Monday, October 26, 2015

Bowie Restaurant Project: (90) America's Best Wings (Free State)

For an explanation of the Bowie Restaurant Project, look here.

For a list of all the Bowie Restaurant Project reviews, look here.

America's Best Wings,
15500 Annapolis Rd,
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 10/22/2015
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 2
Pre-Foursquare Visits: No
Rating: 3.5 4 out of 5 stars

America's Best Wings? Or at least Bowie's best wings? Maybe. In my review of Wingstop a couple of months ago, I remarked that Bowie now seems to have too many wings places. For ill-defined reasons, however, America's Best Wings has become my favorite.

The first time, I split my order between their medium and hot wings. Memo to self: you're over forty now, skip the hot wings. The second time, I decided to branch out a bit. They advertise 30 flavors, so I went in planning to split between Old Bay wings and something else. But then, I saw something that's not on their web site (medium isn't on there either) -- crab-flavored wings, and suddenly Old Bay seemed like going halfway. I split those with some honey mustard wings, and enjoyed myself. Crab wings are ridiculous, so I probably won't have them again, but it was an entertaining experience.

I can muster no enthusiasm to try their non-wing based offerings.

So, maybe it's the fact that I can pick up wings on my way to work (if I'm headed to work after 11), or maybe it's the 30+ flavors, but I hereby decree America's Best Wings to be Bowie's best wings, and award them 3.5 stars.

Four restaurants to go...

Update 1/4/16: I like this place more and more each time; I'm upgrading them from 3.5 to 4 stars.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Scotland's UEFA coefficient still heading in the wrong direction

Celtic Kick Off

I posted this summer about hypothetical scenarios where Scottish club's European fortunes improve to the point where they get improved entry into the Champions League and the Europa League (as determined by the European coefficient).

Since then, uh, things have gone in the other direction. Everyone but Celtic has been bounced from the Europa League. Celtic has (have?) been bounced from the Champions League, into the Europa League. They have then proceeded to go 0-2-1 in their first three group matches, including a 3-1 loss last night. If they don't pick up any more points (a sadly realistic possibility!), Scotland will have its worst year (tied) since 2009.

So how much worse could things get for Scotland? Actually, not much worse. Scotland's ranking is 23rd for next year's competitions, and that should spare them first-round entry for the Scottish Cup winners. But Scotland is currently on target to drop to 25th the following year, which might make the Scottish Cup winners enter in the first round of the Europa League along with the second- and third-place Scottish Premiership teams. Beyond that, however, nothing much changes until around 47th place, which would make a nation's top team enter the Champions League in the first round. Scotland is in trouble, but it's unimaginable they'll get that bad. And the dip to 25th might allow the Scottish Cup champion to enter against easier competition, which wouldn't be so bad.

STV Sport observes that the drop in Scotland's coefficient is the second worst in Europe over the past decade. I would argue that the drop from 11th to 23rd is actually worse than the drop from 32nd to 46th that Latvia suffered.

Celtic has three more matches to turn things around this year, however. They are actually only two points out of second place in their Europa League group. The math isn't too friendly for moving up from 25th in the 2016 rankings (which will determine 2017 entry) -- Norway is currently in 24th, and they have two teams active, including Molde, which beat Celtic last night. Denmark is in 23rd, and their remaining team is in second place in their group. Overtaking Israel, in 22nd, would require more than just Celtic winning their remaining games (while Maccabi Tel-Aviv loses the rest of theirs); Celtic would actually have to pick up some points in the knock-out phase.

2017 (for 2018 entry) is a little more encouraging. Scotland sits solidly in 23rd place (with their bad 2011 performance aged off), and it wouldn't be impossible to move up a place or two in advance of next year's competitions.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Nebula Update: Annihilation

Annihilation (Southern Reach Trilogy #1)Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So last year the Nebula went to a book some people didn't like because it left out gendered pronouns. Well, look out 2015, because this year's winner doesn't have any names. No place names ("Area X" doesn't count) and no names of characters.

I get that the author is trying to do something with this lack of naming, but he has to try to do something more interesting to get me to accept this. Everything is just confusing, deliberately so. The main character gets some fleshing out (and her dead husband, who we never meet), but nobody else in the book does. And the setting is limited to creepy things that happen in Area X, we don't really get any worldbuilding.

In fact, it's not entirely clear what sort of world this is set in. It's a world much like our own, but different...somehow? A way that's never explained, but this Area X doesn't fit into Earth, so that's why I can tell it's not quite Earth.

I guess what I'm looking for in my science fiction and fantasy is some sort of rationale behind what happens, a rationale that gets conveyed to the reader. This seems more like horror, where I guess you can just make creepy stuff happen to scare the reader.

I read the plots of the next two books on Wikipedia just to spoil them for myself in case I ever got tempted to read them. It doesn't sound like it gets any better.

Well, this catches me up with this year's Nebula winner. I still have the same eight left to read that I did a year and a half ago. I am reading Tehanu, but rather slowly. I have been impressed with the increased collection of eBooks available through my local libraries, but I am somewhat at the mercy of the holds system. I actually bought Tehanu, so it gets set aside when another book (like Annihilation) becomes available.

Of this year's other Nebula nominees, I've read Coming Home and Ancillary Sword, and I'm partway through The Goblin Emperor. I would have preferred any of them to this book.