sidebysideWell it’s the halfway point of the season. Sort of. This bye week stuff sure does mess with math. Then again, as a Buccaneer fan, we wish that every week was a bye week!

How about my Bucs last week. They fought their way back into a game against a cream-puff opponent, won the toss in OT, and had a fumble returned for a touchdown against them on the first play from scrimmage. Like Lovie said, we’re getting better.

What’s this out of Tennessee that the Titans’ brass made newly anointed QB Zach Mettenberger get a haircut and shave before his first start? How Steinbrenner of them! But here’s the troubling part for me: they never made Charlie “Clipboard Jesus” Whitehurst tame his locks! I smell a discrimination lawsuit! See for yourself in the photo evidence–unkempt Zach on left, Clipboard Jesus on the right. (And tell me when you look at Charlie you don’t think Jesus Christ Superstar or Godspell.)

Injuries are mounting. Rosters and depth charts are in flux. But in DC, RGIII is back from injury. Colt McCoy’s 15 minutes are up. And there’s blood in the water in Atlanta. Rumor has it that Head Coach Mike Smith’s house is on the market. Vegas odds say he won’t make it to the end of the year. Good thing for him: it’s his bye week. That means he won’t lose on Sunday … and he’s got a few days off to scour the job market.

Enough chatter. I went a respectable 10-5 last week. My midseason report card will wait ’til next week. In the meantime, it’s time for my ‘Lovie-make-it-better-we-can’t-lose-to-the-Browns’ picks for Week 9: Saints over Panthers, Bengals over Jags, Browns over Bucs, Cowboys over Cards, Texans over Eagles, Chiefs over Jets, Chargers over Dolphins, Vikes over Native Americans, Niners over Rams, Pats over Peytons, Seahawks over Raiders, Ravens over Steelers, Colts over Giants.

A Week Off & We Gained Ground

loveyBucs fans have cause to celebrate. Our bye week not only saved us from losing, it actually helped us gain some ground, as all of our divisional rivals fell. We may back into the race! Oh wait, they only give us one bye week. Rats!

Good news is that Head Coach Lovie Smith (why do I always think of “Lovey” Howell from Gilligan’s Island whenever I hear his name) assures, “We’re going to get better.” Do you suppose he means get better in terms of winning–or better in that we won’t be losing by forty points week in and week out?

In Tennessee, Clipboard Jesus (Charlie Whitehurst) can go back to holding the clipboard on the sideline. The Zach Mettenberger era has begun. I know … can’t wait to tune in a Titanics game!

Peyton Manning broke Brett Favre’s touchdown record. Congrats. The ever-gracious Favre has this to say, “I don’t really care.” Class ass … uh, act.

And the Seahawks traded Percy Harvin to the Jets for … a dozen kicking tees. What’s up with that? Somebody wasn’t playing nice. Mark my words.

So much more to ruminate over, but you pay the big bucks for me to wow you with wins. So here you go, my ‘can-Peyton-get-to-600-before-Thanksgiving’ picks for Week 8: Broncos over Chargers, Falcons over Lions, Seahawks over Panthers, Bengals over Ravens, Dolphins over Jags, Chiefs over Rams, Pats over Bears, Bills over Jets, Bucs over Vikes, Texans over Titanics, Cards over Eagles, Browns over Raiders, Colts over Steelers, Pack over Saints, Cowboys over Native Americans.

Improving Our Craft

Always on the lookout for ways to get better at what we do, I’ve endeavored a series of posts here that I hope will provide some great insights and thought provocation where our craft is concerned. How does the old saying go? If the shoe fits … Drink deeply!

BullseyeiconMark Twain once said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I’ve written a long one instead.” What he meant was that it takes work to write succinctly. Or as I’ve encouraged before: Write it; then trim it. Nothing can improve our writing like the delete key!

Here I’ll offer a handful of the words you could (read: should) target:

Literally - When something is true in a literal sense, you don’t need to add the word literally. It clutters. The only time you should use the word literally in your writing is when you need to clarify that you’re serious when it is entirely possible that you are joking. Suppose a well-trained athlete wrote, “I literally ran five miles today.” Literally is a wasted word. It should read, “I ran five miles today.” He’s a great athlete. We take him at his word. Now if I wrote, “I ran five miles today” you wouldn’t believe it. (Nor should you!) So if by some miracle I actually did run five miles, that would be a place where literally would bring clarity–Darin’s not kidding, he literally did it. Are you okay, Darin? Do you need oxygen?

Very – Let’s be honest: very is a very weak word. The rock is very hard. How much harder than hard is very hard? Have you ever met a soft rock? When we use very in a sentence we’re attempting to intensify the description. But the description doesn’t need intensifying. Your reader gets it. Rocks are hard. Really. Oh, and there’s another …

Really – Just like very, really is another oft wasted word. “It’s really important that you sign up.” Try this: “Sign up! It’s important!” Do you see what I mean? Really really adds nothing. In fact, it takes away from the aim–which is “sign up!” Sort of like the word literally mentioned above, unless your reader has some reason to doubt the point you’re making, the word really should be chopped.

Totally – I think this one is a holdover from the Jeff Spiccoli vocabulary from Ridgemont High (or perhaps the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), “That’s totally awesome, Dude!” But (imagine this in Mr. Hand’s voice) let’s consider the meaning of the word totally, shall we? It means … wait for it … in totality. Consider this sentence: “I was totally shocked.” Can you be partially shocked? You’re either shocked or your not. So which it is? Write “I was shocked.” That says all you need to say.

I get that we all go kicking and screaming through the trim phase. But try me on this one–cut those words out and see for yourself, your writing will be better for it! Nothing screams literary novice quite as loudly as frequent appearances of literally, very, really and totally in your writing.