Fantasy Chase: Week 6 results

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Can you believe it? The bottom four Chase drivers at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday were Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon.

None of the remaining 50 players in the Fantasy Chase picked Johnson, so no harm done there. Only one picked Gordon and two picked Busch, so no biggie there, either.

But…um…a LOT of people picked Dale Jr. It’s ugly, folks. There’s no way around it.

Nearly half of the Fantasy Chasers — 23 people — picked Junior, and now they’re all going home. It’s kinda like this:


Hey, look — you made it this far. Great run. But it’s time to say goodbye to the following 29 players (including three who picked drivers no longer in the Chase):

Twitter ID   Talladega pick
ItsAlexKaplan Almirola, Aric
CFDIG Biffle, Greg
ClintLJones Busch, Kurt
Huth88 Busch, Kyle
katiecole125 Busch, Kyle
Kfisher88 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
lorettamagers Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Coates_Burghfan Earnhardt Jr., Dale
ZHorrall224 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
AppBuckeye31 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
bruce_compton15 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
tcholbrook Earnhardt Jr., Dale
davidlerner75 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
oldguyjk Earnhardt Jr., Dale
gregatkins Earnhardt Jr., Dale
coreyr12 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Gael78II Earnhardt Jr., Dale
rebel388 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Chubdubblub Earnhardt Jr., Dale
quickdraw222 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Bradley_016 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
poloshot Earnhardt Jr., Dale
turbojunker Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Toenailurface Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Readymixchick Earnhardt Jr., Dale
bakemoney2000 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
jdubharris Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Nascar_Nut Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Scottwilfong Gordon, Jeff

Now we’re down to the final 21 people with four races to go. I’ll post picks later this week, but congrats to those people still alive in the Fantasy Chase:

Twitter ID

October 17, 1989: The Earthquake

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I can still vividly remember the moment it happened. The rest of my memories from that day are just fragments, little bursts of images strung together.

At 5:04 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 1989, I was sitting into the second-to-last row of the upper deck at Candlestick Park with my mom. We were getting ready to watch the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s – my preferred team as a 9-year-old – play in Game 3 of the World Series.

If I close my eyes, I can remember it so clearly: The terror I felt while gripping the armrest of my seat as we were jolted back and forth, the sound like a train roaring down the tracks. When it stopped, we were uninjured; but as it turned out, that moment changed the course of my life.

This might sound weird, but I’m a sports writer because of an earthquake.

(Above: A picture taken from the upper deck walkway on the way up to our seats. Note the clock says 4:50 p.m.; the earthquake hit 14 minutes later.)


I grew up in Los Altos, Calif. – about 40 miles south of San Francisco – and would go to both Giants and A’s games with my dad. But I preferred the A’s, because they had the “Bash Brothers” (Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco), a nickname which was appealing to a kid.

My dad somehow scored World Series tickets from his boss, but he had to fly to Japan on business. That left my mom – who had never been to a game at Candlestick – to take me to the World Series.

We got to the game pretty early, and I remember the excitement of pulling into the stadium parking lot. The Giants’ theme song that year was “I Feel Good,” and it played on the car radio; because of what happened later, it still triggers a brief second of nervousness for me today.

My mom and I got to our nosebleed seats, and settled in for the game. How could we have known we’d never see a single pitch? I pulled out my pencil and program to keep score, but the tip was broken; I pleaded with my mom to let me go buy a new one by myself, but she said no — we could go together later. I’m glad she refused, because we would have been separated at a bad time.

That’s when it happened.

My mom doesn’t remember this, but right before it hit, I looked up to the right — in the direction of the Bay — and saw a flock of birds suddenly flying over the stadium, shrieking. Then the rumbling started – like rolling thunder at first, then like a jumbo jet taking off. Our seats began shifting from side to side – hard.


I couldn’t tell you how long it lasted – it seemed like forever. I just remember wanting it to stop. It was a rough one — being up high in the upper deck probably didn’t help — and it really tossed me around in my seat.

In writing this post, I asked my mom what she remembers from that moment. At first, she thought everyone in the stadium started stomping their feet.

“I put my arm around you,” she said. “I looked over your shoulder and where the stadium (roof) met, there were two walls that came together at a 45 degree angle — and they were moving in complete opposite directions back and forth.”

Then it slowed down — CHUG, CHUG, chug, chug, chug — and stopped. Strangely, everyone burst into cheers. My mom remembers jubilant people raising their fists up to the sky in triumph. It was like: Heck yeah! Now let’s get this game started!

We didn’t share their enthusiasm for the game. My mom wanted to get downstairs as quickly as possible — was the stadium going to collapse? — so we excused ourselves past the people remaining in their seats and headed for an escalator.

The power was out, but hundreds of people were still streaming up to their seats — we had to squeeze past everyone to reach ground level. The game wasn’t canceled yet; maybe we thought the quake was worse than it was?

My mom spotted a couple guys with boom boxes listening to the radio, and we gathered around to hear the news reports. After realizing the earthquake was pretty serious, my mom decided we should leave.

We walked out of the stadium gates and ran into two guys who asked my mom if we were going to use our ticket stubs as a rain check to come back. At the time, my mom either didn’t realize the significance of the stubs or just figured there was no way we’d return even if it were somehow rescheduled. Anyway, she gave our tickets away.

Someone else in the parking lot asked us if we’d heard the news: The Bay Bridge had just collapsed. What?! We were stunned. We hurried to the car and flipped on the car radio, which blared the Emergency Broadcast System signal – only this was not a test. My mom realized we needed to get back to my sister, who was at home with an elderly babysitter.

We didn’t have to cross the bridge to reach Los Altos, but my mom didn’t know how to get back to the highway from where we parked – and she took a wrong turn. I remember us driving through a neighborhood and looking at the glass on a bus shelter as it trembled with an aftershock.

By the time she figured out where we were, officials had called the game and we got stuck in all the traffic leaving the city. At that point, we had no communication with anyone – my sister, my dad, our other relatives and friends. Remember, this was in an era of no cell phones (yes, there was such a time).

Fortunately, we were in my dad’s car and he had a first-generation car phone, mounted in the center console with a handset. All the circuits were jammed, though, so we couldn’t call anyone.


(Above: I showed up at Candlestick Park that day to see my favorite two teams play each other. I had no idea what was about to happen.)

Peeing in the car

When the earthquake hit, my dad was in Nagano, Japan showing customers around at a Fujitsu plant. It was mid-morning there, and he got an urgent call from a co-worker.

“He said, ‘Turn on the TV, the Bay Bridge is down, the Marina District is on fire,” my dad said. “I knew you and Mom were OK because they said nobody was hurt at Candlestick. But I said, ‘Los Altos must be leveled.’ I thought Laura (my sister) was gone. I was panicked.”

He called our neighbors but couldn’t get an answer for awhile. Finally, someone picked up. They told my dad everyone in our neighborhood was fine – and that my sister was sitting in the elderly babysitter’s car in the driveway, since that’s what the woman remembered her mother doing during an earthquake in the 1930s.

My dad figured we might be in the car on the way home, so he called the car phone. It went through, much to his relief.

Mine, too. I had to pee so badly at that point, and we were stuck in standstill traffic with no end in sight. I asked my dad if it would be OK if I just peed in his car.

He said yes. What a dad! So I pissed in my pants, right there on the front seat.

When we finally pulled into our neighborhood, it was dark — no one had power — but I remember seeing people barbecuing in their front yards.

Fortunately, our house had very little damage. Everything came out of the cabinets, of course, but structurally it was OK. We got lucky compared to some of our friends; one of my classmates broke his arm when a wall fell on him as he was trying to run out of his house.

That night – and for most of that week – my sister and I slept on mattresses in our front hallway, right next to the door. I refused to go upstairs to my room or even to take a shower because I didn’t trust the ground and an aftershock could happen at any second. What if that was the one that made our house fall down?

(Above: I slept in the hallway for several days because I was too scared to go upstairs in case of an aftershock.)

The fallout

That week was the first time my mom let me watch the news. And for months afterward, I was obsessed. Not only did I watch the TV news, but I listened to the all-news radio station (KCBS in San Francisco) in my room. All the time.

My dad said when we took a trip to see friends in Minneapolis a few months later, they picked us up from the airport and asked what kind of music we wanted to hear.

I asked them, “Do you have an all-news radio station here?”

That’s one part of the reason I’m in journalism today. Here’s the other: The earthquake triggered a chain of events which led me to NASCAR. This is sort of confusing, but bear with me:

1) My mom, spooked by the earthquake, told my dad that we should move to another state. She decided she couldn’t wait around for the Big One to hit. After all, the ’89 quake wasn’t the Big One – it was only a 7.1. Another one, 8.0 or larger, was predicted with a 90% chance in the next 25 years (how’d that work out?). Anyway, my dad eventually relented and we moved to Colorado.

2) Since I had only lived in Colorado for a relatively short time, I wasn’t tied down to the state for college. So I picked a school on the East Coast instead – the University of Delaware — since I figured I’d already lived in the West and (sort of) the Midwest.

3) At Delaware, a professor named Bill Fleischman encouraged me to try sports writing. I’d never thought of it before taking his class. If I hadn’t met him, I have no idea what I’d be doing today.

4) I got my first sports writing job at a small newspaper in Rocky Mount, N.C. – and my editor sent me to cover NASCAR (I’d never seen a race before that).

So to recap: If the earthquake had never happened, we would have never moved from California, I would have never gone to school and met my professor or become a sports writer and I might be a salesman or lawyer or Starbucks barista in the Bay Area instead of a NASCAR reporter living in North Carolina.

Got it?

Anyway, that’s how the Loma Prieta Earthquake changed my life, 25 years ago this week.


(Above: My dad’s home office looked like a bomb went off after the earthquake. Below: Earthquake prep materials spooked our family into moving from California.)

1989 10 October 18th  What life was like after 10-17-89 (2)

1989 10 October 18th  What life was like after 10-17-89 (1)

Fantasy Chase picks: Week 6

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We’re down to 50 players, and the odds of someone making it to Homestead could get very slim after Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Think about this: If Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski ALL get eliminated from the real Chase this week, the majority of players are totally screwed for the rest of the Fantasy Chase.

Is there ANYONE among the final 50 who didn’t pick one of those three drivers in any of the last four races? Actually, yes. They are:


So there is a possible path to Homestead, even without the three big names. But most will be gone by then; even Adam Huth (who won AGAIN last week, by the way) has a lineup of Earnhardt/Johnson/Keselowski/Gordon for his final four picks.

Yes, this game might be over long before Homestead. That’s OK. It was supposed to be hard, and it was. The best hope for most remaining players is to have Johnson or Keselowski somehow win Talladega, because otherwise they’ll ruin many brackets in the next round.

Halfway through the Chase, here’s a look at how quickly the field is shrinking:

Pre-race Players left
Chicago 197
New Hampshire 183
Dover 113
Kansas 107
Charlotte 71
Talladega 50

Nine of the current Chase drivers were chosen at Talladega — everyone except Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson (no one wanted to waste their one Johnson pick on ‘Dega).

Here are the picks for this week (italics indicates a driver who has already been eliminated):

Twitter ID Talladega
ItsAlexKaplan Almirola, Aric
CFDIG Biffle, Greg
ClintLJones Busch, Kurt
Huth88 Busch, Kyle
katiecole125 Busch, Kyle
Kfisher88 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
lorettamagers Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Coates_Burghfan Earnhardt Jr., Dale
ZHorrall224 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
AppBuckeye31 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
bruce_compton15 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
tcholbrook Earnhardt Jr., Dale
davidlerner75 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
oldguyjk Earnhardt Jr., Dale
gregatkins Earnhardt Jr., Dale
coreyr12 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Gael78II Earnhardt Jr., Dale
rebel388 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Chubdubblub Earnhardt Jr., Dale
quickdraw222 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Bradley_016 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
poloshot Earnhardt Jr., Dale
turbojunker Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Toenailurface Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Readymixchick Earnhardt Jr., Dale
bakemoney2000 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
jdubharris Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Nascar_Nut Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Scottwilfong Gordon, Jeff
TheTigerBones Hamlin, Denny
thndrnghrd24 Hamlin, Denny
Sports2hiphop Hamlin, Denny
devyanks90 Hamlin, Denny
wdoyle66 Hamlin, Denny
gonzalezterence Hamlin, Denny
Adam_Huth Hamlin, Denny
mattgross Hamlin, Denny
jsoupzzz Hamlin, Denny
fatbuzz66 Hamlin, Denny
BPierce Harvick, Kevin
kennethriggs Kahne, Kasey
Mattdobson_7 Kenseth, Matt
CopaCavanna Kenseth, Matt
digertwo Kenseth, Matt
dallasjunebug Kenseth, Matt
trv240sx Kenseth, Matt
Amishkid17 Kenseth, Matt
Sam_Beishuizen Keselowski, Brad
chrisonethree Keselowski, Brad
dave_phillips1 Logano, Joey

Fantasy Chase: Week 5 results

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Have you ever been so mad at someone that you wanted to fight them in a dark alleyway between two haulers? Well, you might be after you see the results from Charlotte Motor Speedway.

If you chose Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson or Matt Kenseth, your Fantasy Chase is now over. Thanks for playing; please pick up a gift bag on your way out.

Of the 71 players still in the Fantasy Chase entering Charlotte, 21 were eliminated. Unfortunately, they won’t be part of the final 50 competitors who advance to the final half of the playoffs.

Still, it was a good run for the following people who picked:

Earnhardt (3)


Johnson (6)


Kenseth (4)


Keselowski (4)


Kurt Busch (4 … ineligible pick)



The problem with being there

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Shortly after Saturday night’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, I posted this tweet with a picture of Brad Keselowski’s damaged car:

If you watched the race, you know that information is completely wrong. Not even close! Keselowski didn’t get the damage in the garage; it happened on pit road when Tony Stewart backed straight into him.

And trust me, I got dozens of replies telling me what really happened. They’re still trickling in today.

In that sense, you probably already know what I’m about to tell you: Reporters in the garage often have absolutely no idea what happened after the race.

Someday, I’d like to wear a GoPro or something similar so you could see what the garage is like after the race. Being right in the middle of the action can be very cool — beat-up cars are roaring in, emotions are high, there’s a lot of adrenaline — but it also leaves you hilariously uninformed in the times when drama happens.

I’m sharing my ignorance with you so we can laugh together. Here’s how things went down after the race from my view (the actual version can be found here):

— With about 10 laps to go, many reporters get their equipment together and leave the media center for the garage or pit road (it depends on your assignment). In this case, colleague Mike Hembree headed for pit road — where NASCAR requires second through fifth place to stop — and I headed for the garage.

— When you leave the media center, it disconnects you from the TV broadcast. As much as people criticize TV, they have the most information because they have cameras and replays and reporters all working in sync. You rely on TV way more than you realize. I still had my scanner, FanVision and phone, so I was aware a caution came out for Brian Vickers. That set up a final restart. I listened to the finish of the race on PRN and watched it on Charlotte’s mega screen on the backstretch.

— My first priority was to interview Dale Earnhardt Jr. He had practically guaranteed victory, then had a broken shifter and ended up with a miserable night. Clearly, his last hope would be Talladega Superspeedway; we needed his reaction to all of that. I stationed myself by Earnhardt’s hauler because drivers are supposed to drive their cars back to the team transporters and park them in front of the lift gate. A ton of other reporters had the same idea.

— Earnhardt pulled up and got out of his car. The media surrounded him and waited for ESPN to conduct its interview (live TV gets priority). Jimmie Johnson also pulled up — which surprised me because I thought he was in the top five — and left without talking to anyone.

— Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye on Charlotte’s mega screen, I saw images of a skirmish happening. It was Keselowski and…Denny Hamlin? Huh? Why? I could see they were at the other end of the garage, so I ditched Earnhardt’s interview and sprinted down to where the action appeared to be taking place.

— By the time I arrived, it looked like Keselowski had just walked away. But the next thing I knew, people with yellow uniforms started yelling and running toward the middle of the haulers. Wait, were Hamlin and Keselowski fighting in there? I ran after them. By the time I turned on my cell phone camera, this was the scene:

— Someone said Kenseth and Keselowski got into it. Kenseth? Why, because of the restart with 63 laps to go? I had no idea. I walked around to the back of the hauler. Someone said Keselowski and Hamlin bashed into each other in the garage. The front of Keselowski’s car was smashed, so I incorrectly assumed it was from Hamlin (hence the tweet).

At that point, I had no clue about anything that happened after the checkered flag or on pit road. I knew people were mad — I didn’t know why. And I didn’t know Tony Stewart was involved at all (which is why you didn’t see any interviews with Stewart).

So what do you do in that situation? Wander around and talk to people. Paul Wolfe said he didn’t know what happened (and I didn’t realize he was in the fight until after the interview). Joe Gibbs said he didn’t see it. Finally, Denny Hamlin came out of his hauler and ripped Keselowski. And I heard Kenseth interviewed on PRN.

I scrolled through Twitter and saw bits and pieces of what happened. A couple people posted Vines off TV. Thankfully, my girlfriend texted me a video of the TV broadcast — and that was the first time I saw the whole sequence.

Here’s the funny thing: I was far from the only person in the dark. I showed the video to about a dozen reporters in the garage when we were waiting outside the NASCAR hauler, and most of them hadn’t seen a single clip of what happened — this was probably 30 minutes after the race!

Finally, once we sorted it all out, I had a better understanding of what happened and returned to the media center to file my story.

So there’s the truth: You would think reporters at the racetrack know more than fans sitting at home, but that’s often not the case when there’s post-race drama. Once we step away from the TV, you probably have more information than we do.

TV broadcasters don’t get everything and sometimes get criticized, but they do a better job than you think. Without TV, sorting out the information while in the middle of the chaos can be pretty damn confusing.

Photo below: People in the garage gather around a portable ESPN monitor to watch the replay of the fight and pit road bumper cars.


Fantasy Chase picks: Week 5

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Things are happening REALLY FAST through four weeks of our Fantasy Chase game, as we’re already down to 71 players after starting with 197.

How fast?

You’re absolutely right, Ron Burgundy. In fact, let’s how look at how quickly the field has been whittled:

Pre-race Players left
Chicago 197
New Hampshire 183
Dover 113
Kansas 107
Charlotte 71

How about Charlotte? Is there more craziness ahead?

For starters, at least one person picked 11 of the 12 remaining Chase drivers (everyone except for Ryan Newman) for Saturday night’s race, which ensures more people will be eliminated.

But how many? The popular pick to stay out of the bottom four this week is Kasey Kahne, which makes sense. The best pick, though, might be Kevin Harvick.

Why? Because Adam Huth picked Harvick. You might remember Huth as the dude who won seven regular season races. Well, make it eight victories on the year — he picked Joey Logano at Kansas last week.

It’s too bad for Huth, though, that his wins mean nothing in terms of winning the championship. That’s what a points reset will do for ya.

Anyway, here are all your picks for Charlotte (note: picks in Italics means driver already eliminated):

Twitter ID Charlotte
KeviRHatfield Busch, Kurt
Springwolf Busch, Kurt
Dfblanchard Busch, Kurt
HitYourMarks Busch, Kurt
davidlerner75 Busch, Kyle
Nascar_Nut Busch, Kyle
BPierce Busch, Kyle
dave_phillips1 Busch, Kyle
poloshot Busch, Kyle
Sam_Beishuizen Busch, Kyle
Sports2hiphop Busch, Kyle
chrisonethree Busch, Kyle
brian_wiggins Earnhardt Jr., Dale
AshBollinger Earnhardt Jr., Dale
icemankeller Earnhardt Jr., Dale
wdoyle66 Edwards, Carl
Bradley_016 Edwards, Carl
kennethriggs Edwards, Carl
oldguyjk Edwards, Carl
Toenailurface Edwards, Carl
lorettamagers Gordon, Jeff
fatbuzz66 Gordon, Jeff
Mattdobson_7 Gordon, Jeff
Huth88 Hamlin, Denny
Readymixchick Hamlin, Denny
quickdraw222 Hamlin, Denny
jdubharris Hamlin, Denny
gregatkins Hamlin, Denny
Kfisher88 Harvick, Kevin
devyanks90 Harvick, Kevin
CopaCavanna Harvick, Kevin
jsoupzzz Harvick, Kevin
Scottwilfong Harvick, Kevin
ZHorrall224 Harvick, Kevin
Adam_Huth Harvick, Kevin
ncraiderfan17 Johnson, Jimmie
cgros127 Johnson, Jimmie
lancesells Johnson, Jimmie
cpeuterb Johnson, Jimmie
basspro24chevy Johnson, Jimmie
dickiep1018 Johnson, Jimmie
Chubdubblub Kahne, Kasey
turbojunker Kahne, Kasey
bruce_compton15 Kahne, Kasey
gonzalezterence Kahne, Kasey
ItsAlexKaplan Kahne, Kasey
Amishkid17 Kahne, Kasey
thndrnghrd24 Kahne, Kasey
digertwo Kahne, Kasey
bakemoney2000 Kahne, Kasey
CFDIG Kahne, Kasey
TheTigerBones Kahne, Kasey
Coates_Burghfan Kahne, Kasey
AppBuckeye31 Kahne, Kasey
rebel388 Kahne, Kasey
mattgross Kahne, Kasey
tcholbrook Kahne, Kasey
coreyr12 Kahne, Kasey
dallasjunebug Kahne, Kasey
chris_siebold22 Kenseth, Matt
Revvin4Seven48 Kenseth, Matt
csvelin Kenseth, Matt
HD388 Kenseth, Matt
stephenflorentz Keselowski, Brad
Ed_326 Keselowski, Brad
fnmetal Keselowski, Brad
mauhernz Keselowski, Brad
ClintLJones Logano, Joey
trv240sx Logano, Joey
katiecole125 Logano, Joey
Gael78II Logano, Joey


Fantasy Chase: Week 4 results

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Kansas was an ugly race for some of the major Chase contenders. And that meant elimination for 36 players in our Fantasy Chase — 34 percent of the overall field!

We’re now down to 71 people remaining with six races to go.

The bottom four drivers at Kansas — shockingly — were Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne. So that means a fond farewell to the following people:

Keselowski (11):


Earnhardt (5):


Johnson (3):


Kahne (5):


In addition, 12 people were eliminated when the race took the green flag due to their picks of drivers who were no longer in the Chase. They were:

Kurt Busch (6):


Greg Biffle (6):


Movie review: Gone Girl

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The less you know about Gone Girl before seeing it, the better. So you won’t find any spoilers here except for this one: Spend $10 to go see Gone Girl in the theater, and it’ll be worth every penny.

After all, movies are supposed to entertain us. That’s the reason we’re still willing to invest a couple hours in a single activity, put our short attention spans on hold and fork over $13 for a soda and popcorn.

Gone Girl is dark and a bit twisted, but it’s also sprinkled with humor to break some of the tension. It feels all too real at times, which certainly is a reflection of our society’s obsession with high-profile crimes. The cast is electrifying, and the film sucks you in to such a degree that you lose track of the nearly 2.5-hour run time.

Above all, it’s compelling — and wildly entertaining.

If you’re one of the people who have already read the book, you know the kind of roller coaster ride that awaits. I hadn’t read it, so I was surprised by all the developments — and I didn’t mind it one bit. Without giving too much away, Gone Girl is about a Midwestern housewife who suddenly disappears on her fifth anniversary. All signs point to her husband, who gets the Nancy Grace treatment and endures a harsh media spotlight while everyone picks apart his behavior.

Did he kill her? His behavior certainly seems suspicious. Or was she abducted? Was it something else? What happened to her?

Ben Affleck is terrific as the husband, and it probably ranks as one of his best performances. Rosamund Pike, who I wasn’t familiar with before this, is perfect in her role as the wife and the lawyer played by Tyler Perry will make you forget all about Madea. Neil Patrick Harris is also creepily good.

But the real stars are the crisp writing — former Entertainment Weekly TV critic Gillian Flynn adapted her own bestselling novel — and the direction of David Fincher, whose ominous, foreboding style works perfectly for this story.

While I loved Gone Girl and highly recommend it, I don’t think it will be in line for any of the major category Oscars. It’s not really a Best Picture type film, nor are the actors going to get all that much buzz. It reminds me of Fincher’s Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which didn’t get a Best Picture nom in 2012.

It should still do extremely well at the box office, though, and rightfully so. This film lives up to the hype, and you won’t regret investing your time and money to see it.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Fantasy Chase picks: Week 4

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The next stop in the Fantasy Chase is Kansas Speedway — at least for the 107 remaining players.

As an update, here’s how the game is progressing so far:

Pre-race Players left
Chicago 197
New Hampshire 183
Dover 113
Kansas 107

Now let’s take a look at your picks for this week. All 12 of the remaining Chase drivers were picked — guaranteeing more people will be eliminated after Kansas.

But we already know some of the people who will go home. Unfortunately, 12 people picked Greg Biffle and Kurt Busch. Since those drivers are already out of the real Chase, their picks won’t allow them to advance past this week no matter how well Biffle and Busch perform at Kansas.

The rest of the picks are pretty evenly spread, but Jeff Gordon is getting the most love.

Here are your selections (Italics represents a driver who is not eligible for this week):

Twitter ID Kansas
thejosh20 Biffle, Greg
4toddboyer Biffle, Greg
ZTsmiley Biffle, Greg
scottaltimaman Biffle, Greg
prettymonkey Biffle, Greg
Daniels_Caudill Biffle, Greg
hollywoodtlb Busch, Kurt
pamnielsen Busch, Kurt
bradleykarnes Busch, Kurt
cswiecki84 Busch, Kurt
kid67y Busch, Kurt
PhotoMatt_KCCO Busch, Kurt
Kfisher88 Busch, Kyle
devyanks90 Busch, Kyle
Chubdubblub Busch, Kyle
KeviRHatfield Busch, Kyle
turbojunker Busch, Kyle
caseylandrum15 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
arlenekrue Earnhardt Jr., Dale
MaximeB92 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
DeuceStaley_48 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
jojolv48 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
CopaCavanna Edwards, Carl
bruce_compton15 Edwards, Carl
davidlerner75 Edwards, Carl
stephenflorentz Edwards, Carl
gonzalezterence Edwards, Carl
Huth88 Edwards, Carl
ClintLJones Edwards, Carl
ItsAlexKaplan Edwards, Carl
Readymixchick Edwards, Carl
ncraiderfan17 Edwards, Carl
trv240sx Edwards, Carl
Amishkid17 Edwards, Carl
Nascar_Nut Edwards, Carl
thndrnghrd24 Gordon, Jeff
Ed_326 Gordon, Jeff
wdoyle66 Gordon, Jeff
Springwolf Gordon, Jeff
cgros127 Gordon, Jeff
lancesells Gordon, Jeff
digertwo Gordon, Jeff
katiecole125 Gordon, Jeff
chris_siebold22 Gordon, Jeff
quickdraw222 Gordon, Jeff
Bradley_016 Gordon, Jeff
jsoupzzz Gordon, Jeff
Revvin4Seven48 Gordon, Jeff
csvelin Gordon, Jeff
bakemoney2000 Gordon, Jeff
kennethriggs Gordon, Jeff
jdubharris Gordon, Jeff
brian_wiggins Gordon, Jeff
HD388 Gordon, Jeff
BPierce Hamlin, Denny
cpeuterb Hamlin, Denny
Dfblanchard Hamlin, Denny
AshBollinger Hamlin, Denny
lorettamagers Harvick, Kevin
HitYourMarks Harvick, Kevin
fatbuzz66 Harvick, Kevin
DRLDeBoer Johnson, Jimmie
MoWhi Johnson, Jimmie
BigLiciousT Johnson, Jimmie
DillonSims Kahne, Kasey
jsugi48 Kahne, Kasey
Jddorman2 Kahne, Kasey
tvphotog17 Kahne, Kasey
_Chouinard Kahne, Kasey
CFDIG Kenseth, Matt
TheTigerBones Kenseth, Matt
dave_phillips1 Kenseth, Matt
Coates_Burghfan Kenseth, Matt
AppBuckeye31 Kenseth, Matt
oldguyjk Kenseth, Matt
gregatkins Kenseth, Matt
Gael78II Kenseth, Matt
rebel388 Kenseth, Matt
fnmetal Kenseth, Matt
mattgross Kenseth, Matt
poloshot Kenseth, Matt
Sam_Beishuizen Kenseth, Matt
Toenailurface Kenseth, Matt
basspro24chevy Kenseth, Matt
whenske Keselowski, Brad
Jrig1980 Keselowski, Brad
Race5599 Keselowski, Brad
jmorris_np Keselowski, Brad
Hokiefitz Keselowski, Brad
RealJDogg_82 Keselowski, Brad
NSCRtruckFAN Keselowski, Brad
18frannie Keselowski, Brad
ashaver13 Keselowski, Brad
CraigHaasis Keselowski, Brad
echo837 Keselowski, Brad
Sports2hiphop Logano, Joey
Mattdobson_7 Logano, Joey
Scottwilfong Logano, Joey
ZHorrall224 Logano, Joey
mauhernz Logano, Joey
tcholbrook Logano, Joey
coreyr12 Logano, Joey
Adam_Huth Logano, Joey
icemankeller Logano, Joey
dallasjunebug Logano, Joey
dickiep1018 Logano, Joey
chrisonethree Newman, Ryan

Fantasy Chase: Week 3 results

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If you recall, 70 players (including me) were eliminated from the Fantasy Chase last week. Seventy! In one week!

So how would Dover treat the remaining 113 people? Pretty darn well, actually.

Only six people were eliminated this week — one who picked Aric Almirola, two who picked Greg Biffle and three who picked Kasey Kahne (AJ Allmendinger was the other bottom four Chase driver, but no one picked him).

So it’s farewell to the following players:

Kasey Kahne (3):


Greg Biffle (2):


Aric Almirola (1):


So now you’re thinking, “Oh geez, we have 107 people left. Maybe there will be too many still playing at Homestead if this keeps up.”

Ah, but you’re forgetting the twist! Remember, if a driver has already been eliminated from the real Chase (such as Biffle or Kurt Busch), that pick is no good if used for an upcoming race.

If you look at it that way, there are 12 people who are guaranteed to be eliminated at Kansas because they picked either Biffle or Busch (I’ll post the Kansas picks later this week).

And the trend continues, too:

— Six people have picked drivers for Charlotte who are already eliminated

— 15 at Talladega

— Five at Martinsville

— One at Texas (someone picked AJ Allmendinger — why?)

— None at Phoenix

— Three at Homestead (three people picked Biffle; can you imagine getting all the way to Homestead and then having your pick already eliminated? Ouch!)

As you can see, it’s not going to be easy to survive all the way to Homestead — particularly if a big name falls out of the Chase this round.

Enjoy the week and I’ll post another update as Kansas approaches.