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!


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 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.


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.
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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Mustard: piquant

Mayo: stagnant, sulfurous, nauseating


Mustard: ranging from smooth to whole grain

Mayo: oily, greasy, gelatinous


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


Mustard: low

Mayo: Vaseline, Quaker State


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


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.


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.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Nate's Monday Sports Extravaganza!

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


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.


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.


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!


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.


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)

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?


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.


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.


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.


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.