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4 posts from December 2003

Oldies: Sunday, December 21 - Saturday, December 27, 2003...

Saturday, 27 December 2003: Whoever said vacations are easy is about to get his/her butt kicked... courtesy of me.

To recap... Katie and I spent the 23rd with my parents in Naperville, the 24th through the 26th with her mother's family in St. Louis, and the 27th with her father's family in McHenry, IL.

Packing, unpacking, repacking, driving to and fro... aye carumba. Big families are anything but easy. I need a vacation to recover from vacation.

Thursday, 25 December 2003: Okay, so this one is going to be posted a bit late. Deal with it.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Wednesday, 24 December 2003: I do realize that this post is actually going up on the site a day early, but I've already got a post up for today (December 23) and I wanted to give Santa a chance to shop while making it look like my post was "timely".

So, Santa, below you will find my Christmas list for this year. Very simple. You need only go to one store and I'll let you pick which one you actually go to (but for the sake of time savings, I have linked my list to an online store)... [dead link to the Apple Store's iPod section]

I would prefer the 40GB variety (third option on the page linked to the picture above) along with the optional FM radio transmitter so I can play this in my car without having to worry about buying a cassette deck to plug it in with. And you can engrave it with my name on the first line and my e-mail address on the second line for no extra charge.

I realize that this isn't exactly the most inexpensive gift around, but that's why I'm only asking for one gift. I'm a big boy. I can handle only opening one present. Unless, of course, you want to wrap the FM transmitter separately. But I won't be picky.

Heck, you can even forego wrapping and just stick the thing in my stocking. I'll leave extra cookies and, if you'd like, you can make my apartment your final stop and I'll leave a six pack of your choice of beer so you can kick back and get loaded after a long night's work. Feel free to watch some movies on the flat-screen TV while you're relaxing. I'll even tape a football game or two for you because we all know Santa's a big football fan. Especially of the Bears.

Oh, and because I'm such a selfless person, if you could give the people of Chicago a nice Christmas present in the form of a World Series title for the Cubbies in 2004, that would be nice as well.

That's all I want Santa. And I've been good this year. So long as you, like myself, view "good" in strictly relative terms. Save your coal for President Bush. I can't say that he's been quite as good.

Thanks, and have a safe flight. Remember that we're on an orange level terror alert right now so prearrange your flight path with NORAD so you don't have to worry about outrunning any surface-to-air missiles. You might even be able to arrange for an F-18 Hornet escort to facilitate the issue. I'm just thinking about your safety, big guy.

Tuesday, 23 December 2003: Here's Brian with another installment of what he has re-dubbed The Bears Breakdown...

I am trying to be skeptical with Rex Grossman, but it is getting damn hard! The only pick he threw was off the hands of Marty Booker, and then they both redeemed themselves on the next series with a bomb and Booker actually pulling away... from Champ Bailey! The defense played well, but only well enough to stay in the game. Paul Edinger was 2/4 which, in the friggin' wind off the lake, ain't that bad (I say that because I couldn't feel my toes, I wonder if he could feel his). A-Train played well with a beat-up O-line and Dez White played like Dez White: one amazing catch after a drop.

Rex could very well be the next Bret Favre, and I say that because the GM of Green Bay said Rex reminded him of Bret when he drafted him. Seeing Rex scramble to his left, throw back across his body, into traffic, a bullet on target makes me drool at the possibilities.
 
Here is the thing though-

This winning streak gives some false sense as to the coaching staff's ability. Is Dick Jauron's ability to lead the cause of the winning streak? Does John Shoop know what he is doing now? Clock management is still an issue because at the end of the game the Bears couldn't get more than one play off before calling a timeout, TWICE! Sure Edinger made the kick, but they could have gotten one play closer, or they should have called a timeout with one second left in order to not kickoff to the Redskins and have a possible runback!

I think that keeping the staff next year would be a decision made based on the last five games of the season and not the duration of their last five years. Remember the whippings we've gotten from the Packers? Expect at least two more if Jauron is still around next year.

Monday, 22 December 2003: I took this past Friday off from work because I had to use up a few vacation days or lose them at the end of this calendar year. So, before I left on Thursday evening, I looked at my wall calendar and realized that the day I return to work will be December 22. Yes, that is today and I am still in shock that there are only three more days left until Christmas. Where did this month go? Okay, where did this entire year go? This is mind numbing. It took me a while to recover from this realization.

Sunday, 21 December 2003: I finished one of the better books that I've read this year... The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. Wow. You want to talk about a great book with some good action and incredible insights into one of the most revered religious icons of all time, then read this. It's been on the best seller list for the better part of this year and for good reason. I've been intrigued by the premise since I first discovered this book at Borders several months ago and I only recently picked it up and read it.


Oldies: Sunday, December 14 - Saturday, December 20, 2003...

Saturday, 20 December 2003: You know that feeling you get when you discover a restaurant that is just really good and you can't wait to eat there again? Well Katie and I did that today. We've finally found a good take-out Chinese restaurant in our area. We've known about this place for a while and have been wanting to try it. We finally did and it's great. So, if you're ever in our area, check out Gen Hoe on Rte 38 in the east side of Geneva. Good stuff.

Thursday, 18 December 2003: Happy Dating Anniversary, Katie! Five years ago today, Katie and I started dating. It sure doesn't feel like five years, that's for sure.

Love ya, hon.

Wednesday, 17 December 2003: Okay, I will admit this, and only to the two of you who read this page... Katie and I have been watching FOX's "The Simple Life". I know, I know. We should be ashamed. At first, we wanted to see just how stupid these two airheads (Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie) could really be. And, yes, they are pretty damned dumb.

However, tonight we caught up on the last two episodes which we had taped and we wound up fast forwarding through much of them. It's gone from a fascination with their stupidity to just downright disgust with how blatantly ignorant and disrespectful these two spoiled brats are. It's really sick to think two people can have such little respect for all these people around them. If I were either of their parents, I would be truly ashamed of them and embarrassed to know that I was related to them.

Well, our fascination is over and done. No more "The Simple Life" for either of us.

You can breathe a sigh of relief now.

Tuesday, 16 December 2003: Time for another installment of what I'm now going to call "The Bears' Beat" from Brian...

I wanted to give you all my spin after attending the opening of the Rex Grossman era in the history of the Chicago Bears. After hearing the complete flip flop of peoples' opinions on his debut spanning from "He's the next Sid Luckman" to "Why can't he hit anyone open- or the endzone", I have probably the most realistic, level-headed take I have heard. He played well, and he certainly is better than the QB solution we have had in the last few years. The Bears threw more often and deeper than they have all season, and for the last five seasons for that matter. The most important thing I saw was that he did not panic, and did not fumble or throw a pick! I would like to see more than 159 yards and I would like to see touchdowns as well, but I can live with this performance as a great point to start from. He has shown that he has a great arm, and more importantly for this team, great poise.
 
Now to address the rest of this team...

The defense showed that it deserved to be ranked in the top ten in the NFL, keeping the top-ranked Viking offense to just 10 points and all but stopping the high-wire passing attack of Culpepper and Moss. Yes, Moss had a TD, but it was in the red-zone with Azumah gambling on a interception (and missing). Charles Tillman showed that he is truly a shut-down corner, and Lance Briggs and Alex Brown had big games too!

The offense was a different story. Other than the Rex Grossman Show with good effort from Marty Booker, David Terrell, and Desmond Clark, the O-line needs work, the running game was more like the slow-jogging game, and Dez White is lucky to have a job. Somehow Dez is still starting.
 
Here is the worst part:
Dick Jauron may keep his job because of a late, out-of-the-playoffs winning streak.

I loved the whole "slow-jogging game" bit. That cracked me up.

Monday, 15 December 2003 (Late Update): Christmas shopping this year sucks! No, I'm not referring to the crowds. The crowds haven't been that bad. It's the selection of goods from which to choose. It's horrible. There is crap for sale out there. It almost seems as if retail stores have forgotten that it's the holiday season. I went to nearly a dozen stores yesterday looking for stuff for Katie and there was nothing. I went to one store yesterday that, last year, was renowned for their Christmas decorations and ornaments and whatnot else and all they had was an egg whisk with Santa on the top. What the hell is that? What kind of gift is that supposed to be?

Katie's having the same problems finding worthwhile gifts for me. So far, we've only purchased one gift for each other with little to no clue what else to buy. We finished our shopping for family a while ago. Actually, we have to buy one or two more gifts for family, but we know what those gifts will be. It's just a matter of going out and getting them.

Monday, 15 December 2003: Well it's about damned time. My coworkers and I finally reinstituted Lunchtime Theater in our office. You may recall a long time ago that we would watch DVDs on one of the office computers during lunchbreaks. We stopped for a while because we all just started doing our own thing. Well, today, the boss was away, so the cat's played. And we watched The Nightmare Before Christmas. Great holiday flick despite any preconceived notions you may have about it.

Speaking of Tim Burton projects (he wrote and produced Nightmare), has anyone seen the trailers for his new film Big Fish? It looks incredible. Very eclectic like his old stuff. But with more of a romantic spin like Edward Scissorhands. Or at least that's the impression I get from it.

Sunday, 14 December 2003: Apparently the U.S. forces in Iraq were not having quite as lazy a weekend as Katie and I. They finally captured Saddam Hussein. I couldn't believe it when I heard the announcer on the news say it. Blew both our minds. Well, I congratulate the U.S. military on a job well done. But keep your eyes peeled, you guys. You've gotta be expecting some kind of retaliation for this. Despite the celebrating, there's gonna still be some angry Iraqis over there. And elsewhere.


Oldies: Sunday, December 7 - Saturday, December 13, 2003...

Friday, 12 December 2003: Lazy weekend. That's all this is going to be... just one long, lazy weekend. And I love it. Katie and I have been doing nothing by schedule. Neither of us work at all at either job until tomorrow night at the gym. So we're getting some Christmas shopping done, going to see a movie (Love Actually), and just spending time together. And it's great. This is the way to live. If people tell you that you need to plan things out to have fun, they're full of it. It's so easy to ruin it all by having just one little bit of your plan go out of whack. Isn't it more fun to just fly by the seat of your pants and let what's going to happen anyway just happen?

Tuesday, 9 December 2003: On the news this morning, they had the headline "Raunchy Romp" and announced that Paris Hilton had a third videotape of her in some sexual situation released.

Damn girl. Okay, all I've got to say about this is if you are a guy who has ever dated Paris Hilton and not "gotten some" you are just sad. It's obvious she's not very discriminating, so what's your excuse?

Monday, 8 December 2003: Obviously, I'm upset that it took two flippin' weeks for it to happen, but it seems as though people are finally recognizing the movie The Cat in the Hat for what it is... a piece of crap. I know that I sometimes tend to not give some movies a chance — hence the "Golden Suck" award — but, can you honestly tell me that this movie deserved any sort of chance? It's a blatant bastardization of a beloved children's book that, aside from the characters, bears no semblance to the original story whatsoever. I can't believe that this movie got greenlighted. The actual Cat in the Hat character is cute. Mike Myers as the Cat is just downright scary.

Well, anyway, the movie dropped pretty dramatically down to #5 after two weeks at #1. This puts it below Elf and The Haunted Mansion as well as two new flicks, The Last Samurai (which was expected) and Honey (which was anything but expected).

Oddly enough, I think Honey, in its first week, has already outgrossed Mariah Carey's Glitter. Sorry, cheap shot, had to be done.

Sunday, 7 December 2003: So let's see... the Cubs have resigned Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou. They acquired LaTroy Hawkins and Derrek Lee from the Twins and Marlins, respectively. And, now, they've come to terms with Mark Grudzielanek and Tom Goodwin. All are good signs. However, they've decided not to offer arbitration to my boy Kenny Lofton. That does not make me happy. So, that's six good goings on with the Cubbies and one not-quite-so-good one. Lofton would have been a great talent to keep on the roster.


Oldies: Sunday, November 30 - Saturday, December 6, 2003...

Saturday, 6 December 2003: So much for The Last Samurai. Yep, Katie and I were going to go see this movie yesterday because, well, I love samurai flicks. Not a huge Tom Cruise fan (don't get me wrong, I don't dislike him, but I don't go rushing out to each and every one of his flicks). I'm in it for the samurai history which is supposed to be very well done. Plus, it's Edward Zwick at the helm. How can you go wrong with the guy who directed Glory? I daresay you cannot.

We'll get out to this one soon, I'm sure.

One funny thing I read about this movie was some mag making a comparison between it and Dances With Wolves. The mag pointed out how both are about disillusioned Civil War soldiers who go native with groups outside their normal "comfort zone", per se. Kevin Costner's character goes Sioux indian while Tom Cruise becomes a samurai. The funny thing about the article was that they referred to The Last Samurai as Dances With Sushi.

Friday, 5 December 2003: Happy birthday to me. 'Nuff said. Oh, well, I guess I should point out that I am now in my final year as a twentysomething. Grrr...

Thursday, 4 December 2003: My friend Brian Weigand e-mailed me asking about putting a regular column of sports news and views up here on the page. I said, "what the heck." So, here's his first installment. Should it become regular, I may create a new page dedicated to it...

First off, did you know Jerry Angelo is meeting with the McCaskeys on December 4 to discuss canning [Bears head coach Dick] Jauron? Rumor has it that if he is told he cannot fire Dick after the season (or maybe during) then he will quit! Apparently Virginia (old bat) McCaskey likes Dick and thinks he is a good coach! This further proves that the family knows jack about football.

Reasons to fire Jauron are as follows:
 
1. Poor evaluator of talent. Found Briggs, Gray, Thomas, Booker, and Urlacher all after the starters at their position got hurt. Drafted Cade McNown (who is no longer in the league) and has delegated David Terrell to the fourth option.

2. Started a fullback returning kicks and punts all last year because of his "sure hands"- Leon Johnson had four fumbles.

3. Poor time management. Kneeled on the ball last year during the Lions game to go to overtime, had a timeout and :30 and needed 30 yards for field goal range (countless other examples).
 
4. Promoted John Shoop and continues to let him run the offense. Promoted from QB coach (see Cade above) and has scored 20 points or more six times in three years (St. Louis has scored 20+ eight times this year alone).

I hope to God that we don't have to live through another crappy 'stay just to "keep it close". He may be a nice guy, but in the NFL, if you can't win for four out of five seasons, don't let the door hit you in the ass!!!

If anybody else would like to make comments or add their own views, you know where to e-mail me.

Wednesday, 3 December 2003: I recently read a Reuters news article about a policy that President Bush just signed into law. What this policy is hoping to do is to clean up dead growth in forests in order to decrease the likelihood of sustained forest fires like the ones just suffered in southern Kahleeforneeuh (sorry, with Schwarzenegger in office, it's hard not to make fun of the name and his pronunciation of it).

While it's noble of Bush to try and watch out for this sort of thing, he's screwing with Mother Nature and that's not something that you do. What's going to happen is that forest rangers are going to be clearing all kinds of dead debris and taking away the "naturalness" of forests. It's called the "Circle of Life". Forests are supposed to burn and grow anew every so often. Why are we messing with this? Yes, I do know that a lot of the fires lately are set by people making them unnatural at best, but this is how forests regenerate. It's how the world works. Now, we're messing with this. This is not going to be good.

Tuesday, 2 December 2003: I was watching the video footage of the beating of Nathaniel Jones by the Cincinnati Police this morning on the news and I've got just one thing to say about it... I think the police were in the right on this one. Yes, six cops with nightsticks may seem excessive. But this guy was besting them. He was on such a cocaine and alcohol rage that he was able to overpower them. What do you want the cops to do? Step back and just let the coke run its course? He'd kill them. No question. This was supposedly a routine traffic stop gone awry and people are bitching that the police used excessive force. They had to. They couldn't stop him.

I'm sorry Jones died, but seriously, folks, this guy was off the wall. I highly doubt that his rage was the result of the beating. After all, with all the trouble that the Cincinnati PD has been in as of late, why would they intentionally do something stupid like that? It wouldn't make sense for the CPD to do something like this unless they absolutely had to. I'm sure that was the case here. This opinion is likely to be unpopular, but be realistic people.

Monday, 1 December 2003: Here are my words of wisdom for the day... it is not fun to spend the day sick. I'd give details, but I don't think you want them. Here's a slightly abstract reference from which you can draw your own conclusion...

14 unpleasant bathroom trips in 24 hours.

'Nuff said.

Sunday, 30 November 2003: Well, that was a nice long break. I love being away for so long. Not that I don't like all of you, but you gotta take some time off when given the opportunity. So how was everyone else's vacation?

In big news that I meant to post last week, the Cubs traded first-baseman Hee Seop Choi and a minor leaguer to the Florida Marlins for Derrek Lee. I am so stoked about this trade. We got Lee! This rocks! Especially since one of the remaining two first-basemen, Eric Karros, is a free agent and may or may not resign with the team. Considering we just got Lee, I doubt the Cubs will resign him.

My friend Jay said the Cubs already let him go. But MLB.com says he's still a Cubbie free agent. Who knows?

As for the rest of the Cubs free agents, none have been signed by other teams. Here's who they are...

  • Antonio Alfonseca - RP
  • Shawn Estes - SP
  • Doug Glanville - OF
  • Tom Goodwin - OF
  • Mark Grudzielanek - 2B
  • Mark Guthrie - RP
  • Eric Karros - 1B
  • Kenny Lofton - OF
  • Troy O'Leary - OF
  • Rudy Seanez - RP (Six-year free agent)
  • Dave Veres - RP
  • Tony Womack - SS

Honestly, the only ones on this list I definitely want to see back are Grudzielanek and Lofton. Estes would be a good resign for the sake of our bullpen. Veres and Guthrie might make good trade bait as well if we were to resign them for one-year deals. I dunno. Just my two Lincolns.