, 2010

    Invoking Reagan

    [Posted by kris]

    I saw this ad on Sporcle today:

    I don't know. Really? I mean, sure, Reagan was generally anti-government, but I still don't think he'd fit in with the Tea Party. I think the difference is that Reagan was pro-American people first and anti-government second. The Tea Party, on the other hand, is anti-government first. I guess what it comes down is that Reagan was an optimist and the Tea Party is basically pessimistic. It's hard to imagine Reagan getting down with the pessimists. In the privacy of the voting booth, Reagan probably would vote GOP tomorrow, but in some cases he'd be holding his nose while doing so.

    Posted by kris at 05:30 PM | Comments (2)     
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