Friday, May 29, 2009

The Committee to Unify Ridiculous And Contrived Acronymed Organizations

From the newswire. --Ed.

Legions of non-profit and activist organizations have a new lobbying group to draw attention to their missions.

Announced earlier this week, the Committee to Unify Ridiculous And Contrived Acronymed Organizations, or Curacao, aims to help socially oriented programs with odd names further their efforts. Up to 100 groups with names like the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), a Tufts University program to promote political engagement of young people, are expected to benefit.

"Many of our groups struggle to gain awareness in the public eye," said Curacao director Eduaro Jones, despite clunky names like the Marriage Appreciation Training Uplifting Relationship Education (MATURE) project in Georgia, a federally funded abstinence program, or the Women in Need Growing Stronger (WINGS) services for homeless and abused women.

"Each of these groups deserves a wider audience for their important causes and their clever, tongue-twisting acronyms," continued Jones, "whether it's the SUDS (Stop Underage Drinking and Sales) task force in Indiana, or Jim Abbott's disability advocacy group PITCH (Proving Individuals with Talent Can Help)."

Spokespersons from the represented agencies and programs lauded the national Curacao effort. "I know PILLARS specifically will benefit from Curacao's leadership," said Jim Westham, referring to Peers Inspiring, Listening, Learning, and Responsible Socializing, a University of Notre Dame student group dedicated to a safe and responsible college lifestyle, where he is director. "I thought 'PILLARS' was pretty good, but 'Curacao,' I mean, wow."

"This is particularly important for social services organizations," Curacao's Jones said. "If you want to draw attention to your cause, no matter how useful or trivial, selecting a word that spells out something awkward is the only truly successful way to achieve that."


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

2009 Chicago Summer Festival Calendar

Better late than not at all, here is this year's Chicago street festival guide.

Let's start it on a positive jam, man, and talk about some encouraging developments. North Center's Ribfest, one of my personal favorites, has extended to a third day and will begin Friday night. Fitzgerald's American Music Festival has a powerhouse line-up: Joe Ely, Jon Dee Graham, Tarbox Ramblers, Over the Rhine, "long tall" Marcia Ball, Robbie Fulks, Shemekia Copeland, BeauSoleil and Carrie Rodriguez are all worthy of headlining. The only challenge is having to choose between those Americans and this American on Independence Day weekend.

Make Sam proud. Go see some American music.

I'm encouraged by the new Metronome Chicago festival: four stages of rock, punk, electronic and folk, all booked by local experts, plus a fifth stage of music from local schools.

A couple other quick updates: the Country Music Fest is moving back to Grant Park after being by Soldier Field in 2008. ... Light-rock station WTMX ("The Mix") is booking Jammin' at the Zoo this year, leading to this ultra-bland lineup: Sister Hazel/Josh Kelley; Matt Nathanson/Brett Dennen; Five for Fighting. I'm not going, but I did leave it on the list because hearing music at the zoo is a cool experience. But please XRT, please book cool bands next year. ... Pitchfork didn't make the spreadsheet because a) I'm not going, and b) no one interesting is playing. ... I want to plug St. Michael's Celebration: not only do they have Freddy Jones Band, but check out their poster: the first five sponsors are alcohol and rock 'n roll. Alas, we already have plans that night.

Apparently no aspect of life is immune from the economic doldrums, including the festival scene. Some changes I noticed from last year: Blues Fest has been shortened by one day (thanks, Mayor Daley). Pizza Fest and Wine Fest (the one in North Center, not the one in Old Town) won't be back. Summer on Southport got canceled for a different reason: the Cubs will have three concerts this year and they couldn't find a feasible date.

And in my perspective, the economy has affected the musical bookings as well. This blog's co-authors noticed more local artists than usual, and fewer national/travelling bands. This could be a chicken-or-egg situation: as record labels cut back on budgets, signed bands can't afford to travel as far or as much. With that absence, concert promoters look to the local stable of artists to fill those empty stages.

Here are my official disclaimers. One: This list has a North Side bias. The official City of Chicago website lists twice as many festivals as I have here. But let's face it: you probably aren't going to Ghanafest on 55th Street, and if you are, God bless ya, you can find that information on your own. (If you're serious you could look here or here or here.) In reality, you're going to go to the same festivals I am--the ones on the North Side you can either walk to, el to or cab to. You'll have a beer or two at these festivals and you won't want to drive.

Two: I do not guarantee any of the information here. It was collected in early May, and a lot can change between now and festival time. Check the website to see if they've changed the band lineup or the cover.

Three: I think I know which one will be great (Ribfest, Taste), which ones will be insanely crowded (Lincoln Ave, Taste), which ones will have the best people watching (Randolph, Hideout), and so on. But I just don't know. So ... "Caveat Festor" ... let the festivalgoer beware.

The spreadsheet is here. To view it online, go here. NEW THIS YEAR, I've added a smiley sun logo to the festivals that I can personally endorse from experience.

Finally, local band Hello Dave has released a great summer soundtrack tune, appropriately (if not creatively) named "Summer in Chicago." Click here to listen to Hello Dave's "Summer in Chicago."

Enjoy the summer everybody!

Tift Merritt, onstage at the 2008 Country Music Festival.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

1000 Words: Victory

2000 words, actually. What victory looks like:

What victory looks like:

Yes, that is the "ram stiffarming cheerleader" photo in the background. What victory tastes like: I'm actually drinking one right now, and I can confirm that Blue Star is a tasty wheat beer, especially with the requisite lemon wedge. It has a full taste without feeling heavy in the mouth or gut. Viva les Tar Heels!

"I love the smell of North Coast Blue Star in the morning*. It smells like ... victory."

Speaking of victory, congratulations to commenter "Don" (I assume that's Donald) for caring enough to use Google to identify the quotes from last week. The songs are "Across the Line" by Scott Miller (2001) and "Supernatural Superserious" by R.E.M. (2007). I say this because I would be surprised to learn that Don's music collection spans both records. At any rate, congrats. Maybe next time there will be a real prize ... like Blue Star!

* -- MPF studiously avoids drinking alcohol in the morning, lest being branded an alcoholic, even during these days of unemployment. Everyone knows that if you wait til a minute after 12 noon, then you're fine.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Headin' Home

We are heading out later today, going to Northwest Ohio (her home, my home-in-law) for a long weekend. Gets me thinking about home, and a couple quotes for you:

"Everybody here comes from somewhere that they would just as soon forget."

"There's nothing wrong with where I come from, sometimes it's meant to be just that."

First person to correctly identify the author and original publication for both quotes wins a prize*.

1. Follow instructions listed in the blog posting at with the correct answer and submit your first name and last name, complete address, city, state, zip code, telephone number, date of birth, and a valid email address in the comment form. Only one internet entry per person and one internet entry per email address is permitted. Internet entries will be deemed made by the authorized account holder of the email address submitted at the time of entry. The authorized account holder is the natural person who is assigned to the email address by an internet access provider, online service provider or other organization that is responsible by assigning email address or the domain associated with the submitted email address. Multiple participants are not permitted to share the same email address. All entries submitted become the sole property of the blog and will not be acknowledged or returned. Use of any device to automate entry is prohibited. Proof of submission of an entry shall not be deemed proof of receipt by the blog. The blog's computer is the official time keeping device for the sweepstakes. The blog is not responsible for entries not received due to difficulty accessing the internet, service outage or delays, computer difficulties or other technological glitches.
a. The contest is open to all persons who are 18 years of age or older and who read the blog. Employees of tmmpf, Blogspot, its licensees, and each of their corporate parents, subsidiaries, and affiliates, participating sponsors/promotional partners, and the members of their immediate families and or households are ineligible to participate or win.
b. Only one winner per household is permitted in any Contest administered. Winner is not eligible to win and claim prizes for another contest within 60 days.
c. Entrants are required to provide truthful information and the blog will reject and delete any entry that it discovers to be false or fraudulent. The blog will disqualify any entry from individuals who do not meet the eligibility requirements, and the Station will also delete any entry received from persons under the age of 13 in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
d. Certain travel restrictions may apply. Travel arrangements must be made through Administrator’s agent on a carrier of Administrator’s choice. No prize substitutions, cash equivalent, or transfer of prizes permitted except at the sole discretion of the Contest Entities. Prize subject to availability and the Contest Entities reserve the right, at their sole discretion, to award a prize of greater or equal value if the advertised prize is unavailable. If winner cannot travel on dates specified by Contest Entities, winner may be disqualified and an alternate winner selected. All other costs not specifically stated herein, including, but not limited to, taxes, meals, tips and ground transportation, are the responsibility of the winner. Taxes are solely the responsibility of the winner. Winner and travel companion must travel on the same itinerary and are responsible for obtaining all required travel documents including passports. In addition, travel companion of Winner must be 18 years of age or older. Winner may be required to present a valid credit card upon hotel check in to cover any incidental expenses incurred during their stay. Winner and travel companion are responsible for obtaining travel insurance (and all other forms of insurance) where applicable, at their option, and hereby acknowledge that the Contest Entities have not and will not obtain or provide travel insurance or any other form of insurance. Winner and travel companion must sign a Publicity, Liability Waiver and Travel Release form prior to traveling. If a selected event is unable to take place as scheduled, for reasons such as cancellation, preemption, postponement or unavailability, or for any reason beyond the control of the Contest Entities, the Contest Entities’ sole responsibility to a Winner will be to award the remaining available portion of the prize and no substitution will be provided for unawarded portion of prize. Tickets are subject to terms and conditions as specified by issuer. Seat locations to be determined by Contest Entities. Contest Entities reserve the right remove or to deny entry to winner and/or guest if he/she engages in a disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person at the concert.
e. In the event that a prize or prize certificate is mailed to the winner, it will be with the prior written consent of the winner and therefore, winner assumes the risk of its loss. The Station is not responsible for the safe arrival of a prize or prize certificate.
a. Decisions of Contest Entities management with respect to the Contest are final.
b. Winners must execute and return any required affidavit of eligibility and/or liability/publicity release within 30 (30) days of notification attempt or prize will be forfeited and an alternate winner may be chosen randomly from entries received. If a potential winner cannot be contacted, fails to sign and return the required affidavit of eligibility and liability/publicity release within the required time period, or if a prize or prize notification is returned as undeliverable, potential winner forfeits prize.
a. Payments of all federal, state and local taxes are solely the responsibility of the winners. Winners may be required to sign an IRS Form W-9 or the equivalent.
b. By participating in the contest, the winner or winners agree to have their name, voice, or likeness used in any advertising or broadcasting material relating to this sweepstakes without additional financial or other compensation, and, where legal, to sign a publicity release confirming such consent prior to acceptance of the prize.
c. Prior to awarding any prize or prize certificate, the blog in its sole discretion may require sweepstakes winners (and their travel companions, if any) to sign a liability release, agreeing to hold blog its licensees, and each of their parent, subsidiary and affiliated corporations, and the officers, shareholders, directors, employees, agents and representatives of each of them harmless against any and all claims or liability arising directly or indirectly from the prize or participation in the contest.
d. The blog, in is sole discretion, reserves the right to disqualify any person tampering with the entry process, the operation of the blog’s website or is otherwise in violation of the rules. It further reserves the right to cancel, terminate or modify the sweepstakes if it is not capable of completion as planned, including infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention or technical failures of any sort.
e. The Contest Entities reserve the right to make changes in the rules of the Contest, including the substitution of a prize or equivalent value, which will become effective upon announcement. If due to circumstances beyond the control of the Station, any competition or prize-related event is delayed, rescheduled, postponed or cancelled, the Station reserves the right, but not the obligation, to cancel or modify the sweepstakes and shall not be required to award a substitute prize.
f. Failure to comply with the Contest rules may result in a contestant’s disqualification solely at the discretion of the Contest Entities.
g. The Contest Entities are not responsible for typographical or other errors in the printing, the offering or the administration of the Contest, or in the announcement of a prize.
h. Did I mention the only prize is the satisfaction of winning?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Local News Roundup

I pulled the top stories off the news wire. --MPF.

Driver on Cell Phone Stops for Pedestrians at Intersection
CHICAGO (AP) – Onlookers watched in shock today as a driver talking on a cell phone came to an unprecedented complete stop before almost running down two pedestrians.

The near-accident occurred around 11 am at the corner of Diversey Boulevard and Sheffield Avenue on the city’s North Side. A black Cadillac southbound on Sheffield making a legal right turn entered the intersection as two individuals also attempted to cross the street.

“I looked to my left and saw this woman gabbing away,” said one pedestrian, who only gave his name as “Matt.” “We were already a couple steps into the crosswalk, and I thought we were goners. Cell phone drivers never stop for anybody.”

Witnesses said the driver was a blonde woman in her mid-40s. She gave no indication that she saw the pedestrians, given her animated cell phone conversation.

“I just thank my lucky stars she wasn’t painting her nails,” said the other pedestrian, who gave her name as “Teresa.”

The driver could not be identified, as she continued talking and steering after the near-miss.

Clueless Nerd Can’t Figure Out Why Shatner, Nimoy Look So Young
CHICAGO (AP) – Clueless nerd Lance Allerby, 48, wondered aloud how the makers of the newest “Star Trek” movie made aging actors William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy appear so youthful. “Those guys have to be in their 70s,” mused Allerby. “The TV show first came out in 1966. Is it computer tricks, or did they splice together old clips from the early years of the series?” Psychologists at the University of Illinois-Chicago encouraged Allerby to get out a little and perhaps talk to girls.

Drew Peterson Now Wishes He Hadn’t Been So Smug
BOLINGBROOK, Ill. (AP) – In his first jailhouse interview since being arrested for the death of his third wife, Drew Peterson admitted he should not have been so cavalier with the media while under suspicion.

“Looking back on it, I probably shouldn’t have taunted authorities like that,” Peterson told reporters. “The mugging for cameras, the morning show blitz, the stunt with the new fiancĂ©e … that probably just pissed people off.” Peterson, who was reportedly set to appear in an HBO reality show about a brothel, agreed that the idea of drowning in an empty bathtub “was pretty weak, but what does it say about law enforcement in Illinois that it took them five years to get me?”

Fellow unconvicted double-murderer Orenthal James Simpson, 61, of Las Vegas, was unavailable for comment, as he was being held at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nev., on charges relating to a September 2007 robbery.

Michigan's State Economy Now Based On ‘Pure Michigan’ Ads
CHICAGO (AP) – At a regional economic development conference here, Michigan officials announced that the health of the state economy is now dependent on evocative “Pure Michigan” advertisements. “With the near-collapse of the auto industry, it’s time to remember a childhood swimming hole,” Gov. Jennifer Granholm said slowly, with a dreamy piano tinkling in the background. After a pause, she added, “Play some golf. Find the perfect antique. Don’t mention Detroit. Have the perfect romantic getaway.” Economic development director Stanley "Skip" Pruss acknowledged that the ubiquitous ads incur more expense in airing than tourism revenue generates.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Free Movie Reviews

When you are out of work, you need to be creative to stretch the entertainment dollar. That means being on the lookout for cheap/free offers. Luckily for me, March was a freebie month.

It started with Einstein Brothers Bagels, who generously put two re-useable coupons in the paper: free small coffee on Monday morning and free plain bagel on Friday morning. I think I went every possible day while the deal was in effect. I’m pretty sure the Monday and Friday staff started to recognize me …a couple times I didn’t even have to show the coupon. “You, unemployed guy in the baseball cap. Today must be Friday, cause you’re here for your bagel. Okay, here it is, on your way.”

Not edible but also a great deal was Redbox. I understand the point of Redbox: $1 per night rentals of recent movie releases from a self-serve kiosk at convenient locations (McDonald’s and grocery stores). I do not understand the business model of Redbox: give away so many damn free codes that no half-sentient person ever has to pay for a movie. For example, if you give Redbox your cell phone number, they will send a text message with a free promotional code (one night’s rental) every Monday.

And in March, Redbox offered a free promotional code (one night’s rental) every Wednesday that month, then extended it to the first Wednesday of April because of a technical glitch one week. I mean, I saw this headline...

Redbox's $1 vending-machine video rentals worry movie studios

...after getting back from yet another free rental and thought the hed should be:

Redbox's $0 vending-machine video rentals ought to worry Redbox

Anyway, their loss. Being savvy to the deal (thanks to Clam), I trucked over to my local Jewel several consecutive Wednesdays to watch all the movies I had almost no desire to see while they were in the theaters.

My reviews follow. I will use the MPF Movie Rating System (Part 1 and Part 2 for your review) and a letter grade where appropriate. And because Hollywood generally gives movies dumb titles, I will rename the movies for more clarity and accuracy.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
My title: Judd Apatow: Hawaii*.

Technically, we got this one at Blockbuster, but it was right around that same time. The Apatow crowd makes another good-hearted, foul-mouthed film, this time about a guy who goes to Hawaii to forget about his girlfriend who dumped him. Except said ex is there, with her new funny-talking boyfriend (might be British). Apatow: Hawaii was funny in spots, with a good ensemble cast (the fat kid from Superbad had a too-small part).

MPF Score: 3.5. (You see what appears to be Jackie from That 70’s Show flashing the camera, but in the commentary track we are told those weren’t really her boobs. Besides, those points really should be nullified by the more prominent male genitalia.)

Pineapple Express.
My title: Apatow: Pot.

A stoner film in the fine tradition of Dazed And Confused, Harold And Kumar, and, uh, it appears they should have called this Pineapple And Express to carry on the formula. Seth Rogen plays a stoner who witnesses a murder and, along with his dealer, goes on the run from the bad guys. There was a little too much “bro-love” crap that slowed down the plot, and the ending featured a bloodbath of a shootout that didn’t fit the light tone of the first half.

MPF Score: 4.5.

The Siskel and Ebert of my generation.

There Will Be Blood
My title: Oil! Why the hell not, it worked for the book.

First of all, there was very little blood in the movie. There was a lot more oil. Even There Will Be Oil And A Lot Of It would have been a better title. This is a long, meandering, pointless movie whose only redeeming quality is a masterful acting job by Daniel Day Lewis. However, we already knew he was awesome from In The Name of the Father and his Oscar-winning cripple thing. So therefore this movie has nothing new to say. It’s not even an original idea—it’s based on an Upton Sinclair novel.

MPF Grade: D-.

My title: Someone Please Punch This Woman In The Face Right Now.

I hated this movie. First of all, I couldn’t even understand one goddam word anybody said. I even turned on the friggin’ ENGLISH closed-captioning and still could barely follow it. Then, the main character was oppressively optimistic. She giggled and laughed at every stupid thing. When her bicycle got stolen, I cheered. So she takes driving lessons and meets the hero of the movie, the stone-faced driving instructor. I was hoping he would turn her into a normal person, but it looked like that wouldn’t happen so I turned it off.

MPF Score: 0. MPF Grade: F/Incomplete. (guest reviewed by Holden Caulfield)

This picture makes as much sense as that movie.

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist
My title: B&T Kids on the Loose

This was a TM pick, and I liked it more than I thought I would. The dewy-eyed kid from Superbad and a chick he kinda likes are Jersey teenagers on a quest to find a secret show in New York by their favorite band. I can relate to this a little, having chased down rumors that such-and-such a band is playing an after-show at some secret joint. Plus, all the action takes place in the Villages (Green-Wich and East) and Brooklyn. Having lived in New York, it was much more realistic to watch the kids on their quest, driving around the city and seeing all the venues and landmarks. I liked the movie enough to allude to it in my Blogspot profile.

MPF Score: 2. MPF Grade: B+.

Haunting of Molly Hartley
My title: Generic Horror Flick

This is the different between being 17 years old and say, double that. I bet I would have loved this half a lifetime ago: a wafer-thin plot about a girl (would you guess Molly?) who is being (want to guess? Haunted?) by ghosts or demons or whatever … hell, you don’t care, you just want your date to jump in your lap. Or for the movie to last long enough to get in a good makeout session. Every character is a stereotype, from the dull, out-of-touch dad to the rich kid who flirts with Molly to the weirdo Christian who tries to save her soul.

MPF Score: 0. My grade: C+ (if 17: A)

The Dark Knight
My title: The Batman Movie Not Called Batman Or Batman 2 Even Though It Is A Sequel

Last year everyone was all Batman, Batman, Batman, even though there was clearly not a film called Batman in the theatres. Turns out it’s this thing.

I think it’s nice and all that they filmed a movie here, but Batman? Batman is set is Gotham, aka NEW YORK CITY. While it’s always nice to see the beautiful Chicago skyline in a movie, it’s a little ridiculous when a guy in a bat costume flies past the Smurfit-Stone or the Standard Oil. The height of disbelief was when they showed lines of cars on Wacker Drive near State Street, with Marina City towers visible, and a cop talked about getting everyone out of the City through the bridges and tunnels. Hah! Maybe only people who have lived in both Chicago and Gotham would get that, but I am one such person.

I took this picture of the Standard Oil building one cold day in 2003 when TM and I were walking around downtown.

As for the movie itself: too long, too confusing**. It’s too bad the Joker killed himself but there’s always Jack Nicholson.

MPF score: 4 (Chicago points nearly revoked though)

Burn After Reading
My title: Actually, I’m okay with Burn After Reading

This movie is promoted at the beginning of my Big Lebowski DVD. I was curious enough, knowing it involved the Coen Brothers and Frances McDormand (awesome together in Fargo, awesome separately in Lebowski and Almost Famous, among others).

This movie was funny. Hilarious. I laughed out loud at least twice, and then about four times in the final five minutes, which might be the funniest final five minutes in American cinematic history. (1992’s Diggstown still is the most surprisingly enjoyable…this was just flat out hilarious.) Several actors were much funnier and well-played than I expected (the types of guys who show up in Ocean’s Fifteen type movies). The Coen brothers strike*** again.

MPF score: 5.

The updated spreadsheet is tab "redbox reviews" if it doesn't default to there. Hope you enjoyed it.

* -- I think all Judd Apatow movies should follow this formula. It would be a lot easier to keep track of them all… Apatow: Virgin. Apatow: Pregnant. Apatow: High School. Apatow: Amusement Park. Apatow: Mall Cop.

** -- I am told my confusion keeping all the characters straight was because this was a sequel. If so, why didn’t they call it Batman 2, Son of Batman, Batman’s Revenge, Return to Batman, Batman and the Temple of Doom, something like that?

*** -- a bowling pun. But you got that.

Ohhh, one more picture. It is so pretty.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Jersey Boys

When we moved from Chicago to New York, we decided to live in Manhattan to get the full-fledged New York experience. Because really, why move to New York ... but live in Brooklyn. Or move to New York but live in ... Jersey. If you're gonna do it, do it.

Apparently that philosophy does not apply to ex-Cubs. Thanks to Morthas, the Greek god of collecting, for pointing out the Newark Bears. (Not the existence of, which I already knew, but the current composition.) The 2009 Bears have FOUR ex-Cubs on the roster. Plus the website is chock-full of interesting tidbits about the players. Considering how odd today is, let's take a closer look at the players and some odd facts.

Panda attempts to explain all the ex-Cubs.

Let's start with Darryle Ward, thought to be out of baseball or at least munching on a piece of high-caloric food somewhere. He's on the Bears.

Little known fact: Ward spent the 2009 spring training with the "Cincinnatie Reds."

Bobbie Hill! Holy hell, would you have ever guessed that Bobby Hill was still playing baseball for money? We traded our "second baseman of the future" and Jose Hernandez to the Pirates to get Kenny Lofton and a third baseman named Ramirez. At least THAT guy is still around.

Hill upon learning he was drafted by the Cubs.

Little known fact: This is Hill's second go-round in Newark: "Originally a second round draft pick for the Chicago Cubs, Hill instead decided to play for the Newark Bears. In 2000, Hill hit .326 with 13 homeruns and 82 runs batted in for the Bears. ... Hill was signed by the Chicago Cubs and played in the major leagues from 2002-2003."

Michael Tucker! Tucker played for the Cubs in 2001, making him one of the oldest ex-Cubs still active. (By my count, only Ross Gload from the 2000 team is still around, with David Weathers and Julian Tavarez also representing 2001.)

Little known fact: "Tucker hit the first homerun ever at Turner Field and collected the last base hit ever at Milwaukee's County Stadium."


Bobby Brownlie. This kid was a first-round draft pick of the Cubs in 2002. Now there many reasons why the Cubs will never win the BCS National Championship of Baseball, aka the World Series. Let's look at the 2002 draft for one.

Baseball, more than football or basketball, will always have first-round flameouts due to the difficult nature of projecting talent. But by my count, at least 13 first-round picks from 2002 have become regular players in the bigs, guys like Cole Hamels (Phillies), Scott Kazmir (drafted Mets/now Devil Rays), Prince Fielder (Brewers), and Jeff Francoeur (Braves). Several others are at least in the bigs in some capacity still, like B.J. Upton (Devil Rays) and Denard Span (Twins). And where is the Cubs first round pick? Newark.

Wait a minute, who drafted this guy?

By the way, it's not just Andy McPhail's fault. Ed Lynch and Hendry are on the hook too. Look at this heaping pile of success since Kerry Wood was the No. 4 overall pick in 1995:

1996: Todd Noel
1997: Jon Garland
1998: Corey Patterson
1999: Ben Christensen
2000: Luis Montanez
2001: Mark Prior
2002: Bobby Brownlie
2003: Ryan Harvey
2004; No Selection (that guy sucks)
2005: Mark Pawelek
2006: Tyler Colvin
2007: Josh Vitters
2008: Andrew Cashner

We were so optimistic ... so gullible.

And if you're thinking it's too early to judge the more recent picks, well, Jacoby Ellsbury (2005), Tim Lincecum (2006) and David Price (2007) may disagree. (Seriously, go watch that Ellsbury video if you haven't seen it yet.)