A Guide to Android

8:14 AM / Posted by Ryan / comments (0)

One of the problems facing new smart phone owners and even older dumber phone owners, aside from the question of whether to surrender their free will and self-respect to the hive mind by buying an iPhone, is what exactly the need on their phone. the market is exploding with new applications (apps for you trendy abbreviators) every day, and it seems like the only way to know which ones you will actually use is to download and try them yourself, trial and error searching for functional needles in an ever growing haystack.

That is why we decided to save you the trouble. Here at The Left Coast Biased we assigned our team of crack researchers to download and explore every single app in the Android Market. That's right, every single one!

Well, at least all the free ones.

Ok, maybe just the ones that looked interesting.

In any event, we came to a pretty well rounded familiarity with what Android has to offer right now. For example, the Facebook applications are all terrible, and you don't need to spend 14 pounds on a freaking designer alarm clock unless it is making you breakfast in bed and giving you a Swedish massage. And it isn't. We looked into it.

- Android Games -

Don't worry. Even on your phone Mr. Dream still owns you.

Emulators: This is how you know that you live at the apex of a glorious age of technological wonder - you can have and run practically every Nintendo,Super Nintendo, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Sega Genesis, and Sega Game Gear game on your phone. The best of the emulators available are by yongzh (identified by the *oid suffix) and come in a paid or free/Lite version. The difference between the two is the ability to save your games, so if you are just looking for a little diversion in a nostalgic moment, then the Lite should work just fine. The Lite version even comes with a pleasant elitism that these emulators kick the crap out of anything offered on the iPhone.

Time Wasters: A few games that stand out as diverting while not being taxing at all are SuperYatzy, Backgammon, and Solitaire. A little more demanding are Age of Conquest: Europe, a classic Risk-style conquest game, and Robo Defense, the best of the many tower defense games offered on Android. Combine these staples with the emulators above and you are well equiped to never have to worry about being productive again.

- Utility -

Another aspect where Android kills its Jobsian competitor is on the browser front. The standard browser is a pretty significant upgrade over the Safari, and the Opera Mini is even better. Far and away the best browser offered, though, is the Dolphin Browser, brought to you by the visionaries behind Firefox. it is such a pleasant experience that I wish I could use it on my PC. What really sets it apart, even more than the effortless transition between tabs, is the ability to write instruction on the touchscreen with the gestures. Draw "N" to open an new tab. Draw "X" to close a tab. Design and set your own gestures for any number of different commands. the best thing to happen to mobile browsing since the Internet itself.

App Killer: One thing that is a bit frustrating about the Android platform is that it is difficult to close out of apps after opening them. It is easy to switch to a different app, just difficult to close, slowing the phone down and draining the battery. An app killer is just a third party app that will go through and turn off apps which you are no longer actively using, and is essential. the best one on the market is the Advanced Task Killer (ATK), having an interface which is a bit friendlier than comparable apps.

File Manager: Organize your downloads, media files, and documents on your SD card with a file manager. There are a few out there, but we like Astro File Manager, but there are a number of others that function as well. this is the only way to access you SD card, so it is fairly essential if you plan on utilizing that extra space at all.

Others: A few apps that are pretty useful, if not as necessary as those above are Google Voice, mkRemote, Shop Savvy, and PicSay's photo editor. The Voice app allows you to make calls from your Google Voice number, which makes having a Voice account actually useful. mkRemote costs $4, but allows you to control your mouse and keyboard over a Bluetooth connection, which is handy for watching movies on your computer, especially if you connect a computer to your television. Shop Savvy is just a barcode scanner which searches the internet and nearby stores for better prices, and PicSay just lets you do more things while editing a photo than the Photoshop app does.

- Multimedia -

The two best apps for audiophiles are with out doubt Pandora and Shazaam, not to be confused with the epic Genie classic film by Shaq. Pandora is an internet radio app, which you probably need to go online and set up your personal account before using. You pick a song, or a genre, or a group that you enjoy and Pandora plays similar songs. You have the option of approving or disapproving of each song, and the more feedback you provide, the better of a selection Pandora is able to provide for you. Shazaam listens to whatever song is playing near you and tells you the artist and album, and makes them both available to you for purchase. Or you could just plug that information into your Pandora app and listen to that song and others like it for free.

Video: There are a number of video streaming apps available in the market, most of the usefulness of which will depend on the speed of your internet connection. The YouTube app allows you to browse their site and watch videos on your phone, but a large number of the videos are unplayable. TV.Com offers a lot of clips, but not many full episodes. SPB TV provides over 20 different stations, many international news stations, and is one of the few apps on which we would recommend dropping $10, should you live in an area with strong 3G coverage. Many of their channels are not regularly offered in the US. Personally we are breathlessly waiting for the Hulu app to come and rock our world, but that looks like it is several months away, at least.

Better Lying in 5 Easy Steps!!

9:24 PM / Posted by Ryan / comments (0)

You may be thinking that lying is not a an area in which one would need instruction, as it is a natural trait or activity in which one dabbles intuitively, or not as one’s morals dictate, each according to their intuitive ability. The term ‘a born liar’ is bandied about with the frequency and generosity with which people distribute the title ‘genius’ and with as much accuracy. One who lies frequently is no more ‘a born liar’ than the middle school kid who just discovered rhyme is ‘a born poet’.

Alternatively, you may feel that lying is not an area in which one should be instructed, that it lies so far down on the morality scale that improving it, or even approving it, is a step backwards in social quality control. Whether this is due to some unfortunate experience in one’s youth or to lying showing up on a few archaic lists of do’s and don’ts is irrelevant.

I would here offer a distinction between two types of lie: the Beautiful Lie, and the despicable lie. The despicable lie is destructive, predatory and singularly beneficial. The Beautiful Lie is generous, creative and mutually beneficial. The simple rule is that if you are the only one who comes out of the lying moment feeling good, then you have done something despicable (here is an example of a despicable lie). A Beautiful Lie adds something to the moment, and everyone comes out feeling like a winner. This means that most lies to get out of homework, tickets or paternity suits are despicable. Most, but not all. More on this later.

What we have here is an introductory course (to be eligible for the advanced course you need to send me a check for $125 and schedule a weekend, or have been my girlfriend). The Beautiful Lie is an art that almost all children know and love. A child will wander blissfully from fact to fiction and back again, delighting in the reactions their narratives evoke until the dark day on which one or more of the following happens:

- The frustrated scowl of an impatient parent demands that they “grow up” or “just tell the truth” as though fidelity to historical accuracy is some great virtue. Congratulations, jerk. You didn’t just kill a dream. You killed a dreamer.

- Some kid who has been poisoned by his parents or older siblings with a need for proof challenges the young fabler to defend his tale (typically happens in Missouri).

- The close minded scholastic institution fails to accept that every dog in the neighborhood is inflicted with an insatiable appetite for math flavored notebook paper.

Here are 5 easy steps to get back to that more enjoyable time when Truth was fluid and delicious:

1- BELIEVE EVERYTHING – Skepticism is the lie’s dirty, illegitimate child who barges uninvited to the festive masquerade, spoiling everyone’s fun and souring the air with the unwelcome stench of reality. The entire point of the evening is an escape into the make believe; reality has no place here. An illustration of a Beautiful Lie that is easy and enjoyable until subjected to the harsh light of skepticism: the casual way that a girl looks at a boy, conveying that he is interesting, entertaining, and possibly even attractive. This is a lie. The moment is heightened though, and everyone feels better about where they are until the boy does something so coarse as to demand proof for the lie. This comes in a variety of forms, all asking from some sort of payment on the perceived promise of the lie, and all ending poorly for everyone involved. Let it go. Go home and just feel good about yourself for a while. Reality will raise its ugly head soon enough.

2- LIE FOR THEM, NOT FOR YOU – That is, not entirely for you. You should accept that the fact that every act ever committed was from a selfish motivation. Every one. Each of us does at all times what we think will secure for ourselves the most joy/happiness/satisfaction. We are often wrong or short sighted, but the motivation is always the same. The same is true of lying. You are obviously lying for your own benefit; you know that because you do everything for your own benefit. The goal of the Beautiful Lie is to charm, delight, to entertain. When you are getting out of your deadline, make your boss or teacher or parole officer feel good about letting you off the hook. Don’t have a computer failure or ‘a lot on your hands right now’. Fly across the country to help some desperate familial relation rebuild after whichever natural disaster is currently in vogue, or paint your child some terrifying color to replicate some potentially debilitating disease. It is like telling your wife that she doesn’t look fat in those pants. We have both seen your wife. Your wife has seen your wife. Everyone knows.

3- BE MORE INTERESTING – You ease your audience’s need for verification if you can litter some fascinating truths in there. If you have fled the from guerilla terrorists with only the clothes on your back, wrestled an alligator, and shot a member of your immediate family then I am going to be more able to release myself into your lie when you tell me that your cat is fluent in Cantonese.

4- STAY AS CLOSE TO THE TRUTH AS POSSIBLE – This is just a sub-step, really, making the last step easier. If you hear a crazy story that is true, just adopt it and make it yours. People want have a connection to the story and everyone knows that using ‘my friend’ is emotionally distancing people from the story. Embellish, rather than create from scrap. If you can describe the little details that stood out to you from 13 of your car accidents, then you help people believe that you have been in 18. This is not the same as providing evidence! Evidence is the enemy of the lie. Let the lie stand on its own. Having a lock of black hair does not incline me to believe that you successful held the Obama children for ransom. Do better than that.

5- BE YOUR OWN AUDIENCE – At the end of the day if you believe your own lie, then everyone else is more willing to get on board. Staying close to the truth makes that easier, and frequently telling fascinating true stories helps, too. In any event, it makes the telling more enjoyable.

Take these guidelines and run with them. If you are still morally convicted about lying, and have not bought into our qualitative distinction among lies then I ask you to imagine a world without makeup or underwire, and reconsider.


3 Guys, 1 Truck

11:01 AM / Posted by Ryan / comments (0)

I know that the one of you who throws down on the OPRTA was tragically disappointing by our failure to post this last weekend, for which we apologize. The days we usually spend writing, this last week we spent in a Uhaul trucking it from Tucson to Washington D.C. in a trip that at the last minute went from 2 guys to 3. For those of you keeping score at home here are the top 5 necessities for surviving a cross country road trip. This is the criterion for how we made the list, and in this particular order. Obviously, there are a lot of things that you want to have on a road trip, but if you had to choose between driving three consecutive days in a car with a video game, but not having any caffeine, which way would you go? Admittedly, I am biased in that instance by my long standing addiction, but you get the idea. With that being said, here is our list:

  1. Company - One buddy makes the trip tolerable, two makes it enjoyable. For one thing, it doubles the odds of something ill-advised happening, as whichever over-tired, desperate guy who comes up with the random idea that starts with, "Dude! we should totally..." now has another person who might be the Guy Who is Down.
  2. Windows - Seriously, if you don't think windows should be this high on the list, that's only because you have never driven with out them.
  3. Air Conditioning - And by this we mean the ability to control the temperature in the car. Critical.
  4. Caffeine - I thought for about 13 minutes about bumping this up to number three, given my proclivity to want to drive through the night to avoid traffic and the sun, but then I thought about west Texas, and having to roll the windows down and bath in that wretched stench for hours on end.
  5. Radio - To be specific, satellite radio, though on this trip we managed to have pretty good signal and decent stations for most of the trip.
Company wins out, because you can take almost any discomfort as long as you have someone with whom to commiserate. Honorable mention goes out to Sleeping Space, Video Games, and Movies, who lost out to Radio on a coin flip. Not that we had to make that call on this trip. We did things right. Well, mostly right.

Sleeping Space was the one we were most excited about, because we threw a queen sized mattress and a half-a-dozen blankets into the back of the truck, right by the door. This was more comfortable than a Snuggie right up until we started driving. You know how the back of the school bus would always get more of the bounce when you go over speed bumps than the front? That's because all the weight is up front. Take that same principle and multiply it by 70mph and you find yourself waking up 6-12 inches above the mattress every time you hit a lip in the pavement. You don't want to know what happened when we hit Uneven Pavement sections. One of my dear cousins suggested weighing down the blankets with bricks, which worked out almost as well as picking up the random girl at the bus station to try and anchor with some ferocious cuddling. Less bruises, more lacerations.

On the Video Game front our trip was officially endorsed by ScribbleNautz (the dumbest sounding game that ever turned out to be awesome) and for Movies let's just say that Laptop+Surround Sound Speakers+Subwooffer= a Car/Movie Experience. Watching the newest Star Trek while driving at night actually felt like you were flying through the deep with them. Incredible.

2 moments made better by unlikely circumstances:
  • If you get a chance to watch a high school state playoff football game where a kid breaks off touchdown runs of 80, 55, and 20 yards before picking off a pass and running it back for another score from 35, all in the first 15 minutes of the game, then that is a pretty cool moment that you will probably forget in a few years. If you are sitting next to his dad and get to say, "Excuse me, Mr. [Barry] Sanders, I just wanted to tell you that you are at least 67% of the reason that I like football. Thank you" then the chances of you forgetting that moment go down significantly.
  • Watching your beloved cousin perform the greatest rendition of Oklahoma that South High School has ever seen is nice, but if you get to heighten the experience by adding a kid who looks EXACTLY like a 5'6" Adam Morrison in a cowboy outfit trying so hard to dance that it looks like he is seconds away from soiling himself at all times, then you have reached a place of nearly Nirvana levels of happiness (the Buddhist utopia type, not the angsty/suicidal grunge type).
So there is the truncated account of our 3 day, 2519 mile, 265 gallon of gas expedition across the country. Any stories about crazy gas station attendees, panda bears, tricked out Vipers, and random casinos will have to be shared over a pint, preferably several. On to the OPRTA!

For those of you who have been keeping score at home, you know that we have never done worse than 5 losses in our epic efforts for the 12 team, $2500:1 parlay, which is not terrible (better than every ESPN analyst this year) but we have not gotten close enough to hit the jackpot. This week that changes. Here is your Parlay: Broncos +7, Colts -3.5, Bengals -14, Eagles -9.5, Dolphins -3.5, Seahawks -3, Falcons -13, Panthers +3, 49ers -3.5, Chargers -14, Vikings -11, and the Saints -3. Enjoy. As always the OPRTA is brought to you in conjunction with UA CatWrap.

For those of you who have not checked CatWrap out, they are a website that does all sorts of sports coverage, particularly through podcasts, recently breaking the 400 mark on their iTunes subscribers. They specialize in Wildcat related discussions, but they invited me on recently for a Pac-10 basketball preview. It is broken into 2 parts and up on their site now, and Bryant does a pretty good job of not letting me sound like too much of an idiot. Check it out if you get a chance!

Now I am going to go celebrate a traditional Thanksgiving, bringing the neighborhood together for a huge feast, everyone chipping in and lending a hand before I kill them all and take their land. Don't worry, I give all the left over kids a toy slot machine. Enjoy your holiday!

Are you ready for some BASKETBALL?

1:10 PM / Posted by Ryan / comments (3)

Yesterday I went for a walk with a familiar feeling of annoyance at the 90 degree weather, stopped and got a news paper and flipped through the sports page to find two articles about Arizona football. Then I get to the grocery store and I see full on, Chevy Chase enthusiasm level Christmas displays as soon as I step inside.

I don't know where I am.

What is today's date? What is going on? Is it September still? Is this hell? What is going on?!?

Let me break down for you how the year flows, chronologically, here in Tucson, from the moment that UA loses in the NCAA tournament. We have a set schedule. Unlike every other school on the planet, we know exactly where our season will end. In the tournament. I was 6 months old the last time we didn't go to the tournament. We KNOW how this ends, and as soon as it does two things happen, immediately: we begin berating the referees, the dirty opposing players, and defend vehemently our pick of Arizona to make the Final Four, and then we get on Rivals.com and start imagining what next year's team is going to look like. The debate begin on whether Player X should or will leave early,and this is a part that can get painful, as we picture what a senior Gilbert Arenas or Mike Bibby would have done on the college landscape. This rolls through the NBA draft as every single year we pump the first round 2-3 players, then we settle in to talk about the new recruits. For the next 6 months.

There will be a bit of a hiccup in the basketball coverage in September as everyone remembers that there is a football team on campus, but then someone like Oregon, Cal, or USC (or if we have been exceptionally naughty - Penn State) will roll into town and remind us that there really isn't a football team here. By October we are back into full swing in the anticipation of the real sporting season, and it is all basketball all the time.

This year our schedule got skewed a bit. We didn't have any new recruits. We didn't have a coach. There was the two months where we signed Miller, then he went on a recruiting whirlwind that was nothing short of extraordinary, and we were back on schedule. Then something unusual happened. Or rather, didn't happen. We didn't get shelled by {insert X Pac-10 football school here}. We were winning. Sometimes we even won emphatically. We were ranked. We were ranked higher than Oklahoma. We were favored in a November game by 35 points. Now this could be due to the most back weighted Pac-10 schedule we could have gotten, facing Oregon, Cal, and USC at the end of the year, setting us up to run to the top of the Pac conference standings before losing 3 straight games and being grateful to go to a bowl game and remembering that this football thing really isn't our game anyway, and wait basketball has already started?

Regardless of exactly how good the football team is, and all the drama surrounding our basketball program over the last 3 years, we are a basketball school. I for one have been counting the days until this Sunday, when we get to see exactly how much work Sean Miller has out for him this year. All that being said, here are some things that we know about the upcoming Pac-10 season:

  1. Down is relative: all the media has been saying all off-season is that this is going to ba down year for the Pac, that we might only get 2-3 teams into the dance, that there aren't any big time players to watch, to which we politely point out that this is the Pac-10. Down in the Pac-10 is still better than Big-10 basketball doing their best WNBA impersonation (lots of 'fundamentals' and 'defense' not a lot of dunking). This is the conference that spews out NBA All-Stars like they are PEZ candies. Put me down for at least 3 "upsets" in the Pac-10/Big-12 Hardwood Classic.
  2. You are looking at the wrong team from Oregon: In the previews that I have seen around our glorious interweb (ESPN, Yahoo, AllPac10), the consensus seems to be that Oregon State is the Team on the Rise in the Pac, and they are in the mix for one of the few spots experts are allotting the Pac in this year's tourney. Right across the state you will find the most balanced team in the conference, with the best big man, dangerous guards and some exciting wing play. Oregon is going to surprise some people this season. Even if their coach doesn't have the White House on his speed dial.
  3. Ben Howland can build a program: But can he run one? Building a program is different than running one. Building is setting things in motion, changing everything, doing things that are new and exciting, selling guys on how you want things done and selling the school on the team. Howland has shown that he can build a program, at NAU, at Pitt, and here at UCLA, but he has never stayed at a school for longer than 5 years. If Howland finds the balance of running the program after the honeymoon excitement of building it fades, then UCLA is going to be scary for a long time. If he doesn't, then they flounder into relative mediocrity and he rides out his sweet 6 year extension on the laurels he earned in those thrilling first five years.
  4. Freshman will steal the show: Alright, maybe this isn't much of a revelation as this conference lost 6 first rounders in last year's draft, leaving a bit of a talent vacuum, but this is what I know: the Freshman of the Year race will be more exciting than the Player of the the Year. Between Jamil Wilson at Oregon, Abdul Gaddy at UW, Tyler Honeycutt at UCLA, and the Frosh Five at UA, these young players are the reason that "down year" in the Pac doesn't mean what it does to other conferences.
  5. Arizona will be better than they should be: Maybe I can't not believe in the Wildcats. It is possible. I have filled out 20 consecutive NCAA brackets where I wrote Arizona in the center square and worked my way backward from there, so maybe I am sipping the Kool-Aid a little heavy. Maybe. Three quick reasons I think we make a run at the tourney and a top 4 finish in the conference:
- Sean Miller is the right coach. It took us a while, but when we made the best move we could have made. Miller likes to run, and he will find a crowd who is completely on board with that and feeds into it. If he gets these kids, and he has the athletes, to play some defense, the Cats could cause some headaches for teams, especially the guard heavy teams at the top of the conference.
- These are the right recruits. As much as it pains me to get behind a guy from NY named Momo, I think he could be the perfect storm of a rebuilding recruit. he is charismatic and makes everyone else happy to be here (little known rule of basketball, especially college basketball - happy teams win more), and he makes other kids want to come here. On top of that, the kid can play both back court positions, and looks like he might actually enjoy defending, which will make him and Wise a pain to deal with.
- This is the right year. While the Pac-10 is always going to be talent heavy, there is not a lot of balance in the teams this year. There is no Love/Collison, Hill/Budinger combos that kill you one way or the other. In a year where with some good game management (and our boy can manage a game) we will be able to steal some games people don't think we should.
So there is our little teaser of a Pac-10 preview. If you want to get the double barrels of what we think, we went deep with our OPRTA partner UACatWrap in a two part podcast where we dig into every possible angle of the upcoming season. If you haven't checked them out yet, do so. You can find them on iTunes or just hit the link above. They have some people who really know their stuff, present company excluded. Speaking of our OPRTA, here is this week's One Parlay to Rule Them All, One Parlay to find them, One Parlay to bring them all, and in your pocket bind them:

49ers -3.5 Bears - we threw this out there before the Cutler Bomb last night
Jags +7 Jets - the Jets are broken. Look for 200 rushing yards for the Jags.
Broncos -4 Skins - I wouldn't give the Skins a 4 point spread against UC Boulder, let alone the Not Dead Yet Broncos
Bengals +7 Steelers - Um, maybe the Bengals are good? Maybe Benson is actually ready to be the back we thought he could be? Maybe Carson Palmer is recovered? Maybe Ochocinco isn't crazy? I am confident of three of those, and that should be enough to cover 7.
Titans -7 Bills - Right now I would take almost any line for almost any team against the Bills.
Vikings -17 Lions - Bye week=rested 40 year old arm. Rested arm=bad week for Detroit
Saints -14 Rams - See the above logic on the Bills. Add Drew Brees.
Falcons -2 Panthers - The Falcons are not bad! Steve Smith is actually considering car bombing Delhomme's house! How is this line 2 points?!?!
Dolphins -10 Bucs - Ok, the wildcat didn't work on the Belichick. Raheem Morris is not Belichick.
Oakland -2 KC - This game has the same line as the Falcons/Panthers. I still don't get it. Oh, and I hate this game, but we had to pick someone, since the 49ers pick was technically late and we want to keep the 12 team parlay rolling. Sidenote - we have gone 7-5 every week. Here's to upping the percentages.
Cards -9 Seahawks - Who has more yards here: Fitzgerald or the entire Seahawks offense? We won't even count penalty yards against them.
Chargers -3 Eagles - And I am reminded all over again why I always tried to trade McNabb after week 6.
Cowboys -3 GB - The Packers lost to Tampa Bay. I didn't think that my high school could lose to Tampa Bay. This might be the game that Aaron Rodgers pulls a Milton Bradley and throws his helmet into a wall before breaking a hand smashing every water cooler in sight.

The Absolutely, End-of-the-Conversation, Perfect Football Team.

7:25 PM / Posted by Ryan / comments (1)

I have said some fairly outrageous things in my time, I would be the first to admit. Well, Alan would probably be the first to admit it, readily seconded by a few others, but I do at least admit it. I will make claims, particularly about soccer, and wait for them to be disproven. Some of the more outrageous claims were truly indefensible. I once argued vehemently that David Beckham was better than Zinedine Zidane.

I know.

I'm sorry.

I was young and stupid.

I do believe in being as hyperbolic as possible, and taking as extreme a position as I can so that I find the most opposition. Generally, this results in a dialectic compromise along these lines: Becks is better than Zidane-> Zidane is the best player to ever lace up and Beckham isn't even good enough to start for the US-> Zidane is great, but Becks is a pretty good player in his own right, and at more than just set pieces. This team is the result of thousands of conversations along those lines, battered out over hundreds of pints and millions of minutes of football footage. This is the Absolutely, End-of-the-Conversation, Perfect Football team.

Keeper - Lev Yashin

I'll take the Black Spider, the only keeper to win European Footballer of the year, and his 150 penalty saves to lock up my net. He revolutionized the position, and had he played for a major club in Europe there would be no conversation here. There still isn't much of one.

Center Back - Franz Beckenbauer, Captain

Books have been written about the quality and elegance of Der Kaiser's game, but personally I just like the moxie of the 18 year old kid who got banned from the national team for declaring he had no intention of marrying his pregnant girlfriend. Ok, I like his game a little bit, too. Pretty much invented the libero, and could get forward from the central defense better than anyone.

I toyed with the idea of going Bill Russell here and running Franz as a player coach, as of all of the players on this team he is the only one who is nearly as accomplished off the field as he was on it. I settled for just giving him the armband. Even on this team of legends the tremendous weight of silverware that Beckenbauer took home while captaaining both club and country is truly impressive.

Center Back - Franco Baresi

While surrendering a bit of height here I like the idea of partnering Beckenbauer with a pacy center back who is comfortable solving problems on his own so I can really push my wing backs on. As a bonus, if Beckenbauer is not the the most tenacious man marker in the history of the game, then Baresi is. Between the two of them I could have the flexibility of switching between zone and man marking indiscriminately.

Right Back - Cafu

There are a few right backs who have the quality to play with this group, such as Santos, or Kaltz (there are even those who will voraciously defend the claim that Kaltz invented bending the ball, and that alone merits a place on this team), but I want to really get after the other team and no back has ever gotten forward with the eagerness and quality that Cafu did. He was a terror foraging down the wing.

Left Back - Paolo Maldini

Let me explain to you how this selection process worked in the hammering out of this team. Someone would throw out a position and in a matter of minutes a list of possible players would form, and be whittled away to the best for the way I wanted the team to play. Except at left back. At left back there was no list. There was just Maldini.

One thing we were sure of is that there was a spot for Maldini on this field, whether it was at holding mid, central defense, or out on the wing, but there was a spot. he could play at any of those positions, but the replacement player out on the wing would not be as high quality as the replacement players at any of the other positions, so here he is. Only two backs have ever won European Footballer of the Year twice, and with Beckenbauer and Maldini our back line boasts the pair of them.

Holding Midfielder - Steven Gerrard

This was the hardest position to field. Such is the quality of the attacking players on the pitch in front of him, all I want is a ball winner who can play out respectably. The quality and ferocity of Mattheus is hard to deny, and Makelele basically perfected this role, and Viera was the key to the attacking freedom of both Arsenal and France in the 90's, but this is my team and it had to be Gerrard.

As he has demonstrated over the years on the national team, Gerrard would be willing to defer to the brilliance around him. He is a terrifying tackler and has the biggest engine I have ever seen. Settled into this role, he would give us the freedom to go forward with what would in any other case be reckless abandon.

Attacking Midfielder - Zinedine Zidane

I have come a long way from the crowded bar where I first denigrated Zidane in favor of Beckham. I was ignorant. I have since put in the time. I watched the YouTube clips. I watched the Cup matches. I bootlegged the movie. Slowly, but somehow very suddenly, I fell in love, the way it suddenly dawns on the protagonist in a Hugh Grant film that they are madly in love with the very person they were trying so hard to despise. I loved his touch, his vision, his speed, but it might have been his temper that I loved the most. At the end of the day there is never any doubt that if one of the players on the other team puts a rough challenge on you Zidane is going to even the score. Maybe he just decks the guy. Maybe he puts both of his cleats directly through the guys knee. Either way.

Left Wing - Johan Cruyff

This was another position that I had a hard time with. My appreciation of Ryan Giggs has been noted. George Best is a hard man to leave off the field. Ronaldihno even had a pretty good case for a few years. At the end of the day, though, the most decorated European footballer in history has to be on this team and this is a great place for him to run at players with pace and serve.

Right Wing - Manuel Fransisco dos Santos, aka Garrincha"Little Bird"

The drinking and the partying and the not playing in Europe or America hurt the general appreciation of el Anjo de Pernas Tortas (the Angel with Bent Legs). With the deformed spine, legs of different shape and length, this dervish was so sought after that Inter, AC Milan, and Juventus tried to joint-sign him, having him spend a season with each, but Garrincha was content to stay at home. Through the '58 and '62 Cups Garrincha was arguably the best player in the tournament.

Striker - Diego Armondo Maradona

Sitting a little withdrawn behind his strike partner to better run at the defense, this could never be anyone but Maradona. All the headlines of the drug use, and the belligerence, and Hand of God could not take away the brilliance this man brought forth almost every single time he stepped on the field. Maradona might hold the record in any sport for number of times he made you literally catch you breath, waiting and wondering what he was going to do next. You could argue for years, as people have and will, whether he was the best to ever play the game, but I don't have to do that here. The team fields 11 players, so I get to have them both.

Striker - Edson Arantes do Nascimento, aka Pele

This is my favorite Pele moment: playing against Uruguay in '70 a ball is played through on the ground and Pele is in clear behind the defense. The keeper comes flying out at him and Pele just runs right over the ball, dummying it past the keeper who has no idea what has just happened and sits down in confusion to try and sort it out. The ball glides on to the keeper's left as Pele circles around his right to join it behind the keeper in front of an empty net, beating him without ever touching the ball. Then he missed the goal. And laughed.


The number of players who get left off this team is unfortunate, indeed. The few that we can squeeze in reserve roles are: Peter Schmeichel, Lothar Mattheus, Michel Platini, Alfredo Di Stefano, and George Best.

That's our team. Perfect. Speaking of perfect, here is the One Parlay to Rule Them All:
Ravens, Texans, Falcons, Packers, 49ers, Cardinals, Dolphins, Eagles, Seahawks, Saints, and the Steelers.

Celebration of the Bathroom Anthem

3:24 PM / Posted by Ryan / comments (1)

Some weeks are more frustrating than others. This was one such a week. On top of the being sick, and the not-catching-any-freaking-fish, and the being broke, and the car threatening to kick it for the final time any day now, my phone decided to take a break from the world of functionality. My phone serves as my alarm clock, so if I was supposed to wake up at 7 am to have breakfast with you, now you understand why I did not make it.

If you were wondering why I didn't call to explain and apologize, please see the previous paragraph.

My phone also serves as my internet connection, otherwise this would have been posted on Friday giving you all plenty of time to get on board with this week's One Parlay to Rule Them All. In case you were wondering who we went with (bold selections are officially endorsed by UA CatWrap), check out the inset.

- Houston is good. Buffalo is awful. 3 point spread? No brainer.

- Da'Bears mutilate another terrible team, we would take this at 20 points.

- Lions win the Battle of the Bottom.

- Giants recover better than the Eagles.

- Jaguars add to the Titans’ misery. Sims-Walker might half to hyphenate his stat line on this one.

- Minnesota, because Farve wins big games. Well, early in the year. And Green Bay actually brought in some of UW’s o-line for the weekend, as an upgrade.

- Crapshoot Cowboys either cover or lose by 24. We say cover.

- 49ers are not 13.5 points bad. Maybe 5, but let’s not let the Manning Machine get us too carried away.

- Dolphins, partially because I have Ronnie Brown on my fantasy team, but also because everyone else wishes they did, too.

- Raiders are baad, but San Diego hasn’t made me think they should get 17 points on anyone.

- Broncos – I’ll ride it until it breaks.

- Saints: follow my math on this. Drew Brees > everyone on the Dallas Cowboys. Could be another game where he goes for 6 or 10 td’s.

In any event, weeks like this last one bring me to a place where little things that annoy me can push me over the top. The guy who doesn’t turn off his bright while riding inches off my tailpipe might get a Gatorade bottle off the windshield (which may or may not be filled with Gatorade). The kid who doesn’t understand offsides might get dragged into position by the throat, repeatedly.

The thing that really might get me to go Ted Kaczynski, though, is the public broadcasting of bodily functions. I have this thing. If it is produced within your body, be it liquid, solid or gaseous, then it should stay in your body around other people. Spitting (yes, sunflower seeds count, unless you are at a sporting event, and even then, you better be wearing pinstripes), belching, farting, coughing, whatever it is either go to the bathroom or hold it. When we are at the table I don’t want to hear you extricating your teeth from whatever sticky morsel you popped in, nor can I share your appreciation of a dish by your broadcasting it.

All of this to say, don’t be so gross. Keep it to yourself. It’s easy.

Given my particular disgust of this sort of thing, there is one place that is an absolute hell for me: multi-person restrooms. There is nothing worse that hearing the person next to you struggle heroically to evacuate his bowels, unless it is the projectile, splashing and gaseous sounds that accompany a success. I would rather take a nine hour flight with a colic ridden nursery.

This is why bathroom music is a life saver. It should be a federal law that if you have a multi-person restroom you should be obligated to provide music to avoid sharing moments where a person can’t turn off the lower fountain.

I am not talking about elevator music, though. I don’t want to hear you wax diuretic, but I am all in favor of making people uncomfortable in other ways. I would break the Greatest Bathroom Anthem List into the following categories for maximum awkwardness while still alleviating the unnecessary horror:

Creepy Stalker Songs

Imagine sitting down and hearing Tiffany’s I Think We’re Alone Now. Do you get a little weirded out? Other songs that score high on the creep factor include: I Touch Myself, You Are Not Alone, Somebody’s Watching Me, and Clay Aiken’s stalker classic - Invisible.

Bathroom Suggestive Helpers

There are always times when we can use a little encouragement, and the john is no different. That’s where Tubthumping, Waterfall, and Push It come in handy. Looking out for you.

Britney Spears’ Category of songs that you can’t get out of your head with anything short of a shotgun, and you’re considering going there

This is just to be mean, but I would make at least half of the songs ones that will stick with you the rest of the day. Not cool ones like Wonderwall, but obnoxious songs like It’s a Small World, or the Song That Never Ends, the Macarena, Barbie Girl or anything from Britney’s first album.

If you have some other suggestions, we’d love to hear them. Hit up the comment box.

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