Who's Dawggin' For Some Hokies? It's Championship Game Time!

Right, so it's the last week of the regular season, which means that in conferences across America (other than the Big XII and Big East, we're going to be playing some Championship Games.

And the VFA will be making some predictions, people.....


West Virginia at South Florida

Can West Virginia win on the road in a place they've lost two out of three? Can South Florida quarterback BJ Daniels get off the hospital bed and recusitate the Bulls, who have lost their last two and are in danger of missing out on a bowl bid? Thursday night might actually be interesting, folks! 

PREDICTION: West Virginia wins by 14.


UCLA vs Oregon (Pac-12 Championship Game)

Only a school like UCLA could fire Rick Neuheisel just before one of the biggest games in the school's recent history (albeit non-deserved after their 50-0 hammering by USC last week). They could have waited to get thrashed by Oregon, and THEN fired him. On Friday night, this isn't going to be pretty, folks. 

PREDICTION: Oregon by 50.

Ohio vs Northern Illinois (MAC Championship Game)

These two sides haven't exactly featured on the VFA this season, but after seeing the numbers for NI quarterback Chandler Harnish, we ought to have. Harnish - the second coming of Robert Griffin III- has thrown for 2,600 yards and 23 TDs for the Huskies, and run for 1,351 yards and 11 more this season for the 9-3 Huskies, who have been a lot of fun to watch. Ohio hasn't been awful this season, posting up a pretty solid defence and its own high-calibre offence, with Tyler Tettleton throwing for 2,686 yards and 26 TDs and run for 576 yards and 8 more. In short, both sides know how to score.

PREDICTION: That's why it's going to be high-scoring. The first to 50 will win. And we're going for Northern Illinois to reach that mark (just) before Ohio does.


LSU vs Georgia (SEC Championship Game)

While the VFA's Dawgs-supporting friends have been comparing the build-up to this game as walking into the corridors of hell, but can't help but think that Georgia has a chance here. First of all, LSU hasn't faced as good as quarterback as Aaron Murray all year. Murray's been improving week after week, and his excellent showing at Georgia Tech against a dangerous Jackets team gives good reason to be in heart. Running-wise, Isaiah Crowell can cause trouble for any defence (if he's fit) and Georgia's receivers are pretty good, too (TE Orson Charles and WRs Tavarres King and Malcolm Mitchell can cause problems).
But then again, this is LSU. LSU is good at playing ranked teams - they're 7-0 against them. Away games (which we count the game in Atlanta to be one of these ones!)? They are even better. If you don't believe us, think back to the road war at Alabama and the super-hostile trip to Couch Burn Central in West Virginia. Jordan Jefferson might not be the best quarterback in the league, but he's mobile and will cause Georgia's defence problems. Spencer Ware's going to simply wear them down. And if Aaron Murray tries to throw it over the top, then Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Clairborne will snap the ball up any mistake on the other side. Oh, and the defensive line eats quarterbacks for breakfast, and Aaron Murray's looking like eggs 'n' grits right now.
If Georgia is to win the game, they've got to continue being positive on every drive. For long parts of this season, they've taken the lead and tried to defend it, and looked awkward doing so (see Vanderbilt and, er, Kentucky for details). For LSU to win, they've got to continue, being LSU.

PREDICTION: LSU wins, but this game's going to be close.

Wisconsin vs Michigan State (Big Ten Championship Game)

This game was one of the most exciting games of the 2011 season in East Lansing (who DOESN'T remember THAT Hail Mary, folks), and it destroyed Wisconsin's hopes of going to a National Championship Game.
In our opinion, Wisconsin is still one of the best teams in college football. After all, it was just two Hail Mary's away from going there. Russell Wilson's been a legit Heisman QB all year long, and Montee Ball's can run the ball down your throat.
As for Michigan State, Kirk Cousins needs to be consistent, and the Michigan State defence needs to behave itself - and be very, very good (look what they did to Denard Robinson this year (the good bits and the bad bits!).

PREDICTION: Wisconsin wins - by a field goal.

Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State (De-Facto Big XII Championship Game)

Bedlam. The smell of hatred flows out of its pores. Especially between these two - who both had the chance to be in the National Championship conversation this year. After beating Florida State on the road, OU managed to shoot itself in the foot twice this season (that's why they aren't going to the National Championship Game), and after overcoming a tough road trip at Texas A&M and Texas, Oklahoma State inexplicably managed to lose at home to Iowa State (and that's why THEY aren't going to the National Championship Game). The injury to Ryan Broyles has been a killer for the Sooners, while the defence at times this year simply hasn't shown up - particularly during the end of the year. Against the Cowboys and the Brandon Weedon-led offense, the 'Sharks' are going to have to own a big bite. Justin Blackmon's a pretty good receiver, after all. Oh, and the Cowboys better watch out for the Landry Jones - Kenny Stills hook-up, too.

PREDICTION: Oklahoma State wins by 3 in a classic. 

Virginia Tech at Clemson

The last time these two teams played, Clemson won comfortably in Hokie Stadium 23-3. Since, then, Virginia Tech hasn't lost and Clemson has been its usual unpredictable self, losing the last three out of four against Georgia Tech, South Carolina and stunningly, NC State. And while Tiger fans will point out that the Tigers already had the Coastal sown up after squeaking past Wake Forest, cynics like me - who saw a lot of Clemson this year - will point out that they've been pretty mediocre since mid-October.
Virginia Tech, on the other hand - have got Logan Thomas who'll cause trouble for the Clemson 'D', as well as their own defense, which many think will easily overcome Tajh Boyd and record-setting wide receiver Sammy Watkins.

PREDICTION: Virginia Tech by 14.

Southern Miss at Houston (Conference USA Championship Game)

Houston has trashed everyone who's gotten in their way this year, and there's no real reason why we think that Southern Miss - despite owning a tidy 10-2 record and a No.24 ranking themselves - should stop Case Keenum & Co on Saturday.

PREDICTION: Houston by 21

Texas at Baylor

If there's anything that we've actually enjoyed this college football season, it's been Robert Griffin III and this Baylor team. This Baylor team has been fun to watch, starting with their stunning victory against TCU and going on and on with every week. If there's any person who's made it, it's been RGIII. Texas, on the other hand, have had their second straight season of ugly football, and we don't know what quite to say about the Longhorns except that if this keeps out, Mack Brown had better start brushing up his resume. With A&M now in the SEC, the 'Horns have some massive competition recruiting-wise, and they can't afford to make mistakes.

PREDICTION: Baylor by 10, crowning an incredible season 

At last you're back, Mike Leach

If the rumors are true, Mike Leach is back in charge of a college football team, and suddenly 2011 has just become a little bit better.

Mike Leach will - according to ESPN - be named the coach of Washington State rather soon, despite the vast improvement in 2011 of Paul Wulff's Cougars. 

Mind you, the word "improvement" is something of a misnomer for Wulff, who's Cougars managed just nine wins in - get this - four seasons. They were so bad that even New Mexico State and New Mexico had valid arguments about who was the worst side in football. And ESPN.com "The Bottom 10"was Wazzu real estate. 

But while Leach probably won't do anything in the short term (we're not expecting WSU to be bowl-worthy in 2012), we do expect some better things - especially on offence. Leach's Texas Tech teams were synonymous with the terms "Throw the ball" and "Scare the Hell out of defences", and he could put good wide receivers in the pros - look at Michael Crabtree for example. We expect Washington State to take little bits of recruiting away from Washington, Oregon and Oregon State, and maybe even compete in California too - despite the presence of Stanford and some school called USC.

The biggest problem for Leach might be recognition. You can be sure that ESPN's not going to make a huge effort in Leach's direction (because Craig James - the man who helped to get him fired at Texas Tech for allegedly confining his son into a small, dark place after he sustained a concussion) is so well installed at the Bristol table), and they OWN college football. Nor are the writers after the first few games. Washington State's been off the map for years, and probably will be from years to come. 

Personally, we'd love Gameday to come up to Pullman next year - if anything so we can get a break from the now-monotonous trips to Autzen!

Survival Mode

About a week and a half ago, I thought things seemed to be settling down a bit.  The kids weren't fighting as much and seemed to be a wee bit less demanding.  Steve and I were getting along well. I was busy at work but getting lots done. I even found a little bit of time for myself.  I briefly remember thinking, "This is not so bad."

What that brief time period was however, was a calm before yet another storm.

Steve’s mom had open heart surgery a week ago. Both my kids got sick. I got bombed with projects at work.

Balancing life is difficult. Balancing life when a family member has had major surgery, both kids are sick, working full time and wanting to actually keep from getting fired and not getting a divorce is really difficult.

I have found myself in survival mode. Reassessing what’s really important and doing things that HAVE to be done, while letting other things go.

The kids miss the odd bath. We eat meals on the fly or have take out. My exercise routine is out the window and I have to find a way to be ok with that – I tell myself I will get it back. We all sleep together in one bed. I miss some work. We miss a lot of sleep. We spend money we hadn’t planned on spending on hospital parking and expensive medication. We use vacation days we thought we’d use at Christmas. Food stays crushed on the floor for days. Dishes pile up. Laundry makes a mountain. I don’t have time to read or write. There is zero time to be social. Phone calls are short and to the point. I give in and don't argue with things I would normally stand up for. 

I’m exhausted, stressed and frustrated, on a level higher than I’m used to so if I don’t make some concessions, I will fall apart.

I have made an effort to seek comfort in small things. Like the organic mandarin that I was given this morning, which may well have been the most delicious tasting orange I have ever tasted. Or the cup of steaming hot Tim Horton’s coffee I grabbed this morning when I was already late for work. The deep sleep I fell into at 8pm last night once I got my kids settled into bed (even if it was disrupted a short hour later). The giggle I get when my son does something purposely to make me smile. The little hug I get from my pitifully sick daughter when she’s limply lying in my arms.

We will see a light at the end of the tunnel. This is not forever. Things will improve – they always do.

In the meantime, telling myself that I am in a temporary survival mode and I am PURPOSELY doing all these things helps me keep my control issues in check and makes me think I am still somewhat in control of the things that are happening in my life.
Potential cool news ahead, stay tuned......

Side note: everyone pray for our house to sell. (not related to above cool news)

I probably won't write until Tuesday.

Wow. A Rivalry Weekend That Actually Let Down: Week 13 Thoughts

"Rivalry weekend" - the weekend of Thanksgiving - is always a weekend I look forward to. There are great rivalries (and great names for rivalries) all over the shop. We couldn't wait.

But this year, it was different. Sure, the games existed. But apart from Texas- Texas A&M on Thursday night, which games really lit you on fire? The high-scoring Michigan 40, Ohio State 34 must have been up there, but the biggest headline otherwise was Alabama ripping apart Auburn in the Iron Bowl and LSU (who doesn't have a team to pick on, unless you count Tulane or Louisiana-Lafayette) hammered Arkansas  in a game that went from potential upset to absolute wreckage.

Anyway, here's who impressed us and depressed us.



Ended a seven-year hex by beating Michigan. Sadly for the Wolverines, it's since been announced that Urban Meyer's going to take control of the Buckeyes, which means that it could be a long wait for the Wolverines to get their next win. But with Brady Hoke in charge, the game's sure are going to be closer!

Robert Griffin III (ahem, Baylor)

Robert Griffin got a shoulder to the head in an awful clash against Texas Tech. He got up, shook it off, and ran in the touchdown a few minutes' later. He was then taken off for the rest of the game. If you want a 'Player Of The Year' and 'True Difference Maker To His Team', it's RGIII. Sorry, Andrew Luck and Trent Richardson.


Down nine and looking awful, Texas got a bit of luck in the final drive and played out of their minds of defense to win for one last time 27-25 in the best game of the long weekend. I - like many others out there - are pissed that this game's not going to be played anymore. Come on Jerry Jones, bring out your wallet!


We called for Georgia to lose against Georgia Tech, but the Bulldogs rambled the wreck in a 31-17 victory, behind a near-perfect game from one Aaron Murray, who's the best quarterback in the SEC. And this was WITHOUT running back sensation Isaiah Crowell, who has an ankle injury. Mark Richt is forgiven! Yaaay! And while Georgia fans have already informed the VFA that SEC Championship Game week is like walking into a den of sharks baying for blood, we think that the game against LSU is going to be closer than many think. The defense is THAT good, folks.


The Tigers went from 14-0 down to absolutely destroy 3rd-ranked Arkansas. Impressive? This was an incredible performance of the highest order. The only thing that wasn't so cool was Les Miles not letting Jarrett Lee take over the final quarter for Senior Day - even though the game was over by then. Oh and Tyrann Mathieu? Take a bow, Honey Badger!


Before the Bruins game we had this thought: "If the Trojans hadn't gotten into all that trouble, we're absolutely convinced that they would have been in the discussion for the National Title." The 50-0 nuking of UCLA didn't make us feel any differently, either.


Two freaking Hail Marys, and Wisconsin probably would have been No.2 and been one win away from the National Championship Game. They deserve more recognition....especially after hammering Penn State at Camp Randall.


It's hard to be impressed by a team who beats someone as defensively awful as Auburn, but hey, rivalry games are rivalry games, aren't they?

North Carolina State

Scored 35 POINTS in the fourth quarter to beat Maryland 56-41. Thanks for coaching, Randy Edsall.


Ohio State

Scoring 34 points and still losing to your most hated rival must have made Ohio State really, really bitter. That was, until the news of a certain former Florida Gators coach came through.

Texas A&M

The Aggies will blame the refs, but frankly, I think Ryan Tannehill had his eyes on that beautiful fiancee of his, who is a budding model, we understand. That lady - and her smoking hotness - ruined Texas A&M's chances of beating 'Varsity' one last time - mainly because Tannehill couldn't actually find his receivers for a majority of the game. Oh, and the refs didn't help, either.


At 14-0, we were looking at a monster, monster upset. 41 points later, and the only thing we could say about the Razorbacks is this: You're a long, long way behind LSU, boys.

Penn State

One word: Ouch.

We Don't Give A Damn Now: Urban Meyer to Ohio State

Less than a year after he left the Florida family to retire because of the stress, Urban Meyer is back as a coach - at Ohio State.

While coaching at Ohio State will have its own problems for the short-term future, the hire is brilliant for the Buckeyes in terms of putting them back on the National scale.

Meyer is a recruiter par excellence, and we look forward to seeing him back in the Big Ten - although we appreciate that in a few years of some success, he'll be out again, citing family reasons.

Tudor Lodge: 'a most desirable property'

Tudor Lodge were one of many hardworking folk bands whose name would have been well-known to gig-goers (and readers of Melody Maker's 'Folk Forum') in the early 70s. Here's a management ad from 1970:

On July 25th 1970  Melody Maker ran this rare feature about the trio:

Their sole album didn't appear for another full year. Here's its amazing fold-out sleeve:

The LP has become one of several expensive Vertigo obscurities that divide people. Some consider it a folk classic, while others find it insipid. Contemporary reviewers had the same problem. 'In order to strengthen the impact of their music, a surplus of orchestration has been added,' griped Melody Maker on August 21st 1971. 'More often than not this is superfluous. There is a lack of aggression and variation of mood within the basic framework of the music. If more of the album had relied on the guts of rock accompaniment, then it would have been improved.' Disc & Music Echo were somewhat keener on September 4th, writing that 'Tudor Lodge have put up a good show for their first album, and come over as completely unpretentious. The trio have had a lot of experience in folk clubs, and it's paid off for them... The entire album is well thought-out and presented.' Sounds, however, was less convinced. 'I'm afraid the recording just doesn't do justice to this fine trio,' it carped on October 23rd. 'The arrangements are exteremly pretty, but whilst I'm in favour of some albums being deliberately cooked slightly under, producer Terry Brown seems to have gone too far, and in doing so has detracted from the impact of the Tudors.'

The upshot was that barely anyone bought it, causing a perfect copy to sell on eBay in October 2010 for over £2000.
It was a craigslist marathon selling day for Jennie and the carport is much clearer. We sold a boat trailer, a couch, and an old 35hp motor today. Plus Jennie put a couple old bedside tables in the alley and they were gone in two hrs. Pretty awesome stuff.

Bear warning signage went up around town, we already knew. Dexter has a little more confidence going outside, except when it's really dark. What a fierce pit bull we have.

We are also starting to throw out some offers on boats, and see what kind of response we receive. Sure they may seem low, but what a holiday gift to be able to get rid of the boat that you have been trying to sell for two years and have spent 20k on during that time, and yet it has still gone down in value. Here's hoping. Oh we are also hoping that someone wants to buy our condo soon, the market dropped off here during September and October, but it appears to be picking up at least from the point of view at the bank.

A side note on boat ownership including the entrance and exit of this foray. There is a saying that the two best days in a boat owner's life are the day you buy the boat and the day you sell it. Those same people probably represent the 50% of the population that gets divorced.

The day you buy a boat is a very intimidating day, all of a sudden you have a great responsibility and endless work. The day you sell it, you leave something in which you grew with.  You need to firmly make the decision that it is time to sell or buy, and live with that. None of the emotions of the purchase can compare with the first time you put the rail in the water, or a nice sunny day with 15knots on a beam reach. However, some people take buying and selling to heart. From our previous experience you really need to be rational, and very few are. My suggestion if you are an emotional buyer or seller is to get a broker otherwise you may have a heart attack from the stress. We had a gentleman call us stupid cause after our initial query into his boat he gave off the impression that he was not very interested in selling his boat, he wanted to get his money back that he "invested" into it, and that he was not going to budge on his price. I just sent an email back saying hey buddy, it appears any offer I give you will be taken as an insult, good luck. He never did ask what our offer was, and he may not ever get that price for his boat.

Some tips:

To Sellers:
-No emotion, if you want to sell a boat you have to take what the market will give you
-boats are not an investment, you will lose money, and it is worth it
-at least get offers, and start bargaining, the first one will always be the best one in the end
-Price your boat just under the rest of your type in the category you will get more interested people looking at it and traffic is key.
-if you price to high no one will look, if you price to low, you need to have more than one bidder to get the best price, and that doesn't happen often with boats
-all that extra work you put in will make people want to buy it, but the price will not go up
-understand your carrying costs (moorage and upkeep) and average days on the market you will have to drop by this much immediately upon negotiation
-you will probably feel screwed over by the buyer, but now you can move on with your life, and do move on

To Buyers
-When buying offer low, you can always go down, but it requires sound reasoning
-There are tons of boats out there, you should be aware and so should the seller, if they don't want an offer they're not really into selling their boat.
-if the seller is insulted by your offer, leave. They will be twice as bitter when you return in 6 months with a fatter wallet and offer them less which they will probably have to take or their wife will divorce them
-Try to talk to a reasonable party, if it's a couple get to the one who wants to sell
-offer what you feel it's worth and justify the price with financial reasoning $$$$$ (start with the survey estimated market value and go down by costs, just use a few so you have more for counter offers)
-if the seller won't provide you with their survey and answer all you questions sincerely, just walk away

And the biggest negotiating power that makes it a buyers market all the time, boats cost money to keep. As a buyer you can always walk away until ownership changes; as a seller you can't walk away.

We are trying to think of ideas for our blog, let us know if you know of anything neat.


part of husband's missouri family came, as did others from the area, converging in san ramon. fortunately we will get to see the "kids" in september for the next wedding back in st. charles. yummy food, excellent company, charades, etc. we may not get to see them often, but for the time we did have together, i am grateful.

Two nights ago there was an animal party in the front yard. Dexter always has to be let out to pee before bed time. Tuesday night was a dark, rainy, windy night; neither of us wanted to get up to let Dex pee, but eventually Jennie did after a fierce game of dibs not.

lying in bed all of a sudden all hell breaks loose in our 25ft by 40ft yard full of trees and bushes. Dexter starts running around like a black shadow in the night. Something runs around the side of the house smashing through the little gate, Jennie and I are yelling at the D to get back inside. A raccoon twice the size of Dexter runs up a tree, and small black bear is taking it all in. I guess we should have cleaned up the fallen apples from the apple tree...oops.

Dexter finally comes inside, and is totally amped and cover in mud. Thankfully no bleeding, raccoons are notoriously vicious. Dexter had not peed, and he didn't until Jennie went outside in the morning to check it out first. He didn't go number two for a day and a half he was so scared a bunch of wild animals would jump him.

Very comical, but we're just glad that Dexter is not hurt. Good thing mama bear was not in the yard too, or worse a skunk.
Jennie and I are slowly wadding into the boat buying and selling world again.....I really want to buy this one for keeps, the stress of negotiating prices on chattels that people may or may not hold so close to their heart is nerve racking. So we're heading into this one with our head up, slowly, and with a lot more experience under our belt. So we're just getting our energy level and confidence back up to start heading into the dragon's den again.

The boats we like are full cut away keel, heavy displacement hulls, with classic looks; Cabo Rico's, Hans Christians, and Tayanas. Finding one is easy, but finding one that someone actually wants to sell at a reasonable price is not easy. However, we've been to this rodeo before. Wish us luck in our efforts, and hopefully calmer heads will prevail.

After owning our first boat, I realized it is so important to love the look of your boat. Like a trophy wife, it's gonna cost you tons of money, she might as well look good. Here are some pics.

Read This And Think About Turkey: College Football Thanksgiving Weekend Predictions

Right, it's turkey weekend. It's the long weekend when we all obliterate our minds watching way too much pigskin and eating and drinking way, way too much, and then staying in.

In the world of college football, it should be a great weekend for rivalries (Ohio State-Michigan/ Texas-Texas A&M/ Alabama - Auburn/ Georgia-Georgia Tech/ Clemson-South Carolina) as well as monster games in the (deep breath) SEC (Arkansas - LSU) and Big Ten (Penn State - Wisconsin).

We can't wait. And here are our predictions. And as it's one of the last weeks of the season, there will be a lot of them.


Texas at Texas A&M

What makes me angry is that this is going to be the last game between the two sides on Thanksgiving for the forseeable future. It's one of the greatest rivalries on the college football calendar, and the games lately have been sensational. So what happens? The Aggies run off to the SEC (where they'll be medicore and uncompetitive) from the Big XII (where they've been fun to watch, but still mediocre), and Texas stays with its Longhorn Network (Note: Not available in Memorial Stadium). Bragging rights, anybody? PREDICTION: Texas A&M wins by 3 in a game that sees the Aggies (as usual) blow a 10-point lead.


Arkansas at LSU

The biggest game of the season for Arkansas and suddenly a massive one for LSU, bearing in mind the BCS standings that sees this game as a 1 vs 3 match-up. We've been reminded by friends NOT to sleep on Arkansas - and especially their wide receivers, and we'll be interested to see how Tyrann Mathieu and THAT LSU secondary plays against a good quarterback - the first they will have played this year (because if we're honest, there's one good QB in the SEC apart from the Razorbacks' Tyler Wilson, and that's Georgia's Aaron Murray). PREDICTION: LSU wins by 10, in a game closer than many predict.

Iowa at Nebraska

Both sides ain't going to be going to the Big Ten Championship Game, but fans of both teams emerge from the corn to root for their team in the Battle Of The Corn, in what could be a rivalry for the ages (if the Big Ten designate this one as such). Nebraska's defense better improve after last week's effort against Denard Robinson, though. PREDICTION: Nebraska wins by 7

Pittsburgh at West Virginia

West Virginia ain't winning the Big East this year, but if they win their case, they won't be playing in the Big East next year, either. Having said that, let's hope that they keep the Backyard Brawl. Too many good rivalries have gone by the wayside in pursuit of money already. PREDICTION: West Virginia by 21.

Cal at Arizona State

If Utah beats Colorado and USC does this business against UCLA, Arizona State goes to the Pac-12 Championship Game, where no doubt they'll be eaten alive by the Ducks. Anyway, Arizona State last week managed to lose against Arizona (we're not joking!), and basically put Dennis Erickson's butt back on the Hot Stove. No pressure, then. PREDICTION: Arizona State screw it up again. Cal by 3.


Penn State at Wisconsin

No doubt the biggest game this Saturday will be at Camp Randall, when Penn State plays Wisconsin for a place in the Big Ten Championship. Can Wisconsin go to Indianapolis, or will the Nittany Lions win the division for [add every Penn State fan's name you know here]? PREDICTION: Wisconsin by 7 in a game closer than everyone expects. 

Alabama at Auburn

College Gameday's in attendance for this one at Jordan Hare Stadium. These two sets of fans absolutely hate each other (unless one or other are playing in the National Championship Game, when  - strangely enough - they ROOT for each other (apart from Harvey Updyke), and we expect some treatment to be thrown out on the team. And no, we don't think Auburn's going to be able to stop Trent Richardson, and we expect Alabama to stop Michael Dyer. PREDICTION: Alabama by 31.

Ohio State at Michigan

Anyone think that Ohio State's going to win this one at the Big House with an inept offence? Anyone? Anyone? PREDICTION: Michigan by 28 in a revenge beating for the ages.

Georgia at Georgia Tech

Georgia was absolutely terrible against Kentucky, and certainly didn't fill Dawgs fans with any confidence whatsoever for the SEC Championship Game. Georgia Tech - despite losing at home to Virginia Tech recently - is still a danger to anyone, and that's why.... PREDICTION....We're calling the upset. Georgia Tech by 3.

Virginia Tech at Virginia

The last big-time team who came to Charlottesville was Georgia Tech. Tech lost. This Tech? They'll give the ball to David Wilson, and pummel the heck out of the Cavaliers. PREDICTION: Hokies by 21.

Notre Dame at Stanford

After early let-downs against Michigan and, erm, South Florida, Notre Dame came back to win against Michigan State before falling to USC in a cracking home game in South Bend. The visit to Stanford's going to be difficult- particularly as it's going to be Andrew Luck's last game in collegiate Northern California football. PREDICTION: Stanford by 21.


A big game in the fact that if Rick Neuheisel's team wins, they go to the Pac-12 Championship Game. Anyway, USC was great at Oregon, so this one could be a let-down for them. PREDICTION: UCLA does the letting down - USC by 10.

Clemson at South Carolina

After their awful, awful performance at NC State, no-one's really expecting Clemson to win at South Carolina. Which is why Clemson's up for the shock. The bad news is that the Tigers are on the road and they haven't played well on the road for a while. PREDICTION: Clemson in the upset, by 4.

Oregon State at Oregon

After last week's shocker in Autzen, what in the hell's going to happen in the 'Civil War'? Sorry Beaver fans, this war's going to be one-sided. PREDICTION: Oregon by 38.

Missouri at Kansas

Kansas wins! Kansas wins! Only joking! PREDICTION: Mizzou by 21.

Texas Tech at Baylor

Everyone talks about this one being a shoot-out, but Baylor doesn't make ANYTHING easy. True, Baylor's had an incredible season packed with excitement (we love you, Robert Griffin III), but does the Bears defense EVER make things easy? Nope. PREDICTION: Baylor by 10.

Florida State at Florida

Here's the bad news for the State of Florida. Baylor's ranked, Florida, Florida State and Miami aren't. Which means this game could actually be good! PREDICTION: Florida by 3

Ole Miss at Mississippi State

Despite more positive predictions early this year, then here's the news: No-one cares about Mississippi football. Again. PREDICTION: MSU by 10.

Washington State at Washington

This has been a fantastic turnaround story for Washington State, while it's been the usual disappointing one for Washington. Which is why - PREDICTION - We're picking Washington State to win by 10.

Why in the hell is Arkansas No.3?

Sorry guys, but I'm going to go off on one about Arkansas football, the BCS, and preferential SEC treatment.

Don't get me wrong, I love the Southeastern Conference. I love Sanford Stadium, LSU noise, Bama Bombs, Auburn blue, beautiful Ole Miss co-eds and, of course, Florida cheerleaders. If I wasn't a Penn State fan, I'd be a fan of a SEC team

But this latest BCS ranking list is making me ill.

1) LSU - That's fine. They've beaten Alabama and won tough road games.
2) Alabama- They lost to LSU, and are still the second best team in the nation. Pity when they play for the National Championship they won't actually have won their division.
3) Arkansas - Seriously?

In other words, a team that has lost its biggest game of the season comfortably (Alabama), squeaked by Vanderbilt (who really ain't that good - see Tennessee loss for details) and struggled to put away Ole Miss is apparently the third-best team in the nation.

And if the Razorbacks beat LSU, we've got Texas-Texas Tech- Oklahoma II on the horizon - and it ended really, really nastily in 2008 with Oklahoma winning despite Texas beating them 45-35 in a barnburner in Dallas.

We know we sound stupid, but we're pimping for Houston to fill one of the two top spots. After all, they  the second unbeaten team out there, aren't they?

Situation Update: Apartment still not sold, but market seems to be picking up a tad. Living in a cluttered basement going mad. Realized that the saying 90% of life is showing up is true, but only for those who want to know the place they are going to die with a 90% probability. We are putting along.

I am relating to way to many Jimmy Cliff songs lately.... maybe it's a sign.

Anyways as we sit here in limbo, we have been getting some stuff done.

We did a little shopping run, in hopes that buying the stuff we need while we have an income will allow us to be cheap when we are dependent on a fixed income during the prime of our life. We purchased a few things that were on sale, and on our list.  We bought a spare GPS, newer model, but this provides us with a complete back up navigation system (2 laptops with mapping programs, and two GPS both interchangeable). We also purchased a pair of automatic trim tabs for our dingy. That was it, pretty good for a run to the marine stores and we saved $200 off the regular price total of these two items.

Today I installed the trim tabs, our little RIB is looking fierce. I have been reading a few blogs, that you can get to through links on the right side, and they all seem to stress the importance of an appropriate yacht to land private shuttle. I bought a 8 or 9 ft aluminum rigid inflatable dinghy for our last sailboat, and we got a new Yamaha 6hp 4-stroke outboard for it. It is a little small for the two of us and a dog and gear, but it can plane with a full tank of gas, me and the dog. I wanted to make it get on plane a little quicker and with more weight, so I looked into solutions. I came up with bigger boat and engine (not in our price range), hydrofoil for the motor(having to drill holes in the leg of a brand new 6hp..not going to happen), and trim tabs. We went with the trim tabs. The options were pretty slim, there were ones that were 2ft long and resembled paddles, or ones that were 8"x8" and didn't stick out past the rear pontoons. We chose the smaller ones. I posted some shots of the bad boys. Even if they don't work to well, they sure look like they would.

I'm also getting stoked to learn how to surf; it's gonna be one hell of a workout. I think I should take to it pretty quick considering I spent half my teenage life balancing on a 2" ski. Never the less it looks to be very technical and right up my alley.

Everybody help us pray to the gods that our apartment sells, and these blogs will be way more interesting. 

Items for sale:

small chest freezer (in mint condition)  -$100
1987 mercury 2-stroke outboard (probably will run, but who knows how long) - make an offer
14-18ft boat trailer (new axel and tires, no lights) - $200
beige micro fiber hid-a-bed couch (good condition) - $250

If you know anyone who wants these things let us know.

Dinghy Pics!

Maintanance Day

Last Friday I took the day off work and called it a "maintenance" day.  Things were building up and I needed a day to get some things in check.  I spent the morning doing housework - which may not seem like the ideal way to spend your day off but there is some sort of luxury in being able to clean your house without two miniature people (and sometimes a grown man) underfoot undoing any sort of progress you make.  And even though the clean doesn't last long, at least I got to enjoy a clean, quiet house for a few hours. 

After all the housework was done, I treated myself to a run on one of my favorite trails.  It's about a 20 minute drive from my house so I don't often have the opportunity to go there.  It's a windy, incliney/decliney 4.7km paved trail that I love running.  Friday, after I ran the loop once, I grabbed my camera out of my van and walked back a bit and took a few pictures...

Later I had a nice hot shower (in a clean, quiet house) and then visited Chapters - which I haven't done in AGES. I wandered around guilt free because there was nowhere else that I needed to be, and bought myself a new book.  I then hit the grocery store to grab ingredients for dinner (ribs and scalloped potatoes) before making my rounds, picking up the troops, thus ending my "maintenance day". 

I felt refreshed and reset and ever so glad to have taken a day to myself.

We'd Like To Apologize: Week 12 College Football Recap

This week, instead of doing our impressed/depressed list, the VFA is going to be good enough to apologize. After all, with all the apologizing that's been done this year, we thought it was the least we could do. And no, we've not been partying with Gary Pinkel.

We apologize to Iowa State Cyclones fans. We didn't think you could beat or keep in touch with Oklahoma State. But you played with a lot of balls and gave everyone a dose of "Shut The Hell Up" with your double overtime victory against the Pokes, destroying their National Championship chances. And we apologize to Justin Blackmon for putting you in our fantasy league team - never again!

We apologize to ESPN for being rude about their commentators. When Joe Tessitore's in town or lately when Brent Musberger and Kirk Herbstreit are in town, you've got a cracking game on your hands. Blame Tessitore for the downfall of both Oklahoma State and Oklahoma this weekend, and blame Musberger and Herbstreit for the downfall of Oregon, who lost to USC.

We apologize to Clemson and Arizona State. We honestly thought you were better than that. Obviously not.

We apologize to Matt Barkley for saying that NO WAY were you better than Andrew Luck. If you stay in school this year, you'll be the top pick in 2013, if you behave yourself. And the USC Trojans? If you play like this with NCAA Sanctions, then God help us all when you don't have the sanctions anymore and actually have a good coach.

We apologize to Baylor for not believing in them. Robert Griffin, a great atmosphere and Joe Tessitore make all the difference in the world. It's funny, because Baylor may well be the best team in Texas this year.

We apologize for Ohio State fans for preparing Penn State fans for war at The Horseshoe, saying nasty things about how Buckeyes' fans were the worst on the planet. Last Saturday, by all accounts, you were decent. Even when the Nittany Lions came away with a 20-14 victory, setting a showdown with Wisconsin next Saturday. We apologize not for jumping around with you, Wisconsin fans, but this game is big time. 

We apologize to the SEC. We thought that you were a better conference than just having two teams. And yes, we know that Arkansas is No. 3. If Arkansas beats LSU, then we'll apologize again. Oh, and anyone who doesn't think LSU is classy, then give them a round of applause for taking four straight knees with three minutes left against Ole Miss while holding a monstrous lead. Either Les Miles had a line to Vegas, or he's a classy guy (it helps when you're over 40 points up!).

And we apologize to Georgia Bulldogs fans for predicting that the game would be really, really easy against Kentucky, who  - let's face it - is a crappy team in a crappy division in College Football this year. We obviously forgot that your team's really good at shooting itself in the foot and giving you heart attacks in the process. Oh, and we apologize to Dawgs fans for their student section. Any student with a season ticket who didn't show up to a game that eventually crowned Georgia SEC East Champions should be banned from the SEC Title game against LSU (we think, unless LSU implode against Arkansas). You don't deserve to go (unless there was a family tragedy etc etc, then of course, we apologize for being sooooooo presumtive).

lynnette's revisions, etc.

You have to see it for yourself in order to decide. Let me know your preferences Lynnette. All edges will be die cut scalloped as well. Kerri






Also! Your composite of 5 images (4 jazz, one ballet). Color or black and white?

Great lost pop papers #3: Phonograph Record Magazine

Mention the late Marty Cerf to any well-known US musician or rock journalist active in the early 1970s, and the chances are that their face will light up. But outside those rarefied circles, barely anyone has heard of him. It's a shame, as he was clearly a most immaculately hip individual, as well as a true lover of pop and galvaniser of talent. He edited the mysterious music paper World Countdown in the late 60s, collaborated with Kim Fowley on material for the Seeds, Hunger and others, launched the ace Phonograph Record Magazine in 1970, and - as 'Director Of Creative Services' at UA in the early 70s - championed much interesting music, as well as revolutionising the way that labels interacted with colleges, breaking massive hits such as Don McLean's American Pie, pioneering the art of reissuing back catalogue and amassing a record collection that was the envy of the entire industry. Not bad for a guy still in his early 20s. 

From what I can tell, Marty Cerf was born in 1949. He grew up in suburban Canoga Park, California, and was clearly a record nut from an early age, with a particular love of 45s. As a teen he worked in the local music store, Pal Records, and before long had begun working for the enigmatic Royal's World Countdown. A free-form collage of psychedelic art, music reviews, record company press releases and reprinted articles from other sources, Countdown ran from August 1966 to July 1969. Anne Moore, who also worked on it, knew Marty well. "He was an amazing workaholic," she remembers. "He was  interested in all of it, from the writing to the layout and final printing. He would even play delivery man at times, going down to the printers and picking up big stacks of copies to deliver around town - to the writers, shops, radio stations and clubs. I remember it was a long, hot drive out to Tujunga to pick up the papers with Marty!" Countdown didn't pay its contributors, but it gave them something better - access to launch parties and gigs galore, allowing them to make important contacts. By the spring of 1969 Marty had become 'General Manager', but when its founder Charles Royal got God and disappeared to Tahiti, the magazine folded.

Marty Cerf, April 1969
I don't know precisely what Marty did in the next 12 months, though he spent some of his time working with Kim Fowley. A couple of tracks on Fowley's April 1969 Outrageous LP are credited to the pair (Bubble Gum and Animal Man), as are The Seeds' Wild Blood / Falling Off The Edge Of My Mind 45 (GNP 422) and the title track to Warren Zevon's rare May 1970 debut LP Wanted Dead Or Alive. In addition, he is credited as 'music co-ordinator' on Elfstone's obscure, Fowley-produced LA Teardrops / Beat The Clock 45 (World Pacific 77912), and for 'mastering' on the A-side of Hunger's awesome Colors / Mind Machine 45 (Public! 1001). Music-making wasn't Marty's ambition, though, and - having evidently learnt much from his experiences with Countdown - in September 1970 he launched his very own newspaper, to which he gave the comically literal title of Phonograph Record Magazine. Rather than attempting a Rolling Stone-type amalgam of music, politics, film and more, it limited itself to music, covering acts both hip and unhip with considerable love, depth and care. Ken Barnes, who has gone on to become one of America's best and best-known rock critics, got to know Marty shortly afterwards, and had soon become what he calls PRM's 'typesetter, reviews editor and hanger-on'. "Marty was around 5' 10" in height, skinny, always bubbling over with more ideas than he could spit out (he tended to spit a bit when excited, which was most of the time)," he remembers. "I've always been grateful to Marty, who was pretty much running the entire PRM show at that time, for getting me started." And there were many more like him. "I owe a lot to him," says Lenny Kaye, "since he was the one who assigned me the Legendary Masters Eddie Cochran liner notes, one of my most important early pieces of writing." Another was Greg Shaw, who was soon helping to put together PRM. "Marty and I had an immediate bond because we were both 45s fanatics (as was Greg)," continues Ken, "and I was an obvious admirer of his collection, which was filed by label and took up most of the wall space in his office. Filing by label is a fairly impractical method if you want to find a particular record fast, but Marty could do it because he had a 'phonographic' memory of label numbers." 

Here are the first three issues of PRM:

Its publishing schedule was somewhat erratic, however; there seem to have been no issues for November 1970 or January 1971, but  two more appeared in February and March 1971:

As of March there seems to have been another hiatus in publication until August. In the interim Marty was appointed 'Director Of Creative Services' at United Artists. This was a nebulous role that involved publicising records, but separately from the label's official promo department. He was swift to capitalise on the emerging progressive rock radio stations, and worked hard to develop contacts with college reps around the country. He was also able to champion the power pop records he personally loved ('I'm in an interesting position, a lucky one for which I'm grateful', he wrote in his 45rpm column in the January 1973 issue. 'If I come across a great single or group, I get to call it to the attention of this here record company called United Artists, who presumably will check it out.') Ken Barnes again: "Marty was responsible for launching UA's Legendary Masters reissue series, which was the first large-scale program to treat rock reissues with the same scholarship and care lavished upon jazz and classical reissues. He could be considered the one figure who inspired the many boxed sets and rock reissues that have flourished since." A famed workaholic, he also continued to work on PRM, and scored the coup of persuading UA to fund it in exchange for plenteous advertising space. It remained independent, however, and never read like a propaganda rag for the label. Greg Shaw was appointed Marty's assistant at UA, and the two of them - together with Ken Barnes and one or two others - put together as many issues of PRM as time and funding permitted. 

Here are the next four covers:

Back at UA, Marty appointed Ric Fazekas to help him with college promotion. Ric remembers him fondly. "He was a true workaholic, he loved his work and he loved music. His office was absolutely amazing, just wall-to-wall 45s. Brian Wilson used to come over to listen to them with him, maybe during one of Marty's sleep-deprived speed trips. He was very animated and absolutely loved talking to rock critics. He was like the President of the Critics' Union!" Clearly Marty was keen to harmonise his work at UA with PRM. Back to Ken Barnes: "Marty was a visionary, not only with the Legendary Masters concept, but with PRM's unique distribution systems - first, being sponsored by a record label without serving as a tame house organ, then by working out deals with FM rock stations all over the country to cover distribution costs to local record stores in exchange for putting their call letters on the cover and sometimes allowing them a page or two of their own."

Billboard, 1st January 1972

As of 1972, PRM was flourishing, though there seem to have been gaps for February and June:

Alongside PRM, in mid-1972 Marty started putting out a mimeographed college newsletter courtesy of UA, entitled Dog Grease (its title being a convoluted pun concerning the Flamin' Groovies):

Billboard, 27th January 1973
Here are 1973's PRM covers; January seems to have been the same as December 1972, with the date changed, and there was no issue in August. As of June it shortened its name to plain Phonograph Record, and in November it moved to a larger format.

As 1974 came around, however, things began to change. A new cost-cutting regime at UA was intent on reining in budgets wherever possible, and Marty decided it was time to move on. He took PRM with him, and relaunched it as an independent, but it was a struggle to keep it going. "Creativity and financial discipline are not always paired in people," Ken suggests, "and Marty was pretty disorganized when it came to money. PRM always seemed to be teetering on the brink of insolvency." Greg Shaw took over as editor (with Marty remaining its publisher), but his energies were soon being expended on his own magazine, Who Put The Bomp. PRM continued to appear until the combined issue for May / June 1978, after which it fizzled out. In April 1979 Marty became General Manager of Riva Records and its associated management wing, Gaff Management. Their major artists were Rod Stewart and John Cougar Mellencamp, but Marty departed after only six months. Thereafter his career becomes something of a mystery. "Sadly, a lot of Marty's identity was wrapped up in the mag, and he never managed to segue into anything else of substance," Ken concludes.

Though Marty had an English live-in girlfriend in the early 70s, by general consensus he was gay (if deeply closeted). Suzy Shaw heard from him not long before his death, sometime in the 1990s. "He called out of the blue," she recalls. "I hadn't been able to reach him for ages. I was so happy to hear from him, but he was absolutely deranged, babbling the usual stuff that crazy people babble about - the CIA, the police, the Pope, things like that. I didn't get a word in edgewise. He hung up and vanished again, and I heard later that he died of AIDS. He may have had dementia related to the disease. Heartbreaking. He had been a brilliant man and a good friend."

Though he seems to have achieved all that he had to achieve by his mid-20s, Marty Cerf left a considerable legacy in the form of Phonograph Record Magazine. Copies are rare, but anyone who knows it respects it for its enthusiasm, thoroughness and wit. As Ken summarises: "Marty wasn't the most polished writer or the most grammatically sound editor, but his love of pop music always came across in the many stories and reviews he did for PRM. As an editor, his greatest gift was to let his writers experiment. Just about every music writer of prominence in the 70s appeared in PRM's pages, and the freedom afforded them was a big reason why. (It certainly wasn't the money.) He was an amazing and likably eccentric character in his prime."