Friday, December 31, 2004

What a Cal-amity

After watching No. 4 Cal's loss to No. 21 Texas Tech last night in the Holiday Bowl, I can only wonder how the Golden Bears could fall so far. This was a team that was one possession away from beating USC in Los Angeles. This was a team that finished the season 10-1. This was a team that was supposedly overlooked by the BCS for Texas.

Maybe the BCS got it right after all. I think so.

When the final BCS rankings came out three weeks ago and the four BCS Bowls drew their match ups, Cal was on the outside looking in. Tomorrow No. 12 Michigan and No. 5 Texas will meet in the Rose Bowl and No. 20 Pittsburgh will face No. 6 Utah in the Fiesta Bowl. ACC champion No. 9 Virginia Tech will take on No. 3 Auburn Jan. 3 in the Sugar Bowl, and No. 1 USC and No. 2 OU will square in the national championship game - the Orange Bowl - on Jan. 4.

Golden Bears coach Jeff Tedford emphasized that his team did not lose because they did not make the Rose Bowl, but I'm pretty sure that while that may not have been the main reason, it didn't help. Cal didn't want to be in the San Diego for the Holiday Bowl. They wanted to be in Pasadena. They wanted to go to arguably the greatest game in college football. Instead, their Holiday went terribly wrong.

Cal did not just roll over and die to allow Texas Tech to destroy them. The Red Raiders are a good team. They have a potent passing offense that has put up big numbers all year. Quarterback Sonny Cumbie lowest passing total of the year was a mere 281 yards in their regular season finale against Oklahoma State, a game in which Cumbie threw three touchdowns in a 31-15 Red Raiders win. He had five 400-yard games. His lowest quarterback rating in any game this season was a 108.7 at Kansas back in September.

Texas Tech came to play. Cumbie threw for 520 yards and the Red Raiders were three yards shy of a 600-yard offense. Cal should be embarrassed. Not because Texas Tech was supposed to be the victim in a massacre to expose another flaw in the BCS.

Instead Cal should be embarrassed because they talked the talk. They said Texas did not deserve their Rose Bowl bid. They said they were a better team. Well they lost to a Texas Tech team the Longhorns destroyed 51-21 at Texas Tech. Maybe Texas doesn't deserve that Rose Bowl bid, but Cal certainly doesn't have the right to complain about that anymore.

If they thought they were good enough for a BCS bowl, if they thought they got snubbed, if they truly wanted to prove the BCS wrong they would have won that game. They would have demolished Texas Tech.

Final score: Texas Tech 45, California 31.

The games are won on the field, not complaining about rankings. Cal blew it. Maybe next year they will prepare for their bowl game instead of complaining about being left out of one they clearly don't deserve to play in.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Matthew LIVE!


Matt's got something to say. You may not like, but he doesn't care. The kid's smart so you know he's got "important" info for ya:

First, let's begin with his opinion of me, his older brother:
this is an audio post - click to play

Aww, how sweet of him. Next, let's hear his reaction to being recorded while driving to a Dallas Mavericks game earlier this evening:
this is an audio post - click to play

Matt loves the Lord of the Rings. He truly enjoys mimicking one character in particular. His only problem is he gets a little nervous while portraying this character and needs two attempts:
1. this is an audio post - click to play

2. this is an audio post - click to play

Finally this evening, while watching the Mavs game, Matt brought something to my attention I must admit I had never thought about before. Listen to his what if for Super Bowl XXXVIII's wardrobe malfunction:
this is an audio post - click to play

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Count on Cowboys

If there is one thing in my life I can count on, it is this: the ability of the Dallas Cowboys to defeat the Washington Redskins.

For the 14th time in 15 games, the Cowboys defeated NFC East rival Washington 13-10 at Texas Stadium this afternoon. No matter how many times the Redskins appear to have this game won, somehow, someway the Cowboys come back - and today was no different. They stole another one.

Despite a malfunctioning offense and a Redskin team just begging for the Cowboys to blow them out, Parcells and crew did not take full advantage. Instead, they waited until 37 seconds remained in the game before taking the final lead of the game.

Thank you, Washington, for another sure win in what has turned out to be a disappointing season. Rather than depend on Vinny Testaverde or an under-achieving defense, we - the Cowboy faithful - can rely on you Redskins for two wins each season.

Napoleon Dynamite lacks bang

Napoleon Dynamite - a movie about a quirky teenager growing up in the remotes of Idaho with a love for dancing and the way of the ninja who's really just trying to understand his life while living with his Uncle Rico, whose shady business deals are just some of the things that make Napoleon's social life in small-town Idaho all the more difficult - is unlike any other movie I've seen in recent memory.

Similar to certain Seinfeld episodes, I seemed to be about nothing. The only problem with that: This movie lacked the humor and creativity of Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David.

To those of you who have seen Napoleon Dynamite:
I'm sorry you had to sit through that.

To those of you who have yet to experience this cinematic disaster:

An annoying main character with even duller co-stars helps to create what I can only imagine to be the essence of living in middle-of-nowhere-Idaho. The movie's climax occurs when Napoleon, after his friend's speech for class president, begins dancing on stage in front of the auditorium.

My only thought at this point was no ... or hell no maybe.

It pains me to realize that so many people across the country enjoyed this movie - a movie I was told I too would enjoy. And I like comedies. This, however, was no comedy. This was a plot-less, thought-less result of the synthesis between illegal narcotics and the ability to create a motion picture.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Six years of on-slopes service

The time has come to replace my ski jacket.

After six years, I have finally outgrown the one article of clothing I have kept - and still wear - the longest. I tried it on tonight in preparation for next week's ski trip, and, to my dismay, I discovered it was time for a change. My black and blue, zip-out liner, hooded, six-pocket Columbia ski jacket no longer fit.

Knowing I would have to replace this old friend, I walked through a picture-lined hallway in my parents' house. I looked at each of the pictures from recent years' family ski trips.

December 2003:
Beaver Creak
I was wearing the jacket.

December 2002:
Park City Mountain Resort
I was wearing the jacket.

December 2001:
Beaver Creak
I was wearing the jacket.

December 2000:
Deer Valley
I was wearing the jacket.

December 1999:
Deer Valley
I was wearing the jacket for the first time.

The weird thing was, looking back to those pictures, I saw the jackets my brother and sister were wearing: the hand-me-down jackets I wore before. Seeing my sister in my old red jacket prompted my search for the picture of me in that jacket.

Then I found it.

December 1996:
Deer Valley
I was wearing my red ski jacket - my current jacket's predecessor.
My brother was wearing my previous ski jacket - black with patches of red, blue and green.
My sister - who was seven in that picture - was wearing my first ski jacket, a black jacket with neon-bright yellow, green and pink.

That took me back. As the oldest child in my family, I never receive hand-me-downs; I break them in. Still I wonder if my brother and sister know how long some of their old jackets - my old jackets - have been in the family. As this black and blue jacket is now sent down the line, I look forward to years with this new jacket until it encounters the same inescapable fate of its predecessors.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Homeward Bound ... almost

I am one final exam away from my winter break. Just two hours of testing separates me from friends, family, skiing, relaxation and - oh by the way - a trip to Miami to watch USC in the Orange Bowl. Three weeks of freedom are only a day away.

But what about that final?

This two-hour, two-essay assessment will no doubt determine my final grade in a class I truly despise. So why am I not worried? I am taking this class credit/no credit, which means my final grade must be a C- or better to receive credit for the course. With a B average going into the final, I don't anticipate any problem in passing the final and the course.

After that test, it's goodbye LA, hello winter break. I'm heading straight to LAX.

There's just something about the comforts of home that you just can't find while at school. Perhaps it's the fact that I won't be responsible for my laundry for those three weeks (meaning my white shirts won't get stained from the random colored piece of clothing that sneaks into the wrong washer). Maybe it's because I don't have to worry about school until January 10. Or probably it's because I have my family, dozens of friends and a girlfriend back home.

Yeah, I think that's the reason.

It's always weird returning home from college. My room is clean for a change (thanks, Mom), my family is actually happy to see me. After only minutes in my house it will be as if I never left. I'll be right back in my element: arguing with my brother for the car, fighting with my sister for the remote control, playing ping-pong with my dad and eating a homecooked meal prepared by my mom (who, after 18 years of me disliking her cooking, doesn't seem all that bad now that I am forced to make my own dinner).

All I know is I can't wait. T minus 23 hours and 50 minutes until that exam. After that, I'm homeward bound.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Banged up Cardiac Cats go wild

After a 1-7 start, last year's NFC Champions - the Carolina Panthers, a/k/a the Cardiac Cats - have won five straight and, if the playoffs started today, would have the sixth seed in the NFC. How's that for a turn-around?

The Panthers are now 6-7. They have 22 takeaways in their last five games with a +16 turnover ratio. And they're doing it all without starting running back Stephen Davis, who last year in his first season with the Panthers rushed for a franchise record 1,444 yards with 8 TDs. Oh, they also are without backup running back DeShaun Foster, who had 196 post-season rushing yards last year with two TDs - a 30-yard run in the Super Bowl and a 5-yard blast where he was seen dragging four Eagles into the endzone in the NFC title game.

Now, as if that isn't bad enough, their 14-man Injured Reserve also includes third string running back Rod Smart, who also serves as the teams kickoff return man. Also on offense, they are without last season's leading receiver Steve Smith, the teams big play threat, who finished the year with 1110 yards and 7 TDs.

Running back Nick Goings, who started the year as the Panthers' sixth-string running back, had his fourth consecutive 100-yard game in only his fourth start Sunday against the Rams. Goings is starting for the Panthers after running backs Steven Davis, DeShaun Foster and Rod Smart all suffered season-ending injuries. Posted by Hello

On the other side of the ball, the Panthers are without Pro Bowl tackle Kris Jenkins, as well as three defensive backs, a linebacker and an end. They only recent got star middle linebacker Dan Morgan back from injury (and he made his presence felt today against the St. Louis Rams with two interceptions).

This ability to rise from the depths of the NFC into the playoff picture is a reflection of the character of not only that team but their coach John Fox. Fox made the Panthers believe they weren't out of it, and as a result the team has rebounded with five straight wins in a second-half-of-the-season surge which could potentially carry them right into a Wild Card berth.

The heart that this team displays shows how they were able to win eight games last year by a touchdown or less and go all the way to the Super Bowl. Their attitude is truly admireable. If every team in the NFL had the heart, drive and desire that Fox has pumped into his Panthers, one can only imagine just how much better the caliber of play would become.

A good day gone bad

It's such a nice day here at sunny Southern Cal. Then today went downhill in the blink of an eye.

this is an audio post - click to play
Maybe once I'm done with these finals this type of turn-for-the-worst won't happen.

Friday, December 10, 2004


There's no better way to relax then sitting behind the wheel of a car. Whenever I'd get stressed out back home, the open road was my solution.

Not in Los Angeles.

If you want to get stressed out in LA, get in your car, find the nearest freeway and shift into park because you won't be going anywhere.

Nothing like No. 1

I found out that my brother will hear from CalTech - his top choice for college - the day after I get back home. That should be fun for him. The brother he hates returns followed by an envelop with news he says he doesn't want. While he thinks he'll get differed, I hope not.

He wants to be at CalTech. He wants to come to school out here in California. Plus, it is his first choice of schools. As someone who got into his first choice, I realized that getting in to your #1 can make all the difference. When you're happy were you are, doing what you're doing, you can accomplish great things. It's a lot better than being left wondering "What if I had gotten in?"

As much as I would like to have Matt at USC, he'd still be close enough to hang out with but far enough away to give us both the space that competitive brothers so desperately need. I hope he gets in though. Lord knows he deserves it. He's smart as hell.

CalTech is where he wants to go, and they'd be lucky to have him.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

BCS still just BS - I've got the solution

The answer: Auburn.
The question: Who is the most recent victim of the mess known as the BCS?

Hey Auburn, we know how you feel.

Last year, when USC was left out of the BCS title game, the city of Los Angeles (minus a small contingent in Westwood) let out a collective groan. OU, LSU and USC all had the same 1-loss record, but only two could tango so USC was banished to the Rose Bowl.

Here we are, one year later and once again the BCS will leave a deserving team on the outside looking in at the title game. The difference: Auburn was not on top of both human polls like USC in 2003. Another difference is that this year both USC and Oklahoma, the two team who will meet in the BCS title game in Miami, won their conference. Last year, the Kansas State won the Big 12, beating OU in the conference's title game, but the BCS still allowed OU to play for the national championship. While Auburn also won its conference, it was simply farther behind in the polls.

Any way you look at it, the system is flawed. USC went undefeated in a top conference (Pac-10) and got a bid to the Orange Bowl. Oklahoma went undefeated in a top conference (Big 12) and got a bid to the Orange Bowl. Auburn went undefeated in a top conference (the SEC, arguably the traditionally strongest conference in college football) and can play for third. That's horseshit!

Last year, USC could complain about flaws and how the system failed: They topped both human polls, and a team that didn't win its conference was in the title game. BIG FAILURES! People could easily say the 2003 BCS didn't work.

This year, the human polls and the BCS agree. Both teams are conference champs. But what about Auburn? I'm not saying I'd rather see them in the title game instead of the Trojans, but how can a team in a major conference go undefeated and still not be able to at least play for the national title? That's just wrong.

This system isn't working. A playoff is clearly necessary. There is no other way to do it.

Here's my solution:
The top 6 teams in country go into a playoff tree formatted just like the NFL's conference playoffs. That allows the BCS to expand to five games, which it's looking to do.
The top two teams would have a bye.
The third-seed would play the sixth, and the fourth would play the fifth.
The first and second ranked teams would play the winners of those games in the national semifinals.
The winners would advance to the title game - the fifth game in this playoff.

While critics would ask, "What about the seventh-ranked team?" the line between the top teams in the country is evident moreso after the top six than the top two. With six computers and two human polls, there would be much, much less controversy over the sixth-seed than for one of two spots in the title game under the current format.

Now explain to me how that doesn't solve the problem?

Steamed veggies

For some reason, I have this ego that tells me that I can accomplish virtually anything. I think it's mainly because of the little victories I'm constantly celebrating. Tonight I enjoyed another one of those victories: making dinner.

Having to cook for myself is not easy. While I am fully capable of ordering over the phone and paying the delivery guy, I can only handle so much pizza and chinese food. Living in the dorms last year was easy; I walked down to EVK (the cafeteria), swiped my USCard to pay for the meal, and piled as much as I could on my plate. This year, living in an apartment with no cafeteria to speak of, I find myself "cooking."

Now usually this "cooking" consists of putting chicken, burgers, steak or quesadillas on a George Foreman grill and that's it. Side dishes consist of chips or raw baby carrots. Nothing 'fancy' by male college student standards.

Tonight I decided to take things up a notice. I did some things in the kitchen I had only seen while watching my mom cook dinner while I sat in timeout (thanks, mom). In preparing dinner, I:
  1. Marinated steak with Teriyaki sauce
  2. Steamed vegetables
  3. Left chocolate out of the meal

First, I put the uncooked meat in a plastic bag, poured some marinade in there and shook it up. I threw that on the Foreman and got to work on the veggies. I filled a pot with carrots and broccoli, put some water in it, put it on a lit stove and steamed my side dish.

When I ate that meal, it may not have tasted perfect, but it was as close as I've come doing it myself. It was good. It was a good meal. And I made it.

Who knows, maybe tomorrow I'll make breakfast (putting cream cheese on a bagel and mixing cereal and milk).

Bush, Killeen wrap up 12-0 season

"It's good."

The Trojans are going to Miami to face the Sooners in the Orange Bowl. It's not LSU in the Sugar Bowl, but - hey - the BCS title game isn't overlooking Southern Cal this year.

It'll be a long trip out to Miami from Los Angeles, but just wait to see how many Trojans show up. After all, two years ago USC won the Orange Bowl behind Carson Palmer's Heisman performance.

But this isn't January '03. There is no more Carson Palmer, Keary Colbert or Mike Williams.

Fast forward two years.

Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, Dwayne Jarrett and LenDale White carry this offense. None more effectively than Bush. Yesterday against UCLA, he single-handedly beat the Bruins. In my mind, he was the obvious choice for player of the game. If I had to say who came in second, it would be Ryan Killeen (yes, the kicker) for his 5 clutch field goals.

Bush started things off on the second play from scrimmage breaking a 65-yard run, giving the Trojans a 7-0 lead before a minute ran off the game clock. But UCLA kept it close. Too close.

Reggie Bush speeds pasts the Bruins' defense en route to 204 yards rushing and 2 TDs in Pasadena. (Photo courtesy of Posted by Hello

This game was one of big plays. Bush had touchdown runs of 65- and 81-yards. UCLA's Craig Bragg took a 96-yard punt return to the house. 10-7, USC. Special teams played a big role in this game, setting up scoring opportunities. Even Desmond Reed had a big 49-yard kick return to set up a Killeen field goal.

Heisman-hopeful QB Matt Leinart congratulates kicker Ryan Killeen after one of his five field goals on the day. Killeen's 17 points helped the Trojans beat the Bruins and earn a spot in the BCS title game. (Photo courtesy of Posted by Hello

In a game of big plays, however, UCLA was able to keep Heisman-hopeful Leinart quiet. For the first time in his 25 career starts, he did not throw a touchdown. If USC is going to beat Oklahoma, Leinart needs to show flashes of how he played against Notre Dame last week (5 TDs).

While UCLA never actually led in this game, they did have plenty of moment for the majority of the game. Eventually, the Trojan's defense came through with an interception to help seal the deal and send the Trojans to Miami.

As I walked out of the Rose Bowl after the 29-24 win over our cross-town rival, my mind was filled with the idea of USC in the Orange Bowl and how I would get there (because - as a sports fan - I truly believe that there are some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that you must take advantage of. Watching my school play for a national title while you are a student is one of those opportunities I intend to make happen.) What I wasn't thinking about was just how close that game really was. USC did not come to play. That's it. Reggie Bush did. Ryan Killeen had a career day, scoring 17 points and being 5-5 on field goals. Other than an interception late in the fourth quarter, our defense kept letting the Bruins drive.

That can't happen against OU. Leinart has to be on fire. Bush can't fumble in the fourth quarter. Our receivers can't have nearly as many drops as yesterday. These problems need to fixed sooner rather than later.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

I've stopped caring

It's 1:01 p.m. and I'm in my philosophy class. I'll be here for another hour, and my computer's battery won't last that long. Eventually I might have to pay attention.

This is the last class before the final exam. I should be paying attention, but I'm not. I should be taking notes, but I don't want to. I realized this semester that it's very easy to pay attention and enjoy a class you want to be in, but this is not one of those classes.

This is my final general education course, and I'm taking it credit/no credit. So why bother trying? I have a B average so far. I have to have a C- or better to get the four unites credit for this course. I could get a D- on the final and still pass. Not to mention all of philosophy is open to interpretation.

For someone who specializing in BS-ing papers, I'm confident in my ability to get at least a D- on the final.

I truly don't care about this class, and I don't want to be here.

Next semester will be just the opposite. I'm taking 18 units - against my advisor's will. I'm not taking all these classes because I think I am a genius who must soak up all information possible. I enjoy the subject matter of those classes. All of them.

So why not take 18 units. If it gets to be too much, I'll drop a class. Big deal.

But that's next semester. I'll have to wait for January to enjoy learning. Until then, it's 1:07 p.m., and I'm still in philosophy. Not caring, not trying, not listening and not enjoying.


As much as I took the honor code for granted back at my high school, I now realize just how great it was. We were trusted to abide by the honor code and therefore had greater freedoms in and outside the classroom. Teachers didn't have to patrol around our desks while giving a test. They could leave the room, go sit at their desks and come back 40 minutes later.

I never thought to cheat. Maybe that whole honor code was working. Maybe it's because I had Dan Kasten, honor council chair and the most honest person on the planet, as an English teacher as a sophomore. Before we graded our weekly Wordsmart quizzes, he's remind us to uphold the honor code and someone had the ability to make us feel guilty if we ever considered cheating.

Here at USC, and I suppose at universities across the country, things are different. Before exams, professors switch out bluebooks to assure you didn't already write something in yours before the test.

Other times, you may not even realizing you're doing something wrong:

Yesterday after completing my broadcast newswriting final, I left the classroom relieved that I had conquered another test. 'Just a few more to go,' I thought to myself. I got back to my apartment and started to make lunch.

My cell phone rang. I didn't recognize the number, so I picked up.

"Josh? This is John, your broadcast teacher."

"Uh, hi," I said. I was freaking out. I just took this guy's final exam. Now what does he want.

"You need to get back here immediately. You didn't turn your copies of the fact sheets."

We had to write broadcast news stories based on these fact sheets, and I forgot to turn my copies in after class. Oh, I turned in the final, but not the fact sheets - the heart of the test.

I sprinted back to Annenberg up to my classroom. My heart was racing. I got up the stairs and ran toward my classroom. There was my professor. I handed him the sheets of paper, all the while apologizing and gasping for breath.

"You know what I have to do now, right?" he asked me.

In my mind, I'm thinking he's about to fail me. I wouldn't have cared except I finally turned it around in his class. Everything I've done now ruined because I forgot to turn in a sheet of paper. My life is over.

"I have to take this," said my professor, "and put it through a machine to make sure you haven't copied it."

Oh, okay. Go for it. That's fine with me because I know I didn't copy it for anyone nor did I let anyone copy it.

I was surprised that kind of technology - the ability to detect if a sheet of paper has been through a copier - even existed.

But it was a good reminded that I am no long in the realm of the honor code.

Isn't it ironic

Does anyone else find it funny that George W. Bush is involved with an Intelligence bill?

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