NFL Week 2 Picks – 2015 Season

Last week, I went 12 right and 4 wrong for straight up winner picks. That was tied with the best ESPN analysts. My data model would have had 14 but me and my stupid instincts overrode two choices. Here are this week’s picks, with only one override, Peyton Manning and the Broncos over KC tonight.

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NFL Picks, Week 1 – 2015 Season

nflpICKSFor the first time, I will be sharing my weekly NFL game picks that I will be submitting in my office pool, putting my reputation as an analyst on the line.

I will be using an analytical system I developed based on spreads provided by Las Vegas, and how well they tend to do when they provide certain spreads. I added a few other factors to lean my pick one way or another where the odds makers are about even in their performance. I developed this system last year and got 178 games of 256 correct. That was 10.4 per week on average, a 69% correct rate that was as good as the odds makers, and better than all the ESPN analysts.

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Researched Suggestions for Writing the Next Hit Song in America

A new study published in the Journal of Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts suggests that the most popular songs in American culture these days are increasingly about oneself, especially one’s angry or antisocial behaviour (DeWall, C. Nathan; Pond, Richard S., Jr.; Campbell, W. Keith; Twenge, Jean M., Mar 21 2011).

See the more complete and easier to read Miller-McCune article here.

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Schedule and Links for Tunes at Noon 2009 in Halifax, with Christina Martin Opening Review

Tunes at Noon takes place every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from Noon to 1:00 pm in Grand Parade in Halifax, till August 28, 2009. The schedule of performers include:

July 15 – Christina Martin (folk/rock)
July 16 –­ Rebekah Higgs (folk-electric)
July 17 ­– Pink Thunder (pop/rock)
July 22 ­– Ian Sherwood (rock/jazz/folk) / Steven Bowers (folk rock)
July 23 ­– The SideCats (roots/world/jazz/blues)
July 24 ­– Marimba Stew (percussive groove)
July 29 ­– Shannon Quinn (celtic)
July 30 ­– Shan Arsenault (jazz)
July 31 ­– Around Town Band (rock) / The Repercussionists (rock) [great name!]
August 5 –­ Fullhouse (Latin)
August 6 ­– Dave Carroll (folk/pop), of Sons of Maxwell and United Breaks Guitar viral video fame!
August 7 ­– The Strangeboys (bluegrass)
August 12 –­ Ryan Cook (country)
August 13 ­– Grassmarket (folk/bluegrass) [nice name]
August 14 ­– Telfer (pop/funk)
August 19 ­– Mary Stewart (pop/folk) / Crissi Cochrane, aka Save September (folk)
August 20 ­– David Myles (folk)
August 21 ­– Ruth Minnikin and her Bandwagon (Americana/folk)
August 26 ­– Kim Wempe (folk/jazz) / Norma MacDonald (pop/folk)
August 27 ­– Mike Trask (rock)
August 28 ­– Kev Corbett (folk)

Christina Martin, photo by Aaron McKenzie Fraser

Christina Martin, photo by Aaron McKenzie Fraser

Summer 2009 unofficially arrived in Halifax today with the first Tunes at Noon 2009 concert, featuring Halifax’s own little dynamo, Christina Martin. Well, I shouldn’t call anybody little being at 5’2.625″ and 108 lbs. But Christina comes with an energetic and vibrant repertoire from some solid award winning recordings. Even with just one acoustic guitar amped up slightly and playing solo, the set was great!

I’ve been meaning to go see Christina play for a while now, more than just a few songs here and there where I’ve only managed to see her thus far. My stars just hadn’t aligned. They weren’t today, either, but I fixed that. On my way home to visiting Mom’s Vietnamese cooking during her last days here, I delayed it when I saw Christina playing at Grand Parade.

“That’s right, I held off Mom’s Vietnamese cuisine for Christina Martin’s music!”

I stayed to watch Christina’s set till the end, with intent of then going home and packing the lunch to take back to eat at my desk after the concert. I even called Mom to join me, but she was out so she didn’t know I was playing hooky with her cooking. So please, don’t anybody tell my Mom! 🙂

Instead of me trying to describe Christina’s music, though, nothing speaks for it like the music itself so I have included three videos below. They are songs from Christina’s sophomore album, Two Hearts, which won her 2009 East Coast Music Award (ECMA) Pop Recording of the Year and two 2008 Music Nova Scotia Awards: Female Artist Recording of the Year & Pop/Rock Artist/Group Recording of the Year. The Tunes at Noon series schedule follows the videos, with links to all the bands for you to preview their music. I hope to attend as many as possible and review some of my favourite ones on the blog. We’ve got a lot of great musical talent in Nova Scotia who deserve a lot more profile than they get. There’s also a lot of diversity in flavour. So if you can come down to watch, or click through on the links above to hear their music and spread the word, I’m sure they’d appreciate it!

The first of Christina’s featured song is the title track from Christina’s sophomore album, Two Hearts. It is my favourite song of hers, and this is the official video.


The second is a live performance of Cut It Out from Christina’s Two Hearts CD release party at the FRED Whet Salon in Halifax.


Finally, Christina acoustically performs You Come Home at the 2008 Nova Scotia Music Week Gala Show.


Tunes at Noon is presented by Councillor Dawn Sloane, the Downtown Halifax Business Commission and the Halifax Regional Municipality. Music Nova Scotia, C100 radio, The Coast and The Centre for Arts and Technology are also supporters.

You know, as I write this, I want to be out there someday performing. Being a singer/songwriter myself (my MySpace page), I don’t devote a lot of time to it due to the many other things I do. These people here have worked hard to get where they are today. Maybe seeing enough of them will motivate me to put on a much bigger effort and make that dream happen. Should do it soon while Dawn Sloane is still my city councillor, though, to increase my chances. 😉

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.2


Aidan Davis Has Great Moves, But Does He Have Enough to Win Britain’s Got Talent 2009?

Britain’s Got Talent 2009 turned out another great talent Saturday in Aidan “Hip Hop” Davis, from Audition 6.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The kid is good!Aidan’s cascade of “nudging” moves is really cool! I will agree with the judges that he’s better than last year’s winner, another dancer named George Sampson.

However, that hardly puts him in as a favourite for me. First, there was no competition of the calibre like Hollie Steel or Susan Boyle last year. The bar is not the same as last year for overall talent, even if the bar has been raised for dancing talent. Second, while singers can easily reinvent themselves to sing songs of different feel and genres to wow an audience again, dancers showcasing the same moves to a different song get labeled as the same old stuff. Whether that’s fair or not is not of interest to me, nor should it be to Aidan. It’s a fact of life he’ll have to live with. Third, and far less important than the other two points as it’s just my personal opinion, I don’t think the dancing is as rare a talent as the type of voices found either in Hollie Steel or Susan Boyle, with my preference still on Hollie.

So while Aidan is going to give some variety to Britain’s Got Talent, I think he’s going to need some serious array of new moves, a couple of weeks over, to show to even give either Susan or Hollie a run for their money. I won’t put it beyond him, but I won’t put money on him to win, either. Still, he’s great to watch. I love the kid and I’ll give him that, but only that.

Other strong showings like Jamie Pugh, Natalie Okri and Shaheen Jafargholi are farther back, in my opinion. Jamie was discovered lying about never having performed in public before as he had performed in London’s West End theatres before. Seems he’s a washed up singer/actor who could still act to move audiences, but has other issues.


Shaheen has got a very good voice, but again, not in the same calibre as Susan or Hollie, in my opinion. Maybe if Shaheen did a similar exercise to choose a song that demonstrates his singing strength while holding some surprise from the genre, like I suggested for Susan and Hollie, he might surprise. But I’m thinking Hollie and Susan are doing the same thing in deciding their next number so no advantage gained there.


Finally, Natalie Okri had a very good showing in Audition 6 on Saturday, I thought. However, that’s a song she’s been singing a lot to drive her Mother crazy sometimes. Is she singing anything else that often to give her the practice she needs to do a polished number? Getting in now, she’s got a lot less time to prepare than either Susan or Hollie… not that I thought her voice was anything to compare with Susan’s or Hollie’s to start with. Difference between very good and phenomenal, you know what I mean?


Any opinion to the contrary? Please do share!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.6