Fantasy NASCAR game: Let’s play!

I have an idea for a Fantasy NASCAR game and I want to create a new kind of league. It’s free (obviously) and we can all play together for the ultimate bragging rights (or a prize that I’ll come up with later).

Here’s how it works. Please read these rules carefully:

1. You pick ONE driver for each of the first 26 races — but you can only pick each driver ONE time. Your picks have to be submitted before the season starts (see the form and e-mail address below). So if you want to pick Jimmie Johnson for the Daytona 500, that’s fine…but you can’t use him again. If you use a driver twice, your entry is disqualified.

2. If your driver WINS the race on the week you have picked him (or her), you advance to the Fantasy Chase. That’s the only way to make the Fantasy Chase. There are no points during the regular season. If you go 26 weeks and your pick never wins on a given week, you are eliminated. Sorry. If your picks win multiple times during the season, you get three points toward the Fantasy Chase for each win.

3. Once the Chase starts, we’ll see how many people made it and the remaining people get to start over with their picks. Before Chicagoland, you submit ONE driver for each of the 10 weeks — and you can only use each driver once. The driver can be a Chase or non-Chase driver. You get your driver’s points for that race, and if you win any week, you automatically advance to the next round. The catch is there will be eliminations after every three races, just like in the real Chase. The number of people eliminated depends on how many people make the Fantasy Chase (if 100 people make it, 25 will go home after each round).

4. For the finale, there’s a chance multiple people could have the same driver. If that’s the case, the remaining contenders will be asked to submit a second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-place driver for Homestead as the tiebreaker.

UPDATE: The entry deadline has now passed. I received more than 300 entries and am now compiling them. Thanks to those who entered!

Ashton Kutcher wrong about state of Twitter

Ashton Kutcher, one of the original high-profile Twitter users, says Twitter has been ruined in part by “media companies” who started “pitching crap.”

It’s also been screwed up, he said, by Twitter itself.

“I think retweeting hurt Twitter the most,” Kutcher told a wireless conference Thursday in Las Vegas, according to CNBC. “It created a ton of noise in the system that took away from some of the value.”

Dude. What the heck is he talking about???

Twitter shouldn’t have instituted the RT button and the media ruined the overall experience? Really? Since when?

Kutcher of all people should know Twitter is what you make it. You follow the people you want to follow and unfollow the ones you don’t.

If someone’s feed becomes too commercial, stop following that person. Likewise, if someone RTs too often, press unfollow. And if you don’t want to offend the person by completely bailing, use an app like Tweetbot, which can mute people for a given amount of time (I do this often).

Other than that, I don’t understand where he’s coming from.

Oh, wait a second. Could it be that Kutcher screwed up the Twitter experience for himself?

In October 2011, he tweeted this in the height of the Penn State child sex abuse allegations:

How do you fire Jo Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste

Um…

The ensuing backlash caused him to not only backtrack and apologize, but decide to “stop tweeting until I find a way to properly manage this feed.” Now he uses a management team to control “the quality of (the feed’s) content,” ostensibly because he doesn’t trust himself to not tweet things that would seem to appear unsympathetic to molested children.

Seriously, though, is it really that hard? We all say things we regret, but it’s fairly easy to apologize and move on. People’s memories aren’t that long.

Anyway, it’s no wonder Kutcher now says: “Twitter’s experience has changed for me pretty drastically. It used to be sort of a personalized experience for me, a really personal experience that I could share.”

Geez, maybe it’s because he has a management team approving his tweets now? I’m not sure, but I think that could be it.

I’ve been on Twitter for more than four years and, for the most part, I think it’s only gotten better. Sure, everyone has to deal with the occasional troll, annoying requests for RTs (“It’s my birthday!”) and some over-commercialized tweets. But I certainly don’t think it’s a sign Twitter is losing what made it special.

The point is this: Ashton, please don’t go crap on Twitter just because your personal experience has changed. That doesn’t mean it’s like that for everyone, and most of us still enjoy it quite a bit.

(Hat-tip to The Verge)

Wrong number, dude!

A couple weeks ago, my girlfriend’s cellphone rang while we were watching TV. She didn’t recognize the number, so she let the call go to voicemail.

When the “New Voice Message” box popped up on her phone, she held it to her ear and started listening.

Her expression quickly changed to confusion, then to shock, then to uncontrollable laughter.

Here’s what she heard (Warning: Language definitely not safe for work or children):

Wow, right?? Talk about a wrong number! We have no idea who this guy is (nor has she been doing any home improvements since we don’t even have a house).

Anyway, the phone rang a few minutes later and it was the same number. This time, I answered her phone.

“Hello?”

“Yeah, is Karen there?”

“Karen? I think you have the wrong number.”

“This isn’t Karen’s phone?”

“I don’t know a Karen.”

(Long pause as the dude realizes he just left an expletive-laced voicemail on the wrong number)

“Oh, sorry.” (CLICK)

At least we all got a laugh out of it.

I Love Girls (You know, like the HBO series)

Hello. My name is Jeff, and I love Girls.

Not girls, but Girls — the comedy series on HBO. I mean, I also love girls, but really just one girl — my girlfriend, Sarah, who would be VERY pissed if I said I loved non-capitalized girls with an ‘s’ on the end.

Anyway, I know Girls is probably targeted at actual girls and not 32-year-old dudes, but I don’t care. It’s a brilliant show with very intelligent writing that speaks to a generation of young people.

I’ve long said if I could have lunch with any one person, it would be Larry David (because I’m a huge fan of Seinfeld and especially Curb Your Enthusiasm, of which I’ve seen every delightfully awkward episode). I’d love to sit there and pick Larry’s brain about how he comes up with his concepts and how he puts everything together so well.

Larry is a comedic genius, and I’m interested in talking to any talented person in any profession — whether it’s writing, business, bus driving or performing autopsies — because I think you can learn so much from them (was the autopsies mention too weird? I actually have talked to a coroner about his job over a beer, so I was including that as a real-life example).

But now I’d have to say Girls creator Lena Dunham is on my lunch list, too — a close second behind Larry, perhaps. Think about it: Lena was 25 — 25!! — when a series which she wrote, directed and starred in debuted to critical acclaim on HBO. I mean, come on! That’s crazy.

Sarah and I were late to the Girls party because she couldn’t get into the pilot episode. So we turned it off (in the interest of finding shows we both liked) and watched other stuff instead.

When Season 2 debuted this year, though, I watched an episode and then convinced Sarah to give it another try about halfway through the season. This time, we were hooked. We watched all of Season 2 — mostly on HBO On Demand, then went back and just finished watching Season 1.

Being behind turned out to be to our benefit, because the On Demand episodes all had a little postscript called “Inside the Episode” where Lena would sit there and describe what she was thinking when she wrote the script. Basically, she was like, “This is how I blew your minds this time!” She was humble about it, of course, but it was very insightful. I’m quite jealous of her writing ability, because she’s gifted in a way that most of us are not.

hbo-girls-

Girls is about characters living in the “Me” Generation, but it does an excellent job of presenting its characters in a painfully raw reality. We see Hannah, Marnie, Shoshanna and Jessa not as they want to be seen, but how they are.

Many people’s lives seem way better than they really are these days, thanks to social media. We only put the best of ourselves on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (we even have fantasy filters to help us in that case) — it’s the best sunsets, the best concerts, the best times with friends. We create a facade where people don’t know the real stuff that’s going on with us, just where we’ve been and the cool people we’ve been there with.

“Wow, that person seems to have the perfect life,” we think.

Well, really, they don’t. No one does. We all have problems.

Anyway, we get to see some of those problems in Girls. Lena bares it all — literally and figuratively — when it comes to putting some of her own experiences into Hannah’s world.

None of the girls are people who we should want to be. The girls are self-absorbed and often act selfishly. They aren’t role models for young women, but they do reflect the struggles a lot of young people go through while trying to figure out who the heck they are and who they want to be. Girls is a peek in the mirror when we’re not looking our best; fortunately, we can laugh at them instead of ourselves.

In the show, Hannah wanted to be the voice of her generation; in real life, Lena is well on her way to doing that.

So yeah, I love Girls. I’m not ashamed to admit it, either.

Perspective

Bad news — like really bad news — seems to be happening at a more frequent rate lately.

Disasters always happen, but the last six months alone have had some mind-blowing, heartbreaking events:  The horrific school shooting in Newtown, Conn.; the Boston Marathon bombings; the explosion in West, Texas.

And, today, the monster tornado that destroyed lives and families in Oklahoma.

Every time one of these things happens lately, the pattern feels the same: We sit in front of the TV glued to the endless loop of the same pictures (why these huge networks can’t come up with more footage is beyond me) and think to ourselves, “Wow, this really puts things in perspective.”

Then a week goes by — maybe not even that much — and that perspective disappears.

Why does that happen? Our lives should be enriched by perspective gained through realizing, “Holy crap, there are people who have REAL problems — and they make mine look like nothing.” And maybe for a short time, we are affected and do respond.

But then it’s back to normal.

Before long, we’re getting irritated with family members, bad-mouthing people from work, losing our tempers because someone cuts us off in traffic or takes too long at the ATM.

What gives? Why is perspective so hard to maintain?

Even after 9/11, when the country was more united than I can ever remember in our lifetime, we soon went back to partisan bickering. If possible, we’re even more divided than before.

Perhaps it’s that to enjoy life, we don’t allow ourselves to dwell on these disasters. These things happen to “other” people, and while we pause to be sad for them and express our shock at what occurred, we eventually move on.

That seems awfully selfish, because the families who have suffered through tragedies can never truly move on. But we all do it. I wish we didn’t.

Can anyone explain why?