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  • Jim Rome leaving ESPN. Bonus: Footage of Jim Rome getting attacked by Jim Everett & crying like a baby
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  • Jim Rome: out of The Jungle and onto the (horse) farm
  • New IL Law Requires Photo ID To Buy Drain†Cleaner
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  • December 30, 2010

    Wisconsin West

    [Posted by kris]

    The "Badger Nation" takes over the Santa Monica Pier in anticipation of Saturday's Rose Bowl.

    Seriously, can anyone think of a better Wisconsin football weekend: Badgers in the Rose Bowl Saturday and Packers/Bears on Sunday with a playoff berth on the line?

    Posted by kris at 05:49 PM | Comments (1)     
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    December 28, 2010

    That's right

    [Posted by kris]

    (from Natalie Dee)

    Upon further review, I have to link to this video. See starting at 2:59.

    And then there's this:

    And this:

    Chester Marcol, bitches.

    Posted by kris at 09:59 AM | Comments (1)     
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    December 23, 2010

    Christmas songs that don't suck

    [Posted by kris]

    Here's a little YouTube playlist I put together for your Christmas enjoyment. If anyone has some more suggestions, let me know and as long as it's not John Lennon's Happy Xmas (War Is Over), I'll add it to the playlist.


    Posted by kris at 08:53 AM | Comments (0)     
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    December 19, 2010

    Do they know it's Christmas?

    [Posted by kris]

    ESPN's Bill Simmons is mystified by this song:

    My all-time favorite Christmas song. For some reason, I hadn't seen the video in ages and forgot the lineup of singers other than Bono (who has the headscratching, "Well, tonight thank God it's them, instead of you!" line that I've never been able to figure out). In the video, that line works even better because it follows the duet with Simon LeBon and Sting, and suddenly there's a young Bono standing behind them and wearing Uncle Jessie's haircut from "Full House" ... and the three of them share one mike as Bono belts his weird line out. Even stranger, Sting never gets his own line -- he's just singing background for everyone else, which was insane because he was the biggest star there.

    Here's what kills me about this video (other than George Michael's haircut): Not only does Paul Young bat leadoff, they go back to him for another solo in the middle! Paul Young! They had the lead singer of the hottest band at the time (Duran Duran's LeBon), the best singer of the entire decade (Sting) and a budding superstar (Bono) ... and they kicked things off with Paul Young? Who was in charge of Band Aid, Bob Geldof or Jimy Williams? I was trying to think of a sports equivalent of this -- like John Starks getting named to the '92 Dream Team, then starting over MJ and Drexler -- but it's impossible. It's too ludicrous. You can't come up with the sports equivalent of Paul Young getting the nod over Bono, Sting and Simon LeBon. I watched this clip 10 times in two weeks and still couldn't figure it out. And you wonder what I do all day.

    He wrote that a few years ago but mentioned it again in a more recent column. First, Paul Young is awesome. I still remember his brilliant performance at Live Aid the following year:

    Second, Bono's line is what makes the song. It's what makes it rise above the trite "sunshine, rainbows, kittens, children" triteness of the typical charity song (see "We Are The World"). There's power in that line. Isn't that the whole point, that it's just a lucky accident of birth that you're not starving in Africa? That you didn't do anything to deserve the life you have and so you should give what you can to those who weren't so fortunate?

    I mean really, do Vikings fan even know it's Christmas time at all?

    Posted by kris at 12:12 PM | Comments (3)     
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    December 18, 2010

    The thin blue line

    [Posted by kris]

    I came across this graph on Wikipedia the other day. I obviously knew that China and the Soviet Union suffered tremendous casualties in WWII, but the thin blue line shocked me. The line represents total casualties as a percentage of 1939 population. Look at poor Poland. Over 18 percent of the population was just gone.

    I had no idea that the extermination of Poles was also so systematic and ideological. You always read that six million Jews and other gypsies, etc. were killed in the Holocaust. I makes the others sound like an afterthought. 2 million isn't an afterthought. I'm a little ashamed to not realize the extent of the Holocaust on ethnic Poles too.

    Whenever I read stuff like this I try to imagine myself in that time and place. Knowing myself, in this case I think it's pretty obvious that I would have mouthed off to some Nazi and been immediately executed.

    It's amazing to think how lucky we are.

    Posted by kris at 04:08 PM | Comments (0)     
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    December 14, 2010

    The rational case for Zenyatta

    [Posted by kris]

    I'm sick to death of reading articles from horse racing writers about how Blame is the only "rational" choice for Horse of the Year and that people who believe Zenyatta should receive the award are simply sentimental idiots at best and crazy cat ladies at worst.

    There certainly is a rational case to be made for Zenyatta to win Horse of the Year. It's important to know that there is no specific criteria for Horse of the Year, but let's examine some of the factors voters should weigh.

    1. The winner of the the Breeders Cup Classic, the year's final major race
    Since the start of the Breeders Cup in 1984, only 42% of the winners of the Breeders Cup Classic have gone on to be named Horse of the Year. The Breeders Cup is not the Super Bowl or the Stanley Cup finals. It's a very important race, but a win or loss in the Breeders Cup doesn't, by itself, destroy a horse's chance at Horse of the Year.

    It's enlightening to look at some recent history around Horse of the Year and the Breeders Cup Classic:

    2007: Curlin, Street Sense, Any Given Saturday and Hard Spun were all talented 3-year olds who had beaten each other over the course of the year. Curlin won the Breeders Cup Classic and was named Horse of the Year. Note, however, that he was beaten by a nose in his only matchup with the Kentucky Oaks/Belmont Stakes-winning filly Rags To Riches. So - a single head-to-head matchup was overlooked.

    2008: Curlin won several major races before the Breeders Cup, but was defeated in that race by the European Raven's Pass. Zenyatta, meanwhile, had an undefeated season capped by a win in the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic, but lost Horse of the Year to Curlin. So - a loss in the Breeders Cup Classic was overlooked.

    2009: Zenyatta had another undefeated season, finishing the year by beating colts in the Breeders Cup Classic. Rachel Alexandra was also undefeated that season - winning several major races - but skipped the Breeders Cup. So - a win in the Breeders Cup Classic itself was overlooked.

    Can you see how frustrating this is to Zenyatta fans? Last year's argument against her was that the Breeders Cup wasn't the end-all, be-all, but this year's argument against her is that it is.

    2. Outstanding or historical achievements
    This was the reason Rachel Alexandra won last year. It's also the reason two-year olds like Secretariat or Favorite Trick have won. In other years, the Classic division didn't produce a clear winner so turf horses like Kotashaan or mares like Lady's Secret or Azeri won.

    3. The best horse in the country in a 1 1/4 mile race on the main track.
    I think this is the standard most typically used by Horse of the Year voters. I also think it's generally the correct standard. Curlin lost the 2008 Classic, but voters determined that, overall he was still the best horse in the country. It's the same reason that a horse like Point Given in 2001, who was retired before the Breeders Cup, still won Horse of the Year.

    This is Zenyatta's path to victory. Despite her narrow loss to Blame, there's still ample evidence that she, not he, was the best horse in the country at the classic distance. Don't believe me? If they ran the race again, who would you bet on?

    4. Sentiment
    Andy Beyer may not believe it, but sentiment has certainly ruled previous Horse of the Year votes:

    1984: John Henry was named Horse of the Year over Slew O'Gold because he was old and had a great story.

    1996: Cigar was named Horse of the Year for a second time even though he tailed off badly at the end of the year because he had a long unbeaten streak and was a great story.

    1998: Skip Away was named Horse of the Year despite losing to Breeders Cup Classic winner Awesome Again basically because voters realized they probably should have given him the award in 1997 over Favorite Trick.

    2002: Azeri wins Horse of the Year despite never racing against males, in part because everyone loved her late owner and also because the Kentucky Derby-Preakness winner, War Emblem, was owned by a Saudi Arabian prince in the wake of 9/11.

    So no, it's not "irrational" to support Zenyatta for Horse of the Year, and if racing writers could put aside their own petty regional biases for one second they'd realize it too. Horse racing is the only sport that tries so hard to talk itself out of a superstar. Fools.

    Posted by kris at 09:28 AM | Comments (0)     
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    December 08, 2010

    College Bowl Pick 'Em Tourney

    [Posted by kris]

    It's the most wonderful time of the year! Join our College Bowl Pick 'Em league. As per our custom, our league uses confidence points and we'll make a donation to the winner's charity of choice. To enter, go here and enter the following info:

    Group ID#: 17275
    Password: teachmehowtobucky

    The Bowls start Dec. 18th, so hurry up and enter!

    Posted by kris at 08:10 PM | Comments (0)     
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    December 05, 2010

    Concealing and abstaining from common sense

    [Posted by kris]

    I posted links to two stories this morning, one about Bristol Palin's response to Keith Olbermann's charge that she's the 'worst person in the world' due to her involvement in abstinence education and another from Isthmus on a gun rights advocate.

    I suspect that there isn't a lot of overlap between supporters of abstinence education and supporters of stricter gun control. But maybe there should be. Both stances require the believer to ignore common sense and basic human behavior. You have to believe that if you just educate teens they won't have sex and that if you just pass stricter laws, criminals won't get guns. Good luck with that.

    Most people agree that we should work to reduce both crime and teenage pregnancies. However, I think what lots of people actually want to do is to get rid of big scary guns and stop premarital fornication. Hence the reason why their preferred policies have very little to do with the actual reality of crime and teenage pregnancy. They're all about legislating morality and lifestyle. They're two sides of the same coin. They're yet another reminder that there will never be a shortage of people willing to tell the rest of us how to live.


    Posted by kris at 09:35 AM | Comments (1)     
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    December 01, 2010

    Top 10 Songs of 2010

    [Posted by kris]

    I turned the page on my calendar to December this morning, which can only mean one thing: time for end of the year lists!

    Back in June, I listed my top 10 songs of the year so far. I've kept on loving many of those same songs, but I do have a few changes to the list. And, in keeping with my custom, my list is Big Ten-styled with now two (!!) bonus tracks, (well actually three, but never you mind that).

    12. Double Rainbow Song, by The Gregory Brothers featuring Yosemitebear/Bed Intruder Song, by Antoine Dodson: 2010 was truly a banner year for the internet novelty song and these two auto-tune gems are the best of the bunch. Don't tell me you haven't wondered "What does it mean??"

    11. Roll Away Your Stone, by Mumford & Sons: Since I have two songs by Mumford & Sons on the list, this track gets slotted into the bonus part of the list, even though it's definitely more than my 11th favorite song of the year. I love the swelling lyrical climax of the song:

    Stars hide your fires, these here are my desires

    And I won't give them up to you this time around

    And so, Iíll be found with my stake stuck in this ground

    Marking the territory of this newly impassioned soul

    What I love even more is the way they extend the instrumental in the chorus. It makes the song more folk and less pop.

    10. When I'm Small, by Phantogram: I love the driving rhythm and icy vocals.

    9. F* You, by Cee Lo: Despite the kind of mean name, this is really a fun, genre-mixing blast of a song.

    8. Queen Of The Lot, by The Spring Standards: This is a bit jazzier than what I typically like, but it works because of the strong melody and vocals.

    7. Tightrope, by Janelle Monae: People have compared Janelle Monae to everyone from Prince to James Brown to Santigold. This is a showstopper of a song that highlights all of her awesomeness.

    6. Wait So Long, by Trampled By Turtles: I remember when my brother and I found a bluegrass radio station somewhere around Rhinelander, WI. It's funny that now there's so much great bluegrass-infused music out there. This is one of the best of the year.

    5. Sara Smile, by The Bird & The Bee: A smooth as silk cover of the Hall & Oates classic. I think The Bird & The Bee basically improve on all of the originals on their cover album.

    4. Go On, by Elephant Revival: A Jack Johnson song if Jack Johnson had an awesome female partner and was lyrical and dreamy rather than just boring. You can get it for free on Amazon

    3. Dixon's Girl, by Dessa: So many female singers are either soft or coquettish. Dessa is sleek and cool on this song and you really can't get the refrain "It's not much, but my money's on you." out of your head.

    2. Tell 'Em, by Sleigh Bells: This is one of the most aggressive songs I've ever heard. It gets you in the mood to kick some ass. Plus, I have a weakness for any song that incorporates any kind of laser or bomb noises.

    1. The Cave, by Mumford & Sons: Even though I was kind of disappointed by their live show, I still think this is the best and most exhilarating song of the year.

    I try to keep my lists pretty strictly limited to songs from CDs that were released in the U.S. in 2010. Unfortunately, that means that some songs I grew to love this year were excluded, like Dawes' "Love Is All I Am" and The Avett Brothers' "Laundry Room. My favorite musical memory of the year is easily hearing that song at the end of their show at Bayfield's Big Top Chautauqua (all I can find is this 30-second clip). It doesn't get better than listening to your favorite song from the second row of a giant tent on a hill overlooking Lake Superior and then hearing the echoes of "I am a breathing time machine" in your head as you take the ferry across on a cloudless midnight under the firmament and the stars. Literally, heaven.

    So those are my favorites. What are yours?

    Posted by kris at 11:27 AM | Comments (3)     
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