Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy New Year from McBone!

On behalf of the NOML, the NIML and McBone Inc., we at McBone wish each and every one of you McBoners a very happy new year. Remember, without your loyal readership, this blog would be an utterly depressing waste of time.

May this be a year of peace and enlightenment for us all.

May George Bush not run amok of the world in his final year.

May 2008 be the year we shake our mayonnaise addiction for good!

nwb

PS- I apologize for my recent week of nonproductivity, but it's the holidays, after all.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

LeBron vs. Kobe

Today I read a debate between a panel of experts on ESPN.com about who is the better player: LeBron James or Kobe Bryant. To me the answer is easy. Look at the last two playoffs. LeBron got his team to the second round in '06, and this year he took them to the finals. Kobe, with his group of similar (read: not great) talent, has failed to advance to the second round.

Yeah, Kobe has three rings. He also had a certain teammate named Shaquille O'neal. I think it's safe to say that LeBron paired with a hall of famer would be good for a few titles (and LeBron wouldn't run said hall of famer out of town).

Kobe is a great player. I'll take LeBron ten times out of ten. They face each other tonight in Cleveland, the outcome of which will, of course, prove nothing.

nwb

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Auntie Anne's Desperate Plea.

In a direct and unmasked response to the 2007 aunt and uncle standings, last place finisher Aunt Ann delivered to McBone headquarters this week a freshly baked apple pie and a gift bag filled with assorted goodies.
Needless to say, Auntie Ann was barking up the right tree. Knowing my weakness for pie and groveling, my mother's sister made an ingenious attempt to improve her placement in next year's standings. While this year's results are etched in stone, McBone strikes the modifier "typically execrable" to describe her 2007 performance, which we gladly ugrade to "poor."
However, if Aunt Ann can sustain this style of aunting over the course of a year, chances are she'll climb out of the cellar for the first time in the history of the Aunt and Uncle Standings. Let this be a warning to the others: don't get complacent.
The delicious pie was quickly devoured (after testing on the dog--can't be too careful) by myself, Alex and Mom.
nwb
Pictured above: an inconsolable Aunt Ann begs forgiveness and delivers her warm apple pie to McBone HQ.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Nate's Monday Sports Extravaganza!

Cavaliers

I don't know what to make of the Cavs. They lose to bad teams without LeBron (Bobcats) and with him (Sixers, last night).

The whole season has been screwy. The holdouts of Sasha Pavlovic and Anderson Varejao hurt big time. That debacle messed up rotations and forced journeymen like Devin Brown and Dwayne Jones to log significant minutes. Brutal.

Then there were the injuries. Larry Hughes missed a month, of course. So did Eric Snow. Donyell Marshall has yet to play. In spite of all that the Cavs surged to a 9-5 start behind the Oscar Robertson type play of LeBron, along with some gritty yeoman work by Drew Gooden and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

Did that mean all was well? No. All season this team has refused to play defense. It seems as though Mike Brown has loosened the reigns somewhat by letting his team play a more free-flowing offense. The early result was ton of points, a ton of turnovers and reasonable results. Hell, they even managed to hand invincible Boston one of its two losses.

Then LeBron got hurt.

Eight losses in nine games later, the Cavs are a mess. LeBron has been back for three of those games (one win). Anderson is back. Larry is back.

Still the team can't win.

The problem? While the bad defense and turnovers continue, the scoring is down.

Who to blame? How many fingers you got? LeBron has been taking some horrendous shots since his return. His passes haven't been much better. Larry Hughes had one 36 point outburst. Aside from that, he can barely hit the rim. Sasha has been bad, worse and worser. Anderson has provided some of his signature energy, but most of the time he looks like a beached whale trying to track down loose balls.

Then there's Mike Brown, who doesn't seem to know what to do with all these players. Brown is a defense first coach who must be dying inside with his team's effort. I know rotations featuring Snow, Varejao, Larry, Ira Newble are meant to establish some sort of defensive presence. The problem is that unit is nearly devoid of athleticism and totally unable to score. It was that unit which put us down 8 points late against New Jersey and, arguably, cost us the game. What the hell?

Anyway, I don't imagine LeBron's slump will continue. Team chemistry should return. The defense will solidify and the turnovers will abate. This same exact team went to the NBA finals. No way they miss the playoffs.

BUT! If I'm wrong...

...then there is a bigger problem. If these trends continue much longer, the sloppy play, the lax defense, those are sure signs that the coach has lost his grip. We all know what happens to guys like that, even nice, competent guys like Mike Brown.

Browns

The Browns pitched their first shutout of the season, thanks to an assist from the blizzard. The four-to-six inches that fell during gametime proved a bigger problem for the visiting Bills, whose offense stalled and whose defense couldn't contain the power runs of Jamal Lewis, who has been making a very strong case for himself as for team MVP.

It all added up to a rare 8-0 final score, leaving the Browns at a solid 9-5 and just a hair away from an AFC wild card slot. This team will be demolished in the playoffs, but getting there will be awful nice.

How about Phil Dawson as another MVP candidate? With the Browns playing so many close games, Dawson's leg has been a vital asset. He's won several games with his leg this year, and his two makes against Buffalo, particularly an impossible 47 yarder, were the difference.

I'm going to give Derek Anderson the benefit of the doubt and say that all those misfired passes were due to the cold and the wind and the inability of his receivers to run their routes. Of course they were, but I'm watching you, D.A.

Hey, Phil Savage! Obviously Jamal Lewis has a lot in the tank. Obviously the passion is there. Why not let him finish his career in Cleveland? Or at least ink him for a coupla years more. He's a joy to watch when he has a head of steam.

Baseball

May the steroid era be damned to hell for all eternity.

Really, baseball must be the greatest game to have withstood work stoppages, a cancelled World Series in '94, and now this grand stinking mess. I've said before that cheating is a part of the game--a certain type of cheating. But does that justify the use of performance enhancers? Some people think so. Some people just don't care. I say if you don't see the big fat obvious line between corked bats and spitballs on one side, and HGH and steroids on the other, then you are not only blind, but foolish.

I also say if you don't know the beauty of a 1-0 game, you don't know baseball.

The number 72 is a stain upon the game. So is 762.

Oh yeah, and the Indians didn't pick up Dan Haren. Never thought they would, really.

nwb

Friday, December 14, 2007

An Evening with Joanne and Jesus

Tonight, Alex, Mom and I drove to our local Holiday Inn to watch Johnny Cash's sister, Joanne Cash, sing. And sing she did, beautifully, about Jesus. I could have listened to her gospel and her stories about her family for hours. Her voice was a clear and powerful organ for her rather deep convictions.

After about 6 or 7 songs, she turned the floor over to her husband, Johnny Cash's brother-in-law, who delivered an absolutely interminable sermon. The topic? How, according to scripture, we have no excuse to not go to church. I wanted to kill myself after 15 seconds.

During his hour-long session he jumped from verse to endless verse trying to prove his point, but the most risible moment was when he got in over his head by mocking evolution: “imagine the button of your coat transforming into a belt buckle, which then turns into a hubcap, and then a car, then into this watch on my wrist…IMPOSSIBLE!”

The whole evening was a perfect blend of inspirational and creepy.

Religion is bizarre, man.

nwb

Pictured above: Alex with her new friend, Joanne Cash

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mustard vs. Mayonnaise


Few things in life can be divided into categories of good and evil. Sure there are a few absolute goods, like America, Jesus and capitalism. Likewise there are some obvious evils. Sweden, Barbara Streisand and the New York Yankees pop into mind.

But few are so easily delineated as two ever-at-odds condiments. Both begin with the letter "m," both have roots in France, and that is where the similarities end.

Let's break it down by category.

Smell

Mustard: piquant

Mayo: stagnant, sulfurous, nauseating

Texture

Mustard: ranging from smooth to whole grain

Mayo: oily, greasy, gelatinous

Color

Mustard: anywhere between vibrant yellow to a deep, rich brown

Mayo: jaundice, sickly white, Boo Radley

Nutritional value

Mustard: fortifying, invigorating

Mayo: obesity, hypertension, premature death

Viscosity

Mustard: low

Mayo: Vaseline, Quaker State

Essence

Mustard: vibrant, festive

Mayo: living dead, comatose

Sex appeal

Mustard: Sean Connery, Rita Hayworth, young Marlon Brando

Mayo: Donald Rumsfeld, Roseanne Barr, old Marlon Brando

Flavor

Mustard: robust, pronounced, tangy, spicy, sharp

Mayo: dull, insipid, paste, glue, pus

Brought to you by McBone and the Anti Mayonnaise League. McBone discourages the use of mayonnaise in any form, internal or external. If you or a family member has a problem with mayonnaise abuse, do not hesitate to contact our around-the-clock mayonnaise counselors.

nwb

Pictured above: a mustard plant in bloom and a noxious tub of mayonnaise.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Strange Case of Paul Mokeski

Who, and what, is Paul Mokeski? Scientists at McBone aren't sure. From what information we have gleaned, the only real determination possible is that Mokeski, or homo mokeskus, is a rare species in the family hominid, a singular specimen sharing a recent common ancestor with his close relative, homo sapien. So nearly related are the two species that many shared characteristics, i.e. speech and bipedal locomotion, have been exhibited.
In spite of his oversized frame, Mokeski is virtually devoid of athleticism, a trait at odds with his natural habitat--a basketball arena. His most prominent behavioral traits include sweating, growing moustaches and inhaling a refined, powder form of the coca plant (possibly for sustenance) through the nasal passages.
According to unsubstantiated reports, Mokeski has most recently been sighted roaming sidelines in Charlotte, North Carolina. Though presumed harmless, caution should be taken in approaching Mokeski in the unlikely event of an encounter.
nwb

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Nate's Monday Sports Extravaganza!

I need to vent, so let's cut to the chase.

Cavaliers

The Cavs have officially bottomed out. They've already proven they can't win without LeBron James, but falling to the hapless, hopeless Bobcats, owners of a seven game losing streak, is hard to take. Yeah, they were competitive, but were they really? Can 27 turnovers be counted as competitive? No. More accurate would be to say the game was close. It was never competitive, to my eyes. Neither team deserved to win.

How bad are the Bobcats? Jeff McInnis is in their rotation. They're barely a cut above a D-League team to my eyes.

The real mystery of this streak of unwatchable basketball is the way some of our veterans have forgotten how to play. I mean, why does the absence of LeBron somehow take away the abilities of players like Zydrunas Ilguaskas, Drew Gooden and Larry Hughes? These guys have a combined 1558 NBA games under their collective belts, so how is it that, sans LBJ, they no longer seem to be able to perform fundamentals like, oh, say, catching the ball. Lately it looks like big Z has been treating entry passes like they're whiffle balls--right off the hands and out of bounds. How is it that Larry Hughes has a ball picked clean in the closing minutes of a tight game against a team like Charlotte?

There is only one explanation for such ineptitude. Poor effort. LeBron is going to miss a few games. That's reality. The team wants to make sure his hand is fully healed to avoid reaggravating it. Sounds pretty wise to me. Here is my advice to the team in the meantime: try CONCENTRATING. Have some pride. Maybe, just maybe, you'll manage to win a game or two.

Really, the only bright side to this latest debacle was Larry Hughes' 22 points. It comes as no surprise that he scored all those points while being relieved of his point guard duties. This should effectively end that experiment. Larry is no point guard and should not be expected to be one. Let him do what he does best: move without the ball, slash, defend, and generally use his quickness to wreak havoc. Hughes deserves criticism for not adapting to Mike Brown's system of offense. But Mike Brown deserves criticism for misusing his talented guard. Free Larry and watch him start earning that money he's being paid.

Until he gets injured again, of course.

Here's to seeing a Cavs team soon with actual Cavs players on the floor.

Indians

The Detroit Tigers recently aquired Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. The Indians countered this move yesterday by trading for utility man Jamey Carroll. Carroll has 112 RBI in his 6 big league seasons. Last year Cabrera had 119.

Seriously though, the AL Central is going to be a battle of two teams. The Tribe, winners of 96 games last season, will field essentially the same club. Detroit won 88 games a year ago. Expect the arrival of these two all-stars to close the gap.

Really, the best thing that could happen to the Tribe is for Travis Hafner to stop sucking. Don't let his 100 RBI fool you. Aside from a few Pronklike weeks in April and September, he stunk, plain and simple.

That said, would I like to see a big right-handed bat in the outfield? Hell yes. Do I expect to aquire one? No freaking way. Franklin Gutierrez will be a serviceable major leaguer for many years, but his long, hard loop of a swing was exposed in the playoffs (aside from one memorably titanic homerun against Boston). Look for Ben Francisco to emerge as the superior hitter.

Still wishing the Tribe would sign Kenny Lofton through '08. He's out there, he's hungry, and he's twice the player that Jason Michaels, David Dellucci or Trot Nixon are. Scrap the junk and sign a veteran fan favorite NOW.

They won't.

Browns

The Browns beat the Jets 24-18 today, but boy, do they suck. If Derek Anderson was slightly more competant, it would have been a lopsided win. Let me remind everyone who has been getting carried away: Anderson is just keeping it warm. He has some nice numbers, but he looks less impressive each week with his underthrown passes and interceptions and, at times, seeming lack of focus. He'll make a hell of a backup, though.

The MVP of this game was Jamal Lewis, who rushed for the game deciding TD and runs like every carry will be his last.

Anyway, the Browns have won 8 games. Twice last year's total and that guarantees they won't have a losing season. Finally. So, why am I in such a crummy mood after a win? Because...

...of how utterly unwatchable NFL football is on TV! With so many stops and starts in the action, networks squeeze in as many commercial breaks as humanly possible. The result is very little actual football, and a whole lot of Cadillac ads. This is just one reason, though a very important one, why football is inferior to baseball and basketball. The whole watching experience is one long excruciating commercial break after the other. I mean after every kick and return there is an interminable break. That's ONE play. One goddam fucking play. How is it that this game is so much more popular than the others? Kiwi! Slates! Someone! Please explain!

Miscellaneous

The Steeler's Anthony Smith guaranteed a win over the New England Patriots. Wasn't that Smith I saw getting burned on two touchdown passes in a blowout loss? Idiot. Hope you're enjoying this, kb.

nwb

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Golden Compass: a McBone Mini-Review

I am a relatively new devotee to Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. In fact, to call myself a devotee is a tad presumptuous, since I'm currently in the early stages of the second installment. Still, The Golden Compass was captivating enough to win my admiration for Pullman as a writer and spark my anticipation for the film adaptation, which I saw roughly five hours ago.
The movie is fine. By no means great, by no means terrible. Often after watching a film adaptation of a book I come away with the sickening sensation that the almighty dollar was the sole driving force behind the work. That is not this film's failing. Nor is the acting. We'll get to the the directing and the screenplay in a second, all done by the same person, Chris Weitz.
Pullman's Golden Compass is a complex and (somewhat) controversial tale filled with memorable characters, the foremost of whom is Lyra Belacqua. Lyra inhabits a parallel universe in which people's souls, called daemons, live outside the body in the shape of an animal. Our hero-child is up against the dark and oppressive powers of the Magisterium (a.k.a. The Church, hence the controversy), which has found a way to cut a child's daemon away. Lyra's quest is to travel north to help her uncle counter these forces.
Lyra is guided by her alethiometer, a truth reader. For me the great joy of the novel is watching Lyra grow as she gradually learns to read her golden compass. Weitz treats Pullman's work lovingly, perhaps too much so. He seems determined to guide us by hand through each episode. In the meantime, a world of witches, gyptians and armored bears flies by when it should unfold. The result is a blur of a film in which Lyra's growth is not gradual but virtually instantaneous. This movie does not flow, it races, all the while trying to keep the audience in the know with less than stellar dialogue. The ultimate sin: an expository prologue that explains much of the movie away before we see a single scene. Why, why, why!?
The special effects are just fine. The battles are exciting. The acting at times is wonderful (feast your eyes on Eva Green). It's Weitz' determination to cram the tale down our throats in two hours that makes this a slightly above average bit of entertainment. Lord of the Rings proved that we can handle three hour movies. A novel as rich and fascinating as the Golden Compass deserved such a canvas. Alas.
Nate's McBone Rating: 3.0 McBones (out of a possible 5)
nwb

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Nate Reads the Bible: Noah and the Sea Monster.

Alex, glancing through our local rag this morning, called my attention to an article about the "Remains of a bus-sized prehistoric 'monster' reptile" that were found on a remote island in Norway. Scientists believe the skeleton to be roughly 150 million years old.

My first reaction was "cool." Then I started thinking about my reading of Noah and the flood. The Old Testament would have it that God, disgusted with humans and their less than righteous ways, instructed Noah, the one truly righteous human, to build a boat that would house a pair of each species of animal. Noah was permitted to bring his three sons and his sons' wives along, so that, after the flood, these children of the righteous could repopulate the earth.

My question is: where do creatures like our "monster reptile" fit in? The founders of the Creation Museum down in Petersburg, Kentucky would have it that man and dinosaurs coexisted. Seems far-fetched to me, but fine, let's throw those 150 million years out for a second. Can the extinction of "prehistoric" creatures, then, be attributed to a lack of space on Noah's ark? Were they simply swallowed in the flood? In fact, the more I think about it, the more questions pop up. Just how big was this boat? Obviously big enough for elephants and hippopotomi and buffalo. I mean, how is there going to be room enough for all that and not one, but two brontosauri? Then there would be the obvious problem of Tyrannosaurus (not to mention lion) wanting to devour zebra, and of course you would have to have enough food for everyone and really by now the whole story starts to unravel.

Anyhow, I'm off track. And I'm not trying to be cute. Really I'm not.

What it all boils down to is this: our world is so big and so old and so fascinating that I often wonder why anyone would try to fit it all into 2,000 year old book. Accepting Christian doctrine as the truth puts automatic barriers on a what we can know. I guess that's the crux of the science vs religion argument for me. Science tries to unfold the world. Religion tries to confine it. With science, we get to dicover 150 million-year-old giant sea reptiles. With the bible, such reptiles could not have existed, even when our best science is saying right to our faces that it did. So, I wonder: why cram millions of years of history and evolution into a mere 6,000. Two thousand years ago, a bible made perfect sense. How else explain the mysteries of the world? In 2007 I wonder why we cling to these mythologies.

On another note:

The real surprise to me about the story of Noah is the reappearance of a second narrative. The standard version of the story is that Noah herded one female and one male of each species onto his ark. Yet, in another version God instructs Noah to "take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, a male and its mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and its mate."

We have also learned that the flood lasted 40 days and 40 nights, but in one narrative we learn that the rains lasted for 150 days and then took another 150 days to subside and then, "in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. The waters continued to abate for until the tenth month; the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains appeared."

Why, I ask, and how is it that, when the bible gives two divergant accounts of one story, does only one survive in our collective consciousness?

nwb

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Nate's Monday Sports Extravaganza!

Nate's Friday Sports Extravaganza is moving to Monday. Why? Basically I was tired of writing about Browns games after they were already five days stale. This format will allow me to recap the week with NFL Sunday fresh in my mind. NFSE will otherwise maintain its original format.

Cavaliers

Whenever I see Ira Newble, Eric Snow or Devin Brown take a shot, I force myself to take a deep breath and believe that GM Danny Ferry is going to get something done. I love how Zydrunas Ilgauskas is playing right now on both ends of the court. He is not a playmaker. I love how Drew Gooden is shooting the ball and rebounding. He is not a playmaker. Daniel Gibson is one of the best pure shooters I've ever seen. He is not a playmaker. Sasha Pavlovic is rounding into the form that made him so valuable in last year's stretch run. He is not a playmaker.

This team needs a POINT GUARD. Our frontcourt is devastating. The backcourt is a joke. Danny Ferry, bring in someone who can share ballhandling duties with LeBron, and make sure he can put the ball in the hole. Easier said than done? Obviously, but watching two games without LeBron made it all too clear how close to the lottery the Eastern Conference champs are. On the other hand, they are one player away from being an unstoppable team. A true point guard puts Daniel Gibson on the bench, where his offensive abilities are best suited. A true point can run the break with LeBron.

Then there is the Anderson Varejao question. Anderson did himself no favors by pointing out how much better a player he is than some of his better paid teammates. Note to Donyell Marshall: Anderson was talking about YOU, buddy. Pissing off management and teammates? Nice thinking Andy. Don't forget the fans, who sacrifice a large chunk of their paychecks to go watch you not play because 6 million per year isn't enough. Way to endear yourself to everyone.

And yet, and yet...the signing of Anderson would eliminate the need for Dwayne Jones, who has no business entering a game for a team trying to get back to the finals. The addition of Anderson would take a lot of pressure of big Z, who is logging too many minutes too early in the season. No matter his popularity at this point, Anderson Varejao gives a great frontcourt added energy and depth.

But here's the rub:

Any deal to bring in a point guard is going to have to include either Anderson or Drew Gooden. The question is: do we sacrifice frontcourt depth for a skilled playmaker? Tough question. Defensive tenacity and offensive rebounding were big reasons why the Cavs made the finals last year. The big reason they got swept? Nobody to make plays beside LeBron, and nobody to match up with Tony Parker. Get a deal done. Somehow. Someway.

Watching the Cavs try to score against Boston without LeBron is giving me bleeding ulcers. Thanks Nazr Mohammed.

Wow, is that a Shannon Brown sighting? It is! Just the fourth game he's entered a game all season. What did this guy do to find himself so deep in Mike Browns doghouse? I have no idea. Is he really worse than Ira Newble? Hard to imagine.

Cavs lose 80-70. I have to believe if LeBron plays in this game the Cavs win. Is it just me or does Boston look like the most overrated 14-2 team of all time? Maybe I'm just jealous.

Browns

Before I get to that ugly loss to the highly mediocre Arizona Cardinals, I would like to pay tribute to one of the truly great Cleveland Browns of all time. Bill Willis was hall of fame guard who, more importantly, helped break football's color barrier when he debuted with the Browns in 1946. For 8 seasons he was a standout defender on the perrenial champions of the old AAFL and later the NFL. Willis died on November 27th. He was 86. McBone salutes you, Bill Willis, and your contribution to civil rights.

Ugh. That 27-24 affair against Arizona was one of the more unwatchable games of the season. Penalties. Turnovers. Drops. Mistake after mistake. Both teams played sloppy ball. Neither team deserved the win, but Arizona ultimately did.

Make no mistake. The Browns' offense was way below par in this game, but the reason the Cardinals won was the Browns' total inability to stop the run. With the lead, Arizona controlled the ball for a huge chunk of the fourth quarter. Time after time they gave the ball to Egderrin James and let him chew up yards. He plowed his way to first downs and everyone on the field knew there was nothing the Browns could do about it. Finally, the Browns just ran out of time. They weathered three turnovers for scores, but were unable to get the ball to the offense when the game was on the line.

This season has been enjoyable, to be sure, and a playoff spot is very possible. Still, we're a year or two away from being a real force. Until the defense aquires more talent, the Browns will a one dimesional team. They can score in bunches, and so can their opponents. That's a sure-fire ticket for a quick playoff exit.

That said, Romeo Crennel has done a hell of a job. I sure as hell thought he'd be fired this season. Now he has me believing.

Indians

Nice move by Mark Shapiro in bringing in Japanese veteran Masa Kobayashi. Yes, the Tribe had a superb back-end of the bullpen in 2007 with closer Joe Borowski, Rafael Betancourt and Rafael Perez, but what are the chances that all three will dublicate this season's success. Knowing the nature of relievers, practically zero.

Moreover, it's important to have a stockpile of big arms to begin a season. Look what happened to Keith Foulke last spring. And don't forget Roberto Hernandez. After Foulke's retirement and Hernandez' flameout, the Tribe found themselves scrambling to patch up the holes. Raffy Perez came from practically nowhere to fill the duty of a late inning lefty. That was a bit lucky. Without him, it would have been Aaron Fultz to match up in those high pressure situations late in games. Not optimal.

The point is: bullpens are unstable. So, by signing Kobayashi, the Tribe is leaving less to fate. Let's hope they're not done, because a bad bullpen generally translates into a bad team. Case in point: the 2006 version of the Tribe. Even with Borowski, Betancourt, Perez, Kobayashi, Jensen Lewis (very impressive last season, even in October), Tom Mastny and Aaron Fultz much could go awry.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Who Invited You to Thanksgiving, Seda Moon?

So, just who invited you to thanksgiving, Seda Moon, you and your billions of highly contagious germs? One by one we've all of us, to a man, caught your rotten cold. I mean, for god's sake, even the freaking dog is coughing. What? You think just because you're the daughter of my sister that means you can come waltzing in as you please, eating turkey and spreading bacteria all over the whole damned state of Ohio? Oh, please, don't even try to pull that "part of the family" card. Cripes, that bloodline crap is soo tired. You think you're born and, voila!, you get a free pass? Well, not from me, toots. Hell, you've only been part of the family for three stinking years! Sure you do some cute things from time to time, when you're not doing your best impersonation of a petri dish. And is a little cuteness worth all you're putting us through? Gagging on my umpteenth dose of cough medicine, I have to wonder.

Now you're gone, but your infernal germs remain. Who knows how many bedridden patients you'll have been responsible for when all is said and done. Hundreds? Thousands? And let's not forget the hours lost at work, doctors' bills, skyrocketing health insurance costs. And never mind that I've run through enough Kleenex to deforest half the Midwest. Really, you're like some microbe-ridden, one-person wrecking crew, aren't you?

Anyways, I'm taking my grippe and going to bed. Hope you're happy, you little so-and-so.

With all my love,

uncle nwb

Pictured above: Seda Moon, purveyor of germs.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cavs Whip Celts!

Last night I witnessed the Cavaliers take on the anointed ones in a 109-104 overtime victory. The game had a real playoff feel to it, with players trading barbs and the crowd going wild. There was much to praise, like Drew Gooden sticking jumper after jumper in Kevin Garnett's face. LeBron making Paul Pierce look bad. Ray Allen missing two free throws after a HORRIBLE bailout call when he dribbled off his leg. Sasha Pavlovic draining a game-tying three in the corner to force overtime. Our three best players outplaying their three best players was particularly satisfying.

The loss was just the second for Boston, but it won't be the last.

Make no mistake; they are a good team. A very good team. They are not a great team. We all know their strengths. The media have been pointing them out as much as they have the Cavs' weaknesses. But the Celtics have weaknesses of their own.

To wit:

The bench. In a word, it's crap. James Posey makes a positive impact, but after that it's pretty much a junk heap. Scalabrine, Pollard, House and the walking armoire Glen Davis do not make for an impressive second unit. As I recall, Scot Pollard couldn't crack our rotation.

Their center. Kendrick Perkins has got to be the luckiest player in the NBA. With Garnett drawing double teams all over the place, Perkins gets more bunny shots under the basket than maybe anyone else in the NBA. It's no coincidence that his shooting percentage is up 10 points from his career average. After all, it's tough to miss a wide open dunk. Still, the fact that big Z left Perkins wide open time after time is a testament to the center's lack of skill.

Their point guard. The more Rajon Rondo shoots the ball, the less chance the Celtics have of winning. He's quick and talented but he can't shoot from the floor or the stripe. Still, if he gets better, watch out.

I've always loved Kevin Garnett's game, and I don't envision him being abused by Drew Gooden too often, but didn't he go to that kind of slow developing, poor man's version of the dream shake a little too often. He's long enough to get his shot off from anywhere, but that move looks extremely guardable to me. And it earned him traveling violation at least once.

To me, the Celt's 11-2 start is misleading. Glancing over their November schedule, the competition has been mediocre at best. Look for an early playoff exit. If they do make the finals, they will be murdered by San Antonio. Collectively their big three has won absolutely nothing.

I love hating the Celtics. Always have. I'll be waiting your response, Kiwi Bird.

MEMO TO THE NBA!

Tonight the Cavs play the Pistons in Detroit. Detroit did not play yesterday, so expect a 20 point blowout in the Pistons' favor and lots of perimeter bricks from the Cavs. This will be the fifth back to back for the Cavs in the young season. On each occasion, the other team did not play the previous night. Over the past several years the NBA has instituted changes in the rules in an effort to improve the entertainment quality of the game. Does anyone really think that defensive three second violations make that much of a difference? Who watches basketball for free throw shooting.

Hey, NBA, if you're serious about improving your product, then ELIMINATE BACK TO BACK GAMES! A fatigued team makes for some seriously bad basketball. And who the hell wants to watch a leg-weary, flat-footed team play a rested team on the road in an unavoidable 20 point blowout? NOBODY.

Figure it out.

nwb

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Great Pat Robertson

Just watching a little Pat Robertson this Saturday night as he went through his mailbag in the closing moments of the 700 Club. The letter read as follows: I recently found out that members of my family worship Buddha. Does this have implications on my family and what should I do?

The answer?

The answer was a most emphatic yes! said a muttering, almost unintelligible Mr. Robertson. He warned the author of the letter to be wary of worshippers of the "occult" and of people shrieking in the middle of the night and rolling around on the ground. Pretty much I have no idea what he was talking about.

Neither did he.

Good thing he's so influential.

Intolerant, senile bastard.

nwb

By the way, Pat: my wife is a Buddhist. While sometimes she shrieks in the middle of the night, it's usually because there's a spider in the room.

Fuck you.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Nate Recommends...

Why do we like zombies so much? What fascination has kept the movie industry churning out zombie hits for decades? Personally, I think it's a universal yet secret yen for the sweet, sweet taste of human flesh. Socially, we're not allowed, but Hollywood has provided a reliably entertaining way to vicariously fulfull this dark fantasy. Come on, McBoners. Are there any of you out there who hasn't dreamt of sinking your teeth into the flesh of another living person? I doubt it. Mmm. Then you tear meat from bone as the victim screams, warm blood trickling down your chin...

Anyhow, I'm off track (and hungry!). What I meant to say was, if you like zombies as much as I do, then you'll love the film Fido. Fido is the story of small town life after the Zombie Wars were won by humans. Yes, the zombies have fallen, but thanks to technology, specifically electronic collars that subdue those troublesome urges, zombies have become a race of slaves who wash cars and mow the lawn, or, if needed, fill in as a dance partner. Keeping up with the Joneses no longer means having the right car or the right television set. As important is having a zombie (at least one) to do manual labor around the house.

But when those collars malfunction, whoa boy! That's when the fun begins.

See it!

nwb

McBone is Back

It's been about a week since my last post, but as family comes first, McBone took a little holiday.
BUT, I would still like to issue the following words of goodwill:

On behalf of McBone Inc., the NOML and the NIML, here's hoping everyone had a very, very, very, very good Thanksgiving.

Peace.

nwb

Monday, November 19, 2007

Just Out of Curiosity...

OK, which one of you McBoners out there would choose to have a beak of all things? I mean really, a beak? Obviously, this poll is anonymous, but I sure would like to know who and why and what exactly would make a beak appealing.

Anyway, about 10 days remain before the poll closes, and, as expected, wings is the body part most McBoners would choose. Who hasn't dreamt of being able to fly? I am somewhat surprised, however that nobody has as yet selected gills, which of course would allow us to stay under water for as long as we pleased.

But I never expected a vote for a beak. Fascinating.

nwb

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Nate's Friday Sports Extravaganza!

Boy, what a lousy week.

Cavaliers

As I sit here devouring my mother's leftover pot roast (yum), contemplating the Cavaliers loss to the Orlando Magic on Wednesday (yuck), I cannot ignore the fact that this was another loss that the presence of Anderson Varejao would have prevented. The Cavs are scoring a lot of points. That's fun to watch, I guess. They are also giving up a lot of points, and that makes for some pretty shitty basketball. Anderson is our second best defensive player (behind LeBron), and there can be little doubt that he would have come up with a couple of decisive plays in the paint that would have turned the tide of at least two games in this early season, the other being that excruciating loss at Utah. So, until he returns, here is a new Cleveland stat: Projected Record With Varejao, or PRWV. The PRWV now stands at 6-3.

People like high-flying offenses. It's nice to have a potent offensive attack. It's even better to have a great defense. I'm still waiting for this team to put together its first great defensive game. That's not going to happen when opposing point guards continuously break down our perimeter D. There have been way, way too many easy layups and dunks so far. That starts with poor backcourt defense. It ends with a Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who is too slow to rotate on help, and Drew Gooden, who doesn't really know how to. Again, Varejao would solve this problem, somewhat.

Watching Dwayne Jones try and clog the middle is just painful.

I guess what I'm really saying is: sign Anderson Varejao! Or rather: sign, Anderson Varejao!

Larry Hughes. He gripes (and lets Gilbert Arenas gripe for him) that he's used wrong in the offense. This year the offense is more up-tempo. What happens? Larry's numbers go DOWN. Not just down, but WAY down, as in down to 29% shooting. He's gotten to the foul line 6 times. As our point guard, he's averaging 2.3 assists. Against Orlando? Try 4 points, 4 rebounds and a whopping one assist in 30 minutes. He misses layups, mid range jumpers, threes, basically everything. After vowing to slash more, he's still chucking bricks. He's the one player on the team who seems to have poor chemistry with LeBron. What the hell happened to this guy???

Daniel Gibson, meet Allen Iverson. Gibson got an NBA education against Denver, to the tune of 37 points for AI. Gibson is an electric shooter who has been abused on defense this season. Not that he doesn't play hard; he's simply been schooled by wily veterans. I suppose that will change in time, but right now he's being exposed.

Anytime you want to start hitting your jumpshot, Sasha Pavlovic, would be just fine with me.

Browns

They don't beat Pittsburgh, won't beat Pittsburgh, and simply cannot seem to beat Pittsburgh. Last Sunday the Browns burnt two timeouts on a challenge that was not overturned and then had a critical (phantom) holding penalty that cost them field position in the final seconds of the game. The result? Phil Dawson misses an unmakeable field goal attempt and down we go in flames once more. This is the stuff that curses are made of.

Let's hope we recover this week against the hapless Ravens. If not, kiss the playoffs goodbye.

Indians

Sure, C.C. Sabathia's shiny new Cy Young Award is a really neat thing. He is, after all, the first Indian to be voted best pitcher since GAYLORD PERRY. That was 1972, for crying out loud. But getting completely outclassed by runner up Josh Beckett in the ALCS was not such a neat thing. Think C.C. would swap his fun but ultimately meaningless award for the really, truly meaningful one Beckett earned in October? Me and Dirk Nowitzki bet he would. Cleveland needs a title, man. It's about the ring!

Am I bitter? YES!!! How completely unbearable to see Boston run away with absolutely everything. What the hell?

Congrats, too, to Eric Wedge, AL Manager of the Year. He did a lot with a small payroll. Well deserved award that also doesn't really look quite as good as a World Series Ring.

If this was an especially nasty version of NFSE, I apologize. All will be forgiven if the Cavs score a victory tonight at home vs. Utah, a game I will be attending.

Nate's unreasonable prediction of the week:

Larry Hughes will have a good game.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Nightmare on Elm Street, a McBone Mini-Review

Halloween has come and gone, and finally I've managed to squeeze in an annual horror flick. I'd seen eighties classic A Nightmare on Elm Street already, but probably not for fifteen years.

The premise is simple but clever: an undead psychopath enters into the dreams of teenagers to kill them. But why? The question is enough to keep you watching.

It took me maybe 2 minutes to love this film, or approximately from the time an off-screen Freddy Krueger first laughs his maniacal, madman's laugh. There is nothing better than a bad guy who LOVES being a bad guy. And Freddy absolutely delights in what he does to amorous teenagers who commit that unforgivable sin of having lustful thoughts, or, much worse, actual sex. Such an act of lechery summons our villain, and, voila, we're treated to an early bloodbath.

And so much about Freddy is iconic, and was so even when the films were being churned out at a rate of about one every other year. Beat up felt hat, dirty striped shirt, scorched face and, of course, those razor claws.

But maniacal laughter and claws do not a classic make. Too often a horror film is undermined by having a cool antagonist but an uninteresting hero. After all, scary scenes are much scarier when we have something invested in the victim. Fortunately, in Nancy Thompson Wes Craven drew up a protagonist that we can genuinely root for. While Nancy spends most of the movie swilling coffee and popping pills in efforts to stay awake and thus avoid Freddy, she also knows this can't go on forever. You face things. That's your gift, says Nancy's mother, and so Nancy goes on the offensive, hatching a plan to lure her nemesis out of her dreams and into her house, where she has set up a series of booby traps meant to finish the villain off once and for all, or until at least until the sequel. While Freddy is ingenious enough to kill from beyond the grave, his archrival proves more than a match.

Maybe that's why Nightmare has vaulted its way into the horror canon, in spite of the wooden acting (even by a debuting Johnny Depp) and hokey special effects (although some are not bad). A good story is a good story, and in this one we have two clever adversaries who will inevitably face each other. Alas, Nancy must fall asleep eventually, but how will she seize the advantage? That's the genius of the film.

Also noteworthy:

John Saxon had a great toupee in Enter the Dragon (1973), and he has a great one here (1984) as Nancy's father. I love John Saxon.

Heather Langenkamp is indeed wooden as Nancy--at first, but she really loses herself in the role and by the end is actually a joy to watch.

The final two minutes are a complete waste, which is too bad. Obviously Craven or the studio or someone wanted to leave things open for a hundred sequels, which of course undermine the potency of this first film.

There are excellent sets throughout, particularly when we visit Freddy's boiler room and various deserted dark alleys.

nwb

Browns 28, Pittsburgh 31

Somehow, the Browns always find a way to lose in Pittsburgh (and in Cleveland, of course). I don't suppose this will ever change in my lifetime, and probably not for all eternity. The Football Gods, ever mysterious, have ordained it so.

At least they gave the damn Steelers all they could handle, I guess. That's some consolation.

Not really.

Sigh.

nwb

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Nate's Friday Sports Extravaganza!

After a brief post ALCS meltdown hiatus, NFSE is back, and hopefully better than ever. There's much to discuss, some good, some bad, from the always colorful world of Cleveland sports.

Cavaliers

The first thing that jumps out at me is the defense this team is playing. Basically, it sucks. Dribble penetration is killing us, to the point that I'm actually missing Eric Snow. Case in point, Deron Williams' barely contested game-winning layup with 2 seconds left on the clock. Devin Brown let that happen. Eric Snow wouldn't have. Let Williams beat you with a jumper, but under no circumstances should he be allowed to drive the length of the floor and lay it in.

Furthermore, Zydrunas Ilgauskas is slow footed and could not get in front of Williams. No other play has underlined how bad Anderson Varejao is screwing his team. He would have been right there between Williams and the basket. This team is much better when Anderson is playing in the fourth quarter and not Drew Gooden.

That said, the Cavs played Utah tough.

Other observations after 5 games:

LeBron is the best player in the NBA. His leadership skills are a match for his talent now, and he is going to keep his team competive. Put four dead slugs on the floor with him and the Cavs will make the playoffs.

LeBron's achilles heel is the free throw. I can live with that for the most part. Hell, it's not like he's Shaquille O'neal out there, but it can be awfully frustrating.

Larry Hughes apparently learned nothing from his sessions with Mark Price over the summer. Amazingly, he's been more valuable to us injured. I hate to say that because I really like the guy, but man, what happened to him?

Devin Brown is not the answer. He plays with a lot of energy, but he's no good.

Daniel Gibson is a keeper. A great shooter who electrifies the crowd. Let's hope he's a Cav for a very long time.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas is playing some of the best ball in his career. He's got new energy and he's rebounding like a 7 foot 3 guy should. I don't expect him to average 13 per game, especially after Anderson signs, but he's definitely justifying his big contract right now. Aside from LeBron, he's been the most consistant Cav.

If Shannon Brown ever makes a name for himself in this league, it will be in another uniform. Somehow he's found himself behind Ira Newble in the rotation.

Dwayne Jones may be a hard worker, but he can't play, not from what I've seen so far.

If Damon Jones is unhappy and wants to be traded, he's not playing like it. Nice to see him dealing some assists and even making a couple of nice drives to the hoop.

I want the Cavs to sign notorious chucker Earl Boykins. No, I don't. Yes, I do. Hell, I don't know. How much can he help?

Browns

I'm stunned, stunned that they are 5-3. Incredibly, the playoffs seem possible. This is very cautious optimism though, because...

The defense SUCKS. By some grace of god they have come up with some big stops late in games and they were clutch in keeping the Seahawks out of the end zone in the fourth quarter, but overall, yuck. They don't pressure the quarterback, can't stop the run and have absolutely no secondary. In other words, Phil Savage will be drafting for defense this offseason.

Thank the good lord that Ted Washington is gone. He had a very nice career, but at this point, he's an inanimate blob. Removing him from the d-line alone makes the team better defensively.

Derek Anderson is a pro-bowler a the midway point. No question about it.

The Browns have one of the best receiving corps in the NFL. The size of the receivers make them impossible to defend.

I love how hard Jamal Lewis runs. He simply powered his way into the end zone against Seattle. Four times. Great stuff.

Braylon Edwards decided he wanted to be a great receiver, and that's exactly what he's been this season. Forget the drops. He is a big-time playmaker and seems to have found the maturity to match his talent. Watch out.

Team MVP after eight games? Hard to choose. The candidates are: Derek Anderson, Edwards, Kellen Winslow, Eric Steinbach, Josh Cribbs and, amazingly, Joe Thomas.

Ron Chudzinski could also be an MVP for this potent offense he's installed.

Joe Thomas was a genius draft pick by Savage. The rookie had one rookie like game in the opener against Pittsburgh. Since then, no one can get past him. The Thomas/Steinbach tandem is devastating, and Derek Anderson should buy them both a beer.

Romeo Crennel. Wow. I thought he should have been fired after the Pittsburgh debacle. In two years he went 5-11, 4-12 and all signs pointed to another steaming pile of a season. He has totally turned his team around. Chemistry is good and, for the first time since forever ago, the Browns are WINNING.

Indians.

Nope. Still can't talk baseball. No way. Ugh.

Nate's unreasonable prediction of the week:

The Cavs will aquire a competent point guard.

nwb

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

McBone Presents: The Official 2007 Aunt and Uncle Rankings

The votes (mine) have been tabulated. McBone is proud to present the 2007 Aunt and Uncle Rankings:

Aunts

1. Susan Johnson
2. Gail
3. Denise
4. Susan Good
5. Fay
6. Ann

Uncles

1. Al
2. Jeff
3. Glen
4. Pete
5. Ed
6. Don Sims (No longer in family)
7. Don Holm

The standings represent an unexpected freefall for Glen and Susan (Good) Kerkian who had maintained a longtime stranglehold on the coveted top spots. The couple is unseated by Al Kerkian and Susan Johnson. The ascension of the restauranteurs will undoubtedly send shockwaves through the Bowler-Kerkian family, though expected recount demands and groveling are unlikely to alter the outcome.

Bringing up the rear are the reliably execrable Don Holm, who for the 17th consecutive year will occupy the lowest rung of the uncle standings, and Ann Kerkian, who likewise failed to rise above her status as a bottom feeder.

nwb

Friday, November 2, 2007

I Admire...

Zombies. For that never say die attitude.

Pirates. Genuine free spirits.

Robots. Always turning against their creators.

Mad scientists. For thinking outside the box.

Dracula. For his way with women.

Alien overlords. For knowing how foolish we humans really are.

Criminal super-geniuses. Conquer the world? Bah! Conquer the galaxy! The universe!

Disembodied brains under glass. For having a chip on the shoulder.

Hunchbacks. For fealty undying.

Dinosaurs. Extinct but immortal.

nwb

That's More Like it...

After Wednesday's unspeakable (yet predictable) disaster versus the Dallas Mavericks, a game in which the Cavs showed no effort or interest whatsoever, the New York Knicks rolled into town. The Cavs still have a lot of work to do on defense after a 110-106 victory, so chalk this one up to the handiwork of these two guys:

LeBron James: 45-7-7.

Boobie Gibson: 24 points. 6 of 9 three pointers, including four consecutive fourth-quarter back-breakers.

An 0-2 start before a long west coast swing would have been a big letdown. For one night, all is well.

nwb

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nate's 2007-08 Cavaliers Preview!

Team capsule

Hello: Devin Brown, Cedric Simmons, Demetris Nichols.

Goodbye: David Wesley, Scot Pollard.

Last season: Fishished the regular season at 50-32. Lost 4-0 to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA finals.

Coach: Mike Brown. Career record: 100-64. Playoffs: 19-14.

Overview

After a Cavs offseason highlighted by holdouts, I am elated to begin this preview with a bit of good news. Sasha Pavlovic's limbo has ended. A three-year deal has been agreed to and so our starting two guard will be in wine and gold by Friday's game agains the Knicks. One down, one to go. Wake up, Anderson Varejao.

The signing restores much of the optimism that had been frittered away in the months since the NBA finals. Most of the national media agree: the Cavs will falter in the playoffs this year, and every fan should bow down and praise whatever benevolent god cleared the way to the finals last spring. I remind the sporting world that the Cavs beat the mighty Pistons in the conference finals, and beat them soundly. Why? Because the Cavs were better. The best team in the East, in fact.

Then came the finals.

Yes, they were overmatched by the Spurs. Yes, I was disappointed that they did little to improve this offseason. No, I do not agree with the national media. Which teams, exactly, are supposed to rival us? Who are the contenders?

The Bucks? They have Michael Redd and an untested rookie center from China. Mo Williams? Charlie Villanueva? Sorry, not scary. Don't bet on the playoffs, Milwaukee.

The Heat? Shaquille O'neal is borderline NBA ancient. He has something to prove this season and he won't. To worsen matters, Dwayne Wade has yet to even practice with a team that is resorting to Ricky Davis. Good luck.

The Knicks? Just kidding.

The Raptors? Chris Bosh is a legitimate star and worthy of his draft class. They surged at the end of last season, only to fizzle to the Nets in the first round of the playoffs, which brings us to...

The Nets? Vince Carter was manhandled by Sasha Pavlovic in the playoffs, a microcosm of what the Cavs did to the Nets. The trio of Kidd, Jefferson and Carter has never won and they never will. I'm not sure why they gave Carter all that money. Nenad Krstic's return is big for them, but not enough.

The Magic? Dwight Howard is going to be a force for many years. Jameer Nelson is a nice piece. Bringing in Rashard Lewis is an intriguing move, but then I wonder: what the hell has Rashard Lewis ever done? Soon Magic fans will be asking why ownership shelled out so much for the guy.

The Wizards? A healthy Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler make this an interesting squad. Still, the Cavs have beaten the Wiz in the playoffs two consecutive years. As I recall, Agent Zero was healthy the first time around.

The Bulls? What have the Bulls needed more than anything in the past two seasons? Low post scoring. Who have they hired to provide it? Ben Wallace and Joakim Noah. I don't get it. This is a tough team, capable of winning in the early rounds of the playoffs.

The Pistons? What in the world have they done to get better after being dismantled by the Cavs in the conference finals? I know, I know...Rodney Stuckey and Amir Johnson. Rasheed Wallace is done winning championships.

The Celtics? They have perhaps the best-balanced three-man punch in the league. Remeber, though, that these much heralded superstars have accomplished very little in their careers beside putting up big numbers. And what else do the Celts have on their roster? Junk. Still, those three guys....

And what about the Cavaliers? Let's take a stroll through the roster before I make my official prediction for this year's team.

LeBron James: James is the best player in the NBA. He scores, passes, rebounds, defends and is a leader who challenges his teammates to keep up with him. Better still, LeBron worked like a fiend on his jumpshot in the offseason. An embarrassing sweep in the NBA finals has made him hungrier. Barring injury, watch for him to win his first MVP award. He will also become the all-time leading scorer for the Cavaliers, surpassing Brad Daugherty, in only his fifth season.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas: By now I think we know Z's assets. He is a great jump shooter and one of the best offensive rebounders in the game. Critics point to his defense, although he must be competent enough for the Cavs to have had the number 1 defense in the playoffs last year. Still, Ilgauskas, a Cavalier great, is now 31 and has had 1,000 foot surgeries. His career is going to be winding down sooner than later.

Drew Gooden: In Gooden the Cavs have another excellent all-around rebounder. Coupled with Z on the offensive glass, the Cavs frontcourt gives other teams fits. With Anderson Varejao holding out for god knows how long, look for Drew to get big minutes and more shots. As an offensive player, he has been underused for years. Give him credit for never bitching about it.

Larry Hughes: No more excuses. Larry is healthy and he vows to be the slashing, scoring guard the Cavs signed two seasons ago. Even with his shortcomings he was key helping the Cavs whip the Pistons. The Cavs need 16+ points and at least 65 games from Hughes, always a struggle for him. His inability to contain Tony Parker cost the Cavs a title.

Sasha Pavlovic: I've always championed Sasha and wondered why he didn't get more minutes. Since committing to defense, he has made himself invaluable to the Cavs' success. Quick, strong and brimming with talent, Pavlovic needs now to add consistency to his game. I'm still pissed at him for holding out and missing training camp. Absurd, but whatever. Now prove you're worth the investment.

Daniel Gibson: Boobie is a born shooter, and his role will be to add instant firepower off the bench. Look for him to build on his success in the playoffs, when he burst upon the scene by racking up 31 against the Pistons in the elimination game. Strong defender who also drives to the hoop. Not a good enough passer to solve the Cavs PG problems. Without Anderson, Boobie is first off the bench. Gibson's performance will be critical to the Cavs success this season.

Damon Jones: Disgruntled and wanting a trade, Jones is going to have to accept his role on a team that went to the finals for now. Poor guy. And just what is his role? Very small. The absence of Eric Snow will boost his minutes early in the season, so he'd better drain some jumpers and deal a few dimes. Jones is the team's worst defender.

Donyell Marshall: If Marshall doesn't produce early, he will be banished to the end of the bench for the rest of his career. Needs to hit threes and rebound if he wants to survive, and I'm not sure he's capable at this point. Aside from one brilliant game, Donyell was awful in the playoffs last year.

Eric Snow: Please retire. I can't watch you slow the offense down anymore. I can't watch you miss shots. Become a coach.

Shannon Brown: Perhaps the second most gifted athlete on the team, Brown has big problems controlling his turnovers and making shots. Not a good recipe for getting minutes. Still promising, still a project. Will get a chance though.

Ira Newble: Newble hasn't played in three years, and yet he never goes away. Solid defender. Nonentity.

Dwayne Jones: Worked his way onto the team with hustle and rebounding. Anyone remember another hustling rebounder named Scot Pollard?

Devin Brown: Brown was brought in as a Pavlovic replacement. A career 41% shooting backup journeyman guard is not what I had in mind this offseason for a title contender looking to improve.

Cedric Simmons: Since when are we loading our roster with former Hornets? Simmons has a big upside and likely won't see the light of day for a good, long while.

Demetris Nichols: Can you say D-League?

Anderson Varejao???: Make no mistake, the lack of Anderson Varejao will hurt. Not as much as giving him a ludicrous contract would hurt, though. The Cavs need his rebounding and defensive skills off the bench, because Donyell Marshall can't do it anymore.

There you have it. The core, save Anderson, is intact. The team is good, but hardly great. So, why so few changes in the offseason? Partially because so much money is tied up in Hughes, Marshall and Damon Jones. Another reason, which people don't want to hear, is that the Cavs are looking ahead to the next offseason, when they will have more flexibility.

But that core is a good core. Really good. Good enough to make another terrific playoff run. And don't count out a midseason deal to shake things up (Don't count on one, either).

Coach Mike Brown has done what he promised from day one: mold the team into a defensive powerhouse. Now he needs to take the primitive offense to another level. The preseason was dedicated to just that, so let's see how LeBron and the rest of the team react. In James, Gooden, Ilgauskas, Hughes, Gibson and Pavlovic, the Cavs have plenty of talent on offense. A more sophisticated offense should allow those talents to flourish.

So, without further ado, here is Nate's official prediction for the 2008-09 Cavaliers: 52-30, Eastern Conference champs. The Cavs may start slow, as the early part of the schedule is loaded with playoff teams, but eventually Anderson will re-sign, the offense will click and the wins will come. There is no team in the east that scares me at this point. By the end of the regular season, the Cavs will be geared up for the playoffs, where I predict they will fall to the Spurs in six games in the finals. Until a true point guard comes along, they won't make the final leap to greatness. Still, this is a team built to win in the postseason, where high-flying offenses go to die.

Can't wait. Go Cavs!

nwb

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Humiliation

The King School Elementary lunch line was a place I hazarded but a dozen or so times in my life, and with good reason. The choices were few and categorically untempting: pizza, if you were lucky. Thin, crispy wafers passed off as hamburgers. A weekly, breaded delicacy known only as "fish." The kitchen, located in the dungeonous bowels of the old building, was where vegetables were sentenced to torture and death. How many millions of unsuspecting beans - green, baked, lima - were lost? How many carrots cooked nearly colorless? I can still see the lunch lady, typically mole-ridden and hideous, ladling portions of smelly wet corn onto white trays.

There were other choices, too, often of the potato variety. "Fries" that were baked. Jawbreakers posing as tater tots. Hash browns? The grease from a shredded lunch line tuber was known to leach through even the sturdiest of Styrofoam trays.

Puddings, Jell-0s and fruit cups rounded out a meal that our public officials deemed satisfactory for a growing child. In short, no vitamins, a few elusive strands of protein, and ten times the recommended daily allowance of offal.

But I'm belaboring the point, aren't I? I was a brown bagger.

Actually it would be more correct in those days to call me a lunchboxer. Every couple of years I had a new model, but my first and very favorite was adorned with the helmet of every NFL franchise. Naturally, it came with a matching thermos.

Packing a lunch had its obvious advantages. There was little risk in a ham sandwich, an apple, a carrot and a juice box. PB & J. Salami and cheese. Chips. Raisins. A Handi-Snacks (I was one of many who collected those red plastic cheese spreaders). Most everything was harmless and easily traced back to the Acme supermarket in West Akron.

But the strategy was not infallible. That much became clear one fateful winter day.

The year was 1982. Ronald Reagan was president. Ketchup would soon be called a vegetable. I was seven years old and in first grade. There was no cafeteria at King School. Lunch was eaten in classrooms, which were patrolled by a pair of monitors, unholy horrors known as 6th graders.

Throughout the duration of my public schooling I tried to keep a low profile. My lunches were usually suited to that purpose. There were few surprises when I flipped open that tin lid, and that's the way I liked it. Mom reliably prepared a sandwich (crust intact), carrot and celery sticks, some form of pretzel (rod or twist, I wasn't particular), and, when I declined to buy milk at school, a juice box (always 100% juice. No Lil' Hugs, no Kool-Aid). My repast was healthy almost without exception. Oh, at times there would be a slice of leftover pizza. On rarer occasions a bag of Ruffles. Normally I knew that a good square meal was in store. Normally.

Ah, trust--such a fragile thing. So difficult to build, so easily destroyed.

Lunch that day commenced as usual--monitors arriving, teacher departing, monitors hollering in a daily attempt to silence us. Those wretches doomed to the lunch line would vanish and return ten minutes later, trays laden with tasteless morsels. Meanwhile, the rest of us fetched lunch pails from our lockers.

Appetite peaking, I flipped open the clasp to find my lunchbox conspicuously spare. Within lay a Minute Maid orange juice (not my favorite, but satisfactory) and my thermos. Wonderful, I smirked. Two drinks. Had mom suffered an uncharacteristic lapse? Had my sister ended up with two sandwiches in her lunch? Not likely. Then it dawned on me--soup! That was the answer. Inside the thermos was a piping hot bowl of chicken soup. That would hit the spot on a wintery day. Heck, I would be the envy of the class. So what if there was no spoon to be found? It was the tiniest of oversights.

I unscrewed the lid, but was not met with a brothy waft of hot soup. I peered inside and there discerned something metallic in color. I upturned the vessel, and out slid a long bit of tinfoil. Dumbstruck, I glanced around. Had anyone noticed this bizarre circumstance? Surely they would soon.

I began to unwrap this mystery provision. My mouth became dry. So dry I resorted to my juice box. What doom hid within this silvery shell? There was only one way to know, and so I continued, quickly, as to determine my fate one way or another.

When at last I had peeled away the aluminum layers, I froze, terror-stricken, a familiar odor rising out of the folds of foil. I sat there, inert, staring at my lunch.

A hot dog.

No bun. No mustard. Damp, and, in spite of the thermos and the added precaution of foil, cold. Hopelessly cold. My lunch. Juice and a hot dog--cold.

Then it happened, what I dreaded. A glance from a neighboring desk. A double take, and then? Hey, look what he has for lunch! Like that, my world came crashing down.

Laughter erupted. Monitors, baffled as to the source, soon joined in. What was I to do? My options were few: feign a seizure or endure it. I endured. What I did not do was eat the wiener, now being passed around the room as proof positive of the rumor. Yes, it really is a hot dog! Yes, it really was in his thermos! Eww!

That afternoon my mother showed little remorse. It's all we had, she claimed, and, it's just the same as bologna. Flimsy as her excuses were, she dismissed my laments with a wave of the hand.

I feared the next day, but my attempts at staying home were rebuffed. Months passed before the furor died down, and, as far as I know, my hot dog lunch still lives in infamy within the walls of King School Elementary.

Needless to say I took responsibility for my own lunches thereafter. Such a breach of trust was beyond redemption, though my mother and I have avoided a total falling out. My precious NFL lunchbox was discarded (how could I drink from that tainted thermos again?), replaced by an inferior and all plastic Pac-Man model.

The tale is a sad one to tell, and painful to relive. Yet, I believe one must learn from experience, and pass on what one has gleaned. So please, dear reader, let my humiliation be a lesson to you: if all the fridge contains is a hot dog, send the poor child to the lunch line!

nwb

This story is 100% true. No details have been altered in its telling.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Genarlow is Free!

Genarlow Wilson's injust inprisonment was the catalyst for the creation of this blog. Yesterday the Georgia supreme court decided that a ten-year sentence for a young man convicted of having consensual sexual relations with another teenager was extreme. We couldn't agree more.

Today Genarlow is reunited with his mother and his sister. That's a beginning. Let us hope that this once college-bound honor student and standout athlete can, as much as possible, pick up where he left off.

nwb

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Nate Reads the Bible

Most people, including myself, know the story of Cain and Abel without ever having read the bible. What surprises me is the brevity of the tale, and yet this passage of roughly 250 words contains some of the more poetic language I have found in Genesis so far, including:

Then the lord said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" He said, "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?" And the Lord said, "What have you done? Listen; your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground!"

God is dismayed and no wonder: Cain has just wiped out 1/4 of the human population. I also find it interesting that god walks among people in the early part of the bible and interacts with them.

Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

"East of Eden" is a lovely little phrase, and I'm not the only one who seems to think so. John Steinbeck thought enough of it to make it the title of his epic novel, which, incidentally, is the greatest novel of all time. Or at least top 10.

Anyway, Cain has his jealous fit, kills Abel and is driven by god out of Eden. His fear is that, as a "fugitive and a wanderer," people may want to kill him. Of course the skeptic in me must ask at this point: what people? By my count there are only Adam, Eve and Cain. That makes three, but who's counting? And who is Cain's "wife" whom he "knew" and subsequently had a son, Enoch, with? There is no one to marry, not even Eve, who does not live in Nod. Are we meant to believe that god has created more people in the meantime? Maybe, according to the bible, but certainly not according to Christian doctrine.

There are some holes here.

nwb

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

To Ms. and Mr. Sarah Kerkian...

McBone congratulates Sarah Kerkian and Graham Curtis, who were married Sunday in Hudson, Ohio on a sun-soaked autumn afternoon. Cousin Sarah is the fifth Kerkian cousin out of eleven to exchange vows (are any of us gay??) and in marrying Graham, Sarah has earned the official McBone Seal of Approval: McB. This union is endorsed by McBone and all subsidiary groups, including but not limited to: the NOML and the NIML.

To a long, bounteous life together! To love! Hurrah!

To you, Sarah and Graham, I raise high my gin-filled glass and drink.

nwb


Pictured above: groom Graham Curtis (left) and bride Sarah Kerkian.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Please Kill Me Now

To be fair, I should begin this by saying I predicted the Indians to have a mediocre season. My official prediction was 81-81. Obviously this team has surpassed my wildest expectations. For that, I'm proud of them.

That said: they've done it again. Another Cleveland team has ripped my heart out and stamped it to a bloody pulp. Obviously losing a best of seven series after roaring out to an early 3-1 lead is disappointing. But in losing the final three games by a combined score of 30-5 is downright humiliating. And to the loathesome Red Sox. And to Manny Ramirez. I'd rather have needles stuck into my eyeballs.

So, here is Nate's ALCS in a nutshell.

Good stuff:

Just getting there. A pennant would have been great, but being in the playoffs is much better, obviously, than what the Tribe did the previous 6 Octobers, which was sit at home.

Jake Westbrook. Our number 3 pitcher made two quality starts in this series. In other words, he made two more quality starts than C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona combined. In game seven, when the Tribe needed someone to dig deep, that's just what Westbrook did. After struggling through the first three innings, he was absolutely unhittable by the time he was yanked after the sixth, which never should have happened.

Kenny Lofton. What will it take for him to win a ring? The poor guy did his job yesterday by scoring two runs. At least he would have scored two runs if he had not been called out (he was clearly safe) trying to leg out a double, and had he not been held up at third base with a base hit still careening about the outfield.

Paul Byrd. HGH scandal notwithstanding, he pitched a gem of a game four. He and Westbrook were our two true aces in the ALCS.

Asdrubal Cabrera. I've said it about 10 times already: future star. The guy was a rookie playing out of position in the ALCS. He was about the coolest guy on the field for the Tribe.

Joe Borowski. People were having strokes before Borowski ever threw a pitch in this series. Turns out our closer (who, incidentally, led the league in saves) was the least of our worries.

Eric Wedge. He was loyal to Westbrook, Byrd and Borowski the whole way through, and that loyalty paid off. He also got the most out of Trot Nixon. I don't know what he was supposed to do about the total pitching meltdown, except stay calm, which he somehow managed to do.

The rest of the mess:

C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona. Look no further than our two 19 game winners to see why the Indians lost this series. Together they started 6 games in the postseason, and only Fausto tossed a decent game (game 2 vs. Yankees).

Travis Hafner. Pronk stunk, plain and simple. After his game one homer against Josh Beckett, he did nothing. His double play groundout in the first inning of game five killed a potential rally and let Beckett off the hook. His three-pitch K in game seven against Jonathan Papelbon with no outs and two on was another deflating blow. Both plays sucked the air out of his team completely. What happened to our once fearsome slugger? I repeat what I said in an earlier post: Hafner is injured, and has been all year. There really is no other explanation as to why he can no longer pull a fastball.

Joel Skinner. Somehow, incredibly, he held Kenny Lofton at third base while Franklin Gutierrez' hit was rolling across the outfield. The Indians had seized momentum in game seven, and Skinner applied the brakes. The Tribe never recovered.

Rafael Perez. ERA of 45.00 says it better than I ever could.

The left side of the infield. Casey Blake and Jhonny Peralta played infield in game seven of the ALCS was about how I would play infield in game seven of the ALCS--booting grounders and dropping popups. Blake's misplay of Jacoby Ellsbury's grounder resulted in Dustin Pedroia's two run homer that basically put game seven, and the series, out of reach.

Rafael Betancourt in game seven. WTF???

Grady Sizemore in game five. Wait a minute...wasn't that Alex Cole? The league adjusted to Grady this season, and this series exposed major holes in his game. He has a ton of work to do in the offseason, with particular attention paid to contact hitting and playing outfield walls.

Manny Ramirez. Made an ass of himself all series long and is rewarded with a trip to the Fall Classic. Truly the Sports Gods hate Cleveland.

Diasuke Matsuzaka. Apparently paying a billion dollars for a supremely mediocre pitcher works wonders. His "gyro ball" looks like nothing more than a ineffective screwball to me. He does have a nice arm, though.

Chief Wahoo. He is still an abomination and he is still firmly affixed to the Indians organization. Until the ballclub exorcises this deplorable demon, the Tribe will never win. What, I ask, is the point in keeping him? Would anyone ever miss such a racist symbol?

Well, that's it, folks. That's about all I can stand. The bottom line is: the Tribe choked. They went up 3-1 and panicked. Boston stayed cool and prevailed. Now they get to play in the World Series. Worst of luck to them. Am I bitter? Yep. Go Rockies!

nwb

PS. Kiwi Bird: I forgive you.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tribe on the Verge!

Game 3. I was there. Second row on the first base line (thanks forever, Lauren). Never have I heard such noise in an open-air venue. And here was the loudest moment:



Other highlights:

Seeing the grass up close. Every blade is in place and perfectly groomed--so perfect it looks fake.

Jake Westbrook falling behind 3-0 to the most lethal hitter in the past 50 years (sorry Alex Rodriguez) and getting him to bounce into an easy, inning-ending double play. Manny Ramirez, by the way, is an imbecile.

Delicious Dormunder Gold. Jacobs Field, perhaps the greatest venue in baseball, wins bonus points for serving Great Lakes Beer.

1 million white towels waving.

Future star Asdrubal Cabrera knocking in a run like he was a ten-year vet.

Travis Hafner beating out a double play grounder, allowing the fourth and final run to score.

Rafael Betancourt mowing down the heart of the order.

Joe Borowski, 1-2-3.

Seeing it all with my old man.

One game later the Tribe has a 3-1 series lead. Time to put this team away NOW, at home and in rhythm. Do NOT let the momentum shift. The Red Sox have a history of climbing out of huge holes (remember the ALDS in 1999? The ALCS in 2005?), and they very easily could do just that.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Baseball Atrocity in Boston!

Any so-called major league baseball team that has all-time cheeseball Neil Diamond singing "Sweet Caroline" in the middle of the eighth inning does not deserve to be crowned AL champion. And what more revolting sight than seeing Red Sox fans lapping it all up?

Also on hand at game 2 was the king of ultra mellow, fluffball rock, James Taylor.

But it is Diamond's presence at Fenway Park that McBone condemns. For shame!

nwb

One Small Lament...

Watching the playoffs on TV can be a frustrating experience. Every advertisement is for a car, some miracle pill, or an insurance company. The automotive industry, which has worked so hard to scuttle better fuel efficiency standards...pharmaceutical companies, which will oppose universal health care to the end...insurance companies, which will do anything to avoid paying a claim.

How willing they all are to shell out millions for primetime TV ads.

And then there are those disturbing ads where the most intense people in the universe are working out and sweating Gatorade.

Anyhow, go Tribe.

nwb

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nate's ALCS preview - Cleveland vs. Boston

OK, now that the Yankees are toast, on to bigger and better. The two best teams in the AL are squaring off for the pennant, and that's exactly how it should be. What better road to a title than through New York and Boston? What greater satisfaction could there be than triumphing over the AL's two most bloated payrolls? The Yankees make me want to puke forever, and the Sox aren't far behind.

This second round will be much, much tougher than the first. Why? Because the Red Sox are much, much better. Their lineup may pale next to the Yankees, but there is a reason why the Sox are still playing.

So, let's get right down to it.

1B: Ryan Garko vs. Kevin Youkilis. This is a matchup of nearly identical hitters. Garko has more power, but Youkilis gets on base more often. But in the field Youkilis separates himself from his opposite number. Garko proved himself a quick study in his first season as a full-time first baseman, but Youkilis made exactly zero errors this year in 135 games compared to Garko's 8. Advantage: Youkilis (slightly).

2B: Asdrubal Cabrera vs. Dustin Pedroia. Again, many similarities. Two rather obscure, but very talented and upcoming players will man second base in this series. Pedroia can wield the stick and was good for a very legitimate .317 mark this year. Also impressive are the 39 doubles he mixed in there. Cabrera had some very, very rookie looking at bats in the ALDS, but he has cemented his spot as the number two hitter for the postseason. Both players are great with the glove, but Cabrera is the second coming of Omar Vizquel. Advantage: Pedroia.

SS: Jhonny Peralta vs. Julio Lugo. These are totally different players. Lugo batted neither for power (8 hr) or average (.237) in '07. Lugo has been a better hitter in the past, but Peralta, who tortured the Yankees last week, is far superior on offense, except on the basepaths. At short? Both will butcher a play. Lugo has more range, and Peralta's limitations are well known, but the bottom line is Jhonny had more assists, putouts and double plays than Lugo did this year. Advantage: Peralta.

3B: Casey Blake vs. Mike Lowell. This is a matchup between a fairly consistant all-star and, well, Casey Blake. Lowell will give you 20 and 90 in an average year. Casey? Try 20 and 70. Let's not delude ourselves. Advantage: Lowell.

LF: Kenny Lofton vs. Manny Ramirez. Is this the mismatch that it seems? Pretty much. Still, Lofton is by far a better fielder and baserunner than Manny could ever dream of being, and those things factor into the postseason when games are tight. But Manny is Manny, and the fact is: Manny is one of the greatest hitters of all-time. Advantage: Ramirez.

CF: Grady Sizemore vs. Coco Crisp. The sickening thing here is that these players should be playing side by side in the outfield and batting 1-2 in the Tribe's order. The Coco Crisp trade remains one of the worst in Cleveland history, period. I love Coco Crisp, and part of me will never forgive Mark Shapiro (unless we win the World Series) for dealing him away prior to last season. BAH! Anyhow, Grady Sizemore can do anything Coco Crisp does, but better. Both can run, hit and field, but Grady is the uebertalent here. If Coco Crisp took steroids, he would be Grady Sizemore. Advantage: Sizemore.

RF: Franklin Gutierrez (not Trot Nixon!) vs. J.D. Drew. Here we have a slick-fielding up-and-comer versus the most overhyped baseball player of all time (or, at least until this season saw a teammate surpass him). Drew pretty much sucked this year, but he does get on base. Gutierrez, meanwhile, has looked AWFUL at the plate in this postseason, but he sure is a handsome devil. Advantage: even.

C: Victor Martinez vs. Jason Varitek. Victor Martinez is a great hitter. Jason Varitek is a good hitter. Jason Varitek is a very good fielder. Victor Martinez worked hard to make himself a very good fielder. Both call great games for their pitchers. Both are all-stars. Victor Martinez is (or at least should be) Alex Rodriguez' nearest rival for MVP. Advantage: Martinez.

DH: Travis Hafner vs. David Ortiz. Two big-time, game changing hitters, but Ortiz is the postseason hero. Both players hit for power and average. Both have great eyes at the plate. Both score runs. Still, with Hafner's off year it's gotta be...advantage: Ortiz.

No. 1 starter: C.C. Sabathia vs. Josh Beckett. Two great, great pitchers. That's about all I can say. This should be an epic matchup and my mind cramps up when I try to figure out who's better. Advantage: even (Sabathia).

No. 2 starter: Fausto Carmona vs. Curt Schilling. I don't want to hear about the stupid bloody sock. Schilling has so much experience and guts and blah, blah. How about stymieing the Yankees in your first-ever playoff start? Does that count for guts? Fausto is a better pitcher at this point. Advantage: Carmona.

No. 3 starter: Jake Westbrook vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka. Wow, a player on the Red Sox who has somehow managed to be more overhyped than J.D. Drew. Boston paid billions for this guy to put up very Jake Westbrook-type numbers in the regular season (15 wins, 4.40 ERA). Both pitchers have struggled in the postseason, but my gut is telling me that Jake prevails. Advantage: even.

No. 4 starter: Paul Byrd vs. Tim Wakefield. Two junkballers. My Indians/Yankees preview was pretty accurate except for one detail: I didn't expect Paul Byrd to ever take the mound. This is why I'm a make-believe sportswriter and not a major-league manager. What can I say? I love that Paul Byrd is all heart and no arm. I also love knuckleballs, and Tim Wakefield is the last of a dying breed. Still, one glaring statistic: Wakefield's postseason ERA is above 6. That's downright ugly. Advantage: Byrd.

Bullpen: Rafael Perez, Rafael Betancourt, Tom Mastny, Jensen Lewis and Aaron Fultz vs. Javier Lopez, Manny Delcarmen, Hideki Okajima and Mike Timlin. Lopez, Okajima and Delcarmen were nasty this year. Betancourt, Perez and Lewis were better. Aaron Fultz? Let's hope not. Advantage: Indians (barely).

Closer: Joe Borowski vs. Jonathan Papelbon. Both closers had superlative years, but Papelbon was better in just about every category. Here's praying he makes very few appearances in this series. Advantage: Papelbon.

Nate's official ALCS prediction: This is going to be a close series. As I said, this is a better team than the Yankees, and much better suited to win postseason games. That translates roughly to: Indians win 4-2. I believe that the Red Sox pitching is less adept than it looked against Anaheim, and that C.C. and Fausto are going to outpitch their opposite numbers. The Angels, after all, are a collection of slap happy spray hitters. Good pitching beats good hitting. The Angels had good pitching this year, but you need to have SOME hitting to advance in postseason play. Anaheim (or LA of A or whatever the hell they're called) put to rest a question I had when the Tribe faced them in the regular season: why are they so good? The answer? They weren't.

nwb

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Nate Reads the Bible.

Genesis. The beginning.

A couple of things jumped out early for me in the narrative, the most glaring of which was: this really is a dual narrative, at the least. Very distinctive voices color this portion of the text, and they don't necessarily jibe with each other.

The first narration wastes little time explaining what happened over the course of seven days. Things were created, and in this order: 1) light 2) the sky 3) the Earth and its vegetation 4) the sun, moon and stars 5) fish and birds 6) land animals and humankind. That takes six days, followed by a seventh day of rest. Let's focus on day six, when God creates humans:

Then God said, Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness. Then, a bit later: So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them, and God blessed them.

That "them" is important. According to this passage, man and woman were created simultaneously and told to multiply. Furthermore, there is no hint of Adam or Eve or any Garden of Eden. They are neither mortal or immortal. "Them" is very unspecific in number. All we know is: there was more than one, there was at least one of each gender and they were impelled to use all that God had created beforehand.

Then comes the more famous account.

This narrative is more detailed and the order of creation is much different. Here God creates a single man from the dust and then makes a garden for him. After that come the animals, but since there is no real companion for the man, out comes the rib and, voilà, woman.

So, an immediate disconnect to start things off, and just a page apart. Two narratives, two fairly dissimilar origins of the world and human life. I suppose one could argue that the first narrative gives a broad account, while the second attempts to paint in the details of what happened, but that does not explain away other contradictions. The first narrative is so specific in laying out the order of things. To me, it's important that man and woman were created last. God created this realm and it pleased him and he thought to populate it with humans. In the second narrative, the creation of man is sandwiched in the middle and really the whole idea of seven days disappears. Here God wanted man first, and he molded the world to suit this one man.

Which are we supposed to believe? Do we choose? Or do we try to make them fit together? To me that's not possible. Obviously the rib narrative has been more widely acknowledged and embraced, but why? I imagine the way humans thrive on storytelling has something to do with it. In this narrative there are characters and events to latch on to. There are voices and there is dialogue. Adam and Eve have failings and fears just like anyone else. Here one finds real human elements and emotions where the other offers a rather cold and generic version of "humankind."

That's the best I can come up with.

More on Genesis later.

nwb