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  • December 29, 2005

    What's the Best Song of All Time-The Finals

    [Posted by ]

    It's time for the finals! You've chosen the best song in each decade, and now it's time to choose the best song ever. Polls close on January 2nd, so vote now and make sure your voice is heard.

    Click on any of the songs to vote (you'll open the poll in a new window):

    1. "Rhapsody in Blue", by George Gershwin
    2. "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry", by Hank Williams
    3. "Johnny B. Goode", by Chuck Berry
    4. "Satisfaction", by The Rolling Stones
    5. "Hey Jude", by The Beatles
    6. "Baba O'Riley", by The Who
    7. "Pride", by U2
    8. "Smells Like Teen Spirit", by Nirvana
    9. "Hey Ya!", by OutKast
    10. "Bohemian Rhapsody", by Queen

    For more information and previous results in our Greatest Song competition, click here.

    Posted by at 07:57 AM | Comments (0)


    December 28, 2005

    The 2005 Guide to Divine Retribution

    [Posted by ]

    2005 seemed to have more than its fair share of natural disasters. While scientists have plenty of theories and facts, the religious extremists have been quick to point out the real reasons why bad things happen to goodbad people.

    The 2005 Guide to Divine Retribution

    Earth Science Says Religious Extremists Say
    Indian Ocean tsunami Rupture in the faultline at the subduction zone where the Indian plate dives under the Burma plate caused a huge earthquake which, in turn, displaced a massive amount of water, causing the tsunami Allah's punishment because Banda Aceh women were showing too much skin and mingling freely with men
    Pakistan earthquake Collision of Eurasian & Indian tectonic plates Gay couple were married in Pakistan, incurring Allah's wrath
    Guatemala mudslides Torrential rains from Hurricane Stan caused landslides Danni, Stephenie & Lydia ate the chicken, angering the Mayan gods
    Hurricane Katrina Warm late summer sea surfaces and atmospheric instabilities combine to create a storm God punished America because of:
    • Israel's withdrawal from Gaza
    • legalized abortion
    • homosexuality
    • Bush's refusal to sign the Kyoto protocol
    • the creation of reality television
    Los Barros snow storm in Chile's Andes Mountains Snow falls from clouds that contain enough cloud droplets and ice crystals for precipitation to form. In order for snow to reach the ground without melting, the wet bulb temperature of the air near the ground must be below freezing. It snows more in the mountains because the temperature is colder in higher elevations. General godlessness
    Indian heatwave Dry, high heat is common in India in advance of the monsoon season Neither Hindus nor Muslims prayed hard enough for rain

    Since the dawn of time, people have turned to religion to explain the unexplainable. The difference now is that we can explain why these natural disasters occur. Today's extremists, however, take it a step further. Not only do they claim these disasters are due to divine retribution for our sins, they also have the chutpah to claim that those sins are exactly what they've been preaching against. For example, the earthquake in Pakistan is because of gay marriage, not because God or Allah or whoever is mad at Kashmiris killing each other in the name of religion. The tsunami happened because Muslims weren't strict enough, not because Muslim extremists have murdered thousands. You know, maybe God didn't cause Hurricane Katrina because He hates reality tv. Maybe He sent it because he knew that the family edition of the Amazing Race would suck. Or (and this is a tough one to swallow), maybe it was because He was angered that the Weavers didn't win.

    Rather than fighting against the religious extremist's rhetoric, maybe I should join them. If mbrlr's (one of our liberal readers) car breaks down, I can declare that it's God's punishment for referring to President Bush as the antichrist. If my sister's cat gets sick again, it's really because she voted for Kerry. If the site gets hacked again, it's clearly due to the fact that James likes Mike Holmgren. I could go on and on.

    Isn't it fun once you break the code and realize that God really doesn't work in mysterious ways?

    Posted by at 12:47 PM | Comments (1)


    Top Daily Page Links of 2005

    [Posted by ]

    Each day, we post news, entertainment and sports articles on the Daily Page. I like to keep track of what the most popular links are. It gives me a good idea of the kinds of topics our readers are interested in. As we get ready to close out the year, let's take a look at how our big stories compare to some of the national media's consensus top stories.

    Their Big Story Our Big Story
    Valerie Plame exposed as CIA agent Carolina Panthers cheerleaders exposed as drunken skanks
    Bush chooses John Roberts & Sam Alito to replace William Rehnquist & Sandra Day O'Connor INXS chooses J.D. Fortune to replace Michael Hutchence
    Pope John Paul II dies The West Wing's John Spencer dies
    "Black Thursday" terrorist attack in London WalMart's "Black Friday" sale list
    Natalee Holloway goes missing in Aruba Dave Chappelle goes missing in South Africa
    Iraqis give birth to a new constitution Golden Retriever gives birth to a green puppy
    Hurricane Katrina sinks New Orleans "Love boat" scandal sinks Minnesota Vikings
    Northwestern Pakistan and Indian Kashmir devastated by 7.6-magnitude earthquake Britney Spears devastated by marriage to, divorce from Kevin Federline
    America grapples with sensitive end-of-life issues in the Terri Schiavo case South Park grapples with sensitive religious issues in the Scientology episode
    Consumers hurt by rising gas prices The Apprentice's Rebecca hurt when Randall refuses to allow Trump to hire her too

    To be honest, readers click on serious articles too, but not nearly as much as on weird news, celebrity stories and anything about the Carolina Panthers cheerleaders. A real news bonanza would have been if one of those cheerleaders had been caught in that bathroom with Britney Spears, a green Golden Retriever puppy and a sneak preview of WalMart's sale list. Now that's a story!

    Posted by at 12:07 AM | Comments (0)


    December 27, 2005

    Bush Derangement Syndrome Strikes Again

    [Posted by ]

    The discussion in the comments to James' latest post has inevitably turned to the domestic spying "scandal". One reader noted that the public seems to have little interest in the topic:

    I have actually yet to hear a single individual mention the subject of domestic spying at all. Anyone who suggests that they expect the president to obey every law is lying. Presidents are expected to defend the country's interests regardless of the law, hence the general disinterest in the domestic spying case.

    The country is perfectly willing to ignore incidents like Iran-Contra or the Bay of Pigs precisely because they were done in our interests. You may argue that they were poorly conceived or poorly executed, but they were done in the name of the country, and not to the personal benefit of the president.

    Personally, I thought most of the disinterest was due to the fact that Americans were busy getting ready for Christmas, but I think the reader brings up a great point. Think of action movies for a second. The hero doesn't let rules and regulations get in the way of solving a crime/getting the bad guys/preventing the the evil Goldfinger from detonating an atomic bomb. Yes, James Bond had a license to kill, but is that actually legal in England? Do you think the English public knew about it? And let's not even get into Jack Bauer's exploits. The point is that sometimes there's a cause more important than upholding the letter of the law. Leaders have to make those kinds of decisions. That burden is the price of power. In fact, I'm willing to wager that one of the reasons Bush beat Kerry in 2004 is that Americans believed, rightly or wrongly, that Bush would do anything to protect America from another 9/11, while Kerry would consult a cadre of lawyers and the UN before doing anything.

    Of course, that's wrong. I've no doubt that President Kerry would put the safety of the American people first in a crisis (the difference was how the dealt with the world before it got that far). That's what Presidents do. The poor folks suffering from Bush Derangement Sydrome don't see it that way. Bush's actions are seen through glasses which magically transform the President into a combination of Hitler, Stalin and Darth Vader. Everything the President does is soley in the interests of the Bush/Rove/Cheney/Halliburton empire.

    I'm not saying the President's perfect or that he doesn't consider the political implications of policy decisions. However, on the night of September 11th, I'm quite sure the President wasn't thinking "Yippee!!! Now I have the perfect excuse to invade Afghanistan and Iraq so my Texas oil buddies can get richer. Not only that, I can finally put my plan to round up liberals into re-education camps into action. Yes!" Nope. I think the President thought, like anyone in his position would, that this would never happen again on his watch. He would do whatever it took to protect America.

    You can agree or disagree with what the President has done in the name of protecting America, but to think that his goal was something other than protecting America is to assign him some helluva evil motives. In his post, James described this as "grade school politics". I think that's too generous. It's kindergarten politics. Kids around this age are still learning to view things from another's perspective. BDS sufferers still haven't mastered this skill. In their minds the President is an evil genius (who also happens to be a moron) and nothing can change that.

    Posted by at 12:15 PM | Comments (2)


    December 22, 2005

    What's the Best Song-The 2nd Chance Poll

    [Posted by ]

    We're getting close to the end of our quest to determine the greatest song of all time. You can still vote in the 2000s pool, but with the holidays coming up I thought I'd also post the "overlooked" list and let you vote on it too. Both pools will end on Christmas Day and then it's time for the finals.

    I'll be the first to admit it. I've left some great songs off the various decade lists throughout this greatest song competition. Some were due to personal preferences others to forgetfulness. It's only fair to give these songs a second chance to make the finals.

    Click on any of the songs to vote (you'll open the poll in a new window):

    1. "Cross Road Blues", by Robert Johnson
    2. "Rock Around The Clock", by Bill Haley & His Comets
    3. "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight", by Hank Williams, Jr.
    4. "I Want You Back", by the Jackson 5
    5. "Bohemian Rhapsody", by Queen
    6. "On The Road Again", by Willie Nelson
    7. "Creeque Alley", by The Mamas & the Papas
    8. "Tear The Roof Off The Sucka", by Parliament
    9. "Bridge Over Troubled Water", by Simon & Garfunkel
    10. "Let's Stay Together", by Al Green

    Update: The polls are closed. Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" is the winner. Stay tuned for the final poll, coming soon.

    For more information and previous results in our Greatest Song competition, click here.

    Posted by at 07:10 AM | Comments (5)


    December 21, 2005

    Project Runway Recap-Episode 3-Daniel Franco is Out

    [Posted by ]

    Tonight's episode resulted in the sad auf wiedersehening of Daniel Franco. Daniel was the first eliminated contestant last year, but came back to try again this season. While Daniel has talent, I think he's too much of a perfectionist to excel in the tight time constraints of Project Runway. But, to his everlasting credit, Daniel refused to sell out his team. He took full blame for the failure of his designs.

    "Team" you say? Yep. Tonight contestants designed a lingerie collection. Each designer sketched and presented a concept to Heidi, who chose the top four. In turn, those four designers chose a team of two from the rest of the contestants. Here's how it broke down:

    Daniel Vosovic pitched a menswear-inspired concept of "Revenge". The idea was that women would use their ex-lover's clothes to create new, sexy lingerie. Daniel V.'s team consisted of Andrae and Zulema.

    Daniel Franco charmed Heidi with his romantic lingerie perfect for "lovemaking", not sex. Chloe and Kara completed Daniel F's team.

    Santino had a cheesy idea that was basically "sexy St. Paulie Girl". Nick and Emmett helped him out.

    Finally, Diana's concept combined flowing chiffony-like fabric with bondage. Guadalupe & Marla rounded out the team.

    Right from the start, it was obvious Daniel V. was going to win. He was the only designer with a truly strong idea. The rest of the designers were, to be charitable, a mess. Diana's clothes looked like Jay's swimsuit from last season only with ugly drapes attached. Santino's "Sound of Music" styles were both hideous and impractical. Daniel F's romantic vision really looked more like something an aging madame would wear.

    I think Team Vosovic and Team Diana functioned very well. Both leaders were good at communicating what they wanted as well as soliciting ideas from the rest of the team. On the other hand, Santino was a complete control freak who almost immediately tried to blame Emmett for the problems with his collection. Daniel F., on the other hand, drove his team crazy with his constant (and last minute) changes.

    On the runway, it was Team Vosovic in a runaway. I didn't love the clothes, but they were truly the only ones that anyone in their right mind would have worn. I was disappointed by the fabric the team chose. It was all black. I think they could have used the same designs, but done some of them in a tweed or even tried to turn a vintage t-shirt into a sexy nightshirt.

    Diana's team was a clear second, which brought it down to Team Santino vs. Team Franco. All of the remaining designers were clearly afraid that this might be a team elimination. As an aside, that really would have sucked. I didn't want to lose Nick or Chloe because someone else sucked. When it got down to the nitty gritty, Nick and Santino were quick to point the finger and Emmett, while both Chloe and Kara blamed Daniel F. Daniel, on the other hand, refused to sell out his team. He took full blame for the collection.

    Sadly, Daniel's integrity lost out to Santino's creativity and the sweet Mr. Franco was out again. I'll miss Daniel. I don't love his designs, but I did love to watch the sparkle in his eye and his own confidence in his vision. He'll be missed.

    Posted by at 10:23 PM | Comments (1)


    What is the best song of the 2000s?

    [Posted by ]

    Our readers voted "Smells Like Teen Spirit" as the best song of the 1990s. The Nirvana classic will move on to the finals as one of the favorites.

    I suspect the 2000s are going to be an underrated decade for music. At first I thought I would have a hard time filling up the poll with ten songs. But, after looking at the Acclaimed Music critics list for the decade, I realized that wouldn't be a problem. I have a rule that no artist can be on a decade's list more than once, so Missy Elliott only gets one song in, even though she had two of the top five in the critics list.

    Some of the songs that didn't crack the list included personal favorites like "Come Around", "Caring Is Creepy", "Let Go" and "On Your Porch". You also won't find "Hate To Say I Told You So", "Don't Know Why", "Beautiful Day", "I Believe In A Thing Called Love", "Don't Panic", "Feel Good Inc", "Hot In Herre", "Since U Been Gone", "Hurt" or "Get The Party Started". And, yes kids, there's no "My Humps" on the list. Sorry.

    But don't despair. There's still plenty of great music to choose from. Click on any of the songs to vote (you'll open the poll in a new window):

    1. "Hey Ya", by OutKast
    2. "Get Ur Freak On", by Missy Elliott
    3. "Crazy In Love", by Beyonce
    4. "Take Me Out", by Franz Ferdinand
    5. "Without Me", by Eminem
    6. "I Fell In Love With A Girl", by The White Stripes
    7. "Last Night", by The Strokes
    8. "Yellow", by Coldplay
    9. "Fallin'", by Alicia Keyes
    10. "Let's Get It Started", by Black Eyed Peas

    Update: The polls are closed. OutKast's "Hey Ya" is the winner. Stay tuned for the final poll, coming soon.

    For more information and previous results in our Greatest Song competition, click here.

    Posted by at 07:15 AM | Comments (6)


    December 20, 2005

    College Football Bowl Picks

    [Posted by ]

    Bowl season starts tonight! There's still time to join our bowl pool. Test your wits against our staff and you could win a fun, fabulous prize.

    As I've done all season, here are some of my my bowl game picks. I'm going to break it out into Locks & Guesses.


    1. Boise State over Boston College in the MPC Computers Bowl. Not only does Boston College not get a game in a warm, tropical vacation destination, they have to play on Boise State's blue, home turf. No chance.
    2. In the Orange Bowl, there's no way an almost unbeaten Penn State loses to Florida State. No way. No how. The ACC is supposed to be this crack conference and this is the team that makes their BCS bowl? Yikes. Nice job with that conference championship game, fellas.
    3. While there's a chance that Oregon will still be ticked about not getting a BCS bowl bid, but there's no chance that all other teams in the Big 12 (save Texas) are suddenly good. So, I'm taking Oregon over Oklahoma in the Holiday Bowl.
    4. Hmmm, 10-1 TCU vs. 7-4 Iowa State in the Houston Bowl. What conference is Iowa State in again? Oh yeah, the Big 12. Heh, chalk one up for the Horned Frogs of TCU.
    5. Finally, I've no doubt that South Carolina will destroy Missouri in the Independence Bowl. Do you sense a trend? Yes, I'm basically picking against every Big 12 team (save one).


    1. The best game of the season might be the battle between Notre Dame and Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. Although Notre Dame is a fine team, Ohio State is exceptional. They're only losses have been to the #2 and #3 teams in the country. And, to be honest, they really should have beat Texas. So, my pick is Ohio State.
    2. The Peach Bowl pits Miami vs. LSU. I don't get Miami. One minute they look like world beaters and the next they look like chumps. I guess that's why they're here and not in Orange Bowl. That said, I think LSU received some sympathy points in the polls all season long. Unfortunately for Louisiana fans, they're going down to another Hurricane in this game.
    3. On the surface, the Champs Sports Bowl should be an easy win for Clemson over Colorado. But, on the other hand, perhaps Colorado's players will be so happy that Gary Barnett is gone that they'll throw in a great effort. They could play with a spark, but my gut tells me that Clemson finally figured out how to win and they'll continue to do so here.
    4. I think the Sun Bowl might be the most fun game of the season to watch. With UCLA playing Northwestern, this could be that rare game where the first team to 50 doesn't win! That said, I think Northwestern will be the first to break the half century mark and they'll hold up the Big Ten's honor against their PAC 10 rivals.
    5. Finally, it's the Granddaddy of them all, the Rose Bowl. USC has been challenged by teams all season while the only team that gave Texas a good game was Ohio State. While I respect the Trojans' ability to win the close ones, I'm not going to hold the fact that Texas is so good against them. I think their defense (and USC's relative lack of a defense) makes the difference. The Longhorns will be your new national champions.

    You'll notice that I didn't make a pick in the Capital One Bowl. To be honest, I'm quite sure that Auburn will win the game and I was tempted to make the game a lock for them. But, I don't have the heart to it. I can pick against the Badgers, but I just can't declare that they don't have a chance.

    Posted by at 01:39 PM | Comments (8)


    December 19, 2005

    Grade School Politics

    [Posted by james]

    A regular reader from the left side of the aisle recently made an observation that I fully agree with - he said that pundits on both ends of the political spectrum push the envelope on rational thought.

    Take the right's ingrained hatred of all things ACLU, for instance - now personally, I think that the ACLU does more good than they do harm, but I can accept that that's debatable. In any event, whenever the ACLU attaches itself to a cause the right blogosphere inevitably erupts with venom, while the left always erupts in applause. But neither of the sides takes the time to fully understand the issue, nor do they care about their lack of understanding. Why?

    Part of it is the ACLU's own fault - they've intentionally positioned themselves as a wing of the Democratic party. Believe me, I get more than my fair share of mailings from the ACLU, and more often than not, all they do is slam the President. They urgently declare that I must or that it's imperative that i send money A.S.A.P. so they can "stop the President and his cronies from steamrolling over the Bill of Rights." Give me a break - clearly, this is a simple marketing trick. Yet it works - some people really believe this stuff.

    But that's not the biggest reason that people react to things like this without thinking - the real reason is that emotionally, most people in the U.S. are still stuck in third grade, and they all do and say whatever the popular kids tell them to do and say. Armchair pundits like to carry a banner, and they like it to announce to the world, "There is a group that i'm a part of, and that makes me better than other people." For many of these people, their membership lifts them out of their everyday life. For many of these people, their membership takes them away to a fanciful distant land, just like a soap opera or a romantic movie.

    Where the left differs - drastically - from the right is that the left has spent most of its time since the late 70's just trying to get people to hate the Republicans. They don't have issues, they have scare tactics. And most of them are conflicting.

    "All Republicans are rich fatcats!"
    "All Republicans are dumb rednecks!"
    "All Republicans are Jesus freaks!"
    "All Republicans are evil and greedy!"
    "All Republicans want to do away with government programs!"
    "All Republicans want the government to be huge and to be big brother!"

    It's so inane that I can hardly bring myself to even read anything political anymore, much less write it. But many, many people seem to find a message somewhere in there that they agree with, and they ignore the messages that they don't. So they adopt the label and proudly hoist the banner, "Look at me, I'm a part of this group. Look at me, we know better."

    As a group, these people are so tragically uninformed that a couple of years ago thousands upon thousands of them wrote essays about whether John McCain would "switch sides and become a Democrat." How mindnumbingly dense does one have be to even consider that as a possible scenario? My god, George Bush is ten times the Democrat that John McCain is. John McCain is probably the most un-Democrat-like person in the entire Congress, with the exception of Ron Paul.

    And the Dem-leaning commenters just keep parroting the same Democratic Party slogans - "Bush lied, people died! Bawk!" To hear them talk, 2005 America is worse than 1940 Germany, and Guantanamo Bay is the modern incantation of Auschwitz. These ridiculous comparisons and allusions should be offensive to any person with even a minimal understanding of 20th century history. They're certainly offensive to me.

    I don't normally discuss politics in my everyday life; I prefer to instead confine my opinions to the internet where heated arguments don't cost me friendships. Nevertheless, my friends do think of me as a Republican. (and I am definitely in a small minority in that regard.) The other day a left wing Lib friend said something about the President's approval rating. I replied that I didn't especially approve of the President's job performance, and started to explain why. But before I could even finish my sentence I was treated to a barrage of self-righteous "Haha! I told you so! Don't you feel stupid for voting for him now! hahahah! You righties are such fools! I told you so!! I told you that George Bush was evil! You now see that you helped to ruin the country!"

    bawk, bawk.

    It's as if my friend thinks that a person is either 100% in favor of everything that President Bush does, or they're a Democrat.

    And to think, this person is a lawyer. With a law license. And a degree. From a good school. I'm trying to say that he is a smart guy. Is it his fault that he can't see the flaw in his thinking? Or has he been brainwashed by the never-ending "anybody but Bush, anybody but Bush" style rhetoric that's been flowing freely and topping off the glasses of those-who've-already-had-too-much for the past 25 years? (bawk!)

    It's more likely that he's stuck in 3rd grade, and that he just likes being part of a group. He picks on the kid that everyone else picks on without even thinking about it anymore, mostly because everyone else does it. And, well, it's what all the cool kids do. He joins in because it's a chance for him to be accepted by the rest of the group. "Hey guys, look, I called him a commie too! Look, I made him fall down! Isn't he so dumb for falling down? Hahaha! Look - I put gum in his hair!"

    Look at how much I am like the rest of you.

    It's all so tired and juvenille.

    Adults look at and consider facts before forming an opinion. In theory, anyway. The facts are that George Bush is not a war criminal, Dick Cheney is not an incarnation of evil, Haliburton does not control the country, playing Britney Spears music is not torture, Diebold didn't rig the election, whether you know about a WMD find is wholly irrelevant to the issue of the Iraq war, and repeating ridiculous notions again and again, while an effective political tactic, doesn't make them true. (bawk!)

    And as those in-the-biz say, "I'm rubber, you're glue. Whatever you say bounces off of me, and sticks to you!"

    nya-nya-nya nya nya, nah. :-P

    Posted by jkhat at 10:55 PM | Comments (21)


    December 18, 2005

    The Best Song of the 1990s

    [Posted by ]

    Our readers voted "Pride" as the best song of the 1980s. Bono and the boys will fight it out in our final poll.

    On to the 1990s. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was the age of grunge and the rebirth of boy bands. So okay, I'm gonna break ranks with the Acclaimed Music critics list this time. Their fifth place song is something called "Common People", by Pulp. I've never heard of this song. In fact, I looked it up and listened to a sample on iTunes and I've even heard this song. I can't, in good conscience, list it.

    And anyway, the 1990s were filled with fabulous music. Among the songs that didn't make the list were "Wonderwall", "I Want It That Way", "Mmmbop", "Nothing Compares 2 U", "Creep", "Song 2", "Groove Is In The Heart", "Under The Bridge", "You Oughta Know", "See A Little Light", "Buddy Holly" and "Sabotage".

    So here's what is on the list. Click on any of the songs to vote (you'll open the poll in a new window):

    1. "Smells Like Teen Spirit", by Nirvana
    2. "Losing My Religion", by R.E.M.
    3. "Bitter Sweet Symphony", by The Verve
    4. "Loser", by Beck
    5. "Jeremy", by Pearl Jam
    6. "Nuthin' But A G Thang", by Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg
    7. "Girlfriend", by Matthew Sweet
    8. "Friends In Low Places", by Garth Brooks
    9. "Enter Sandman", by Metallica
    10. "Been Caught Stealing", by Jane's Addiction

    Update: The polls are closed. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was the winner.

    For more information and previous results in our Greatest Song competition, click here.

    Posted by at 07:55 PM | Comments (8)


    December 17, 2005

    College Football Bowl Pool

    [Posted by ]

    While some of you may foolishly think this is the "Holiday" season, sports fans know that it's actually "Bowl Season". Ah yes, that wonderful time of the year when 6-5 teams gather to play each other in warm, tropical places like Boise, Idaho.

    Okay, while some of the bowls are a joke, they're also a nice reward for hard-working kids at the end of a tough season. And, they provide a great opportunity for a pool.

    The simplest pool we found was via ESPN. Set up an entry for College Bowl Mania and then join our league:

    Our group name is "Bowling for Cereal" and the password is "password" (I'm so creative).

    Pick all 28 games straight up, along with your confidence points. A note on the confidence points, the higher the number, the more confident your are. At the end of Bowl Season we'll declare a winner and send a prize your way. Bowl games start on Tuesday, Dec. 20th, so be sure to get your picks in by then.

    Posted by at 01:50 PM | Comments (3)


    December 15, 2005

    What is the best song of the 1980s?

    [Posted by ]

    Our readers voted "Baba O'Riley" as the best song of the 1970s. The Who classic will face off against the other winners in our final poll. Awesome!

    I love the 80s (both the decade and the VH1 specials). Was there a better time to grow up than in the age of Reagan and of neon? I don't think so. And there's the music. Ah, the music.

    The Acclaimed Music critics list kind of sucks and I'm sorry to have to include the top five. Those songs are critical darlings, but I don't think they accurately reflect the spirit of the decade. Where's the new wave? Where's college rock? Where's hair metal? With only five songs to add, I had to leave out some worthy tunes like, um, anything by R.E.M. or The Replacements or The Cure, "Town Called Malice", "Walk This Way", "Come On Eileen", "Tainted Love", "Our Lips Our Sealed" and yes, "Funkytown". As a reminder, the last poll before the finals will include songs that many of our readers felt were overlooked. So, if you don't like what's on the list, let us know in the comments.

    As for what is on the list, here you go. Click on any of the songs to vote (you'll open the poll in a new window):

    1. "The Message", by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five
    2. "Love Will Tear Us Apart", by Joy Division
    3. "Billie Jean", by Michael Jackson
    4. "Every Breath You Take", by The Police
    5. "When Doves Cry", by Prince
    6. "Sweet Child O' Mine", by Guns 'n' Roses
    7. "Pride", by U2
    8. "In Your Eyes", by Peter Gabriel
    9. "Like A Virgin", by Madonna
    10. Hungry Like The Wolf", by Duran Duran

    Update: The polls are closed. U2's "Pride" is the winner.

    For more information and previous results in our Greatest Song competition, click here.

    Posted by at 06:22 PM | Comments (6)


    December 14, 2005

    Project Runway Recap-Episode 2-Raymundo Is Out

    [Posted by ]

    The second season of Project Runway continues to be just as good as the first. Tonight featured a very clever product tie-in: designers had to create an outfit for Mattel's My Scene Barbie. The winning designer not only moved on in the competition, but Mattel would also make a limited edition doll wearing their outfit. How cool is that?

    I love so many things about this show, but one of them is the way that the designers lean on each other throughout the challenges. What I mean by that is that even though they're competing with each other, they help each other and give advice and feedback. I don't think they really mean to. I think they just kind of forget that it's not in their best interest to help their competition and they get caught up in the creative process and they just can't help themselves.

    That collaborative instinct is one reason that I kind of wish that Marla, rather than Raymundo, had been Auf Widersehen'ed tonight. Marla seems like a nice woman and a good designer, but she lacks the technical skills to complete her designs. So, she leans on the rest of the designers for help. Her stress leads to their stress and frustration.

    But, on the other hand, I'd rather watch people fail because of a lack of vision than because of a lack of seams. And that's why Raymundo was eliminated. He envisioned Barbie as some kind of matronly figure that girls would aspire to. Say what you will about Michael Kors, but the man hit it on the head when he remarked that there was nothing "deliciously girly" about Raymundo's design. It was ugly and boring. Marla's cranberry design was matronly too, but it wasn't boring.

    On a positive note, the winner of the challenge was the delightful Nick. Nick made a cute dress with a green bodice and a crazy striped skirt that was much shorter in the front than in the back. It was very Carmen Miranda. I loved it. I also loved the fact that even though the judges praised Santino for his design (which I didn't really like) he still through a mini temper tantrum offstage when Nick beat him. What a baby.

    My personal top there were Nick's winning outfit, Chloe's shimmery pink dress and the near-invisible Daniel Vosovic's funky purple dress and jacket (the back of that jacket was way cool). I'm starting to like Chloe more and more. On the flip side, in addition to Raymundo and Marla, I also hated Andrae's orange bubble skirt and Zulema's utteringly boring silky off white skirt and top. Blech.

    But, don't take my word for it, check out the designs on Bravo's Project Runway site.

    Oh, and a final note. My real favorite outfit of the evening was Heidi's turquoise frock that she wore for the runway show. Pregnancy certainly suits her.

    Posted by at 10:29 PM | Comments (1)


    December 13, 2005

    Amazing Race: The Family Edition Finale

    [Posted by ]

    No one's gonna beat the Linz family! The Cincinnati family won the family edition of the Amazing Race tonight. And I, for one, thank God. Thank you God for abandoning the Weaver family in their hour of need. And thank you, Amazing Race producers, for editing out any footage you may have had of the Weaver family trying to do the final geography puzzle. Since the family thought that Lake Pontchartrain was one of the Great Lakes, I can't imagine how long it actually took them to differentiate between, say, Kansas & Colorado.

    For the finale, teams left Montana's Big Sky Country and headed for the spiritual home of hockey, Montreal, where the Weavers got a huge assist from their cabbie Ted. Taking the Weavers by the hand, Ted guided them through Montreal's underground city, a hockey rink, part of the World Expo and the Stade Olympique. But even with all that help, it wasn't enough for the team to get the lead. Instead, they fell victim to Killer Fatigue and nearly quit the race when they couldn't easily find a clue hidden behind a seat in the 50,000 plus seat stadium. Oh boo frickin' hoo. Besides the Weavers finishing third and getting the "oh, you're here too" edit on the finish mat, highlights of the evening included:

    • Megan Linz balling at the finish line. She was one tough cookie throughout the race.
    • The Niagra Falls whirlpool was very cool, although I was sorta hoping the roadblock would involve going over the Falls in a barrel
    • Megan's inability to pronounce the word "stade". Note to Megan: there's no "N" in "stade"
    • There's a shoe museum? Really!?!?
    • Planes, cabs and people speaking different languages! For awhile there it was almost like the real Race was back
    • The final roadblock and race to the finish was fantastic. To be honest, I was pacing around for most of the episode, but that was actually just because I was afraid the Weavers might win. Then, when they were safely in third, it came down to Wally Bransen and Nick Linz (a little wet ;-). Before they made the final run to Phil, they had to put together a jigsaw puzzle consisting of all the countries, states and provinces in North America. Wally and Nick were neck and neck the whole way until Wally got caught up in New England and Nick pulled ahead, getting Rhode Island in place at the last second. Wow, that doesn't sound very exciting does it? Take my word for it
    • And, best of all, a preview of the next Amazing Race! The preview made it perfectly clear that next time we're back to two-person teams and exotic, amazing locales and adventures. I'm already rooting for Team Nerd. I can't wait. See you in February!

    Want more? Click here for Viking Pundit's extensive recap.

    Posted by at 11:28 PM | Comments (6)


    December 11, 2005

    What's the Best Song of the 1970s?

    [Posted by ]

    "Hey Jude" and "Satisfaction" have earned their way into our final poll. We have 5 songs in and 5 to go.

    The Acclaimed Music critics list for the 1970s is pretty predictable and I'm sure there'd be an outcry if any of the top 5 weren't included in this poll. That said, there's a ton of good music that isn't represented below, including songs like "Tear The Roof Off The Sucka", "I Saw The Light", "I'm So Tired Of Being Alone", "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough", "Blue Sky", "Southern Cross", "Peace, Love and Understanding" and pretty much anything from The Police's debut album "Outlandos d'Amour".

    Click here to place your vote.
    (opens in new window)

    Update: The polls are closed. The Who's "Baba O'Riley" was the winner and will move on to the finals.

    For more information and previous results in our Greatest Song competition, click here.

    Posted by at 11:25 AM | Comments (5)


    December 08, 2005

    The best John Lennon / Beatles song?

    [Posted by ]

    Today is the 25th Anniversary of John Lennon's death, so it is only fitting that we start the Beatles category in our Best Song Competition. The 1960s poll will run a little while longer, so you still have a chance to vote there too.

    It was really hard to pick out 10 Beatles songs, and I left out some songs that I really love, like "In My Life" and "Rocky Raccoon". I couldn't include reader favorites like "Happy Just To Dance With You". As always, if you think I'm missing some great songs, let me know in the comment section and they may make it into the upcoming "most overlooked" category.

    Click here to place your vote.
    (opens in new window)

    Update: The polls are closed. "Hey Jude" was the winner of the Beatles poll and "Satisfaction" won the vote in the 60s.

    For more information and previous results in our Greatest Song competition, click here.

    Posted by at 10:41 AM | Comments (8)


    December 07, 2005

    Project Runway: The Season Two Premiere

    [Posted by ]

    The Project Runway premiere was a wonderful two hours of television. Not only did I get to catch up with past favorites like Jay, Kara Saun & Austin Scarlet, I also found some new favorites. And new people to hate.

    Speaking of hate, Wendy Pepper did make a guest appearance at the beginning of the show, helping the producers pick out the 16 semi-finalists. But, thankfully, that's the only time Wendy "graced" my screen. Whew. Hopefully Wendy, along with the Banana Republic "Are You Beautiful On The Inside" commercial will be out!

    Note: Bravo has a really great website for the show and be sure to check it out if you'd like to actually see some of the designs I'm trying to describe.

    Challenge #1

    So anyway, 16 contestants were selected and brought to New York City. Before they arrived, however, they were sent 6 yards of fabric and $20 and told to make an outfit that best represented themselves. Once they were situated at Parsons, they were randomly given a model and two hours to finish things up. Once they hit the runway, two designers would be eliminated and the rest would move on to the finals.

    Highlights from the show:

    • Santino's beautifully detailed turquoise baby doll dress
    • Marla's deep, dark blue shredded two-piece outfit
    • Diana's funky latticed cutout bodice


    • Daniel Franco from season one is back. Actually, I kind of liked the rich brown dress Daniel made, but I think his bad experience in the first season kind of broke his spirit. He was falling apart on the runway.
    • John's boring, boring, boring orange tie-dyed sundress
    • Heidi's overly perky personality coupled with her overly boring white, lacy dress

    One of the many things I appreciate about Project Runway is the fact that the judges (in this case Michael Kors and Nina Garcia) appreciate risk taking and vision. Designers that take the easy way out or try to play it safe tend to be eliminated. And that's exactly what happened here as John and Heidi are "out", mostly because they simply didn't do enough. Santino, on the other hand, was the very deserving winner of the first challenge.

    Challenge #2

    The 14 finalists then picked models. After they made their picks they were informed that they'd have to stick with these models throughout the competition. Ouch. I don't like that development at all. A bad model (i.e. Morgan) can totally screw a designer over. It'd be a shame for that to happen again this year.

    Models chosen, the designers moved into their beautiful NYC apartments and got ready for a party with their mentor on the show, Tim Gunn. And really, who wouldn't want to party with Timm Gunn. As Season One's Mario said, Tim's one sexy bitch.

    At the party, designers were given their second challenge. They'd have the following day to make an outfit out of the clothes they have on their back right now. Ouch. I feel the pain of the designers who were wearing some of their own personal favorites.

    But, for the most part, they sucked it up and really, as a group, created some really amazing pieces. I'm always stunned by how creative these designers really are. The should could just cast for drama, but they really do try to find incredibly talented people. It's that glimpse into the why and how of that talent that I find so fascinating.

    Highlights from show #2:

    • Kara's cute little denim bloomers
    • Nick's leather jacket and white t-shirt transforming itself into an incredibly sexy skirt and skimpy t-shirt. Wow
    • Santino's high fashion creation (that's a terrible description, I know


      Zulema's way too short sweater dress. Her model's ass was sticking out the bottom of the dress. It was horrible
    • Andrae's complete meltdown on the runway. His dress wasn't that bad, but he turned into an emotional wreck and made the judges doubt him more than they probably would have if he just would have acted normal

    In the end, Chloe's sleek, but, in my mind, plain, big-pocketed dress won the challenge (let's just say that Santino was pissed that he didn't win). Kirsten, who, like last season's Starr is a lawyer by day, was eliminated. I didn't think her outfit was that bad. She made a metallic skirt and paired it with a punk t-shirt. It was cute. I thought Zulema should have gone. There's no excuse for making clothes that don't cover the model's butt. Blech.

    Impressions of the remaining designers:

    • Santino: incredibly arrogant but also incredibly talented. I kind of like him because as Andrae was having his runway meltdown, Santino was killing himself trying not to laugh. I kind of appreciate that. I'd be laughing too. Plus, Santino has a good sense of humor. As he was unpacking he pulled a shirt he just had to have: a black velvet type unicorn t-shirt. Snerk.
    • Nick: gives a great interview and reminds me of my beloved Jay just a little bit. Not his design sense, mind you, but in his general openness. His designs are a little plain, but I think he knows what's hot. I'm not sure how innovative he is, but so far I like him.
    • Andrae: creative but fragile. He's the male Starr, but with slightly better taste.
    • Emmett: this former menswear designer is one tall drink of water. He's a very good looking man. He and Tim Gunn would make the world's greatest gay couple. I really liked both of his designs tonight. He seems to have a good sense of proportion and makes things that move. I liked that the show compared and contrasted his method with Zulema's style. Emmett sits back and thinks about what he's going to do, while Zulema just jumps in and works on instinct. I don't think there's a right way to create. I just appreciate that the producers understand that type of information is interesting too. The show shouldn't be all about backstabbing.
    • Kara: was barely on tonight and so it was kind of shocking to see her finished products. They were beautiful and completely different from one another. But, is it better to be versatile or to have a consistent style? I guess time will tell
    • Daniel Franco: has improved since Season One, but his style doesn't speak to me. Daniel's clothes seem very well constructed, but there's no emotion behind that construction. That's what I loved about Jay, I could always feel where his designs were coming from. With Daniel, I don't feel a thing.
    • Chloe: seems like a nice girl, but, once again, so far her stuff isn't my style. She's too plain and simple. Her clothes might be wearable but they're not original enough.
    • Daniel V.: was barely on and so I haven't formed an opinion on him yet. His clothes made no impression on me, either positive or negative. They were just there.
    • Guadalupe: was fresh and fun. However, she strikes me as being just a step away from disaster. There is so much going on in her clothes and while that's interesting, it might get to be too interesting.
    • Raymundo: made absolutely no impression on me either. I honestly cannot remember what his clothes were like. I know that he was kind of punk rocky, but I don't think his own clothes reflected that image. I hope they start to.
    • Diana: is a little geeky, but is showing something that's completely new. She's all about incorporating science into fashion. How cool is that? I don't know if that's always going to work, but I'm much more interested in watching someone try to do that rather than just making things that are "pretty".
    • Zulema: is this year's Wendy. I hate her so far. She acts like a royal bitch to the other designers. Plus, her designs completely suck. I hope she's gone very, very soon.
    • Marla: is the designer I think we're supposed to think is this year's Wendy as she's an older woman from Allentown, PA. But, unlike Wendy, I think Marla is amazingly talented. I saw some of her designs and I caught my breath a little. Design wise, she reminds me of Jay a little bit, which is probably why I like her, but her designs are much more feminine than Jay's and I'm interested to see where she's going with her look.

    All in all, the second season is off to a great start and I can't wait to see what triumphs and disasters these designers have in store for us.

    Posted by at 11:44 PM | Comments (2)


    The Best Song of the 1960s

    [Posted by ]

    "Johnny B. Goode" won the 1950s poll. The Chuck Berry classic was also ranked #1 by the critics in the Acclaimed Music ratings, so we're all on the same page. At least for that decade.

    So now it's on to the turbulent 60s. You'll notice that the list below is Beatles-less. As we've previously announced, we'll be giving the Beatles their own category. To be honest, I couldn't just pick one song to represent them for the decade. It's impossible.

    As always, this list includes the top five from the critics list and four of my own choices (I gave James a pick this time too). Songs that just barely missed the cut included "I Want You Back", "Proud Mary", "Gimme Some Lovin'", "For What It's Worth", "Somebody to Love", "Ring of Fire", "My Girl", "At Last" and "Suspicious Minds". If you think I've missed something, let me know as our last category before the finals will be all songs that I've overlooked along the way.

    Click here to place your vote.
    (opens in new window)

    Update: The polls are closed. The winner is "Satisfaction", by The Rolling Stones.

    For more information and previous results in our Greatest Song competition, click here.

    Posted by at 07:08 AM | Comments (13)


    December 06, 2005

    Amazing Race Recap-Episode 10-Godlewski Family Eliminated

    [Posted by ]

    The Godlewski sisters were eliminated in tonight's penultimate episode of the Amazing Race's family edition. And while I wish it were the Weavers who were off my TV, I can't say that I'll miss the shrieking sisters too much.

    While I think the Family Edition pales in comparision to original recipe TAR, I didn't think it was that awful until tonight. Tonight I was bored. I never thought TAR would bore me. The high (and low) lights:

    • The Weavers got pulled over for speeding. Ha ha! Of course, because they're God's chosen team, they got off with a warning.
    • The Weavers might be God's choice, but the editors continue to hate them as they make sure we get nice closeups of Rebecca's bitch face (apparently, that's just her regular face) and see how quick Rolly Weaver was to buckle his seatbelt when they pulled over. If I was on a TV show with my minor child, I think I'd be damn sure he was wearing his seatbelt. I'm just saying...
    • Although it seems like the show has been in either Utah or Wyoming forever, I was momentarily struck by how awe inspiring the landscape was. Or maybe it was just Phil ;-)
    • The detour was interesting: build a teepee or build a wagon and drive a team of horses. The Godlewskis should have known that teepee building was a disaster in waiting for them. Four gabby people who really don't even like each other have no business trying to build things together. The Indians knew it. The Swedes know it and now the Godlewskis know it.
    • The roadblock, on the other hand, was stupid. Almost offensively stupid. In beautiful Montana teams had to search a golf course for four colored balls in their shiny new Buick golfcarts. What does golfing have to do with Montana? Instead of showing scenic, meaningful, interesting or historical aspects of the places teams are racing through, the producers opted for blatant product placement. Why not just make a roadblock where one teammate has to repeat Buick's tagline 50 times? Ugh.
    • While Megan Linz got Buffalo Bill mixed up with Paul Bunyon, her brothers had no problem differentiating between the two. Somehow I'm not surprised. Those brothers, particularly Nick Linz, have a certain lumberjack quality to them that I find so appealing. And they have incredibly beautiful teeth.

    So that's it for tonight. Next week the Bransens, Linzes and Weavers will race for $1 million. If the Weavers somehow manage to fulfill God's plan for them and win, I might not be able to write a recap. I apologize in advance.

    Click here for Viking Pundit's recap.

    Posted by at 09:14 PM | Comments (2)


    I Need A Good Fake Name

    [Posted by ]

    It seems like every other day there's a story about an internet writer who's been fired, or expelled, or lost a scholarship or is just getting harassed. I'm amazed that anyone writes under their real name. There are too many asshats and freaks out there and there's too much to lose. I want to be able to safely express myself, but I also want my privacy and piece of mind.

    With that in mind, I think it's time I got myself a better fake name. Something catchy like "Ron Mexico" but not overly cutesy (so no "Chesty LaRue" or "Amanda Hugankiss" please).

    I'd like something clever that maybe gives just the slightest hint to my secret identity. Does anyone have some suggestions for me?

    Posted by at 07:19 PM | Comments (4)


    December 05, 2005

    The Lowdown on the Up Documentaries

    [Posted by ]

    Was your fate sealed by the time you were a mere lad or lass of seven? That was one of the questions the makers of Britain's "Up" documentary series tried to answer. Back in 1964, director Michael Apted interviewed a group of British 7-year olds chosen from the upper and lower classes. Since then, every 7 years, Apted revisits the subjects and produces another documentary about their lives.

    I've seen several of the documentaries and they're just great. Some kids have followed the exact path they (and we) thought they would. Others both lose and find their way. It's easy to get caught up in their lives and be proud of their successes and have your heart break for them if their life isn't what they hoped it would be.

    The latest film, 49 Up premiered on British TV back in September and should be on here sometime soon. I've always been especially interested in the series because one of the subjects, Nick Hitchon, ended up emigrating to the United States and is a Materials Science professor at UW-Madison. In fact, Hitchon's ex-wife taught an advertising class I took in the Journalism school here in my senior year. It was cool to see her in the classroom and then flash back in time to when she and Nick were a young married couple strolling hand in hand down State Street.

    I was reminded of the series because Hitchon is featured in the latest issue of On Wisconsin, the UW alumni magazine. As you can imagine, he has some conflicting feelings about the project. On one hand, of course it's such an invasion of his privacy that he "can't stand to look at them.". But on the other hand:

    "We don't normally see people at these intervals, and so we don't often get to see the trends in ourselves," he says. "But if you see someone filmed like this, you can see the consequences of their choices. It's a perspective on the human condition that I don't think we generally have."

    I think Hitchon has been incredibly brave to give us this glimpse into his life over the last 42 years. And, I also think he's exactly right, these documentaries are more than just merely entertaining films. They are, as one participant says, "a living document of the second half of the 20th century."

    Back in 1964, one of the goals of the film was to compare and contrast the lives of kids from the opposite ends of the social spectrum. But what happened is that, as The Guardian noted:

    But Britain was to surprise the film-makers. They had divided the nation into toffs and cockney sparrows - and all but forgotten the middle class in between. And yet central to the story of British life over the next four decades would be the huge expansion of the middle class.

    This latest programme proves the point. Sure, John, the prep-school boy bound for Trinity Hall, Cambridge, has followed his class destiny and is now a QC with a lovely house in the country. But Tony, the cheeky East End lad, also has a second home - in Spain. In that sense at least, we're all middle class now.

    So even the British are living the American Dream ;-) I know that makes the series sound like something boring you'd have to watch in a high school social science class. It's not. As The Guardian (I know, I can't believe I'm quoting The Guardian either) says:

    So 49 Up is a full, revealing social history. And yet that is not the source of its power. That, and its intense poignance, comes instead from the universal human story these lives tell.

    So, watch some of these if you get a chance. It's reality TV, but with a whole lot more substance than Survivor.

    Posted by at 11:00 PM | Comments (4)


    December 04, 2005

    Will the Colts finish the NFL season undefeated?

    [Posted by james]

    They've already clinched a playoff spot, and have won 20 of their last 21 games. Now that the Indianapolis Colts are sitting atop the league with an impressive 12-0 record, the pundits are abuzz with talk of what might be. "Can they do it? Can Indy become the first team to go undefeated since the 1972 Dolphins?"

    Personally, I think the answer is a clear cut and resounding "NO." In today's parity-stricken NFL, it is all but impossible for any team, no matter how good, to finish the regular season with a perfect record.

    Need proof of that? Look no further than the 1985 Chicago Bears, unquestionably the best pro football team to ever take the field. If His Sweetness Walter Payton couldn't pull it off, what makes you think that Peyton Manning can? Don't get me wrong - Manning is a great player, one of the best in the NFL. In fact, Indy's big three surely rank among the best triple threat ever assembled in the modern salary cap era.

    But offensive triple threats don't make legendary teams, defenses do. The Colts' defensive unit isn't even close to being the 85 Bears. And as great a coach as he is, Dungy is no Ditka.

    Indy has 3 tough games coming up - at an excellent, largely under-the-radar Jacksonville team, at an 8-2 mentally-tough Seattle, and a matchup with 'the-best- running-back- Marty-Schottenheimer- has-ever-seen' and his San Diego Chargers. A very good team could lose all three of those games. In fact, the best team ever assembled would surely drop at least one of them.

    Or maybe the loss will come in Week 16 when the Colts face the struggling Arizona Cardinals. Wouldn't that make an otherwise boring final-week-of-the-season interesting?

    The fact is, I have no earthly clue where the Colts will stumble. But I know they will. No team can finish a modern NFL season undefeated.

    Not even if they have a player named "Payton."

    Posted by jkhat at 09:05 PM | Comments (20)


    What's the Best Song-The 1950s

    [Posted by ]

    "Rhapsody in Blue" won the pre-1940s music poll (yay!), so now we're ready to move on to the 1950s. This is probably my favorite collection of songs. The top five songs from Acclaimed Music are all good choices. As for my own choices, I had some painful cuts to make and I regret that Muddy Waters' "Got My Mojo Working", Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes", "Who Do You Love", by Bo Diddley, "Sh-Boom" by The Chords and Patsy Cline's "Walking After Midnight" weren't included.

    Speaking of songs not on the list, based on some comments in the previous poll, there will be two additional categories in the finals: the Beatles will have their own poll and I'll do a final category of songs that people think I should have included in one of the polls. So, if you don't like what you see below, let me know about it ;-).

    Click here to place your vote.
    (opens in new window)

    Update: The polls are closed! "Johnny B. Goode" was the winner and will advance to the final round.

    For more information and previous results in our Greatest Song competition, click here.

    Posted by at 04:27 PM | Comments (50)


    A Time to Give: A List of Holiday Charities

    [Posted by ]

    I read a thread over on Fark last week asking whether people were ashamed to be Americans after seeing incidents like the WalMart trampling on Black Friday. Americans get criticized a lot for being such super consumers this time of year. While we do love to shop, Americans also like to give. Don't forget about the outpouring of generousity after 9/11, last year's tsunami or Hurricane Katrina.

    Since a lot of people concentrate their giving around the holiday season, I thought I'd post some links to good causes and encourage any of you to mention your favorite charities and folks that are doing good work in the comments.

    Here are some of mine:

    • For those of you in the Madison area, just check out The Isthmus' Community Wish List. What's neat about this list is that it gives you tons of specific items that different groups need. So instead of writing a check, you can, for example, give playing cards to a Hospice center, a mini paper shredder to the Rape Crisis Center or donate your graphic design services to the Aldo Leopold Center.
    • If you've gotten into Johnny Cash after watching "Walk the Line", then you might want to consider a donation to SOS Children's Villages. The Cash family designated the organization as his memorial charity. The organization helps orphaned children, so, as you can imagine, Christmas is a particularly difficult time of year for them.
    • You can support the troops in a personal way by adopting a soldier via Soldier's Angel. If you do adopt a soldier, you're supposed to send a card or letter once a week and at least two care packages a month.
    • My Mom has always been a big support of Catholic Relief Services. It seems like not only are they, like the Red Cross, around when there's a disaster, but they also have a presence and are helping people in their everyday lives. My Mom sponsors an elderly lady in Ghana (or Gabon) through the charity, so it's yet another way you can get more personal in your giving.
    • Last year we promoted Operation Iraqi Children on the site. This organization sends school kits to kids in Iraq. According to the Report Card on their site, their last shipment (in November) included over 4,000 kits full of basic things like scissors, colored pencils (crayons melt in Iraq's heat) and notebooks, so they are still going strong and doing great work

    Like I said, please feel free to use the comments to spread the word about other organizations that are doing good work and need help this time of year. Thanks.

    Posted by at 10:53 AM | Comments (1)


    December 02, 2005

    College Football Picks-Week 14

    [Posted by ]

    Football season is funny. It starts in the sweltering heat of July and August and progresses through the clear, crisp days and nights of September and October into the dreary days of November and the frosty and frigid depths of December. And then, when everything is on the line, the games go tropical. That doesn't make any sense to me. It seems like the biggest games of the year should be played in some dark, frozen arctic cave instead.

    But, in any case, we're down to the final week of the regular college football season. On one hand, I'm rooting for USC and Texas to make it through this final weekend unscathed and looking forward to a great matchup in the Rose Bowl. On the other hand, I wouldn't mind seeing all the big teams lose tomorrow and having the whole system blow up. On the third hand (and please don't ask where that is), I don't really hate the BCS. College football doesn't have a playoff system, but the whole season plays out like sudden death. Why in the world should a USC or Texas have to play some 10-1 team in the first round of a playoff now? Maybe that 10-1 team should have won all of their games too. Of course, last year Auburn won all their games and was screwed. But, was that really the fault of the system itself? I don't think so. It was the fault of poll voters who were so rigid in their thinking that they wouldn't move teams around unless they lost. I've yet to see a college playoff system proposed that would remove the danger of human error.

    The Dummocrats pool is over (James won it for the house). We may try to do something again this year for the Bowls, so stay tuned. In the meantime, here are my abbreviated picks for Week 14:

    #2 Texas vs. Colorado: This is an example of why I hate conference championship games. Texas already pounded Colorado, but if Colorado wins tomorrow they go to the Fiesta Bowl. The championship game renders their previous meeting meaningless. Unless teams play in a conference where the divisions do not play each other, championship games are just a crock engineered by money grubbing officials. Anyway, remembering that in the Big 12, everyone sucks but Texas, I will have to pick Texas will be Rose Bowl bound.

    #11 UCLA at #1 USC: UCLA is 9-1, but their record is a bit misleading as they haven't defeated a single ranked team. They beat Cal earlier in the season, but later events proved that Cal's ranking was a sham. They also didn't play Oregon this season. How convenient. I think USC crushes them and the Rose Bowl hype begins.

    #13 Georgia vs. #3 LSU: This season has proven that I know nothing about the SEC. If you're a betting man or woman, I urge to put your money on whoever I don't pick. I'm going with Georgia. LSU barely beat Arkansas last time out and I just can't believe they're the third best team in the nation.

    #5 Virginia Tech vs. Florida State: Last week I was all about how Florida State was going to beat up on Florida. Blah blah blah. Seriously, I know nothing about the SEC (or, apparently, the ACC). Even though they lost to Miami, Virginia Tech still might be the third best team in the nation. I think they win here to set up an intriguing matchup with Penn State in the Orange Bowl.

    Posted by at 07:33 AM | Comments (12)


    What's the Best Song-Pre 1940s Edition

    [Posted by ]

    Due to a couple of requests, we'll be moving back in time in our quest to choose the best song of all time and we'll be revising the voting procedure a little bit. Instead of just choosing your favorite, you can now rank the choices. Hopefully that will allow us to do some more accurate polling.

    The candidates for the pre-1940s best song are:

    • Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, by Fisk Jubilee Singers
    • When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, by Chauncy Olcott
    • West End Blues, by Louis Armstrong
    • Rhapsody in Blue, by George Gershwin
    • In The Mood, by Glenn Miller
    • Back in the Saddle Again, by Gene Autry
    • Can the Circle be Unbroken, by The Carter Family
    • Over the Rainbow, by Judy Garland
    • God Bless America, by Kate Smith
    • The Entertainer, by Scott Joplin

    Click here to place your vote.
    (opens in new window)

    For more information and previous results in our Greatest Song competition, click here.

    Update: The polls are closed and "Rhapsody in Blue" is our winner.

    Posted by at 02:07 AM | Comments (36)


    December 01, 2005

    Survivor Guatemala recap - voted off, Judd heads back to Jersey

    [Posted by james]

    After the tribe returns from what was possibly the most intense tribal council yet, Danni is surprised that people are all acting like nothing out of the ordinary happened. The alliances have to start breaking up eventually, she reasons. And she has a lot to be worried about, as she seems to be next up on the chopping block.

    The tribe heads to a food auction where each tribe member receives $500. Danni proceeds to clean up:

    $20, Danni, Beef Jerky
    $40, Cindy, Chocolate cookies and milk
    $140, Lydia, Personal Mosquito Net
    $180, Danni and Rafe, Philly Cheese Steak and Fries
    $200, Danni, Secret Immunity Challenge Advantage Envelope

    What in the heck is everyone else waiting for? Why are they bowing out of these bidding wars? It's not like you can take the money home with you.

    Ahh, here comes the twist: The final item up for bid is a night with a loved one. The loved ones come out from behind a pyramid - Cindy's twin sister Mindy, Rafe's mom, Danni's brother, Judd's wife, Lydia's brother who she hasn't seen in 2 years, and Steph's boyfriend. Tribe mates pool money and Judd comes out the big winner. Which leads to an even bigger twist - Judd gets to pick 2 other loved ones to join the tribe for the night, for a total of 3. Those three that don't have their loved ones chosen will be exiled to the other camp for the night, with no contact at all from their loved ones. Heh, this might be the cruelest reward challenge yet. I love it.

    Judd has no problem picking Cindy and Steph, and doesn't even look sorry for those he didn't pick. Nice.

    Rafe is literally bawling. Let me guess, momma's boy? Gee, who'da thought?

    The tribe heads off to their respective camps.

    The immunity challenge is a standard tile-flipping contest, except that it's multi-level and there's a spinning platform involved. Danni now learns the value of the envelope she bought in the auction: She can trade positions with any player at any time in the challenge. Nice.

    Halfway through the contest, Danni uses her envelope to trade with Steph. Steph looks pissed, as usual. Actually, I think Steph just always looks pissed. Maybe her mom never told her that her face would stay that way if she kept making faces.

    Of course, Danni wins immunity, and the tribe heads back to camp and sets out the talking behind each others' backs. They head to tribal council, where JUDD is sent packing.

    Hey, I actually think he mutters "scumbags" as he's walking off the set. For real.

    Aw, man!

    Posted by jkhat at 08:17 PM | Comments (0)


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