Just Say No to an Olympics in Boston

Note: This article also appears at The Rec Room.

There’s been a lot of chatter around here lately about the possibility of bringing the Olympics to the Boston area. I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to organize my thoughts on this matter and failing pretty miserably. It’s not that I don’t have a strong opinion on the topic; rather, the problem is expounding upon a rather simple thought in an informative and entertaining manner. My opinion in this case is really pretty simple.

Fuck no.

For one thing, we simply don’t have anywhere to put all the people involved. Visitors would be spread across hotels far and wide, likely taking over lodging in places as distant as Providence, Worcester, and Hartford. I mean, do we really want to stash important dignitaries and high powered executives at a Holiday Inn in Lynn or Weymouth? Well, I kind of do, but I’m an asshole and the thought of shoving fancy pants people into dumpy places puts a smile on my face. Needless to say, that would not reflect well on New England.

We also don’t have the necessary transportation infrastructure. Our highways couldn’t possibly deal with that traffic; getting anywhere would be akin to heading for the Cape at 6 pm on a Friday in the summer. The public transportation would simply implode in a huge cloud of dust accompanied by the panicked cries of frightened tourists, a Chernobyl powered by people who can’t figure out where Park Street is. And for the love of Mayor Menino, we sure as shit don’t need more tourists clogging our lumpy, irregularly shaped sidewalks.

Those who think the previous paragraphs are invalid because new infrastructure could be built have obviously never experienced the joys of construction in Boston. Let me tell you something, pal: there’s nothing quite like being trapped in single lane traffic on Storrow Drive because some asshole thought it was a good idea to put off fixing a few bridges, and MBTA shuttles that have to do great big loops around Boston Common and Beacon Hill to get to Cambridge are really special treats – doubly so when they’re filled with smelly, confused tourists who haven’t yet figured out that they need to hold onto something if they don’t want to fall over when the driver guns it to get around a corner. Sure, our infrastructure definitely needs an overhaul, but repairing and expanding everything in the small window of time prior to one of these events would be akin to having David Ortiz hit every commuter squarely in the crotch with his baseball bat every morning. Beyond that, the additional capacity added simply to host an Olympics would never be fully utilized again unless we brought in another Olympics; it’s shit we don’t need, and the future costs of maintaining it all wouldn’t be worth it.

And those costs? Whoa. A report released today by No Boston Olympics (who just so happen to have a totally awesome WordPress template) posits that it would cost between $10 and $20 billion dollars for Boston to host the games. Hell, Chicago’s failed hosting bid is estimated to have cost $80 to $100 million. That’s enough scratch to rebuild the Good Times Emporium, put an industrial strength air freshener in every MBTA subway car, and bribe NESN into putting Jenny Dell back on the field as sideline reporter despite her relationship with third basemen Will Middlebrooks – you know, shit that would actually make a difference to the people who live here.

Therein lies the real rub: the benefits simply aren’t there for your average citizen of the greater Boston metroplex, which makes the annoyances and inconveniences impossible to swallow. The only thing one of these huge events would do for Sully from Dorchester is make his drinking problem worse because his previously ten minute commute now takes an hour and a half. It’s not like we locals can actually afford to attend any of these things. The inevitable story about a Russian speed skater causing a kerfuffle by stealing someone’s parking spot in Southie or an Australian swimmer getting stabbed in the Glass Slipper would be good for a few chuckles, but that’s about it.

Boston just isn’t built for events the size and scope of the Olympics. I’d argue that’s part of the region’s charm. Do that shit somewhere else. But if you want to put Wrestlemania in Fenway Park…do it. Immediately. Sully from Dorchester and I would love that!

Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Could Better Empower Its Authors

Kindle Direct Publishing is the rather blandly titled service that takes the dumb crap I type into my computer and turns it into books people like you can download to your Kindle devices and apps. KDP, as all the cool kids who selfie their Instagrams call it, comes equipped with a few discount functions and a basic set of sales reports. It’s pretty swell, but it could be a lot better if Amazon would stop bogarting their data.

Here’s the thing: KDP authors know very little about their audiences. I’ve got sales numbers, but those numbers exist in a vacuum. Without context, I can’t help myself help Amazon make more money off the free products I’m basically handing them. It’s a great big circle of sadness.

For instance, I don’t know how many people have seen my books’ pages. That means I don’t know if I need to change the information on them to try to generate more sales. With that data, I could tweak and retweak my descriptions to find the one that works best.

I also don’t know how people are finding my books in the first place. I’ve tried Twitter and I’ve got a Facebook page I’ve neglected worse than your average redheaded stepchild. I’ve completed author interviews for various blogs and posted in all sorts of forums. Is any of that helping? I have no fucking idea. Every single purchase of All Your Fault could’ve come from people who found a link on a pet grooming site based out of Tanzania for all I know.

And imagine what we authors could do if we had a clear view of our customers’ paths through the store. For example, if I had data proving my readers overlapped heavily with Stephen King’s, I could reach out to him to see if he wanted to work on some sort of self-promotion. He’d surely ignore me and I’d have to move down the list until I found a similarly small-time indy guy to work with, but whatever. It would help.

Here’s the kicker: as a technology professional, I know Amazon has this information. That’s just how modern web analytics work. I know how you got to this page. Well, not you specifically, but I know where my page views on this shitty site are coming from. If I can do that, Amazon certainly can.

So why don’t you share, Amazon? Pretty please?

2013 NFL Preview: NFC West

Only one team in this division has its act together. The other three train wrecks, each of varying entertainment value, just don’t stand a chance. Kind of like most groups out and about in the Faneuil Hall area at 1:00 am on a Saturday night.

1. San Francisco 49ers (Super Bowl champions) - I can’t remember the last time an NFL team was this loaded on both sides of the ball and came with a brilliant coach to boot. Injuries have left them looking a little bit thin at receiver, but the 9ers are deep enough and smart enough to compensate. A run at 16-0 is not out of the question.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Scarlett Johansson. Got it all and not going anywhere without an act of God.

Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Megan Fox. Hot but HOW DARE SHE LEAVE TRANSFORMERS.

3. Arizona Cardinals - The number of talking heads going on and on about how Carson Palmer is this team’s answer at quarterback is astounding. Put him on a loaded team with a nigh impenetrable offensive line and he’d do just fine. In Arizona? With a shitty line and no running game? Right. Tell me another one.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Whitney Cummings. Not going to be the next big thing regardless of how many supposed hot new shows they throw her in.

4. St. Louis Rams - Free Sam Bradford! He seems like a nice young man. He’s perfectly capable of challenging for a job somewhere nicer, like Jacksonville or Miami. This team is a joke.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Honey Boo Boo’s mother.

2013 NFL Preview: NFC South

Oh man. Another exciting division–and one that’s been historically unpredictable. No team has ever won the NFC South two years in a row and each has gotten a turn at the top. The NFC South is the NFL equivalent of your mother.

1. New Orleans Saints. The defense is still kind of crappy and there are questions on the offensive line, but Sean Payton, the ballsiest head coach in the league and one of the best at making in-game adjustments, is back in the saddle. Brees and company have one more run in them.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Keira Knightley. Hasn’t done much lately, but still one of my favorites. 

2. Atlanta Falcons. I don’t trust this team. Maybe it’s the uncertainty in Matty Ice’s eyes. Maybe it’s Head Coach Mike Smith’s defeated bearing. Maybe it’s the ACL new running back Steven Jackson is sure to blow by week four. Like Houston, Atlanta just feels like it’s missing that one transcendent superstar that can put them over the top.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Olivia Munn. Overrated.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Here comes the end of any talk of Josh Freeman as a legitimate NFL starting quarterback. The Bucs aren’t terrible, but they don’t have nearly enough horses to keep up with the top two teams in the division. Putting a pirate ship in your stadium will only get you so far.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Portia de Rossi. What the hell happened to her?

4. Carolina Panthers. Really? They still exist? Is it just Cam Newton and a bunch of beer league castoffs at this point? Talk about a franchise that needs to throw some dough at a big time head coach or personnel man. Years of piss poor drafting and stupid extensions have left Carolina bit of a mess.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Amanda Bynes. Jesus Christ.

2013 NFL Preview: NFC North

Now here’s a division worth giving a crap about! A case can be made that all of these teams belong in the playoffs; put any of them in the weaker AFC and they’d be automatic. With so much talent among these traditional rivals, every divisional game is going to be fantastic. I want to watch them all.

And I originally titled this 2013 NFL Preview: NFC Central because I’m old and stupid.

1. Chicago Bears. That’s right. I said it. Chicago’s biggest issue the last few years (besides former Head Coach Lovie Smith being a useless dildo) was keeping defenders from turning Jay Cutler into a particularly bitchy pile of bruises and broken bones. New boss Jim Trestman’s offense focuses on protecting the quarterback. Hooray! He built it in the CFL where they allow an extra guy on the field, though, which will make those first few 12-men-on-the-field penalties a real hoot at parties.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Emma Stone. The new hotness.

2. Detroit Lions (Wild Card). They’re young. They’re talented. They’re finally a complete team thanks to the addition of Reggie Bush. They’re a bunch of hot-headed dumb asses, and Head Coach Jim Swartz is one of the worst offenders. Detroit’s going bankrupt, however, and that’s just the kind of story that typically spurs borderline playoff teams into unlikely postseason runs.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: I don’t know, who’s broke but kind of ok looking? Lindsay? Probably Lindsay.

3. Green Bay Packers. What? No wild card? That’s what happens when a team known for shaky offensive line play loses its starting left tackle for the season. Poor Aaron Rodgers had better discount double-check some extra health insurance; the dude’s going to need it, especially given that the Pack still hasn’t found a running game capable of making opposing pass rushers think twice about turning on the afterburners. Maybe they should give that dude with the red hair and the cheesehead a crack.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Jennifer Lawrence with a broken leg. You really just want to give her a great big hug and remind her it’ll probably be better next year.

4. Minnesota Vikings. So, about 2,000 yard rushers. They don’t repeat. Just doesn’t happen. You know what else doesn’t happen? Teams with shitty quarterbacks don’t make the playoffs unless they’ve got a tailback that can put them on his shoulders and carry them there. Adrian Peterson’s the best back in the league, but banking on another otherworldly season with a 6.0 yards per carry average is foolish.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Lucille Bluth. I miss the inappropriate boat rides.

2013 NFL Preview: NFC East

I hate this division too–mostly because I’m sick of having to watch these mediocre teams pretty much every Sunday night. They wear the uniforms of important franchises, but they’ve all seen better days.

1. Philadelphia Eagles. You were expecting someone else, maybe? Philly may have quit on Andy Reid last year, but this is a talented crew with a potentially explosive offense if Mike Vick can stay on the field. Granted, that’s a pretty big if–but new coach Chip Kelly’s an offensive genius who might be able to make it work if he can keep this cast of dumb asses in line. I think he can.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Emilia Clarke. Khaleesi’s coming back for her throne with a vengeance.

2. New York Giants (Wild Card). Don’t count Eli and crew out just yet. Tom Coughlin’s got at least one more ridiculous season-saving winning streak under his cap. Ahmad Bradshaw’s gone and the receiving crew isn’t what it used to be, but Eli’s too dumb to know any better. They’ll sneak into the postseason with a dramatic win in Week 17.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Jennifer Aniston. Just won’t go the fuck away.

3. Washington Redskins. RGIII’s a heck of a player, but I’m not a believer in this team. There isn’t enough talent around him and I’m not convinced he’s going to be back to 100%. It’s tough to judge how much offense the Skins will lose if they adjust their game plan to better protect the franchise quarterback.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Piper Perabo. I don’t see it.

4. Dallas Cowboys. Poor Tony Romo. He takes too many risks because he doesn’t have nearly enough help, then he gets the lion’s share of the blame. Let’s face it: Dallas’s drafting and roster construction the last few years have been miserable. Head coach Jason Garrett’s going to need a new job by Christmas. Hopefully Tony Romo lands on his feet with a club that will appreciate him.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Tara Reid. Here comes a sharknado.

2013 NFL Preview: AFC West

I hate this division almost as much as I hate the South, but at least the West is going to be entertaining. Every team in this division is fun to despise for a wholly different reason.

1. Denver Broncos. Fuck Peyton Manning. I hate him, but I’ll be the first to admit that the NFL just wasn’t the same without him when he was out with an injury. Still, fuck him. And fuck his dumb coach who obviously doesn’t realize he’s got Peyton fucking Manning under center and still calls the game like he’s hoping Jake Delhomme won’t vomit all over himself. Denver’s loaded with talent and no one in the AFC is anywhere close. Oh, and Wes Welker? He was right to leave given how badly the Patriots dicked him around. I wish him all the best.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Angelina Jolie. Plenty hot but not someone I plan on paying to see anytime soon.

2. Kansas City Chiefs (wildcard). Few coaches teach and game plan as well as Andy Reid, but KC’s new coach has an important skill no other in the league can match: the ability to blow timeouts and challenges in hilarious fashion. Seriously. Your average eight-year-old Madden addict manages the clock better than this dude. Still, combine him with the competent Alex Smith, the underrated Jamaal Charles, and the explosive Dwayne Bowe and you get nine scrappy wins, a wildcard berth, and a fantastically absurd first round flameout that might make Shannon Sharpe’s head explode on live TV.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Kristen Wiig. This one’s going to be a lot of fun.

3. Oakland Raiders. The silver and black have pinned their hopes on Matt Flynn’s arm and Darren McFadden’s balky knees. Somewhere, the ghost of Al Davis is throwing one hell of a press conference tirade.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Kirstie Alley. It sure ain’t the eighties anymore.

4. San Diego Chargers. Free Phillip Rivers! There isn’t a better quarterback leading a worse team. San Diego ain’t got shit, and they should move Rivers and his wonderfully douchy faces to a team that’s actually going to be on my TV a few times this season.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Miley Cyrus. Not what they were a few years ago–and even then they weren’t that great.

2013 NFL Preview – AFC South

Can we just pretend this one doesn’t exist and skip it? No? Fine.

Oh, there’s a Game of Thrones spoiler in here. Because of course there is.

1. Houston Texans. They’re talented. They’ve got great players at all the key positions. Ed Reed’s taking over in centerfield. Quarterback Matt Schaub is severely underrated. And yet…something about these guys doesn’t seem quite right. Maybe it’s the terrible luck they’ve had with injuries. Maybe it’s the thoroughly uninspiring game plans and the perpetual confused look on Gary Kubiak’s face. Maybe it’s just their dumb logo. These guys are my 2 seed, but I don’t have to like it.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Oona Chaplin. Rob Stark’s wife is plenty hot, but you know she isn’t going to make it.

2. Indianapolis Colts. Despite their success last year, I still see just Andrew Luck and a whole lot of nothing when I look at the Colts. Bruce Arians, the man who kept Indy together while Chuck Pagano was out, has taken his talents to Arizona. A five hundred record sounds about right.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Catherine Heigl. Meh.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars. It’s sad to watch the talented Maurice Jones-Drew losing the prime of his career to this giant terd of a franchise. At least they updated the logo and uniforms a little bit so they’ll look faster. Remind me again why a team that’s suffered through years of Byron Leftwich, David Garrard, and Blaine Gabbert didn’t want to take a chance on Tim Tebow? Oh, right, because they’re fucking stupid.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Tara Reid. A mess, but not in a fun way.

4. Tennessee Titans. The Flaming Thumbtacks have absolutely nothing going for them. Jake Locker’s a bum. Chris Johnson’s overrated unless we’re judging him solely on the quality of his gold teeth. Two wins, maybe three.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: William Hung.

By the way, my next novel, A Date with Death, is almost done. Kind of. I’m planning to release it in three cheap chunks, one every six months or so. The first chunk, All Your Fault, will be available September 3. I’ll post the first chapter sometime soon when I’m sick of changing words around every five seconds.

2013 NFL Preview: AFC North

This is a division in flux. The traditional juggernauts are losing talent quicker than Russell Brand. The usual bottom dwellers have improved but not to the point where they’ve become legitimate championship contenders. This one’s going to be fun to watch.

1. Cincinnati Bengals. Division champions? Sure. Cincinnati’s got the best crew of receivers in the AFC North. Quarterback Andy Dalton isn’t going to light the world on fire, but he isn’t likely to pull a Kevin Kolb, either. They can run a little. Their defense isn’t terrible. Head coach Marvin Lewis is dumb but not that dumb. The Bengals are the most slightly above average team in the NFL, and they’re in this spot simply because they lack the sorts of gaping holes holding back the other teams in the division.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Olivia Wilde. Good enough in most roles, but kind of funny looking from certain angles.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (wild card). Age, free agency departures, and poor drafting have left the Steel Curtain looking a bit like a roll of tin foil. Thing is…the AFC kind of sucks this year. A strong defense, a tough home field, and an underrated quarterback will be enough to make up for Pittsburgh’s complete lack of a running game.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Anna Paquin. Looks great until she smiles and you realize you could drive a semi-truck between her front teeth.

3. Baltimore Ravens. No team lost more this offseason than the defending champs. Their Hall of Fame middle linebacker took his fancy dance moves and went home. His heir apparent signed with Miami. Without Ed Reed playing centerfield, the pressure’s on Baltimore’s corners. The departure of Bernard Pollard leaves a huge hole at the ever important Injure a Good Patriot position. The only good play their offense had in the playoffs last season–the deep ball down the sideline–likely won’t save them anymore without Anquan Boldin on the other end of it. Joe Flacco still looks like a dude who’d run crying to his mother if you called him a doodie head. Giving him a big new contract that kept Baltimore from being able to fill its myriad other holes will be a move Ravens fans come to regret. At least their uniforms are still pretty.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Katy Perry. Far too enamored with a loser who isn’t the answer. That’s right, John Meyer, you’re the musical equivalent of Joe Flacco.

4. Cleveland Browns. Are they better? Sure. Just switching head coaches should be worth a win or two. Unfortunately, quarterback Brandon Weeden’s a terd. 3000 yards and 14 touchdowns ain’t shit in the new pass happy NFL. With Baltimore and Pittsburgh reeling, this would be the year for the Browns to sneak into the playoffs–but they just don’t have the horses to do it.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Drew Carey.

2013 NFL Preview: AFC East

Are you ready for some football? I sure as fuck am. Baseball’s a good thing, but watching the Red Sox bullpen blow a lead for the umpteenth time in the last month makes me wish there was a punter on the TV instead. That’s right, I miss everything about the NFL, including the squishy, barely face-masked bottom of its food chain. At this point in the summer, Shane Lechler > Albert Pujols. Touchbacks > dingers. The wildcat still sucks, though.

The pending return of the National Football League brings with it the latest incarnation of an advanced metric my millions of loyal blogonauts have come to rely on when attempting to explain the vagaries of football to their uninitiated friends and companions: the Hollywood Starlet Equivalent. Although many people can’t tell the difference between a zone blitz and a Tampa 2, pretty much everybody understands why Kate Upton isn’t Amanda Bynes, and vice versa. You’re welcome.

And now, the AFC East.

1. New England Patriots. Sure, their three best receivers from last year are now a Bronco, an invalid, and an accused murderer, but the Pats are still the class of the AFC East. At this point that’s like being the smartest person on Duck Dynasty, but this award comes with a playoff berth. If you’re a pessimist, you look at the missing receivers and the fact that their two big offseason acquisitions were a slot man who can’t stay on the field and a quarterback whose best position might be missionary (OH MAN LOOK AT THE DOUBLE ENTENDRE). If you’re an optimist, you believe in the Patriot way and cite the team’s improved defense and running game. If you’re being realistic, you see 10-6 and a first round loss to a spunkier squad.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Cameron Diaz. Not what she once was, but still good enough most of the time.

2. Miami Dolphins. Don’t let this second place prediction fool you; 3-3 against the rest of the division and a couple of squeakers against the rest of the schedule means six or seven wins. Reggie Bush left for Detroit. Ryan Tannehill is not the answer at quarterback and Mike Wallace is more fucking nuts than any of us could’ve imagined given that he could’ve stayed in Pittsburgh with a real football team. The defense might be good enough to keep them in a few games if the offense somehow decides not to suck, but the Dolphins aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Tara Reid. Screwed up beyond hope. The Sharknado of the AFC East.

3. New York Jets. Let the rebuilding begin! Revis Island was washed off to Tampa. You have to think Geno Smith–a guy who basically vomited all over himself in the second half of his final collegiate season–was a bit of a reach in the draft. He’s going to need some time on the bench watching how a veteran NFL quarterback goes about his business. At least the Jets can trot the Sanchize out there so Geno can learn what not to do. Rex Ryan would probably be my favorite coach in the league if he worked somewhere other than the Big Apple. I’ll probably get my wish in 2014.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Amanda Bynes. Keep a sharp eye on the Sanchize’s Twitter for crazy wig pictures, ill-advised piercings, and requests that random rappers (or perhaps Fireman Ed) murder his vagina.

4. Buffalo Bills. Remember that time they gave Ryan Fitzpatrick $59 million over six years? That was fun. I guess they were still blinded by the memory of JP Losman. Regardless, three wins sounds generous for a squad that’s got absolutely nothing going for it unless you count those “home” games in scenic Toronto.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: The blow-up doll from Lars and the Real Girl.