ikea, i’m tall

Ikea is coming! Ikea is coming!
And the maddest of props go to Dave, whose online petition was no doubt the straw that broke the Swedish camel’s back.
On an unrelated note, I’ve now had three people meet me after reading this site and all have the same reaction — that I’m taller than they imagined. (I’m 6’1″ — hardly a giant. Have you been to a high school lately? All the boys are 9’4″.) Is there something about my writing style that makes people think I’m short?

chanda update, second round

Because I know you’re all on pins and needles: Chanda had no problem in the second round, 6-2, 6-4 over the intriguingly voweled Denisa Chladkova.
Actually, the path for Chanda just got a little clearer, since the 18 seed Francesca Schiavone lost to Elena Likhovtseva. So it’s Likhovtseva, then the deadly mistress of the night, Anastasia Myskina. She has talons instead of hands and laser vision that can alter a tennis ball’s molecular structure and make it bounce the way she wants it to. That’s what I hear, at least.
By the way, I’d like to thank Katie for her honesty the other day, when she said something to the effect of “Can you tell me when Chanda loses so I can know when to start reading crabwalk.com again?” Except she pronounced it “Shandra,” which is so wrong. (For the record, it’s pronounced just like it looks — CHAN [a la Jackie Chan] da.)

who i look like

It’s time for another installment of the What Does Josh Look Like Quiz!
For those just joining us, it’s the fabulous game where people try to describe my appearance through references to pop culture figures!
The game began in high school, when someone said I looked a bit like Tim Robbins. College was a relatively WDJLLQ-free zone (except for that one drunken evening where someone said I looked like Boris Yeltsin — not my finest moment.)
Two days before graduation, while attending a taping of the Conan O’Brien show, a show producer pulled me out of the audience and asked for my contact information because (she claimed) I looked like an exact cross between Conan and sidekick Andy Richter.
In February 2002, a reader of this site, upon meeting me, proclaimed: “I thought you’d look little and Jewish, not like a Viking.”
In July 2002, I was told like I looked like a cross between Patrick Swayze and Bono. (My hair was a bit longer then.) In the comments to that post, you’ll see that someone threw a little Ewan McGregor into the mix.
A couple days ago, a longtime Friend of Crabwalk offered up her new theory. “Nathan Fillion, the lead guy in Firefly [pictures: 1, 2, 3]…cross Nathan Fillion with Ewan McGregor in Big Fish [pictures: 1, 2, 3]…seems to me you get something that looks like what I remember you looking like anyhow.”
She forgot to mention one key phrase: “except you’re way hotter.”
All thoughts welcome. Well, nice ones.

jake delhomme

My friend Scott just emailed to ask why I’m not hyping up the Cajun of the moment — Jake Delhomme, starting quarterback of the Super Bowl-bound Carolina Panthers.
Jake is a Cajun through and through — born and raised in the Crawfish Capital of the World, Breaux Bridge, prepped at Teurlings Catholic, played college ball for the Ragin’ Cajuns of UL Lafayette, and spent six seasons as a backup QB for the New Orleans Saints before heading to Carolina last year.
And everyone acknowledges he’s a great guy — I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about him. My grandmother worships him. She calls him “Jake.” She hasn’t called a professional football player by his first name since the last great Cajun QB, Bobby Hebert.
But see, it’s complicated. For his last three years in New Orleans, Jake was the backup to QB Aaron Brooks. Brooks is enormously talented — tall and mobile, with a strong arm and good decision making. But in the eyes of many Saints fans, he has flaws:
– He’s lazy and doesn’t try hard enough.
– He lacks “leadership qualities.”
– He plays dumb, throwing too many interceptions at key moments.
– He doesn’t just play dumb — he is dumb. He scored a 17 on the Wonderlic (the quasi-IQ test NFL teams give to potential draft picks) — a score considered low for a quarterback (although far from the lowest in the league).
There’s one other complicating factor — Aaron Brooks is black. It’s not hard to see how the criticisms of Brooks (lazy, stupid) are rooted in racial stereotypes. I’m not being a weepy liberal and saying you can’t criticize Brooks — he has done some dumb things at crunch time — but I can 100-percent guarantee you that Saints fans would hail him to high heaven if he was white.
The Saints have been very mediocre recently — they’re 24-24 in the last three years — and Brooks gets the blame. That’s a bit silly, since the huge glaring weakness in recent years has been the defense, which Brooks has nothing to do with. (Last year, the Saints had the third-highest scoring offense in the league, despite Brooks playing through a rotator cuff tear.) But whenever the Saints lose a game, the illiterate, racist yahoos come out of the swamp and start calling for Brooks’ head. (Check out the Saints Forum during the season after a loss. You’ll be shocked at the racist drivel they pump out: “That’s what happens when you put a n—– in charge,” that sort of thing. Go there now, in the offseason, and you’ll just be shocked at the poor spelling.)
And since Jake Delhomme was the backup — not to mention a good ol’ country boy — the comments were usually along the lines of “Get rid of the n—–, give ol’ Jake a chance.” Of course, that’s not Jake’s fault — he’s not the racist, just the beneficiary of racist sentiment.
So when Jake left for Carolina as a free agent last year, part of me was happy that I wouldn’t have to be hearing his name called so often by the worst element of Saints fans.
As it turns out, Aaron Brooks had his best season this year. He had the eighth-highest quarterback rating in the 32-team league, beating out stars like Tom Brady, Donovan McNabb, Jeff Garcia. He’s worked hard to cut down on interceptions, his biggest problem: After throwing 22 in 2001 and 15 in 2002, he threw only eight this season, the best of any NFL starter. He broke the Saints record for the highest QB rating in team history.
And after flopping at the end of previous seasons, he had a tremendous finish this year. In his last six games, he threw 11 touchdowns against zero interceptions, along with running for two scores. He was named first alternate to the Pro Bowl (behind only superstars Favre, Culpepper, and McNabb). He had a great year.
Jake, in contrast, was okay. He threw 19 touchdowns against 16 interceptions (vs. Brooks’ 24 and 8). He proved himself to be a perfectly average NFL quarterback (14th highest rated in a 32-team league). Fortunately for him, he plays for a team with an amazing defense (No. 1 in the league) who played a weak schedule in a down year for the NFC. (Carolina beat only one team with a winning record all season.)
And now a bunch of yahoos are saying the same crap as before — lionizing Jake as a good ol’ boy, vilifying Aaron because he’s black.
So it’s complicated. Reasons I should be thrilled for Jake:
– He’s a fellow Cajun.
– He’s evidently a really good guy.
– He’s an ex-Ragin’ Cajun and ex-Saint.
Reasons not to be thrilled for Jake:
– He plays for the Panthers, a division rival of the Saints and a team I’ve always hated.
– At a certain level, he’s just riding the coattails of his team’s defense.
– Rooting for him aligns you, in a very unfortunate way, with the worst elements of football fans.
I’ve been reserved in my rooting, but I think I’m going to let loose. The anti-Jake reasons aren’t really his fault, and he can’t be held responsible for the actions of bad Saints fans. And Cajun blood does run thick. And, luckily for Jake, I really hate the New England Patriots, the Panthers’ Super Bowl opponents.
So…Go Jake! (Or, more appropriately: Geaux Jake!)

dean blog, chanda wins

Favorite line from a political weblog (from Howard Dean’s site): “If you hadn’t heard, the Iowa caucuses were last night.”
I have a feeling that anyone checking out the Dean for America weblog Tuesday morning had already “heard” that the Iowa caucuses were last night. They probably heard about it right before they started leaping from windows, Depression-era-stockbroker style. There seems to be a bit of denial in the Dean blog camp — at least until you get to the comments, which alternate between self-flagellation and blaming everything on the media, the traditional sport of losing candidates everywhere.
In Chanda news, she won her first round match against the Swedish menace, although she had a bit more trouble than she should have (6-3, 4-6, 6-3). Thirty-six unforced errors didn’t help. Anyway, the draw is developing as expected, so it’s Denisa Chladkova in the second round, followed by the winner of Francesca Schiavone-Elena Likhovtseva.

chandawatch aussie 04

It’s a new year, which means it’s time for another installment of ChandaWatch, in which this web site catalogues the progress of Chanda Rubin, the 10th-ranked female tennis player in the world. (Also known as “Chanda Rubin, that girl who Josh went to high school with.”)
Have I ever mentioned that Chanda’s career winnings total $4,173,313? That’s just slightly better than journalist money. I knew I should have worked on my backhand instead of writing for the school paper.
Chanda’s coming off an excellent 2003, having finished the year ranked in the top 10 for the first time in her injury-riddled career. She won two tournaments (Madrid and Eastbourne) and had solid if unspectacular majors (fourth round at the Australian, quarters at Roland Garros, third round at Wimbledon, and an unfortunate first-round ouster at the U.S. Open). And just a few days ago, she at least took a set off of No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne, the pride of Belgium, before falling.
Her path to glory at the Australian this week doesn’t look too awful: the dentally impaired Asa Svensson in the first, likely followed by sketchy Czech Denisa Chladkova, and 18th seed Francesca Schiavone. Then would come her first real test, the wily communist sympathizer and world No. 6 Anastasia Myskina, in the fourth round.
(By the way, I’m going to mention the words naked, nude, and porn here — for no other reason than the fact that Google regularly sends me many hits from people searching for “[insert name of women’s tennis star] nude.” “Anastasia Myskina nude” is a particularly popular one.)
Should Chanda make it past the Myskina juggernaut (which she couldn’t last year at this time), she’d likely get Clijsters in the quarters, Venus in the semis, and Henin-Hardenne in the finals. Not to plan ahead or anything.
Anyway, the Australian has historically been Chanda’s second best major after the French (she got to the semis in ’96 and won it all in doubles that same year). So here’s hoping for a lengthy series of Chanda updates in the coming days…

misc links

Cycloptic goats.
Fritzner Bechette: Now where did I put that ticket?
World’s biggest liar accused of cheating.
Don’t yell at the noisy.
Smart move: Canadian squeezes murder in hours before he turns 18, avoids being tried as an adult. (Or he may have killed the guy just after turning 18 — it isn’t clear, which is why he gets the kiddie trial. I remember reading some years ago a lengthy legal discussion of whether your birthday should count as the last day of your previous year of age or the first day of the next one. In other words, is getting drunk on your 21st birthday legal, or are you still a 20-year-old in the eyes of the law since it may not have actually been a full 21 years since your birth? The article I read argued that in fact your birthday is part of the previous year — so this kid should be tried as a juvenile and that drunken 21-year-old is still an underaged drinker. Any lawyers reading this are free to comment with their better researched thoughts.)