Friday, January 26, 2007

Al Gore, You Just Made The List

For those of you in Boston, you know what I'm talking about. For those of you not in Boston, let me clue you in: It's FREAKING cold here!

In fact, it's so cold that it's warmer in Alaska and the North Pole (the North FREAKIN' Pole!) than in Boston. As I walked to the gym this morning (I am SO hardcore), the wind chill was minimal, but it still felt like it -15 degrees. It was so cold that my breath condensed and froze on my UCT scarf wraped around my face. It took me 15 minutes on the elliptical just to warm up. Speaking of UCT, today's Cape Town weather forecast calls for clear, sunny skies with a high of 86 degrees.

I hate everything. But especially that myth, global warming.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Great Society, Redux

Barack "SexyBack" Obama is out in front on one of the most important issues facing America today. Speaking at a FamiliesUSA conference this morning, the junior Senator from Illinois set the goal for his Presidency of getting the over 46 million uninsured citizens of the U.S. on the health care rolls by the time his first term in office comes to an end in 2013. Universal Health Care is the first step in providing for our citizens in this country. If we are the greatest, most powerful country in the world, then there is no reason at all why 46 million people should not have access to a doctor. Diseases which are eminently treatable instead become life-threatening because people are denied access to hospitals, and wait to long to receive treatment. It's simply wrong, and Senator Obama knows it, and that is why he has set this lofty goal, and that is why I congratulate him for his courage and his vision.

Furthermore, every other candidate in the race on the Democratic side should get behind this plan immediately. Let's not have the divisiveness and utter lack of policy maturation that we had in 2004. Let us, each of us, as Democrats pledge right here that whomever wins back the White House in 2008 for the party of the people, that it will be our unique undertaking to begin the process of making America better once again, and that we will start by providing health care to all of our citizens by 2013. It can be done. It should be done. Let us say, it must be done.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Wine and Sex. What More Do You Need?

Great news from the scientific community this morning. A new study confirms what I (and, I'm sure, all the women I've ever met) already knew. Knowledge of wine makes you sexier.

Alder Yarrow at Vinography (which, if you like wine, and you're not reading his blog, then you are poorer for it) takes us through the particulars. The gist of it is that 2300 adults were surveyed and more than SEVEN in TEN respondents say wine knowledge contributes to making an attractive, possible mate look even more breathtaking.

So ladies, form an orderly queue...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Strength versus Strength

It's Championship Sunday in the NFL, and we have been provided with two pretty amazing matchups to watch on the ol' big screen HD. In both games, emotion will be at peak levels and game play should be extraordinary as all four of today's teams have something prove and the desire and drive to get to Miami two weeks on. Let's break it down.

New Orleans at Chicago

The doubters, the haters and the prognosticators have all lined up on this one. And if you believe them, then the New Orleans Saints have already been crowned NFC champions. But this game is not, by any stretch of the imagination, going to be easy for America's Team. We all want it to be. We love the story: a city and a quarterback reborn, a showman and his coach taking it to the next level, the thought of the unmitigated shitshow that will ensue on Nourbon Street if New Orleans actually won a Championship. The hard facts are these:

1) The Bears defense has been slighted of late, but they are just that good. Losing Tommie Harris is a HUGE deal, because it means Urlacher has to do almost superhuman things against the pass. But Adewale Ogunleye and others should be able to stuff the Bush/McCallister run tandem and put the game on Brees' shoulders. Which leads me to...
2) Is Drew Brees the guy who can stand up and take on this vaunted Bears defense alone? Do we all really believe that he can put this team on his back and beat the Bears?
3) And this has been overlooked, I think, this week. It's friggin' cold in Chicago today. And it's snowing. This Saints team is an indoor team and we all know the stats on indoor teams in the playoffs.

Still, did you see the Bears game last week? They only beat Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahawks because they were handed the game in overtime. I have to believe that even with all the hype and consternation and uproar, the New Orleans Saints can overcome the odds and score an amazing victory for the Big Easy in the Windy City.

PREDICTION: Saints 27, Bears 21.

New England at Indianapolis

So, here we are. The Mother of All Battles. Peyton vs. Brady. Dungy vs. Belichick. Vinatieri vs. All of us. Let's face it, if Peyton Manning can't win this game, he will never, ever, EVER, win a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts. It will be a track meet. He should have his choice of receivers open downfield in the depleted Patriot secondary. He should be able to find Dallas Clark all day in the flat. But he will have to rely on his arm. Belichick and his defensive scheme should be able to shut Joseph Addai down, or at least make him irrelevant as they did to Tomlinson last week. (Incidentally, I'm not going to take a shot at LT for his rather odd comments following last week's Patriot celebration. He's a professional and has proved that all season, so I'll chalk it up to a lapse in judgment and a tough loss. But please, LT, don't defend Merriman. He's everything you're not. He's a loser and a drug pusher and should never have been allowed to play in the NFL again. Don't forget also, we have been there before. We know how to act, thank you very much. Anyway, back to today's game.) That puts the game on Manning's shoulders and even though he will be at home instead of on the cold turf at the Razor, this is still the Patriots in the playoffs. We are in your head, Peyton Manning. All that aside, this one ought to be a nailbiter, as Belichick's plan probably calls for the same thing as last week, namely hanging in there and hope we have a chance with the ball with about four minutes left. It might not be "Adam and leave" anymore, but give me that situation and the New England Patriots will go back to the Super Bowl. If not, then, hey, I am about to become the biggest Saints fan you will ever meet.

PREDICTION: Patriots 30, Colts 29.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Last First Day Back

So it's my last first day of school ever. Unless I go to grad school, but that ain't happening for a while, so let's chase this feeling. Many of you already know that I have a love-hate relationship with Tufts University. I love the people I've met here. My friends are so very important to me and they are all wonderful people. I hate the fact that I've met them here, however. There are officially no upshots left at Tufts University. Now, I even feel like an outsider moving through an alien world, which makes things even better. It was nice to go to my first class this morning and see Dubs on this side of the ocean, or to go to dinner last night with Jackie. And I do have Adam and Jon and Janna and The Gene and all the rest around here, but when I walk around campus those familiar faces I have become accustomed to seeing have all been replaced with younger, less interesting personages. I'm not even talking about my friends here, I'm talking about "those people." You know what I mean: those characters who have developed in our collective minds since freshman year. Urban Sombrero Guy. Black Power Man. That Crazy Chick from the Gym. They're all gone, but I still remain, walking through this alien world I used to call home. And so, here I am. One more art history class today and then a weekend. All the while continuing to feel that I just don't belong anymore.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Another Sunday, Another Chance for Me to Look Ridiculous

The Divisional Playoff Round is upon us, and marquee matchups abound this weekend. I'd love to tell you about themes to watch for across the four-game slate, but I really can't tie any of these games together. So, let's just get to the matchups.

Indianapolis at Baltimore

Strength versus strength in the Charm City this weekend as the prolific Colts offense take on the smothering defense of the Ravens. The front seven led by Ray Lewis will crush Joseph Addai and the Pro Bowl-calibre led by Ed Reid for the Ravens should have enough to stop another Peyton Manning barrage through the air. So basically, if Steve McNair shows up and puts his pads on, the Ravens ought to win this game going away as the Colts defense will have no answer for the 1-2 punch of Jamal Lewis and Air McNair.

PREDICTION: Ravens 12, Colts 3.

Philadelphia at New Orleans

Who 'Dey Gon' Beat 'Dem Saints? Well, it's entirely possible it'll be the high-flying Philadelphia Eagles, who did just enough to beat the Giants at home last weekend. Still, Saturday will be the first home playoff game for the Saints in more than ten years and a team that has been mired in futility for decades finally has a legitimate shot at the Super Bowl. It's an opportunity that I, for one, do not see them wasting. From a football standpoint, Brees, Bush, McAllister and Colston should be too much for a depleted Eagle defense to handle, and it seems as if Jeff Garcia's clock may have struck midnight.

PREDICTION: Saints 34, Eagles 28.

Seattle at Chicago

If ever a powerful number one seed could fall at home in their first playoff game, it could be the Chicago Bears. The Seahawks escaped with a win last weekend after the Tony Romo gaffe which you have no doubt 38,451 times on SportsCenter this week, and that team should be a two touchdown underdog to the incredible Bears defense. However, which Rex Grossman will we see on Sunday? Will it be the game manager who led Chicago to some great early season triumphs, or will it be the checked-out clock watcher, the man who admitted to not adequately preparing for his New Year's Eve matchup with Green Bay? Either way, Chicago is in trouble with Rex Grossman at quarterback, but that trouble may not be enough to stop them from advancing to a home date with the Saints in the NFC Championship.

PREDICTION: Bears 17, Seattle 13.

New England at San Diego

Here are some key things to remember going into this weekend's best game:

1a) Tom Brady is the best playoff and clutch quarterback since Joe Montana.
1b) Philip Rivers will make his first NFL playoff start on Sunday afternoon.

2a) Bill Belichick is the best coach in the NFL.
2b) Marty Schottenheimer is 5-12 in the playoffs. He has not won a game since 1993.

3) San Di-aah-go was settled by the Germans in 1903. And they named it, "A Whale's Vagina."

The Chargers still have LaDainian Tomlinson who should be able to run roughshod all over the Patriots defensive corps. But it is hard to discount Brady, Belichick and knowing how to win, especially after the pounding the gave Man-genius and the Jets last weekend.

PREDICTION: Patriots 31, Chargers 28.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Tom Colicchio: On Point

Chef Colicchio's blog this morning was definitely on the mark about the shortcomings of last night's Top Chef. Echoing his thoughts, it was apparent in watching last night's abortion of a challenge that neither team was prepared enough to tackle it. The very same challenge was given in Season 1 with much better, if still not perfect, results. (However, and I could be wrong about this, but I'm fairly sure the contestants last season had more prep time with their spare space.) Last night's crew was, as Colicchio says, unimaginative, seeking only to do just enough to get by. Honestly, I think if Colicchio had his way he would fired about 4 competitors. Michael, unfortunately, did deserve to go home at this point. Sam's exasperation at having to carry him was becoming distracting in the kitchen. And with Ilan having to handle more than cooking last night - which he still didn't execute very well - Sam had to exercise his talents at an almost superhuman level. On the other team, the Diner concept just didn't work. They didn't, as Gail Simmons said, take it far enough. Undercooked chicken wings, meatloafy burgers and whatever that Oreo-Lemon thing was are just not what the judges are looking for this late in the competition. No one took the reigns on that team and really ran with the Diner idea. On the flip side, like Sam's questionable dessert or Cliff's decision to tackle the front of he house, at least it was a risk, even if it did not play out the way they had hoped. In the end, the challenge was difficult but not impossible and each of the competitors could have, and should have done better.

Oh, and one more thing. Marcel freestyling about how he has no friends in the beginning of the episode was PRICELESS. That is most assuredly going to receive "Save Until I Delete" (® Bill Simmons) status on the ol' TiVo. I mean, did you really think he went home at night and wondered why no one is friends with me? I didn't, but apparently, he did. Little tip, Marcel: Writing bad "raps" about how no one likes you is a surefire way to make sure you live a lonely life. Still, it was about a 15 on the unintentional comedy scale (® Bill Simmons).

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

New Jersey Eyed As Source of New York Stench

An actual headline. And truer words may never have been spoken. Here's the story:

According to the AP lede, the stench seemed to be coming from somewhere near Seacaucus. I think the Jets were meeting near there for a little post-thumping wrapup yesterday...


Seriously, with headlines like that, you have to wonder if Christmas really only does come but once a year.

In other stench related news, I'd like to wish a happy and healthy 23rd birthday to our dear friend, James Paul Turco. May his birthday be filled with ribs and beer. Maybe some chicken.

The Atrocity in Arizona

Florida won tonight's game (though, we may have to adopt the Bill Simmons-esque idea that this game just didn't actually take place) for a few specific reasons:

1) Ted Ginn, Jr.

The explosive deep threat was nowhere to be found after spraining his foot on literally the first play from scrimmage that did not involve him racing 93 yards to paydirt. Troy Smith looked absolutely lost after that.

2) Troy Smith

The Heisman Trophy winner's final line tells the whole story - 4/14, 35 yards passing; 10 rushes, -29 yards on the ground. That's NEGATIVE 29 yards. Again, these people expected to be national champions at the end of the night.

3) Urban Meyer

I hate to say it but Jim Tressel, possibly for the first time in his career, was outcoached. It's that simple. Meyer prepared his guys better, understood the plan of attack better and went for the jugular better than Tressel did. For that, Meyer deserves all the praise the media will be lobbing at him for the next few weeks. Tressel had a bad night. We all do. His just came at the worst possible time.

4) The 51-Day Layoff

The last time the Buckeyes suited up, they were playing Michigan at The Horseshoe in the biggest game of the college football year. That was almost an eternity ago. The layoff left them rusty and ill-prepared for the Florida onslaught.

5) The Lack of a Playoff System

Because USC, Boise State, Michigan, LSU, Notre Dame or Wisconsin would have whipped these Gators given the chance. There. I said it.

Monday, January 08, 2007


So, take it for what it's worth after my woeful NFL prjections this weekend (though, I did still manage to pick three out of the four winners), but in just a few hours the Ohio State Buckeyes will impore to 13-0 and be crowned National Champions. Now, I could, and probably should, go on some long-winded rant here about the fact that though I believe the Buckeyes thoroughly deserve that honor and title, the entire system is flawed because there's no playoff system in college football. But enough ink has been spilled over this issue already. So add my voice to those (read: every single sports commentator or fan in America) who believe in the need for a playoff system. That said, the system we do have has given us a thoroughly uninteresting game which the Buckeyes will win. The SEC and the Florida Gators just do not provide adequate competition for a team the calibre of the Buckeyes and Troy Smith. The Gators actually backed into the Tostitos National Championship Game (presented by Tostitos), according to most commentators, because they played two more games after OSU-Michigan (a game which will most likely be remembered as the REAL national championship for this season, despite the Wolverines' anemic Rose Bowl performance) and USC tripped up against UCLA. Find me one person interested in seeing Florida tonight and I will find you ten people who think USC should be involved and about a hundred more who think there ought to be a rematch of "The Game."

Don't get me wrong, Urban Meyer is a good coach and UF is a storied program, but you can't sit there and make me believe that they are the second best team in America right now. It has to be USC. Or Michigan. I could make a case for Boise State after that Fiesta Bowl for crying out loud. Still, I will watch tonight in glorious HDTV as the Buckeyes stomp to victory as once again a Big Ten program with football players on it beats up an SEC "team" with showmen and charlatans masquerading as football players.

PREDICTION: Ohio State 47, Florida 24.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Panoply of Playoff Prognostications!

The NFL Playoffs are here and what a time to be alive if you're a fan of wild, unpredictable football. This year's incarnation of the National Football League has been harder to follow than a Tarantino flick with more ups and downs than Season 2 of "24." Nothing is scared this season. And no one is incredibly sure what's going to go down on any given Sunday (or, thanks to FlexSchedule, alternate Satudays as well). So, here are some things we know with absolute certainty going into Wild Card Weekend:

1) LaDainian Tomlinson is good.
2) Rex Grossman is bad.

That is all.

With all that in mind, here are some picks for this weekend's games, which I'm sure will ook really stupid by Monday morning.

Dallas at Seattle

The NFC is bad enough that two teams that would lose to Boise State, given the opportunity, have to fight it out in round one of the playoffs. Here's the kicker: One of these teams, by rule, has to win and advance. The Cowboys defense is non-existent. Apart from DeMarcus Ware, they may actually be playing with paraplegic children at the other 10 positions. Add that to the fact that the NFL figured out Tony Romo about six weeks ago and Terrell Owens couldn't care less about catching the football, and you should have a recipe for disaster. However, Seattle is not much better. The injured and ill-educated Matt Hasselbeck (okay, that's not fair, but he did go to my rival high school, so maybe someday he'll get an education) has looked shaky for the better part of this season with Shaun Alexander unable to pick up the slack. Despite a standout performance from Deion Branch (why can't we get players like that), the Seahawks have underperformed from their near-glorious run last year to Super Bowl XL. Still, at home, in front of the literally tens of football fans in Seattle, they should have enough to beat back the Cowboys.

PREDICTION: Seattle 17, Dallas 6

Kansas City at Indianapolis

With the Bengals and Broncos packing their things and heading home for the long off-season, the Kansas City Chiefs were able to hang on and back in (Sorry, Herm Edwards, you guys did back into the playoffs) to the AFC #6 seed. This game presents a lot of "if's" for the Chiefs, but ones that they may be able to capitalize on and win. The biggest "If" is Larry Johnson. If he's not a beaten up sack of his former self heading into this week, he should be able to run roughshod all over the Colts "run defense" and perhaps even get his name in the record books for single game performances. The Colts, of course, are second only to Dallas when it comes to a complete, uncaring lack of any sort of defensive prowess. It's surprising enough that Tony Dungy, a man who has been widely revered in NFL circles for defensive know-how, has let such a vital part of the NFL success equation run amok under his control, but the fact that no one in the organization seems to care is shocking. They are content to try and win games in track meet form, with Peyton "Hayseed" Manning lobbing bombs to Marvin Harrison 15-16 times a game and winning 45-41. But one dimensional teams, especially ones where the quarterback is a headcase in the playoffs, do not win the Super Bowl. Their counterparts, the Chiefs, know this and will, as Coach Edwards likes to enunciate, "play to WIN the GAME." Solid Chiefs pass defense should eb enough to contain Manning and Harrison at home, and force more pressure on to the shoulders of the rookie standout Joseph Addai. I have a hard time picking against the Colts at home in the playoffs, where they should be able to play "their game" the way they have for the last five years. But I'm doing it anyway.

PREDICTION: Chiefs 31, Colts 28

New York at New England

Okay, let's just cut through the hype for a moment, shall we? I want to say this loudly and clearly enough so that you all understand. The New York Jets are the worst 10-6 team in NFL history, there I said it. They had one of the easiest down-the-stretch schedules of any team in the league. Their quarterback has been playing over his head for weeks. And they do not have a solid running game, even if Leon Washington is the second coming of Terrell Davis circa 1998, like everyone in New York seems to think. Here's the straight dope: The Patriots have their own problems, and let me assure you, not having Rodney Harrison this week is a bigger blow than some might think. Tom Brady has no one to throw to - I mean, honestly, the fact that the game's premier passer is throwing to Jabar Gaffney is outrageous. And Dillon and Maroney are both banged up. All that said, there are two very vital pieces of information to keep in mind:

1) The Patriots are playing at home, where they have not lost a playoff game in the Tom Brady era (And yes, he gets his own era now. Not just as a reference point but as a sense of meaning for the league).
2) I don't care how good a team you are, you do not beat Bill Belichick twice in one season. He is the NFL equivalent of Jack Bauer. He will end you and all your hopes and dreams. And he always wins.

PREDICTION: Patriots 34, Jets 14

New York at Philadelphia

Excuse me, you there, Philadelphia quarterback - who are you and what have you done with the real Jeff Garcia? This guy is playing so well Donovan McNabb's mother is getting press because she's afraid Donovan might have to fight for his job next year. And that family just can't get by on Chunky Soup money. But seriously, Garcia is out of his mind. He, and Andy Reid (who, if not for Sean Payton, really should be coach of the year), have engineered one of the great second half comebacks in NFL history. And in an NFC where nothing is certain, they might just have what it takes to get back to the Super Bowl. The Giants, on the other hand, do not. They have one overpowering weapon, Tiki Barber, who i snow playing for his legacy, but that's just not going to be enough. Eli Manning needs to show better develpoment next season than this season if he's going to be the star passer everyone thinks he ought to be. But he's about to have a long offsesaon to think about it.

PREDICTION: Eagles 27, Giants 13

Check back Monday for a breakdown of the Tostitos OSU-Florida BCS Tostitos National Championship Game (Presented by Tostitos)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Since Last We Spoke

Welcome to Theory in Practice - 2007 Edition. I've spent the holidays relaxing and hope you have as well. But so much has happened during my repose that we need to keep it light and fresh this evening. Here's the rundown:

Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42

For those of you who did not take in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (presented by Tostitos), you should immediately stop reading this message, go into iTunes, download the game and watch it in full. I'll wait.


There. Wasn't that amazing? But seriously, Boise State, a team that plays in a joke of a conference (the wickety-wickety-WAC), on a field dubbed "Smurf Turf" (it's blue...and no one's incredibly sure why), and in Idaho (America's unknown wasteland) ran, passed and kicked ass against the Sooners, one of college football's oldest and most storied programs. And they did it the old-fashioned way: With a statue of liberty play capped off by the running back proposing to his girlfriend on the sideline. I mean, you can't make this stuff up. In any case, it was a hell of a game. Watching it down on the farm, I had the sense by the second quarter that I was watching something special. Games like that one don't come along, but when they do, they exemplify the essence of sport. That on any given day, any team can summon the strength of will and desire to reign victorious, riding off into the sunset, new wives in hand, sponsored by Tostitos.

Pat Robertson: "The Lord is Coming and Boy is He Pissed!"

I had the great good fortune to catch this little chestnut on the 700 Club, one of my favorite television debacles...I mean, programs...meant to be the marching orders each day for the evangelical Christian community in America. The show's fuhrer...I mean, host...Pat Robertson, in his New Year show decided to let us viewers in on his prayer meeting with God. The meeting took place in Virginia Beach (apparently, God likes to dine at Shoney's) just in the last week and Robertson was advised the Lord that great devastation lies ahead for America in 2007. Robertson actually said, "I won't say it's nuclear in nature, I'm not quite sure I understood, but watch out after about September." Thanks Pat, also, next time you have a fearmongering tete-a-tete with the Almighty, could you make sure you get your hearing aid turned up? That'd be great.

The NFL Playoff Picture

Last weekend provided us with some of those great days in the football year, the day when Chris Berman and those of his ilk bust out the Excel spreadsheet their production assistants spent all last night poring over while downing Chinese food by the quart in order to explain to us just how, at 7-9, the Atlanta Falcons still had an outside shot of making the playoffs. I swear there were playoff scenarios that read like this:
The Kansas City Chiefs can clinch a playoff spot with a win AND losses by the Jets, Broncos, Bengals, Jaguars and Colts OR a Bills win or tie OR a Falcons loss by more than 17 points AND Jim Mora, Jr. makes less than 4 comments about wanting to coach the Redskins BUT ONLY IF those comments are broadcast on ESPN Radio in Omaha between 6-9am on Sunday.
By the way, the Chiefs take on the Colts this Saturday night, so I guess that all happened.

Nick Saban: "Remember When I Said I'd Never Coach in Alabama? I Misspoke."

The erstwhile Miami Dolphins coach spent most of the last two months reigning in speculation about his taking the job in Tuscaloosa and becoming the coach of the Crimson Tide. Last week, he went so far as to say, "I am not going to be the coach at Alabama." These comments are now in stark contrast to his news conference held today when he was welcomed as the new coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Apparently what happened is that he turned down the job a couple weeks ago, then Alabama said they'd pay him almost $4mln per year. To which he replied, "Ah, crafty move, Alabama" and quickly signed on the dotted line. I mean, he's a terrible NFL coach, he's just better suited to the college game, but the entire city of Miami must feel like they got screwed with their pants on. It takes real balls to be Nick Saban. He's a halfway decent coach who goes city to city every three years, extorts a stupid amount of money, pledges he will never leave and then pulls up stakes to move to another high-profile job where he makes more money and amasses a team that wins about 9 games.

I, Deval L. Patrick, Do Solemnly Swear...

For the first time in sixteen years, the sun came out in January, and with pride and purpose a Democrat stepped into the Corner Office as Governor of Massachusetts. Thousands gathered along Beacon Street this morning as Deval Patrick, born on the mean streets of Chicago, educated at Milton and Harvard and whose personal convictions have been built by the fires of race in America, took the Oath of Office as the Commonwealth's 71st Governor. In the middle of a city that has been a flashpoint for racial tensions throughout nearly its entire history, a Black man and an outsider spoke to the gathered crowd of a new hope for Massachusetts as its governor. And so, as 2007 takes shape, both in the Bay State and, as now Speaker Pelosi takes over in Washington, hope reigns in politics in America. One hopes it will last.

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