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July 29, 2006

It was 40 years ago today

Before Kellen Winslow II, before Ben Rothlesibuergherjkgjer, there was ... Bob Dylan.

That's right, today marks 40 years since Dylan's infamous motorcycle crash.  Tomorrow's my birthday.  I think it's a coincidence.  Anyway, Tony Scherman did a better job chronicling the ins and outs of the motorcycle crash than I could.

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July 27, 2006

LeCharles Redux

Ian just (literally two minutes ago) gave me the head's up about his post below on LeCharles.  I only have one thing to say about it right now.  Actually, two:

  1. I can't believe it (even though I can).
  2. If I were running for Cuyahoga County Commissioner, I wouldn't post a link to footage of LeCharles getting hurt on my blog.

Please, Willie McGinest, stay healthy!

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Only in Cleveland

Hope always comes with late July.  That's because west of Cleveland, in Berea, training camp always starts then, giving us a chance to sit back, relax, and make bold predictions that this will be the year that the Browns will finally be competitive.  Hope always comes, but something will always happen to knock us back into reality.

This year, it's LeCharles Bentley.  Only in Cleveland will an NFL team give a six-year contract to a 26 year-old Pro Bowl center who will anchor the offensive line for years to come, only to see him go down for the season with an injury on the first play of training camp.  People always say, "You Clevelanders need to stop being so negative."  We try.  But then things like this happen.

Lee Wadlinger has changed his fantasy football team name to "The Bentleys" in honor of the newest fallen Brown.  "The Browns might not win the Superbowl this year without you, LeCharles, but I'll do my best to make sure that your name is on the Lowes Cup this season," said Wadlinger after announcing his decision earlier today.

In other LW news, the reason the release date for The Price Of Solitude has been pushed back is that Fortress of Solitude studios is moving to a new location in Columbus.  September is more likely now (but other releases are coming, I promise!).

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July 21, 2006

You say you don't like Bob Dylan's voice? Well try this...

Right now I'm listening to Bob Dylan's Self Portrait, which most Dylan aficionados will say is his worst album.  I don't know, though.  It might be one of the lesser albums in the Dylan canon, but I still enjoy listening to it every now and then.

Anyway, this afternoon I was really struck by the brilliance of Self Portrait's first song, "All The Tired Horses."  It's maybe the "simplest" song (at least lyrically speaking) that Dylan's ever released.  The whole thing consists of two lines repeated:  "All the tired horses in the sun / How am I supposed to get any riding done?"  Not much physically there, but it works.

What's really interesting is how Dylan minimizes himself in the track.  It's the leadoff track on an album titled "Self Portrait," yet Dylan's vocals are nowhere to be found -- instead, it's a couple of background singers.  The backup singers are accompanied by a progression of instruments: First guitar, then a cascading string arrangment, then some bass and organ.

Dylan's vocals aren't there, but his voice is.  He'll always be underrated as a composer, but this is really sophisticated, if simple, music.  Tthe way that the singers' harmonies accentuate the vocal melody works perfectly with the strings, which are really great.  The words are a mantra holding everything together as the music gathers strength, starting out as a simple guitar strum and building into a kind of quiet wall of sound.

Basically, "All The Tired Horses" gets my vote for Most Overlooked Dylan Song.  I was going to say Best Dylan Song Your Friends Have Never Heard, but my friends probably haven't heard stuff like "Positively Fourth Street," either.  While I'm at it, I'll also give it the nod for Song Even Non-Dylan Fans Should Download From iTunes.  It's really worth anyone's 99 cents.  And if you download it and don't like it, I'll give you a dollar the next time I see you.

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July 20, 2006

It's (almost) the most wonderful time of the year...

In a few weeks, Fantasy Football fever will be sweeping the nation.  I've got no easy task ahead of me, defending my title in The Lowes Cup fantasy football league.  The Lowes Cup must remain mine.

And this really is no laughing matter.  We've already signed up our league on Yahoo, and we're in the midst of the most heated preseason scoring/lineup debates in the history of the league (this is the fifth year, the fourth year in which we've awarded the Cup to the champion).  Last night I spent an hour or two on a brilliant (well, not really) analysis of last year's NFL touchdown-scoring leaders as part of my argument that QB's should continue to get only 4 points per TD thrown (rather than 6).  I'm so proud of my fanatacism that I reprint that post below.  I rule.


Ok, I'm signed up now 

I like the point per reception rule, but really I don't care if we keep it or not. I say keep two QB's. Negative points for missed fg's/xp's are ok, but I agree that they shouldn't be as high as -5 ... missing an extra point is really random, and you shouldn't risk losing a tight game because of an extra point. Negative points should only be for habit-type dumb plays that are semi-predictable (i.e., fumbles, interceptions).

Because I was just really interested in the subject tonight, I did a brief study comparing the number of TD's scored by QB's, RB's, and WR's. I took the Top 10 for each position in terms of TD's scored (counting passing, rushing, and receiving TD's for each position). The results were like this:

Avg. TD's for Top 10 at each Position
-QB's: 25.7 TD's, 10.4 INT's
-RB's: 15.8 TD's
-WR's: 10.4 TD's

Avg. TD's for Top 20 at each position
-QB's: 21.95 TD's, 12.45 INT's
-RB's: 11.80 TD's
-WR's: 9.00 TD's

So, if here's the TD point totals for each position:

-Top 10 QB's: 154.2 (133.4 with INT's added in)
-Top 20 QB's: 131.7 (106.8 w/INT's)
-Top 10 RB's: 94.8
-Top 20 RB's: 70.8
-Top 10 WR's: 62.4
-Top 20 WR's: 54.0

I got too lazy to add fumbles in, but assuming those are equal for each of the three positions, the results aren't too surprising. If you give six points per TD, an average Top 10 QB gives you about 40 more points for the season than a Top 10 RB.

But wait, you ask, aren't we (as a league) only going to be playing 12 QB's, while we'll probably play 18 RB's? Well, you'd be right. If I hadn't just closed my spreadsheet without saving it, I'd give you the stats for the Top 12 QB's and Top 18 RB's. But, since I did delete the spreadsheet, we'll just go with the numbers for the Top 10 QB's and Top 20 RB's.

A Top 10 QB has 133.4 points. A Top 20 RB has 70.8. That's a big disparity, given that (theoretically) those numbers should be even (if we're weighting QB's and RB's the same ... I'm not even bringing WR's into the equation, but using the numbers above you could make an argument for the point per reception rule in balancing positions....)

Anyway, my point is this: If you give QB's only 4 points per TD, the average Top 10 QB will score 82 points (25.7*4 / 10.4*2). That's more equal to the 70.8 points scored by the average Top 20 RB. So, going off pure TD's and INT's (not including yardage or fumbles), if we have 12 QB's and 18 RB's active in our league every week, QB's will still have a slight edge even if they get 4 points per TD.

So, the moral of the story is, we have to keep QB TD's at 4 points. I know it seemed like we overcompensated last year in response to Peyton's 2004 season, but QB's still are pretty balanced in our league.

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July 12, 2006

NBR Movie of the Month--July 2006

Ok, so at long last, here's the NBR Movie of the Month for July.  Part of the reason I took so long was because I actually wanted to see the movie, and it didn't air until this evening.

The NBR Movie of the Month is Woody Guthrie: Ain't Got No Home.  I'd seen that there have been some lukewarm reviews of this new documentary on one of the great American songwriters, but I figured I'd go ahead and check it out with an open mind, basically expecting a decently-produced PBS documentary.  I was about on the mark, I think.

The Washington Post criticized Ain't Got No Home for its failure to include any substantive discussion from those many recording artists whose songwriting Guthrie's work continues to influence (namely Bob Dylan).  But the film was only an hour and a half long -- there really wasn't much time for many other voices (Bruce Springsteen, for one, was featured).  And anyway, it would've taken a lot of arm twisting to get Dylan to appear -- after all, he did give his Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie in 1963.

With that said, I really did like the documentary.  I'm not a Guthrie expert (I have copies of Dust Bowl Ballads and the Moe Asch box set, and I'm in the middle of reading Bound For Glory), but from my perspective the film does a good job covering the key points of Guthrie's childhood, young adulthood, various musical periods, and bout with Huntington's Disease.  No, Dylan isn't interviewed, but we do get to hear from Guthrie's first wife and youngest daughter, along with a few of his friends and cohorts (most notably Pete Seeger).  It's a good biography, and at times an emotional portrait of an almost mythological American figure.

The film doesn't look back with overly sentimental eyes, either.  It discusses Guthrie's troubles as a father and husband, and it dispels any notions one might have of Guthrie as someone who actively took a vow of poverty.  The key to the whole thing is the music, though, and it features the music fairly prominently.  I found Pete Seeger's story on the birth of the ballad "Tom Joad" pretty interesting.  Guthrie was a mortal man, but he wrote a bunch of great songs that still are brilliant in their simplicity.  He was and remains an American Poet.

So yeah, be sure to set your VCR/DVR/Tivo to record one of the repeat performances of Ain't Got No Home on PBS.  You'll learn a little bit about a great American treasure, and you'll get to hear timeless music.

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Website updates

In the past two days, we've added new mp3's to the Lee Wadlinger website, along with a snazzy Lee Wadlinger bio and fact sheet page.  Pretty exciting stuff.

In other news, Lee promises to finally post July's Next Best Records Movie of the Month tonight.

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July 11, 2006

RIP Syd Barrett

Even though he's basically been in absentia the past 30 years or so, it's a bummer to hear about Syd Barrett's death.  I've never been really into Pink Floyd, but I do like The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn ("Bike" is an awesome song), and Barrett's two solo albums are great.

It's kinda a shame that a lot of the later Pink Floyd stuff tends to overshadow that first album and the other work Barrett did.  Maybe it just goes to show that history belongs to the victors, and sadly Barrett's psyche kept him from releasing any groundbreaking rock records after 1970.  Either way, all in-the-know rock music fans owe Syd Barrett a great debt for writing "Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play."

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July 06, 2006

"I wish I could talk in English"

Sorry for the delay in announcing the Next Best Records Movie of the Month for July.  It will come soon enough.

In the meantime, in honor of my having purchased tickets today for Bob Dylan's upcoming show in Columbus, I'll post the link for one of the more fascinatingly unremarkable video clips in rock history:  the infamous John Lennon-Bob Dylan "cab ride."


(For those of you who are uninitiated, Google Video is Google's response to You Tube.)  What this video proves, in essence, is that even though in 1966 Bob Dylan was perhaps the coolest person ever, he and Lennon were at heart just normal guys (who took lots of drugs).  And if you've ever wanted to be a fly on the wall during a conversation between Dylan and Lennon in '66, the clip shows that there might be better ways to spend your time.

So yeah, enjoy.

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