Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Social networking and TV

Instead of blogging, I just went and wasted time on Facebook. I may possibly be one of the oldest people doing this whole social networking thing, but who cares right? It's kind of a slick user interface, and it's a nice way of keeping in touch with people. My biggest problem is that no one I know over the age of 28 is on it! Well, that's not quite true, but it seems it is a bit too young for all my college friends. So I am left to my own devices with my grad school buddies and younger sister's friends. Now people my age seem more into Friendster, but they don't really update their sites constantly like these others seem to... Regardless, it's an interesting societal phenomena.

But what had I thought about writing about as I am still in wind-down mode? Well, I'd been considering writing a post about my favorite TV shows for quite some time. I'm in this odd little phase right now where I can hardly find a movie that I want to see, but there's way too much TV for me to keep up with. Good TV, honest! Fairly well done, very little of the reality show or "I'm just flipping channels and want to watch something" variety.

I'm finally starting to crash a bit and really need to get to bed, but here are the new fall shows that have me hooked at the moment.

Brothers and Sisters -- Somewhat soapy but well-done TV with a stellar cast. Great family drama that gives me a regular Greg Berlanti fix so I miss Everwood a litle less.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip -- I quit watching for a couple weeks, but I tuned back in to see the John Goodman and Christmas episodes...and now I'm hooked. I never liked the West Wing, but I think I like this. And I definitely like the portrayal of a Christian character as sane and intelligent...so points there.

What About Brian -- Not exactly new and a total soap opera, but between the young cast and relevant storylines for someone my age...definitely worth a look.

The Class -- It's a somewhat formulaic but rapidly improving sitcom on after How I Met Your Mother. Stellar cast again, including Jason Ritter and Lizzie Caplan.

Heroes -- I was late to the party, but I'm definitely interested. The plotlines are complex but intriguing, and darn it if I'm not hooked on this X-Men ripoff.

And in terms of existing television, How I Met Your Mother, New Adventures of Old Christine, The Office, and Scrubs continue to impress and be appointment television at our house. Except that the appointments are made several days later, usually on the weekend, when we have time to sit down and catch up with all the shows we have taped. Don't even get me started on what happenned when the DVR died here last week! With that, I will draw my giddy basketball-induced ramblings to a close. Good night readers!

Now that's what I call Bragging Rights! Nevermind that I thought the officiating was atrocious and Nolan Richardson was obnoxious beyond all belief, this was a quality basketball game. Perhaps the best Illinois basketball game I have seen this year, as they kept their heads up, fought hard, and played well in difficult circumstances. Having Brian Randle and Jamar back on the court made a big difference in the flow of things, and Shawn Pruitt and Warren Carter both had exceptional games. (That being said, I hope to hear good news about Carter's leg tomorrow. He left the game after a hard foul with 3-4 minutes left and couldn't get it relaxed enough to come back into the game)

Now, I realize my eye is biased. Despite my love of the game, I must admit that I still do not know all the ins-and-outs of college basketball refereeing. But my somewhat practiced eye thought that Mizzou's players were mauling Illinois at times (several intentionals should have been called) and that the Illini players were charged with a lot of nit picky, nonexistent fouls. Was it just me? Did anyone else feel this way? Of course, I thought quite a bit of traveling went uncalled on both ends.

But hey, that was a doozy. It kind of makes me wish we'd tried harder for the tickets this year. I entered the Bragging Rights ticket lottery in 2004 and 2005 trying to win a birthday present for the hubby but to no avail. I must say that the game from my living room did not disappoint! Now I just have to get past my little vicarious adrenaline rush and get to bed...but more posts may follow until that happens.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Snow day!

Apparently, they happen out in the working world. Thanks Mother Nature, I needed it. Nice time for an unplanned three day weekend. Now if we could just get my parents' power turned back on...

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Weather outside is frightful...

Well, it's that time of year again. All day long at work, central Illinois has been fretting over the winter storm to come. 8-14 inches! A half inch of ice! We'd better leave early today! We shouldn't have come! Now they are only saying 4-6 inches of snow, now it's back up 14, now they are predicting whiteouts! Everyone gets into the game and monitors NOAA all day long -- it's really somewhat comical.

In some ways though, it's really somewhat nice. All curled up at home with our books and computers and favorite TV shows, a great excuse not to go outside. Pop a pizza in the oven, spend some time with loved ones. It's not helping me get ready for my finals, but I am enjoying it quite a bit. The ice isn't letting up, 6-10" snow still expected. I would not be at all sad if we're snowed in by a blizzard tomorrow -- as long as our power stays on!

Aside from the roads, the other thing that kept me from cocooning at home is that I was packing up my desk. Same company but a new opportunity, a bit more strategic and high-level. It's also a little bit sad as I love what I've been doing these past few years and will miss my co-workers, but it's gotten a bit stressful and repetitive for me lately. It'll be nice to have a break from IT and a stretch assignment. At the same time, I kind of feel like I'm getting ready for the first day of high school or college.

I told a friend the other day that I'm feeling more and more apolitcal these days. More and more libertarian I would say as well. I think it's mostly a lack of ideas and candidates to be inspired by at the moment, and perhaps overall disappointment at the political climate and state of affairs in the world. I'm not angry at the current adminstration or anything like that, as I think they have done the best they could in the given circumstances. I don't feel like any party quite stands for my principals either though, so pardon me for the lack of politics lately.

And as for Illini basketball, I still love my orange and blue. It's been a bit tough to watch the games so far. I've seen a few flashes of brilliance, but the boys have been plagued by injuries and subpar play for them. I sat on the edge of my seat and breathed a sigh of relief when they pulled it out during the Miami (OH) and Bradley games. I wasn't home for Maryland, but the hubby said it was a heartbreaker. I've been encouraged by Jamar's small amount of play, Shaun Pruitt's inside presence, and occasionally Warren Carter's performance. They are definitely missing Brian Randle right now. I know that it's not going to be quite like last year and more losses will probably occur, but I'm still looking forward to the season. I just wish watching the offense was not so painful.

In other news, one of my best friends is being induced this evening. We're eagerly awaiting the arrival of the little guy and praying for you W&J!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick or treat!

None of that for me tonight. I was wrapped up in things at work, jumped into my car, headed to class, and hit McDonalds for sandwich. Headed to class, headed home around 8:30...and I didn't see one single trick or treater :(

I wasn't pleased about having class tonight, as I get a big kick out of answering the door and handing out candy. We usually dress up at my house, and the hubby lets all kinds of Star Wars related silliness rip -- showcasing talking Yoda, putting forth some nice lightsaber action, wearing all black and a Darth Vader voice changer...you get the drift.

Tonight my costume watching was limited to two princesses and perhaps a vampire dining at Mickey Ds. But I did get home to find a picture of my baby niece looking adorable in a pumpkin suit, which made up for almost all of it. It's funny how what you appreciate about the holidays changes at you get older...

Happy Halloween ladies and gents!

Friday, October 13, 2006


I'm usually not superstitious, but this Friday the 13th went downhill fast about a half hour ago when I heard the EJ news. Somehow I managed to avoid the Internet and radio all day until my sister told me. Some fan I am. If I was a true fanatic, I'd be rolling into the Hall in Chambana right about now for Midnight Madness...alas I couldn't put in the time to drive down and pick up tickets last month.

I will however be in Assembly Hall or in front of a big screen tv loudly somewhere loudly booing the first time that dirtbag Kelvin Sampson takes the floor in Champaign as "coach" of a program that I hope continues to be an overrated embarrassment for its state in years to come. And I'm not the only one I know who feels that way...that's for certain in my family.

I don't really fault the kid so much, but the way his family handled the whole situation was ridiculous....deny, deny, deny, switch! How about just reopening recruitment if this was a serious consideration. Instead, Illinois is left up a creek for '07. However, I still believe that the reason Illini basketball has been so successful is that it has not attracted the "one and done" attitude-laden superstar recruits. It takes solid second-run recruits and turns them into superstars. Deron, Luther, James, Lucas, Roger Powell, Damir, even Jamar...with Dee being the one big name exception.

So perhaps it's a good thing to look for someone who fits the program better. It's not to say that it won't make a little more superstitious about Friday the 13ths that fall near Midnight Madness in the future.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

What's going on...

Yet again, I find myself stumbling back to the blog after about a month's absence. Real life just seems to be getting in the way of posting lately, and I rarely am I charged up enough to write something new about the issues. Work, school, and nonstop baby showers seem to be keeping me busy presently. Just a few random notes on my weekend tonight...

I went to my 10-year high school reunion this weekend. Ten years! It seems like just yesterday that we all graduated, and yet it seems like it was so long ago at the very same time. I had a fabulous time visiting with the friends I'm still in touch with and got to see some long-lost acquaintances. However, I was struck by how cliquey and high-school the whole scene still was. As you think you've moved beyond it all, you still sit at the same lunch (reunion) table as you did at age eighteen. You still dig the same people and have little patience for others. So the more things change, the more things stay the same? Or did I just have a weird high school class? I'm not sure.

Reasons not to vote for Blago: 1)$1500 birthday "present" for a 7 year-old? 2) Aversion to debating the issues..."The negotiations are over". Reason to dislike HotRod less: this picture proves he at least has a sense of humor.

Reasons to vote for Judy: She'd live in Springfield. She's not Rod. She'd probably be a bit more business-friendly than Blago. That's about all I'm coming up with presently. I'm kind of embarassed this is the best the state could do. I'm so politically apathetic at the moment that I disgust myself.

What About Brian
premieres tomorrow! Want a soapy yet seemingly quality relationship drama about young adults to get hooked on? This could be the one. Season premiere is tomorrow on ABC. It stated to middling reviews/ratings last spring, but I'm expecting it to get even better as the show brought on Josh Reims to write after Everwood's untimely cancellation last spring.

That's it for the time being, but I will try to post more morsels as I come across them. Take care readers!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five and counting

I wanted to write something today to commemorate September 11th. Something profound. Something reflective and thoughtful. Something appropriate. I'm not sure I have it in me at the moment, but here are my thoughts this evening nonetheless.

I watched a lot of documentaries about 9/11 this weekend. Not the overhyped docudramas on ABC and CBS, but the raw Discovery Channel footage interviewing the survivors. The stories of those trapped on the upper floors and how they called their loved ones to say goodbye. The stories of those lucky enough to step onto the right elevators and survive the collapse. The stories of the police officers' handcuffs returned to their spouses and infant children. These documentaries didn't really dwell in the horror of the day but rather the humanity of it all...and I found it impossible to turn them off.

In many ways, I think September 11th caused me to appreciate life a bit more, to take a few chances. We decided to get married, for my husband to go back to grad school. We took a few chances, because hey...you don't know what could happen tomorrow. But the bigger chances, like packing it all up and moving to DC to work on intelligence issues and help in this battle, we never took for a variety of reasons. Our families, friends, church, and lives here.

Some days though, I feel we are a little too comfortable. Like we haven't done enough to help and we haven't done enough to protect ourselves as a nation...even though I'm not quite sure what enough is. I don't believe WWIII is right around the corner, but some days I question that assertion. Jihad is jihad. These people who corrupt Islam in this way -- they don't believe in living peacefully with one another. They believe in dividing and conquering, massacring people until everyone submits to their barbaric way of thinking. How do you convert people who believe in that sort of insanity?

Five years later and we still do not really know. 9/11 changed everything, and it changed nothing at the same time. For a short time we really came together as people and thought about what was in important -- in our lives and how we wanted to live as a society. Most of that has faded away now. Our government has foiled plots and managed to keep us safe, even as Britain, India, Russia, Spain, Thailand and other countries have been subjected to terrorist slaughters. This week though, the nation has relived the memories and some of the questions from that day have been dragged back into our collective consciousness. Politicians nitpick and use the war to attack one another, but significant thoughtful discourse on what needs to be done is nowhere to be seen.

What will it take for this sort of discourse to return? I really do wonder, and I hope when it does that it will not be too late.

Friday, September 08, 2006

On Twenty-something Disaffection

I'm one of the biggest Scrubs fans you will find anywhere. I liked Garden State, and I'm sort of looking forward to seeing The Last Kiss. But I still find this rundown of Zach Braff’s 10 Easy Tips for Writing Films About Twenty-Somethings® spot-on and amusing to boot.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Hey government?

Listen to my phone calls. I really don't care. There's really nothing you are going to be that interested in hearing, unless you're into what colors bridesmaids' dresses should be and what my hubby and I should buy for the next baby shower gift and the latest so-called crisis at work.

But really....keep doing what you're doing. And keep catching these guys, okay?

(The libertarian in me is somewhat embarassed tonight and will return at an unspecified date in the future. Perhaps months after I've seen World Trade Center and ceased to be perturbed by today's revelations. War is hell, but what are you supposed to do when there are wackos like this out there planning to blow up thousands out of hate. I really don't know.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Smidge of B-Ball

Is it wrong for me to think that the Magic and the Jazz were big winners tonight? I realize I am a biased observer here, but I am happy to see James Augustine and Dee Brown drafted in the first two rounds, although they were both taken a big low imho. And the prospect of Dee and Deron rushing down the court and playing off one another again gives me chills.

I'm already scheming up ways in my head to plan wintertime vacations to Utah (skiing?) and Orlando (Disney?). We shall have to see what transpires. Shannon Brown to Cleveland is also an intriguing posibility. I may have to start attending NBA games if all my favorite collegiate players keep graduating :)

I'm also getting ready to leave on a much-needed vacation tomorrow. This whole working 50 hours a week and trying to handle a graduate summer class thing...it's way overrated. Plus we've had a lot of minor, yet annoying health issues to deal with lately and have a surgery fast approaching here. Zoning out on a southeastern beach for a week starting tomorrow, but I may try to post a few thoughts if Internet access allows and my brain has sufficient unwound.

Happy Independence Day a bit early to you and yours!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Big Day in Galesburg

Okay, so it's not exactly a post on something meaningful and important...but Stephen Colbert's commencement speech at Knox College this weekend was big news in these parts. You can read the whole thing on the Knox College website. The speech is really quite witty and is getting Knox some great national press this week.

A few choice excerpts:

"There are so many challenges facing this next generation, and as they said earlier, you are up for these challenges. And I agree, except that I don’t think you are. I don’t know if you’re tough enough to handle this. You are the most cuddled generation in history. I belong to the last generation that did not have to be in a car seat. You had to be in car seats. I did not have to wear a helmet when I rode my bike. You do. You have to wear helmets when you go swimming, right? In case you bump your head against the side of the pool. Oh, by the way, I should have said, my speech today may contain some peanut products."

"On a beautiful day like this I’m reminded of my own graduation 20 years ago, at Northwestern University. I didn’t start there, I finished there. On the graduation day, a beautiful day like this. We’re all in our gowns. I go up on the podium to get my leather folder with my diploma in it. And as I get it from the Dean, she leans in close to me and she smiles, and she says...[train whistle] that’s my ride, actually. I have got to get on that train, I’m sorry. [Heads off stage.] Evidently that happens a lot here. ..." (Incredibly funny only to those who are very familiar with Galesburg, Illinois)

"But the best reason for me to come to speak at Knox College is that I attended Knox College. This is part of my personal history that you will rarely see reported. Partly because the press doesn’t do the proper research. But mostly because…it is not true! I just made it up, so this moment would be more poignant for all of us. How great would it be if I could actually come back here—if I was coming back to my alma mater to be honored like this. I could share with you all my happy memories that I spent here in...Galesburg, Illinois. Hanging out at the Seymour Hall, right? Seymour Hall? You know, all of us alumni, we remember being at Seymour Hall, playing those drinking games. We played a drinking game called Lincoln-Douglas. Great game. What you do is, you act out the Lincoln-Douglas debate and any time one of the guys mentions the Dred Scott decision you have to chug a beer. Well, technically 3/5 of a beer. [groans from audience]

You DO have a good education! I wasn’t sure if anybody was going to get that joke."

Regardless of whatever Colbert's political stripes are, he is one funny guy and I thought he gave a thoroughly enjoyable and appropriate graduation address. And apparently last year's commencement speaker Barack Obama had a witty retort to Colbert's shtick...use hand sanitizer after the Pumphandle... I wish I could say the same for the speaker that Knox hopes to land next year. (Insert snarky comment about next year's graduates carrying the Purell here)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

And so it continues...

I'm having trouble keeping up with everything at the moment, but just wanted to check in. I've been so busy lately that National Review has redesigned their website, and I have no idea when. If you know me, that's somewhat uncharacteristic. But travel, finishing up my semester, overtime at work, some minor health problems...they can keep me away from the computer for extended periods of time. And don't even ask me how often I made it to the gym last month! But I do have opinions about certain things....immigration and the NCAA's ridiculous stance towards Chief Illiniwek are posts that I see coming in the near future.

My husband thought I was getting on here to complain about how Everwood has likely been cancelled for next year yet Seventh Heaven was renewed. Sadly, this is one of my more well-reasoned opinions at the moment. I'm still sort of sad the WB is going to be gone, as that network and its shows are so closely and fondly associated with my college years. On another note though, my guilty pleasure One Tree Hill was renewed and the promising What About Brian (yay for JJ Abrams dramas). Tradeoffs I suppose. My TV habit will likely continue.

Hope to be posting something thought-provoking soon.

Friday, April 28, 2006


I've just experienced a couple VERY busy weeks -- attending a conference the past six days and all the related crazy hours at work that normally precede such a trip. Couple this with the fact that it's almost the end of the semester. I'm wrapping up a research project this week, which hopefully will leave me with a bit of downtime to enjoy (and blog) before summer classes begin. Looking forward to the breather!

As someone who digested about four newspapers AND flew on United this afternoon, I spent a lot of time today mulling Flight 93. The movie opens nationwide today, and the overall reviews have been very positive. In fact, Rotten Tomatoes has it at 93% positive at the moment. I think part of why I dwelled on it today was I was up in the air and spent a lot of time with security. In some respect, every time I have travelled since September 11th, I have thought about it. But today it just seemed particularly poignant somehow.

The reviews I read today were Canada Globe and Mail (3 stars - registration required), USA Today (4 stars), Chicago Tribune (4 stars), National Review. I'm not particularly wanting people to go see this movie to get angry or remember what the troops are fighting for at the moment. Rather, I'd recommend seeing it as a tribute, a reflection on the day, and a reminder that the problem sect of militant, radical Islamists has has not ceased to exist.

Darfur, Iraq, London, Bali, Egypt, Afghanistan, Iran, Beslan -- this sort of intolerance continues to rear its ugly head all around the world. We have been fortunate that planned attacks on American soil have not been successful since 2001. But it's all too clear that the problem has not disappeared. Are we going to be ready when it comes for us again? What can we do to help those it's coming for now? That's the question that sprung into my mind this afternoon. The Flight 93 passengers did not just sit back and wait for the "inevitable" to happen. Is that what we're doing now?

I doubt I will make it to the film this weekend, but I will see it soon...no matter how painful and disconcerting it might be. It's not too soon for America to reflect on this again. We need to have movies that deal with the difficult issues and truly make us think. Instead of focusing all our attention on high gas prices and how 'rough' we have it, perhaps we need to step back a bit and remember what that day felt like...and think about what we can do to stop people from feeling this way again.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Da Bleachers

So I must report that Saturday afternoon I saw my first-ever baseball game from the Wrigley Field bleachers. Excuse me, now the newly-renovated Bud Light bleachers. But I must give the beer tycoons credit that the bleachers were a lovely place before the game got started. They were completely covered in beer and peanut shells by the end of the game...but such is life. In many ways at 28, I think I am a bit too old and boring for the most of the shennanigans that go on there...at least the ones that go on at bachelor parties seated directly to our right.

It was actually a pretty good game. A bit slow except for the Cardinals' 6th inning and the Cubs two home runs. We were sitting about 8 rows up between right/center field, and both the home runs came down within about 40 feet of us. We watched the game later on TIVO looking for ourselves, but we were only little flecks of blue and red, if anything, on the broadcast. It also didn't show the several cups of beer that we were showered with after the 2nd home run in the 8th -- intended for the Cardinals fan to our left.

We dressed for football game weather, but some ominous clouds rolled by and there was hardly a cloud in the sky by 1:20 pm. The sun kept us nice and toasty all game long and had us looking like lobsters by game's end. Even if the thermometer said 41F, it felt like 65F at times. However, I heard a much different story from my friend in the shaded stands who was frozen out before the 7th inning stretch. And guess who sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"? John Cusack. Every girl who ever watched Say Anything as a teenager is swooning a bit right now, even if she won't admit it. Of course, we were about as far across the park as we could possibly be -- I got a better glimpse on TiVo after the game.

So anyways, I must thank my sister for a very enjoyable day at the ballpark. And for putting up with a bunch of overly-cocky, asinine Cubs fans running around Wrigleyville all afternoon. But all in all, fun game and the Cubs swept the series...a good weekend.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Couple interesting links

Note 1: For once, I agree with the French -- Apple should shy away from such proprietary music formats . Although I don't necessarily support the government passing a law to BAN this format, I'd like to see the industry trend towards a universal digital music format in the near future. WAV, MP3, RealPlayer, ITunes...it's all a little much for me. I don't really blame the company for trying to get ahead of the curve and basically to pull a Microsoft on the industry. I just have trouble figuring out how the ITunes music format works in turns of burning CDs, putting it on non-IPod players. Part of this is that I simply don't have time to figure out digital music software, since the only time I mess with it is when I need new tunes to listen to while traveling.

I considered getting a IPod video this spring when I thought I was going to be traveling for work about a third of the time, but ultimately I decided they were overpriced and after some discouraging reports about battery life, I decided I'd rather have a player where I could just pop in a AAA battery when my juice ran out. I bought a SanDisk 512MB player for about $60, and I haven't had any problems yet.

Note 2: South Park last night on hybrid cars and the smog/smug associated with them was pretty darn humorous. At one point the smug from San Fransisco, hybrid-friendly South Park, and George Clooney's Oscar acceptance speech all came together to form a "perfect storm" in the west. Iain Murray has a great description of the episode and some commentary on the problems with expecting everyone to drive a hybrid at this point, noting that low-tech non-hybrid cars also play an important role in helping the poor enter the labor market and evacuate in the face of disasters.

Interesting thoughts for the evening...signing off. Between work and school, I'm a bit strapped for energy lately.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Assorted thoughts....

Reviewing the blogs of PeoriaIllinoisian and Polly Peoiria this evening, I discovered a couple posts worthy of mention.

1) Visual proof that Bradley's NCAA tournament run may be over, as the Sports Illustrated cover jinx strikes again. Of course, Dee Brown had the cover all to himself last year, and Marcellus Sommerville is sharing it with players from a few other Cinderellas like George Mason...so possibly its effect will be lessened. I know a couple analysts have them picked to beat Memphis, and my husband had the Tigers going down already. Go Braves!

2) Great post linking to some of the rather amazing pictures of Springfield's tornado damage last weekend. (Then they got 10 inches of snow yesterday; bet those folks are loving Mother Nature right now). For readers familiar with this area, it ripped into the strip malls by White Oaks and Wabash road beyond it. The head was ripped off the Paul Bunyan like Lauterback man statue and the Barrelhead lost its roof. This picture might look familiar to some of my childhood friends and associates: the torn up signs for the Pasta House/old Fuddruckers and Best Buy. What is it with tornados ripping the roofs off electronics stores? If I recall right, a tornado in Bloomington did the same thing to Best Buy there about two years ago.

And as PeoriaIllinoisan notes, don't bother worrying about Governor HotRod! He wasn't in Springfield when it hit. Surprise, surprise.

3) As for Edwin Eisendrath, he may have only garnered 30% of the populace vote, but he's provided me with some amusement this evening. Check out the Blago Game. Can we leave this up until fall to help educate the people of Illinois? Hat tip to Polly Peoria as noted.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Still Reeling

Both my brackets and my Illini pride are still reeling from this weekend's NCAA events. There are plenty of articles out there (Illiniwonk, Tupper) analyzing the foul disparity in the Washington game. I don't think that takes much away from Washington, they played a good game and made the necessary plays down the stretch. However, I was pretty sad to see James and Dee end their careers that way in a game that was less than a hard-fought, evenly-officiated battle.

Also, major props to Bradley and Wichita State for winning their way into the Sweet 16 today and doing their conference proud. These teams have played hard and exceeded their potential the past few days, and it's nice to see someone from the area doing that at this point in time. As for my Illini, there's always next year (or more likely the year after that). I am a Cubs fan after all; I know how this part works.

I hope to post more on the matter after I've had a day or two to digest, but I also have a massive midterm coming up early this week...so look for me Wednesday or later.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Just a Game

While I realize that the NCAA tournament is just basketball and theoretically all in good fun, reading all the rabid Jayhawk fans commentary about rock-chalk and jayhawks at the Peoria Journal Star site has me rooting for an upset this evening. Go Bradley Braves! Do the Missouri Valley proud!

Have I mentioned this is my favorite weekend of the year? Tip-off starts in an hour again. Happy St. Patty's Day everyone!

Updated 11 pm CST: Booyah Braves! Bucknell Bill has transformed into Bradley Bill and his team has made its exit at the hands of another intrepid mid-major. Heck of game there Bradley. You can lose to Pittsburgh next round if you must, but you've done the Missouri Valley Conference proud and made a few alumni I know very happy campers this evening!

Although, I must note that this killed one of my brackets tonight. I very nearly put Pittsburg to the Sweet 16 in both sets, but I changed my mind in the more important one and changed it to Kansas losing in the Elite 8...because after the Missouri Valley tournament championship I was not very confident in BU's chances. But hey in this case, I can deal with being wrong even if it costs me bragging rights.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Anticipation and frustration

Just spent forty-five minutes writing a nice long post on my brackets and finalizing them...and had it eaten by Blogger. Frustration. Too late to recreate the whole thing, but I will offer a Cliff Notes summary of what my post was about.

I'm still finalizing my brackets this evening and second-guessing my earlier picks. I'm having trouble picking upsets and who will make it to the Final Four. It seems like there are far too many teams this year that either could choke and fizzle out in the second round OR make it to the Final Four if they come to play. Duke, Villanova, Kansas, Texas, Gonzaga, and North Carolina are all giving me some fits.

My sister's boyfriend is headed up to Rochester Hills tomorrow to watch his alma mater try for the second-biggest Kansas upset of the century. Let's go Bradley Braves! I must confess that I have Kansas in the Sweet16 in the most of my brackets, but I will not be sad if this doesn't happen...the same way I will not be sad if Illinois advances past the Sweet 16. At this point, my Final Fours look like this: Duke, Pittsburgh, UConn, Villanova/Ohio State. I'm still mulling changing one of the Pittsburghs to Kansas or Gonzaga though. Or maybe UCLA or Memphis. See the trouble I'm having?!? The Oakland region clearly looks the weakest to me though - perhaps that's why I'm having such a hard time picking a winner for that.

Back to my dear Illini, I would not be surprised if Dee Brown and James Augustine come out like men on fire, playing to keep their NBA draft hopes alive. If everything clicks at the same time and the offense actually gels (like it had been doing decently in the Minnesota and Michigan State road wins at the end of the season), I could see Illinois edging Connecticut. That being said, I'd say the odds are 80%/20% against it happening, and my bracket reflects that fact. I'd be happy if my boys in orange proved me wrong!

Finally, I was recently made aware of Bracketography, a really cool site run by two old high-school acquaintances that was recently featured on ESPN2's Quite Frankly. While they didn't have a great year predicting the seeds and brackets, I think many of us will agree with them that the committee had to be smoking something this year when it made some of these decisions. Great place to consult for some last minute insight though, and I know that it's run by a few good people. Keep an eye on it, and remember me when you're rich and famous boys!

Friday, March 10, 2006


I wouldn't mind being wrong about this one (like the Arizona miracle performance last year), but I'm close to giving up on the game this evening. My hubby likes to talk about how hard it is to beat a team three times in a year (let alone two times in a week), but this is still pretty disappointing. He's hollaring at the TV at the moment, but all Big Ten officiating stinks according to him.

Illinois has played a stellar game defensively, but this is the worst I've seen them look offensively (at least in the second half) in quite some time. While Michigan State is playing better than I've seen them do in a while, Illinois basically gave this game away with their freethrow missing and lack of good rebounding. While Dee has run the team well, you can't just offensively opt out for 90% of the games when you are the offensive firepower on the team.

Disappointing way to head into the NCAA tournament, but maybe this will help them to focus in the big dance. It's going to be tough filling out a bracket though, as I really don't have a clue where I think the Illini will exit. I could have sworn they would come out ready to play and had a decent victory this evening...because James and Dee have to be worried about their draft status at the moment. One thing's pretty much for certain...I don't plan on being in Dayton this next weekend, as I think there's about a snowball's chance in he-double-hockey-sticks of securing a #2 seed after this.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Hey, I sat there and enjoyed it!
Big Ten Wonk / Nittany Lion lover David Jones: "Kudos to oracular Nittany Lion observer David Jones for coining the definitive term for today's festivities in Indy: for the first time in the conference tournament's history, Michigan State has indeed been 'forced to sit at the dork table in the Big Ten cafeteria.' The Spartans are playing on Thursday."

Penn State, Minnesota, and Michigan State have escaped today, while Northwestern, Purdue, and Michigan (bubble team so possibly) may have played their final game of the season. It's a bittersweet time of year here for Illinigirl, as the only sport I enjoy watching is about to wrap-up. But you know what that means! March Madness pools start Monday! I may set one up on Yahoo or CBS Sportsline and link to it here, so if you are inclined dear readers, fill out a bracket and play along!

On the other hand, we eagerly await tomorrow's Illini-MSU game. My husband is a bit anxious, as he thinks it's virtually impossible to beat a team three times in one year. However, I think the Illini deem this touranment title important in getting a good NCAA seed (perhaps a #2 in Dayton), and I think they will come out playing that way tomorrow. Only time will tell if my MSU-fan co-worker is bringing in the doughnuts for the fifth consecutive time in a row next week!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Political catch-up

I had a challenging yet friendly comment on my Oscars post from Douglas early Monday that I feel compelled to respond to this evening. He'd been reading some of my posts back from 2002 and particularly noticed this comment:

"I think the vast majority of Americans respect Bush's presidency and will reward him with another term in two years."

He went on to ask if I still feel the same sentiment behind it, specifically the following: "Do you still support this man after Katrina, the Iraq fiasco, the ports give-away, the give-away of nukes to India, etc.?"

I thought it was an interesting question that deserved a response, as I do generally enjoy thoughtful debate of the issues. This blog used to be much more political in nature than it has been the past year or so. I will admit that I am less keen on this administration than I used to be. I've lost a lot of the fire in my belly over the past couple years, and I believe a lot of this is because I think they could have done things better. If not in execution, at least how they communicated their decisions and rationale to the nation. Most importantly, I don't feel like the president has tackled issues that I feel are important, such as Social Security and making permanent earlier tax reflief & reform.

There are a few major administrative accomplishments that please me. Numero uno -- the fact that we have not been sustained a terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11. Dos -- the fact that we have two new, extremely-qualified Supreme Court justices that I believe truly are concerned with upholding the Constitution as it is written.

As for the points that Douglas outlined, those are not major points of contention with me, as I'll outline below.

Katrina: Emergency response fell first within the jurisdiction of state and local authorities. I do think response could have been better executed on a federal level, and I hope planning for future disasters is improved in the future...but Bush or Michael Brown could have stopped the outdated levees from breaking. I was down there 18 months ago, and New Orleans knew it was horribly at risk when Ivan missed. I feel the biggest fault lies with evacuation plans and emergency response horribly executed at a local level.

Iraq: I am discouraged about recent events in Iraq, but more in the respect that I'm not sure that we get these people to accept democracy and modernity and quit viciously attacking one another. I realize it has been a costly effort both in terms of dollars and sacrificed lives, but I think the motives and intentions of the mission were good. If successful, I do feel this effort will benefit the world in the long run. Only time will tell.

Ports giveaway: I felt this story was an unfortunate entanglement, but partially the result of living in a global economy. UAE-owned DP World bought British Peninsular & Oriental. I'd be very concerned with screening the workers in case radicals slipped in under the original proposal. I'm actually feeling fairly comfortable with the turn-it-over-to-a-US-entity resolution that was reached today.

Nukes to India: Outsourcing the nuclear power that no Americans want in their backyard, helping power India's economy...doesn't bother me. India is our friend and ally, a great nation that peaceably blends Hinduism, Islam, and several other religions. I think they will do their best to protect the technology. In my opinion, they're one of the more trustworthy nations out there right now.

So overall, do I still support this man? I guess my answer is a qualified "sort of." I haven't changed my political stripes or beliefs, but I don't believe the administration has handled everything as well as they could. I'm not alone in that belief -- Red State and other seem to harbor many with similar sentiments. Do I believe we are better off than we would have been under a Kerry administration? Personally yes. I know others will disagree, but that's how I feel.

End of political post -- I've more than made up for my silence lately this evening.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Billy in the Court of Law

"Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."

Cited as a footnote by an actual judge in Texas bankruptcy court recently -- one of my favorite quotes from Billy Madison's "Jeopardy" sequence. I wasted far too many hours watching this movie the summer before I started college; it's nice to see that I'm not alone.

And if you need more SNL-related funnies this evening, may I suggest SNL's digital short of Natalie Mathers from Saturday evening. (Warning: lots of satirical bleeping ahead). Could Andy Samberg be the next Adam Sandler? Discuss.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Sad Day for Twins Fans

I was a big tomboy back in elementary school, a died-in-the-wool Cubs fan who watched as many games as she could. But occasionally I would find myself rooting for other teams stars, and Kirby Puckett is one that I for some reason always remembered fondly. Puckett's death at 44 today following a stroke seems somewhat unfair, perhaps because he was so young, but it's a reminder of the fragility of our lives and that we should live every day to its fullest.

Updated: Okay, I had no idea that Puckett was of questionable character off the field until today, and I in no way endorse what was described in the allegations in this article. However, he did good things for his team and gave twelve year-olds like myself someone to root for...and I will remember him that way too.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Red Carpet

I really don't care much about the Oscars this year. I don't think I'm entirely alone in this sentiment, at least not in this neck of the woods, red-county-within-blue-state middle America where we are unhappy that Greys Anatomy has been pre-empted this evening for a night of self-congratulatory back-slapping by Hollywood. This Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn writer captures my sentiments on this Oscar night quite well, albeit a bit snarkily.

Part of this is because I haven't seen any of the Best Picture nominees. I basically quit caring after Walk the Line was shut out of the Best Picture race. I found that movie enjoyable and inspiring and thought-provoking, unlike much of the propaganda (again imho) nominated this year. My husband is more upset that some of his blockbuster favorites like The Chronicles of Narnia and Star Wars Episode III were shut out entirely. But we're both rooting for Reese Witherspoon to win best actress, so we may have to turn it on for a bit towards the end. I'm watching a bit E! at the moment, as I like seeing the dresses.

I was mildly interested in seeing Munich, but several of my Indian friends from work advised against it, saying it was violent, depressing, and lacking a point (in their opinions). I might see Brokeback Mountain once it comes out on video and I can fast-forward through certain scenes, but that's just the part of me that squirms at all graphic sex scenes in general. I am kind of rooting for Michele Williams to win best supporting actress. I always thought she and Josh Jackson were the creme de la creme of Dawsons Creek acting...although gosh I really do not love her pumpkin-dijon frock they just flashed onscreen.

But anyways, I do have an exciting evening planned regardless -- cooking a great dinner and watching my freshly-purchased Walk the Line DVD. So I'll at least be celebrating this year's best picture according of the illinigirl household!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Thoughts on Sunday's Indiana game

Just a few brief notes on Sunday's game against Indiana. It was nice to see Illinois turn on the gas and not let a big lead slip away. It was nice to see Augie and Brian Randle come out of their shells and play like the confident, big men they are. It was nice to see Illinois shoot over 70% on free throws. It was nice to see Marco Thuggingsworth pretty much get shut down on the floor and get dunked over by Randle. Mark Tupper calls it a solid but not great performance, and I'm inclined to agree with him.

So overall, I must say that I enjoyed this game...but darn it if Illinois's offense isn't painful to watch these days. I must say that I agree with Big Ten Wonk's assertion that they are not confident in their outside shooting. I was guardedly optimistic about their progress earlier in the season, but I am a bit nervous these days. Here's to hoping that complete understanding and utilization of the motion offense lurks deep within these men and is just waiting to bust out as they start a tough 4-game stint against Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, and Michigan State to end their season.

There are some great pictures -- tons of orange -- over at Illini Loyalty, if you are interested.
Something of little importance but much emotional resonance

But I must say that Grey's Anatomy is one of my favorite diversions at the moment, and its writer's blog Grey Matter is to die for. (Although the web designer in me hates that the link has a different name than the page, but that's a whole other neurotic tangent).

What a neat idea to have the writers actually communicate with the fans this way. If only the fans had this kind of input a couple seasons ago, perhaps we could have saved Joey from that doomed hook-up with Dawson and gotten her back to Pacey a little sooner.

Now granted I know these are all fictional characters, but if you watch Grey's, how much did you feel for George last night? Almost everyone I know has misguidedly poured their hearts out to someone who did not love him/her back and had similarly disastrous results. I've sucked my husband into Lost now, and I'm getting closer to having him hooked on this dramedy as well.

Friday, February 17, 2006


Meredith has introduced me to the Johari Window concept, and I must say that I am intrigued. This kind of reminds me of performance feedback at work -- an attempt to find out if others see you, your strengths, and your weaknesses the same way you see yourself. Interesting concept from a psychological point of view. I thought I'd put one together for myself, and you can fill it out if you are so inclined.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

happy heart day

So the blog has been inactive for a while. For once, it's not really work or school -- just a host of personal issues to deal with lately. It's made the last ten days of painful-to-watch Illini games look inconsequential and left me uninspired blogwise.

I won't go into all the details, but my husband lost a very young uncle last week, less than 2 weeks after he was diagnosed with lung cancer. I've had a loved one recenly diagnosed with lymphoma, and it just kind of hurts my heart to feel like there's so little I can do for her. It's all just kind of wait and see at the moment, determining whether she has a fighting chance or whether she is even up for visitors as she has started treatment. Granted she's had a good long life, but it's still kind of hard to accept the pain she's going through. All I can do is call, send cards, and pray for her...and somehow that's hard to accept.

I'm not really a believer that bad things happen in threes, but it's been one of the months when it feels like life has dealt you several crummy cards in the same hand. I'm trying to keep it all in perspective -- to the tune of God works in mysterious ways and he won't give me any more than I can handle. But I'm a control freak who hates feeling like there's little she can do, and I am struggling a little at the moment.

But regardless of all that, I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Valentine's Day. If you're one of my personal friends and loved ones (you know who you are), I didn't get cards sent this year but you are dear to me and in my thoughts. Somehow it also seems appropriate to count my blessings today: great friends, family, and a husband who surprised me with the works this morning (roses, candy, music, stuffed animals, et cetera) and shows me his love in all sorts of acts of kindness, patience, and support every day.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Save Our Bluths Friday Night

For those of us who could probably not care less about the Olympics opening ceremonies (just how I feel), there is another wonderful television option tomorrow evening. Arrested Development's 2-hour finale will be airing on Fox. The episode features guest appearances by Judge Reinhold and William Hung, potential awkward romantic scenes between Jason and the guest-starring Justine Bateman, and incredibly misleading image of the cousins George Michael and Maeby Bluth at the altar in a tux and wedding gown.

I don't know how to explain the pure zaniness and humor that we find in this show. Except for maybe Scrubs, nothing has made me laugh so consistently over the past 3 years. Wanda at E Online has a column on its chances of return. If you're home tomorrow evening, help us send a message to the powers that be (Showtime and ABC specifically) to bring back this show -- watch Arrested Development on FOX.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


For Illini fans in the house this evening, all good rides come to an end sometime. But to have a 33-game home win streak and have it end with such a questionable call? That really stings. For those who didn't watch, Illinois inbounded down one with 2.2 seconds remaining. Rich McBride hit the 3-pointer, but after review the officials said it had not left his hands and took it away. I'm not 100% convinced it was out of Rich McBride's hands at the buzzer, but from the angles shown...I'm just as unconvinced that it was IN his hands too. As my husband says, the NFL rule is to call it cautiously in the face of inconclusive evidence. I'm not sure that was the case tonight. Poor Rich played his heart out, and I really wish he got to be the hero this time.

That said, kudos to Penn State for playing a good game. Except that for a few players looking like jerks (Luber and the guy who got the double technical with Randle), Penn State was fairly clean and played a heck of a inspired game. Great shooting. Maybe they were emotionally unprepared after the win at Wisconsin, but it didn't look like most of the Illini really wanted it tonight. It was the stand around, pass, and watch offense at its worst. The bench was nervous from midway on...it looked like they were just preparing themselves. Illinois looked so offensively timid in the second half, and their defense was just not up to snuff. I was suprised that Dee Brown and/or James Augustine didn't step up and provide some senior leadership to seal it at the end here. And the ticky-tack fouls really have to come to an end. If Augie or Randle hadn't spent so much time on the bench, I doubt it would have been quite so close with 19 seconds to go.

Disappointing evening here, but I guess that's the way the cookie occasionally crumbles for everyone in the Big Ten these days. It is just a game...but as an Illini fan, I have been spoiled these past few years and generally enjoy them much more than this.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Is SNL Getting Funnier?

My husband and I have been having this debate lately. The past two new episodes we've watched, those hosted by Scarlett Johansson and Peter Saarsgard, have actually been very funny.

Then someone at work forwarded me the Chronic(What?)cles of Narnia skit...and I must say it's worth a couple minutes if you haven't seen it yet. I'm not hip enough to know whose rap video it's ripping off, but it's funny just the same. Headphones strongly encouraged if you're at work.

And yes, I am online doing schoolwork today...hence my third post of procrastination this evening.
Illinois's Saturday Showing Against Purdue

I must hand it to the Purdue Boilermakers -- they played pretty darn well yesterday considering they only dressed nine players for the game. Matt Painter has done a good job with this squad and the tough hand he's been dealt. The Boilermakers got off to a fast start at the Assembly Hall, and I believe they were leading for the first 10 minutes of the game. I was a bit concerned as Dee wasn't hitting his shots and the defense seemed a bit out of rhythm, both offensively and defensively.

Some of you may recall that Purdue was the last team to win at the Assembly Hall, 58-54 on at the beginning of Coach Weber's tenure two years ago. This was shortly after the locker room funeral for Bill Self and shortly before Illinois bought into the "motion offense" wholeheartedly. Given that Illinois has been struggling with the offense a bit since Big Ten play began this month, I was still on the edge of my seat well into the first-half.

It wasn't a fabulous game, but Purdue was playing well for its level of talent...and Illinois figured out what they had to do to win. Dee couldn't hit his 3s, so he started taking fast break opportunities. Rich McBride shot something besides a 3, which was refreshing to see. Brian Randle and Augustine both played well on defense, although the ticky-tack fouls they continue to draw are of some concern. Jamar Smith threw in a couple threes and even grabbed rebounds. Chester Frazier provided a spark of energy. Pruitt and Arnold didn't score much, but they got the job done inside.

Overall, no one had me raving after the game, but it was a fairly impressive, high-quality performance. True it was against a Big Ten basement dweller this year, but it was a fun game to watch. If Illinois can keep firing on all cylinders like this, it could make this week's game at Wisconsin pretty fun to watch. And to Purdue, many thanks for playing good clean basketball and putting forth such an impressive performance given the limited bench.

Off to Madison! As Mark Tupper so nicely puts it, the stage is set. If this team wants to be special, it has an opportunity to do so Tuesday night at 7 pm. Unfortunately, I will be arriving home about the time the game ends...but I will do my best to watch and comment in a timely manner.
Unexplained absences & fondnesses

So yes, I have been offline for a few more days. It's been an eventful couple weeks here in Illinigirlland. I have officially became another year older, celebrated our one-year anniversary in our new home, happily learned that the hubby's ligament is not torn and surgery is being put on the back burner for a while, started up my night classes again, and just been swamped at work.

However, this swamping at work culminated in a trip to Vermont last week, and darn it if I am just not smitten with the place. Dean screams and bike trails aside, I really liked Burlington. I toured the Ben & Jerry's factory and sampled the fabulous new Dublin Mudslide flavor. I tried an assortment of stellar restaurants downtown near Church Street. The UVT campus was beautiful, and the scenery was gorgeous even in the midst of a January thaw. I can't imagine what it's like in the fall, but I hope to go back and see it sometime. I ran into a few hoity-toity East Coast university types, but I met just as many salt of the earth wonderful people in my work there.

Of course, some of this is perhaps colored by stellar shopping options available to this town of less than 60,000 residents. While I am somewhat of a cheapskate, I tend to have champagne taste on a soda pop budget and am a born shopper. As someone who drives 2 hours to Chicago for such window shopping, I may have been somewhat swayed by the sight of an Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn nestled away in such a charming little downtown.

I really only had one afternoon and a few dinners out to enjoy the town, as I was putting in 12 hour days, but my initial impressions were very positive. Enough navel gazing for the moment, just thought I'd offer up a quick update on goings-on to those who are intersted.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Quick thought on tonight's Illini showing

I have been out this evening, so I'm just now in the process of watching the Illinois/Indiana game...in 4x speed on the DVR because I'd already heard the outcome.

I do have one point to make though. Anyone who calls themself an Indiana fan should be embarassed to have such a classless thug as Marco Killingsworth winning games for their team. As my hubby pointed out, he should have been tossed from the game with his second (uncalled) technical throwing the ball at Pruitt with 2:40 left in the first half. His third (uncalled) technical came before the end of the first half when he blatantly slapped Warren Carter.

This my friend, is why I despise Indiana, Mike Davis, and all the dirtiness this program recently represents. Relying on cheap, dirty transfers to come in for a year and magically save your team's season. (Apologies in advance to my one Hoosier fan friend Julie, but that's how I perceive it). And it makes me appreciate programs like Tom Izzo's Michigan State squad all the more. Even Tommy Amaker and his Michigan squad seem far and away cleaner players. Iowa didn't play this dirty. Heck, who doesn't look good when up against this kind of sportsmanship?

I haven't seen enough of Illinois's play to comment at this point. I'm disappointed, but much less than I was with the outcome of the Iowa game. Two-point Big Ten road losses, while not two-point Big Ten road wins, are respectable these days...but not dominating performances like those put forth by last year's squad. My feeling is that Illinois still has a lot of work to do offensive and definitely on free throws, before they can be a real Elite Eight contender in March.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

It was the best of games...

Then it was the worst of games. If Dickens wrote about basketball, he couldn't have composed this one better. After Dee's amazing performance and the Michigan State victory Thursday, Illinois looked terrible losing up at Iowa less than 48 hours later. It seemed apparent that this first loss was inevitable -- given the high quality of Big Ten Play, this was probably going to happen sooner or later. But in my husband's opinion, it shouldn't have happened like that.

That game was just horrendous to watch. I was at home watching it most of the first-half, and no one on either team could find the basket for minutes at a time. My hubby actually questioned whether the rims had been adjusted/tightened at both ends of the court. Well if that was the case, Iowa figured out how to make adjustments and actually went on a few scoring runs in the second half. No one from Illinois could come close to making that claim other than James Augustine, who fortunately broke out of his funk but unfortunately spent about half the game on the bench in foul trouble. I was a stamping party (I'm quite the domestic maven when I have time to do so), and I actually quit watching with several minutes left to play. It's easy to forget what that's like when your favorite basketball team has only lost five times in the past two years.

As Mark Tupper notes, this game exposed the flaws in Illinois's play that we already knew about, flaws that have made fans nervous during the first fifteen games. Tepid offense, horrible free-throw shooting, a tendency to stand there and look at Dee to make things happen. But as he also notes, Weber is too good a coach to let these things go on unaddressed. Hopefully they will make some progress before next Saturday's games against Michigan and the January 17th session at Indiana. We shall see.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


What a game! A defensive slugfest so to speak, somewhat of a nailbiter until the last two minutes, but that was some quality Illini basketball. 60-50 Illinois -- it turns out my prediction was not quite generous enough. I am a bit concerned about the offense, but it did seem like it started to gel in the last ten minutes of play. And I heart Rich McBride hitting those three pointers when they were needed. Keep it up big guy, we need you!

Thanks to Dee's unbelievable 34 points and an impressive defensive effort, I do not have to buy the Krispy Kremes tomorrow. As always, I salute Michigan State for being a class act...with one exception. Paul Davis and his repeated dirty digs at Augie were not well recieved at my house. Other than that...hoorah for a great game. Bring on the rest of the Big Ten, and let's see what Illinois can do in terms of a team offensive effort. ILL!

P.S. Just trolling message boards for post game feedback, and I had to amend this post to salute another class act. Mr. Daniel Brown in the Daily Illini -- thanks all his coaches and teammates and then drops this quote below. Illini fans can read the whole letter here.

"To all the fans I have to say this: Thank you so much for the support and love you have not only for me, but for the whole program. To see orange on road trips, sellouts at The Hall, fans traveling around the country, it means so much to us and YOU are the reason we compete at such a high level. Love always outweighs the hate, positive overshadows the negative, and in this business when expectations aren't met or struggles occur, what keeps me motivated and positive are the fans that wear my shirt, jerseys and hats. I really appreciate that, and it's really a blessing to play in front of wonderful fans that care about the program and this kid who wears a headband.

I have to say that if it weren't for the love I have for the coaching staff, Athletic Director Ron Guenther, the fans and the excitement of playing in The Hall, I would have gotten an agent and turned pro. The University of Illinois was so deep in my heart, and God made me understand how much love people have for me. Well guess what? I love y'all too!

I knew by coming back to school it would only help me send a positive message to the youth that education is essential. If people don't think I'll be a pro, I still can smile and say I have my degree from one of the best public universities in the country.

I hate to say this, but I'm kind of glad I broke my foot last summer because it made me a better person and made me realize my destiny and purpose in life. Thank you for the opportunities, and I will forever love the University of Illinois. I hope No. 11 lives on after I'm gone. Until then, I will continue to play my hardest and represent my school."

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

On a more serious note

I wanted to note that I will be praying for Ariel Sharon tonight, as it has been reported that he suffered a massive stroke this afternoon and is clinging to life. While I don't necessarily think Israel is blameless in the current Middle Eastern situation, he has always struck me as an admirable, well-meaning man trying to do what he feels is right.

On a related note over at Opinion Journal, Mark Steyn has a long, thoughtful, distrubing piece on the greatest threat to Western Civilization. The declining birthrates in Western nations, the skyrocketing birthrates in radical Islamite countries, and the misguided notion that we should not be intolerant of any beliefs, even horrible ones that encourage suicide bombings and Islamic legal codes that allow for men to rape women at will. I cannot do the piece justice in my description as I have limited time available tonight. However, I encourage you to read and consider Steyn's arguments. It makes one of the better cases I have seen for actively encouraging liberty, democracy, and modernity in Radical Islam practicing nations.

This piece should make anyone who values their freedoms as a human, as a citizen of a democracy, or as a Christian stand up and take note. On a lighthearted note, it also makes me want to have lots and lots of babies. But pretty much everything does lately.
Big Ten play starts tomorrow...

...Big Ten play starts tomorrow! And not with a whimper but with a bang, as last year's conference Final Four contenders take one another on at the Assembly Hall in Champaign. It's a game I always look forward to, because try as I might to detest them because they are the enemy tomorrow night, I deeply respect Tom Izzo and his program. (This is basically the consensus in Illini Nation as well, as this thread over at IlliniBoard demonstrates). I can't get as excited about Indiana and Iowa because I just don't like their coaches and leadership quite so much.

Michigan State is a high-quality team. They've had two losses to good teams (Gonzaga and Hawaii) as their record states, but without Dee Brown's heart a few key free throws, Illinois could have the same win-loss numbers. Michigan State also owns clutch wins Arizona and Georgia Tech. With the exception of North Carolina and perhaps Xavier, Illinois has not seen what they can do playing a team of this caliber yet.

All that being said, I have to believe that this team has improved substantially in the past month or so since squeaking by Xavier. Dee has really started to gel at point guard, and the defensive intensity witnessed in the first half of the Illinois / Tennessee Martin game was incredibly impressive. If Illinois comes out with that defense tomorrow night -- if Augie and Randle can both control their men -- I think Illinois could surprise everyone and put out a very impressive showing. If Dee keeps running things like he's doing or Rich McBride has another hot shooting game, who knows what could happen. A win against MSU tomorrow would definitely silence some of the naysayers and force the ACC/Big East loving pundits to take this team seriously. I'm pretty sure it will be a hard fought battle, but ultimately this game is at Assembly Hall and I think Dee and boys want this one too much. With the sea of orange all hyped up, I'm going to basically agree with Mark Tupper and predict a 5-point victory for Illinois decided in the last few minutes of the game.

I do have a veiled interest in tomorrow night's game. Two boxes of doughnuts for my coworkers and the opposing screen's team saver on our monitors for a day per point of the victory margin ride on the outcome of this one. Let the game begin! As my favorite Illinois underclassman Jamar Smith said at practice Monday, "I’m pretty sure it’s going to be bananas!”

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New Year!

I mulled a post about the best and worst of 2005 most of the weekend. Other than pop culture hits and misses, it was hard to categorize everything into bests and worsts. Instead, I'll just offer up some things that will stand out in my memory about 2005. Not necessarily the best or worst or most important things, but things that resonate in my mind in no particular order. Keep in mind that I don't get out much or stay that abreast of the newest trends unless they are televised.

Favorite TV Shows of 2005: American Dreams (RIP), Arrested Development (SaveOurBluths.com), The Comeback (RIP), Entourage, Everwood, Gilmore Girls, Grey's Anatomy, Jack and Bobby (RIP), Joan of Arcadia (RIP), Lost, My Name is Earl, Scrubs, Six Feet Under (RIP)

Favorite Movies of 2005: Mad Hot Ballroom, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Star Wars Revenge of the Sith (in there for the hubby), Walk the Line, 40 Year Old Virgin. (I really didn't see many movies this year. To be fair, I think Chronicles of Narnia, A History of Violence, Kung Fu Hustle, Me You and Everyone We Know, Munich, Shopgirl, and several other films might have made this list if I'd seen them)

Least Favorite Movies of 2005: Fever Pitch and Must Love Dogs. Promising films that could have been much better, just disappointing given the actors.

Favorite Albums of 2005: From Under the Cork Tree (Fall Out Boy), Wreck of the Day (Anna Nalick), Illinoise (Sulfjan Stevens), Why Should the Fire Die? (Nickel Creek), Nothing is Sound (Switchfoot)

Moments to Remember from 2005:

  • Watching the New Orleans levees break and the stranded citizens after Hurricane Katrina. Feeling pretty dismayed because New Orleans had known what could be in store for them...but the evacuation failed, mass chaos and calamity ensued regardless.
  • Meeting my friends' adorable babies -- and coming to terms with the fact that many of my friends are now having babies! Max, Yeva, Elizabeth, and Mason, welcome to the world!
  • Watching the Supreme Court nominations unfold after O'Connor's retirement and Rehnquist's passing. The process was somewhat messy, but overall I was pleased with the well-qualified justice and nominee that were eventually put forth.
  • Witnessing Mike and Alecia's lovely wedding at the Wash U chapel in St. Louis and the wonderful weekend, road trip, and company associated with the event.
  • Watching Illinois come back from 15 down to defeat Arizona in an incredible performance, after even I had written them off on my blog.
  • Vasher's 108-yard punt return during the Bears-49ers game this fall.
  • Visiting the Atlantis resort in Nassau and snorkeling off Port Lucaya with my family this spring.
  • Thanksgiving weekend in Ohio with my mom's extended family. It was an annual trip growing up, but I never really realized how special it was until we were able to reassemble the whole crew for the first time in ten years.
  • Feeling a bit sad when the Nick and Jessica separation was announced Thanksgiving weekend. The hubby and I were married just a few hours before them in 2002, so I was pulling for them to make it.
  • Pope John Paul's passing and Pope Benedict XVI's selection. I'm not Catholic, but it was fascinating to witness from a historical perspective.
  • Watching coverage of the Pakistan earthquake in October and realizing how many thousands perished there...
  • Seeing the sheer joy on the faces of Iraqis after voting in their election this December and realizing just how many Americans, myself included, take this privilege for granted.

Have to work tomorrow, so that's it for now but I will try to return soon.