Thursday, December 31, 2015

Reflecting on 2015

This was a good year for "The Charbor Chronicles." Maybe it was not the year that I was most active in terms of the amount of blog entries. That would be last year, 2014, when I somehow managed to publish 1,115 posts, which more than doubled my total amount of posts up to that point. I knew that would be largely out of reach this year, and frankly, there was no real interest in trying to top that amount of blog entries. There was an attempt to focus instead on quality of blog entries, rather than quantity for 2015, and I think that this was more or less achieved, although there were undeniably some blog entries that felt rather mediocre, admittedly.

That said, despite not focusing on the numbers, I wound up publishing more blog entries this year than any year other than 2014, which means that it has to be considered a good, productive year, and that is a good feeling! This will be the 819th post on the year, and that is more - even far more - than was expected at the beginning of the year.

There were some landmarks, including having reached a total of 3,000 blog entries just days ago! Also, "The Charbor Chronicles" is fast approaching 200,000 views overall. That's one-fifth of one million views, and that is awesome! Considering that I am doing this entirely on my own, without pay, and that there is a minimum of promotion (mostly on my Facebook page), that makes me feel pretty good! I would like to use this opportunity to thank everyone who checks in and reads, and helped to make this happen.

Indeed, this was an active year. The highlight would be the trip to Arizona with my son, where we saw the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert, a venture into Nogales, Mexico, and Tombstone, an old west town that was the focal point of more than one prominent western. Tombstone proved to be my son's very favorite highlight of the trip! I posted blog entries for each of these, documenting the trip on a day by day basis, back in August and stretching into September (the blog entries, not the trip).

Without question, that trip was the highlight of 2015 for me (and hopefully for my son as well). But there were other highlights, as well. Among these was seeing the Pope in Philadelphia with my son, and much more recently, seeing Star Wars with him, as well. I went to several book signings and author events as well, including Jimmy Carter, Ringo Starr, Jonathan Franzen, Buzz Aldrin, Salman Rushdie, and Joe Hill, among others. In most cases, I wrote reviews and incorporated pictures of these things.

So, I feel glad that 2015 felt like a more positive year overall than 2014, and I am excited and hopeful about 2016! I wish all of you a Happy New Year, and look forward to seeing each other on the other side...

David Suzuki Suggests That Humans “Are Part Of A Massive Experiment”

This was another blog entry that kind of got lost in the mix.

David Suzuki, noted scientist, suggests that humans actually "are part of a massive experiment."

What he is referring to is the experimental foods that are constantly being promoted, these GMO's that often are given solid seals of approval from official sources, who want us to feel assured with their suggestions that these human modified foods are safe.

Here is the link below:

Geneticist David Suzuki Says Humans “Are Part Of A Massive Experiment”, November 25, 2013:

Rebound Relationships

We all know that rebound relationships are supposed to be a bad idea, right? After all, your heart isn't in it, because you're still in love with someone else, and so that doesn't work. We've all been there before, right?

About two years ago, I was going out with a girl for a couple of dates, and she seemed really interested in trying to establish a relationship. But admittedly, I had someone else on my mind, and she sensed something was wrong. When I finally told her, she said, with an attitude that I never suspected that she could muster, that she would not play second fiddle to anyone, and she told me that it was too bad, because she thought we might have had something. She then turned around and we never really spoke again.

Now, that's not exactly a sob story, or anything. Again, we have not kept in touch, and hopefully, she does have someone in her life that makes her happy. I certainly harbor no ill will or anything towards her. But the depth of her anger, of how much she seemed to take offense to it, did admittedly surprise me. Not sure why, since it seems obvious - who wants to be in second place, let alone in the heart of your special someone?

The thing was, I had to tell her that, because it was the reality, and even though i was not sure how she would react, she deserved to know. I had to tell her.

Of course, as it turned out, that also meant the end between this one girl and myself, and on some level, I still feel a bit bad about it, when I do think about it (which is not often, admittedly). My intention was not necessarily to end it, although perhaps in retrospect, it was naive to think I would just tell her, and that she would be cool with it.

Fact of the matter is, no one wants to be in a relationship with someone on the rebound, and perhaps that is where the perception of rebound relationships being a terrible thing comes from. It's not fair to either party, really, right?

Well, actually, not so fast.

Here is an article that suggests that, in fact, maybe rebound relationships are not such a bad thing. Furthermore, in fact, there is the suggestions that they may indeed be a good thing.

How Much Water People Drank in the Middle Ages

I ran into this article on the topic of how much people in the Middle Ages drank water.

It might seem a rather strange topic, although it is an interesting one that makes you think about something that we rarely give much thought to.

Here is the link below:

Did people drink water in the Middle Ages? BY MEDIEVALISTS.NET, July 9, 2014:

Super Bowl XI Memories

Super Bowl XI - Oakland Raiders 32, Minnesota Vikings 14. January 9, 1977 at Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California. Clarence Davis 137 rushing yards, Fred Biletnikoff, Errol Mann, Ken Stabler, Dave Casper, Pete Banaszak, Fran Tarkenton, Sammy White, Willie Brown. MVP Fred Biletnikoff, Favorite Raiders by 4, National anthem Vikki Carr "America the Beautiful," Halftime show Disney presents "It's A Small World" with the Los Angeles Unified All-City Band, Attendance 103,438, Network NBC, Announcers Curt Gowdy and Don Meredith, Nielsen ratings 44.4 62 million viewers, Cost of 30-second commercial US$125,000

I was born for this Super Bowl, although still a baby and so obviously too young to remember any of it. So here are some of the major events that took place in 1977, the year this Super Bowl was played. The world's population was 4.23 billion people. In apartheid South Africa, black activist Steven Biko is killed under mysterious circumstances in police custody. In the United States shortly after this Super Bowl is played, Jimmy Carter takes the oath of office to become the 39th President of the United States. In China, Deng Xiaoping is restored to power, while the Gang of Four is expelled from the Communist Party. A Nuclear Nonproliferation Act is signed by fifteen countries, including both the United States and the Soviet Union.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Carl Jung's Four Stages of Life

This was really interesting, and so I thought I would share it here.

These are the four stages of life, at least the way that Carl Jung saw it.

Not entirely sure where I would place myself, although when you view it, you can understand how this makes sense - especially as we gradually work our way towards being helpful towards others and not judging ourselves based on how much we have accumulated. Towards the end, we grow far more spiritual, and that sounds about right.

So, here is the link to this fascinating little reminder of what Jung believed were the main stages in life:

THE 4 STAGES OF LIFE ACCORDING TO CARL JUNG by Justin Gammill, October 28, 2015:

Doctor Blasts Workplace Requirement For Employee Sick Note

Sometimes, places of employment take too many liberties with their employees. And when one workplace demanded that employees obtain sick notes from doctors for every sick day, one doctor in particular got quite peeved, and decided to write a little pointed note.

Well, it went viral, and I thought that it was worth sharing.

Here is the link:

Angry Doctor Gives Best Response Ever To Sick Note Request. This Is Genius. by Bobby Popovic Content Writer for Tickld:

The Reality Show Bug

Reality shows are getting ever more stupid.

It used to just be Survivor, and a bunch of challenges, clicks forming, rivalries forming, classless interviews and actions by the participants.

But even that seems almost outdated, compared to the reality shows out there now.

And the sheer number of these reality shows!

Shows about swapping wives. Shows about real housewives. Shows about stupid young people living on a beach and getting drunk.

Shows challenging people to do stupid things, demeaning things, for money and prizes.

Shows showing people doing stupid things, surely hurting themselves, and the hosts adding their little quips and comments, narrating the pain and humiliation of others.

Shows following celebrities around in their private homes.

Shows set in pawn shops, and having crazy people come in trying to sell any manner of stuff, and then making a scene, surely for the benefit of the camera. maybe this is set up this way, to be overdramatized. or, maybe the people are aware, and playing it up for the cameras.

Whichever way, it has the same effect.

Shows centered on, and relying on, people humiliate themselves. Apparently, we have found out an undeniable truth, to boot: there is no shortage of people ready and willing to make a fool of themselves before an audience.

It does not matter how one gets famous, so long as one becomes famous. That is the lesson here, perhaps.

And I wonder where these reality shows had their roots.

My mind hearkens back to the eighties, to shows like "America's Funniest Home Videos" and "Cops".

Am I wrong?

Some Things Everyone From the Adirondacks Understands

Lone Maple

Image courtesy of Jonathan Miske's Flickr page - Lone Maple:
Creative Commons License:

Autumn Colors Blue Mountain Lake Adirondacks  NY 2843

Image courtesy of bobistraveling's Flick page - Autumn Colors Blue Mountain Lake Adirondacks NY 2843:
Creative Commons License:

No, I am not from the Adirondacks.

However, I did used to live in upstate New York (well, sort of), and have thought about moving up north either at or near the Adirondacks. And I am fairly familiar with some of the Adirondacks, which are staggeringly beautiful, particularly during the autumn season.

That is why this seemed like something worth sharing, especially for anyone who does actually come from this beautiful mountain region of upstate New York, close to the Canadian border (Quebec province).

16 Things Everyone Who Grew Up In The Adirondacks Understands We all know it's the beauty of New York Whitney Markwica in The List on Nov 16, 2015

Super Bowl X Memories

Super Bowl X - Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Dallas Cowboys 17. January 18, 1976, in Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida, Miami Terry Bradshaw's 64-yard touchdown pass to Lynn Swann, Roger Staubach, Glen Edwards, Drew Pearson, Percy Howard, Toni Fritsch, Randy Grossman, Roy Gerela, Reggie Harrison, Lynn Swann set a Super Bowl record by gaining 161 yards on four receptions. Stadium Miami Orange Bowl, Miami, MVP Lynn Swann, Favorite Steelers by 7, National anthem Tom Sullivan, Halftime show Up with People presents "200 Years and Just a Baby: Tribute to America's Bicentennial" Attendance 80,187, Network CBS, Announcers Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier, Nielsen ratings 42.3 57.7 million viewers, Cost of 30-second commercial US$110,000

I was born for this Super Bowl, although still a baby and so obviously too young to remember any of it. So here are some of the major events that took place in 1976, the year this Super Bowl was played. The world's population was 4.158 billion people. Pol Pot became Prime Minister and de facto dictator of Cambodia, and the Holocaust there was well underway as a result. Israeli military commandos attack Uganda's Entebbe Airport, where Palestinians had hijacked an Air France flight. Civil War in Lebanon ended, although it had threatened to escalate into a much bigger war involving other nations.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Anniversary of the Wounded Knee Tragedy

This is the anniversary of a dark day in American history, but one that we should never forget.

It was on this day in 1890 that the massacre at Wounded Knee took place, when hundreds of native people were killed by American forces.

The history is not apparently so well known by most Americans, but it should be. If we are ever to overcome or even make progress towards the problems of a racial past anytime in the future, we need to be aware of chapters in our history like this, even if (or perhaps especially if) it makes us uncomfortable.

Here is what I originally wrote in 2013 on the occasion of the anniversary of Wounded Knee:

Belated, But Still Powerful originally published December 29, 2013:

I wanted to commit an entire blog entry to Wounded Knee, but this has been a hectic time for me, and my focus is not where perhaps it should be.

That said, I wanted to make sure to do something to commemorate the memory of a very important and tragic event in American history, one that many people don't seem to know about, and even more do not want to talk about or acknowledge.

But it happened. We might not be comfortable with that fact, but that does not change that it is an undeniable part of our history.

And it is important to keep the memory alive. To learn what lessons are available for us to learn from the event. We marvel at the memory of Custer's Last Stand, and many of us (myself included, admittedly) grew up with westerns, where Indians were more often than not portrayed as mindless savages, almost as just another inconvenient part of a rugged and untamed landscape that needed to be conquered and subdued. Seeing things in this light, they were hardly viewed as human beings at all.

It is easier to commit atrocities against people when you first dehumanize them. In fact, perhaps it is necessary to do so. After all, how can you commit mass murder or genocide against people that you now intimately, that you value and respect, as individuals and as a community of people?

So, we need to remember what American soldiers did not on that frigid day in late December at Wounded Knee some 123 years ago, or in the hot jungle of Vietnam at My Lai on March 16, 1968. We need to understand that we share a common humanity with all other people, and that we never have the right to summarily and indiscriminately kill masses of people in a huge massacre.

Here are a couple of links that might help us to understand what happened at Wounded Knee better:

1890 - U.S. Army massacres Indians at Wounded Knee:

Wounded Knee 1890 @

Super Bowl IX Memories

Super Bowl IX - Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Minnesota Vikings 6. Dwight White, Fran Tarkenton, Bill Brown, Marv Kellum, Rocky Bleier, Matt Blair, Bobby Walden, Terry Brown, Fred Cox, Terry Bradshaw, Larry Brown, Harris set record 158 yards on 34 carries. Tulane Stadium, New Orleans. MVP Franco Harris. Favorite Steelers by 3. National anthem Grambling State University Band. Halftime show "Tribute to Duke Ellington" with Mercer Ellington and Grambling State University Band. Attendance 80,997. Network NBC. Announcers Curt Gowdy, Al DeRogatis and Don Meredith. Nielsen ratings 42.4 56 million viewers. Cost of 30-second commercial US$107,000

Still was not born for this Super Bowl, so here are some of the major events that took place in 1975, the year this Super Bowl was played. The world's population was 4.086 billion people. Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia, beginning a Holocaust that would take the lives of millions. In Vietnam, Saigon fell to the Communists. Apollo and Suyez take off in a joint effort in space by the Americans and the Soviets.

NFL Week 17 Preview & Cincy vs. Denver MNF Review

The New England Patriots may still be the best team in the AFC, and possibly the NFL. Yet, they continue to get breaks, each of the last few seasons. The latest one came in a game where they were not even playing in, as the Broncos managed to beat the Bengals, giving New England the perfect opportunity to win at Miami next week to secure the best record in the AFC and home field advantage throughout the playoffs once again. 

The Bengals were tough on the road throughout, even without Dalton. Still, Mile High Stadium is a tough place to play, and the Bengals just did not have enough to actually pull off what would have been an incredible road win.

Now, Denver is in position to clinch the second playoff bye, while the Bengals are, rather typically, on the outside looking in. 

True, it went into overtime, but the Broncos got a field goal, and then forced a turnover to clinch a huge win that secured a playoff spot, and put them in a golden position to clinch the division, finally, next week.

NY Jets at Buffalo - The Jets are hot right now, and they want to exact a measure of revenge on the Bills and former head coach Rex Ryan, after the embarrassment at MetLife earlier this season. Look for the Jets to play mistake free if they are going to win this one. The Bills want to play the part of spoiler, although I suspect that they won't, and that the Jets fly high enough to land in the playoffs with a win upstate.

New England at Miami -  The Patriots can clinch home field advantage outright now with a win at Miami. The Dolphins are an inconsistent team, playing hard one week, then getting blown out the next week. It is sometimes hard to predict which Dolphins team will show up, although I very much doubt that Miami will have enough to beat New England anyway this week.

New Orleans at Atlanta -  The Falcons are finally coming to life again, in a typical case of too little, too late. They looked awesome racing out to a 5-0 start this season, and still looked very strong at 6-1. Then, they were 6-7, and looked out of it. They won their next two, and looked like a playoff contender again. Still, they were officially eliminated, but are now playing well enough to make a statement for next year. Atlanta should beat New Orleans in this NFC South showdown.

Baltimore at Cincinnati - Okay, so the Bengals lost the big showdown at Denver. But they still could possibly win a playoff bye with a Denver loss, and there is still a scenario (unlikely though it might seem) where they could win home field advantage throughout the playoffs. So, they have something to fight for, and should play hard and well. In the end, they should be able to pull off a win against a dangerous Baltimore team.

Pittsburgh at Cleveland - The Browns almost played spoiler against Kansas City last week. Now, they have one last chance to totally ruin another team's season with a devastating upset. Plus, the Browns have home field advantage. Still, the Steelers are a tough team with an offense that tests opposing defenses, and that should be enough for Pittsburgh to pull this out.

Jacksonville at Houston - All that stands in the way of Houston winning a relatively surprising AFC South division title would be the Jacksonville Jaguars, who want to play the part of spoiler. But the Texans are hot right now, and know how much is at stake. They showed no doubts and were relentless last week at Tennessee, and the Jaguars are looking mighty vulnerable these last few weeks. Look for the Texans to take over this game early, and never let up until they are celebrating their division title and playoff berth.

Tennessee at Indianapolis - The Colts should beat the Titans here, but it will likely be a case of too little, too late. Indy had an off season, plagued by injuries. After the seemingly tremendous step of an AFC Championship Game appearance last year, the Colts instead took steps backwards this season. They are better than their record appears, and should be solid next season. But that should not help too much this season, however.

Washington at Dallas - Washington already wrapped up the division title, and have nothing to really play for. This game does not matter to them, as they cannot move either up or down in the playoff picture. So, they will likely rest their starters early, and that could very well mean a determined Dallas team playing for pride finds a way to win and officially sweep the division champs.

Philadelphia at NY Giants  - Two very disappointed and disappointing NFC East teams about to face a tumultuous offseason. The Giants got blown out in a humiliating nationally televised game, while the Eagles lost at home in a huge divisional game against Washington last weekend. Hard to tell what will happen here, although I would not be surprised if the Giants lose again. It could go either way, and given that these teams really are playing for pride, it almost does not matter.

Detroit at Chicago - The Lions are playing some hot football right now, and want to end the season right. Look for them to dictate the tempo against a Bears team that perpetually seems in chaos these days, as the Lions find a way to end this season right, with a nice victory on the road against a divisional opponent.

Tampa Bay at Carolina - No, Carolina no longer has a chance at the perfect season, and maybe it is best that they will not have that level of pressure on them in the postseason. Still, they are one of only four teams in NFL history to have started off 14-0, and every one of those other teams at least made it to the Super Bowl! Now, Carolina likely needs to win to secure the top seed in the NFC, because if they are tied with Arizona at the end of the weekend, the Cardinals would be the top seed. The Panthers could make history by being only the sixth team in NFL history with a record of 15-1 or better following a 16-game regular season (the 1984 49ers, the 1985 Bears, the 1998 Vikings, the 2004 Steelers, and the 2007 Patriots being the teams to have achieved that feat). Out of those teams, the 49ers and Bears won the Super Bowls, the Patriots reached the Super Bowl, and the Vikings and Steelers both lost in the Championship Game. That history would suggest that the Panthers should at least make it to the Championship Game, which is a big deal, since they have not made it that far as a franchise in almost a decade! Look for the Panthers to go up early on the wobbly Bucs, and to take over the game, cruising to a victory.

Oakland at Kansas City - The Raiders have pulled off some shocking upsets this season, and they very well might in KC this weekend, especially if the Chiefs, who have already clinched a playoff spot. But since the Chiefs still have a chance at the division if the Broncos get upset by the Chargers, that is doubtful. Plus, Kansas City wants to stay sharp, and may at least want to clinch the fifth spot to take on the Texans, rather than having to go to Cincinnati (assuming the Broncos win).

San Diego at Denver- The Broncos got past the Bengals in a tough one, and can now clinch the division and a playoff bye with a victory at home against San Diego. Look for them to win this one, playing it safe and avoiding the mistakes that have plagued them in recent weeks. They cannot afford a letdown, like they had at home against Oakland a few weeks ago. But Denver knows what is at stake, and should be able to pull this one off.

Seattle at Arizona - No, the division is not on the line, but this is still a big game, especially for Arizona. They can complete a season sweep against the Seahawks, and I do not even remember them having done that before, to my recollection. I am not saying that they definitely did not ever do it, only that it did not resonate. Seeing as though the Seahawks won the division and represented the NFC in the last two Super Bowls, it would be a big statement for the Cardinals to win this one, even if they do not win home field advantage. For the Seahawks, this probably is not as big of a deal, and they might rest their starters early, to make this almost like a bye week. I see the Cardinals winning this one.

St. Louis at San Francisco - The Rams are looking hot right now, while the 49ers, quite simply, are not. Look for St. Louis to take over the game early, and pull off a second straight road win within the division, ending this season off on the right note. Too bad that they did not get into gear a bit earlier, because they could have made a more serious run at the postseason. maybe next year.

Minnesota at Green Bay - The Vikings have picked up their play in recent weeks, while the Packers are still smarting from a stringing loss at Arizona, where they were truly embarrassed. Plus, Lambeau Field has not quite been the intimidating, virtually unwinnable stadium that it has been in the past for visitors. So, Minnesota has a real chance here. That said, the Packers will want to rebound, and already blew out the Vikings in Minnesota in that first meeting. They want to stay home for the Wild Card, and my suspicions is that they will win out in this one in the end, although it will take all four quarters, and possibly even more.

Monday, December 28, 2015

NFL 2015-16 Week 16 Review

Okay, so the playoff picture seemed to gain a lot more clarity in this weekend of NFL action. All but one of the wildcard spots is locked up now in both the AFC and NFC, although there is still a possibility that the Houston Texans could screw up and lose the division that seems to belong to them at the moment.

However, Cincinnati and Washington clinched their division titles, respectively. The Bengals did so on Sunday, despite being scheduled for a Monday Night Football game, by virtue of the Steelers surprising upset loss at Baltimore. The Ravens were able to complete the season sweep by knocking off Pittsburgh for a second time this season, and that, coupled with wins by both the Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Jets, makes it so that the Steelers are no longer in the driver's seat in terms of the playoff race.

There are no undefeated teams remaining, as Carolina lost and, in fact, could rather shockingly find themselves removed from being the top seed in a given scenario next weekend.

Let's take a look at what happened in this weekend's NFL action:

(TNF) Oakland 23, San Diego 20 (OT) - If this is the last ever NFL game played in Oakland, what a game it was! The Raiders and Chargers have a long rivalry, and there is a chance that they were both saying goodbye to their current home crowds and stadiums, as the possibility of a move to greener pastures in Los Angeles looms for both franchises. If so, what a way to go! A well played game by both teams, with the home town Raiders ultimately providing the home fans what they wanted, kicking a field goal to secure the win in overtime.

(SAT) Washington 38, Philadelphia 24 - Washington produced far more offense than Philly could keep up with, as the very high expectations during the preseason once again failed to materialize for Chip Kelly's Eagles. With this victory, Washington clinched the NFC East title and the fourth seed, and will host a playoff game against either Seattle, Minnesota, or Green Bay.

NY Jets 26, New England 20 (OT) - One of the most exciting games in recent Jets history. Needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Jets entered this game tied with Kansas City and Pittsburgh for the final playoff spots in the AFC, but they needed help. Of course, they certainly also needed to take care of business and win, first and foremost. That they did, although it was not easy. Then again, it rarely ever is against the New England Patriots. New York dictated the tempo for the vast majority of the game, but the Pats came back right at the end, scoring a touchdown very late in the fourth quarter to tie it and send this game to overtime. There was a controversy to open overtime, and it came during the coin flip, of all things. The Patriots elected to kick to the Jets, which is odd, considering that this was overtime, and New England would not be guaranteed a chance to even get the ball back. That is how it actually wound up, as well, as New York drove down the field and Fitzpatrick found Eric Decker for the winning touchdown to give the Jets as huge win. That, coupled with the Steelers upset loss at Baltimore, puts the Jets in control of their own destiny as they head up to Buffalo next weekend.

Baltimore 20, Pittsburgh 17 - The Ravens may have been forced to endure a miserable season with high expectations dashed early, but they somehow found a way to sweep the highly regarded Steelers, at least. In the process, the Ravens knocked Pittsburgh out of the driver's seat in the playoff hunt, and the Steelers now no longer control their own destiny. It was a tight game, and the Steelers did rally late, although the Ravens defense hung on and acted as a major spoiler to Pittsburgh's playoff chances. Now, if the Jets take care of business next week in Buffalo, the Steelers would be out, highly regarded or not.

Kansas City 17, Cleveland 13 - It was not a pretty win for the Chiefs, certainly. Yet, they managed to hang on against a surprisingly tough and determined Browns team absolutely determined to play spoiler and end Kansas City's rather amazing nine-game win streak. But time ran out, as a frustrated Browns team, led by Manziel, who had a solid performance, looked very upset at having been deprived of the chance to knock off the Chiefs in KC.

Atlanta 20, Carolina 13 - You kind of saw this one coming from a mile away, didn't you? The Panthers were at a historic 14-0, and were on the edge of a truly historical achievement by completing a rare undefeated regular season if they won out in their final two games. But the pressure was building and building, and Atlanta, having finally snapped their dreadful losing streak last weekend, were fighting for their playoff lives. The Falcons are not going to the playoffs, as it turns out, but at least they can boast ending Carolina's chances at a perfect season. They did so by coming back in the second half, and building slowly on a slim lead with field goals, until the Panthers needed a touchdown just to tie it in the final minutes. They failed to do so, and Atlanta came out on top. The Panthers could conceivably lose the top seed in the NFC, rather unbelievably, with a loss next week and an Arizona win.

Houston 34, Tennessee 6 - The Texans absolutely bullied the Titans all over the field with this victory yesterday, coming ever closer to the AFC South division title, which will be theirs if they manage to win that final game against Jacksonville. Houston was brutally impressive in completely dismantling Tennessee on the road yesterday, suspending any mystery or doubts early, and just pouring on the points in this blowout. They are looking playoff ready at the moment.

Detroit 32, San Francisco 17 - The 49ers looked tough early on, but the Lions began to assert themselves more strongly, as they have been doing in recent weeks. Detroit kept the 49ers scoreless in the second half, making this more or less a blowout win.

Chicago 26, Tampa Bay 21 - These two teams were mostly playing for pride in this game, and it was the Bears who ultimately showed more of it. Chicago came from behind in a tight game to take a double digit lead, then hung on to wear down the Bucs and earn a victory on the road in sunny Florida.

Buffalo 16, Dallas 6 - This was nothing like the Super Bowl meetings between these two teams. Neither team scored much in this one, as it was mostly a battle of field goals. Ultimately, home field in Buffalo helped the Bills to hang on and win in a game more for pride than anything else, while both defenses looked tough again in this contest. Too little, too late?

New Orleans 38, Jacksonville 27 - The Saints earned yet another victory, possibly the last one with Brees at the helm, and with their current lineup. They did so against the hapless Jaguars, who seem to have given up on the season in the last few weeks.

Indianapolis 18, Miami 12 - The Colts got a needed win to keep their flickering playoff hopes alive, but one cannot help but wonder if it was not too little, too late. Still, Indianapolis needed a win to at least stay in the playoff picture for now, even if they do not control their own destiny. And they managed to win a tough road game at Miami, hanging on against a Dolphins team playing tougher than they have played in several weeks now.

Arizona 38, Green Bay 8 - The Cardinals have continued to leave doubters in the dust this season, as they solidified their elite status by clinching a playoff bye with a surprisingly easy and very convincing blowout win over Green Bay. This was a big game for both teams, as the Packers still had an outside chance to catch the Cardinals and earn the playoff bye. But this game was decided quite early, and the Cardinals poured on the points early in the third, putting the game out of reach for the Packers, who looked flustered and frustrated, and were beaten soundly on both sides of the ball.

St. Louis 23, Seattle 17 - The Rams became the first team since the 2011 49ers to sweep the Seahawks in the regular season, and they did it as a franchise for the first time since the 2004 season, in what was considered one of the surprises of the week yesterday. The Seahawks never led, and never seemed to be in this contest. It was a letdown by a team that had already earned a playoff spot on an ugly, rainy day in Seattle. For the Rams, this was a tease, a glimpse of what they are capable of, but showed little of during the almost two months when they could not buy a win. Like last season's great defensive stance for almost a month, it was much too little, much too late.

Minnesota 49, NY Giants 17 - When the Giants have to go to Minnesota in a nationally televised game in the final couple of weeks of the season, it rarely ever seems to turn out well. Such was the case last night, as the Vikings made short work of the G-Men, blasting them out of the stadium early and often. It was hardly a game, as the Giants are ending a disappointing season in the worst way possible, suffering a blowout loss in a game when they had already lost any hope of qualifying for the playoffs. The Vikings, in the meantime, earned a playoff spot with the win, and will now head to Lambeau for a winner take all showdown against the Pack.

Super Bowl VIII Memories

Super Bowl VI - Dallas Cowboys 24, Miami Dolphins 3. Head Coaches: Dallas Cowboys: Tom Landry, Miami Dolphins: Don Shula. Stadium Tulane Stadium, New Orleans. MVP Roger Staubach, Favorite Cowboys by 6, National anthem U.S. Air Force Academy Chorale, Halftime show "Salute to Louis Armstrong" with Ella Fitzgerald, Carol Channing, Al Hirt and the U.S. Marine Corps Drill Team, Attendance 81,023, Network CBS, Announcers Ray Scott and Pat Summerall, Nielsen ratings 44.2 56.64 million viewers, Cost of 30-second commercial US$86,000. Passing: Staubach 119 yds, Rushing: D. Thomas 95 yds, Receiving: Warfield 39 yds.

Still was not born for this Super Bowl, so here are some of the major events that took place in 1974, the year this Super Bowl was played. The world population reached over 4 billion. OPEC ended the embargo it had begun the previous year. US President Nixon met with Brezhnev in Moscow for an arms summit. A leftist revolution ended almost half a century of dictatorship in Portugal. India became the sixth nuclear power of the world after a successful test of a weapon. In Ethiopia, Emperor Haile Selassie was dethroned, and a dictatorship took over.Later this year, I would be born.

Super Bowl VIII logo and team helmets:
Image result for super bowl viii logo

Super Bowl Rings:

Super Bowl rings
Image courtesy of Ryan Schreiber Flickr page - Super Bowl rings:

Creative Commons License:

Super Bowl V is not a full game, and for years, recordings only seemed to offer most of the second quarter. This is a more updated version and has most of the game, although not the full game in it's entirety.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Super Bowl VII Memories

Super Bowl VII: January 14, 1973 - Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California Miami Dolphins - 14, Washington Redskins - 7 Dolphins completed the NFL's only perfect season with this Super Bowl victory, although ironically, they came in as underdogs. Bob Griese, Paul Warfield, Howard Twilley, Nick Buoniconti, Billy Kilmer, Jim Kiick, Larry Csonka, Jim Mandich, Garo Yepremian, Mike Bass, Jake Scott. MVP Jake Scott, Safety. Favorite Washington Redskins by 1. National anthem Little Angels of Holy Angels Church, Chicago. Halftime show Woody Herman and the Michigan Marching Band. Attendance 90,182. Announcers Curt Gowdy and Al DeRogatis. Nielsen ratings 42.7. 53.32 million viewers. Cost of 30-second commercial US$88,000.

Still was not born for this Super Bowl, so here are some of the major events that took place in 1973, the year this Super Bowl was played. The population of the world stood at 3.937 billion people. Great Britain, Denmark, and Ireland joined the European Union. A ceasefire is reached in Vietnam, ending the involvement of American ground troops, and American bombing of Cambodia also was stopped. The United States, however, was involved with the overthrow of Allende in Chile in 1973, establishing the long and brutal reign of dictatorship under General Pinochet. The fourth and most serious war between Arab states and Israel. OPEC hikes the price of oil, and there is an oil crisis in the United States.


Super Bowl VII logo and team helmets:

Super Bowl Rings:

Super Bowl rings
Image courtesy of Ryan Schreiber Flickr page - Super Bowl rings:

Creative Commons License:

Super Bowl VII is the full game, even if it is obviously a bit dated. A decent reception of this historic Super Bowl which remains the only time that any NFL team has actually completed the perfect season. 

Star Wars "The Force Awakens" MAJOR SPOILER!!! Movie Review

Okay, so I reviewed the movie last week, and made every attempt to keep it clean of any potential spoilers.

Now, be warned, I am going to review the movie and not hold anything back - and that means spoilers. So, if you have not yet seen the movie but intend to, and do not want any surprises spoiled, than close this review now, before anything is revealed that you do not want to know yet.

Yes, I am serious, this review will reveal a lot, if not everything, that happens in the movie, so if you mean to see it and have not done so yet, than this is your last warning.


So, here goes:

Kylo Ren is kind of a wuss, compared to Darth Vader, the Emperor Palpatine, and Darth Maul. Those were bad guys who were frightful, who helped make Stars Wars.....well, Star Wars. He gets his ass kicked in a lightsaber fight by someone who has never before used a lightsaber!

Plus, I heard some complaints that he sounds more like a whiny teenager, than like the next Darth Vader. Then again, I once heard someone say that Anakin's whining in the prequels also sounded a whole lot like a teenager who's complaining  after his father denied him use of the car for the weekend.

Ultimately, it seems that they opted to make Kylo Ren incomplete. Yes, he kills his father, which would seem to make his turn toward the dark side complete. Remember, he was having his doubts before that, regretfully admitting that he felt the pull towards the light side of the force. That makes him more human, and also makes the ideological merits of the dark side feel somehow more real.

So, he is both more human and, simultaneously, less purely frightening than previous Star Wars villains. It will be interesting to see where they take that character in the next movies. He got injured in the lightsaber fight towards the end of the film, getting slashed a few times. And what was with him hitting himself repeatedly? Maybe I missed something (I do intend to take my son to go see the movie again), but I was not sure what that particular thing was all about, anyway.

In any case, I doubt that this means he will need the helmet and costume, which makes me wonder if they will alter the costume a bit (I am kind of hoping for it). Also, will he lose his arms and/or legs, like Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader?

The next big topic would be Han Solo dying. Yes, I did like Kylo Ren not being so anonymous, as he appeared in the months leading up to the film's big release. The fact that Han Solo and Princess/General Leia Organo had a child together, and that he has become the main bad guy in this movie, was really quite cool. It was a throwback to the old trilogy, while making the story line more compelling. Then, having Kylo complete his turn towards the dark side of the force by killing off his father, Han Solo? Quite brilliant, actually.

Truth be told, I saw this death coming, even before the film's release. Don't get me wrong, I did not know that Kylo Ren was his son, or that he would be the one to do it. However, the real life Harrison Ford wanted the Han Solo character to be killed off in the last film almost thirty years ago, so I kind of expected him to get killed in this one at some point. This was the most intense moment in the movie, although I have to say that it felt somehow rushed.

The next major point of controversy regarding the movie would be Luke's appearance, which lasts just a few seconds. I mean, he was the star of the first trilogy, and he was referenced throughout this movie, from the beginning credits all the way to the very last scene, when he finally makes his wordless appearance.

Here is what I liked about that scene: there he is, on a remote island in the middle of an ocean on a isolated planet far, far away. Rey has to climb a ton of stairs just to get to the top of the mountain, symbolic of all of the training that she will need to get through to become a Jedi herself. And there is the question of why the lightsaber seems to call to her, and why the force is so strong within her. Is that somehow a sign that she is Luke's son, or at least somehow related?

Much speculation has been made about this, although no one but the writers can say for certain. What I d know for certain is that Mark Hammill in this movie looks almost identical to Robert Plant these days. The resemblance was so staggering, that I almost thought that it was Plant for a second there!

Of course, despite the appearance in this film of the original "big three" Star Wars characters with Mark Hammill as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as Princess/General Leai Organo, and Harrison Ford as Han Solo, and the smaller original roles of Chewbacca, C-3P0, and R2-D2, there were some all new characters, as well. We have Rey (played by Daisy Ridley), who seems to combine the female role of Leia with the main Jedi role of Luke Skywalker. There is Fin (played by John Boyega), and there is Poe Dameron (played by Oscar Isaac).

So, let's take a look at these new characters, starting with Rey. From the posters and the trailers, the impression left for fans was that Fin was going to be the new Jedi to be. However, anyone who watched the film would know that it winds up that Rey, not Fin, actually seems to possess this calling. The lightsaber speaks to her at one point, and then, towards the end of the film, after Fin has almost been killed by Keno Ren. Ren looks at Luke's lightsaber, buried in the snow, and instead of simply walking over, he uses the force to try and make it come to him. And, of course, it flies right past him, and into the hands of Rey, who proceeds to essentially kick his ass in a lightsaber fight, but only once she begins to really feel the force flowing within her.

If there are some weaknesses in the movie, this is, as mentioned before, one of them. How a powerful villain like Kylo Ren essentially is unable to defeat someone so new to the force seems a bit preposterous. Also, why a third Death Star, and why on earth does it still have the same weaknesses as the previous two? Have they learned nothing? Unlike in the other films, when the Death Star being blown up essentially was the deciding point in the movie, this one felt really like no big deal, almost like everyone was simply going through the motions. One more thing, also: why is it that the First Order, the successor to the Empire, still seems the far more powerful warring side, while the Republic, the successor of the Rebellion, still seems to be on the run and always teetering on the edge?

Okay, anyway, back to the characters. Fin is next, and he seems to be blend elements of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, at least at first. It seems like he would be a potentially powerful candidate to use the force, although this never does actually materialize in the movie. Still, despite not having particularly great powers, he is a great character that you understand and care for immediately, complete with a background as a Stormtrooper that makes him even more compelling. That said, it will be interesting to see how they will develop his character in the future.

Then, there is Poe Dameron. He is a great character, although I will admit that it seemed a bit puzzling that he would seem to have a relatively small role in the movie, not quite making it as one of the three or four main characters. He seems like the heir apparent to Han Solo in terms of humor and wit, while also having the mechanical and flying abilities of the Skywalkers, or particularly of Anakin and Luke, before him. I would imagine that he should have a much bigger role in future movies, because he was pretty cool.

Finally, who in the hell is Supreme Leader Snoke, anyway? What's his story? So far, based on having seen only this movie, he seems to essentially be another Emperor Palpatine. But where did he come from? How did he get involved with the Dark Side of the Force, let alone wind up being a master?

There were little nuggets for the fans. That exercise ball on the Millenium Falcon, as well as the chess set. The pilot's helmet that Rey briefly puts on, and the sand covered skeletal remains of the Star Wars Destroyer ship, as well as the AT-AT Walker on Tattoine.

All in all, it was a good movie, and a solid addition to the Star Wars movies. My son really enjoyed it, probably comparably to how much I enjoyed the originals when I was his age, give or take. This also felt special because it is likely the last time that I will go see a new movie in the theaters with Luke Skywalker, Princess/General Leai Organo, and Han Solo all together. I grew up on those movies, and now, got the chance to go to the movie theaters with my son and see one last movie with all of them in it.

Here are some interesting links (most with spoilers as well) of the most recent Star Wars film:

Lawrence Kasdan on the 'crazy different' Han Solo film and where 'Star Wars' will go from here by Josh Rottenberg, December 22, 2015:

Q&A Harrison Ford on reuniting with Han's blaster, and forgiving Lawrence Kasdan for the Ewoks by Josh Rottenberg, December 9, 2015: