January 19, 2007

the saints are coming

The NFC Championship Game. I've been waiting my whole life to see the Bears in the Super Bowl, and all that stands between the team and that goal is one game.

Now technically I've seen the Bears in a Super Bowl before. The '85 Bears in the 1986 Super Bowl. There are pictures of me to prove it. I've heard so much about that team my whole life and seen so much footage (and played so many games of Madden '94 using the team) that I feel as though I actually remember it. But I don't. I was just shy of being two years old.

It's almost unfathomable for me to think about the Super Bowl as a game where the outcome matters to me. Sure, every year I pick a team to cheer for, usually whoever the NFC team is that year. But the team I pick almost always loses. But if the Bears win just one more game, I'll actually have something to cheer for. I'll actually have a stake in the outcome of the game. And I'll walk away with memories of the actual game, not just which commercials were the funniest, or whose boob popped out at halftime.

But they still have to win one more game. And if you listen to the national media, you'd think that will be impossible.

It's not impossible though. Remember, the Bears went 13-3 this year and the Saints were 10-6. They lost two games to the Carolina Panthers. And that high-powered offense that seems to be scaring everyone so much could only put up 10 points against the terrible Washington Redskins defense.

I'll admit, the offense is a little scary. Drew Brees was so good this season that he caused me to bench Peyton Manning on my fantasy team for weeks at a time. But the fear of the running game seems a little unwarranted. Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush are good backs, but Chicago's defense ranks sixth in the NFL against the run. They gave up an average of 4 yards per carry and just under 100 yards per game. The Saints' rushing offense ranks 19th in the league, averaging 3.7 yards per carry and about 110 yards per game. That seems like a pretty good match up to me.

The even better match up is probably the Bears' rushing offense against the Saints' run defense. While the Bears run game only ranks 15th in the league, averaging 3.8 yards per carry and just under 120 yards per game, the Saint's run defense is 23rd against the run. If Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson have good games, that will give the Bears a definite edge.

A lot of people seem to be afraid of the Saints. Many don't seem to think the Bears have a chance. They say Destiny is on the side of the team from New Orleans, or whatever. But when the teams take the field Sunday, I like Chicago's chances.

"Bear down, Chicago Bears"

Bear down, Chicago Bears! Make every play clear the way to victory!
Bear down, Chicago Bears! Put up a fight with a might so fearlessly!
We'll never forget the way you thrilled the nation with your T formation.
Bear down, Chicago Bears, and let them know why you're wearing the crown
You're the pride and joy of Illinois. Chicago Bears, bear down!

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January 5, 2007

this must be it, welcome to the new year

Jennie's recent post has inspired me to take a look forward at the upcoming year.

What immediately comes to mind is that 2007 will be the first year since the mid-1980s that I haven't been a student. While I spend a good portion of 2006 out of school, I won't be in a classroom at all in '07, at least not as a student. There was a chance I was going to be in grad school in the fall, but I've decided to wait on that another year or two.

So what does this year have in store for me? It's difficult to say. I'd like to stay at my current job about another six months and then move on to something else. I've seen a few good prospective jobs during my first six months working here, and I'm hoping some similar positions will be available in May or June when I start seriously looking for my next step.

What I'm most not looking forward to about this year is starting to pay back my student loans. The amount of money I have to spend as I wish will be drastically reduced once those kick in. I guess that's the price of a good education though.

As for personal goals (call them resolutions if you must), I'd like to do some of the general things everybody says: eat healthier, get in better shape, etc. But I've also set some goals for myself in terms of my non-journalistic writing. Here they are:

1. Write something for myself for each story I do for work.
2. Begin submitting my work to literary magazines and hopefully get at least one piece published.
3. Finish The Return of Jacob Lervus.
4. Start writing essays.
5. Write 100 poems.
6. Write a screenplay
7. Complete National Novel Writing Month
8. Write more short stories.
9. Write a play.
10. Do something I'm really proud of.

I know that realistically I won't be able to accomplish all of these goals. But why not try?

As far as exciting travel plans and stuff like that, I don't really have any. I guess it will all depend on what happens with my career-wise and stuff.

"How to Be Dead" - Snow Patrol

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January 2, 2007

when you get to the bottom you go back to the top

Here are my top things of 2006:

Best Live Performance:

"Circus Maximus" by John Corigliano performed by the University of Illinois Wind Symphony

It was worth the drive through a blizzard to witness this performance. It was one of the most captivating pieces I've ever seen and heard. Although it was more than 30 minutes long, my attention never drifted. Plus I got to see Ralph march around in a silly costume.

Best Movies:

Little Miss Sunshine

A great road movie about a crazy, yet endearing family. Plus Steve Carell. What's not to love?

Thank You for Smoking

Wonderful satire and one of the funniest movies I've seen in a long time. And Aaron Eckhart is in it. That reminds me of when I met him in London.


A documentary about crossword puzzles may sound boring. But it isn't. It's hilarious and informative. Everything a lighthearted documentary should be.

A Prairie Home Companion

Great cast, great dialogue, great music and Robert Altman's last movie.

The Departed

So good that Scorsese will get nominated for an Oscar and lose to someone else. Again.

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Khazakstan

What can I say about Borat that hasn't already already been said? This movie made me laugh so hard it hurt. And it was just about the most uncomfortable I've ever felt in a movie theatre.

Top new shows:

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Despite the waffling of some critics, I'm still very committed. The show is funny and smart, everything you'd expect from Aaron Sorkin. The sketches are starting to get funnier too.


I admit it. I was wrong. I will never listen to a critic before watching something for myself again.

Top show I should have started watching last season:

How I Met Your Mother

In a time when the multi-camera, live-studio-audience sitcom appears to be nearing extinction, this show proves that there's still life left in the genre.

Best books I read:

Galatea 2.2 by Richard Powers

Powers never disappoints me, and this book is especially interesting because of its semi-autobiographical material.

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

He does very amusing things with the English language and writesx a book about complex subjects with two narrators. While it may sound confusing, the book is contains Magical Realism that reminds me of Gabriel Garcia-Marquez.

All the President's Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein

This is the kind of book that inspires me to be a reporter. Not only does it tell the story of Watergate, it tells the process by which the pair of reporters gathered their information.

Best new restaurant I tried:

Dom's Patio Villa, 301 S. Locust St., Champaign, IL

If Julia hadn't taken me here for my birthday, I never would have discovered this great Italian restaurant that was about 3 blocks from where I lived for two years. The food is great (especially the bread). I loved it so much I made my parents take me back at graduation.

Best New Album:

"Rabbit Fur Coat" Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins

I got into alt-country music this year, and this is a great album in the genre. I love her work with Rilo Kiley and her voice sounds great with this more stripped-down material.

Best bands I started listening to this year:

Old 97's

They've been around forever but I somehow just got into them this year. As I said before, I got into alt-country music this year, and they're some of the best around.

Tally Hall

A talented band that writes an eclectic mix of songs. I can't wait to catch them live sometime.

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