Saturday, September 24, 2011

UFC 135: Kyle and I pick 'em

Tonight's UFC 135 has so many fun fights that Kyle and I decided to put ourselves to the test once again. Here's how we seem the bouts going, starting, as always, with the three that won't be on cable TV. (You can catch them, though, on Facebook.)

We've only posted one other set of fight picks recently, so we decided it was time to do another.

Here are our picks for the preliminary fights that are not on Spike TV or the PPV event, though you can catch them live on the UFC's Facebook page.

James Te Huna vs. Ricardo Romero

Mark: Pit an okay striker against an okay grappler, and the grappler will usually carry the day. Romero is the better wrestler here, so I'm going with him.

Kyle: Te Huna and Romero both have impressive records outside the UFC, but have only gone 1-1 since coming to the big show. This is do or die for them. Romero is the better grappler. Te Huna is the better striker. In such cases I'm inclined to pick the better wrestler. Romero for the win.

Takeya Mizugaki vs. Cole Escovedo

Mark: Expect a full three rounds of ugly, back-and-forth fighting as neither man is likely to finish the other. In the end, I'm going with Escovedo as the winner by decision of a close bout.

Kyle: Mizugaki and Escovedo are both crossovers from the WEC, where they have long records and have faced some of the best bantamweights in the division. They have similar styles, combining journeyman-level striking skills with journeyman-level grappling. This should be an even, incremental fight. But I think Mizugaki's a little bit tougher and has held his own against slightly stronger competition in the past. Mizugaki should take it in the end.

Junior Assuncao vs. Eddie Yagin

Mark: Pretty much all I know about Yagin is that he's won seven of his last eight fights, and this is his UFC debut. I've read several folks picking him, but I'm going with Octagon jitters affecting him and Assuncao getting a much-needed victory.

Kyle: After losing fights to Kurt Pellegrino and Nate Diaz, Junior Assuncao got sent back to the minors, but four years and seven victories later he's back in the UFC and fighting for a second chance against newcomer Eddie Yagin. I don't know much about either fighter, but I''m picking Yagin because he comes from a stronger team. He trains at Alliance MMA with Joey Beltran, Travis Browne, Dominick Cruz, Phil Davis, and Brandon Vera. Assuncao trains with Rory Singer in Georgia, where there just aren't as many UFC-caliber fighters to push him to a higher level. Yagin to win.

The next two fights will be available for free on Spike TV.

Tony Ferguson vs. Aaron Riley

Mark: Aaron Riley has participated in a lot of great fights and logged a ton of victories, but this fight won't be one of them. Tony Ferguson will beat him both striking and on the ground. I don't expect this one to last three rounds before Ferguson emerges the victor.

Kyle: Ferguson is the most recent winner of The Ultimate Fighter reality show, and Riley is the experienced past-his-prime veteran that the UFC is using to build Ferguson up further. Riley's a game brawler, but Ferguson is better-conditioned and more technical. Expect Ferguson to wear Riley down, avoid his haymakers, and get the win.

Nick Ring vs. Tim Boetsch

Mark: Ring will enter the Octagon undefeated but will exit with his first loss as Boetsch, who should now be comfortable at 185, will be just too strong and too tough for him to handle. It's 50-50 whether Boetsch finishes Ring, but Boetsch will win.

Kyle: Nick "I'm not gay but my boyfriend is" Ring was the best thing about season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter, but he's going to have his hands full with Tim Boetsch. Boetsch, aptly nicknamed "The Barbarian," looked like an absolute beast in his first fight at 185, smashing Kendall Grove for three rounds straight and sending him packing right out of the UFC. Ring is a technical kick-boxer who's going to want to keep his distance and punish Boetsch with leg kicks from the outside. But Boetsch has the wrestling chops to tie up with Ring, dirty box against the cage, and drag Ring to the ground for more abuse. Boetsch by assault and battery.

To see the final five fights, you have to pony up for the PPV.

Ben Rothwell vs. Mark Hunt

Mark: Ben Rothwell could win this fight. All he has to do is piss off Dana White by playing it safe, flicking jabs, clinching on the fence, taking down Hunt, and walking out with the decision.

Alternatively, Rothwell could do what the UFC wants him to do: stand in the center of the octagon and trade punches with Hunt in a bid to land the Fight of the Night bonus--a bonus likely to be far larger than his paycheck if he wins.

I'm really torn on this one, but I'm hoping a desire to win after over a year in rehab leads Rothwell to fight intelligently. So, I'm going with Rothwell--but I'm not at all sure I'm right to do so.

Kyle: When 524 pounds of ham-fisted heavyweights walk into the cage Saturday night, somebody's getting knocked out. That much we can be relatively sure of. Rothwell's best chance is to get Hunt to the ground and dominate with ground-and-pound. But I don't think he's going to be able to resist the temptation to brawl, and Hunt has head and hands of granite. Hunt by KO.

Nate Diaz vs. Takanori Gomi

Mark: If this were the Gomi of a few years ago, when he was tearing up fighters in Japan, he'd still lose to Nate Diaz--but the fight would be closer. Gomi is not that guy any longer, and the competition in the UFC is way tougher than it was in Japan. Diaz will do what the Diaz brothers do: flick and jab and slap and generally annoy from a distance, slowly but surely chop up Gomi, and hope Gomi takes him down so he can pull a submission. Whether by points or submission, though, Diaz will walk out the winner.

Kyle: Four years ago, Gomi was solidly beaten by Nate's older brother Nick--only to see the decision overturned when Nick Diaz tested positive for smoking marijuana before the fight. Nick and Nate have similar styles, and Gomi hasn't gotten any better in the meantime. Diaz should be able to frustrate Gomi on the feet with pitter-pat strikes, tie him up on the ground with superior jiu jitsu, and earn the win.

Travis Browne vs. Rob Broughton

Mark: The UFC must be thinking ahead and wanting another undefeated heavyweight, because that's the only reason I can figure they would feed Broughton to the undefeated Browne. Browne will destroy Broughton in a fight that won't last long.

Kyle: Browne comes into the ring with a five-inch height advantage and an undefeated record. He's beaten Stefan Struve and fought Cheick Kongo to a draw. Broughton is a step down for him. It's not a step that he should have any trouble taking. Browne by knockout.

Matt Hughes vs. Josh Koscheck

Mark: I've never found a reason to like Josh Koscheck, and just about everything I've seen him do has increased my dislike of him. So, I'd love to see Hall of Famer Matt Hughes spank his blond butt. The problem is, Hughes at his best would have had a tough time with Koscheck, and Hughes is no longer at his best. Koscheck will be better in every area and walk away the winner.

Kyle: Like most wrestler vs. wrestler match-ups, this one will probably take place entirely on the feet. Unfortunately for Matt Hughes, despite his recent work on improving his striking skills, he's at a tremendous reach disadvantage vs. Josh Koscheck. Expect a kickboxing match between powerful and competent strikers with Koscheck eventually getting the knockout.

Jon Jones vs. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson

Mark: I would love to see Rampage win this fight, simply because it would continue the win-it-and-lose-it pattern that's been dogging this Light Heavyweight championship for a while. Rampage even has a puncher's chance, because if Jones gets sloppy, Rampage can knock him out with one punch.

Jones won't, though, get sloppy. Greg Jackson will have trained him too well, and he's generally not an emotional fighter.

Without sloppiness to help him, Rampage will have to face the harsh reality that's afflicted everyone who's faced Jones: Jones is bigger, stronger, and has a vastly longer reach than he does--and Jones is insanely talented.

Jones will win this one, and everyone else at 205 will be left desperately trying to figure out how to beat him.

Kyle: This is Jones's fight to lose. Jackson brings some of the best boxing in the UFC, but Jones simply has more weapons, especially his tremendous reach advantage. Jones should be able to use leg kicks to chop down Jackson the way Forrest Griffin did, but with even more size and aggression. Jackson has a puncher's chance, but the odds are that he's going to lose the fight everywhere it goes.

Tomorrow, I'll report back on how we did.

As always, don't use us for betting advice!

Friday, September 23, 2011

About that conversation

In yesterday's blog entry, I shared a fragment of a conversation that left me fighting inappropriate laughter.

If you haven't read that yet, go do so now. I'll wait.

Back? Good.

I promised to provide the context, which despite the tone of much of what the other person said was decidely non-sexual.

About eight days ago, I noticed a slight swelling on the right side of my face along the jaw line below and just barely in front of my ear. I had no pain and no other symptoms; just the swelling. When I felt the area, I realized that I had a lump there.

Despite my natural paranoid tendency to jump right to the worst thing I could think of (cancer! tumor!), online research suggested strongly it was an issue with the parotid gland, which is a saliva gland in that very location.

When I returned home from last week's travel, I headed straight to my ENT for his opinion on the lump.

He stared up my nose, in my ears, down my throat, and in my mouth. He palpated the lump on the outside. He stuck a gloved finger in my mouth and for several seconds rubbed the inside of my cheek.

That rubbing, as it turns out, was him expressing the salivary gland, i.e., causing it to emit saliva. If it could not do so under the pressure of his fingers, that would mean a stone (yes, you can get saliva stones) had blocked the gland. If the gland emitted milky saliva, that would mean a stone might be in it.

Neither was the case. The gland "came clear."

He prescribed me a ten-day course of antibiotics and massage of the lump, which is what he meant when he said I should "milk the gland." The three-finger motion he mentioned is just how he wants me to rub my jaw.

So, I have a small lump that I hope antibiotics and massage will cause to disappear.

The conversation fragment was way better than the reality.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fragment of a conversation

I recently had a conversation with a person that struck me as so odd that I could barely keep myself from laughing during it. Here's a fragment of that exchange.

Person: Did that hurt at all?

Me: No.

Person: Good. I expressed the gland.

Me: Okay.

Person: It came clear.

Me: That's good?

Person: Yes. If it came milky, that would be a sign of a problem.

Me: Uh-huh.

Person: What I want you to do now is milk the gland at least four times a day.

Me: Okay.

Person: Use the three-finger milking technique, like this. [demonstrates]

Me: Okay.

Person: At least ten strokes each time you milk it.

Me: Okay.
Can you guess the context?

Tomorrow, I'll tell you.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

An alternate perspective:
Tigger answers the Dr. Efficient questions, #4

Warning: The following is an adult entry. If you are underage or simply do not want to read about sex-related topics, stop now.

The first home post after my long trip comes courtesy of Tigger, who is coming up fast on Dr. Efficient with her fourth installment.


All opinions are those of Tigger.

Being a Tantra master, you are aware that according to theory, sex can be sustained for many hours at a time. To be honest, I think my honey pot would turn into sandpaper. Tell me how this is attained without a man's veined beast being shredded into pulp?

I'm actually not a Tantra master (and I seriously suspect that Dr. Efficient isn't, either).

Tantra has always sounded to me too much like putting a lot of effort into taking something gloriously fun (sex) and making it into a lot of boring work.

This doesn't mean I haven't spent hours at a time having sex with a man, just that Tantra wasn't involved. (A man can get hard again pretty quickly after orgasm if given appropriate encouragement.)

So long as lubrication is involved (natural or otherwise), you can pretty much have sex indefinitely without having problems. Well, maybe not indefinitely; eventually, you're bound to get hungry.
Why in God's name would someone want to fuck animals? And is it true the same [sic] men of a Mediterranean culture have special boots made for fucking sheep?
Well, you know, sometimes you're just horny.

Or feeling experimental, I guess.

Men seem willing to insert a penis in almost anything, presumably with hopes that it might feel good and they'll get off.

And, as to the other, I really, really hope not.

As long as you keep sending in questions, Tigger and Dr. Efficient will return soon! Email your queries to me or send them via the Contact page on my site.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Farewell, DADT, you sorry piece of shit

I've long hated the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law. We should applaud, not discriminate against, people who want to serve our country in the military. That many of them should have to pretend to be something other than what they are is wrong. Period.

Yeah, I know many people hold an opposing view, but I'm not going to debate that here. You can find those debates elsewhere.

Instead, I'm going to talk about two men, one bisexual, and one heterosexual.

The first is Pruitt, one of Sarah's best friends and someone I've come to know a tiny bit over the last couple of years. (You can read Pruitt's own take on this day and this law here.) Pruitt is going to be a Navy officer. He is putting in the time in ROTC, and after he graduates, he will serve. Until today, Pruitt had to hide from his fellow soldiers his relationship with his boyfriend. No matter how good a soldier he was, he could not be himself. That sucks.

The point is that this law, like all oppressive and discriminatory laws, is ultimately not about a group; it's about each of those individuals who make up the group. It's not hurting a faceless many; it's hurting individuals.

In case you don't want to read Pruitt's piece, let me quote (without his permission, but I think he'd be okay with it, and if not, he can let me know) the answer he wishes he had been able to give to the Navy interviewer who asked him why he wanted to be in the Navy.

I want to be more than this. I shape my own identity, and I refuse to be locked up in the Art Haus closets of so many from the LGBT community. I am so sick of all the spangles and glitter that blots out my sight whenever I see queer men in media, and I'm sick of the fact that's all the rest of America can see too. In five years, I want people to go to my commissioning and say 'That's what a queer American male looks like, and damn does it look fine.' I want to be one of the first openly bisexual men to be made an officer in the United States Navy.
The only part of that wish that I hope he does not get is that I don't want him to be one of the first such Navy officers; I want so many to have come before him (a mere two years from now) that his sexual orientation is no longer news.

The second man is me. I'm heterosexual. Men don't attract me; women do. I am, though, openly supportive of relationships of all sorts, between any two or more people who want to be in them. If I could, I'd make marriage legal for any group--I support poly relationships--that wanted to marry. I weave poly relationships very quietly into the background of my novels, as I did in One Jump Ahead when I mentioned that a girl's parents were two men and a women.

I mention all this because a friend recently asked me if I was worried that doing this might cause people one day to boycott my books. I hadn't considered the question, but after doing so, I answered that I couldn't imagine being a big enough seller that anyone would bother, but that if they did, I would welcome the attention to the cause.

Pruitt and many other people today get to start being more open about who they are. I am so glad they do. Though I expect it to be a long time coming, I look forward to the day when no one cares about the types of consenting relationships that other adults have.

The repeal of DADT is a long overdue step in that direction.

Monday, September 19, 2011

On the road again: Bouchercon, St. Louis, day 5

I never sleep well before morning airplane flights, and today was no exception. After a restless night, I showered and headed for the airport.

A tornado hit STL a while ago, and they're still rebuilding from it, so the routes through security and to the gates still showed signs of the earlier destruction and the ensuing construction. I have no complaints, though, because everyone was very nice, the Admirals' Club's bandwidth was more than adequate, and the plane left on time.

Lunch in ORD was the usual: a pair of Chicago dogs. These are among the weirder hot dogs, but they're still tasty.

Most of the evening went to unpacking, catching up on email, and so on, as is usual for the hours after hitting home from a trip. No complaints, though; it's good to be home for a few days before I leave again Monday morning!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

On the road again: Bouchercon, St. Louis, day 4

The con's big activity for today was the Anthony Awards brunch. Bouchercons run their award ceremonies with speed as the top priority, so the food was buffet-style, standard hotel breakfast fare, which is to say eggs and bacon and sausage and bacon and fruit and bacon and biscuits and bacon. Did I mention bacon?

Where SF Worldcons draw out awards with multiple presenters, Bouchercons have a single presenter announce them all. This year's Toastmaster, Ridley Pearson, did something unusual: He presented the awards in as random an order as he could manage. He wrote each category on a small piece of paper, crumpled those sheets into little balls, and put them in a small jar. The con chair chose the first one, and then winner of each category chose the next category. Nice idea.

You can easily find all of the winners online, but I was particularly happy to see Dana Cameron, one of my fellow contributors to The Wild Side, walk away with the Best Short Story award for "Swing Shift." The same story had earlier garnered Dana the Macavity award, so it was a great weekend for her. My congratulations to her.

Finding dinner tonight proved to take more time than I had expected, because this part of downtown St. Louis appears to roll up the sidewalks on Sunday. We finally ended up at Rosalita's Cantina, which served up far better TexMex food than we had feared we might get. Everything we tried was good, the server was very nice and attentive, and all in all, I'd recommend it to anyone in downtown St. Louis looking for a solid TexMex meal.

Tomorrow, I leave early for a day of taxis, airports, and traveling that will, I hope, result in me being home tomorrow night.


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