Thursday, December 30, 2004
Reggie White had a glorious NFL career that included 13 straight selections to the Pro Bowl. White began his career with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1985. He then joined the Packers in 1993 and helped lift that storied franchise back to greatness in the '90's. White ended his career with the Carolina Panthers. When he retired, White owned the record for career sacks.
As great as Reggie White was on the field, he was just as great off the field. "Reggie White was a gentle warrior who will be remembered as one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history," NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said. "Equally as impressive as his achievements on the field was the positive impact he made off the field and the way he served as a positive influence on so many young people."
The Minister of Defense was a real life, ordained minister ever since he was a young man. He was instrumental in bringing about free agency for NFL players and was famous for his work with inner-city youths. Reverand White was also one of the founders of Christian Athletes United for Spiritual Empowerment.
Then on Sunday morning, December 26, Reggie White was pronounced dead at Presbyterian Hospital in North Carolina. He was only 43 years old. White apparently died in his sleep, but the cause of his death is somewhat mysterious. White has suffered recently from a respiratory ailment that affected his sleep but was otherwise in good health. Just the day before his unexpected death, White took his family to see Fat Albert on Christmas day. An autopsy was conducted this week, but the family has asked for privacy in this matter.
White is survived by his wife Sara, his daughter Jeremy, a freshman at Elon University, and his son Jecolia, a junior in high school.
Perhaps Mike Holmgren, White's coach as a Green Bay Packer, summed up most people's feelings best when he said, "He was just a wonderful player, first of all. Then, as a person, he was just the best. .... I'm a better person for having been around Reggie White."
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
On Sunday, an earthquake ocurred beneath the ocean's surface near the island of Sumatra. This quake which registered a 9.0 on the richter scale was the strongest quake in the last 40 years and unleashed a tsunami that hit Asia and Africa. The devestation from this tsunami is of absolutely epic proportion. Thus far, 77,000 deaths have been confirmed. Some officials fear that the toll will eventually reach 100,000. News reports have been absolutely horrific, although most TV channels have spared audiences from gruesome video footage of bloated and disfigured bodies. And the stench cannot be captured by either print or video media.
Most of the nations affected by the devestation are borderline third-world at best. This means that disease caused by the decaying bodies, the flooding and the lack of clean drinking water will cause serious problems for the people who survived the initial destruction.
The United States, Japan, India and Australia have come together to form a coalition that will coordinate the relief effort. In addition, the United States has already pledged $35 million in relief money. Despite the fact that the United States is currently waging a worldwide War on Terror, the US will also divert several naval vessels, including an aircraft carrier, to the effort. These ships will be able to produce 90,000 gallons of fresh water per day.
Japan, Australia, Great Britain, France and Germany are all contributing over $20 million each to the effort. Nonetheless, U.N. Undersecretary-General of Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland declared on Tuesday that the western nations of the world are being "stingy." Egeland declared that there would be more money available for relief if only these developed nations would raise taxes on their own populations.
I'm sure you call all imagine how the Banshee feels about this comment from a U.N. official. But, I will refrain at this time from bashing the U.N. because it seems inappropriate to detract from the tragedy of this tsunami with political sniping.
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Monday, December 20, 2004
Sunday, December 19, 2004
One of the best aspects of both of these films is the cast which features, among others, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Don Cheadle. Julia Roberts is also in both movies. Katherine Zeta Jones joins the cast for Ocean's Twelve and plays a sexy and suave, European detective. There is also a notable cameo by one of the Banshee's favorite leading men, but I won't give that away.
Ocean's Twelve is well-written and unpredictable. The action moves along quickly and is bolstered by witty and sardonic dialogue. Overall, this is a highly entertaining film that is well worth the cost of admission.
I realized partway through the week that this poll was actually flawed since there was no choice for zero trees. Wild Banshee herself is actually treeless this Christmas. No, I'm not a Grinch, but apartment living makes trees tough. Natural tree are forbidden and the idea of storing an artificial tree is a little daunting.
New Poll: I'm going to be on the road next Sunday. This will make it hard to post a new poll. Therefore, this poll will be two weeks long. Christmas day will pass in the middle of this polling period, so Banshee Blog will ask a transitional question this week. This week, Banshee Blog wants to know: When should the Christmas decorations come down?
Saturday, December 18, 2004
Tina: Tina will be celebrating her second Christmas as a married woman. Her new family of two has adopted a lofty holiday goal. It is their hope to get a Christmas tree from every different state in the Union. Thus far, they have hit Maryland and Deleware. This will certainly be a tough goal to accomplish, but if anyone can do it, I think it is Tina and Chris. One thing is for certain, they will have fun traveling in search of the perfect tree each year.
David: David said that each year his large family gathers for a few days at home. At some point during that visit, they make time to sit down together. Each person shares their prayer requests for the new year. Throughout the year, the family then prays for these requests. David said that it is very encouraging at the end of each year to see how the Lord has worked through the prayers of the family.
David shared a second tradition. Nearly 30 years ago, David's maternal grandmother stocked up on 100,000 square feet of red and white, candy-striped, wrapping paper. Each year since then, Santa's gifts have arrived wrapped in that particular paper that his family now associates with Santa alone.
Sherrah: Sherrah said that in her family, her father cooks Christmas breakfast for her mother and the four girls out on the grill. Potatoes, skillet fried eggs and peppered bacon. I have known Sherrah's family my entire life, and I know that any time her father cooks, it is a time of flavor and of joy.
Mimi: Mimi comes from a large family. Growing up, almost all of the presents under the tree were for all the kids to share. But, Mimi remembers that each kid had their own stocking, and the presents inside were for that kid alone. Mimi particularly remembers getting an orange in the toe of her stocking. She said that even though it was the same each year, every time it was special to find that citrus treat.
Mimi also remembers experiencing her first candlelight Christmas Eve service as a teenager. At that time, she was struck by the beauty of a congregation singing with only candles lighting the sanctuary. Mimi has been to a candlelight Christmas Eve service nearly every year since that time.
Wild Banshee: In my family, we bought a new Christmas ornament for the family each year. We also got ornaments for me and my sister. We tried to get ornaments that commemorated something important that happened in that year. New houses. Trips to Disney. Starting school. Driver's licenses. Then when it came time to decorate the tree, Daddy would pull the ornaments out one at a time, and we would all remember the event commemorated by the ornament. Now my sister and I each have a box of ornaments to take with us as we start our own holiday traditions in our own households.
Another tradition in the Banshee's family is the decorating Santa. I am not entirely sure when this tradition started, but I am sure that I don't remember the Christmases that preceeded it. Each year while my sister and I slept, Santa would do something to redecorate the tree and the presents beneath it. One year it was animal balloons. Another year there was a bird theme. And, this tradition has continued into adulthood. I believe it was just a year or two ago that there was a snow theme, complete with fluffly white puffs starting at my bedroom door and leading downstairs to the tree.
Friday, December 17, 2004
In the final task, the competitors were joined by formerly fired comrades. Kelly was joined by Elizabeth, Raj and John. Their task was to organize a charity polo match. Jenn was joined by Pamela, Chris and Stacy R. Their task was to run a charity basketball tournament. Each team experienced the usual ups and downs. In the end, both events were fairly successful.
The boardroom for this three-hour finale was quite extensive. It was held live at the Lincoln Center and was hosted by Regis Philbin. Cast member from the first Apprentice, audience members, members of Trump's empire and former bosses of the candidates all got to voice their opinion as to who the Donald should hire. The popular support went almost unamimously to Kelly.
And, in the end, the Donald agreed with popular opinion and told Kelly, "You're hired." Kelly chose to oversee Trump's gigantic building project on Manhattan's west side.
Editorial Comment: The Banshee totally agrees with the Donald's decision. By the end of last season's Apprentice, I was emotionally attached to both Bill and Kwame. This year, I was never really drawn to Kelly. I didn't particularly like him. That being said, I don't think I would have a hard time working for him.
Most importantly, Kelly has real life experience that he can bring to the job. The Donald needs someone who can actually run a business -- not just someone who learned about it in an Ivy League classroom. Jenn really hung her hat on the fact that she has law degree from Harvard. But, I am here to tell you that a law degree alone is not much of a qualification for running a business. And as a 29 year-old member of a gigantic law firm, my guess would be that Jenn has yet to even meet a single one of her corporate clients. Writing memos about the legal intracacies of a proposed merger is not exactly stellar preparation for leading real people in the business world.
Preview: Apprentice 3 will start in January. Instead of dividing the teams by the sexes, next season's show will pit candidates with book smarts against candidates with street smarts. An interesting premise. It's my feeling that there is no reason to choose between those two types of knowledge. After all, Kelly clearly possessed both.
Thursday, December 16, 2004
Although I am glad to learn that cell phones may not actually be all that dangerous, I have to say that I am not eager to see phone calls become a regular part of air travel. Let's face it -- flying alone can be boring. It would be nice to chat a little with a friend as long as you had nothing else to do. But, can you imagine what a flight would be like if your neighbor was laughing and yelling as only cell phone users can do? And only a foot from your head? I shudder to think.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
The big feature of the night is the three-hour finale of The Apprentice. This will air on NBC at 8 p.m. Opposite that, ABC will air the Christmas classic, "It's Christmas, Charlie Brown." We've all seen this Peanuts special many times, but it never loses it's magic. This show is timeless because, unlike any other primetime special, "It's Christmas, Charlie Brown" features the real Christmas story -- complete with Scripture readings from Luke.
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
But, Jenn and Kelly won't be alone as they go for the gold. Both were given three ex-competitors to join their teams. Jenn's task is to organize some sort of charity basketball game. Kelly's task is to run a polo event.
It will all come to an end on Thursday night. The 3-hour (yeah, you read that right) finale will air on NBC this Thursday. The marathon show will begin at 8 this week rather than at the usual 9 o'clock timeslot.
Ever since the Chiefs drafted running back Larry Johnson out of Penn State, Vermeil has been mishandling the former Nittany Lion. Vermeil has publicly bashed Johnson in the press and has denied the promising youngster the playing time that his salary and skills deserve. This has angered me for two years, but last night was the final straw. Last night Vermeil's grudge against my beloved Nittany Lion put an end to my fantasy football season.
All season long my team has relied on Chiefs' starter Priest Holmes to lead the way. But, as the fantasy football playoffs began, Holmes was sidelined for the season with a knee injury. So, I turned to my old friend Larry Johnson. Heading into Monday night's game, I needed 27 points (a pretty healthy amount) from Johnson in order to advance. But, thanks to Vermeil's stubbornness, Johnson was only on the field for about 3 plays in the entire first half. He finally got the playing time he deserved in the second half, totaling over 100 yards and scoring 2 touchdowns. In the end, he tallied 24 fantasy points, but it was not enough. My fate was sealed, and my season was over.
So, here's to you Larry Johnson. I have loved you since we were both teenagers. And to you, Dick ... well, the last time you did anything Larry Johnson and I were both just learning how to walk. Yeah, it's been that long. Consider yourself permanently added to my bad list.
Monday, December 13, 2004
Although I believe that Scott Peterson deserves to die, I am surprised that the California jury opted for the ultimate punishment in light of the sparse direct evidence in this case. After all, Cali ain't no Virginia.
I'd also like to note that the jury wrapped things up just in time. Now America can turn its full attention to the Robert Blake murder trial.
Sunday, December 12, 2004
New Poll: Continuing with the Christmas theme, this week's poll asks: How many Christmas trees do you have in your home?
This year, for the first time ever, there were two sets of teammates on the stage. Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush of the USC Trojans were both finalists. In addition, last year's winner, Jason White, was joined by his Oklahoma Sooner teammate Adrian Peterson. White did exercise his right to vote as a past champion. He said he voted for Peterson first and Leinart second.
The fifth finalist was Alex Smith, quarterback for the Utah Utes. Smith did not have any college teamates with him on the stage, but he played on the same high school team in San Diego as Reggie Bush. None of the finalists have suffered a loss during the 2004 football season.
When the votes were tallied, it was Matt Leinart, the left-handed quarterback from the University of Southern California, who was declared the ---th winner of the Heisman trophy.
Leinart has been the toast of LA for two seasons now. Last season he led the Men of Troy to a share of the national title, and he now has a chance to make the Trojans a wire-to-wire champion this season. He has certainly come a long way from the days when he was teased in elementary school for being a fat and cross-eyed kid.
Saturday, December 11, 2004
But I think that's a lie.
'Cause when it comes to you
I'd rather have you by my side."
Lyrics from Keith Urban's "Better Half." Urban wrote this song about his parents' marriage.
Sometime last week, actress Kirstie Alley was walking her dogs in a Los Angeles park. Ms. Alley is still quite recognizeable, but she has gained a substantial amount of weight since she achieved celebrity status on the sitcom Cheers. While she was minding her own business in the park, some 20-something year-olds decided that Ms. Alley needed to have her weight gain pointed out to her. The bullies were quoted as saying, "Hey, you're the chick from 'Cheers' . . . Man, you really packed on the pounds since then!" and other such fat comments. Poor Kirstie was embarrassed by the taunting and tried to hurry her dogs back to her SUV. But, the punks wouldn't leave her alone and continued to harrass Alley until a muscular man stepped up and asked, "You boys have a problem?" That man ... Vin Diesel.
Diesel told the wanna be tough-guys, "I think you boys owe this lady an apology." Of course, they obeyed. No one defies Richard B. Riddick.
Friday, December 10, 2004
Another reason that I wanted to write about this movie is that I don't have to add any warnings or caveats to this recommendation. There is no sex. There is very little violence and virtually no language. This movie is so clean that it actually came out with a PG rating and under the Walt Disney banner, rather than under the Touchstone label as originally planned.
So, if you're looking for a couple hours of light entertainment, definitely give National Treasure a try.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
My latest quiz experience: What Christmas figure are you?
Hey there, Frosty! You are the nice, happy snowman.
You know how to have a good time. You are most
likely invited to almost all the Christmas
parties, if any are scheduled. You will
probably really enjoy this Christmas, which is
great for you. People love to be around you.
Have a Merry Christmas =)
What Christmas Figure Are You?
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
The NBA acted quickly and handed out serious suspensions to the players involved. But the repercussions do not end there. Today, Oakland County prosecutors announced that criminal charges will be filed against both players and fans. Five Indiana Pacers, including all-stars Ron Artest and Jermaine O'Neal, are now facing misdemeanor assault charges. Several fans were also charged with assault, including Detroit Piston Ben Wallace's brother. One fan named Bryant Jackson was also charged with a felony for throwing a chair into the melee.
(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Overall, I am quite pleased with the way this incident has been handled by both the NBA and prosecutors. I am not a big proponent of bringing the judicial system onto fields of play. I do not think that the occasional cheap shot between players should be treated as a criminal event even though that same action would rise to the level of an assault if it occurred a sidewalk. However, this incident involved fans. That is whole different matter. In this situation, you are no longer dealing with individuals who have all chosen to engage in an activity with a foreseeable level of violence.
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
This year, there are four undefeated and untied teams in major college football. The BCS has chosen Oklahoma to play USC in the Orange Bowl to determine the national champion. Meanwhile, the undefeated Auburn Tigers will play Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. The remaining undefeated team will play the Pitt Panthers in the Fiesta Bowl. Quite possibly, there will be three undefeated teams remaining when the dust settles, and the winner of the Orange Bowl will be arbitrarily declared the champ.
But, as the great Teddy Roosevelt said, "It is not the critic that counts." I am a firm believer in the idea that if you are going to criticize something then you had better have a proposal of your own. Well, I layed out my proposal in detail in a post from last January. Here is an excerpt from that post:
So here's the idea: All the non-BCS bowls would remain unchanged. They will
remain just as insignificant and yet just as fascinating as they currently are.
For the current BCS bowls, we'll have a little bit of throwback. Restore the old
conference ties. Let the PAC 10 champ play the Big 10 champ in the Rose Bowl.
The Sugar Bowl would get the SEC champ and the Big East champ (or a an at-large
if the Big East loses its legitimacy). The Orange Bowl would get the Big 12
champ and the ACC champ .... The Fiesta Bowl would go back to its roots and get two at-large teams (see Jan 2, 1987 when the Fiesta secured its position on the national stage). The at-large berths would be given to the teams with the highest BCS ratings.
These BCS games should all be played on New Years weekend as they are now. The next week would have two neutral site games pitting the bowl game winners against each other. The week after that a College Super Bowl. What could be better than that?
For a more detailed explanation of the pros and cons of this system, please see my post from last January.
If the Banshee Playoff was in place, this year's New Year's Day match-ups would be as follows:
Fiesta: Texas (10-1) vs. Utah (11-0)
Sugar: Pitt (8-3) vs. Auburn (12-0)
Orange: Virginia Tech (10-2) vs. Oklahoma (12-0)
Rose: Michigan (9-2) vs. USC (12-0)
This would allow all four undefeated team to advance into Week 2 and settle this championship on the field. One can only dream of a day when such things are possible.
Monday, December 06, 2004
Be proud fellow citizens as you see how our country has come to the aid of the suffering victims of the tsunami. Not only are we sending money but we are also sending manpower. And we expect nothing in return. The world wanted us to help in a big way and we have.
But also be proud fellow citizens when you see how our country has come to the aid of the suffering people in Iraq. Almost twice as many people died as a result of the violence of Saddam as did from the violence of the tsunami. We sent not only money but also manpower. And we expect nothing in return. But the world ridicules and reviles us.
This show has the usual odd decorators and carpenters but it also has an unusual purpose. It highlights a deserving family who needs better housing. The families have been chosen for a variety of reasons. Some have children with disabilities, some are recently widowed, some have shown exceptional kindness to other people. Now I’ll admit this show has its sappy moments and it does seem unbelievable that an entire house can be built in one week. But what makes this show worth watching is that it highlights giving rather than getting. Not only that, but it exposes the audience to people who are living truly real lives – lives filled with hard work, joy, commitment and many other attributes that are rarely seen on TV.
If you’d like to know more about the show or the families that have received new homes check out http://abc.go.com/primetime/xtremehome/show.html
A young officer back from Iraq has started a program through his university that allows people to “adopt” a soldier and become their pen pal. When anyone signs up for the program a red bracelet is sent to be worn by those supporting the soldiers in this way.
It is hard to imagine what a letter of support from someone “back home” means to those deployed overseas but this is a great way to find out. Learn more about how you can be involved at http://www.mville.edu/news/NEWS_nov04_mysoldier.HTML.
Sunday, December 05, 2004
So far, Wild Banshee has received only one submission. So, I am renewing my call for contributions. If you or your family has a special activity or food or anything that you look forward to each year, please consider passing it along to Wild Banshee. Same thing goes for holiday traditions from your childhood that are no more. There are not narrow guidelines for this activity.
I look forward to checking my inbox in the days to come.
This poll asked: What is your favorite holiday movie?
Miracle on 34th Street and Christmas Vacation each received 8% of the vote. A Christmas Story received 16% of the vote. The runaway winner was It's a Wonderful Life. This timeless classic received 66% of the vote.
New Poll: We'll try to stick with the holiday theme from now until Christmas. This week's poll asks: Which type of lights do you prefer for your tree?
Saturday, December 04, 2004
When the week began, there were only five players remaining. Apex had 3 members: Ivana, Kevin and Kelly. Kelly was exempt from firing due to leading his team to victory last week. Apex made Ivana their project manager. Mosaic had only two members: Sandy and Jennifer -- two women who had screeched at each other in the previous week's boardroom.
The task this week was two-fold. It involved the production and sale of Mars' new candy bar, the M-azing bar. It is a candy bar with some sort of M&M's in it. On the first day, the teams had to operate an assembly line with only their members and produce as many bars as they could that would pass Mars' quality inspection. On day two, the teams had to sell the bars they produced on the streets of New York. Whichever team brought in the most money would win.
Despite having an extra team member, Apex produced only marginally more bars than Mosaic. Therefore, the competition really came down to who could sell their bars for the most money. Mosaic decided to capitalize on their good looks and dawn the persona of the M&M sisters. So, the two comely blondes took to the streets in slinky tank tops, mini skirts and heels. They really did look almost like twins. Their good looks and their cute demeanor allowed the women to sell their bars for an average price of nearly $5 a bar. And they did all this while being very mindful of not crossing over into a slutty presentation.
Meanwhile, Apex staked out a spot near the top of a subway escalator on Wall Street. They used a pretty standard carnival barker approach. And it worked to moderate success. However, they were only selling their bars for $2 at the start. Kevin was having no success at that price and dropped his price to only $1 without getting approval from Ivana. Aside from this, it was a pretty uneventful outing for Apex until Ivana was told by a pedestrian that two attractive women were selling the same thing for $5 just a few blocks away.
At this point Ivana, who has been exhibiting extreme and irrational jealousy of Jennifer's good looks for weeks, lost all perspective on the situation. After strolling down to check out Mosaic's outfits, Ivana decided to take desperate measures. She started approaching men and telling them she'd drop her skirt if they'd pay $20 for a chocolate bar. She had two takers and dropped her skirt twice. Granted, Ivana's panties were of the boys shorts variety, but you could see the handwriting on the wall as Caroline observed these antics.
Despite this desparate display of exhibitionism by Apex, Mosaic came out way ahead. Kevin took a little heat in the boardroom for dropping the price without approval. But, as usual, the finger was pointed at the project manager. It certainly didn't help that Ivana had used a strip-tease as part of her marketing plan. In the end, Ivana's only defense was her claims that both Jen and Sandy were superficial and worse players than her. But as Trump astutely pointed out, those girls won and were not in the boardroom to be fired. Then the Donald said the words I've been longing to hear. He slapped the table and said, "Ivana, you're fired."
Friday, December 03, 2004
The excitement kicks off on ABC at 1 p.m. when Virginia Tech heads to south Florida to take on Miami for the ACC Championship. Then at 2:30 on CBS, one of the most historic rivalries in all of sports is renewed for the 115th time when Army battles Navy. After the Army-Navy game ends, you'll have time to run out and pick up some wings for dinner. But don't dilly-dally because possibly the best game of the day will be starting in just a few minutes. At 6 p.m. CBS will broadcast the SEC Championship game from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The SEC Championship features the Tennessee Volunteers and the undefeated, untied Auburn Tigers. When that game ends you'll still have a chance to catch most of the Big XII Championship game. The Big XII Championship begins at 8 p.m. This year's game pits the powerful Oklahoma Sooners against the Colorado Buffaloes. The Sooners will be a heavy favorite, but the Big XII Championship has a history of stunning upsets -- including last year's upset of the Sooners by the Kansas State Wildcats.
So, if you're a college football fan, write all this down so that you don't miss a moment. And if you're someone who really just can't understand what gets people like me so excited about all of this, please tune into any one of these games. It'll be almost impossible for you to avoid being swept up in the emotion of these games.
Thursday, December 02, 2004
Fox and Friends discussed these new numbers during their 6 o'clock hour this morning. The unmarried beauty queen/reporter, Lauren Green, noted that sexually transmitted disease has also risen by similar margins over this time period. An interesting observation. The married Brian Kilmeade also made an interesting observation. He stated, "People in their 20's have more to do now -- like play video games."
So true Brian, so true. And as the title of Kilmeade's NY Times best-seller points out, the games do count.
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
A Million Thanks: This website gathers letters, cards and emails and distributes them to those who have served our country both in the past and in the present.
Operation Uplink: This website operates in conjunction with the VFW. This site collects donations that are used to buy phone cards for the troops. This allows many who are in harm's way to call their loved ones back at home. This is a perfect gift for the Christmas season.
(Thanks to Mimi for providing these websites)