1. As I mentioned in the midst of yesterday's mammoth live blog post, which you're forgiven if you skimmed, I got to spend a whole lot of time yesterday with Jon Lee Anderson, a foreign correspondent for The New Yorker. At 53, he's basically the foremost badass on the planet; he travels wherever there's conflict in the world, and sends dispatches that are more thorough and nuanced than what you read anywhere else. I love long-form print journalism, and he's my favorite writer in that genre. Through a variety of weird and lucky circumstances, I ended up having breakfast with at the Carolina Inn. The faculty members who were supposed to join backed out, so it was just me and Anderson.
I realize this will make me sound like an 8-year-old boy, but it was like meeting a hero. I was excited, but also seriously nervous; I'm 28, and he's the kind of guy whose biography makes you feel like you've done absolutely nothing with your time. Would he make me feel like an idiot? Would I be completely unable to communicate at his level?
Long story short, he could not have been more gracious. We spoke for two hours at breakfast, and then I went to his lunch conference with other faculty, and then his main speech at night. He's an encyclopedia of world politics, but he's also a great storyteller, and even though he had flown from India to London to North Carolina in the span of three days and was sick, he didn't hold any of himself back. We talked about all the countries he'd been to, he expounded on his theories of war and revolution, and he told me personal stories (like the two times he's been kidnapped; being Jon Lee Anderson involves getting into some shit).
Sometime between lunch and his speech at 5:30, he got word from The New Yorker that he'd be on his way to Egypt this weekend. I bought his book on Afghanistan, and he was nice enough to ask if I wanted him to sign it (I did, but I have trouble asking that kind of thing). While he signed, he spoke about his upcoming trip. It was incredible; he had an energy in his bearing I hadn't seen that day. He looked infused.
"I'm heading to Egypt, and then I might go over to Libya, because how is Qaddafi holding up through all this?" he told me. Hearing that, for me, was a little like witnessing a private player evaluation meeting between Coach K and his assistants.
"Do you get a little buzz before you make these trips?" I asked.
"Oh yeah," he said, unable to hide his smile. "I'm pretty keen."
The speech was great, I said goodbye, and today he's gone to London. I'm not sure why I'm writing all this, except to express that feeling you get those rare times when you meet someone you really admire. So far in my life, it's always been a nice experience; the people in question have been great, and I felt like they gave pretty freely of themselves.
But afterward there's a feeling, and maybe some people can relate to this, of melancholy. While they're there, you have this 'holy shit' feeling, like wow, here's this real live person who does incredible things and has somehow bypassed all the bullshit that keeps a lot of us down. You want to matter more than you do to them, because you feel like you understand and appreciate what they're doing on a level that most people can't.
But of course you don't matter, and that's as it should be; Jon Lee Anderson should not give a shit about me. He should get that thrill when he hears he'll be thrown headlong into a Northern African revolution. That what's makes him great. But when he's gone, it creates a small empty space because you're back to the grind. To me, anyway, that's what a fleeting encounter with greatness feels like.
(Man, I wish there was a sad hipster song about someone great being gone so I could put it on repeat and hole up in my bedroom and nod at the wall for the rest of this rainy day.)
2. On a more cheery note, what should I ask Harrison Barnes? Totally serious on this. I'm covering the UNC-FSU game for Reesenews (the people I write for here in Carolina), and I'll have access to the locker room after. This will be the only UNC game I cover, and I'm sure the rest of the reporters will ask him the basic stuff. I'd like to ask him something unique, so if you have any ideas that are awesome, let me know. It can't be insulting or completely random, but it can be funny. (Speaking of Reesenews, if you want to be grossed out by restaurant inspection violations in Chapel Hill, check out my latest story here.)
3. Andy Pettitte has retired. It seems to be official. This is incredibly sad, but I haven't had time to digest it because it came at a busy time. Expect more in the near future. I hope this somehow doesn't come true, but it's looking like a done deal.
4. Hot Potato! We now have 50 players, and Jill's correct guess of 21 for Nolan last game has put a scare into Carrie:
I'm going to post tomorrow with a (very) short preview of Duke-N.C. State, which goes off at 6pm and will be ugly, but we'll do Hot Potato today. And it's time to mix things up! The Hot Potatoes for tomorrow are:
That's right, baby. Wojo's Warriors include EVERY BIG MAN on the Duke roster. I'm talking Miles, Mason, Ryan, Josh, and Singler. The Sing is a big man tomorrow. Awwwww shit, y'all, Hot Potato just got real. In case it's not clear, pick the sum total of their points.
5. We're two weeks from the end of this Pick Six. I think there might be a spot or two available for next time. E-mail me if you're interested (address on the sidebar over there) with a little about yourself.
And with that all said, let's rumble:
VOLUME THREE, WEEK FIVE
The Friday Pick Six is an original SCSD! game where six people make six predictions for six weeks. Along with their picks, they're allowed and encouraged to submit a 'sound-off' on any topic, sports or otherwise. When it's all done, the winner earns great honor among the people, while the two losers are exiled in shame and the three middle finishers go to purgatory, with the chance rescue their good name up to three times. To learn more about the rules, and about the current contestants, read below:
-Volume Two champion and intros to the new class
THE HALL OF ANGELS: OLD CHAMPIONS
Let's check out the updated standings after Week Four:
1. Monty: 20
2. Marc: 18
3. Swetha & Sabreena: 16
4. Dylan & Patrick: 14
5. Nick E.: 12
6. Spike: 11
The Jillarie got pilloried to the tune of 5 3-point bonuses last week, and the leaderboard remained largely the same. Only Dylan & Patrick abstained from the easy points, and they lost ground to Swetha & Sabreena with two weeks to play.
Wicked Jim is back with the docket. Run with it, wild soul:
Let me say that all the weeping about the picks last week was lame! Pickers: don't think I won't show up at your jazzercise class and headbutt every last one of you! Man-Child Mariani set a pro bowl record for kickoff return yards, the Big East Games were awesome, my beloved Kings beat the lakers and all the while you people were mocking my choices and blubbering about better picks!?!?!?
Phew, sorry about that. I didn't sleep well last night, I had terrible nightmares about the UNC BC game. Hairy Barnes is heating up just in time to see R. Kelly and the Moody Blues cooling off! Don't tell me Royboy and the crew are going to make a run, please. Don't say it. Serious.
1. Obvious! Who will win the Super Bowl? (bonus point for picking the Barret Robbins award winner for the player with the biggest impact for a pregame arrest)
2. On to NCAA Men's Roundball: Kentucky travels to Florida. Can Bily get the Gators going or will Douchebag Calipari's Wildkats avenge their loss to Ole Miss?
3. Florida State at UNC (see worries above).
4. Ohio State at Minnesota. Sooner or later Tubby's gonna wreak havoc on the Big 10. I'm hoping for a big win at home for the Gophers.
5. Mascot meltdown! Saint Louis Billikens (http://www.slu.edu/pr/images/billiken06_200.jpg) at the Xavier Musketeers (http://i.cdn.turner.com/sivault/multimedia/photo_gallery/1003/ncaa.mascots/images/xavier.opow-34643-mid.jpg)
6. Orlando Magic at Boston Celtics, could this be a preview of the Eastern Conference showdown?
And now for the second installment of our new feature:
Our old friends Jill and Carrie our back with a special category that will allow the players to gain extra points...but only if they can Beat the Jillarrie.
Briefly: Jill and Carrie pick the winner of three categories. If the contestant is bold, he/she/they can earn three by points by getting more correct picks. But if they fail, they lose 3 points. An ultimate temptation! Tie goes to the Jillarrie. The contestants can also choose not to face the Jillarrie, in which case they lose one point for cowardice. Take it away, gals, with your picks and rants:
-College Men's BB D1 entry:Texas versus Texas Tech: Texas (don't mess with it.)
-College Men's BB D3 NESCAC-is-the-Best-CAC entry: Tufts University Jumbos (not Jimbos, but at a certain point, does it even matter?) versus the Amherst Lord Jeffs: Amherst
-Super Bowl: Rapistberger versus The Fine and as yet Upstanding Rodgers - total passing yards: Rodgers
Carrie: Basically, what follows is every single sports-related thought I had this week. Jill's responses capture approximately 2 percent of her sports-related thoughts. Thus is the delicate balance of the Jillarie Sports Interest and Knowledge Ratio. You'll note the sheer quantity of links Jill provides as evidence of her legitimacy as a sports commentator. It's all just moving pictures to me.
Does every recruit that signs with UGA get a bulldog puppy? I feel a teensy uncomfortable if so. But? I feel a little bit sad if not.
Jill: Carrie has been seriously bothered about this puppy thing for days. Like equal parts disturbed, curious, and delighted. And I hate to be all Debbie Downer and everything, but this was merely a Signing Day stunt (using Twitter or Skype is so 2009). The puppy owner/recruit, Isaiah Crowell, is the #1-ranked player in the state of Georgia. He and his friend, the awesomely named Cequanti Ford, “hatched the plan Tuesday to add flair to the ever-growing pomp of signing-day announcements. Ford had to smuggle in the puppy -- named Uga, naturally -- to keep the decision a secret.” To date, there have only been eight “official Ugas” in history. But don’t worry, there soon may be auditions for number nine!!! The current Uga was diagnosed with lymphoma on Jan. 7, 2011. I’m going to hell, I know.
Carrie: I watched a little of the Duke-MD game on a break from The Wire* and Miles Plumlee (it might be Mason - which one is the more attractive one? The blonde one is who I mean. The other one is like Dwight's second cousin on The Office. Second as in "additional" not second cousin. I'd give him first cousin amounts of relation to Dwight Shrute) might be the most graceless (or least graceful, you choose, glass half-empty) I have ever seen. Like, I am tall and I know people who are taller and it is hard sometimes to keep all your body parts together and working in the same direction. But isn't a superior amount of coordination and motor skills like a prerequisite for athleticism?
*I am not far enough along to be drinking "The Wire is the BEST SHOW EVER" Kool-Aid. Maybe one day, but so far it just gives me nightmares. Admittedly, in a very high quality way. But it's going to take a teaspoon of CJ and a healthy dollop of Josh Lyman before it even comes close to the running for Best Show Ever.
Jill: Sigh, the blonde ogre is Mason. And he is a ballerina compared to his older bro. I detest the Plumlees, especially Miles. The only thing he seems to have mastered is how to foul. That said, Carrie’s random thought left me confused and perturbed. Am I the only person who thinks that Miles is hotter than Mason? Because I do. In a mentally slow, gentle giant sort of way. Please. Don’t get any ideas. The only way I would hit that is in the fucking face. With my fist.
Carrie: The media is making the biggest fucking deal over Ben Rapistberger taking people out to dinner and like for a minute and a half being a nice guy. I am sort of okay with them taking the good with the bad, but covering this momentary good with the same vigor they covered the like MONSTROSITY bad is not great with me. Also, he took his linebackers out for dinner. He spent $1,000 on drinks for them. Money is money, but that's pocket change. Let's not get ourselves all worked up by his generosity of spirit. Also, can you imagine how over him the people in the piano bar were when he sang "Piano Man”? (I am not sure if that is true, if I even heard that, or if I totally made it up to make this an even more ridiculous story). That's like someone doing "We Didn't Start the Fire" at a fire...if there was karaoke there. Um, you get my point. That guy's a douche. I am really beginning to regret my hypothetical roll in the hay with him last week.
Jill: Carrie is right. While I am a sucker for some good karaoke, Big Ben is just too rapey for me. He has a gray cock. He was quoted as saying he just wanted “Clinton Sex.” He raised a tray of tequila and yelled, “All my bitches, take some shots.” He once asked a pregnant waitress if “her boyfriend forgot to pull out.” He has a food product called Big Ben’s Beef Jerky. He is so disgusting that the Pittsburgh Zoo replaced his image with Mario Lemieux’s. And oh yeah – he rapes women. But, sure, we should totally celebrate that he went and got drunk in public with his friends five days before the Super Bowl.
Carrie: Andy Pettitte is retiring. I am not necessarily a Yankees fan, but I am also not NOT a Yankees fan and I like class acts and I feel like with a nickname like "Dandy Andy,” you're probably pretty classy. Also, Andy looks like a great friend of mine's super great husband, so he's clearly awesome by association. But, here's the thing: Without his positive associations with NY and baseball, now he'll just be another conservative Texas Christian. I like Texas and I like Christians, but . . . you know what I mean. It's not an even trade.
Jill: This is so disappointing, because I really expected him to come back for one more year. Instead, he turned his back during our time of shame and need. Yes, I am bitter. I just can’t believe that I will only see him on a witness stand next season. Roger Clemens and his perjuring abscessed ass stole Andy Pettitte from me. I went to the Rocket’s “last” regular season game in Yankee Stadium back in 2003, only to have him lie, backstab, and sign with Houston a few months later. Here he is, fucking everything up once again. Don’t get me wrong. I love Andy, I have since I was in middle school. He is a super class act. But I do not like Texans or Bible Beaters. I like Yankees. And baseball players. And unfortunately, Andy Pettitte won’t be donning the pinstripes ever again.
I'm with Jill, Miles is hotter than Mason. We begin the fun with our leader, YET AGAIN, The Magnanimous Mr. Monty:
1. The Steelers are going to win the Super Bowl, and I'm going to head-butt a small child in the grocery store. I hate the Steelers - they are spoiled brats who just keep winning for no reason - and have never really suffered the heartache of having your team just quit playing while up by 30 at the half in the championship game. The Packers are much more interesting, and I WANT them to win, but as the team I want to win never wins the Super Bowl, It's going to be the Steelers.
2. Kentucky is going to win. Man - Donovan goes from having crushingly amazing teams to stunningly awful ones doesn't he?
3. UNC. I'm sad that they're getting better - but it would be way too convenient for Florida State to do our dirty work for us.
4. I hope it's a big win at home for the Gophers too. In fact, I think it's going to be the one. If it is, I might marry it.
5. I'm going to have to go with Xavier. I mean, really... Saint Louis?
What kind of city names it self after a French King who went on the
6. No - it couldn't be. I'm not sure if that's the question - so I'm also going to say that I think the Celtics are going to win, even though saying that makes me throw up a little in my mouth. Actually, screw that - it makes me throw up on little old ladies walking their dogs down the street... but it's still going to happen.
- Um, Texas. Texas Tech wasn't good even with Bob Knight was there and they certainly aren't now.
- I'm going to have to follow Spike's hatred here. From what I understand, Amherst is the home of all the is wrong with the world, and to pick them to win a game would be like picking Sadam Hussein over Kim Jong Il in a game of backgammon.
- Rodgers, definitely going to beat Rapistberger in passing yards.
I shall be abstaining from the Jillarie this week because its utter horseshit! I dare the other competitors to try and take this one on. And I am very angry for having to take an automatic 1 point deduction!
Thank Jesus Duke won last night. Jesus Christ, lover of Duke basketball. I was in an interesting mood last night. I recently learned of a death in my family and since I don't know how to deal with emotion I just get drunk. And last night was quite a doozy. If Duke had lost I would've exploded into an alcohol filled ball of rage. However, there's no point in playing the "what if," game so lets just say I feel awful right now. Oh Smirnoff and PBR, my downfall.
1. I really, really, really want the Packers to win. The way they've been playing it seems they're unstoppable. But the Steelers, the fucking Steelers, are always prepared and ready to play. However they don't have their center and we saw how that affected them against that other team they played. I have no analytical insight into this game besides that. Packers win.
2. Man this is a tough question. I really wish that Florida player, Tyus I think, didn't shave his predator dreadlocks. Man it must suck to be 22 and nearly bald. He should have just made a dreadlock combover. I once saw a dreadlock mullet in Amsterdam, it was everything I hoped and dreamed. I'm having difficulty with this question because I'm picking Kentucky to win. However, at any point this entire season could be deleted from existence so would that give Florida the win? Whatever, cheaters win on this day.
3. I hate the fact that UNC has apparently learned how to play basketball again. This means FSU will play nothing like they did against Duke and completely shit the bed against those baby blue assholes. The Black Pigeon (Harrison Barnes joke! because he sucks and isn't a falcon) will somehow continue his streak of playing decently. Fuckkkkkkkkk. UNC wins (puke).
4. Ohio State isn't losing at Minnesota, not this day. No one really cares about Big Ten basketball. I didn't even get texts from my Iowa friends about their victory over MSU. I know more about Big Ten wrestling than I know about Big Ten basketball. The facts breakdown like this: 1. Wrestlers are hot but usually short dudes. 2. There's an empty void in my brain where Big Ten Basketball could be. OSU gonna stay undefeated through this game.
5. Mmmm my favorite coach is showing up again. I love reading stories about Rick Majerus. He seems like the type of basketball coach I would want. Any rotund man that whips his penis out on a whim sounds like a great man. However, they aren't beating Xavier. Xavier is usually good? Right? Who knows. It must suck to root for teams that have absolutely no chance at winning the NCAA title. What's the point? Sure you can pick on me for being a Panthers fan, but Clausen really is amazing and was just setting the trap for this year, seriously. The Mousesketeers take it.
6. Don't you remember what I said about the other NBA game? DON'T YOU? The NBA is bullshit because any game is a complete crapshoot. Kevin Garnett annoys me. He's that asshole who picks fights and runs away to let his friends deal with what he started. And Dwight Howard, don't get me started on that sanctimonious slut. He sleeps around, all the time. I would too if I was a seven foot freak of nature, but I would be totally upfront about it like Wilt Chamberlain. Time to go back to letting the music pick for me. Setting my playlist on shuffle. If it lands on The Arcade Fire first, Orlando wins. If it lands on Kanye West first, Boston wins. Here we go! Holy shit its picked ten thousand Andrew Bird songs and nothing else. Finally after two minutes of pressing the next button and realizing how much I hate most of my music: Kanye West - Power. Boston wins.
So there we have it. I'm still mad about the Jillarie. Last week's was ridiculously easy. Couldn't we have kept it like that? I can imagine those smug hussies smirking at their picks this week.
BLAKE GRIFFIN'S AN ALL-STAR AND KYRIE'S CAST COMES OFF TODAY! Now, on to the Pick Six...
1. One of my buddies said it best this week: When people ask me what team I'm rooting for in the Super Bowl, I just do the Aaron Rodgers Championship Belt Celebration. (or for that matter, the B.J. Raji belt) Also, we've really enjoyed Lil Wayne's take on Black and Yellow. PACKERS.
2. Don't like Kentucky. Don't like Florida. Wildcats are the better team, though, and they shouldn't lose two in a row. KENTUCKY.
3. Carolina's been lighting it up, especially at home, and they have the inside presence with Zeller and Henson to counteract what Florida State does well. At the risk of sounding too pro-Tar Heel, we'll include this. But still, NORTH CAROLINA.
4. Minnesota's best days seem to be behind them, like when they beat those aforementioned Tar Heels in Puerto Rico. And despite every college basketball analyst denying the existence of any "great" teams this season, the Buckeyes look pretty damn good. It's also really hard to root against teams that do things like this. Besides, it'd be nice karmic retribution if Illinois got to end Ohio State's undefeated streak to pay back for 2005. OHIO STATE.
5. Not a whole lot of intrigue in this matchup. St. Louis sucks. XAVIER.
6. It really seems like the question is whether or not this game could be a preview of the ECF, in which case we say YES, it could be. (Although not now, since Boston's the 1-seed and Orlando is the 5. Mathematically impossible.) But seriously, Boston looks good. With Perkins back, the Celts are in fine form to beat Dwight and Co., especially minus Brandon Bass, and considering they're due after losing to the Magic on Christmas. BOSTON.
We're not going to try to beat the Jillarrie this week, since Texas and Amherst seem like shoo-ins and it's just too damn heartbreaking to root against Aaron Rodgers.
I tried to talk with my dad several times this week but we never seemed to be able to connect. I always call right before or after lunch and get him but something was different. Finally after too many attempts to count, I got him on the phone and it was obvious something was different. Here's how the conversation went:
CB: Hi dad, geez, been tryin' to reach you for a while whats up?
D: (muttering) Monday afternoon then Tuesday morning check my email, write down notes for the blog, get up and read my stories...
CB:Dad, its me. You OK?
D: Oh yea, sorry. Kinda been distracted, my schedule is off, I can't seem to find anything or do anything all week.
CB: Rough week at work? When did this start?
D: Last Friday, no Thursday afternoon.
CB: Well what happened?
D: Well you know I like things my way. I have my beer at 5 pm, watch the news at 10, get up in the morning and read my blogs on the google, look at some of those duck videos I found, then you call around lunch time and we chat for awhile...
CB: Yea, I figured something was up, when you hadn't answered for a bit. what happened?
D: Well Shane wrote me to ask me if it was OK to change things a bit and do the Pick 6 on Saturday instead of Friday LIKE ALWAYS! I mean its his blog and stuff but I was going to tell him I didn't think it was such a good idea. I forgot about it and then spent all day Friday looking for the Seth Curry saves Duke post about the pick six. You know Shane writes that, right?
CB: ahhh, yea dad, I do...
D: Well I waited all day for it. Checked his website, checked the google, checked his site, then the google. Finally he posted about Duke which was great but no pick six. My whole schedule is off. You know I spend every Friday afternoon graphing the different team picks into my excel spreadsheet and start to figure out the odds on where we will finish and stuff. That's how i knew Marc was cheating by copying our picks. It was right there in the spreadsheet cells. I even...
CB: Dad, he did post them on Saturday...
D: Yea I know but Saturday is when I have my coffee and read my blogs and go grocery shopping and well, I just was so discombobulated, I'm not sure I even remember what we said for our picks.
CB: Yeah, well, we didnt do so great last week.
D: SEE! It's because Shane messed everything up. This is not my fault.
CB: Nobody said it was your fault dad, just had a bad week. We'll come back.
D: Yea but I'm gonna write to Shane and tell him no more screwing around with the pick six. Hows a guy supposed to concentrate on picking if he keeps changing things around?
Hopefully no more issues with the Pick 6 for the last few weeks.
1) For the Obvious Bowl, the choice too is obvious, it must be Green Bay – to excise the ghost of idiot past (Bret Favre), to prevent the ascension of idiot present (Ben ruthless- berger) and to cement the glory of QB future (Aaron Rogers). This is a delicate pick, resting on perfect alignment of the stars and planets and with all those astrology changes last month, the heavens are in an uproar. Of course not quite as big an uproar as Bret Favre’s cell phone sexting bills… For the bonus point, Ben Rothlesberger is the only player who should have been arrested so we will go with the Dallas Police finding him in a strip joint covered in cocaine and lap dances…
2) Florida, at home is on an upswing. Kentucky, on the road, is on a downer, Cal comes up short again and Florida wins
3) We think the Dean Dome will provide the needed spark for UNC to play up to their potential against Florida State.
4) Ohio State will not lose their undefeated streak against a bunch of gophers. OSU in a walk…
5) Lets get a couple of things straight from the get go – WTF is a Billiken and why is he a St. Louis Mascot. We thought that job belonged to Tony La Russa. As a matter of fact, that picture provided sort of looks like Tony La Russa, except for the pointed ears. That looks like Dr. Spock, but we digress. Of course Xavier can’t strut the stuff on their own mascot, who looks like the kind of Musketeer who would appear in the annual San Francisco Halloween parade (if you catch our meaning) Of course they also have the Blue Blob which could be the official mascot of the new Shane Moody Blues Facebook site (join today!) We figure 2 mascots beat one any day so Xavier it is…
6) By Sunday, Orlando will be tired of living out of a suitcase and lookin’ for some home cookin’. They won’t get it in Boston as long as the northeast does not get ANOTHER blizzard! Celtics in a romp…
Sorry pals, work has been a bitch recently.
PACKERS, KENTUCKY, FLORIDA ST, OHIO ST, XAVIER, BOSTON
and TEXAS, TUFTS, RODGERS
Pack (mike wallace), fl, unc, osu, stl, bos
Texas, tufts, rodge
See you all tomorrow.