Friday, October 29, 2004

Font Savant Makes the Call (No. 1)

The title typeface on the new U2 album? Clarendon.



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Thursday, October 28, 2004

ESPN gives Cleveland's (Indians) Curse a proper No. 5 ranking

Hot on the heels of my congratulatory note for the Red Sox, This list of remaining sports curses slots the Indians in cooly at #5. Seems about right. At least they're not the football Browns at #3. Check the list; your favorite franchise might be cursed and you didn't even know it!



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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Congrats to the '04 Red Sox

As an oft-frustrated Cleveland Indians fan (2 strikes away from the title in 1997 still gives me shivers), I gotta take some inspiration from this bunch of "idiots." Never quit, never tensed up, never said "nah, time to call it a night." In fact, they didn't trail for a single inning during the entire World Series. You can't top that. Enjoy it, Boston.

Jon Stewart gives, and gives, and gives

...and what are we really doing in return? Selfish prats, all of us. That said, the least we can do, perhaps, is watch his short, clever promo video (Windows Media) for America (The Book) over at Amazon.com. The most we can do? Buy it.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

A little mobile video

I shot the clip linked below on a Sony Ericsson P900; the final result is a ~176K MPEG-4. It looks worse than the worst videophone transmission out of Baghdad under fire, but it's still good enough to capture the gist of what's going on around you at the moment. (As far as I could tell, I had all of the quality settings maxed out.) I suppose that that's more than enough for the current generation of mobile devices. Still, I wonder if we'll soon reach the point of phones carrying enough combined CCD, megapixel, and storage horsepower to outperform lower-end, dedicated consumer video electronics. According to Steve, we may already be there on the camera end with the new S700I from Sony. (Is that your first '10' rating for camera capabilities, Steve?)

The Video (may require QuickTime to view easily): Gameday Crowd

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Monday, October 18, 2004

Waiting for the latest 'Football with Shobe' entry?

I've permanently moved my weekly college football season postings over to Fanblogs.com. If you're passionate about the game, you'll find a lot of great insight, passion, and debate at this blog-centric view of the NCAA season in progress.

This week's posting: Bloom off the Rose for Boiler Nation

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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

A pretty fair argument against HTML Email

The following snapshot from my Gmail inbox is an aesthetic cautionary tale (click to enlarge in a popup window):



Never, ever, ever, ever assume that a funhouse font like Comic Sans is going to result in an effective impression on the receiving end, especially at 32 points or so. Comic Sans might be the worst font that ever was. Even Nancy refuses to use Comic Sans.

Please, please stop using Comic Sans. Anywhere. Everywhere.

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Monday, October 11, 2004

Art (Uncomfortably) Imitates Life

Since about its 2003 edition, I've been a huge fan of EA Sports NCAA Football franchise on the PS2. It's great fun to play, fairly true to the college game, and now includes online play so every campus slacker with time to practice between classes has more than enough mojo to run my 34 year-old pong-champion ass right off the field. It's humiliating, but fortunately that's not the point. My own, more manageable ritual has always been to play the real Purdue contest scheduled for the next day on the preceding Friday night. For this little routine, NCAA has proven eerily accurate in determining Purdue's real-world outcome. In fact, in 2003, My PS2 season ended in the Sun Bowl against Washington with a 6-6 record -- precisely as the real world would have it. The Playstation Huskies beat me soundly (fortunately, the real game was a thrilling comeback win -- I've always loved Pete Fiutak's stream-of-consciousness summary of the action in this game).

Posted below are screen shots from my 2004 campaign so far. Once again, the PS2 is showing inexplicable savvy in modeling the real-world outcome. BIG CAVEAT: I didn't personally play the first 3 games due to procrastination/schedule conflicts; I only manned the controller starting with Notre Dame.





The 55-7 win over Ball State really stands out as dead-on, doesn't it? Also, the PS2 gave Syracuse a lot more credit vs. an untested Purdue defense, which is probably fair in the cold world of simulation. Orton's also featuring a pretty gaudy rating and lifelike TD total (17 here, 18 in real world).

What about that embarrassing L against Penn State? That's not in the script! Admittedly, I mashed my way through a lousy game, missing passes and calling draws when the run was hopelessly covered. But here's one case where the PS2 got it really right, and really wrong, in the same frame. I had three field goal attempts with Ben Jones, each within a ~40-48 yard range. I missed all three, falling short in each case. In the real-world game, Jones hits 2 of those 3, from 46 and 50. Cut me some slack, foul machine! Time to go revise that set of player ratings, I tell you what.

Still, the final outcome was a damned close thing. I expect real trouble against Wisconsin this coming Friday night -- better start working on those thumb callouses.

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NCAA Football With Shobe: Week 7

I'm not writing an update here this week because the good folks over at Fanblogs.com have decided to give me some space to carve out as my own in the Big Ten section of their site. Fanblogs includes a wide community of authors from conferences all across the country and is a pretty lively place for opinion and discussion of all things collegiate and football-shaped. Look for my latest posting on Purdue and Penn State's seesaw battle in Happy Valley this past Saturday; I'll probably cross-post both here and at Fanblogs in the coming weeks.

With that out of the way, I'd like to also point out that I'll be at Purdue for both of the key upcoming matchups against Wisconsin and Michigan, so I'll try to photoblog on-campus happenings and work those into my updates as well. Here's hoping ESPN College Gameday brings its convoy to West Lafayette before October is out! I gotta think there's an excellent shot of them coming to town for the Michigan game if the Boilers can pick their way through the best defense in the country first. That's right -- Wisconsin owns the stingiest line in all the land, having given up just 198 yards per game on average. This much is for sure: Orton's Heisman campaign isn't going to be short on challenges this month.

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Thursday, October 7, 2004

I really, *really* hope this auction cover story is true

Propers to Kevin Donahue at FanBlogs.com for uncovering this one:

Pissed girlfriend sells OU-Texas tickets

The auction writeup has that genuine, girl-done-wrong feel to it (and an appropriately tacky border graphic), but sometimes people go extra lengths to embellish an item's history to amp its value. With something of time-sensitive value like football tickets, the more drama the better. Still, "partysteph" is a brand-new user ID and as she put it, "Hes not fooling anyone cause his car is a peice of junk!...SO LONG ERIC!!!"

That's it. I'm convinced you're the real deal. Don't spend that $611 in one place!

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Wednesday, October 6, 2004

My future in aviation business consulting is assured

United admits that I might've been onto something. Well, they didn't actually call me up personally and say as much, but c'mon. I thought this reorganization made sense a few million bucks ago.

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Sunday, October 3, 2004

NCAA Football With Shobe: Week 6 at Notre Dame Edition



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As several readers know, I spent this past football Saturday at Notre Dame. As it turned out, it was likely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. In my 10/1 posting I implied that in order to secure a road win against the Irish, "you have to believe. Your team is finally better, and it's built to stay that way. You have no option to think otherwise." Kyle Orton's offense mercilessly assaulted a sad losing legacy in South Bend and Brock Spack's young defense bent just often enough to avoid any fatal breaks. On a day with weather so perfect it was clich�y kickoff, the state school 110 miles south on Indiana 421 announced its Football Program had finally arrived.

The details of the game aren't worth rehashing here when so many others have covered the ground. Suffice it to say it was amazing that Notre Dame outgained the Boilers in many statistical categories but capitalized on virtually none of the game's available momentum. First downs (28 to 22), time of possession (33:12 to 26:48), passing yardage (460 to 413), even pass attempts (49 to 32) -- all these numbers favored the Irish. They only committed a single turnover. The devil in those details is their place in the narrative of the game. That fumble was on the two yard line, with a Notre Dame touchdown all but assured -- somehow this fact has been overlooked in most of the game summaries I've read. Orton converted the subsequent 98 yard TD drive into an emphatic 14 point swing. If you let someone march 98 yards down main street after a critical turnover in their red zone, you got what you paid for. And nowhere in the offense/defense stats pack does Jerome Brooks' historic 100 yard kickoff return figure in. I think that one play cut the power to the student section just before halftime; a rolling blackout emptied the rest of the stadium by the middle of the 4th quarter. The Purdue corner was howling wild with life throughout the contest, shaking down its own thunder from that cloudless sky.

After the game I said, mostly in a delusional state, that this Purdue team could play with any college team in the country. Not necessarily win, but probably keep it within 7 no matter the opponent because of the offense and Orton. On Sunday evening, I'm not entirely sure any rational fan should be making such claims on the Boiler's behalf, but I tell you I've never seen a offense as in synch as this one at Purdue. Brees was a great scrambler and huddle presence, but his receivers would drop critical passes at awful times. This corps, especially Stubblefield, have the velcro-hands thing going, and Orton can place the ball with a surveyor's precision. Defense remains sketchy, but it appears to be "just good enough" for the given occasion.

I still can't believe I got to witness that thing in person. Prior to Brooks' kickoff return, I remember yelling "my GOD, take a knee!" when he was 2 yards deep in the end zone. So, sure, I'm the chump now, but you have to admit it was the most harebrained of schemes to take that ball out.

Visiting Fan Observation: Many of the ND fans and every single usher were painfully gracious hosts. This was, um, even *before* the game. It's a classy home base, I begrudgingly allow. There were some real cornpone chump Purdue fans near us, too, bellowing about Orton and Heisman well before kickoff and shouting inane things like "B - Y - WHOO?!," apparently to remind the faithful of their awkward season opener. I'm pretty sure our reputation as the coach class of the traveling Big Ten is intact. What a bunch of yutzes. I was so embarrassed. Even with that, a good number of ND fans (the ones who didn't leave at the beginning of the 4th quarter, that is) shook my hand on the way out and even offered a "good luck next week" or two.

All of this doesn't mean I'm gonna start to cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame anytime soon. But I was surprised and impressed with the sportsmanship. Maybe a couple iffy seasons have humbled some Irish boosters?

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Friday, October 1, 2004

1974-2004: Not the sort of streak you want to continue

A neighbor of mine was digging around in his basement last weekend and he unearthed the following artifact of a seriously bygone era:

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1974. What a lousy year for America, and for Purdue. The "grand diversion" in Vietnam was still in the process of collapsing in on itself. Nixon pretty much accomplished the same with the Oval Office. And football players had to wear tinpot helmets like these. What's a self-respecting linebacker to do? Go all communist and quit the team?

Turns out the early 70s weren't exactly the glory days for Purdue football -- at least not as spectacular as you wanted to believe, as we did in a rose-colored glasses way, when the Boilers hit rock bottom in the early 90s. Purdue's Rose Bowl team of 1967 was just a memory (and so was the frantic running game that Leroy Keyes brought to town) and the "Cradle of Quarterbacks" didn't offer a new star until Mark Herrmann in 1978.

However, 1974 is important to Boiler fans for one reason that matters today, and especially tomorrow. It's the last time Purdue left South Bend with a win. That's right -- The Brady Bunch wasn't even in syndication when Touchdown Jesus took a Saturday afternoon off against his in-state rivals.

So am I hoping that my neighbor's housecleaning discovery is some sort of good omen? Shoot, of course I am. I wouldn't be an American sports fan if I didn't assume the outcome of the contest didn't somehow hinge upon a token happening or ritual in my life. Do I expect the game to be close and maddeningly frustrating at times? Absolutely. The field there is pitched so that penalty calls roll down in the direction of the visitor's bench. Plus there's all that Lucky Charms hoodoo-voodoo floating in the air. But you have to believe. Your team is finally better, and it's built to stay that way. You have no option to think otherwise. Waver for even a second and that pipsqueak in the green vest is all fangs at your jugular.

UPDATE: Bliss, elation.

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