Saturday, July 29, 2006

Not You're Ordinary Nip & Tuck!

No Raider fans, this isn't a story about the infamous "Tuck Rule," though we all know it was a FUMBLE! This story goes out to all those plastic surgery seekers with petty imperfections who just can't go on in life without a "nip & tuck" job.

This story also may prove my theory of wealthy political and white collar criminals faking their deaths and getting new identities with complete facial makeovers. The movie FaceOff has become reality folks. It also may disapprove my theory of wealthy transplant recipients buying organs and such. Then again, maybe not.

But enough about the bad and ugly side of transplants and plastic surgery, this is a human interest story where something invented for good actually did good for the sake of good.

Here's the story of a Face Transplant. Someday I hope to find out about the donor.


Villa San Michele &The Blue Grotto of Capri

I guess the California Heatwave 2006 has left me a bit dazed and confused. For relief I envisioned underwater scenes of cool blue water caverns. During the hot-spell I dreamed of a cool blue place that I read about in a book by Alex Munthe (The Story of San Michele). He built his villa San Michele, with picturesque views, high above the blue sea on the beautiful Italian island of Capri.

Below this high mountain eden is another picturesque view that's as breathtaking as the scenes above. An entrance to a cavern that reflects rays of blue lies along Capri's rocky shoreline.

I learned that the sunlight entering this underwater cavity and shining through the seawater creates a blue reflection that illuminates the cavern. This cavern, named The Blue Grotto, is also an enchanting part of the island with a history dating back to the Roman Era.

Now where would you rather be during a heatwave? Well, get to rowing Raider. Arrrgh!

I Got Raider Fever

Another visit to the Oakland Coliseum, oops, I mean McAfee Coliseum to see an A's game and visit my new Raiders season seats. Beautiful Baby!

The A's lost another close game 4-3 to the Blue Jays, but I was all smiles thinking how close football season is.

The pic above I borrowed from the myspace page of Felix, a down Raiders fan from Redondo Beach,Ca. Keep representin the Silver & Black Felix the Cat.

Gotta love the message. "Ride The Lightening 2006"
Bo will always Know!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Just a bit of Dirty Laundry

So the SF Chronicle reports that Jerry Porter is not happy with new head coach Art Shell and wants a trade. What the hell does Jerry Porter think he's doing airing his dirty laundry in the media, especially in the whiner favored SF chronicle for christ sakes? If JP wants out of Oaktown for whatever reason then he should talk it over with Big Al, not enemy journalists who want nothing more than to bring down the Raider Nation.

I'm sure the Raiders organization doesn't want a player, no matter how good he is, to be a part of the team if he desires not to be. JP is being paid well, he's as big a part of the offense as Randy Moss, he has a newly acquired mobile quarterback in Aaron Brooks who throws a good deep ball, he has a hall of fame coach who wants to win now. So what gives with JP not being happy with his coach and his situation?

Now that the dirt is out in the open the question all are asking is, should the Raiders trade JP and get rid of a potential cancer or do they workout their differences behind closed doors and begin the marriage anew? Rumor of the Raiders wanting two first round picks for JP makes me think that the whole issue is just someone using the media to strengthen their negotiating position. But is that someone Jerry Porter or the Raiders Organization? It's just too damn close to the season for this kind of junk to be happening.

Whatever is going on, those involved need to meet, agree or disagree to work together, initiate a plan of action then use the media to report their mutual decision. Its not fair to us faithful fans who are already adjusting to a new head coach, new quarterback and new ticketing practices. If JP is not going to be a Raider this season then let's get the divorce over with and move on. However, if JP and the Raiders can reconcile their differences then kiss and make up quick. We're only two weeks away from our first preseason game against the Donovan McNabb led Eagles. It's only an exhibition game, but the whole football world will be watching this Hall of Fame game, the first game of the 2006 season.

Just Talk Baby! Get it done.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Oakland A's Night

So curious was I about my new Raiders season ticket seats that I attended an A's game just to check it out. Sure enough, I'm satisfied with where my seats are located. With the field setup for baseball you really have to work at envisioning a football field.

Tonight the A's played the Boston Red Sox and there were plenty of Sox fans out at the Coliseum. Me being a National Leaguer I couldn't get too excited, but I rooted for the A's in their losing effort against the Sox.

The Red Sox hit Barry Zito hard and long early, while Josh Beckett kept the A's to one hit well into about the fifth or sixth inning. When I left in the 8th inning the score was Sox 7, A's 3. Though it was a decent game, I kept getting visions of Raiders football. Lesson here is if you attend a baseball game at your football stadium once training camp begins, expect nostalgic football moments to hit you without warning. I saw Raiders gear being worn all over the place. Only saw one New England Patriots cap amongst the many Sox Jerseys and caps.

I can't wait for Raiders football. Names I sort of remember hearing tonight; Manny Ramirez, Coco Crisp, David Ortiz, Swisher, Crosby, Frank Thomas, Willie Mo Pena, Kotsay, Milton Bradley, Eric Chavez. Great night for some baseball.

Newly Crowned Miss Universe Collapses at Press Conference

So much good and bad news yesterday that I’m not sure just what to write about. Tiger wins British Open with emotion, SF Giants Armando Benitez blows another save opportunity, Israeli warplanes bomb fleeing Lebanese civilians, now that’s news.
But there was this one bit of info that caught my attention. It’s the “Ah Ha!” story of the day. Young, beautiful and most likely not talented but who cares, Miss Puerto Rico won the 2006 Miss Universe Pageant then later collapsed into the arms of a stage assistant, the lucky bastard. Reports are that’s she’s okay.

What caught my attention, besides the pretty latina face, was the suspicion surrounding her collapse. One report confirmed that she’d eaten (ruling out bulemia), another said her dress was beaded and heavy (if that's heavy then we're all wearing metal armor), a third cited the hot weather in Los Angeles, mind you the new Miss Universe is from Puerto Rico; excuse my ignorance but isn’t Puerto Rico closer to the equator than L.A.? One report even hinted to her high heels possibly causing vertigo.

So what did cause this beauty to collapse into the arms of a pageant assistant 40 minutes after eliciting just enough physical effort to wave a hand in triumph while pushing tears down those beautifully sculpted Caribbean cheeks of hers? Could it be she’s a SF Giants fan and heard the news of Armando Benitez blowing another save? I doubt it. Maybe thoughts of dining with the weird looking Donald Trump, who seems to be getting plumper with every appearance, was just too overwhelming for her. Is it possible she really wants to tackle “World Peace” and the violence over this weekend touched her heart so? Who knows? One thing is for sure though, next to my Raiderettes she’s the most beautiful champion that’s ever donned this here blog, whether she be triumphantly waving, tearfully thanking or exhaustively fainting on stage. She won her competition fair and square and nobody’s going to take that away. No Balco or Grand Jury investigations here folks. Just a natural beauty outclassing the competition. But you never know when some newspaper journalists might get the idea to try their hands at writing an accusational book. Beware those chronicling beasts out their beauty. They'll dig up enough dirt to retire you early.

Congratulations Miss Puerto Rico for winning the 2006 Miss Universe Pageant.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

SF Giants try sweeping 4 games from SD Padres Today!

It's hot, it's summertime and the San Francisco Giants have taken the division lead in the NL West. Finally, the team seems to be hitting on all cylinders with pitching, scoring and defense coming together for wins.

Today's game, which I'll be attending, brings some excitement to us fans that have watched the Giants climb from the cellar of the division to first place. A win today would give the Giants a six game winning streatk, I believe its their best streak of the season. Another season first would be a four game sweep at home of a division rival.

I won't be taking a broom to the game, but I hope to come away from it with that good old sweeping feeling. The NL West Division may not be the strongest division in the league, but to be on top of any division in MLB is an accomplishment to be proud of. The true test of superiority is like getting the girl. Now that you got her can you keep her? Today the Giants, with new addition Shea Hillenbrand, will try to consummate the marriage by jumping over the broom and carrying the bride off the field with a win.

Go Giants!

Friday, July 21, 2006


I don't know about other sports fans, but there are times when I miss the old Mike Tyson. The Mike that just knocked fighters out. Too bad I didn't have this blog when Mike's career was going full force. To write about Mike Tyson is to express what strength, power, fearlessness and heart put into one man can produce. Mike Tyson was a throwback to a time when men were killed in the ring. I'm not talking about bare knuckle brawlers, I'm talking about Spartan Gladiators up against deathly odds in the Colosseum of Rome. A gladiator's life was meaningless to everyone but himself and he was forced to risk it for the entertainment of the people.

Folks may have thought many of Mike's statements were crazy, but when Mike said he'd fight a lion if the price was right, I'm sure in his fearless heart he believed every bit of it. And if a lion were ever to attack Iron Mike I'd bet my money on Tyson. Punch, bite, claw and kick, whatever it takes to protect yourself and destroy an enemy attack. Self preservation is all that matters.

True Warriors don't always fit into our neat and safe world, there's just too many rules and niceties for them to follow when dealing with so many fools. A true warrior lives by one code and one code only, Survival of the Fittest. Mike didn't box for the sport of it, Mike boxed as a way of surviving in this society. Unfortunately, there's no use in this society for old worn out warriors who've been used up and no longer entertain the crowds. Nothing in society but carnival sideshows await such a demised brute. Maybe that's what professional boxing has become these days, a sideshow for high paying patrons. But for those of us who know the heart of a warrior and what it takes to survive this rat race of liars, cheaters and fools, we understand that Mike Tyson was just a man who couldn't be tamed. Some may call that a beast of a man, but I'd like to think of it as the unharnessed strength and courage that allowed men to conquer the land, animals and elements of this planet over thousands of years.

Someday we may need a Mike Tyson to look up to and teach us once again the brutalities of survival. Someday, we may have to fight a lion over food, water or protection of our family. Only then will people understand what it is that drives a warrior like Mike Tyson. At that time, which I'm sure many hope will never come, the meaning of what it is to be a Man will be as clear as crystal. Until then, our Iron Warrior has been tamed by a more loving and humble source:

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Officially Blind?

Here we have a serious What Would Jesus Do question? A college football official has been fired for not "having two eyes" and failing to meet the "minimum physical requirements."

I'd agree with this pink slip decision if the story ended there, or if the official were NFL referee Walt Coleman (see photo below) of Tuck Rule lore, but there's more to this saga than meets the eye.

First, when the official first lost his eye he reported it to the supervisor of officiating who supported his decision to continue officiating with a prosthetic eye.

Second, his firing comes five years after he'd already been officiating with one eye.

Third, and what I think is most significant, his officiating record is better the five years with one eye than eight years prior with two.

And to top it off he was once chosen to officiate the Orange Bowl, with one eye.

Here's what he says is the reason the college football commission gives:

When he was fired, Filson, of Bolingbrook, said he was told that if he "missed a judgement call, which all officials do from time to time, and the public or coaches knew he only had one eye he would have 'hell to pay,' " according to the lawsuit.

So, WWJD? In his all knowing wisdom and with 'hell to pay' should he falter, he'd probably ask the college football commission this simple question; What does college football gain by firing a competent and experienced official and what does it lose by keeping a competent and experienced official?

Read the story and judge for yourself.
Partially Blind Official Wants Job Back.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Better to Reign in Hell

Yes, Raiders fans love books, especially when its about their Nation. While browsing the sports section at a bookstore I came across a gem that has something in it for every Raiders fan.

"Better to Reign in Hell: Inside the Raiders Fan Empire by Jim Miller, Kelly Mayhew"

I stood immobile for approximately twenty minutes while reading different parts of this book. These guys did the very thing I was hoping to do when I started this blog but my gameday passion made me too biased. They wrote a book about what it is that makes Raiders Fans loyal to their Nation. Certain budget constraints prevented my purchasing this book at its retail price, but I hope to get a discounted copy over the internet. Every Raiders fan should have a copy. Actually, every East Bay resident should have a copy. The book not only does Raiders fans proud, but also shines a positive light on the surrounding community. Blue Collar never sounded so good as when being applied to the Raiders fan base.

You'll visit Ricky's Sports Bar, join tailgate parties, fly to games with fans from SoCal and hear local author and Oakland resident Renay Jackson's views on Raiders fans. It ain't all pretty but what would you expect to hear from Hell? There's quite a bit of Raiders trivia included, like did you know that supposedly the image of Randolph Scott was used for the eye-patched Raider on the shield? (under 50 see wikepedia). It even discusses the history of the "The Autumn Wind" with John Facienda (under 40 see wikepedia. Okay, so there's a bit of silver in our fan base lining, but it sure keeps getting better with age.

Since I only flipped through the book for twenty minutes or so I'm not qualified to give a full review now. But once I get my own copy of the book and read it you'll hear from me in more detail on this apparent gem.

The title alone is a keeper. It comes from a classic line in the story "Paradise Lost" by John Milton. Though Milton's lines, originally published in the year 1667, have been modified for modern English, the message is still the same:

"It is better to Reign in Hell than Serve in Heaven"

The poem concerns the Christian story of the fall of Satan and his brethren and the rise of Man. Yes, Satan was a Raiders Fan, at least for one season.

This season let's recapture our glory as the biggest, baddest mothers to reign in the NFL. Because it's all our Turf.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Angels in the Ticketing Office

With single season tickets becoming available this weekend I had to make one of the biggest decisions of 2006; Upgrade to better seats and pay more, stay in the same seats I've had for the past four seasons and pay more or downgrade to lesser seats and pay less.

These were my choices or so I thought, until talking with Oakland Raiders Ticketing Rep. Clayton Casey. The first thing I told Clayton, while complimenting him on a classic football name, was that when this call ends I want to be able to say I'm happy with the choice I've made. Most people would've probably given me a sales pitch to relieve any concerns but Clayton seemed sensitive to my dilemma and smartly walked me through my options. Instead of feeding me the "How Much You Wanna Spend?" car salesman line, he asked what I had in mind? Then proceeded to address the pricing changes immediately.

Maybe its because Casey is a true Raiders fan that he comes across as genuinely wanting to get you the best seat that fits your needs. I mean, how often does a salesperson give the pros and cons of purchasing a product? I know the guy who sold me my car didn't reveal its tendency to lose power rapidly on steep uphill grades. But Casey was first to point out the risk of jumbotron viewing limitations due to the upper level overhang.

Or maybe assisting fans with season tickets is like herding cattle, just point them in the right direction and they'll go. Especially when the clock for good season tickets is winding down and you haven't made up your mind about your seats. I'll tell you one crazy option I didn't even mention to Casey, and that was getting tickets only for games I thought might be more competitive. But I knew I'd only be kidding myself now and kicking myself later come that first non-ticket Sunday. Besides, I know what its like to bond with your seating section, they become like family and it makes the Coliseum feel more like a second home.

With so many thoughts rapidly running through my head, I chose to go with moving down to the second level and paying the same amount that my old seat/new price would be. The final problem I had was in choice of what row to choose? The choice was between rows 6 and 14. Most people would think the closer the better, even when I asked Clayton he suggested closer but did emphasize that his was a personal choice and in no way reflected what he thought I should do. Instead Clayton put it nicely by reminding me that they would be my seats and had to meet my satisfaction. Smart Clayton, now I can't file any complaint due to promises of uninterrupted glee on Sundays, not that I would anyway.

Here though is where Clayton proved his worth along with what I'd describe as divine intervention. Knowing that the seats in row 14 were further away from the field with a bit of overhang, I asked about stadium televisions and obstructed viewing. Clayton confirmed that rows 1-5 do get some walking traffic in front but that ushers will be inforcing new guidelines to minimize such traffic. Also, a televsion is in the vicinity of the seats I'd chosen. Any fan whose ever walked by those seats with televisions nearby knows the value of such a seat; Priceless. I chose being further away also because of my experience with seating. Rule of thumb is the higher up you are the more field you see.

And so with what I'd term, Angelic Assistance, I landed what I hope to be perfect season tickets for ME:

Section 225
Aisle Seats
Middle of Overhang
Partial Weather Proofing
Television in Vicinity
Slightly angled North Endzone Viewing
BBQ Vendor directly downstairs
North Parking Lot downstairs
Bart Ramp Access Upstairs

I Am Ready For Some Football NOW!

I write this entry into my blog because today I found myself giddy with anticipation of the Oakland Raiders season to begin. For those who are unsure of purchasing tickets or have never purchased tickets, I'd suggest you not wait and call now before single season game tickets go on the market. The only other suggestion I'd give is that you purchase season tickets. As I said earlier, your section becomes your family and with family you watch each others backs by making sure everybody in the house is comfortable and enjoys themselves. To make this possible you can call 1-800-RAIDERS. As for Clayton Casey, the man who has a gift for getting you just what you need, key in extension 3241; and tell Clayton Wes says thanks again.

He may not be able to get back that overpriced extended automobile warranty you foolishly purchased, but he'll make sure your visit to Network Coliseum is worth buying the vehicle that got you there.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Oakland Raiders Articles

Normally I try not to post articles found elsewhere, at least not the entire article. But when it comes to the Oakland Raiders and Al Davis, God Bless his Soul, I just can't seem to help myself.

This first part is a "Did You Know?" type quickie about Al. We Raider fans know this and more about the man who's made it all possible. But many football fans of other teams may not know this. So that people may get a better understanding of our unconditional love and respect for Al Davis the man, I give you the following:

Raiders owner Al Davis is the only person to have served as a player personnel assistant, an assistant coach, a head coach, a general manager, a league commissioner and the principal owner of an NFL team.

The other article I came across discusses current NFL rivalries. Guess who's at the top of the list? And guess who our opponent is? Just Read Baby!

Ultimate NFL: Current team rivalries

(Editor's Note: The theme of the November-December issue of NFL Insider is Ultimate Football — as in our Ultimate Football Lists of the greatest quarterbacks, running backs, coaches, rivalries, and more in NFL history. We made only one concession: Active players and coaches are ranked separately from those who are retired.)

1. Raiders vs. Anyone
Every team in the league can agree on this: They all hate the Raiders, and it doesn't matter why. For the Chiefs, it's a club tradition handed down from Hank Stram. For the Broncos, it's a Mike Shanahan-Al Davis thing. The Chargers, even when their season is wasted, can find pleasure in besmirching the silver and black. It's only a matter of time before the Houston Texans get angry, too.

2. Ravens vs. Titans
The Ravens say that Eddie George is a 240-pound sissy. The Titans say the Ravens' motto is "Commitment to Arrogance." This is one AFC matchup that literally can be described as a collision every time it takes place. Even the coaches — Brian Billick and Jeff Fisher — have exchanged words. There is not much chance that anything will change — not as long as each team keeps dredging up memories of last season's bitter divisional playoff game.

3. Buccaneers vs. Packers
There are nasty rivalries and there are not-so-nasty ones. This one is remarkably civil, thanks largely to the appreciation the Buccaneers' Warren Sapp has for the Packers' Brett Favre even as he slams him into the turf — and the respect Favre shows for Sapp even after he sidesteps a sack and completes a 60-yard bomb. So who said rivals had to despise each other?

4. Jaguars vs. Steelers
Shortly after the Jaguars arrived as the new kids on the block, they quickly put an end to Pittsburgh's reign atop the AFC Central. The proud old Steelers (think "Steel Curtain") haven't settled for being also-rans. Mix in a little Xs-and-Os espionage — Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin likes to sign Steelers castoffs and pick their brains before the two teams play-and you have the definition of divisional enemies.

5. Bills vs. Dolphins
If you lived in Buffalo, you'd resent the sun worshippers, too. But weather's only part of this feud, which reached its heights in the days of Jim Kelly and Dan Marino. It has survived into the 21st century because both franchises keep fielding competitive teams. The Dolphins swept the series last year, but they still are steamed about 1999, when their only two losses in the first nine games both were Bills productions.

Republished from the November-December issue of NFL Insider Magazine.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Clemente Coincidence

Two days ago I paid one dollar for a 133 page hardcover book titled "Pride of Puerto Rico: The Life of Roberto Clemente." Its one of those books that I as a fan of many sports found hard to put down. I stayed up late last night marvelling at not only the baseball player Roberto Clemente, but the person.

I've read many athlete biographies and autobiographies and the special ones all seem to have one underlying current that goes along with their competitive nature; Pride. Pride in who they were before they became world known as well as Pride in who they're to become. Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson and Jackie Robinson all came from humble beginnings and all managed to keep their self-respect and dignity while overcoming obstacles in their path.

Reading about Roberto Clemente the person will make any man proud to be who he is and where he's come from period. Roberto showed how pride in self can take a person further in life than anthing money or power can buy. Self-Pride is what Roberto Clemente fed off of to give him the strength to accomplish all he did in such a short life. He loved his family and the people of Puerto Rico. There's a part in the book that describes a 1970 pregame ceremony in honor of #21 Roberto Clemente at Pittsburgh's new Three Rivers Stadium. Family and friends of Roberto's were there to share in this moment. Roberto was presented with a scroll of 300,000 signatures from Puerto Rico. Out of a population of 3,000,000, one out of every ten Puerto Ricans had signed the scroll. That's the sign of a rich man who's well respected and loved.

Roberto Clemente not only represented Puerto Ricans but also, because of his darker complexion, was a pioneer for the Black man. At least that's how Roberto felt on his road to success. Roberto was out to prove that Puerto Ricans and Blacks had the potential to be great when given the opportunity. He believed in having a brotherly spirit toward your fellow human being and he died honoring that belief.

Today I finished the book about Roberto Clemente. I turned on the television to catch the MLB All-Star game which was in the 5th inning. A ceremony was being held and a motherly latin lady was standing with a few White male representatives of Major League Baseball. As I focused in on what was being said I heard the words "greatness" and "Pride" along with the name Clemente. When Vera Clemente, Roberto's widow, finally spoke I was floored at the coincidence of just reading about how she and Roberto met, courted then married in Puerto Rico. Vera spoke with that all familiar sharp Puerto Rican accent that all New Yorkers know. She said how she believed that Roberto was proudly looking down on this ceremony as a proud moment for all Puerto Ricans. Major League Baseball couldn't have chosen a more deserving person to honor today than Roberto Clemente.

Roberto's baseball accomplishments are too numerous and incredible to be listed in this blog. I urge any baseball fan to study not only the stats of Roberto Clemente, but some of the old newspaper articles and video about his playing days. Things like him being the first player ever to have ten hits in back to back games, batting 414 in a world series, eight straight 300+ season batting average, six consecutive gold glove awards or was it all-star game appearances? So many feats of Roberto's that I'd have to read the book again to document it all.

I've always been too proud to wear a jersey with another man's name on it. I was just given a Bonds jersey and I wore that to a Giants game more out of support for Bonds than a love for the guy. But I am seriously considering buying a Roberto Clemente button-down jersey in honor of a man who loved his race, his country, his fellow man and baseball. And on top of that may have been one of the best players that ever played the game.

When during an interview a reporter asked Roberto what he thought about his style of play being compared to the great player Willie Mays, Roberto thought for a second then calmly commented "I Play Like Roberto Clemente."

Yes Roberto, you played like Roberto Clemente. And we wouldn't have wanted you to play any other way. Thanks.

MLB Home Run Derby Winner: Ryan Howard

The story of the night was when Phillies slugger Ryan Howard not only won the 2006 All-Star Home Run Derby, but when the final home run hit a sign that read "Hit It Here" a ticket holder won 500 free flights from Southwest Airlines. Howard also won $250,000 for James Sparks, a sweepstakes winner from Irvine, Ky., toward the purchase of a new home. Sounds like we need to get off our lazy tv watching rumps and attend an All-Star game. Especially since next years All-Star game will be at SBC/AT&T Park here in San Francisco. Just "Hit It Here" batter, "Hit It Here."

Congratulations Ryan Howard, Home Run Derby Winner 2006

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Itay Wins Worldcup 2006

Congratulations team Italia for winning the 2006 Worldcup Championship. I'll take Italy over France in any game. The highlight of this game wasn't controversial but there's more to this story than meets the eye when the French captain, Zinedine Zidane, headbutted an Italian player in the chest which led to Zidane's ejection from the game. From there the Italians went on to win it with penalty kicks, 5-3.

The Zidane headbutt will be talked about for some time. Nobody has said what led to the headbutt nor did it seem a questionable judges call. I guess we can sum it up as a top player losing his cool under pressure. I figure the Italian player must of said something durogatory about Zidane's mother or someething. Clips shown of the headbutt upending the targeted opponent was very cool. Zidane might make a good linebacker in the NFL. I've never seen a headbutt to the chest floor a person like that. I'm sure there was some NBA-like foul acting from the Italian player, but that's sports.

So long Worldcup 2006, just when things began heating up, you broke our hearts by leaving. We hardly knew yah!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Germany Secures Third Place World Cup Finish

Germany defeated Portugal 3 to 1 in the "losers round" of World Cup competition. The winner of tomorrow game between Italy and France will be crowned 2006 World Cup Champion. Finally! How bout some controversy before ending this thing? May France experience a heartbreak as painful as waterloo, the arrogant bastards. Where the heck is Tanya Harding when you need her?

For game stats click here

Special Olympics Movie a dead Ringer

Why spend oogles of money at the movie theatre this weekend to see new releases like Superman or Pirates of the Carribaean? (sorry, I was first elimination in a spelling bee). I rented a movie full of comic highlights with a sports twist. A movie that will have viewers questioning how they treat people who are different from them. A funny feel good type movie that will have you thinking you're gonna burn in hell for laughing one minute and perform angelic deeds with compassion the next.

I'm talking about the movie "The Ringer" of course. I chose to watch this movie just from reading the story line on the back cover. I laughed myself to the video store checkout counter where the clerk confirmed that I'd chosen a winner.

So I kept myself up late unable to control the laughter this movie inspired. Every now and then I need a movie like this, not too too serious but not outrageously silly either. If you take your movies too seriously though, this one may not be for you. It's a silly comedy that deals with a sensitive subject in a most humorous way.

I stayed up even later watching the scenes that were deleted from the movie, a treat that continued to tickle my funny bone. One thing is for sure though, you'll question the type of person you are when it comes to how you view those with impaired physical or mental abilities. Here's the premise of the movie:

When Steve Barker finds himself running dead last in the corporate rat race, he sinks to an all time low...he attempts to rig the Special Olympics by pretending to be intellectually challenged. But, Barker is completely out-classed by his fellow Olympians, who are not only better athletes, they're just plain better people. And they're on to him.

In checking reviews for this movie I found many people felt oddly guilty and uncomfortable about laughing at the expense of the special olympics. I would like to think that any open minded person who watches this movie laughs not at them but with them and then learns from the experience. I know I've become more sensitive and aware of the talents of 'mentally challenged' people and their need for an arena where they can compete and win.

All any athlete asks for is an even playing field and a chance to try. The Special Olympics provides that for people with special needs. This movie may be a fictional comedy, but as with many lessons in life, if you can dream it then you can possibly achieve it.

Click here on Special Olympics to read an enlightening article praising the movie "The Ringer" and promoting it on their website.

Below is a review written by a person who was obviously touched in a different way by this movie. Oh boy, maybe I'm gonna burn in hell after all. Actually, I believe this review reveals more about the reviewer's shortcomings than it does about the movie's.

Author: sheiss321 from United States

You walk into the theater thinking you will laugh your butt off, but I came out judging my own moral values strongly(whether the director planned for that or not). The characters in the movie are stressed to breaking points over character strength and ethical moral values. It teaches(and shows) a side we rarely see in today's rude and unethical world(take the plot of this movie for example). I walked out and thought: Are mentally disabled any different than the rest of us? Since everyone is different, how can we call a select few...special? My friend walked out of the movie saying: One of the best comedies I've ever seen. Now, me, I'm trying to pretend I liked it for laughs, but I didn't. I sit here typing away my thoughts this movie made me think. I sit here thinking of the people I've hurt, the friends I've lost, and realize that there are just not enough good people in the world. This movie, whether you think it or not, has given me a whole new outlooks towards the disabled, a new outlook on virtues and a new outlook on my own character. I am very amazed of how I walked out of the theater and frankly I'm proud of myself. I hope that this movie helps you reflect yourself.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

IFOCE Champion Defends Title at Coney Island

So what is the IFOCE Competition and how does it grab sports headlines over a world cup double overtime match between Italy and Germany?

I guess only us red blooded Americans would choose to ignore the sport of soccer, football to the rest of the world, in order to tune into the International Federation of Competitive Eating Contest. The contest is still held where it began some 87 years ago at Coney Island and it's still held on America's Independence Day of July 4th. However, the tiger woods of the contest the past six years has been a citizen of Japan who sports yellow-dyed hair, yellow Nathan's head band and weighs in at a mere 160 pounds (compared to competitor Eric “Badlands” Booker's 425 pounds.

Takeru Kobayashi won the contest for the sixth straight time by downing 53 3/4 Nathan's Hot Dogs in just twelve minutes setting a new world record. As with all reigning champions controversy "dogged" the event. Mild mannered competitor Joey Chestnut, 6-foot-1, 230lbs from San Jose,Ca., was the thorn in Kobayashi's side leading by as many as two hot dogs early in the competition.

Nearing the 50 hot dog mark is where the controversial snake reared its head. At that point in the competition Kobayashi suddenly appeared to regurgitate, a move that can result in automatic disqualification. Judge, Gersh Kuntzman, ruled in favor of Kobayashi with this "tuck rule-like" explanation:

"The effluvia never touched the table. When the hot dog came up, and some of it came out his nose, Kobayashi sucked it back down. To me, that's the testament of a champion and great athlete."

Welcome to the Raider Nation Joey. We understand what its like to have an official screw you out of a chance at a championship. Whether it be a "Tuck Rule" or "Effluvia", when you have to look up the rule in a book you know you've just been had, bamboozled, hood-winked.

For what it's worth, Joey Chestnut's 52 hotdogs was more than any American had eaten in previous competitions. No need to hang your head Joey, you did your best against an eating machine with a judges edge and media popularity.

As for that eating machine Kobayashi, you've gotta respect his dominating performance over the years. I'd like to someday see Kobayashi attend a Raiders game dressed in silver and black. He's shown pride and poise under pressure, committed to excellence and all he seems to do is "Win Baby."

Congratulations to Takeru Kobayshi, still International Federation of Competitive Eating Champion.

Tale of the Tapeworm

Takeru Kobayashi's hot dog-eating totals during his six-year July 4 winning streak:

2006 53 3/4

2005 49

2004 53 1/2

2003 44 1/2

2002 50 1/2

2001 50

Monday, July 03, 2006

Artist Gives Me Lesson in Culture

After reading today's sports page and finding nothing to thrill me, unless you call only one player from each bay area Major League Baseball team being selected to the all-star roster a thrill, I jump to the datebook section of the newspaper and immediately see something familiar yet puzzling.

On the front page of the SF Chronicle's Datebook section is a colorful African print of a boy using a bamboo stick to guide a boat down river with a lady and a rooster in it. The fact that the sun brightly occupies the upper right corner of the print and the boy is not wearing a shirt hints to a warm climate environment. The color and style of the lady's dress and headwear are also suited to a warm climate. Two Black people in a yellow boat floating down a blue waterway sandwiched in on both sides by green plants and trees under an orange sun. Where else but Africa I figure.

I realize I like the print but there’s something about its artistic style that seems familiar to me. As I continue to inspect the print I see curly designs in the blue water along with two swimming fish. The designs and fish are what give the water a visual moving effect. I find it odd that on the opposite bank of the river are two trees, one a palm tree leaning toward the sun and the other looks like it could be an orange tree in full bloom. Do these two trees coexist in Africa I ask myself? Underneath the orange tree are three black chickens, or maybe some other type of land birds, strutting toward the dark hills. The green mushroom-like plants along the riverbank nearest you the viewer appear to be a crop of some type.

This painted scene could be anyplace where Black people live off the land, but something about it spells Africa to me and in the back of my mind the art is familiar.

The two Black figures in the boat have no facial or body details. They're made up of a silhouetted blackness. The little Black boy pushing the boat with a bamboo stick is wearing a pair of blue pants that are either cut high above the ankles or maybe he's outgrown them. You can see from the outline of the boy's head that his hair is nappy with short dreaded braids sticking outward and upward. From the back of the boat he faces the distant sun which follows them from behind. The seated woman faces forward appearing to enjoy the ride. Something about her open mouth and dark hands clutching the sides of the yellow boat give off the feeling of an exciting journey or maybe an adventurous rollercoaster ride at an American amusement park many, many miles away. The rooster perched on the front of the boat appearing to be leading them onward has all the colors of the woman and boy designed into its feathers. The rooster is not looking forward though; it's looking back as if the trailing orange sun is beckoning it to roost.

I describe the scene in hopes of relaying the simplistic beauty and orchestration of the print. Once I'm done taking in this colorful delight I flip the newspaper over to the bottom half of the article where I look forward to discovering why this print was chosen to be on this page on this day. I kind of expected to see a write up on someone Black, either a painter or a writer, who’s work was finally getting recognition. My two surprises came when I read the artist’s name along with seeing her picture. The heading to the article read as follows:

Julia Cairns' years spent in a reed hut left an indelible stamp on the artist

The name Julia Cairns stung my memory as it dawned on me why the print was so familiar; however, I was still puzzled by the picture of the artist that accompanied the article.

As I read about this talented British lady, who'd gone from "starving artist" to designing a series of Botswana National Postage Stamps, I caught myself re-evaluating my understanding of what determines culture. As I flipped to page C3 to continue the article I was like a person finding lost pieces to a puzzle. Eventually, I was able to piece together the person with the painting and its African setting.

I discovered that not only is Julia Cairns a gifted painter but she is a courageous woman who's unafraid to venture into a foreign culture, discover it's beauties and ways of life then record her experiences and lessons on canvas. Julia describes some of the harsh environments she lived in while in Africa as well, once defending her campsite from marauding monkeys and on occasions sprinting away from inquisitive lions. Even her black Labrador retriever had brushes with Africa's wildlife when while swimming in the river it was snatched by a roaming crocodile and taken underwater. Miraculously the dog survived and became a local hero of sorts. Julia didn’t just visit Africa, she lived in Africa, what we know as Black Africa.

If you have the time, check out the article by Nick Thomas at this San Francisco Chronicle link. Julia Cairns

The reason Julia's art seemed so familiar to me is that in my apartment, on the wall underneath my living room clock I have a framed print of three African women holding gourds on their heads as they walk to the river. Underneath the river is the title of the print and the artist name: "To The River - Julia Cairns." I saw this print at a thrift store and proudly purchased it for that particular spot on my wall. I've always assumed that an African or someone of African descent painted the picture because you feel the culture of Africa jump out at you when you view it. I've learned from Julia Cairns that you don't have to be born into a culture nor look identical to the people of that culture in order to live in and love the beauties that culture has to offer. Julia Cairns has white skin and blond hair; she probably still speaks English with a British accent, but her years of living on and exploring the African continent has allowed her to capture the essence of what makes Africa and its people beautiful. Culturally, Julia Cairns is probably more African than me, an African-American man living in an American City , who's closest tangle with crocodiles, monkeys and lions was at the Bronx or San Francisco Zoos where I bravely growled, grunted and teased the creatures from the safer side of a locked cage.

Thank you Julia Cairns for teaching us about what it truly means to be multi-cultural. It's the culture that molds an artist, not the race

Saturday, July 01, 2006

A Catch For The Ages

Up until now, there's probably two catches that stand out in sports history; Montana to Clark and the Willie Mays catch. What made these catches so unbelievably memorable wasn't their flash but their once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment that went against all odds. Nobody had ever seen these two types of plays accomplished before or since. They're now part of what we in sports like to call "Legendary Moments."

Today we might have witnessed a catch that ranks close to the level of legendary. Texas Ranges outfielder, Gary Matthews, Jr., made the most improbable catch of the season in robbing Houston Astros Mike Lamb of a home run. When you watch this catch, don't just watch it once but view it no less than three times to get a full dose of Matthew's feat.

Click to View "The Catch"

The beauty of sports today is that fans all over the globe get to see legendary moments in the making. This catch will be considered as one of the best catches in baseball in recent memory.

This article replaces the area slotted for World Cup Playoff News. The one time when I root against the underdog, the dog wins. France beat Brazil, 1-0 today to advance to the semi-final round. France will meet Portugal. Go Portugal!