Sunday reading

Good reads that piqued my interests the last couple weeks...

Sports ...
a It's been 14 years since the attack on Nancy Kerrigan, but in many ways Tonya Harding hasn't moved on
a No Game for a Family
a Bulls' interim coach Myers will be stressing sacrifice
a Bulls' firing line could expand
a Boylan gets a chance to make Bulls his own
a NFL takes a sack in TV drama
a Which teams got their holiday wishes?
a Change won't gum up Wrigley ... I still refuse to call Comiskey anything but. And I will cry if Wrigley's name is changed. Like Morrissey says: "A corporation would have to be idiotic to come in, wipe out the name Wrigley Field and slap something like Great Dot.Com Ballpark across the front of the building and believe everyone will jump onboard." But that's not the point of his column ...
a Sports Illustrated does first-ever 3rd printing for Favre issue

TV & Movies ...
a 'Hunt' recounts search for John Wilkes Booth after Abraham Lincoln shooting

Media ...
a Driver who crashed into TV studio 'wanted to be on the news,' prosecutor says

Education ...
a Elementary Math Grows Exponentially Tougher

Looking back on 2007 ...
a Best & worst viral videos of 2007
a Best nation & world photos
a Best sports photos
a Predictions, please: The top 20 questions for 2008


Just perfect

Kates and I are in Ohio tonight.

We've just finished meeting and spending much of the day with our new niece. She's adorable.

Now we're back in our hotel room. Kates is in the corner reading a book, and I'm watching the Patriots finish off the Giants and their perfect regular season ...

The Giants, as I predicted when the Patriots were losing the game earlier tonight, have fallen apart in the fourth quarter. The Pats started putting the pressure on a bumbling Eli Manning and took control.

And then, how about that go-ahead touchdown! Seconds earlier, Tom Brady had thrown a bomb to Randy Moss, but the ball was underthrown and Moss dropped it. Then they go back and try the exact same play again and -- bam! -- Moss catches it in stride for a 65-yard touchdown that not only gives the Patriots the lead, but gives Brady the record for most touchdown passes in a season and Moss the record for touchdown receptions in a season.

I've said it all season long. I was cheering for the Pats to go 16-0. They're a classy team that's oh so talented and fun to watch. Plain and simple.

Red Sox win the World Series. Patriots go 16-0 and look like a good bet for the Super Bowl. And the Celtics are looking unstoppable. Oh, to be in Boston right now ...


Merry Christmas!

... Kates and I are in full-fledged Christmas mode now.

... At church, earlier tonight, her children's choir sang beautifully.

... And the service concluded with two of our musicians doing Manheim Steamroller's Silent Night. Amazing. Just minutes before, I had been preparing myself for another lame, churched-down version of the song and thinking to myself about how much I missed hearing the Steamroller version. In my opinion, that version of that song has to be the best, most beautiful Christmas song of all-time. Plus, it brings back such fond memories for me of growing up, surrounded by Kansas City Christmases ... So when it came out tonight, the chills were traveling up and down my spine from the first note played and right up through the last bar ...

... The baby was getting attention tonight, too. Before the service, one of our pastors said to Kates, "A few months earlier and you could have been Mary this year ..." ... Then, during the service, as Kates got up to direct the children's choir, I heard a woman behind me whisper to her pew mate, "Oh! She's pregnant ..." ... And on our way out, our other pastor greeted Kates and I and said, "Oh you guys must be so excited! You are living the Christmas story this year!"

... After we got home, I made salmon for our Christmas dinner ... And now we're enjoying the 24 hours of "A Christmas Story" -- one of my favorite movies of all-time, no matter the season -- on TBS ...

Yep, the Christmas spirit is a live and well in our house tonight ...

So Merry Christmas, from our house to yours ...

Car Crashes into ABC7 Chicago Studio

I heard about this on the radio this morning ... I'm sorry I missed it!

Here's a story from the Sun-Times about the crash.


Sunday reading

Some of the reads that piqued my interests during the last couple weeks ...

Baseball ...
a Dog gone it? Pap's pooch eats history ... Only Jonathan Papelbon could pull this off. The interesting thing is: Now the ball could be worth even more because the fact it became a chew toy adds to the lore ...
a White Sox radio adds Stone ... good for them. I can't stand Steve Stone.
a Update: Cremated remains on the Wrigley Field warning track

The Internet & media ...
a A change of hands for Tribune
a Randy Michaels to head Internet, broadcast operations
a Douglas Is NBC `Nightly News' Announcer ... When Brian Williams announced this on the broadcast this week, I did a "Whaaa ??" I'm not sure I like Douglas's voice as the announcer -- not dramatic enough -- but whatever ...

Politics ...
a Fla. Teen Documenting '08 Election
a Candidates scramble to cope with Huckabee
a Lashing Out From Under Cover: Hey, Play Fair!
a The Scribe Who Gets The Candidates' Vote

TV & movies
a Be thankful for TV, but not satisfied
a A TV fall to remember
a Strike Watch: Is the TV season over? A report from the picket lines in L.A.
a Hearing voices: More and more television shows use narration to advance story
a Anniversary for Drama 'Lou Grant'
a Slattery a man for all seasons (and all TV shows)
a An Actress Who's As Great as the Sum of Her Parts
a Hollywood's Trophy Strife
a News hounds pine for Comedy Central's Jon Stewart
a Stewart, Colbert Returning to the Air
a Year-end extravaganza: My Top 10 TV shows (and the runners up)

Music ...
a Led Zeppelin's time has come again
a In 'Walk Hard,' Records Speak For Themselves
a 'Grandma' got run over by the ratings, dear

Life & other stuff ...
a Chicago Might Sell Naming Rights ... This makes me want to throw up. Sorry, but U.S. Cellular Field is always going to be Comiskey Park to me, and no corporate named train, plane or park will ever influence me to buy that brand ...
a Crash kills astronaut's mom
a Spears pregnancy has families talking (and the related: Jamie Lynn Spears' mom's book on parenting delayed.)
a Mich. Man Learns Co-Worker Is Birth Mom
a The Santa Claus dilemma
a Wrangling with Christmas lights a ho-ho-headache
a Family drama, painful travels, obnoxious decorations make some say bah humbug

The Best of 2007

I'm finding it hard to fathom that another year is about to pass. Perhaps it's because 2007 has been such a memorable one, full of life experiences that extended from euphoric, glorious and hilarious to plain scary and rotten ...

So let's do it. Presenting some of my favorite posts, the best of 2007 ...

The year started with Brett Favre dazzling us. And here he is doing it again as the year closes.

But Brett's name wasn't the only "B" word making headlines on this blog in 2007. Yep, Kates and I can't look back on the year without discussing the impending birth of our first child. We have been delighted and awed and humbled by every aspect of this new phase in our lives, even amid the hormones. Though we also recognize we've still got a lot to learn.

By day, Kates entered her seventh year of elementary school teaching and I recently passed the five-year mark at my office ... Meanwhile, on the homefront, our year was dotted with the joys of a new vacuum, complaining about the weather and listing our dreams. We also started redoing our bathroom a little earlier than we'd planned but it turned out pretty swell seven months later.

I said good-bye to my M.U.S.C.L.E.S. ... Paris Hilton said hello to prison. We joined the High School Musical craze. The Jayhawks broke my heart again, and so did the Bearcats.

And those weren't the only things that consumed us ...

How about the TV, for instance ... And a little talent show called American Idol. From the first episode we'd ever watched to Jordin's crowning finale, and some worthy auditions in between, we got to watch Sanjaya's rise and fall. We fell hard for talents like Chris Sligh and Gina Glocksen. And I even got to chat with an almost-Idol.

At other points, there were only glimmers of compelling TV. ... We thoroughly enjoyed The Class before CBS dismissed it. And we stayed with Grey's Anatomy, even if the idea of Meredith drowning was a bad one. We indulged in guilty pleasures like You're the One That I Want and The Apprentice and other spring leftovers. We celebrated the return of My Boys, discovered Meerkat Manor, laughed with Brian Williams and embraced some great episodes of Lost (Shambala!), including its finale.

The music, on the other hand, was always good, and overflowing. While the Grammys were a night to remember, 2007 gave us great stuff from Avril Lavigne, The Shins, and Regina Spektor. It also was a year of excellent indies like Mates of State, Feist, Belle & Sebastian and The Weepies. ... Mute Math wowed me. The Shins nearly had me in tears. ... And my lust for the Rumours album continued.

But none of that matched the pure joy of five nights of Summerfest. Or chatting with Peter Noone, who we saw not once, but twice -- and with Barry Williams.

We laughed with Frank Caliendo, too.

As the summer came and went, we had a Fourth of July beach party. We played games and watched sunrises and sunsets on Lake Michigan. Harry Potter flew into our house one last time. And we went back in time at the Renaissance Faire.

... We made two trips to Kansas City. In August, we were there for the much anticipated 10-year high school reunion, which proved to be a special weekend of reuniting with old classmates and seeing how much “the old neighborhood” had changed. And in September we were there to celebrate a close friend’s wedding.

... In October, to celebrate our wedding anniversary, we spent a long peaceful weekend at Kati's parents' farm.

Suffice to say, though, the year might be best remembered by, well ... baseball. It all started once again with a day in February to get Cubs tickets. And it culminated with one of the most exciting season's in recent memory not to mention a Red Sox championship and a free taco ... even if seeing Barry Bonds hit No. 756 almost made me sick.

But, hey, let's keep with the good stuff -- like a gripping pennant race that included the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers.

We attended a record number of games -- highlighted by a game played in snow, a brawl game at Wrigley, a near-no-hitter in Kansas City, a celebration of legends, and one amazing Friday in August -- and I rarely got tired of it.

And let's not forget I played some good, fun ball too ... and even got in a little fall ball.


Movie night!

Kates and I cleaned two movies from the DVR tonight -- two movies we've long wanted to see. (Sorry, we just don;t get out to the theaters much anymore. Horrendous prices. Inconsiderate teenagers. What's the point?)

First up, Along Came Polly ... Eh. Jennifer Aniston was adorable and entertaining as usual. But I've never been a fan of Ben Stiller movies, and this was another throwaway, I thought. Hank Azaria was wasted as the unintelligible, marriage-ruining, scuba-diving hunk Claude -- and you can put Philip Seymour Hoffman's chartacter in that category too. Alec Baldwin's character was ruined by his mafia image -- blame it on my being used to his Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock.

Next up, Bewitched ... Bedazzling. We were well aware going in that the critics hated this one. But there was something about it that drew us in and it delivered. A cool and different take on the storied TV show. ... Nicole Kidman was enchanting, and Will Ferrell, for once, showed some range (I'll echo here what I said about Ben Stiller movies. The same goes for Will Ferrell. Loved him on SNL. Hated Old School.) And Kristin Chenoweth shows up well again as the cute little neighbor next door, leading a strong cast of secondary characters that includes Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine and Heather Burns ... Recommended if you're a sucker like us for whimsical colors and storylines.


History on fire

... Crazy stuff about the fire at the Executive Building today ... Who else laughed a little when it was reported the fire was in Cheney's office?

When you consider all the history and the ornate-ness of the building, I can't help but marvel at it every time I've passed it. It's easily one of my favorite buildings in D.C. ... Said one observer today: It's a poignant thing because sometimes it takes events like these to appreciate these buildings.

The Times had a good blog about the fire today, too.

Here's a shot I got of the building during a trip there last year ...


Internet fun

The morning started with my friend Liz sending us this video ... It's pretty sweet.

Keeping with the Christmas spirit, I uncovered this quiz from the Tribune. (For the record, I scored 80 percent correct.)

Then, Liz countered with this quiz ... We all agreed it was one of the coolest quizes we'd ever seen.

And finally, this afternoon I stumbled on this one. Poor kid. Give him back his nose, Dad!


Sunday reading

Some of the stories that caught my eyes during the last week ...

Music ...
a All I Want for Christmas Is Not To Hear That Song

TV ...
a Schulz: The Good and The Grief ... Admittedly, this story is past due (and I did watch the program; it was pretty darn good). But it's still a worthy read.
a TV breeds the new male star

Baseball ...
a If they hear it once, they'll hear it 100 times: It's been a century since Cubs' last title
a Fukudome is a quality import
a State looks to buy Wrigley

Politics ...
a As a Republican, I'm on the Fringe
a Bill and Hillary Clinton’s Pitch in Iowa: ‘I Love the ’90s’
a The Front-Runners: Understanding the Leading Presidential Candidates
a The Ghost of a Father
a Obama's Cheering Section Ups The Volume
a The two Andrew Jacksons: Was 'Old Hickory' a great president or an American Hitler?
a A Miracle on Pennsylvania Avenue

The Internet and media ...
a About Facebook! Forward March! Scholars Are Falling Into Line to Maneuver Through New Territory
a News flash: Donald Trump sells Brooklyn Bridge
a The wide open world of widgets
a Gathering news not only for the next day but for now

Life and other stuff ...
a Chicago ... without us
a Granny Got Game: Wii's Move-Around Style Appeals to a New Demographic
a Expecting The Expenses: $25 Diapers, $12,000 for Day Care, And What to Do About College?
a Study finds humans still evolving, and quickly
a Study: Why Pregnant Women Don't Topple
a 6 tales of financial revenge
a The Elite Apple Corps: A Hundred Million Strong, Every One of Them Cool
a Riding the zip line at Moaning Cavern in California

Snowed in

So I did go out to shovel this morning ... At 6:30 a.m. Took me almost two hours.

It might have taken me longer too if that snowplow that came by got any closer to the curb and pushed another snowbank into our driveway ...

But I stared him down as he approached -- I think he got the idea.

Here's the wreath I mentioned last night ...


A conversation with myself

[The scene: We’ve just finished eating supper. I’ve gently encouraged Kates to wash dishes and clean up the kitchen -- since she gently chided me earlier in the day for wasting water when I wash dishes. It’s about 8 o’clock.]

“I guess I’d better go out and shovel.”

I peak out the front door.

“Maybe not. It’s still snowing.”

I groan.

“I gotta get the mail.”

I open the door. The snow is a couple inches higher than the base of the storm door.

“This’ll be interesting.”

I suddenly decide to abort the task.

“I don’t wanna go out there.”

I begin pacing in the kitchen. And then return to the front door, trying to muster up the courage to go out.

I groan louder. And then suddenly notice the beauty of our wreath covered with powdery snow.

“Hey, look at our wreath!”

Kates, washing dishes now, laughs at the sudden change in my mood.

I look at the falling snow again and I groan louder yet.

Kates laughs at the revert to my original mood.

“I’ll go and shovel later.”

I retreat to my office.

Heartbreak 'Cats

It was destined to be a great day.

Kates and I woke up together at 9:30 this morning. We shared breakfast and read together at the table. I started some chores …

Then at 11, I settled in for the big game. My Northwest Bearcats were once again in the Division II National Championship football game, this time against Valdosta State. Northwest came in ranked No. 5, they’re a powerhouse program, and after last weekend’s exciting win against Grand Valley State, I had all the confidence in the world that they could pull it off today …

Especially after the ESPN2 broadcast led with footage from both teams’ pre-game locker room talks. Coach Tjeerdsma told his team during his pep talk that it was their day and only they could control it, nobody else. And if they did everything right, he said, “then you get one of these.” And he pointed to the big championship ring on his finger, from either ‘98 or ‘99 -- I don’t know which one it was, but I do know those were two of the most fun and memorable days of my life, and the ‘Cats did a whole lot of things right on those days …

“Yeah Mel!” I shouted after the talk, clapping my hands loudly and pacing around the room like I was in the Florence, Ala., locker room with ‘em.

I also couldn’t help but notice the Bearcats were stationed on the same sideline they were on when they won the ‘98 and ‘99 games. (I believe they were on the opposite sideline when they lost the title games the last two years.) That has to be a good sign, I thought.

Oh, but it was not mean to be.

Despite an early field goal by Valdosta, Northwest took a lead and held it into the fourth quarter. In the fourth, Valdosta scored to take a 17-14 lead, but Northwest came right back with a touchdown to go back up 20-14 … Only to watch Valdosta block the extra point attempt and run it all the way to the opposite end zone for two points, making the score 20-19, though still in Northwest’s favor …

And finally Valdosta put the ball in the end zone for the winning touchdown with 22 seconds left in the game. Final: 25-20.

Big sigh … Man, my heart was pounding watching the last few minutes of that game. And it’s been this way every year!

Geez, could the broadcasters have rubbed it in anymore that Northwest was on its way to losing its third straight national championship game!? Big deal. Why not recognize the program for making it to three straight title games!?

And could Andre Ware have dropped the fact that he watched Valdosta win its 2004 championship anymore times? C’mon dude, no one cares. You played in the high and mighty Division I. Go cradle your Heisman

The officiating was poor, too. The referees couldn’t make up their minds on some rulings. There was a terribly harsh holding call on Northwest. And there was a terrible ball spot that should have been an easy first down for Northwest, but instead -- luckily for Northwest -- it was ruled a first down by a hair.

Sorry. I’m just a little heartbroken right now.

You know why Northwest didn’t win … I wasn’t wearing my Bearcat stuff. I had forgotten to put it on after I got up this morning … When I realized my mistake midway through the third quarter, I almost raced upstairs to change. I didn’t, though … I should have.

You’ve gotta credit Valdosta. They completely shut down Xavier Omon. And they didn’t give Northwest many chances to get its offense going …


There’s always next year. And I still hold tight to my memories of '98 and '99, as if I haven't mentioned those years enough already ...

And at least I still have the Packers.

And those Kansas Jayhawks basketball games are coming too.



Fun and games

... So I just finished watching tonight's edition of Dateline about the McCaughey septuplets. I got sucked into it after seeing a promo for it during tonight's NBC News (which I was watching on DVR after Kates had fallen asleep. Yes, I DVR the news. I'm such a news junkie ...)

The report was fascinating, touching, humbling and adorable all wrapped in wonderful fashion. That and Ann Curry is a dang good interviewer ...

* * *

So the Cubs landed Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome. Sweet.

But the best part of the Tribune's story today was this ...

One of Fukudome's biggest boosters is Cubs broadcaster Ron Santo, who now has the envious task of trying to pronounce his name without incurring any fines from the FCC.

"I talked to Pat Hughes about it and told him that's going to be a tough one," Santo said last weekend from his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. "He said, 'Fukudome.' I said, 'Easy for you to say.'"
If you regularly listen to a Ron Santo broadcast, you understand why the above passage is amusing. Man, I love Ron Santo.

Oh yeah. And seeya Mark Prior! ... Sure I enjoyed 2003 (and suffered from a major broken heart) as much as the next Cubs fan. But I've known this day would come since the Cubs brought him up to the big leagues in '02. With all the hype heaped on the kid, it was impossible not to be skeptical ... We are talking about the Cubs after all.

* * *

More baseball.

I just got served this link from my friend Matty.

It's a good read. And I'm sheepishly excited to see how it all transpires tomorrow.

Here's two more:
a MLB receives Mitchell Report
a Naughty or Nice? Baseball is eagerly awaiting the Mitchell Report

* * *

Finally, some YouTube fun.

My cohort Laura and I got on an ELO kick today after I came across this read on Paste. Lily Allen's "Mr. Blue Sky" cover is an ace...

That led us to the real ELO doing this superb live version ...

And that led us to this groovin' vintage promo video from ELO. (Be sure to watch for the guitarist bounding across the stage during the lyric "Running down the avenue." ... Nice).

Nation’s Wealthy Cruelly Deprived Of True Meaning Of Christmas

Report: Nation's Wealthy Cruelly Deprived Of True Meaning Of Christmas


Ice, ice, baby

Now it's a well-known fact that I think winter is one of the cruelest things mankind must deal with each year. OK, one of the cruelest things us northerners must deal with ... And this year I'm especially not liking it.

We've had snow dumped on us almost daily, starting on Thanksgiving Eve. We're only 11 days into December and I'm already fed up with shoveling. I'm ready to chuck my shovel at the snow plow every time I see it putting up yet another barricade at the end of our driveway ...

And now our region is in the midst of a life-altering ice storm. Though we don't have it near as bad here as parts of Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, Kates' school was shut down this morning ...

Tonight, I went out to try shaving some of the ice from our driveway and sidewalks. Yeah. I was back inside within about 20 minutes. It was hopeless ... And once again the snowplow had come through, clogging up the end of our driveway with -- no, not powdery snow this time -- millions of pellet-sized ice crystals that are now, yes, frozen solid. We now have a three-foot speed bump at the end of our driveway ...

To make matters more interesting, I got this text from my good friend Tom in Kansas City around 8:30 last night ...

"... Who wants to have a baby tonight besides me? :) It's an ice storm situation here, so after the water broke we made the trek 2 beat the weather. I have a cold ... "

Turns out everything went fine, and Kates and I have yet another birth to celebrate. They're popping out so fast lately we can hardly keep up ... Tom and Dionna (who need to update their blog!) had a boy, Kieran, around 7 tonight.

* * *
UPDATE 01.22.08: Here's some amazing photos from the ice storm that hit my alma mater. It damaged about 40 percent of the campus's renowned arboretum.


Cranked up

The writer's strike continues. And the TV in our house tonight is off ...

Kates is celebrating the eve of her last master's class ... by putting the finishing touches on her final project ...

And that means I've got some me time. The amps are cranked and I'm spinning whatever moves me ... All day I was yearning for John Mayer's Continuum, so I popped that in soon after I arrived home tonight. Now Mute Math is playing (so good!!), and I think I'll be going with some Shiny Toy Guns after that ...

It's going to be a long night.

Man. Music is great.

* * *

Around this time in year's past, I've posted our Christmas wishes ...

Not this year, I've decided. With the sluggish economy and tightened budgets everywhere you look, it just seemed, well, selfish to post a list of things we want. Kates and I have resigned to the fact we won't be trading gifts this year ... We're having a baby and that's our gift!

In the midst of tightened budgets and baby talk, it's also me coming to the realization that a whole lot of things are going to be changing in the next several months...

There's been a good run of concert announcements lately that under other circumstances I'd be booking tickets for immediately ... But not this year. No matter how much I beg, Kates keeps shutting me down. She's good at keeping it real. If she can shut me down, she's got all the makings of a good mom ...

The Mute Math / Alanis Morissette / Matchbox Twenty show on Feb. 5 ... For several years now, Matchbox Twenty has been at the top of my list of bands that I'd like to see live before I die or they break up. And I badly want to see Mute Math again ... Not happening.

Or how about The 5 Browns on March 1. The dazzling piano quintet. That's sure to be an unforgettable show too ... Yeah, that one's not happening either.

And today came the announcment of Glen Phillips. The Toad the Wet Sprocket singer-songwriter. April 12. In Milwaukee ... We could be having a baby that very day. So that one's definitely not happening ...

Big sigh.

* * *

This one was too cool (and cute) to not post ...

Kates' mom is a big fan of the popular Jane and Kidd morning show and recently delivered some canned goods to their Stuff the Bus event. Chloe got to go along for the ride too ...

Said Kates' mom: "Jane ooed and aahed over Chloe, so I held her up to get petted. I told Jane Chloe was a long-time fan, and Jane said, 'Yeah, we're very popular with small dogs!' "

Good stuff. Here's the picture posted of them on the station's Web site ...


Sunday reading

Some of the reads that piqued my interest this last week ...

Sports ...
a University of Wisconsin, Washburn wrangling in court over ‘W’ logos ... Ah yes. The good 'ol Washburn 'W'. See Washburn is a rival of Northwest, and it struck me every time we played them how similar Washburn's 'W' looked to Wisconsin's 'W.' ... Not that I think the school needs to get sued over it, but it is interesting ...
a BCS got it right this time ... Whatever. Yes, it was a loony college football season, but it didn't make me any more hip to the BCS.
a Why clean up college football's lovely mess? ... Ditto.
a No favoritism toward Pats, or is there?
a Cuban's 'passion project': Buying Cubs
a A new boss in the Bronx
a Barry Bonds Pleads Not Guilty to Perjury
a Bonds' team has tough road ahead
a Baseball waits, wonders as Mitchell report on steroid use in the sport looms
a Gagne deal is for one year ... I think he's a has-been. But I'm willing to believe.

Internet & media ...
a Japan's Bloggers: Humble Giants of the Web
a Readers' online postings enliven site, merit caution
a The Decline Of The Critic

TV ...
a Zachary Quinto: Highly logical, for a human ... All I know is I detest is character in "Heroes."
a Pulling Their Punch Lines

Music ...
a No academy CDs? Play live!
a It's a holiday tune full of pure joy ... I remember the first time I heard this song too. December 1994. I was a sophomore in high school, getting ready to head to my job as a grocery clerk at the local Price Chopper. I was listening to my stereo in my room -- as usual. I started bouncing around my room, and I thought then that it was one of the greatest song's I'd ever heard ... Yeah. Here's the video.
a James Taylor returns to his roots
a Jordin Sparks maintains innocent charm in pop CD debut
a Blake Lewis, 'American Idol' runner-up, looks to move beyond the show with release of new CD
a Led Zeppelin's glorious excess ... I'm becoming a fan too. And here's one thing I won't soon forget: How cool it was a couple weeks ago to be glancing at the Billboard charts and seeing both Led Zeppelin and the Eagles with albums in the Top 10 ... whoah.
a The Song Still Remains The Same for Led Zeppelin
a The McCartney interview: 'I'm trying to create an antidote' for difficult times

Politics ...
a The Love Song of Dennis J. Kucinich
a Bush in Psych 101: 'Feeling... pretty good about life'

Life & other stuff ...
a Easy on the eggnog, Cinderella
a AT&T saying good-bye to its last pay phones
a D.C. leads metro areas in walkability

Omon! Oh man! Oh baby!

For the last several weeks our computer has been my transistor radio. Each Saturday I've had to log on to the Internet radio to listen to my beloved Bearcats in the Division II football playoffs ...

They rolled over West Texas. They got by Chadron State.

But last night, it came down to one more game, the semifinal round, against Grand Valley State for a chance to get to the championship game in 'Bama. And this time, it was being broadcast live on ESPN2, baby!

Now, you might recall Grand Valley edged the 'Cats for the title in 2005 and in 2006 ... Last night was different, though. The commentators noted it too -- Going in, even with Grand Valley ranked No. 1 and Northwest ranked No. 5, you had to believe Northwest had the edge; they were trying to avenge the championship game losses and they were playing on their home turf, arguably one of the greatest atmospheres in D-II. It was a chamionship game atmosphere, indeed, and an incredible feeling to be watching my alma mater! my team! and the sidelines I'd paced for four years! right there on national television ...

Kates and I were roaring with every positive yard the Bearcats gained ... and beaming with every shot or reference the commentators made on the surrounding campus ( ... Freezing fans -- it was 17 degrees -- in the student section, snowy shots of the Memorial Bell Tower and the kissing bridge, and a few minutes of amusing conversation about the residents watching the game from their cheap seats in the South Complex -- complete with frenetic fans bouncing in their dorm windows. HA-larious.)

The teams battled in the first half, and it looked as though field goals were going to make and break the game. Northwest went into the locker room at halftime down 13-10 ...

Then ... Xavier Omon came to the rescue. The dude was unbelievable ...

He helped put Northwest ahead, 17-13 for good, midway through the third quarter with a short touchdown run ... Then Grand Valley and Northwest traded field goals to make it 20-16 ...

Just a few minutes into the fourth quarter, Omon caught a screen pass and broke a couple tackles for an 11-yard touchdown pass ...

And then!, after Grand Valley punted and put Northwest on their own 2-yard line, Omon took the first play from scrimmage 98 yards to the opposite end of the field for the knockout punch ... Omon had rushed for a total of 292 yards, and 204 of those came in the second half.

Grand Valley surrendered and ran out the clock. Northwest had won 34-16. The students stormed the field. Sweet Home Alabama started blaring from the public address system. The goal posts came down and off they went toward College Avenue ... Just like old times.

Good reads ...
a Northwest Missouri State advances to NCAA Division II title game
a Northwest Missouri savors rematch with reigning champs

* * *

The game ended a little after 11 and Kates and I promptly went to bed ... Little did we know, around the same time Stephanie and Joel were heading to the hospital and our little niece was about to make her grand entrance to the world ...

About 8:30 this morning, as Kates and I were sitting down for breakfast, we got the call from Joel that she had been born. Can hardly wait to meet her ...

Here's a picture Joel passed on ...


It just keeps falling ...

Bloody good Grey's

Ok, so I've been a little sour on Grey's Anatomy this season ...

But last night's episode -- the second half of a two-parter, I might add (All the multi-part Grey's episodes have bombed, in my opinion ...) -- was the most I've enjoyed a Grey's episode in a looooooooong time ...

Though, I'm not so sure Seth Green's blown-artery-guy really would've been so talkative with half his blood dousing poor Lexie ...


Jenna Bush on Ellen

Heard about this on the radio yesterday ...

Pretty sweet.


Songs in the key of life ... and sports

Nothing like starting the day before dawn. With shoveling ... And ending it long after dusk. With shoveling.

I hate winter. My back hates it too. And my knees.

I've never wanted a snow blower so badly.

... We got a solid couple inches of snow on Saturday, you may recall. And last night we got blasted with the second part of the storm. 10 inches. ... Kates woke me up at 6 this morning to go out and shovel; by then several inches had fallen and it was still coming. It took me about an hour to complete the job (we have a good sized two-car driveway and sidewalks on two sides of our house), before I went in to warm up and get myself ready for work -- only to see everything I cleared completely re-covered with snow by the time I came back out to leave for work. Grrrr!

And it proceeded to snow long and hard all morning ...

So when Kates and I finally arrived home about 7:30 tonight, I knew I had my work cutout for me again.

It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the dang plows, either. This year, it seems, they're plowing even closer to the curb -- which means less snow left on the roadway and more of it blocking the edge of our driveway. Beginning with the weekend storm, it's taken me almost as much time to remove the gargantuan chunks of snow left by the plows as it's taken me to shovel the rest of the driveway ... and when we came home tonight, it was obvious the plows had come through again because there at the end of our driveway was another blockade of snow ...

No problem. My little Neon punched through it like a tank.

Good thing it's powdery snow.

* * *

I've been wanting to say something about that Patriots-Ravens game the other night ... I only caught the fourth quarter, but ...

Holy cow! The Patriots survived -- or the Ravens botched -- four fourth downs during that final New England drive. Geez, the Ravens had Tom Brady stopped! Stuffed! on a fourth-and-one, only to have whistles blown in the Ravens defense's faces because one of their coaches had called a timeout ... Then the Ravens had the Pats stopped again on a run, only to have a Pats lineman called for a false start and Brady got another chance, which they converted. And a fourth fourth down play resulted in a holding call, before the Pats finally found the end zone for the 27-24 win ...

It was an incredible thing to watch ... And I'm not gonna lie -- I want to see the Patriots go 16-0. They're a classy team to watch, and I want to be able to say I remember when ...

* * *

... I opened our mailbox tonight, and there it was -- the issue I'd been waiting for -- Brett Favre in all his green and gold, as Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year.

The cover is an instant classic.

I can hardly wait to read it ...

I was talking with a friend about the Packers over supper tonight, and he nailed it when he said it was hard for him to remember a more enjoyable Packers season. Sure the great seasons during the mid-to-late '90s were fun, but those were kind of expected. This year has been made even more spectacular by the fact that almost nobody forecasted Farve's and the Packers' success ... It's been a heckuva ride.

Speaking of nailing it, this read, sent to me this week by my friend Raechel, is a classic too ... If only there were more like Brett. Then again, perhaps it's a good thing there's not. We'd probably take Brett for granted too ...

* * *

Saving my favorite for last ...

The winter baseball meetings. While everyone else was obsessing over Johan Santana (Over-rated ...) The Tigers quietly were going after the guy I was looking at this offseason as the best player available or on the block -- and then they not only swiped Miguel Cabrera, they got Dontrelle Willis too!! (Read it from the Tigers here.)


Lordy, lordy. I'm still trying to catch my breath.

And I'd almost forgotten the wonderful Edgar Renteria deal ... I can smell a Tigers World Championship right now ... It could be sweet.

In the mean time ...

I like this Cubs deal ...

Reporters Expose Airport Security Lapses By Blowing Up Plane

The headline and lead ...

271 are dead after an Onion News Network Special Investigative Report on airport security

... alone had me cracking up before I even watched this one.

Reporters Expose Airport Security Lapses By Blowing Up Plane


Talking TV

So I haven’t been much for talking about TV this fall. Sorry.

I blame it partly on getting so wrapped up in the postseason baseball. Then, I was racing to catch up with so many shows on the DVR that I hardly had time to soak up a lot of them. And now Hollywood is in a writer’s strike that’s halting our favorite shows and there's no signs of them resuming.

I also blame it on the fact I haven’t exactly been blown away by anything I’ve been watching this fall -- at least not the way I was always blown away by the hilarity of Friends, Fraiser, Raymond or Will & Grace. Or the soaring drama, action and charm of West Wing, or the early episodes of Lost and Heroes… Which is sort of surprising because it’s a rarity I don’t really like at least a handful of the new shows ...

This year has been a rarity … I was turned off by Caveman and Carpoolers in just five minutes. We stayed with Samantha Who for two episodes before cutting that one loose. And Reaper hung around on our DVR for about three or four episodes before we dismissed that one too …

Oh, and Private Practice? Yeah. Still boycotting it.

We’ve kept up with Big Bang Theory (I do really enjoy Sheldon …) and Back To You, but those are starting to wear too … Even How I Met Your Mother and The Office seem to have lost their edge (Although I must admit the first couple episodes of this season's Office, despite being an hour long, were pretty stellar -- Angela to Dwight, referring to her cats: “I don‘t want Garbage! I want Sprinkles!” And later during their breakup: “I will leave your toothbrush on your tire.”) ... That said, 30 Rock may be the sitcom I've most enjoyed watching this fall -- and that's something I never thought I'd be saying last fall ...

If a show has any premise remotely about crime and cops, or even smells of sleaze, I'm not getting near it. I don’t care how well it’s written or produced -- I get enough of that in my every day work …

There have been some signs of TV life lately, though … mostly in Daisies, a tornado and a favorite from last season that couldn’t have returned at more appropriate time.

Yeah. So how about that tornado on Wisteria Lane last night!? Captivating at times (Lynette's scream at the end), funny at others (Edie vs Gabby; Victor vs Carlos -- I saw Victor getting pinned with that fence post a mile away), and sometimes just dumb -- No one predicts a tornado hours before it's going to hit and then prepares for it. McClusky driving up in her car and yelling to the neighbors (who were standing under a sunny sky) at 9 in the morning that a tornado had hit Mt. Pleasant and they'd better get under cover for the 4 o'clock tornado was the worst. And c'mon, aside from the Scavo clan, why was nobody worried about Julie and the rest of the kiddos!? ... If you ask me, the Halloween episode was the best so far of a season that's almost reached First Season levels. Danielle playing Bree might have been the funniest thing I've ever seen on Housewives… Still, more recent Sundays have been like watching “a very special episode” of Desperate Housewives. Between Lynette’s cancer battle, Mike’s drug user/abusive husband persona and now Andrew moving out ... Seriously.

Keeping with the Sunday night lineup, Brothers & Sisters quietly endures as the new age thirtysomethingSally Field. Rob Lowe. Calista Flockhart. A large, beautiful California family. Wonderful plots. A good wedding. I love the dynamic Rebecca adds to the family ... If B&S lost any points with me this season, it happened when they brought in that creepy Leena to sleep with idiot Tommy ...

On to Monday nights ... Heroes didn’t start out so hot, and I was beginning to doubt my draw to the show I fell so deeply in love with last year … Ah, but the last few weeks have turned almost as stellar as the high points of last season’s fight to save the world … With every new episode, new character and new power revealed -- it’s like one giant game of rock, paper, scissors! Seriously. It's like regeneration beats electricity, which beats flight and -- you get the idea … I'm comfortably on board again. Except, now it's over for a few weeks. (Who assassinated Nathan!?!)

As for Greys Anatomy, however, I've resigned to the notion it's never going to be as good as the pre-Super-Bowl bomb-era Grey's. … Our fearless, gonna-save-the-world interns are growing up; they're not so innocent anymore. They're more cynical and mean now. And these days they appear to be more concerned with who can have the most closet sex than they are with being chummy at the cafeteria table. I miss those days ... At least Bailey finally got to be a chief.

And that leaves me with the colorful and dazzling Pushing Daisies ... Why the buzz on this show is so subdued baffles me. (Kates was slow to warm to it too, but I finally got her hooked after a couple episodes) Did I mention how colorful it is? I love the straight-on camera angles of the characters during their conversations. I love the narration. I love the idea that Ned and Chuck are so deep into each other but it's impossible for them to touch, and the way your heart sinks for them every time they get close. And I love that each episode is a 40-minute fantasa-magical who-dun-it adventure with four people I'd love to spend my days with ...

Oh, and that show that couldn't have returned at a more appropriate time? I'm talking about Notes From the Underbelly, baby! The critics can and will say what they want about it. Yeah, so it's not the greatest premise ever, but it's darn fun and cute for a young couple that's sharing the same experiences -- and I'll watch anything with Rachael Harris ...


Sunday reading

So the storm that was coming yesterday? ... Yeah, it came all right -- in the form of a wet, icy mess. Shoveling the driveway and sidewalks last night was like trying to shovel Lake Michigan ...

Kates and I just finished watching "Elf" on TV ... We saw it in the theater a few years ago, and I hadn't seen it since -- mostly because I haven't had a high regard for it. I think perhaps it was one of those movies where it was so hyped that we went in with huge expectations, and left the theater feeling let down. So last week when my cohorts were putting together a short list of the greatest holiday movies ever made, I bemoaned "Elf" going on the list ... Seeing it again today, I realized how charming of a little holiday film (and cast) it really is. Forgive me.

Here's some of the reads that piqued my interests last week ...

Drew Peterson ...
a Relative's help alleged in Peterson case ... Like I've said: The twists get better each day ...
a Peterson's camcorder footage shown on 'Good Morning America'

Music ...
a 'Idol' Jordin Sparks makes CD debut ... I do like her first single.

TV ...
a Late-night laugh-in

Baseball ...
a Dodgers' activity absent after Torre ... Yep. It's pitiful.
a Raines deserves Hall of Fame induction ... Until I read this story, I wouldn't have taken a second look at ol' Rock. Indeed he's a worthy candidate ...
a What the voters got right ... and wrong ... more on baseball's objectionable postseason awards. This one is quite a bit closer to my opinions compared to a column I cited last weekend on the same subject. Jimmy Rollin should have finished at least third in the NL MVP voting ...
a Hometown Views of Bonds Are Unchanged
a Next year's Rockies: Six teams poised to go from sub-.500 to postseason ... I do believe the Reds are going to be in it next year; they've been on the cusp for a couple years now. But the Royals and the Rangers!? I'll believe it when I see it ...

The Internet and media ...
a How Do You Tell a Web Name From A Typo?
a Storming the News Gatekeepers: On the Internet, Citizen Journalists Raise Their Voices

Politics ...
a Calculation and Conviction
a Her Heart's in the Race: Michelle Obama on the Campaign Trail and Her Life's Path
a Obama's Amnesia Problem
a Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton Bring Star Power to Iowa

Life and other stuff ...
a Capturing final, precious moments
a The Truth About Lying: Our Lives Are Filled With Untruths. But Why Do We Lie, And How Can We Tell When Others Are Full of It?
a What's wrong with this picture?
a Lincoln had cancer, doctor theorizes
a Is Lincoln Earliest Recorded Case of Rare Disease?
a Step Inside, and Back in Time, and Dial Away: The Area's Last Public Phone Booth Is Shabby but Holding On