Sunday, October 31, 2010

I Was Hit By A Car

Yes. This happened. Last Sunday.

First things first, I am completely unhurt.

Lucky is what I am.

After the miserable weather of Saturday, I decided that for my Sunday workout I would run to our gym - 1 mile from our house - to enjoy the sun and fresh air, work out and then run home. Diane had a slightly different schedule for her workout as she was attending a class at the gym and, therefore, drove.

Well, all was fine and going to plan as I finished my workout at the gym and headed back down to the street for the one mile run home. As I exited the doors, I spied Diane about a half a block away, getting into our 4Runner. I wasn't sure if I wanted to hitch a ride home or not, but I definitely wanted to run down there to catch her before she drove back to our house. So I did.

Part of the sidewalk along this stretch also is the exit for a parking garage used by gym patrons, shoppers at nearby Trader Joe's and - on Sundays - throngs of people flocking to the Mars Hill church across the street.

Well, as I ran along the sidewalk - as I have done in this location many times before - a car came zooming out of the garage without slowing down or stopping to see if anyone was on the sidewalk. Apparently the driver was not concerned with this possibility, not did she bother to check the round mirror that's mounted to give drivers a look around the corner for just such a possibility.

Nope. She and her Subaru just came cruising on out onto the sidewalk and hit me as I crossed in front of the garage exit.

Luckily for me, I had a few things going in my favor:
  • I was already moving - I wasn't' stationary nor walking...I was running.
  • I was not running right up next to the wall of the building, but rather a bit out on the sidewalk.
  • The car was not going very fast...after all, she was exiting a garage, not driving on the street.
  • I reacted well and quickly sprung sideways and forward when I quickly realized what was happening.
  • The driver did, indeed, stop after hitting me.
All of these things, in my opinion, combined in one moment, so that the car...while technically "hitting me"...more like aggressively bumped me and I was out the other side unhurt. The only part of my body that contacted the car were my upper thy and my hand as I balanced and pushed off the hood to propel past the car.

Once I cleared the car, I quickly checked myself...not hurt. Not at all. I looked at the driver, yelled out something lame like "What the Hell lady!" Some guy walking by said something like, "that was lucky."

I ran over to Diane and asked her if she'd seen what just happened. She hadn't.

Oh, and by the way...the driver? Didn't get out of her car. Didn't say "I'm sorry." Didn't ask me if I was OK. Nothing. She looked at me, raiser her hands with her palms up and kinda dismissed the whole thing...and then drove away. But that's people for you. She's probably not a bad person or anything, but in any case she decided her best move was to say nothing, do nothing and then drive away.

After that, I decided it was probably best to catch a ride home with Diane.

All and all, I'll take this little episode as yet another sign of, you think you know what's going to happen to you in daily life - or life in general - but you don't know.

What We Learned - Week Nine in Pac-10 Football

Oregon (8-0 overall, 5-0 in Pac-10 play) defeated USC (5-3, 2-3) by the score of 53-32 in Los Angeles. We learned that charges by pundits and opponents saying that Oregon runs a "gimmick" offense, fields a "fraud" deffense, has played a "soft" schedule and hasn't "proved it" on the road are, in fact, completely false.

For indeed, Saturday we definitively learned that the inverse of all of those things is what is true. Lets break it down for those still doubting:
  • Oregon is a power offense. The proof is in the stats - 311 on the ground and 288 in the air - and the number of points scored (52). Think that's gimmicky? Think they somehow "manufactured" that out of thin air? No. They ran through USC, and then threw it over the top of them on the way to an excellent day. 
  • Oregon fields a legit defense. OK, they did give up some yards and some points. But hey, isn't USC's offense supposed to be among the best in the conference if not the nation? And how about 3 turnovers they nabbed Saturday. Does it get any more legit than beating USC by three touchdowns...on the road?
  • Oregon plays a difficult schedule and beats good teams...even on the road. To date, the Ducks have beaten then #9 Stanford (now #12) at home and #23 USC on the road. Throw in quality road wins against Arizona State (first league road game) and Tennessee (second week of the season and down in SEC territory) and I think talk of weak schedule can be put to rest.
We also learned that Oregon, if it can take care of business against its remaining schedule, will certainly earn a spot in the big national title game in January.

Stanford (7-1, 4-1) beat Washington (3-5, 2-3) by the score of 41-0 in Seattle. We learned that UW is nowhere near where it wants to be or thought it was as a football program entering this season. "Rock bottom" is the description of the team's own coach after the game when describing his squad. UW has to win three of its final four games to be considered for a bowl game. Yes, they have to figure out a way to beat Oregon in Eugene, Cal in Seattle, UCLA in Seattle and WSU in Pullman. Based on yesterday's evidence, none of those games are a "gimmie" - even against WSU. Meanwhile, we learned that Stanford continues to be the real deal...a very good second-best team in the league.

ASU (4-4, 2-3) beat WSU (1-8, 0-6) by the score of 42-0. We learned that my prediction of the Cougs finally putting it together were, well, WAY too optimistic. Oh well. We learned that ASU can come back from a nasty defeat and could be a spoiler for others still on their schedule.

Oregon State (4-3, 3-1) beat Cal (4-4, 2-3) by the score of 35-7 in Corvallis. We learned again that Cal just 'aint the same team on the road as they are at a long shot. We learned that Oregon State is still on track to give Oregon trouble in the Civil War game in early December.

Arizona (7-1, 4-1) beat UCLA (3-5, 2-4) by the score of 29-21 in Los Angeles. Not much learned here. The Arizona backup QB is good. Arizona is better team than UCLA. They are on the march to an epic showdown with Oregon on Nov. 26 in Eugene. Meanwhile, we learned that the Bruins can bounce back, but are done for the year. That's about it.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Week Nine Pac-10 Football Predictions

Week nine predictions for Pac-10 football...

Oregon will trounce USC by the score of 48-24. I've been conservative in my Duck predictions this year - even predicting a loss to Stanford earlier. Each time I've been proven wrong and the Ducks have rolled. This week, convential wisdom and the pundits will say that this is a trap for the Ducks and that USC is good and, the chances of them upsetting Oregon are very good to, well, they will upset Oregon. I will go the other direction and say that, no, in fact the Ducks are up to the challenge, highly motivated, and the same things than have carried them through all of their other games this season (hyper offensive pace, spectacular running game, timely passing and running by the QB and a "bend but don't break" defense also adept at creating turnovers) will do so again. Sure, USC will score points, but they won't outlast or outscore the Ducks. Que the big Duck jinx simply because I have published this prediction.

Stanford will beat Wasthington by the score of 28-17. Stanford is just too good not to come out of this game against the Dawgs with a win. Their strengths line up with the UW weaknesses and I just don't see how UW wins this one...maybe a binge of turnovers by Stanford? That's about all I can think of, and I doubt that happens.

Arizona will beat UCLA by the score of 42-10. Arizona will roll over the reeling Bruins. It doesn't matter that this one is in L.A. The better team wins by a lot.

WSU will beat ASU by a score of 24-21. You see that correctly. I'm calling for an upset here. ASU is whipped and demoralized with little to play for. WSU isn't winning, but they are getting better every week. I think they get it done this time.

OSU will beat Cal by the score of 31-21. Cal is a strong team at home and a pretty poor one on the road. This game is in Corvallis. Enough said. Beavs win.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tea Party Horrors

Here are a couple really interesting posts that give you some insight into the anger and mindset of Tea Party members and their ilk:

Teabaggers = Constitutional Hypocrites. Tea Partiers like to talk about their devotion to the Constitution. This article points out how hypocritical they really are. Click HERE to read.

Teabaggers Are Mad...Now. So much crap happened over the last 10 years, where was the anger through all that? What could have changed in 2008 that made people previously unwilling to express their anger to flip out? Hmmm. Click HERE to read.

UO Basketball - Rebuilding But Will Have GREAT Arena

University of Oregon mens basketball may be going through some challenges after long-time coach Ernie Kent departed along with several key players, but one thing they will have in the upcoming season is...

...the most modern, high tech and impressive stadium to play in.

Check out the Matt Knight Arena by clicking HERE.

Here's what it looked like under construction this summer...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's Never A Good Idea To Link Yourself to WWII Germany

Political pundits sometimes throw out how certain people or policy positions compare with - in their minds - those of Nazi German or what Hitler did or "would have" supported. The translation of any such argument is that the person saying these things is calling their opponent "a Nazi" or "Hitler" and implying that they harbor the associated racism, hate, anti-Semitism and responsibility for the deaths of millions of people that goes with that accusation.

This never works as an effective way of discrediting an opponent because it comes across as desperate, mean spirited or out-of-touch...even if the assertion happens to be technically correct on some level. And, no matter what the issue is, the public isn't going to believe that whatever political issue or hypothetical argument that's being discussed on TV in the U.S. in 2010 is as bad as what actually happened in Europe because of the Germans before and during World War II (because it's not).

OK, so it's clear that it's not effective to try and link an adversary to WWII Germany. But, FOR SURE you should not link yourself or your own organization to them.

As evidence, this week the University of Tennessee head football coach tried to explain the mindset and status of his team by saying they were "like the Germans in World War II." He went to explain how his team is like the defenders of the D-Day beaches. Really? That's the comparison you want to make? That your student athletes are akin to German soldiers in World War II trying to kill Americans, Brits, Canadians and others as they try and liberate Europe?

The coach is probably a big WWII buff and knows well how the Allies successfully invaded France in 1944 - starting with D-Day on June 6. So, he probably was trying to make a point along the lines complete was the Allies plan and execution of the D-Day invasion that it totally confused and completely defeated the Germans defending the coastline, and that's how our team feels right now. We're young, beat up and overwhelmed.

Two problems with that analogy:
  1. Whatever your intentions, you just aligned yourself, your school and your team with the Nazis. Virtually nobody will get the comparison you were trying to make, but they definiately will conclude that you are an idiot who just associated their beloved school and team with "Nazis." 
  2. The Germans went on to lose World War II - badly. If you ARE going to use a war analogy, is that the side you want to compare yourself to when talking to your team, fans and supporters? I think not. For free, I'll give you an appropriate WWII analogy - even though I'm against using them in business, politics or sports because war is horrific and whatever "sacrifices" your team or company is making they are nothing compared to what real soldiers in a real war sacrificed. OK, so you could say that your team is like the Americans at the outset of the Battle of the Bulge - surprised, overwhelmed and confused. But, like those American soldiers, the team will rebound, re-double efforts, fight hard and in the end emerge victorious. There. Everybody is happy. Your analogy is aligned with the right side and your (feeble) point is made.
So the big sum up is...when making an argument or an analogy, never bring in references to the Nazis, Hitler or the Germans in WWII. Just don't. You're more than likely wrong, you look desperate and you greatly undermine your own credibility rather than making your point.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Secret Prehistory of the Beatles

The Beatles. Lovable mop tops with a groundbreaking new sound, boundary pushing musicians, teenage girl scream inducing Fab Four idols, and psychedelic pioneers. They were all those things and more. And indeed, most people remember them as as such - beginning in 1963 and running through until their breakup in 1970.

Except that beginning that everybody remembers wasn't the beginning at all.

Indeed, prior to the release of Love Me Do in 1963 and the ensuing Beatlemania that swept the UK, the USA and then the world in the following years, the Beatles existed - and thrived - as an animal of a different type. First in the lowly clubs of Liverpool, and then more spectacularly in the seedy nightclubs of Hamburg, Germany, the Beatles were a rough and ready, hard rocking band playing revved up and loud songs at breakneck speed. And, it wasn't just the music. Their look was completely different than what they later projected. Leather jackets and pants, slicked back hair, wild stage antics...hey, these Beatles were more like 1970s punk than 1960 pop.

There are books and web sites that tell of this Beatles pre-history, and its fascinating stuff to read about how the band came together in those days, gigged hard and eventually jettisoned bassist Stu Sutcliff and drummer Pete Best in favor of Ringo Starr. But, pictures also tell a 1,000 words.

Check these out...

Is this George, Paul and John or is it Strummer, Jones and Simonon?

Is this the Beatles or the Damned on stage?

Rich Getting (A Lot) Richer - and Fast!

Some info to ponder as election day approaches...

Average, median and total wages for U.S. workers have gone down for virtually all Americans from 2008 to 2009, according to a Social Security Administration report issued this month. Article here.

Shockingly, the same report also found that one out of ever 34 U.S. workers who earned any kind of wage in 2008 earned ZERO income in 2009.

That's right, statistically speaking, every 34th person you see today who had a job in 2008 will have earned zero income in 2009.

Guess where none of this unpleasantness is evident?

You guessed it. The wealthiest U.S. citizens did just fine in 2009.

For example, in 2008 there were 131 people in the U.S. who earned at least $50 million annually. In 2009, there were only 74 such people, but their income shot up from a an average of $91 million a year to a whopping $519 million a year. That's nearly $10 million a week in pay.

That's some serious wealth pooling at the top - and fast!

So, what is more shocking? The fact that so many people are hurting due to the economic downturn or that - in the middle of all this - the wealthiest Americans keep getting wealthier...a LOT wealthier?

Questions as you go to the ballot box:
  • Why would so many Americans take such a hit in their incomes while so few Americans benefit so spectacularly within the exact same economy?
  • Why are so few people making so much money so fast?
  • Why are so many regular Americans not benefiting and growing their incomes?
  • What is more important - ensuring that really rich people can continue to get richer or that more Americans can get a job and make a living?
  • Do I think the candidate I am voting for will do something to address this situation?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What We Learned - Week Eight In Pac-10 Football

Oregon beat UCLA by the score of 60-12 in Eugene. We learned that Oregon is a beast with talent and coaching oozing out out all pours, probably the number one team in the country and that it faces its stiffest test yet vs. USC next week. We learned that UCLA is now, officially, relegated to the bottom of the Pac-10. Not sure how they beat Texas at Texas other than Texas is actually pretty bad. And this too is likely confirmed by the fact that none other than the Iowa State Cyclones went into Austin this weekend and beat Texas too.

Arizona (6-1, 3-1) beat Washington (3-4, 2-2) by the score of 44-14 in Tucson. Some weeks, the Dawgs put it together just enough to eek out a win, and other weeks...well, they just don't put it together. This game was the later, so we learned once again that UW is a streaky team with talent deficits compared to the better teams in the league - including at QB - that, now, is going to have to somehow win three of its final five games just to be considered for a bowl. As for Arizona, we learned that their backup QB is quite good and the rest of the league still on their schedule - my Ducks included - need to be prepared for a stiff challenge.

Stanford (6-1, 3-1) beat WSU (1-7, 0-5) by the score of 38-28 in Palo Alto. We didn't learn much from this game, just repeat lessons from weeks past. WSU has heart, is improving, has some talent at key positions, but none of that is enough to win a football game. Meanwhile, Stanford is a power team with a great QB that - with only one blemish on their record - keeps on winning games.

Cal (4-3, 2-2) beat Arizona State (3-5, 1-3) by the score of 50-17 at Berkley. We learned that Cal is capable of dishing out a beat down to a Pac-10 team. Sure, they beat UCLA 35-7, but this...this was a clubbing. When he's on, the Cal QB is really good and the Golden Bear defense can come to play. If the Ducks can somehow arrive in Berkley undefeated for their match up with Cal in November, it could be a "trap" game for Oregon. We learned that ASU is now fading into irrelevance for the Pac-10 race. They are talented enough to hang a loss on one of the top teams late in the season (Arizona, Stanford), but their own fortunes now seem sealed for the season.

Oregon State and USC had the week off, so we didn't learn anything about them.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Oklahoma #1? Really?

The reason that Oklahoma sits atop the BSC standing going into this weekend is that the computers (part of the equation of formulating the BSC index) "like" their schedule better than some of the other undefeated schools (Oregon, Boise St. Michigan St. Auburn, etc.).


Lets take a look at the "powerhouse" teams that the "Sonners" have beaten so far this season, where and by how much:

  • Utah State. Right. Beat them at home and by one touchdown. 
  • Florida State. OK, this is a good one. They beat the Seminoles by 30 points in Norman, Oklahoma. Ring one (ONE) up for the Sooners.
  • Air Force. Hmm. Well, Air Force is an OK team, but would you really give them big poll points for beating them by three points? At home in Oklahoma? I don't think so.
  • Cincinnati. They ain't what they used to be, and even if they were the Sooners only won by three points in their loan road game to date. Not too impressive.
  • Texas. Beat them by eight at a neutral site. Normally, this would be a no brainer signature win. But this year Texas isn't very good. For example, UCLA came into Austin and beat them, and as I write this the Longhorns are losing to Iowa State. So, sorry Sooners, this one is not too impressive either. Oh, and your win here was by a touchdown.
  • Iowa State. At home by 52 points. Not one to brag about. 
All right then. Oklahoma has played exactly ONE road game and barely won that. With the exception of Florida State, the rest of their games have been against either perennial poor teams or ones that are underachieving this year. 

How is that somehow better than, say, an Oregon that has beaten a ranked Stanford and Tennessee (remember, prevailing college football wisdom is that any SEC team is excellent)? Or, how about Boise State who has beaten then-ranked Virginia Tech and Oregon State? Or, how about Auburn who has beaten Clemson, South Carolina and Arkansas? Or, how about Michigan State who has beaten Wisconsin, Michigan and Notre Dame? 

At this point in the season, my personal national rankings would be:
  1. Michigan State
  2. Oregon
  3. Auburn
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Boise State
  6. TCU
  7. LSU
  8. Utah
  9. Alabama
  10. Ohio State

Friday, October 22, 2010

Week Eight Pac-10 Football Predictions

Here are my predictions for this week's contests in Pac-10 football...

With Oregon winning against UCLA by the score of 60-13, I got my first prediction right for the Thursday game...or at least who would win. I did not anticipate the absolute nuclear football A-bomb that the Ducks would drop on the Bruins, but none the less, I'm already 1-0 for the week.

Arizona will beat Washington in Tuscon by a score of 24-21. It'll be close and competitive. But, UA is a better team and UW has issues on the road. I know, I know...they beat USC this year in L.A. That was their first road win in, what, 3-4 seasons? They revert to old form and fall short.

Cal will beat Arizona State by the score of 34-14 in Berkley. Both teams are up and down. I think this week Cal is up and ASU is down.

Stanford will beat WSU by the score of 42-10 in Palo Alto. Cougs have had a couple good weeks in a row even though they've lost. That will end this week as they hit the road against the very good Cardinal.

USC and Oregon State have the week off.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Little Ammo for Those Pre-Election Conversations

With the election coming up in just under two weeks, many people will be making up their minds how they are going to vote. While most probably are not influencable, there may be some people who are even as late as election day itself.

Look, my feeling is that turning the Federal government back over to the very same people who ran our nation into the ground over the past 10 years - and that's what we're talking about when we ponder a change in leadership in Congress - is exactly the wrong thing to do.

From what I can tell, most Americans have the political attention span of a gnat on speed, so many may not remember that virtually every single one of our economic problems were designed, created, manifested and grew to disaster proportions under leadership of the last administration and under conservative rule of Congress.

If you feel the same way, below are a few tips for conversations you may have between now and election day with people who may be leaning towards voting us back to the stone age, but perhaps haven't put too much thought into it yet.
  • Note - if the person you are talking to is firmly convinced, then nothing you say will change his or her mind or make them think any differently than they already do. Ain't gonna happen. You might want to jab a little for fun, but don't expect to change that person's mind.
  • Note - if you are a conservative and reading this, I understand if you disagree. You may want to skim this quick (or just ignore it) and then tune into Fox News for your fix.
OK, here are some tips for potential topics that may come up in your political discussions over the next few days...

I'm voting for CANDIDATE X from the Tea Party because we just need to clean house in Congress. Throw the bums out. Send a message.

Yeah, things are pretty messed up in DC. That's for sure. But you know, just voting for someone to kick others out may not always be the best thing. I mean, you gotta consider who you are voting for as well. Seems like a lot of the Tea Party candidates have some pretty "out there" ideas like getting rid of Social Security and Medicare. And I'm not even going to get into some of the wackier things some of these Tea Party candidates indulge in (dressing up like a Nazi, being homophobic but collecting rent on a gay nightclub). Just saying, but I'd check out the candidates you're voting for more if I were you.

Government is too big. We need to reduce it's size and get it off the backs of Americans. That's how I'm voting.

If that's how you feel, I can't see how you'd want to vote Republican. The U.S. federal government grew to its largest size ever in terms of spending and number of people employed during the six years when Republicans ran the entire show - President and Congress Do you really want to hand over control of the government back to the people who made it so big?

I'm voting for fiscal responsibility. Our budget deficit is going to kill our economy and our childrens' future.

Yes, I agree 100 percent. I also agree that getting the budget balanced and back into the black is the right thing to do. I assume then, that you'll be voting Democrat, right? I mean...hey, lets face facts. The record budget deficits we now have are a direct result of Republican leadership over the past decade and longer. Reduced taxes for the wealthy and big business, massive deregulation of markets, free trade policies, along with increased government spending and financing two wars are all key moves made by Republican Congresses and the Bush White House. We're still trying to dig out from that. You want to give them control again? I say no. And hey, guess who led us out of the last debt crisis and into the back - Bill Clinton.

I'm voting for the Tea Party because our freedom and liberty are under attack. We need to get those back.
I am not sure I understand? The U.S. economy and culture are the freest in the entire world. Just so I know where you're coming from better, what are you now no longer able to do freely that you want back?

I'm voting conservative (or Republican or Tea Party) because of (insert moral, religious or "family values" issue here).

I can tell you're passionate about this. But, when was the last time a conservative or Republican controlled government actually delivered on your issue - or any moral values issue? Abortion is still legal. We still have firm separation of church and state. Gay marriage is still legal in a number of states and if anything the tide is going towards more of it. Same with assisted suicide. Seems like the Republicans or conservatives use issues like yours to get your vote and then never deliver. You know...they're using you.

NOTE: you are not going to change a person's mind on their moral issue, but you may someone to think twice about voting for the same type of candidates over and over.

I am just not seeing the change that I voted for in 2008, so I am not going to vote. It clearly makes no difference.

Healthcare reform has been passed, a stimulus to the economy has helped stabilize it and stave off worse unemployment, the auto industry has been saved and we're starting to dial back our presence in Iraq. Sure, there is more to do and no it's not as fast as I'd like either. But, not voting will basically hand the government back over to the very people who wrecked us before. Not a good move in my book.

Unemployment is still really high and Obama and Congress have done nothing to fix it.

Yeah, I'm disappointed too. But I think it's wrong to blame Obama. I mean, he came into office with high unemployment and an economy just about to go down the tubes. He's done a pretty good job of stabilizing the economy and unemployment rates in under two years.

More important than any of that is the fact that jobs are created by businesses - not the government. To me, it seems like businesses are not innovating to grow - and with it hire people - but rather just finding new ways to lower costs by outsourcing or reducing staff. And, using the recession as an excuse to keep their now lighter employee base small. Maybe it would be good to have a government that encourages domestic innovation and employment.

Prediction for Ducks vs. UCLA

Here's my prediction for the match up between #1 Oregon (AP, Coaches polls) and UCLA Thursday night...

Oregon will beat the Bruins by 14 points. I'm not going to say a score per se, but I think that'll be the spread. What? Not going to kill UCLA by four touchdowns? No. Despite this being a home game and despite the #1 ranking, I think UCLA will give the Ducks a tough game that Oregon will have to gut out in the second half to win.

I've just seen WAY too many turnovers and penalties in the Ducks' game to think they are going roll the Bruins like they did some other teams where such mistakes were a mere afterthought. And in fact, I think the biggest reason that the Bruins could win this game is if the Ducks give the ball away too many times.

I'll be watching Oregon QB Darron Thomas to see if he's fully back after a minor injury vs. WSU, the Duck offensive line and - as it seems every game - if or how the Ducks defend the middle of the field on defense. Seems like most teams can pick up big yards on Oregon by throwing short and mid-range passes over the middle.

In the end, however, I think the combination of a lethal running game, timely passing, a brutal pace and a defense that can stop the run and manufacture 1-2 turnovers will do the trick once again for the Ducks.

Here's hoping.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Album Review - Postcards From A Young Man by Manic Street Preachers

The new album by one of my favorite bands, Manic Street Preachers, is out now. It's called Postcards From A Young Man.

While it may be overly simplistic to say so, the Manics have essentially put out two types of music over the past 20 years. One is overtly pop-rock and meant to engage mass tastes, and the other is darker, more enraged and meant - I think - to challenge mass tastes. Both types are intelligent, articulate, passionate and a cut above what passes for rock music these days. Seeing them live in Seattle last year was truly a great experience.

Postcards is more in the pop vein after the magnificent Journal for Plague Lovers. In fact, lead singer and guitarist James Dean Bradfield describes the new record as "one last chance at mass communication."After giving it a listen, I would agree that the music is more major chord, soaring, pop hook, string embellished and tunefully written in a way designed to appeal to the common ear. But, make no mistake, the lyrics - mostly written by bassist Nicky Wire - are as always thought provoking and challenging with themes of society's downfall, the ills of self indulgence, moving forward despite doubts and nostalgia for the more sure minded days of youth.

I tend to like the darker, noisier and aggressive Manic's efforts (The Holy Bible, Journal for Plague Lovers, Know Your Enemy, Generation Terrorist), but the new one is a strong outing from the guys from Wales.

Look, you like U2? Queen? The Clash? Echo and the Bunnymen? How about The Replacements or Rush? If you do, I think you should check out Postcards.

If that's not enough, below is a recent picture of the band, and my rundown of the songs on the new record for your consideration. Best listened to with the volume up high of course...

  • It's Not War, Just The End of Love - "You pay your dues, and I'll pay mine." A great album opener. This is a rockin' tune the likes of which the Manics specialize replete with challenging lyrics, soaring choruses and strings. Opening with a deliberate guitar lead-in and those strings, James Dean Bradfield fires off the first shot of the record with the line, "To feel forgiveness, you gotta forgive..." you know you're in for a corker. From there the song explodes into pop rock goodness with the chorus (title of the song) that includes the line "...its never enough, it's never enough." For my humble tastes, this is about as good as it gets for modern pop-oriented rock. (*****)
  • Postcards From A Young Man - "This world will not impose it's will." This song deals with looking back from the perspective of a wiser, older and a bit more cynical person on the idealism, naivete and passion felt in younger times - those days seeming like "postcards from a young man" and perhaps never to be "posted again." Toward the end, Bradfield sings out for both the young and old versions of the protagonist - and certainly for you, the listener - of the song, "This world will not impose its will, I will never give up and I will never give in." Compelling stuff when paired with a mid-tempo beat that builds to a crescendo toward the end and that highlights both the epic backing sound the band have arranged for this album, along with Bradfields expert guitar work. Simply one of the best tracks on this album. (****)
  • Some Kind of Nothingness - "Remember you, stretched out in the sun." Featuring a guest vocal by Echo and the Bunnymen main man Ian McCullough, this starts as a slowdown song compared to the first two numbers. Touching on nostalgia, the simplicity and safety of not meeting expectations, the tune slowly builds as the singers contemplate foregone conclusions and that perhaps, in the end, "death is our only friend." Eventually, roiling and ecstasy-inducing backing vocals from an unseen choir kick in and build...upping the ante to a song-ending celebration about eventually getting what you want when your "final search for truth as stopped." (***)
  • The Descent (Pages 1 & 2) - "Do I have the courage of the books I've read?" This quirky tune jauntily seems to be addressing doubts that people may have even after they've taken precautions in their lives and eliminated issues such as phobias and paranoia. Asking questions such as, "will my kingdom fade away?" and "have my expectations gone too far again?" the singer also acknowledges obvious things in odd ways like "my baby teeth are gone into a better place I have yet to go" and for sure that there is a challenge to contend with the "the winner takes it all" mentality in society - all things that pose doubts to someone trying to move ahead in life. Ultimately, we're learning here that these doubts and these questions are "the last descent" that the singer is going to experience and contemplate before a better (or is it worse?) fate unfolds. (***)
  • Hazelton Avenue - "Yes I worship a the alter, I am a happy consumer." Back on the pop rock tip, this one is a winner in my book. To me, it's about a few good or interesting things associated with "Hazelton Avenue," (a street in Toronto, Canada) such as the numbness but simple joy of consumerism on this avenue, as well as the comfort of a bed and bold thoughts of writing a best seller in a loft overlooking the street. Again, strings play a significant role in this song along with Bradfield's guitar to create a comfortable texture for the song's words. (***)
  • Auto Intoxication "A new economy embraces the ruins." This is a musically exciting song with challenging lyrics. It seems to be addressing the fact that as much as we all talk about wanting to succeed and do well, we ourselves and the society we live in keep distracting us or pulling the rug out from underneath us - or as the Manics put it, a sort of "auto-intoxication." With lines like, "Drained of delusion and buried in debt, how the hell do we find each other suffering auto intoxication," you get the drift. Musically, the song starts at a mid-temp chug with the versus delivered diligently across strumming guitars and well placed fills. Then, right in the middle, like a grenade suddenly going off in a field of daisies on a sunny afternoon, the Manics pull the pins and hurl their bombs as they rip into the chorus where we get the information that as bad as things are, at least you've survived, "but disaster isn't coming, it's already arrived. I am so lucky, I think that I survived." All distorted guitars and Bradfield yelling at the top of his lungs.  Boom! We're at war, the combat happening all around! Juxtaposed with the rest of the song and, indeed, the rest of the album, this one's a stand out to me. (****)
  • Golden Platitudes "Why colonize the moon when every different kind of desperation exists?" This song is quite straight forward. Where did our assured, youthful and all-knowing view of the world go? What happened to those "golden platitudes?" This is the one song on the album that starts and maintains a slower, mellower pace all the way through, accompanied by those strings and choir backing vocals. (**)
  • I Think I Found It "I think I found it, and I think I love it." Here again we are challenged by the lyrics. Certainly a song with this title and main chorus line would be about love, right? Well...probably that is the case here. Following an intro section featuring the sounds of tightly strummed mandola that might be more at home in an ad for an Italian restaurant, we transition into more traditional mode to hear about a person who has found what he was looking for (buried and hiding in the dirt) and once liberated from that place walks freely to the sea, enjoys some "days of wine and roses," and - despite some blunt words and letters - is happy to the ask someone else to "live with me through the threads of our lives." Delivered in a jubilant and upbeat tune featuring hammering guitar breaks in the chorus, this one gets you back on track and in an upbeat mood after the previous song on the album. (***)
  • A Billion Balconies Facing the Sun - "A billion lies becoming the truth." With a head of steam now built back up with the previous song, A Billion Balconies kicks it into high gear. This very squarely is a song about the ills of modern society - the denial of humanity in a world obsessed with instant gratification. Under a bed of ominous guitar, it starts out with anger over how people are now so enamored with themselves, technology, celebrity, pop-culture and other self-indulgent crap. The other main verse expresses how people nowadays have "found expression for our hate without any kind of consequence," and points out that, well, "who needs patients when all our pleasures are virtual." The chorus uses the imagery of "a billion balconies facing the sun," as a beautiful setting, but then informs the listener that inside those dwellings with all those balconies featuring a spectacular view are people with their faces "turned to the screen" - uninterested in reality and all to susceptible too prettily packaged lies. Musically, this one's a rocker with brooding versus and bright, blazing choruses that hammer the points home. Together with It's Not War and Auto-Intoxication make up the three stonking rock songs on this album. (*****)
  • All We Make Is Entertainment "Pointless jobs lead to pointless lives." Under a buildup of thumping drums, we get "1-2-3" and then launch into the song where we first learn that "I'm no longer preaching to the converted, that congregation as long ago deserted" - a line implying that the Manics' audience of 1992 or 1994 is no longer satisfied with the band's more pop inclinations. Which is a perfect start for this song as most of it is a long-arrived at admission that, guess what, all we do here in the Manic Street Preachers - at the end of the day - is make entertainment. This is a good thing, but simply "part of the grand delusion." This last little bit does then give the band license at the end to reverse field a bit on the theme for indeed...the all-encompassing grand delusion of entertainment is a major societal ill. Strip that away and you get the fact that millions are trapped in "pointless jobs" that lead to "pointless lives." Musically, this song is big, bombastic with clever guitar (especially right at the end) and dynamic vocal delivery by Bradfield. (*****)
  • The Future Has Been Here 4 Ever "Like Godfather Three, I never can escape." Bassist Nicky Wire takes lead vocal on this song, which also incorporates a backing choir, trumpet from drummer Sean More and - how about some cowbell? The lyric is about not fearing the future, addressing it head on as you get older - even if you have doubts or concerns about doing so.  (***)
  • Don't Be Evil "Fool the world with all your own importance." A chiming, driving guitar riff opens this rocking tune up. Built on a basic power chord progression, the music here is both simple, but classic and motors through the entire song - peaking with the chorus lines. Not so much with the lyrics. Stuff to ponder here. Over the top of the tune, we get Bradfield telling us that in a world where "the lines have been blurred," and "sickos and bullies praise your name," that today one doesn't have to be overtly "evil," but merely "corporate" to get dirty deeds done...and of course implying that "being corporate" is just another, more palatable form of being "evil." But the Manics also seem to be commenting not on the classic cliche of "corporate" when calling this out, but more the young, seemingly hip, seemingly anti-corporate corporate types of the Facebook generation. In attempts to blow their cover, Nicky Wire's lyric chastises this type with "as corporate as the suits you won't wear, as stupid as the jeans you tear" among other things. Finally, along with avoiding the baggage of being seen as evil by acting neo-corporate, this song suggests that such a maneuver also opens the door for a person indulge their own narcissism - "your own movie star." In the end, despite the complexities, the name of the song and clear chorus says it all. In whatever form you can think of, very simply - don't be evil. (***)
Postcards From A Young Man is not yet out in the U.S., but I assume it will be at some point. For now, you can get it by ordering directly from the store on band's web site HERE. A suggestion for those interested in hearing some of the record before considering whether or not to buy would be to switch to the UK iTunes site and find the record there and sample it. Sure, you can't buy it from the U.S., but you can hear parts.

Review written by Marc Osborn. Not for re-publication without written permission.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What We Learned - Week Seven in Pac-10 Football

Here's what we learned this week in Pac-10 football...

Washington (3-3 overall, 2-1 in league play) beat Oregon State (3-3, 2-1) in double overtime in Seattle. We learned that the Huskies ain't dead yet. Certainly, they got lucky that OSU went for and failed to get two points on a TD conversion attempt in a bid to win the game in the second overtime when the Beavers could have simply tied it up again with a regular P.A.T. kick. And we learned that sure, the Dawgs have issues on both lines and with consistency, but hey...they beat an above average Pac-10 team in the Beavers. Bowl hopes still alive. We learned that the Beavers may be overrated a bit. Not that they are a bad team or won't be white hot ready for the Duck come the Civil War, but for now they seem not quite as complete as they looked at Arizona on week ago.

Arizona (5-1, 2-1) beat WSU (1-6, 0-4) by the score of 24-7 in Pullman. Well, we learned the same thing this week about the Cougs that we learned last week when they played Oregon...that they have heart, play hard and are improving. And, they have a pretty good QB. None the less, we also learned they are still very beatable. And that's just what Arizona did  - even with their starting QB out of action with a knee injury. We learned that Arizona is still a top four Pac-10 team, and should not be taken lightly by anyone.

USC (5-2, 2-2) beat Cal (3-3, 1-2) in L.A. Well, I think we learned that Cal isn't going to be a contender to the Pac-10 title this year. I mean, they got DESTROYED by a middling USC in this one. We also learned that USC has the firepower - especially in L.A. - to beat good teams. Oregon, did you pay attention?

UCLA (3-3, 1-2) did not play so we didn't learn anything about them...although the Texas team they beat on the road did hand the unbeaten and seemingly invincible Nebraska a loss this weekend.

Stanford (5-1, 2-1) and Arizona State (3-3, 1-2) did not play, so again we didn't learn anything about them.

Oregon (6-0, 3-0) did not play either, but we now have learned that they are the #1 team in the nation according to both the AP and coaches polls. Mysteriously, they are #2 in the BSC standing behind Oklahoma.

Friday, October 15, 2010

All-Body X-Rays Coming to Sea-Tac

Just read that new all-body x-ray scanners are going to be installed at Sea-Tac Airport starting next week.

These are the ones that show TSA agents everything under your clothes.

OK, so we had the shoe bomber and we had to take off our shoes at airport security, we had the guy trying to combine explosive liquids from bottles in their carry on luggage and now we can only bring miniature sized sundry bottles on the airplane, and we had the failed "underwear bomber" last Christmas so we now have these all-body x-ray machines.

A few questions then:

What happens if the next would-be terrorist decides to put explosives in a body cavity?

Why do we always seem to be trying to prevent the terrorist tactic that has already been tried? After all, doesn't it seem like we implement some security measure based on the last attempt and, lo and behold, a terrorist tries something entirely new...something we had not thought of? Shouldn't we be thinking ahead instead of behind?

As someone who will no doubt be flying for business again in the future, I understand and appreciate it's all about trying to keep air travel safe and prevent another 9-11 or similar travesty (with a nice profit to the makers of the x-ray machines too of course). But, at some point, when do you completely give up your privacy and freedom? And is that a good thing or not? Where's the balance?

And finally, how long will it be until there is an online market for these digital all-body x-ray photos? You know it'll happen.

The Three Questions In Life

There are three questions in life:

1) How can I contribute to my company's quarterly profit margin?

2) What do the bluebells smell like in the mountains?

3) Which one of these do I chose?

Pac-10 Week Seven Predictions

Oregon State will beat Washington by the score of 31-24. OSU offense is coming alive and the Dawg D is not up to snuff.

Arizona will beat WSU by the score of 38-14. 'Cats are just a better team. WSU coming off of all-or-nothing emotional loss vs. Oregon.

USC will beat Cal 21-17. USC finally plays a good game on both sides of the ball.

Oregon, Stanford, Arizona State and UCLA do not play this weekend.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What We Learned - Week Six of Pac-10 Football

The Pac-10 football season is half over. What did we learn this week?

Oregon (6-0 overall, 3-0 in Pac-10 play) beat WSU (1-5, 0-2) by the score of 43-23 in Pullman. We learned that Oregon, even when playing relatively poorly, is still good enough to beat WSU by three touchdowns. We learned that Nate Costa is indeed the "1B" QB for the Ducks as he looked just as good as starter Thomas when the later had to leave due to a minor shoulder injury. And we learned YET AGAIN, that fumbling the frickin' football - especially on kick returns - keeps the other team in the game and a threat. Indeed, if you take a way the gift kick fumble at the Oregon six yard line and the ensuing quick TD by WSU, this game is at least 43-17. And, there were two other fumbles lost by the Ducks that did not lead Cougar points, but that terminated promising drives that could have ended in scores.

We learned once again that no team in the Pac-10 should be overlooked, and that winning on the road is a significant feat in any season. We learned that WSU has a heartbeat and can get jacked up enough for a game at home to put a scare into other teams. We also learned that even this is not enough to win for them.

Oh, and we learned that if you had to listen to the WSU radio broadcast of the game (as I had to given that no TV deal could be reached to show the game in Seattle) that you actually had no idea what was happening through most of the game. The two announcers seemed to be enjoying the game themselves, but being able to describe little things like how many yards were gained on a play, what down it was, who was making tackles or running the ball, how much time was left or even telling the difference between a punt return and a regular offensive play...well, that was too much to ask of them.

Most important, we learned that football is just a game and unimportant compared to a person's health.  Oregon RB and kick returner Kenyon Barner took a vicious hit to the head by a WSU player and had to be helped off the field after laying there for 10 minutes. He walked off, but was quickly put into an ambulance and taken to the hospital for observation. Reports are that he is OK, but in any case those type of things put sports into perspective.

Arizona State (3-3, 1-2) beat Washington (2-3, 1-1) by the score of 24-14 in Seattle. We learned that ASU is not down the tubes after a couple disappointing losses. We learned that the UW defense is pretty dang bad. We learned that UW hopes for a bowl game are on life support now, and we were...well, more reminded, than learned...that despite and to the contrary of all the hoopla, UW QB Jake Locker is not that good. Good luck to him in the NFL (and hey, if ends up on the Seahawks and is their savior...count me in big time), but for now and in college...he'd just not up to snuff to win games for the UW on a consistent or meaningful basis.

Oregon State (3-2, 2-0) beat Arizona (4-1, 1-1) by the score of 29-27 in Tucson. We learned that Arizona is not an unbeatable juggernaut. We learned that a bye week and home filed does not translate into a win. And we learned - as we always seem to about this time of year and onward - that Oregon State is a ballsy team to reckon with. They are right on track to be at the top of their game for the Civil War.

Stanford (5-1, 2-1) beat USC (4-2, 1-1) by the score of 37-35 in Palo Alto. We learned that Stanford can bounce back after a tough loss and has the weapons to beat anybody in the conference - especially at home. We learned that USC may be on a downslide now that their hopes of a "statement" by going undefeated or competing for the league title are gone.

Cal (3-2, 1-1) beat UCLA (3-3. 1-2) by the score of 35-7 in Berkley. We learned that Cal isn't dead yet and UCLA is, as always, inconsistent.

What have we learned overall now that the season is half over?

  • While beatable, Oregon is the best team so far and the road to the league championship goes through Eugene. Expectations are winning the Pac-10 at minimum.
  • Oregon State and Stanford are the next best teams with expectations set on either winning the league or finishing in the top three for appearances in decent bowls.
  • Arizona is a very close fourth with the same expectations at this point as Stanford and OSU.
  • Cal, UCLA and USC are in the same orbit with all but USC (on probation) seeking to win more than they lose to get to any bowl game.
  • UW is not good and will probably not make a bowl game. 
  • WSU is still going to finish last.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pictures of the Grand Canyon

I've posted some pictures from our August trip to the Grand Canyon on my Flickr Photostream.

You can see them by clicking HERE.

Week Six Predictions - Pac-10 Football

Predictions for this week's Pac-10 football games...

Oregon beats WSU 55-17 in Pullman. I think Oregon could score more than 55, but this one may get out of hand early. Clock killing by the Ducks and second/third stringers playing may limit scoring. I think WSU gets a TD and FG in meaningful play and one TD in scrub time. I can only say that I hope the above does not jinx my Ducks.

Washington beats ASU 28-24 in Seattle. These teams are pretty evenly matched in my book. Home field and confidence coming off a big win at USC gives the Huskies the advantage against ASU who has lost three in a row.

Stanford beats USC 31-21 in Palo Alto. Stanford is very good on offense. USC is suspect on defense. Meanwhile, the Stanford D is good enough to hold on. Plus, USC is deflated in getting beat by the Huskies.

Arizona beats OSU 27-17 in Tuscon. Arizona is better than the Beavers and they are playing at home after a bye. Enough said.

Cal beats UCLA 17-10 in Berkley. Low scoring game. Cal is coming off a bye and is playing at home. UCLA has been impressive in some games (beat Texas and a ranked Houston team) and very sketchy in others (WSU, Kansas St.) and I think they'll be beat this week.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

2010 Rock Hall Nominees - What Do You Think?

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced its new set of nominees.

Setting aside the idea of enshrining rock and roll into a museum and all the contradictions that entails, here are the nominees with my comments if you care...
  • Alice Cooper - yes, should be in. Innovative godfather and forerunner of goth, metal and makeup rock.
  • Beastie Boys - yes, should be in. Innovative rap team key to bringing rap "overground" to the masses back in the 80s.
  • Bon Jovi - no, should not be in. Sold a lot of records, but...what exactly did they bring to the table?
  • Chic - not yet. Should eventually get in, but not so impressive that they are a lock.
  • Neil Diamond - yes, should be in. Marginal on the "rock" scale, but clearly a major and influential writer and performer.
  • Donovan - no, should not be in. Nice performer from the 60s and 70s, but not so influential or important to merit the hall.
  • Dr. John - yes, should be in. Very influential jazz, blues and pop performer.
  • J. Geils Band - um, no. Should not be in. "Angle Is A Centerfold" is reason alone to exclude them.
  • LL Cool J - respect here, but not in yet. I think there are more deserving people on the current list. He'll get in eventually.
  • Darlene Love - no opinion. I don't know enough about her to judge.
  • Laura Nyro - no opinion. I don't know enough about her to judge.
  • Donna Summer - yes, should be in. It's Donna Summer!
  • Joe Tex - no opinion. I don't know enough about her to judge.
  • Tom Waits - yes, should be in.
  • Chuck Willis - yes, should be in. Early rhythm and blues pioneer.
What do you think?

Who should get in? Who should not?

Somebody important missing from the list? Nominees must have released their first recording at least 25 years ago to be eligible.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

Happy 13th wedding anniversary to my wonderful, smart and beautiful bride Diane!

What We Learned - Week Five of Pac-10 Football

We learned a bunch this week in the Pac-10. Lets get to it...

Oregon (5-0 overall, 2-0 in conference play) beat Stanford (4-1, 1-1) 52-31 at Autzen Stadium in Eugene. Boy oh boy. The buildup for this game was huge and indeed the implications for the winner and loser in both the Pac-10 and national championship races were real. So, what did we learn? Here are my thoughts:
  • We learned that Oregon is the real deal. They are indeed in the drivers seat for the Pac-10 title and, now ranked at #3 in the AP, they are a real contender for the national title too. I am not saying the will be in the title game, just that for now they are in the mix for real.
  • We learned that Stanford has a very good QB, a powerful offensive line, solid running backs and a above average defense...and STILL couldn't hang with the Ducks through four quarters.
  • We learned - once again - that home field advantage is a significant factor. While the Ducks might have come back and won this game if it were played in Palo Alto, I think the fact that it was a home game really contributed to their ability to deliver the goods and put Stanford away.
  • We learned that the Oregon defense is suspect at times, but has the talent, coaching and instincts to buckle down when it matters. How many points did Stanford have in the second half? Zero.
  • We learned that Oregon kick returners are still having problems catching and holding onto the football. One such fumble Saturday led to a quick Stanford touchdown. At some point this will cost the Ducks a game if not fixed.
  • We learned that Oregon QB Thomas can and will run the ball (well!) when given the chance. This adds a whole new dimension to the Ducks O. Think Dixon and Masoli.
  • We again learned that the Ducks are resilient and being down 18 points to a very good team is not enough to put them away. Gritty team.
  • We learned that what happened last year does not mean the exact same thing is going to happen again this year. Many - even most - pundits and "experts" really were convinced that Stanford would beat Oregon because of how they played them last year. Hey, I got suckered in too. I thought that Stanford would win for the same reasons.
  • In a related note, we also learned that the "power team" (Stanford) vs. "finesse team" (Oregon) argument that seemed so dominate the airwaves last week is bogus...or at least the people espousing it don't know what they're talking about. You think Stanford players felt "finessed" when Oregon RB LaMichael James scorched them for 250+ yards? Or how about when they were sucking wind in the second half and unable to keep up with the fast Oregon attack? Right.
  • We learned that if an opposing team tries the old "lets slow down the Oregon offense by faking injuries" that they need to do a better acting job than what Stanford tried on Saturday - at least in games at Autzen. Oh yes, it happened. But the Stanford player who faked his injury only to come in the next play did such a poor job of it that he elicited a pouring chorus of boos from the crowd that it became obvious that, well, I don' think they tried it again.
Washington (2-2, 1-0) beat USC (4-1, 1-1) 32-31 in L.A. Wow. This was a surprise - at least for me. I did think the Huskies would play better than they did against Nebraska, but I also thought that, well, USC is just that much better than UW and would win it pretty easily. I was wrong. So, I think we learned that UW is better than their Nebraska showing and should not be taken lightly. When Locker is on, he has the ability to lead the team down the field consistently. We leanred that UW also has the stones to drive and win it at the last seconds of a game. I think we also learned officially that USC is over-rated this season

UCLA (3-2, 1-1) beat WSU (1-4, 0-2) 42-28 in L.A. We learned two things: 1) while UCLA has been an upstart surprise over the last two weeks...and won this game too...they may be an inconsistent and quite beatable squad. How else can you explain the lowly Cougars coming into the Rose Bowl and really giving the Bruins a run? 2) We learned that WSU players have heart and can compete. Yes, they lost - and may not win a Pac-10 game this year - but they represented and that bodes well for them.

Oregon State (2-2, 1-0) beat Arizona State (2-3, 0-2) 31-28 in Corvallis. I think we learned that despite solid movement in a positive direction and putting up 28 points on the road, ASU has a ways to go to challenge for the Pac-10 title. It's not too surprising that a team that looked quite good (except for the turnovers) last week vs. Oregon in Tempe showed up on the road lose. More importantly, I think we learned that OSU is still alive despite their slow start and I have to believe they'll be hitting their peak just about the time the Civil War game comes along.

Arizona (4-0, 1-0) and Cal (2-2, 0-1) each had the week off, so we did not learn anything about them.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Here are predictions for this week's Pac-10 football games...

Stanford beats Oregon at Autzen. Yes, you read that correctly. That's what I think will happen. Obviously I'll be rooting hard for the opposite, but I think that what Stanford does very well matches up directly against Oregon's weaknesses. The Cardinal has a big, brutal and experienced offensive line and an excellent, accurate QB. I think they'll have a lot of success such as we saw ASU have against the Duck D...but I doubt the Stanford QB will throw five interceptions- if any - like the ASU QB did. I'm not going to predict a score. It could be 45-31 or it could be 9-3. I don't know, but based on what I saw out of Oregon last week I think they're beatable and the team that'll likely do it is Stanford. Home field helps, and may end up making me look foolish in this prediction, but unfortunately I think the Ducks go down this week.

USC beats Washington 35-17. Yes, I know UW beat USC last year in a great game, but this year it's down in L.A. and I think USC is just an all-around better team. I don't see "the fighting Sarks" going in there an upsetting the Trojans.

WSU loses to UCLA 38-3. UCLA continues their resurgance. WSU continues their folly. Enough said.

ASU beats Oregon State in Corvallis. ASU is good. OSU is off to a shakey start. Based on what I saw from the Sun Devlis against the Ducks, I can see them going into Corvallis and taking this game. It's a bit of a tossup as the Beavers are coming home after a loss and looking to pick up a league win and ASU may be on letdown alert after losing two in a row that they could have won. But, if ASU is, in fact, as good as they've seemed over the past two weeks they'll win this one.

Cal and Arizona both have byes this weekend.