Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Blooming Good Charity

Happy Kwaanza everyone.

Happy Boxing Day Commonwealthers.

Happy St. Stephen's Day Heads.

I just read about something yesterday that I feel compelled to unvertise to everyone.

Jeremy Bloom, Olympic skier, ex-Philadelphia Eagle, ex-Pittsburgh Steeler, ex-Abercrombie model, has a charity that he started in 2008. I know about this only because of the great Point After column Selena Roberts wrote in this week's Sports Illustrated.

The purpose of this charity is to fulfill the dreams of low-income seniors, sort of like Make-a-Wish for grandmas and grandpas.

I have to say, I think this one is particularly special. One of the episodes that Roberts cites is a woman named Nancy Tarpein, who Bloom helped travel to see her daughter, who had been diagnosed with cancer. They hadn't seen each other in five years.

This is exactly the kind of thing that this holiday season is supposed to be about. When I look at my bills and statements next cycle, I'm going to kick myself in the ass for not making Bloom's charity one of my impulse spends.

Spread the word.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Bit O' Christmas Cheer

Well, it looks like I've got a little time on my hands while the laundry is a-drying, so I thought I'd subject you all to some poemetry that I did a few years ago at the P&H Center for the Arts. This is what happens when a poet asks an art historian if they write poetry. Ole!

By the way, if anyone wants to take up a collection and buy me a pair of the pants that guy is wearing, I promise to wear them in every class I teach every December.

A Christmas Poem, cause it’s the season
How come Rudolph and the reindeers never unionized?
I was telling a friend of mine about this.
Saying it would be a good idea for something.
The unionizing of the reindeer that is.
But it makes you wonder about what would justify such a thing.
It doesn’t seem to me like those other 364 nights are super productive.

Back to the reindeers
So, I was saying.
That it doesn’t seem like those 9 have any reason for gripes.
I’m sure that National Geographic is paying them for all that reindeer documentary footage.
And Burl Ives is probably giving them kickbacks.
But it makes you wonder, or at least it makes me wonder, if they get anything out of the whole arrangement.
It’s got to be longer than a 8 hour workday.
And I’ve seen the specials. The fat man has a whip.
Maybe a union isn’t so bad.

Another Poem About Jesus
Ever wonder what Jesus used to get for Hannukah?
If I was Jesus, not saying I could fill those shoes,
Or sandals or whatever it was.
But if I was Jesus,
I think I might’ve had a minor dilemma with this one day holiday thing.
We should stick with eight days of presents.
In honor of Jesus’s heritage, naturally.
It just doesn’t seem fair to the kids.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Spreading the Cheer

Jeff Fisher sent this to me today. I thought that was sweet of him.

Here's hoping Philip Rivers doesn't play up to his talent level.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Something Else I Do Not Get

So, the semester's over, the parties have been gone to, and I'm finally back to business as unusual. Sorry for the absences. I've been writing some Top 10 lists (of the year, of the decade) for Art:21, which should be appearing over there before too long. However, I ran into a student at an opening this weekend, and she told me that she'd been reading my football posts, so I feel a certain vindication nonetheless.

And, while I'm at it, can someone give a prize to Kelly Shindler, who seems to run the Art:21 blog single-handedly while working on her Ph.D. full-time? This is a Deion Sanders, Bo Jackson-style dual excellence, and she deserves props.

Anyhoo, I've been spending today catching up on things that I've been supposed to be getting around to, which includes reading hours and hours of online newspapers. And, one in particular has my underoos in a twist.

Dave Caldwell has an article in today's Sports section that I just don't get. This grumpasaurus is basically intimating that, since Dale Earnhardt's death, auto racing has gone to hell in a handbasket.

Let me list the supposed "developments" that "Earnhardt might have bristled at." Now, Caldwell doesn't outright say that these are bad things, but the tone ain't exactly gumdrops and lords-a-leapin' either.

-An expansion in the popularity of NASCAR.

-Head and neck restraints.

-Escape hatches in the roof of each car.

-Slightly slower but much safer cars.

-Younger drivers acting as celebrity spokespeople, thus increasing their own and the sport's revenue streams.

Then, he goes on to complain about Jimmie Johnson (above, with his unprecedented four straight championship trophies) and Danica Patrick, as part of a certain kind of well-behaved, capitalismogenic pitch people phenomemon that stands as evidence that the sport is less about racing and more about product placement, certainly less cooler than when patrolled by The Intimidator.

Bitch, bitch, bitch.

Listen, I have one thing to say to you all who think his is a reasonable complaint.

NFL Concussions.

This is the perfect example of a sport acting swiftly and responsibly to protect the safety of its participants. Does anyone even remember that they outlawed the wedge? I've forgotten.

Caldwell's crankalation is rather dismissive about the new security measures taken on by NASCAR, and his final statement that "No. 3 decals proliferate on cars in Nascar parking lots, but racecars do less racing these days" does nothing but place him in that pantheon of oblivion previously reserved for Wall Street executives, the 43rd President, Martha Stewart's personal warmth, and Dennis Rodman's stylist.

I'm willing to sacrifice a few miles per hour to prevent any injury or loss of life. Why Caldwell seems to prefer speed over safety bewilders me.

And, in case you don't think I know the stakes, allow me embarrass myself for a moment...

(The management waiting to ride in a NASCAR car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I'm on the Twitter

Apparently, I'm Twittering now. I'm called @adrianduranblog. Follow it and get invited to the BBQ.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Light it Up

Ok, just in case you've all lost track of what season it is, Hanukkah's on the way. Now, my calendar says that it's Saturday when the Festival of Lights begins. But, of course, this is a Pizza Hut calendar, so it probably means Friday night, which would make more sense, especially if your lost tribe is a high school football team. All confusion aside, check with your local Maccabean Revolutionary, but don't forget. And, all you Christmas lovers out there, let's use Hanukkah as a reminder that these things are about family and tradition and good will. The presents are the bonus, not the focus.

But, until then, we're stumbling into the excitingest part of the season, the Wild Card race. I'm about to wee with excitement because of a guy named Vince and what the Giants might do to the Cowpies today, which would make life better for my beloved Iggles. Anyway, cause I know you've been waiting.

We all knew that the Jets were going to beat the Bills. Or, at least I did. But, boy was that not what I was expecting. Ryan Fitzpatrick really fascinates me, mainly because I like Ivy Leaguers in the NFL. But also because he seems to be making TO happy, which means that they should get married and solve a load of problems.

The Eagles are going to murder Atlanta. I know Jackson's out, but I've heard tell of others named Maclin, Celek, McCoy, and an enemy named Ryan, who is out this week. This whole Michael Vick back to Atlanta is infuriating. Shut up. Play McNabb. Vick isn't doing anything worthwhile. This is about winning games and getting into the playoff, hopefully atop the NFC East. I could give a damn that Michael Vick used to play in Atlanta. Win the game, deal with the hype after the clock says 00:00. Eagles by 10.

The Bucs could sneak up on the Panthers here. Maybe Ronde Barber shows us why he's still worth watching. Maybe Josh Freeman's been getting smarter and better. Dunno, but I'm voting yes, especially with Jake DelInterception and DeAngelo Baby! out for the day. This is where I make a reckless prediction, but I'm going Bucs, by 6.

I don't know why I'm voting for the Bears here. I'm going with the weather, which means that I'm now checking the weather reports when I make these predictions, which means I'm in the depths of nerddom more than I was last week. And I love it. It's like realizing you can read conservation reports as well as patronage documents. Mmm, nerddom. Oh, and the Rams are currently God forsaken. Poor Rams. And they're a dome team, so they're screwed out in the Chicago weather. Bears by 14, but Jackson will run like an antelope out of control.

Detroit will lose to Cincy, though Cincy is looking a bit less stout than they did at earlier points. But, c'mon. They swept the AFC North? That's unbelievable. Really unbelievable. Congratulations to Cincinnati for proving us all wrong, for winning games, and for reminding us that Tigers are grrr-eat. By 21. Let's get Esteban a few touchdowns today.

In the most improbable moment of the week, I'm going to say that Vince leads a team to victory over Peyton. I don't know why or how it'll happen, but I think it will. We've got some receivers on the rise, and more than a few of them (Lavelle Hawkins, holla!) to compliment some nice TE work (I actually forgot about Jared Cook for a minute before last week) and what's his face who might just turn into Eric Dickerson. Hoochawackadingdong, this team might be scary soon. And, you know, Gonzalez is still out, that defense is a bit beat up, and Peyton Manning is actually listed as having a butt muscle dilemma. Finally, something is finally a pain in his ass. Let's hope the Titans defense makes it a twofer. Titans, by a hair, by the grace of God, by 3, which will bring them a Wild Card berth. Or so I hope.

Houston'll beat Jacksonville, don't ask me why I know this, other than that I live in AFC South territory, so I have a sense. I just think the Schaub-Johnson-Jacoby Jones Axis of Aerialism will trump the Jags more ground-screen-check down sort of thing. By 7, in a great game.

Denver vs. Kansas City? I couldn't possibly care less. Neither of these teams is consequential for me, unless Denver gets in the way of the Titans, or somehow is their opponent in a Wild Card tiebreaker or somethingish. The best news I've heard about Denver this week is that Mike Shanahan may be coaching again next year and that Kyle Orton is probably going to play. Phooey on you Jay Cutler. Get a winning record and then we can talk. Broncos by 7.

The Steelers will beat the Raiders, though it won't be amazing, and it won't be worth watching. I sure hope Palumalu will recover well. He's too beautiful to watch for us to live without. If his career goes belly-up due to injuries, it'll be tragedy on the order of Felix Gonzalez-Torres. But the Steelers will win by 10, and we'll worry about everyone's careers later. Ben, throw it away. Slide feet first. Protect your health.

New Orleans is going to kill Washington. That's all there is to it. If not, I will be shocked and awed. And happy for Jason Campbell, who I still think is getting the short end of the stick unjustifiably. But, poor Campbell won't win today. I just hope this all doesn't cost him his career, which needs to be recalibrated elsewhere to be judged appropriately. Saints by 28. Maybe more. I mean, did you see what they did to the Pats? Mon dieu.

The Chargers will be able to sleepwalk through this one. Let's hope that they don't sit Rivers just for the hell of it, because I need Vincent Jackson to receive a number of touchdown passes. My fantasy team stinks, mainly because of the other Chargers receivers, who are getting Jackson's touches. Let's turn it around. And someone call Bernie Kosar. The Browns might need him today. Bolts by 21.

What is the big issue with Minnesota against Arizona? I know Kurt Warner is a future Hall of Famer, with a silly sick corps of receivers, but that won't matter. The Vikings will beat them. Probably badly. Let's say by 14 in what will be a clinic on why American QBs are the real players of The Beautiful Game. Kids, eyes on the QBs. Two all time greats are going to be dueling today. Could be poetry, in a Homeric manner.

This is the only time in my life that I will hope for a Giants victory. See, if they beat those idiots, and the Eagles win, the NFC East begins to look promising. Let's just pray that December present will treat Romo like Decembers past. And that the weather in NYC turns for the ugly. I'm going with the Mara family by 7. If anyone sees Roy Williams do something interesting, will you please email me?

49ers against the Seahawks? What the hell is wrong with the NFC West? I mean, maybe we should just let the NFC West and the AFC West have their own league. The winner could play the winner of the UFL for entry into the NFL, like they do in Serie A and B in Italy. Just a thought. But the 9ers will win, by about 10. What I care about is Julius Jones coming back and getting another Domer some TV time.

New England vs. Miami. God do I not want to be Miami tonight. The Pats are going to be pissed. Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but those being force fed will be the Fins, who will need to have their hospital bills paid for by the Saints when the Patriots decide to break their spirits and necks. Coach, don't beat up on the Dolphins just because Drew Brees looked like Tom Brady last week. Save it for the playoffs. Get a good win, but a smart one, without any Old Testament vengeance, which you'll need to save for the playoffs. Pats by 17, though, cause they're still going to be pissed.

Monday night is going to be so sad. The Ravens will probably lose, which is depressing, especially because Joe Flacco has been underachieving. My faith is not shaken, but I don't know how the hell the Titans and Ravens both are going to get Wild Card berths. That'll be my Christmas present, ok? But, the Packers will win by 10, mainly because they're at Lambeau.

Ok, everyone, enjoy the game.

And, please do me a favor. I don't know what any of you think about religion or God or whatever semantics you use, but a childhood friend of mine just lost her father recently, so please send out whatever positive vibes you've got. Aim them towards New Jersey.

And have a great first few nights of Hanukkah.