Jared & Kerry

Sampling the Box of Chocolates

You Never Know What You Might Hear

Colts Clinch Close Calls, Coach Crushes Calipari's Cred
Jared & Kerry
silverstarhawk
The colts have been trailing in the fourth quarter in seven different games this season. That amounts to half of their 14 wins, all without slipping up once. That's all coaching and personal player motivation at work too. The NFL is fairly balanced, even from the good teams to the bad, in terms of talent. To continually pull out close games like this either means A) the team is amazingly good under pressure or B) the league is rigged. Let's hope we can celebrate the former and never have to entertain the notion of the latter being the case.

Coach Knight really handed it to John Calipari at an event for the Indiana Hall of Fame event yesterday. On the one hand, everything he says is correct. ON the other, especially at a school like Kentucky, you're kidding yourself if academic integrity is the priority, even for a lot of the players. Coach Knight always held his program not up to the academic level mandated by the NCAA, but beyond it. It's a noble thing for him to do, but he can't expect all other coaches to align their priorities just as he might. John Wall's career is without question in the NBA barring serious injury, and the same is true for plenty of players on the Kentucky roster. IN terms of preparing them for that career, I'd say John Calipari isn't a terrible tutor.

The End of the Wire
Jared & Kerry
silverstarhawk
Recently I'd started watching The Wire. I made it through five episodes. I'm calling this one off.

The reason I can't watch cop dramas is that cops are for some reason rarely believable as fictional characters in my destimation. They always are written to toe the line between society's version of teacher's pet crossed with a noble tough guy mentality that undermines any sense of realism the writers might instill into the poilice work. Throw in the usual fringe characters like the cop who is annoying and usually a terrible detective but has a family connection and the rare lucky break and so can't be gotten rid of and the construction of most cop dramas becomes pretty vanilla from a character development standpoint.

I found The Wire to be little different. Honestly, most of the other characters were pretty engaging. They were what got me through five episodes. Humanization of the bad guys is something I appreciate in writing, be it written or for film. But I really don't have the time to watch mediocre TV. And I can't call The Wire anything but that after I realized I want to fast forward every time McNulty comes onscreen.

Looking for another show now, since I've gone from the summer of reading to being more drawn to intelligent film or television as of late. I'm watching I'ts Always Sunny In Philadelphia and enjoying it quite a lot. Usually watch those with the roommates though, so now I'm just poking around for something to watch a little more independently.

NFL Week 14 Thoughts
Jared & Kerry
silverstarhawk
I didn't get to watch a whole lot of football yesterday, primarily on account of the frantic nature of my studying. But there were a few things I wanted to bring to the attention of my fellow football fanatics that I noted during the early games, (which was basically all I watched.).

Based on what I've heard today, folks are jumping on the Dolphins' bandwagon in droves. I do not understand this. The Dolphins couldn't offensively move consistently even when Henne was completing 17 passes in a row. (By the way, he was 21-for-29 overall, meaning he hit 17 in a row and was 4-for-12 otherwise. To me, that says streaky.) I like Ricky Williams as a running back, but if he doesn't stop putting the ball on the ground he's going to cause some serious damage to his team. I don't think anyone ever thought Jacksonville was the contender their 7-5 record implied they were, and if the Dolphins are playing any team with a quarterback, they lose that game yesterday.

I'm trying not to get too excited about Green Bay's five game winning streak, because the NFL can change in a heartbeat. But the last two games have been incredibly encouraging from the prospective that the Packers were playing worse teams than they and did what needed to be done to make sure they ended up on the right side of the scoreboard. Teams like the 2007 Patriots that blow through everybody can be hurt later by their lack of experience in pressure situations, but Green Bay is showing they know how to dial it up when a play needs to be made, whether it's the offense hitting one of their big gains, the defense coming away with one of their trademark turnovers, or the special teams changing the field position game somehow. I am concerned about the four missed field goals over the last four weeks. Those are the types of things that haunt you the night after a playoff loss on the road, which is where Green Bay will presumably play all their playoff games.

What is up with Peyton Manning and his interceptions lately? I know Manning is a much bigger component of Indianapolis's success than even his statistics could indicate, but he's thrown at least two picks in his last four games and three yesterday against a solid Denver defense. The reason Indianapolis is still undefeated has a lot more to do with the defense not having given up a touchdown off a turnover than Manning, as good as he plays. The statistics on Indy's defense are respectable, but I don't think anyone quite realizes how good this team is at holding opponents to field goals instead of yielding touchdowns. If you start trading field goals with touchdowns against Manning and the Colts' offense, you will lose, end of story. Indianapolis's defense is starting to make that a very difficult scenario to avoid.

What did Marvin Lewis do with Carson Palmer, and who is this bum playing in his place? I thought this was supposed to be one of those elite level quarterbacks. Elite level quarterbacks explode in terms of productivity when they have a good running game to compliment their skills. Ask the old fart on the other sideline. The Bengals have a three-headed rushing attack now, and all of a sudden Palmer, Ochocinco, etc. cannot keep the offense balanced in the other direction. They could have sorely used some production out of their passing game yesterday to take some of the pressure off the backs running against the Williams boys in Minnesota, but Winfield was an absolute force in his return to the Vikings' defensive lineup. I see Cincinnati as primed for a 3/6 upset in the first round, possibly against their old pals the Steelers or Ravens. I'm even inclined to like Miami about as much as Cincinnati after watching how outclassed they were by the Vikings (minus Percy Harven, potentially the Vikings' third best player).

Tony Romo is 5-10 in the month of December. 0-2 now in 2009, and Dallas travels to the undefeated Saints Saturday. Dallas has a very real chance of starting 6-2 and finishing .500. They have a better chance of starting 6-2 and missing the playoffs. I just don't know how you can keep Wade Phillips in the coach's chair after that. I abhor how the media and fans pile on coaches instantly when a team isn't doing well, (see Patriots, Bears, Giants), but in this instance there is a ton of talent on the Cowboys roster, and that talent has demonstrated all of their ability in flashes at points. So the only reason I can come up with for their mediocre play some weeks is that they just aren't motivated. That falls at the feet of the head coach. I don't know how firmly Tony Romo is attached to Jason Garrett, but I really think some new blood at the offensive coordinator position might yield almost as good of results as changing the head coach. Holding San Diego to 20 points would be a win for most teams, and you just have to punch it in the end zone when you have three running backs that good and are on the one yard line.

Had last week gone differently (Cardinals lose to Vikings, 9ers beat Seahawks), we'd have a hell of a game on Monday Night Football this week for the NFC West lead. Since that did not happen, I'll probably miss most of it to study for my linear algebra final instead.

Story Time!
Jared & Kerry
silverstarhawk
Steve Vai, on Vinnie Colaiuta:

He's one of the most amazing sight-readers that ever existed on the instrument. One
day we were in a Frank (Zappa) rehearsal, this was early '80s, and Frank brought in this
piece of music called "Mo 'N Herb's Vacation." Just unbelievably complex. All the
drums were written out, just like "The Black Page" except even more complex. There were these runs of like 17 over 3 and every drumhead is notated differently. And there were a whole bunch of people there, I think (Terry) Bozzio was there. Vinnie had this piece of music on the stand to his right. To his left he had another music stand with a plate of sushi on it, okay? Now the tempo of the piece was very slow, like "The Black Page." And
then the first riff came in, [mimics bizarre Zappa-esque drum rhythm patterns] with
all these choking of cymbals, and hi-hat, ruffs, spinning of rototoms and all this crazy stuff. And I saw Vinnie reading this thing. Now, Vinnie has this habit of pushing his glasses up with the middle finger of his right hand. Well I saw him look at this one bar of music, it was the last bar of music on the page.
He started to play it as he was turning the page with one hand, and then once the
page was turned he continued playing the riff with his right hand, as he reached
over with his left hand, grabbed a piece of sushi and put it in his mouth, continued
the riff with his left hand and feet, pushed his glasses up, and then played the
remaining part of the bar. It was the sickest thing I have ever seen. Frank threw
his music up in the air. Bozzio turned around and walked away. I just started laughing.


Yes, Vinnie's pretty special to us drummers.

The Android Vs. Windows Mobile Debate
Jared & Kerry
silverstarhawk
The misplacement of my phone has come at an intensely inopportune time. Of course, communication becomes much more stilted without that little devilish device, but my quandary runs deeper than merely not having a phone at this point and time to use.

My contract with AT&T is and has been for some time up. It's time for me to go through the whole process of evaluating carrier plans, phones, etc. and then pick a nice phone for AT&T or Verizen or whoever to subsidize for me. I really have no problem with two year contracts, and the only reasons I'd not sign one was if there was some other cost-effective reason for not doing so. I've heard T-Mobiel actually offers better plan rates if you decline the massive subsidy on the phone initially, but T-Mobile's network is about as consistent as the Steelers' defense without Troy Polamalu, so they're out of the running.

What I really wanted to do with this scenario is get one of those very snazzy Android based phones. I see a lot of promise in the Android platform and very much would like my next mobile device to run on it. The problem is that accessibility for Android is still only in its beginning stages. The most developed screen reading solution I've heard about would be TalkBack, which if I understand correctly still doesn't function in a web browser. That just won't do, of course.

The alternative, of course, is Windows Mobile. Windows Mobile has MobileSpeak, which I've already invested in, both in terms of time and money. It's a fairly decent screen reader, certainly decent considering the processing limitations of a smart phone. It's also on Windows Mobile. Which I"m just not excited about as a wireless platform when held up to Android.

I'd wanted to bide my time, let Android accessibility develop a little more, then maybe treat myself to an Android-based computer in my pocket for finishing my undergrad degree. But I'll have to fix this issue of not having a phone soon, and the things I use my phone for have progressed to the point where I need some sort of screen reading facility on the phone to manage my numerous contacts , text messages, appointments, and so on.

Decisions, Decisions. I could put my trust in the power that is Google once and for all and just get an Android phone now. I might be initially restricted by it, but hopefully accessibility solutions will continue to develop. If I had an actual Android device, I'd probably try and take a role in developing them, in fact. ON the other side, I can play it safe and get the Windows Mobile offering, matured screen reader and all. The danger there is in twelve months from now when I realize my suspicion was correct and Windows Mobile is dwarfed in functionality and usefulness by Android and the applications cooked up for it. I'm stuck with a phone with a screen reader, but what good is a screen readerif its underlying platform is suspect or unsatisfactory?

So now you have an idea of what I might take to pondering over the next couple days. Thoughts welcome, especially from my fellow blinks.

20 Societal Questions
Jared & Kerry
silverstarhawk
Do you have the guts to take this survey?
I have guts enough to string you upside down with them and beat you with a rubber mallet for asking a dum question like that.
Would you do meth if it was legalized?
I don't think so. My deterrent for not doing meth now is that it just isn't worth it rather than the law.
Abortion: for or against it?
For. It is not our place as members of public society to tell a mother what to do with her unborn child, and many sad stories might never be told if mothers in no position to support or care for a child were given an out.
Do you think the world would fail with a female president?
Only every 28 days. GWB managed to fail about every 28 minutes, so we'd probably be fine.
Do you believe in the death penalty?
No. We don't know enough about death to assert if a death penalty would be much of a punishment at all. Besides, the death penalty system, with all its checks and waiting and appeals, is not worth the money it costs taxpayers.
Do you wish marijuana would be legalized already?
I know the government coffers do. You think $787 billion will stimulate the economy? Think of what marijuana taxation would net.
Are you for or against premarital sex?
Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Or, lost the T-shirt, to be precise. It seems to me a little silly to take one of the most pleasurable human activities and restrict its enjoyment to one other person for your entire lifetime.
Do you believe in God?
Not the God you're thinking of, I'm afraid.
Do you think same sex marriage should be legalized?
Yes, but not being very hip on marriage (see above), I'm not terribly passionate about it. I think if homosexuals could marry it would break down a lot of the stigma separating us from everyone else, which would be a positive development.
Do you think it's wrong that so many Hispanics are illegally moving to the country?
Yes, but what is the cause of that. It wouldn't be that we make it impossible for them to come to the country legally, would it? Oh, no, America wouldn't do that!
A twelve year old girl has a baby, should she keep it?
If she is able and willing to care for it. That said, the 12-year-olds that fit that description are very few and very far between.
Should the alcohol age be lowered to eighteen?
If you're going to have the nerve to hand a 19-year-old a gun and tell him to defend you, you damn well better buy him a beer afterward.
Should the war in Iraq be called off?
Yes. I don't even care what message it sends to the terrorists. It's far too great a financial drain on the country and is not accomplishing anything that I actually will benefit from. Let international bodies like the U.N. spread peace around the globe. The U.S. government needs to do what is best for U.S. citizens, and at this point that means stopping all these silly wars.
Assisted suicide is illegal: do you agree?
No. People have the right to live. People have the right to die.
Do you believe in spanking children?
Ehh, I am not a fit person to answer any question regarding the raising of children. WE all know I'd be terrible at the task.
Would you burn an American flag for a million dollars?
Yes. The first thing I'd do with the million dollars is buy ten more American flags. See? Everyone's happy.
Who do you think would be a better president: McCain or Obama?
This is a stupid question.
Do you think Obama will be killed?
This is a stupider question.
Should child predators be forced to wear signs identifying themselves ?
No. We as a society are not mature or forgiving enough for anyone to bare such truths and still be treated fairly. And believe it or not, child predators deserve to be treated fairly by common society too. The law, not the people, are responsible for making them repent for their crimes.
Are you afraid others will judge you from reading some of your answers?
Probably. I hope they argue with me about them in the comments at least.

Diatribe On the Voices Not Coming From My Own Head
Jared & Kerry
silverstarhawk
It drives me nuts when someone stops and says something to me while out and about who obviously recognize me but I do not recognize immediately in return. Nine out of ten times it isn't that I don't remember the person. Chances are I probably remember more about them than most people with similar interaction. I've a good head for that sort of thing. I simply don't recognize their voice on command. Learning someone's voice, for me at least, is at least a process of a couple substantive conversations and requires regular contact to maintain with confidence. People who I only speak to on an infrequent basis or in very short bursts are just too numerous for me to memorize each of their voices in detail.

Another factor is that Voices are always less distinguishable in louder environments which is many times where these encounters occur. The best analogy I can make would be having to identify someone's face through a translucent barrier of some sort. Silent or tumultuous, a persons' visual presentation is equally distinct. And if you're not expecting to see someone in a particular place, their voice might not immediately identify them. It goes back to the theory that our brains actually only absorb our small portion of our sensory perception and fill in the rest with cognetive presumptions. It's a lot easier to identify a fellow member of an ensemble's voice at rehearsal of said ensemble than by chance at a gas station.

So when someone greets me by name at the food court or in Lilly Hall or by the library fountain, my all-too-often predicament of not being able to return the gesture in kind without one of those awkward, "Who are you?" moments cuts right to the center of my social consciousness. I guess this is what people mean when they lament about how they're not good with faces, but if I can be frank, people have a lot more identifying visual characteristics than audible ones. Audibly you have voice and maybe, maybe a distinctive walk or extreme height in one direction. Visually you have build, gait, hair color and style, other distinctive physical features like a beard or tattoos, clothing which in plenty of instances can idetnify someone by sight, plus the extremely wide range of human faces which has been quantifiably determined to be greater than the diversity in human voices. (And let's be honest, seven out of every ten of the college-aged girls on this campus might as well sound the same with only a few seconds' exposure to work with.)My point is that this crap happens to me a bunch. So I felt like venting about it for a turn. I'm done now. I should be doing homework anyway.

Post Week 10 Thoughts
Jared & Kerry
silverstarhawk
I'll take it. That's almost all I can really say about the Green Bay victory. I will not with a straight face discount the myriod of mistakes Dallas made throughout the game nor the very disputable fumble that was, for some reason I have yet to figure out, not reviewable. That's not to take everything away from the Packers--the defense in particluar played extraordinarily well. But the catalysts for the four losses so far this year were still evident in all their hideous glory. Green Bay still committed 12 penalties for over 100 yards. The offensive line was still harassed and beaten badly many times throughout the game. The offense has so much explosiveness but not enough continuity to put together 60 minutes of offensive football. Only the 80 yard, 15 play drive that put Green Bay up 10-0 looked like the well-oiled machine the offense has the potential to be.

But the NFL is all about graciously accepting gifts when they're given to you and building on them. Green Bay is 5-4. Seattle and Detroit seem like very winnable games. San Francisco should be as well, and by the time Baltimore and Green Bay lock up, the Ravens might not have much motivation as they fall further and furtehr behind the Steelers and Bengals. No matter how ugly of a 5-4 it is, Green Bay still has to think itself in advantageous positioning for one of the two wild card spots out of the nFC. I needn't remind anyone that the last two Super Bowl representatives from the NFC entered the playoffs as the sixth seed.

I thought the Steelers had the best defense in the NFL, but the weren't even the best defense on the field yesterday. I'm hesitant to crown the Bengals as the best defense in the NFL, but it's hard to say the Steelers are after they were out-defensed on their home field yesterday. Of course, Polamalu's exit from the game so early cannot be overlooked, but even that considered, the Bengals were in Big Ben's shirt and his head all afternoon long. They seeme dto understand that sacking him might not end up happening, because he's so much stronger and capable of fighting off defensive ends and linebackers by himself. But keeping things chaotic around him with the use of things like mush rushes and defensive linemen sporadically throwing their hands in the air to deflect passes, these things seemed to irritate Roethliberger the whole game. I don't know if Cincinnati wil have what it takes against an Indianapolis or New England on the road, but they might have a playoff win in them. I hope not though. I really just don't like any of them. Especially Benson, who does appear to have just quit on his former team in retrospect. The only exception is #85, who I think has accomplished the terribly difficult feat of being publicly young at heart, humorous, and classy. That's a tough balance to strike.

I've already discussed how Green Bay had their game handed to them in many ways, but a lot of good NFL teams really did not play to potential and still got off the hook yesterday. Don't look now, but the New Orleans that can seemingly do no harm has 13 turnovers in the last four games. ST. Louis wouldn't take advantage of that, but you can bet New England will in a couple weeks. Atlanta did Green Bay a huge favor by being ragged and careless after Michael Turner left with an ankle injury, and they ended up losing to Carolina who had their own problems and miscues all through the game. I thought the Eagles might lay an egg out west again, and the Chargers are ending up the beneficiaries of that despite the fact their defense played especially poorly in the second half.

And, of course, Indianapolis could not have expected to be given the ball on the Patriots' 28 with two minutes lef to score a winning touchdown. I don't care what Coach Bellichick or his players say. That play call was absolutely an indictment of his defense. Coach concluded that there was no way the Patriots win if Manning gets the ball again. And, you know what? IN the aftermath of the play call not working and the Colts winning anyway, it's easy to forget that he very well might have been right. I don't think the final score would have been any different had Manning taken over for the last drive on his 28.

It's sad to see Brian Westbrook have some serious choices to make about his career moving forward after suffering a second concussion yesterday against the Chbargers. It's never a lot of fun to see injuries fizzle out a good player before they're ready to truly call it quits, but head injuries are not something to be fooled with. One's brain is a pivotal asset, even post-football for football players.

I hope you all enjoyed the week of football. It's not like there's a Monday night game on. ESPN is most likely showing billiards or poker or ping pong or something. Maybe I'll watch that.

NFL Week 10
Jared & Kerry
silverstarhawk
Some quick hits on today's games... Am I allowed to post something like this at 12:57 and maintain any level of football credibility? I digress.

Broncos at Redskins: Champ Bailey returns to Washington on a team better than any he had as a Redskin. Denver has been thoroughly outclassed in their last two games, but the Redskins wouldn't thoroughly outclass a high school team this season.

Bills at Titans: The Vince Yung revival continues. Eventually someone's going to have to point out that the Titans haven't played a team with a winning record since making their quarterback switch. It would be only too humorous to see the Titans get 5 or 6 wins by year's end with Yung at quarterback, decide he's the future of the franchise after all, and lock themselves into 3-13 and the cellar of the AFC South next year.

Saints at Rams: Another in an increasing number of NFL games this year pitting a good team in a potential trap game against a bad team, except that the difference between the good team and the bad team is so substantial that even if the good team plays at about 50% efficiency the the bad team plays at top efficiency, I'd still expect the good team to win. That's what we have with the Saints and Rams.

Bengals at STeelers: Remember in the 90's when the Packers would always beat the 9ers and lose to the Cowboys in the playoffs, but the 9ers would usually beat the Cowboys? That's what the AFC NOrth race looks like to me. Carson Palmer has Baltimore's number, and Big Ben has Cincinnati's. The only difference is that one could argue Pittsburhg has Baltimore's number too, but I still see somewhat of a parallel here. Pittsburhg has now won five in a row and have Troy Polamalu firmly back in the fold. Ryan Clark should play this week also, and while last week Cincinnati really made a statement to me with their complete dominance of the Ravens, I do think the Steelers are starting to regain true Super Bowl form and should assert themselves as still the kings of the AFC North mountain this week. But I've basically been picking against Cincinnati all year, so take it for what it's worth. I do forecast a quality game, at least.

Jaguars at Jets: Never has 4-4 looked so different for two separate teams. The Jaguars can't be happy with the way the season has gone so far either on the field or at the ticket turnstile. The Jets have been quite eratic so far, but a strong second half run could net them a spot as first round playoff fodder, which is a decent enough accomplishment for a team starting a rookie quarterback and lead by a rookie head coach. It's as good as Matt Ryan did. The Jets should run at will on Jacksonville, and if Mark Sanchez can swallow his pride and do the game manager thing, the Jets aught be fine this afternoon.

Lions at Vikings: The Vikings are at home off a bye week, which I remarked before is a good indicator of a victory. The Lions haven't won in Minnesota for 11 years and frankly, after jumping out to a 17-0 lead on the Seahawks last week, I thought the Lions played about two and a half quarters of some of the worst football I think I've seen this year. That includes what I've watched of Tampa, St. Louis, and Cleveland (all Green Bay opponents).

Buccaneers at Dolphins: This is utterly and without question the very last chance for the Dolphins to do, well, anything this season. They already need a lot of help, but it starts with getting your own W's, and I think coach Tony Sparano will have made that very clear throughout the week. I'm curious as to why Joey Porter isn't playing though.

Falcons at Panthers: I don't like this game for Atlanta. I'm not sure they can stop the run, with Williams in particular and their assortment of receivers and runningbacks is terribly, terribly thin. Jake Delhomme has the potential to make it very easy for the Falcons, but if he has one of his not-so-frightuflly bad games, Carolina could score a nice home win to try and turn into a last, desperate gasp at postseason relevance.

Chiefs at Raiders: If I get this pick right, Chris Chambers will have scored the elusive regular season hat trick over an opponent.

Eagles at Chargers: Much is made of east coast teams traveling west, but I didn't see a worse performance out of Philadelphia this year than the one they turned in at Oakland a few weeks ago. San Diego is a much, much better team than Oakland, and even the Raiders managed to take advantage of Phillie's lacadaizical play with a win. Denver better take care of the Redskins today, or that head-to-head victory will be the only ground between them and the Chargers in the AFC West. That is, by the way, an indictment of the AFC West.

Cowboys at Packers: Oh, boy, DeMarcus Ware is in town. I'm not much of a prayer-crafter, but I might try the exercise on behalf of our offensive line this afternoon. I still expect Green Bay to win somehow, of course.

Seahawks at Cardinals: The 49ers are really hoping Arizona continues its trend of losing at home. They might want to get to prayer-crafting themselves though, 'cause Seattle is not a good team when fully healthy, and they're quite far from that this week.

Patriots at Colts: A potential playoff preview if there ever was one. A toss up in every sense of the word, but I'm going to take New England to win this round. They need the game more, and the Colts might actually value the undefeated chatter going away.

Ravens at Browns: There is a no way , absolutely no way, I'll watch this game other than if it's within one score in the fourth quarter. Ravens will probably win, and I probably won't have much reason to watch in the fourth quarter. But make no mistake, Baltimore has no more future in January than Cleveland does.

A strange week in that I have more game slated on my viewing agenda that start at 4 PM than 1 PM this afternoon. Whatever time you spend watching football, be sure to enjoy it. Like that takes much effort.

Elephant and Butler Hoops
Jared & Kerry
silverstarhawk
Monday through Wednesday had me jamming to get software modules done. Thursday through Saturday brought a total of five jazz band performances, two of which were in Chicago. I didn't make it out of the week unscathed. That is to say, I didn't play every show perfectly and not every academic task was met and achieved with universally glimmering success. But I managed to keep my head above water and am finely getting to do a little personally unwinding for most of what is left for the weekend.

Part of my unwinding actually came this afternoon before tonight's final show in the jazz band run. I was able to sit down with Elephant. For a film depicting a school shooting, it was incredibly understated. Music and to a lesser extent dialogue were at a premium, and much of movie was centered around the characters' notions and emotions as they deal with the frustrations of their respective endeavors rather than spending time framing a divergent or outside-the-box plot. After all, the plot was essentially Columbine dramatized, and we all know that story far too well.

The shooting itself is nothing but the conclusion to the movie and while obviously the primary piece on the movie's workbench, it just isn't what Elephant actually seemed to be about. . If asked, I'd say the movie is about a peak into the ppersonal bubbles around a set of unsuspecting high schoolers leading up to a life-altering tragedy. You can think of it as a commentary on how importance is a matter of relativity. You could take it the direction of all the kids having the sorts of afflictions that burden teenagers and yet two specific ones, facing the same personal crises and obstacles as their companions, ended up determining that a massacre of their peers and teachers was the best course of action. One specific scene centers around the two killers abandoning prior inhibitions armed with the knowledge they would likely die by day's end anyway. A movie for those who like to dip into some mental gymnastics after it's over, and highly recommended if you can stomach the backdrop, which is not in any way obscured or sugar coated.

I picked the wrong time to watch the movie though. Lots of hard work being done today, so in the mid afternoon of such a nice day like this I got a supplemental soundtrack of lawn mowers and weed eaters a plenty. It put me in mind of the couple of times some friends and me have been told by the cops to stop playing music when we've taken it outside on pleasant afternoons like today. I'm not so anal as to actually measure, but I'd estimate that the decible level on some of those landscaping tools is higher than an acoustic jazz quartet. Now, I'm not saying that weed eaters should be silenced on this or any other day. Artists just shouldn't be either, especially since there's the chance that those in range of hearing might actually enjoy the music, whereas I'm skeptical that anyone really relishes the sound of a lawn mower.

To be fair, the machines hard at yard work did not bother me when I was watching the second half of the Butler victory over Davidson this afternoon. Clashed a lot less with a loud crowd than with the long stretches of subtle ambience or even silence that the movie had used to build tension. But about the game... Butler looked great. They were down ten in the first half, so I don't know what they weren't doing then that they did when I was watching. But Matt Howard looked like he could do more or less whatever he wanted, and don't look now, but it appeared the Butler style of team-oriented, fundamental basketball suddenly had a few players athletic enough to make it truly sizzle. I still am very hesitant to buy into the national admiration of Butler this early in the season, honestly. If teams coax them into track meets, I could see a few weaknesses being exposed. But I observed this afternoon a team well disciplined in most if not all phases of basketball, especially the less celebrated ones like good help defense or efficiency going after stray rebounds.

Of course, the NFL still has the best part of my sporting attention. I might write some thoughts about the week's games in the morning. Suffice to say that as a Packer fan very aware of our offensive line's substandard performances throughout the first half of the season, I am not excited to be coming up against a team like Dallas that thrives on relentlessly getting after the passer. But, as is always the case with the NFL, we shall see.

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