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 February 24, 2008 - 07:12 PM | chris
Murder for Brunch

We went to the library this afternoon since it was about 25 degrees outside for the 124th day in a row and the city is in deep hibernation. I don't know how you Wisconsinites do it. Anyway, I was struck whilst browsing the mysteries at how there is a mystery series about every possible profession and theme.

In an effort to break into the business, authors will take any gimmick they can get. The alphabet (my money's on X being for Xenophobe, but what about Z?), holidays (is a bake sale truly a holiday?), or the fact that the author was the daughter of a US president, all lead to a prosperous career.

Authors also attempt to stand out by making their detectives as eccentric and odd as possible. We have a Native American policeman, an investigator who catches casino swindlers (these are actually pretty good), a -- I kid you not -- computer, and, of course, noted American supersleuth Eleanor Roosevelt.

But seemingly the easiest way to break into the mystery business is to write a book where the detective is a cat. There are many, many series starring mystery cats, and there is even a series of short story collections entitled Mystery Cats.

Here at the Festival we're big fans of mysteries, but the gimmicks are a little repetitive. I mean, really, another frickin' cat? Another independent female? Another grizzled ex-cop? If I wrote a mystery series, the detective would be the roadie for a mildly popular independent band that tours the midwest in a van. He'd need an animal, but cats are so played out, how about a badger named Professor Clawsington?

 February 01, 2008 - 06:55 PM | chris

I apologize for not posting very much recently, but my home computer has been acting quite flaky. I've backed everything up, as it appears to be about to die any day now, and I've already started scouting out a replacement. I had wanted to wait to get a new machine until quad core processors were faster or solid-state hard drives were perfected, but I don't have the luxury of waiting at this point.

One machine I won't be getting is the totally useless MacBook Air. Normally I would say that a laptop could at least be used as a paperweight, but I don't think the Air is even heavy enough to serve that purpose. I can see the need for a stripped down internet and email machine, but not at a $1,799 price point. An 80GB hard drive doesn't make it an ideal multimedia machine, along with the fact that it has no optical drives or ethernet port. This reminds me of when the original iMac first shipped with no floppy drive in 1998. They had the right idea, but reasonably-priced CD burners were still 2-3 years away. I'm sure the Apple fanboys are already emptying their wallets, though.

But the important news this week is that the Super Bowl is this Sunday, and the Patriots are attempting to become the first team to go 19-0. The talking heads have gushed over the high-scoring offense and gnashed their teeth and rended their garments over Tom Brady's ankle sprain, but no one has actually analyzed what they do and given a blueprint for beating them. At the risk of Tom Coughlin reading this blog, I therefore present my blueprint for beating the Patriots.

On offense:
1) Toss out your gameplans. The Patriots coaching staff studies more film than anyone, be it official film or bootlegged signals. The Giants are probably planning on big passing plays to Plaxico Burress and power rushes from Brandon Jacobs. This is also what the Patriots are planning for. Instead, run Ahmad Bradshaw on tosses and stretch plays side to side. The Patriots' corners are small, and their linebackers are old and slow. Even if these plays aren't effective, they will tire out the linebacking crew, which is not deep.

2) Whatever you did in the first half, abandon it, regardless of how successful it was. The Patriots coaching staff also is adept at making halftime adjustments. The Patriots won't blitz much in the first half, so plan for more of a passing offense at the start, but they will start blitzing in the late 3rd or early 4th quarter. To prevent this, use the running game extensively coming out of halftime. At this point, start mixing in Brandon Jacobs more, and when you do need to pass, call screen plays to negate an overpursuing blitz.

3) Never punt on 4th down in New England territory in the second half, regardless of score or yards to go. This pretty much singlehandedly doomed San Diego in the AFC championship game. Also, as Tuesday Morning Quarterback often urges, always go for it on 4th and less than 3 outside of your own 30 yard line.

On Defense:
1) If you're going to blitz more than 5, double-team Wes Welker, even if it means leaving Jabar Gaffney or Donte Stallworth uncovered. He is the outlet receiver even moreso than Randy Moss.

2) The Patriots will start the game in either 4 or 5-wide set. This is the time to blitz, before Brady gets in a rhythm with his receivers.

3) When the Patriots go to their big 2 or 3 tight end set, usually midway through the 3rd quarter, put 8 in the box, double cover Randy Moss as the single wide receiver, and keep the free safety on Kyle Brady, who will run a seam up the middle on passing plays.

And above all else, hope you get all the breaks, because at this point I don't even need to make my obvious pick: NE