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Clip o' the Day!

I realized I've been watching the NFL for 35 years on TV when I saw this. Thought it was the coolest opener. The music's still cool, anyway.

Clip o' the Day

Not a cheery one. I've been watching a few videos (home sick today, seeing the doctor this afternoon), and I've run into a couple of recent Michael J. Fox appearances (while trying to dial up his Family Ties episode "The Real Thing," which apparently has disappeared for copyright reasons). This one, on Rachel Ray's show, shows Fox on not a great day, where he's twitching like crazy. He sounds fine (that's why he's done a lot of voiceover work), but some days the medication works, some days it doesn't. So this isn't the prettiest video to watch.

In a couple of months, the federal government will be funding stem cell research again (I assume); maybe that will be of some help to those who are suffering from this disease.

Sports Coming Up This Week

All times CST. All sports football unless otherwise noted. Since the weather here's supposed to be lousy all weekend (I was going to rake the leaves, but apparently they're going to be under six inches or so of snow), here's what I'll be watching.

Tonight, 12/2 -- Nothing, honey. I'm not that much of a college basketball fan, so I'll only switch here if I'm desperate.

Wednesday, 12/3 -- Middle Tennessee State at University of Louisiana-Lafayette, 6 PM. What was I saying about desperate? Two Sun Belt teams, neither of which is likely to make a bowl game, but at least it's an option.

Thursday, 12/4 -- Louisiana (5-6) at Rutgers (6-5), 6:30 PM. More of the same, although Rutgers represents my boyhood home state. Oakland Raiders (3-9) at San Diego Chargers (4-8), 7:15 PM. In which Chargers general manager Alex Smith cleans out his desk at halftime.

Friday, 12/5 -- Ball State (12-0) vs. Buffalo (7-5) at Ford Field in Detroit, 7 PM. Your basic MAC championship. Can Ball State go undefeated this year and not make the national Top 10? We'll know more after this game.

Saturday, 12/6 -- Army (3-8) vs. Navy (7-4) at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, 11 AM. I'll be working, but I should be able to pick this up someplace. Boston College (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (8-4) at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, 12 Noon. Not exactly the marquee matchup the ACC was hoping for, but neither of these teams were supposed to be here. Alabama (12-0) vs. Florida (11-1) at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, 3 PM. Love this matchup, love the Dome. Go Gators. Arkansas State (6-5) at Troy (7-4), 6:30 PM. About a quarter or so to fill in unless the SEC shootout goes long. Missouri (9-3) vs. Oklahoma (11-1) at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO, 7 PM. The second big conference championship of the day. Cincinnati (10-2) at Hawaii (7-5), 10:30 PM. Or Saturday Night Live, depending on who the guest host is.

Sunday, 12/7 -- Jacksonville (4-8) at Chicago (6-6), 12 Noon. If the Bears can't win this one, the season's over. Dallas (8-4) at Pittsburgh (9-3) or Miami (7-5) at Buffalo (6-6), 3:15 PM. I'm not sure who's got the doubleheader this week, CBS or Fox. New England (7-5) at Seattle (2-10), 7:30 PM. Woo. Why didn't NBC trade this one out?

Monday, 12/8 -- Tampa Bay (9-3) at Carolina (9-3), 7:30 PM. Best game of the week. Also the last until Saturday

Lazy Sundays Past and Present

At Karen and Danny's apartment in Cambridge (Boston). We're simultaneously watching the football game (me), listening to Nickelodeon Noggin radio (Danny), and reading (Karen).

The apartment is definitely meant for grad students. A one-bedroom, with the bedroom occupied by Danny. Most of his toys and books are up here, too. The bedroom is about the size of his bedroom at home -- but the rest of the apartment (bathroom, kitchen, and living room) is about the size of our bedroom and bathroom at home. So, pretty tiny.

Lazy Sundays are occasionally necessary, especially since we've been having such a good weekend. It's cold with freezing rain outside, so there's no real need to wander around exploring. I've got the Boston Globe -- a much better newspaper than most, including our own Chicago Tribune -- and that should take up most of the rest of the day.

A long time ago -- like a little over a year after I first got out of college, circa 1985 and 1986 -- I lived in Jersey City, NJ with a college fraternity brother as a roommate. I made about $11,500 a year, and took the train back to Summit every third weekend or so. But when I was in Jersey City, Sundays were spent watching TV (no cable, no VCR!), the Sunday Times ($1.25 or so) and the Star-Ledger (35 cents! One coupon used and you'd made back your money!). Over the last 20-plus years, we've gotten busier and busier, to the point where lazy Sundays are pretty much nonexistent. (admittedly, those of us with children are not permitted to have lazy Sundays anymore -- or those with things growing on the property.) But sometimes, you have to have them. Preferably with a Sunday paper, popcorn, and at least one person to share it with.

The Bucket List

I got this from Facebook, posted it here, and will edit later tonight to cross-post back to Facebook. I've added a few.

() Gone on a blind date
(X) Skipped school (college only)
() Watched someone die
() Shot a man in Reno just to watch him die
(X) Been to Canada
(X) Been to Mexico
(X) Been to Florida
() Been to Canaan
() Want to go back again?
(X) Been on a plane
(X) Been lost
() Musta got lost
(X) Been to Saratoga
() Your horse, naturally, won
(X) Gone to Washington, DC
(X) Swam in the ocean
() Cried yourself to sleep
() Played cops and robbers
(X) Recently colored with crayons
() Because that was the only writing implement they'd let you use
(X) Sang Karaoke
() Paid for a meal with coins only
(X) Done something you told yourself you wouldn't
() Made prank phone calls
() Made obscene phone calls
() Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose
(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
() Danced in the rain
(X) Written a letter to Santa Claus
(X) Been kissed under the mistletoe
() Saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus underneath the mistletoe
() Watched the sunrise with someone
(X) Blown bubbles (soap)
() Blown bubbles (own saliva)
(X) Gone ice-skating
(X) Gone roller skating
() Been skinny dipping outdoors
(X) Gone to the movies
() Now we're alone at last

What is:

1. Your nickname? Chip (birth through college)

2. Mother's name? Elizabeth

3. Father's name? Curt

4. Favorite drink? Skim milk or vanilla milk shake, screwdriver if alcoholic only

5. Body Piercings? I don't like pain. It hurts me.

6. How much do you love your job? Both are okay.

7. Birthplace? Scenic Newark, NJ

8. Favorite vacation spot? Saratoga Springs, NY; Point Pleasant, NJ; United Kingdom

9. Ever been to Africa? No

10. Ever eaten just cookies for dinner? No

11. Ever been on TV? Yes

12. Ever steal any traffic signs? Yes

13. Ever been in a car accident? Just fender benders

14. Drive a 2-door or 4-door vehicle? 4-door

15. Can you drive a standard car? Nope

16. Favorite pie? Blueberry

17. Favorite number? 17

18. Favorite movie? Yikes. Let me get back to you.

19. Favorite holiday? Christmas or Thanksgiving

20. Favorite dessert? Blueberry pie is fine.

21. Favorite food? Fresh fish

22. Favorite day of the week? Saturday

23. Favorite brand of body soap? Uh... Irish Spring?

24. Favorite toothpaste? Crest

25. Favorite smell? Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies

26. How do you relax? Reading; hanging out with Karen.

27. How do you see yourself in 10 years? Financially independent

28. Furthest place you will send this message. LJ only.

29. Who will respond to this the fastest? Probably just copy and paste.

Sports on TV, Next Seven Days

Tonight: ESPN is running Western Michigan vs. Ball State, which leaves those of us an hour away from Northern Illinois out of luck, unless I actually go to the game. I'm not (I've got Primerica stuff tonight). Maybe I'll catch some of it on the radio.

Tomorrow: No college football on the one night I'd actually be able to watch. I'm flying to Boston, but on Jet Blue, which puts TV monitors with satellite in front of every seat. There will be a bunch of college basketball games on -- I might grab a preseason magazine to review (I don't follow college basketball very carefully).

Thursday: Let's preface this by saying Karen hates football, and Danny's not a fan at this point either. So the chances of me watching much over the long weekend ain't too good. But Thursday, by virtue of being home with the family (my sister's shooting to eat around two PM), is probably the best date. Three NFL games -- Tennessee will pound Detroit at 12:30, Dallas will pound Seattle at 4:15, and Arizona and Philadelphia at 8 on the Invisible Channel (a.k.a. The NFL Network). If I'm watching any football at that hour, it'll be Texas and Texas A&M.

Friday: A few games on tap, but mostly uninteresting ones -- good thing, since we'll probably be driving or in Plymouth most of the day. CBS will show one of the SEC games, but I'm sure LSU and Arkansas looked better earlier this year. I've got a list of bad things to wish on Bobby Petrino, so their eighth loss will add to that roster. Boise State looks to extend their undefeated season at 6 PM.

Saturday: A better day for games, but unless it pours, I'm going to see very little. Oklahoma-Oklahoma State in the evening is the best of them, but there's several other in-state rivalry games as well.

Sunday: NFL time. Again, if there's inclement weather, I might catch part of this, otherwise not so much. Giants-Washington at 1 unless the Fox station in Boston goes haywire, Pittsburgh-New England at 4, Chicago-Minnesota for the Sunday night game.

Monday: Back home, and I get Jacksonville-Houston. Woo.

***

But what I'm really looking forward to is seeing my family. The last three trips have been kind of weird -- in September I was only there for a day and a half, and we ran from Boston to Cape Cod and back during that time. October we ran down to Connecticut so Karen could go to New York with her great aunt -- Danny and I had a good time, but we missed Karen. And Halloween had Karen at her conference in Chicago. No commitments this time, and while we'll go to Cape Cod for Thanksgiving dinner, we're only staying overnight. I may even blow off Black Friday. But I've got to figure out what stuff to do with him that isn't crazy expensive.

I should get in touch with a travel expert on this -- honoria and I used to work with the associate publisher of the Frommer's Travel Guides (back when she was a mere editorial assistant at St. Martin's). In a time when the SMP travel books (most notably Let's Go) were being passed around like the weird green potate chip at the bottom of the bag, she wanted to work only on travel books -- but they foisted other stuff on her as well, so she bolted to Fodor's, where she could focus exclusively on travel stuff. However, I haven't kept that close in touch (she's on my LinkedIn list), and it's not like she's in Boston all the time. And I did pick up a copy of the 2007 Frommer's for Boston (for 50 cents -- used library copy), so I guess I can go with that.

Any suggestions, aside from Museum of Science and Children's Museum, are welcome.

Backtrack, Backtrack, Backtrack

This is a pretty good Worst Person in the World -- catching Joe Lieberman telling, well, a pretty outrageous lie.

Football Sunday

And I'm boned here in Chicago.  Fox has the 1 PM (I know, it's a 12 noon start here, but old habits die hard) Bears-Rams game, and not surprisingly, the Bears are pummeling a Rams team that would have trouble beating a MAC team this year.  Fox has the doubleheader, so the Giants-Cardinals game is running at 4 PM.

Meanwhile, most of CBS's good games are also at 1 PM, but none are a good fit for Chicago.  Indianapolis (a reasonably close market) plays Sunday night.  Their choices are Jets-Tennessee, New England-Miami, Buffalo-Kansas City, and Houston-Cleveland.  The Jets-Tennessee game is the most interesting, of course, as the Jets are 7-3 and Tennessee is undefeated.

But no -- WBBM apparently doesn't want to run anything against the Bears.  So we get skateboarding now (woo), and Oakland-Denver for the 4 o'clock game -- Oakland is probably worse than the Rams, and Denver's merely okay.

So I get to follow the Jets on the computer (they're leading 7-0 as I write this, and are driving).  This is a huge game for the Jets -- if they win, they'll feel like they can compete with anyone.  They lose, and the AFC East's a dogfight.

College Football Update

Well, this is turning into a fun season. Let me review what's going on in my little corner of the world (Big Ten/MAC territory), then I'll look at the national picture.  CBS Sportsline's predictions are being parroted here.

Big Ten

- Penn State finishes first, and will likely go to the Rose Bowl against either Oregon State or USC.  This depends on what happens next weekend, when O. State plays Oregon (USC will get to run over Notre Dame).
- If Oregon State loses, Ohio State might move up to a BCS game.  If not, they're likely in the Capital One Bowl, against the second-best SEC team (Georgia?  Alabama?  Florida?).
- Michigan State is the third-best Big Ten team, which means they go to the Outback Bowl.  Likely opponent South Carolina, but hard to predict.
- Northwestern had the same overall record as Michigan State, but had a lesser Big Ten record and probably won't draw as well, so they get the Alamo Bowl, one of the better games before New Year's.  They'll get Oklahoma State, which will be a challenge.
- Iowa had a pretty good 8-4 season, including an upset of Penn State.  Their prize is a trip to Disney World for the Champs Sports bowl.  Likely opponent:  Miami.
- Wisconsin got off to a terrible start to the season, but came on at the end to wind up 7-5.  A disappointment overall, but they do get the Insight Bowl New Year's Eve, probably against Kansas.
- Minnesota's 7-5 record was a shocker (they won one game last year), but they still get the boned Bowl:  the Motor City Bowl, day after Christmas, in Detroit (every other Big Ten Bowl is in a warm-weather spot... of course, compared to Minnesota, Detroit is a warm-weather spot).  Worse, they get Ball State (unless something weird happens), who happen to be undefeated.

On the outside looking in:  Illinois had a lousy year, just like Pro Football Prospectus predicted (I thought they were nuts, but they were right), Purdue, Michigan, Indiana.  This is the first time Michigan hasn't gone to a bowl game in 34 years.

MAC

The MAC's season isn't over yet -- they have another week of games to go, and then the MAC championship.  But here's how things look:
- Ball State, unless they really stumble (they're undefeated to this point) will likely win out and go to the Motor City Bowl against Minnesota.  Woo.  However, they do have Western Michigan and Buffalo left, which aren't gimmes.
- Western and Central Michigan will likely wind up with identical 9-3 records.  Western will have lost to Central, which may give Central a slight advantage.  They'll likely go to minor bowl games, replacing teams from bigger conferences that can't muster enough winning teams.  The prediction from CBS Sportsline is Central Michigan to the GMAC and Western Michigan to the Hawaii Bowl (Hawaii for Christmas, there are worse fates).
- Buffalo has already clinched the MAC East and will likely wind up in the International Bowl in Toronto (what kind of trip is that?) against Connecticut.
- Here's the kicker.  If Northern Illinois can pull off an upset against Navy this Tuesday -- maybe even if they can't -- they'll probably get to go to a minor bowl (five MAC teams in bowl games?) with a 7-5 record.  The prediction is the Texas Bowl against Rice, which unfortunately is on the NFL Network, which means I won't be able to see the damn game.  (I think NFL Network should open this one up to a local sports cable channel -- not fair that NIU fans can't see the game.)  The last time NIU went to a bowl game, they were trounced by TCU, so this may not be much fun.  But it's still a bowl game -- and considering Northern Illinois was 2-10 last year, that's an accomplishment.

Other Thoughts
- If Notre Dame goes to a New Year's Day bowl, they should be embarrassed.  Since Charlie Weis is still just four years into a ten-year contract, the Irish and Weis may be stuck together for awhile.  But they lost to Syracuse yesterday's, for Pete's sake.  (CBS Sportsline has them going to the Sun Bowl, which is usually a pretty good game, but 6-6 teams there aren't unheard of.)
- If Alabama wins out, they'll obviously be in the championship game; if not, who knows?  Texas Tech probably dropped from the championship game to out of the BCS altogether by losing last night to Oklahoma.  And watching mediocre Big East and ACC teams in the BCS games while undefeated teams like Boise State and Ball State go to minor bowl games is just annoying.

I Just Made That Connection

When I was a kid, my parents still belonged to the snooty country club my grandparents had belonged to, Essex County Country Club, a good half hour away from our house. Golf courses (private and public), tennis, swimming pool, a huge clubhouse where dinner dances and parties were held, and so on. We belonged there until I was 11, and then a) because we wanted to belong to a pool that was closer, and b) it cost a lot less, we switched to a club that was a fifteen-minute walk from our house. No golf, no big club for dinner and dancing, but we had friends there, too.

To get there, you had to either drive along the JFK Parkway past the Short Hills Mall, or go though the towns of Short Hills, Millburn, the South Mountain Reservation, and then through West Orange on Pleasant Valley Way. That was my preferred route, because the drive through South Mountain Reservation was so cool, and I thought Pleasant Valley Way was scenic.

I didn't realize until recently that someone else also liked that street for its name. Gerry Goffin and Carole King had set up homemaking there in the mid-1960s (well, when Goffin wasn't fathering a child with a member of the Cookies while still married to King, or having an extended hospital stay -- that's why there weren't a lot of Goffin/King songs in 1965 and 1966, apparently), and they wanted to pick out a name of a street to name the song after. This street got the honor -- and it was written about the time we were driving along it ten or twenty times a summer. (Me and about a million other people, but still.)

Pretty cool. Never knew that.

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