Friday, November 27, 2009

PC gone wild

We’ve gotten to a point in our culture where we have to watch every single thing we say; jokes aren’t funny, and people take everything too literally.

There is one type of humor that is especially off-limits – racial or ethnic humor. We are so worried about political correctness that we can’t even mention any race or ethnicity without someone being offended.

A few weeks ago, college football announcer Bob Griese was suspended for making a comment about Columbian NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya. During a promotional spot, a graphic was shown listing the top five drivers in NASCAR’s points race. Fellow analyst Chris Spielman asked where was driver Juan Pablo Montoya, who is Colombian. Griese replied: "Out having a taco."

Insensitive? Yes. Deserving of a suspension despite repeated apologies? I don't believe so.
I guess what announcers and people in general need to realize is that any ethnic or racial jokes are completely forbidden.

I can kind of see why Griese was suspended, not that I agree with it, and I can certainly see why people like Don Imus - who made completely racist and unacceptable comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team a few years ago - are suspended or fired. If something offends an entire group of people, then it shouldn’t be said, and if it is said, then the offended should be punished.

However, this past week our overreaction to political correctness boiled over. After a NBA game between the L.A. Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies, two basketball announcers were suspended for an exchange regarding the first Iranian player in the NBA.

Los Angeles Clippers TV announcers Ralph Lawler and Mike Smith were suspended for one game because after they spoke of Hamed Haddidi, a Clippers fan who watched the telecast complained about the verbal exchange and said he was owed an apology today from Fox Sports.

One viewer made a complaint, and because of that, the announcers were forced to apologize for what I see as a simple error. The comment that the viewer complained about was the pronunciation of "Iranian." Apparently Smith pronounced it "Eye-Ranian," which the viewer found offensive.

An announcer should not have to publically apologize or be reprimanded for pronunciation, unless it is meant in an offensive manner. In this case, it was not anything except someone with a slight regional accent saying the word "Iranian" in a different pronunciation than is normally viewed as correct.

The official apology released was: "We regret the remarks made by Clippers announcers Michael Smith and Ralph Lawler during Wednesday's telecast. While we believe that Michael and Ralph did not intend their exchange to be offensive, the comments were inappropriate."

So in other words, they said something, meant nothing by it, but have to apologize because it could have been taken the wrong way. Give me a break!

People need to realize that sports announcers are in the business of entertainment, and their exchange was banter trying to be humorous.

Maybe the complaint was taken so seriously because of the tumultuous relationship we currently have with Iran, or maybe we’ve gotten to the point where we quite literally can’t even refer to a person’s race, ethnicity or country of origin when discussing them. It’s PC run wild.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just not PC enough.

Athletes are role models, like it or not

(Ran 11/19)

Athletes are role models, whether they like it or not.

The problem is, the sports headlines each day are always of the troubled athlete, the cheaters or the losers, not the athletes we want our children to look up to.

Mike Tyson was recently arrested, again; this time for allegedly punching a photographer at the airport.

In September, LeGarrette Blount was suspended for the entire season by the University of Oregon for punching an opposing player in the Ducks season-opening loss to Boise State. (The suspension was recently lifted, with Blount having sat out eight games.)

Super Bowl-winning wide receiver Plaxico Burress recently reported to prison to begin a two-year sentence for carrying an unregistered handgun.

I know many athletes don’t ask to be role models, but they need to know and remember that it comes with the territory. When you are paid millions of dollars to play a sport, and you do it in front of a television audience of millions, it doesn’t matter what you asked for — you become a role model.

Of course I’m focusing on the bad examples. There are plenty of good stories out there; the problem is that we don’t hear about them.

On Saturday, boxer Manny Pacquiao won his the championship belt in his unprecedented 7th weight class. But Pacquiao is not only a boxer, he is also a humanitarian, and on Nov. 24, he will be honored for his humanitarianism in his home country of the Phillipeans, when he will be named a 2009 Gusi Peace Prize laureate. The world champion boxer is the award's only athlete among the elite group of 19 honorees from 16 different nations. Pacquiao is also a political force in his country, where he is running for congress.

Pacquiao is being honored for, among other things, braving the tumultuous conditions created by typhoons in the Philippines, where he has broken training to help save lives by delivering food into devastated areas.

Curtis Granderson of the Cleveland Indians was recently named MLB’s Man of the Year for his charitable work. Granderson established the "Grand Kids Foundation," a non-profit that focuses on improving opportunities for inner-city youth in the areas of education and youth baseball. He recently wrote a children's book entitled All You Can Be, which was illustrated by fourth-graders from across the state of Michigan that "encourages children to chase their dreams," and he is an active member of the Action Team national youth volunteer program, which is managed by the Major League Baseball Players Trust and Volunteers of America, and whose goal is to inspire and train the next generation of volunteers in more than 150 high schools across the U.S.

But these athletes don’t get the headlines that Tyson, Blount or Burress do; we are left thinking that boxers are thugs and that all football players are criminals.

What kind of example is this setting?

Yes, the athletes need to take responsibility and understand that they are role models, but the media must also understand this. Instead of focusing on Burress’s stupid decisions, we should publicize the generosity of Pacquiao or Granderson.

Pacquiao and Granderson’s stories are inspiring, and it is athletes like these who can make sports the great assembler that they can be. Sports can bring together people with little else in common, and athletes can encourage generosity in others.

On Monday, I read a story that began with me cringing, and ended with a satisfied smile, when the University of Tennessee turned an ugly situation into a good example for all student-athletes. Two of their star freshman football players were dismissed from the team after being charged in an attempted armed robbery (cringe). There is nothing the team could do about their crime, but instead of sitting on their hands and waiting for something to happen legally, Lane Kiffin – in a rare good move – dismissed them from the team, setting an example that all coaches should follow. It seems that the coaches at Tennessee understand that athletes are role models, and must behave as such.

Instead of focusing on athletes who make poor and sometimes criminal decisions, the media should focus on the positives of sports, those athletes and teams that rise above to succeed and inspire.

For the Love of Fantasy

(Ran 11/12 - Don't let the title excite you, it's nothing raunchy)

I am one of roughly 22 million Americans who take part in fantasy sports each season. I'll shout it from the rooftop - I love fantasy football!

Being in a fantasy football league has made me love, hate and respect my friends at a new level. I have learned that trash talking is an art form much like writing Haiku. It is as addictive as coffee and perfect for A.D.D. adults like myself. Now I can be in three leagues and burn some of that bottled energy.

I anticipate draft day, sifting through fantasy-specific magazines, reading every article by the Talented Mr. Roto, and getting everyone else’s expert opinion before preparing my own draft order.

I’m not alone. Last year, roughly $800 million worth of products and services were generated by the fantasy industry in 2008. And I’m also not alone in saying it’s worth every minute and every penny.

The great thing about fantasy football is that even if you are a fan of the Detroit Lions, Sundays can be fun if you’re in a fantasy league. Even if you have nothing to cheer for with your own team, you have individual players (and a defense) to cheer for in most games. It’s got to be the most genius aspect the NFL ever came up with – and they didn’t even think of it.

It cannot be overstated – it is necessary for professional football to be involved with the fantasy industry. In the NFL, unlike college, there are no real rivalries older than a few decades. But any person can draft a team and have a reason to watch every single game on TV. With rapid fantasy football leagues, the NFL will never - I repeat never - have a viewership problem.

Ten years ago you never saw all players who were "probable," "questionable" and "out" scrolling across the screen all Sunday morning on ESPN. That isn’t for the everyday fan to know who on their hometown team is out – it’s so fantasy owners know who to play in their weekly lineup.

What began in 1962 between a group of five men in Oakland has turned into a money-making machine beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.

Thanks in large part to fantasy, the NFL had overtaken MLB as the most popular sport in the U.S. Sure, people play fantasy baseball, but it’s so much more time-consuming, having to change your lineup every single day, and with less strategy than a 16-game football season.

Many people don’t understand the draw… I think the best way to describe it is that it allows me to have a real, tangible reason for checking scores and stats each week, aside from pure entertainment.

Maybe it can turn into an obsession, and can make us all a lot less productive at work… but it sure is fun.

Sports are what the doctor ordered

(Ran 11/5)

Sports are games - athletic competition that force us to test our limits. Sports aren’t life-or-death; they aren’t even that meaningful, really. But sometimes, things happen that cause sports to take on greater meaning. Sometimes, sports can be just what the metaphorical doctor ordered

Sports bring a smile to our faces, they bring together strangers, and they unite communities. In times of hardship, people often come together to cheer for an athlete or team. In sports, we can forget about our lives for a few hours, forget about the pain of our Soldiers being gone for a year, the debt we are in, or any of a number of other negative things that may be going on in our lives.
For two hours every Saturday or Sunday, we are taken to a different world, where red and black are the only acceptable colors, and all that matters is that the Bulldogs beat the Gators.

There are times when sports become more than just competition; they unite, they help us begin to heal, and, most importantly, they make us smile.

I just finished reading an article on about University of Miami walk-on wide receiver Chris Hayes, whose father committed suicide last October. Hayes had never even dressed for a game, but the Saturday following his father’s untimely death, the special teams coach told Hayes he was suiting up. And during the last play of the game, the 5’9" Hayes lined up as tight end against an All-American linebacker.

Hayes had no impact on that game; in fact, he has little impact on his team ever – in the win-loss column, anyway. But on that particular day, he showed his team made up of future NFLers what real heart is, and what sports really mean. Hayes didn’t have to show up to the game only days after burying his father. Quite frankly, most people probably didn’t expect him to. But for Hayes, I’d have to think that going to the game was a way to start the healing process. Through a game, Hayes showed the heart of a champion, and that sometimes sports can help us overcome immense pain.

Every year on ESPN, they have the Make-a-Wish series, where sick children fulfill their sports fantasies by spending the day with their favorite athlete or team. By the end of each of the three-minute segments, I am undoubtedly in tears and remembering why it is that I love sports so much. It’s because they can heal, even if it’s just for a moment.

There are small towns in America that have little to cheer for besides those games under the Friday night lights, when the entire community rallies around a group of 15-18 year old boys.
Even at the worst point in our lives, sports can pick us up; they give us something to look forward to, and something to cheer for. Whether it’s cheering up a kid who is battling illness, helping a man get over the loss of his father, or bringing together a down-and-out community, sports do mean something.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Regrets? There's insurance for that

(Ran 10/29)

It is a major topic of conversation after each college football season – who will stay in school, and who will leave school early to go into the NFL draft?

Last season, the three Heisman finalists were all underclassmen. All three quarterbacks, Oklahoma Sooner Sam Bradford, who won the trophy; Florida Gator Tim Tebow, the 2007 winner; and Texas Longhorn Colt McCoy; decided to return to college for at least another year.

But just to be safe, each took out an insurance policy, ranging from $1-5 million, in case of career-ending injury.

Sam Bradford's father, Kent, is an insurance specialist. Over the summer, the elder Bradford was quoted by ESPN having said, "The odds of a kid getting a career-ending injury are slim. But if it did happen, and you had the chance to insure, chances are you would feel pretty dumb. You're insuring earnings power."

In the case of his own son, that insurance policy may have been a smart decision. The Heisman Trophy winner injured his shoulder in the first game of the season. He sat out for four weeks, which ruined his chances for back-to-back Heisman trophies but certainly didn’t ruin his season. Then, in his second game back, Bradford re-injured his shoulder, and last week he opted to have season-ending surgery… and, ironically, to enter the NFL draft.

Players take a gamble when they decide to return to college for another season. Usually, they’re trying to increase their draft position; sometimes, they’re just making the decision to live like a kid for one more year, or they’re returning for the chance to win a National Championship.

In Bradford’s case, the gamble didn’t work in his favor. Had he left after his sophomore season, he was a consensus Top-5 pick; some even had him going first overall. He was coming off a season in which he was 328-of-483, throwing 4,720 pass yards and 50 touchdowns with only eight interceptions.

A year later, he could still go in the top-10, but that isn’t as likely of an outcome. Now there are questions about durability, due to the double-injury to his throwing shoulder, that weren’t there last season. No matter how good a player is, teams often second-guess, giving millions of dollars to a top-5 or top-10 pick who may have injury issues – just ask Michael Crabtree.

The insurance policies these players, who intend to play football for a living, take out are considered a "business expense." According to Sports Illustrated, using a private agent, a player can expect to pay $9,000-$10,000 per $1 million of coverage, depending on where the player buys his policy and how much protection he needs. With these insurance policies, like any kind of insurance, you are paying for protection in the off-chance that you may need it. Most players won’t use it, just like most people don’t use their flood insurance, but having it for that 1 percent of the time when it is needed sure does pay off in the end.

Sure, a large part of Sam Bradford’s injury this season was a much weaker offensive line, but a lot of it was just plain-old bad luck. That’s what an insurance policy is for.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Type-casting teams

It's been FAR too long, but I think I have a great excuse this time... my little girl who was born June 24. All is well with her and I, and I'm back to writing a sports column each week, so I'll keep y'all updated as I do so.


Type-casting teams (ran 10/22)

In life, there are the blessed, the cursed, the lazy and the hard-working.

It is the same in sports.

There are those teams blessed with talent – the teams that can do no wrong; then, on the opposite side, there is the team that can do no right – the blooper never drops in, the hole in the defense never opens.

Some can overcome lack of talent or a lower payroll with a four letter word: T-E-A-M. When a group of athletes plays together as one cohesive unit, there is no limit to the heights they can achieve.

There are those teams that exceed our expectations (this year’s Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings), and those teams that have all of the talent in the world, but can’t do anything with it (I'm talking to you, Tennessee Titans).

After Sunday’s NFL games, I’d like to discuss three kinds of teams: The lucky, the loveable losers, and the underachievers.

Type one: the lucky

Luck-y – adjective. Having or marked by good luck; fortunate.

If you watched the Vikings game yesterday, "luck" is probably one of the first words that came to mind.

It seemed like Minnesota had the game wrapped up, but then Baltimore made a 17-point comeback. With two seconds left in the game, Ravens’ kicker Steven Hauschka lined up for a 44-yard field goal… and it sailed left to give the Vikes the win.

If you play for a lucky team, you always recover the clutch fumble, or the other team’s kicked always misses the game-winning field goal.

So far this year Minnesota, despite having a hasn’t-even-hit-his-prime Adrian Peterson and at-the-top-of-his-career Jared Allen, has relied heavily on luck. Even the fact that a 40-year-old Brett Favre is playing as well as he is seems lucky for the Vikings.

Type two: the lovable losers

Los-er – noun. A person, team, thing, etc., that loses.

Every person loves their team, but sometimes they just don’t have "it."

They’re like the Bad News Bears, or the 2009 St. Louis Rams – no matter what they do, they just can’t win.

They don’t really have the talent, and they don’t have the necessary experience, or they have "too much" experience (i.e. old guys), and those three things put together add up to an oh-and-whatever season.

But sometimes, for the team that you thought was the lovable losers, it finally comes together: the defense starts blocking, players start making hits, and holes start opening for the runners. Then, suddenly, they aren’t the lovable losers, but the overachievers. That’s when it’s fun.

Unfortunately, St. Louis fans, I don’t see that happening for your guys this season. Sorry.

Type three: the underachievers

Un-der-a-cheive-er – noun. A person or thing that performers below expectations.

The worst of all of the teams - the underachieving team has all of the talent in the world, but can’t seem to get it together.

This team has the all-star lineup, the high payroll; maybe they had a great season last year. But when it comes to playing as a team … well, let’s just say that, sometimes, there is an ‘I’ in team - but it’s not a very good team.

This is the team that, after a loss, can’t believe they were beaten by a team that seemed inferior.
The best example of this is the Tennessee Titans.

Last year they were 12-0 at one point. They have most everyone back (minus Albert Haynesworth), LenDale White came back looking like a real tailback and not a regular at the all-you-can-eat buffet, and Chris Johnson is playing great football, but they just can’t seem to put it together this season.

Sunday, they put up a big ol' goose egg on the scoreboard, gave up 59 points to New England. It was pathetic to watch, and there is nothing I hate more than a team who gives up.

Everyone thought Tennessee would be good – very good even – but instead, they are essentially out of any playoff contention, and need to go back to the drawing board for next season, mainly finding out who the real Vince Young is (let’s hope it’s the 2007 version, and not 2008), and maybe even re-evaluating the future of Jeff Fisher.

But no matter what type your team is, lucky, loveable losers, underachieving, unstoppable, or just plain bad, keep rooting them on, because the only thing worse than a bad team is a fair-weather fan.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Give Vick a chance

I’m from Boston, so I don’t really feel much like talking about the NHL or NBA playoffs right now. Instead, let’s talk about my favorite sport – football.

Even though it’s the offseason, there’s still a lot going on in the NFL. Let’s have a recap: Michael Vick was recently released from prison, and Brett Favre is talking about coming out of retirement, again, this time to stick it to the Packers by possibly playing for the Vikings. Al Davis skipped over Michael Crabtree in favor of Darrius Heyward-Bey out of the University of Maryland, which of course is known as a football powerhouse that consistently breeds top-10 draft picks, in yet another in a long-line of horrible decisions. And we saw tragedy strike when the Cowboys’ training facility collapsed, leaving a scout paralyzed.

Jason Taylor is going back to the Dolphins; Tom Brady is coming back to the Patriots; Matt Cassel is going to try to turn things around in Kansas City; and all of New York/New Jersey is hoping that Mark Sanchez can carry the Jets. T.O. was released by Dallas and subsequently signed with Buffalo, which makes a ton of sense because now he’ll be catching passes from the great Trent Edwards, which shouldn’t cause any problems; and the Redskins guaranteed about a billion dollars to Albert Haynesworth.

Of all of those stories, I have to say the one that interests me the most is that of Michael Vick… just hear me out. Vick was sent to prison for 23 months for financing a dog fighting ring. Now, while I by no means condone what he did, I realize that he was certainly, and perhaps somewhat unfairly, made an example of. Nevertheless, Vick has done his time and now is being released to serve his final two months on house arrest.

I sincerely hope that some NFL team will take a chance on the former superstar, one that can take the heat that PETA and other animal rights activists will throw at them, because apparently serving two years at Leavenworth, losing all of your money, the respect the world had for you isn’t enough – he must suffer forever! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that what he did wasn’t horrible, but I think he served his time, and he deserves a second chance. After all, it’s not like he was involved in a double-murder, plead his way out, paid off the victims’ families, and is now the hero of the Baltimore Ravens. Just trying to put it in perspective.

All of that has happened, and it’s only the beginning of June. Man, I love football.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The lure of the UFC

I used to be baffled by the lure of MMA. I thought it was gruesome, homoerotic (come on, you've all thought that), and I just plain thought it was dumb. But, I also thought that without actually watching it. But my husband is a big fan, and constantly puts on any UFC event that is on TV. At first, I groaned and complained every time he switched it on and, and flat-out refused to watch it. But each time I would watch a little more, and complain a little less. I still pretended like I hated it, just so he thought I was really giving him something by letting him watch it, but even that fell by the wayside the more I watched. After a few months, I was the one turning on UFC Unleashed, turning on Spike Wednesday nights at 10 to watch a new episode of The Ultimate Fighter, and I was even the one who suggested that we go to a bar a few miles from our house and pay $10 each to watch UFC 97.

Last week I interviewed Sgt. Nate Banks, a combatives trainer at Fort Stewart, who is getting out of the Army to join Greg Jackson's Mixed Martial Arts, one of the best MMA schools in the world.

If you are a fan of the UFC, you undoubtedly have heard of Greg Jackson, who has developed 10 world champions, and many of the athletes that train at his gym - Rashad Evans, Georges St. Pierre, Nate Marquardt, Keith Jardine - aren't little-known fighters.

But while Sgt. Baker may be in the minority of those training at such a prestigious academy (Jackson trains only about 32 professional fighters), he is part of an ever-growing population of Soldiers studying MMA.

MMA is a full-contact combat sport that allows a wide variety of fighting techniques from a mixture of martial arts traditions and non-traditions to be used in competitions. The rules allow the use of striking and grappling techniques, both while standing and on the ground. In MMA, and most famously the UFC, fighters often utilize parts of boxing, wrestling, Brazilian jiujitsu and muay thai kickboxing, among other disciplines.

Just 5 years ago, the UFC was an underground sport, often looked at by outsiders as gruesome, barbaric and sadistic, and even called "human cock fighting" by Sen. John McCain, among others. But today, after dropping the "no holds barred" label and adopting stricter rules, the UFC is now a billion-dollar enterprise that has up to 12 fights a year telecast on Pay-Per-View, each up to 1.5 million viewers paying $44.95 a piece.

The popularity of MMA isn't just in the civilian world; the Army began training its Soldiers in hand-to-hand combat, much like mixed martial arts, in 1995, when the 2nd Ranger Battalion began training in Modern Army Combatives, and the instruction has since spread at the grass roots throughout the Army.

Many Soldiers are currently training in Army combatives, and probably many of them are those 1.5 million (mostly male) viewers who pay to watch UFC fights each month or who tune in to watch The Ultimate Fighter on Spike. Most of the UFC viewers are males age 18-35, but I know for a fact that there are many underground female fans, because I wasn't the only one at the bar that night. I honestly think that anyone gives it a chance, you could get sucked in just like I did... but I still don't like boxing.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Top Chef

The biggest event since the Super Bowl... so two of the show's biggest fans, myself and Mary, did a running diary. I will do my best to take out the explitives, but if you are like us and think Stefan was the best and Hosea sucked, then you know that will be difficult.

Without further adieu... Jen and Mary's Top Chef Finale running diary!

Mary: jen where are youuuuuu
10:03 PM top chef is on!

10:10 PM Contestants get their sous chefs - former finalists! Hosea picks first and takes Richard (runner-up Season 4), Stefan picks Season 2 runner-up Marcel, and Carla gets Season 3 runner-up Casey.
me: eeeeeeeeeeeek i love what stefan said about marcel "he's kind of a twat, but who isn't?"
Mary: see, stefan keeps it real and whats up with f'in hosea stealing all the high end food
me: and why is hosea taking all his food
Mary: f***er
me: like he would use foie gras and caviar come on that isnt fish and potatoes
Mary: hosea news flash: you cook in colorado make some damn bison and trout. embrace it

10:14 PM
Mary: and i hope that carla isnt a pushover w/ casey
me: yeah Casey like told her how to cook the meat? i dont know if its a good idea to cook beef a way you've never done in the last challenge1
Mary: i agree
me: i hate to say it, but hosea is right... it will either be awesome or fail miserably
Mary: ugh, hosea. i hate that he's paired with richard, who i like
me: yeah but i kinda forget richard he cooked good food, but it was kinda boring. last season was my least favorite

10:18 PM Eating king cake to find the golden baby for who will choose first between the "twist" items: crab, red fish and alligator.
me: i hope stefan gets ittttttttttt
Hosea finds the baby, takes red fish, gives Carla crab and Stefan the gator
Mary: DIE.
me: i hope Stefan kicks ass with gator
Mary: me too, and that hosea totally screws up whatever he has b/c he suuuuccks
me: Hosea sucks at fish even though hes supposedly a "fish specialist"

10:20 PM menus are announced
Mary: oh hosea is making deer
me: of course
Mary: so he IS embracing colorado
me: don't eff this up stefan
Mary: so stefan is making like, two things that have worked for him in the past, the cabbage and dessert lollipops

10:23 PM Casey tells Carla to make her beef sous vide, which Carla stupidly decides is a good idea, even though she has never used that technique before. She then convinces Carla to make a cheese souffle rather than a cheese tart.
Mary: casey shut the f' up omg...tart vs. souffle
Mary: i feel like a souffle is easier to f' up

10:28 PM first course goes out, an appetizer made with the "twist" items. Hosea's blackened redfish
Mary: ugh, i'm so nervous
Mary: your head must be a hell of a weight on your shoulders, hosea
me: what was that smoking thing on top? damn it! That is Richard, not Hosea!
Mary: no idea DAMN IT

10:30 PM Stefan's gator soup goes out
me: please be goooooooood
Mary: fingers crossed
me: yessssssssssssssssssssssss woo hoo! They love it!
me: i love how they have fabio cause he's so funny
Mary: he'll have his own show
me: i bet i heard his restaurant is awesome
Mary: where is it me: firenza or soemthing
Mary: cafe firenze
me: near la i guess

(all of the appetizers went over very well)

10:33 PM first courses go out: Stefan, halibut and salmon carpaccio; Hosea, trio of sashimi; Carla, seared snapper with saffron
me: oh no stefan... that didn't go over too well
Mary: how confusing who do you trust: regular top chef judge or real food person ???
me: ???
Mary: like, the judges are so critical, and then the real food person is always like "that was great"
me: well, the Top Chef judges are the ones who vote
Mary: sigh
(Carla's goes over best by far, the judges were so-so on the other two)

10:34 PM second course: Hosea, scallop and foie gras with pain perdu and some gross-looking foam; Stefan, squab with braised red cabbage; Carla, sous-vide NY strip steak with potatoes and merlot sauce
Me: I guess Hosea didn't get the memo that this is top chef, not top scallop
me: ew i hate when they make foam, I thought Marcel was with Stefan
Mary: i dont like foam on food
me: it looks and sounds so nasty
(the judges deem Carla's steak too tough, with sous vide taking much of the flavor out of meat)
Mary: OH NO
Mary: sous vide loses :(

10:35 PM The judges love Stefan's pigeon
me: yay stefan
Mary: STEFAN weeee! red cabbage wins again!

10:36 PM The judges also like Hosea's scallop, though they were divided on the foie gras
me: F**k
Mary: he made a stupid scallop
me: this is top chef, not top scallop!

10:37 PM
Mary: omg casey needs to die
me: yeah she effed up that meat
Mary: i guess carla lost it for herself by listening to casey

10:38 PM Final Course: Hosea, venison loin with wild mushrooms; Stefan, ice cream & chocolate mouse with vanilla syrup and lollipops; Carla, cheese souffle with apple coins and marmalade
me: im afraid Hosea's vension will be good

(Carla doesn't turn down the oven and her souffle doesn't rise... she makes the decision to go without it.)
me: oh shit you were right about the souffle
Mary: why would you make a souffle when you can easily make a tart that people LOVED before
me: right
Mary: that bitch i mean, you are a sous chef cut some vegetables
me: well carla shouldnt have listened to anyone else in the FINAL
Mary: um, that's a lot of dessert Stefan
me: it looks pretty?
me: i mean, why did Carla tell the judges about the souffle debacle?!?!?!?!?!
Mary: why would you TELL anyone that? GOD

10:39 PM
Mary: gail has to be pregnant
me: oh yes
Mary: look at those BOOBS
(Carla's lack of food kills her, Stefan's dessert goes over so-so, and Hosea's venison goes over well)
me: oh shoot
Mary: "hosea can NOT win" - rachel
Mary: fabio just threw stefan under the bus! omg fabio shut your mouth F**KITY NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
me: douche! arghhhhhh F**K YOU

10:40 PM
me: this will be close im worried... carla is out
Mary: right
me: her meat and last course were bad
Mary: slap her
me: casey f**ked up carla like did for herself in the final
Mary: omg
me: i cant believe she listened to that loser
Mary: i'm gonna vomit

10:41 PM
Mary: hosea you have never kicked ass!
me: he didnt win any challenges did he?
Mary: I don't think any individual ones
me: ugh
Mary: maybe a team one
me: i think they should go with the best of the whole season
Mary: siggggh
me: im scared
Mary: so its really between hosea and stefan now... terrified!!!!
me: for sure

10:43 PM JUDGING - The judges immediately take Carla out of the running for her sous vide beef and lack of third course... it is between Hosea, who didn't have a bad dish, and Stefan, who had two very good, and 2 not so good, but it is agreed that his squab was the best course of any
Mary: stefan NEEDs to win or Top Chef is a farce
10:46 PM
me: casey sucks.
me: Carla is throwing casey under the bus, and therefore throwing herself under
Mary: um, Hosea, are suposed to be a SEAFOOD guy... he's made no seafood, ever, no eel no redfish
10:48 PM
Mary: yes Hosea, because when you've been eating three courses, you love to end with a heavy meat dish
me: yeah the heaviest... f**k
Mary: "i really enjoyed stefan's squab"
Mary: that sounds dirty
me: it does
me: its going to be hosea :(
Mary: Hosea said he "deserves it" bah baaaaaah
10:50 PM Carla knows she is out when she talks to the judges
Mary: oh carla
me: she made stefan cry
Mary: hosea has no heart
me: oh i love stefan
Mary: he plays the asshole, but he's always helpful
me: yes i hate everything scar says
10:51 PM
Mary: me too: "it was pedestrian at best" such a f**kin' snob
me: "pedestrian at best"
Mary: i hate her now
me: go back to your 67 year old men
Mary: hahaha BURN yeah, if stefan was 80 and rich, she'd be all over him
me: ahahahaha
10:53 PM
Mary: shit shit shit
Mary: oh my f**king god
Mary: rachel: "gail - die."
Mary: "hosea has no soul" - Toby
me: thank you toby
Mary: SHUT THE HELL UP HOSEA you are such prick
me: its going to be hosea :(
Mary: F**KITY F**K F**K
10:54 PM
me: why did stefan totally choke the last 3 weeks?!
Mary: ugggh
10:56 PM
Mary: um, people who text from home are retarded. Carla should win by 65%?
me: right?!

10:58 PM "Congratulations.... Hosea. You are Top Chef"
me: f**k f**k f**k :(
Mary: :(
Mary: F**K
me: what a crock of shit
Mary: this show sucks
me: i mean, stefan choked
me: but its bullshit that they only go off the final meal
10:59 PM
Mary: that's the stupid thing they had high expectations for stefan and lower for hosea
me: yes that was a disappointing finale
Mary: that sucked balls oh we love you carla
me: i'm so pissed he was mediocre through the whole season
Mary: SHUT THE F**K UP hosea stop it SHUT UP
me: i'm mad at fabio
Mary: me too
11:00 PM
me: stick up for your brother douche and padma she is a douche too
Mary: omg terrible i cannot believe it
Mary: stupid hosea
me: buttshit
me: *bull... the best chef did NOT win
Mary: buttshit too, why the hell not?
Mary: NO, the best chef DIDN'T win
me: the worst of the 3 did. Carla is a better chef that Hosea too
Mary: agreed
11:01 PM
me: casey should be embarassed
Mary: yeah, she pretty much lost two seasons
me: yup
11:02 PM
me: well i'm pissed
Mary: this show holds no credibility for me anymore
11:03 PM
Mary: read the first paragraph

11:09 PM
me: "Hosea cooks with being boring"
me: i hope his restaurant fails. i'm so mean
Mary: eh, i agree, and i dont feel too bad about it

11:11 PM
Mary: its stupid and sad that hosea still talked about stefan after he won
Mary: sighh now im going to have top chef nightmares oh well its just hours of my life wasted to watch a crap chef win. no big deal, not at all.
11:13 PM
me: no well i guess ill hit the hay now then :(
Mary: lets have a moment of silence for stefan ..... its been real
me: thank you stefan, i love your pompous attitude least you could back it up
Mary: okay goodnight i am eager for the reunion episode11:18 PM me: yes we will discuss next week

So there you have it. The crap chef won, probably because Richard did all of the work for him as his sous chef, Casey screwed over Carla as HER sous chef, since the two dishes that failed were her idea, and Stefan choked a bit at the end... we all know he makes the best food, but his dessert wasn't great, and the carpaccio was dull.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


No excuse for the long absence, other than I was swamped with school, work, and other matters :)

Anyway, what better time than to make my comeback than just in time for the Super Bowl?!

As broken hearted as I am that my Patriots didn't make the playoffs, how can you not cheer for the formerly-lowly Arizona Cardinals? Yeah, the Pittsburgh Steelers are a tough-guy, blue collar team, but I really can't cheer for a team who's quarterback is referred to as just his first name, and a safety who has more hair than me (and I have a lot). Plus, the Steelers won it all just 3 years ago... I think it's time for someone else to take that silver football-topped trophy.

Reasons why I like the Cards and want them to win:

Let's start with my #1... Larry Fitzgerald. I've loved him since his days at Pitt, and I've had him on my fantasy teams most years, when I can get him. What's not to love? Acrobatic receiving skills that are pretty much unbelievable unless you witness them, he loves the game and doesn't showboat, he's from Minnesota (I have an affinity for men from there :-P ), his dad is a sportswriter, he's got an awesome Boston-Irish sounding name, and he was born in the best year ever, 1983.

Okay, so most of you probably only care about two of the above six reasons, but for me that hexagon of reasons adds up to him being my receiving bad-ass fave. Plus, he had three touchdowns in the FIRST HALF against Philly, and I don't like teams from Philadelphia, well, I don't like their fans and I enjoyed watching them cringe each time Fitz (yeah, that's what I call him, we're real close) ran into the end zone last Sunday.

Kurt Warner
Yeah, his wife is annoying and so is his sometimes "holier-than-thou" attitude... but really, the guy used to be a grocery bagger and has worked his ass off to get where he is. Plus, brother's mad old, and playing some of the best football of his career the past few weeks. He's not the MVP Kurt Warner of the "Greatest Show on Turf" (man I hated that team), but, I think more impressively, he's led a team of lesser-knowns to the same place - the Super Bowl.

Anyway, I have to cheer for the guy who put Matt Leinart in his place cause boy has let me DOWN. I was Leinart's biggest supporter coming out of college, I ever wrote an editorial raving about him when he came out of USC, how he was going to be a good, solid NFL quarterback. Instead, all pretty boy's done is show that he's more interested in partying and having a good time than being the Cards starting-QB. Anyway, I hope that Warner playing out of his mind at age 37 will show Leinart he isn't owed anything, he isn't God's gift to the quarterback position, and if he really wants to be a GOOD NFL quarterback, he needs to get back to the trenches and work his ass off.

Edgerrin James
First of all, I have to give props to his mom... anyone who comes up the name Edgerrin, henceforth giving his son the nickname "The Edge" is alright in my book.

There are many things to dislike about James... he went to the University of Miami, he used to have nasty dreds and gold teeth, and he left his plum job with the Colts to jet for more money in Arizona. All of that aside, a few weeks ago he was washed up, and now he's a key component to the Cards' playoff run. I almost felt bad for him a few weeks ago, when he had something like 90 yards in the six games leading up to the Super Bowl. But then, the coaches started utilizing him cause, let's be honest, the man can run. The man has somewhat quietly rushed his way to 12th on the all-time list, and since he's cut out his thug image that I think sets a bad example for young kids who look up to athletes, and now looks like this. Anyway, I'll be rooting for him to run all over the Steelers and their joke of a candidacy for "best defense ever." Speaking of...

The Steelers defense calling themselves the "best ever"
I hate any team or individual who calls themselves the best ever. Not only is it egotistical, its disrespectful to the historically great defenses. Now, you can't really compare a defense from the 60s to a defense today, when players are about 50 pounds heavier and pure muscle, but if the Steel Curtain teams of the 70s had the same training and facilities of the pansy 2008 Steelers, I have no doubt this question would be laughably answered in favor of the older teams. Plus, I really can't stand Troy Polamalu for some reason... I think it's the hair. I don't get why people he's trying to cover don't just pull it and call it a day.

Finally, I hate the "we're the underdog, no one believes in us!" role all underdog teams take, so I'm not going to give that to the Cards. That being said, I like rooting against to the expected winner*.

But really, in the end, unless you are a fan of either team, and let's be honest, there are maybe 100 "true fans" of the Cardinals, the Super Bowl is just an excuse to hang out with friends, eat lots of fatty, disgusting and delicious food and drink too much on a Sunday and have an legit excuse for it.

*unless it's my team, of course