Monthly Archives: January 2011

Twilight: The Novel – The Andrew Review

Once upon a time, there was a wonderful show called Mystery Science Theater 3000. It taught us all a very important lesson – that even the most hackneyed, poorly made, and all around worst “works of art” can be made entertaining and enjoyable if you simply poke fun at them as you go along. It was in this spirit that I read Stephenie Meyer’s ode to fangirl fantasies, whiny vampires, and the act of spitting on Bram Stoker’s grave, better known as “Twilight.”

I embarked on this treacherous journey at the urging of my girlfriend, who is herself an ardent detractor of the novel and its writing style. She received my sardonic running commentary as I slogged through page after page of this ripe-for-ridicule tale, and she has been my shepherd through this strange land of plot holes and tween-lit. When she encouraged me to do a full review, how could I refuse? She was also kind enough to provide me with a few NPR reviews of the book for guidance, and she even made the lovely pictures you see accompanying the review. Without further ado, here are my thoughts on that most celebrated of novels – Twilight.


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The Top Five Terms Made Up By Yours Truly pt. 2: Village Idiot Moment


This is Part Two in our series of Five Terms Made Up By Yours Truly.
Check out Part One, Part Three, Part Four, and Part Five.


2. Village Idiot Moment

Definition – Those times when you’re consuming a beverage when suddenly, someone says something funny and makes you spray the drink all over everywhere, nasally or otherwise.

The Story – This one also involves my family, but it’s a much more straightforward tale and term. On one family trip to a cousin’s wedding a number of years ago, we stopped at a local store to grab a drink for my sister, and to pick up a few sundry items for the trip. Before we drove off, both my parents wanted to fix my sister’s outfit before we arrived at the wedding. She was sitting in the back, drinking some juice, as my parents were futzing and fiddling with her dress. All of a sudden, some random young and quite inebriated fellow was walking through the parking lot, and rambling incoherently. To his subsequent dismay, my dad uttered five words that are now infamousin my family – “Look, it’s the village idiot!”

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The Andrew Preview: NFL Conference Championship Playoffs

Your Top Stories

The Jets take on the Steelers this week, with a trip to the Superbowl on the line.

1. Raiders Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson was promoted to head coach this week, filling the final head coaching vacancy in the NFL. Owner Al Davis introduced Jackson as his new coach on Tuesday, promising it was the start of a brighter future for the team. Davis made a statement that, “The fire in Hue will set a flame that will burn for a long time in the hearts and minds of the Raider football team and the Raider Nation.” Jackson was hired last year to take over the play calling duties from the Raiders’ former head coach, Tom Cable. Under Jackson, the offense doubled its scoring output from the prior season. Jackson was widely thought to be the leading candidate for the position, and this will be his first head coaching job at any level.

2. After a long flirtation that many thought was a fait accompli, the Dallas Cowboys officially announced today that Rob Ryan will become their new Defensive Coordinator. The son of NFL legend Buddy Ryan and twin brother of current Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan, Rob will coming to Dallas to coach the Cowboys’ defense next year. Ryan has been the DC in Cleveland for two years under Eric Mangini, but became free with the hiring of new head coach Pat Shurmur. He has been an NFL coach for thirteen seasons, including a five year stop in Oakland as the Raider’s defensive coordinator. In brother-related news, in addition to a Harbaugh bowl between the Ravens and 49ers, next season will also feature a Ryan bowl when the Jets take on the Cowboys.

3. It’s very rare that the top news organizations report take the time to report the absence of something, but when it comes to the 2011 New York Jets, you just have to throw the playbook out the window. Major news outlets are reporting that the Jets and fiery head coach Rex Ryan…are not talking trash about the Pittsburgh Steelers. Outspoken defensive back Antonio Cromartie, who had some choice words about the New England Patriots said, “We’ve moved on. We’re getting ready for Pittsburgh now.” Adding to the comparative love fest, Ryan said that he and Steelers’ coach Mike Tomlin were a lot alike, noting that both men were defensive coaches who received unique opportunities. Ryan added that Tomlin is one of his favorite coaches in the NFL. Will the Steelers reciprocate these veritable love letters from the Jets? Only time will tell.

Registering For The Draft

Here is the current order for the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

1. Carolina (2-14)
2. Denver (4-12)
3. Buffalo (4-12)
4. Cincinnati (4-12)
5. Arizona (5-11)
6. Cleveland (5-11)
7. San Francisco (6-10)
8. Tennessee (6-10)
9. Dallas (6-10)
10. Washington (6-10)
11. Houston (6-10)
12. Minnesota (6-10)
13. Detroit (6-10)
14. St. Louis (7-9)
15. Miami (7-9)
16. Jacksonville (8-8)
17. New England (14-2) — from Oakland
18. San Diego (9-7)
19. New York Giants (10-6)
20. Tampa Bay (10-6)
21. Kansas City (10-6)
22. Indianapolis (10-6)
23. Philadelphia (10-6)
24. New Orleans (11-5)
25. Seattle (7-9)
26. Baltimore (12-4)
27. Atlanta (13-3)
28. New England (14-2)
29. Green Bay (10-6)*
30. Chicago (11-5)*
31. New York Jets (11-5)*
32. Pittsburgh (12-4)*

* Final draft position depends on the outcome of the playoffs.

Two Big Match Ups

1. Green Bay at Chicago, 3 P.M. EST on FOX – The NFC Championship game will be all-North this year as the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears match up for the third time this season. The Green Bay Packers have essentially been competing in playoff games since Week Sixteen of the regular season. Fortunately, the team has been playing at a playoff level since that time as well. When they faced elimination from playoff contention, they delivered a beatdown of the New York Giants to the tune of 45-17. When they needed a victory to guarantee a playoff berth in Week Seventeen, they pulled out the hard-fought win. When they had to beat Michael Vick and the Eagles to advance to the next round of the postseason, they played a great game and got the W. And when they had to face their third division champion in as many weeks, the Packers responded by decimating the Falcons in front of the Atlanta faithful with a final score of 48-21. With the team firing on all cylinders for weeks now, the Packers are a tough out.

Still, Green Bay wasn’t the only team to win in a dominating fashion last week. While the Seahawks managed something of a comeback in garbage time, the Bears had a 28-3 lead at the start of the fourth quarter, and Seattle never really stood a chance as Chicago took absolute control of the game from the getgo. Having not played a truly meaningful football game in two weeks, the Bears shook of the rust and put in a stellar performance in their first playoff game in four years. Jay Cutler managed to score four touchdowns – two through the air and two on the grounds. With home field advantage on their side, the Bears are looking to stamp their ticket to Arlington in front of their home crowd. These teams have played twice this year. Chicago squeaked out a three-point victory in Week Three, and Green Bay picked up the duke by a touchdown in Week Seventeen. Still the Bears had nothing to play for in that game, though now they might wish that they’d taken that chance to knock out their upcoming sparring partner. With an NFC North rivalry and a pair of teams who’ve played each other close this season, expect a great game.

2. NY Jets at Pittsburgh, 6:30 P.M. EST on CBS – It didn’t look good for the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. Down 21-7 to Baltimore at the half, the Steelers walked into the locker room with what appeared to be thin hopes for beating the division rival Ravens. Baltimore had taken advantage of Pittsburgh’s miscues and pumped up their running game to build a two-touchdown lead going into halftime. Then, all of a sudden, Pittsburgh came back out in the second half and rallied in a big way. They scored three touchdowns and a field goal, holding Baltimore to just 28 yards of total offense in the second half, and slaying their divisional foes. Now, Big Ben will look to secure his third trip to the Superbowl in just six seasons. It was a physical game between two physical teams, and both sides got their shots in, but at the end of the game, Pittsburgh emerged victorious and are now one win away from Arlington.

The Jets, for their part, faced a tight game against a division rival of their own. New York and New England has been exchanging cross words the whole week, and it showed on the field with a fair chunk of penalties and lots of rough play. The Jets grounded at 14-2 Patriot team that looked nigh unstoppable, with a defense that sacked Tom Brady five times and intercepted him to boot. Mark Sanchez threw for three touchdowns, and the rushing tandem of Shonn Green and LaDanian Tomlinson managed to ice the game at the end. New England did manage to do some damage in the fourth corner, and threatened a comeback, but after two unsuccessful onside kicks and a questionable call on fourth and thirteen, it was too little too late. The Jets won 28-21. For all that jawing, for all the criticism, for all of the circus that’s surrounded the New York Jets this season, they’re one win away from the Superbowl. The Jets and the Steelers met in Week Fifteen, with New York walking away victorious, 22-17, but there’s much more at stake this time around. Again, expect a great game from two teams who have been playing some great football lately.

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The Andrew Review: The Office – Ultimatum (s7e13)

Pam displays her "New Years Resolutions Board" in the most recent episode of The Office.

The Office took a very long mid-season break between their holiday episode and this most recent one. The last new episode happened all the way back on December 9th, but I have to say, it was certainly worth the wait. In a season that has had its ups and downs, “Ultimatum” was a clear highlight. I’m not sure if it’s because we’re finally getting into the long-teased Michael and Holly situation, or we’re just in an upswing with the show, but this was not only a stellar episode, but one of the best of the season.

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The Top Five Terms Made Up By Yours Truly pt. 1: Coconut Syndrome

If you want to make it easier to recognize something, to understand it and to learn from it, then give it a name. In many ways, all words and phrases are merely shortcuts – quick little representations of much larger thoughts and concepts that make discussing these big ideas, not to mention wrapping our heads them, much much easier. Indeed, Shakespeare was a wordsmith, not for the glory, but out of necessity. There were certain things he wanted to express quickly and succinctly, and the English language just had not caught up yet. It’s the same reason each generation comes up with its own slang; it’s the same reason phrases like “too big to fail” went from being barely in the public consciousness to something everyone knows the meaning of in the current economic climate, and it’s the same reason Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness” swept the nation. In that spirit, here is a series of five terms that I have come up with in order to describe some hereto unlabeled phenomena. Most of these terms have a good story behind them, but all of them are useful shortcuts for certain sentiments and activities (more…)

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The Andrew Preview: NFL Divisional Round Playoffs

Your Top Stories

The Steelers and the Ravens will face each other for the third time this season.

1. Six of the seven expected coaching vacancies this offseason have been filled. Both Leslie Frazier of the Vikings and Jason Garrett of the Cowboys managed to shed their “interim” tags at  the end of the regular season. From the college ranks, coveted Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh signed a five year deal to coach the San Francisco 49ers. On the coordinator front, the San Diego Chargers’ Defensive Coordinator, Ron Rivera, agreed to become the coach of the Carolina Panthers, and the St. Louis Rams’ Offensive Coordinator, Pat Shurmur, will become the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Finally, former Carolina coach John Fox agreed to become the new head coach for the Denver Broncos. That leaves the Oakland Raiders as the only current head coaching vacancy in the league.

2. This week we have a pair of unpleasant off-the-field tidbits for you. First, former Giants’ linebacker Lawrence Taylor plead guilty to sexual misconduct and patronizing a prostitute this week. As part of his plea bargain, Taylor will serve six years probation and must register as a sex offender. Taylor caught with a sixteen-year-old prostitute in May after the girl’s uncle alerted police. Taylor asserts that he did not know the prostitute was underage and that she told him she was nineteen. In other crime tangentially related to football news, Brett Favre’s sister, Brandi Favre, was arrested on Tuesday as part of a methamphetamine bust in Mississippi. She is currently out on bail, and facing charges manufacturing methamphetamine and generating hazardous waste. Her next court appearance will be on February 8th.

3. The Steelers received a visit from a familiar face yesterday, as Bill Cowher returned to watch the team practice for the first time since resigning as Pittsburgh’s head coach in 2007. Cowher became an analyst for CBS, and it was in this capacity that he watched the Steelers practice for their game against the Baltimore Ravens this Saturday. During the visit, Cowher interviewed many of his former players, including Ben Roethlisberger, James Harrison, and Hines Ward. Cowher, who currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, was seen hugging and shaking hands with many of the Pittsburgh players during the trip.

The Playoff Picture

Your final standings/seedings:

AFC

1. New England Patriots (14-2)
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
3. Indianapolis Colts (10-6)
4. Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)
5. Baltimore Ravens (12-4)
6. New York Jets at (11-5)

My apologies for the mixup two weeks ago. I did not realize that the Colts could jump to the third seed with a win and a Chiefs’ loss. That’s not bad for a team that was 6-6 a month ago, though that’ll be little consolation now. The AFC playoff picture was exactly what we thought it would be, aside from Indy’s switch with Kansas City.

NFC

1. Atlanta Falcons (13-3)
2. Chicago Bears (11-5)
3. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)
4. Seattle Seahawks (7-9)
5. New Orleans Saints (11-5)
6. Green Bay Packers (10-6)

Again, pretty much what we expected from the NFC, with the only mild surprise being that the Seahawks managed to become the first sub-.500 team to not only make the postseason, but win a playoff game. It’s a bit notable that the three teams with nothing really to play for in Week Seventeen: Chicago, Philadelphia, and New Orleans, all lost in their final week of the regular season. We saw what that lack of momentum did for the Eagles and Saints; we’ll see if the Bears can do better.

Head of the Pack

Your final statistical leaders in:

Passing

1. Phillip Rivers (San Diego) –4710 yards
2. Peyton Manning (Indianapolis) – 4700 yards
3. Drew Brees (New Orleans) – 4620 yards

Phillip Rivers jumped from third to first in Week Seventeen to become the 2010 NFL Passing leader.

Rushing

1. Arian Foster (Houston) – 1616 yards
2. Jamal Charles (Kansas City) – 1467 yards
3. Michael Turner (Atlanta) – 1371

A little bit of a surprise here with Michael Turner jumping back into the top three in the final week of the season, but Arian Foster is the 2010 NFL Rushing Leader by a good 159 yards.

Receiving

1. Brandon Lloyd (Denver) – 1448 yards
2. Roddy White (Atlanta) – 1389 yards
3. Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis) – 1355 yards

There were no changes from Week Sixteen to Week Seventeen, and Brandon Lloyd is the 2010 Receiving Leader.

Sacks

1. DeMarcus Ware (Dallas) – 16.0
2. Tamba Hali (Kansas City) – 15.0
T-3. Cameron Wake (Miami) – 14.0
T-3. Clay Matthews (Green Bay) – 14.0

A bit of surprise here with DeMarcus Ware jumping ahead in the final week to become the 2010 Sack Leader, and with Tamba Hali pulling into second place.

Four Big Match Ups

1. Baltimore at Pittsburgh, Saturday, 4:30 P.M. EST on CBS – I have said all year that I’m not sure who the Pittsburgh Steelers have been this season. Most teams that make it to 12-4 either start rolling early and stumble at the end when there’s not much on the line, or perform consistently well with a few aberrant stumbles here and there. The Steelers, on the other hand, arrived at this record in a pretty unusual way. They started out strong, winning five of their first six games and seemed like they might even run away with the division. Then, the Steelers seemed to struggle a bit in the middle of the year, losing by double digits to New Orleans and New England. While they still managed to win at this time, they were just barely eking out victories over bad teams. Finally, they seemed to pick things up at the end, winning four of their last five games, and absolutely crushing the weaker squads in their division. If ever there’s a time to keep up that momentum, it’s now. Mike Tomlin and Big Ben are hoping to roll onto the field with the team that dominated at the beginning and end of the season, not the one that struggled in the middle. The Ravens, on the other hand, are looking to once and for all step out of the shadow of Pittsburgh in the AFC North. The two teams entered the postseason tied at 12-4, but the Steelers got the division and the bye, thanks to the tiebreaker, dropping the Ravens from a potential second seed down to the fifth seed. How did Baltimore respond? With a thirty-point beat down of the AFC West champion’s from Kansas City The Ravens looked like a team possessed as they absolutely manhandled the Chiefs. The Ravens will look to continue that type of play against their division rivals, and pave their way to the AFC Championship game. This game is my pick for the best matchup of the weekend.

2. Green Bay at Atlanta, Saturday, 8 P.M. EST on FOX – The Packers have won their last three games in a row, beating a playoff contender in the New York Giants, and a pair of division winners in the Chicago Bears and the Philadelphia Eagles. Now, they’ll try to defeat their third NFC division champ in a month and unseat the Atlanta Falcons. Aaron Rodgers on offense and Clay Matthews on defense have led these Packers into the playoffs and seem to have the momentum going into this game. That said, the Atlanta Falcons have won nine of their last ten games, will be setting up shop in the Georgia Dome, and have had an extra week to rest and prepare for their opponents. Matt Ryan and the Falcons have been far and away the top team in the NFC this year, and they’ll look to continue their great season all the way to the NFC Championship game. Expect a great fight between two great teams.

3. Seattle at Chicago, 1 P.M. EST on FOX – A great many of us thought, and some still think, that the Seattle Seahawks had no business making the playoffs. Even among those of us who thought they deserved the berth, most expected the high-powered New Orleans Saints to completely steamroll a Seattle team that couldn’t even manage a winning record. Well, in a weekend of upsets, Seattle pulled off the biggest of the weekend, and one of the biggest in NFL history, as they hung on to beat New Orleans 41-36. The Seahawks have pulled off a lot of firsts this year. They were the first sub-.500 team to make the playoffs and also the first sub-.500 teams to win a playoff game. Now, can they become the first sub-.500 team to make it to the NFC Championship game? Not if the Bears can help it.  Chicago is coming off a bye week. They’re rested, and looking to enter the game fired up against Seattle. With Jay Cutler, Julius Peppers, Brian Urlacher, and Devin Hester taking the field, expect the big names of Chicago to look to make an impact in the team’s first playoff game in four years. I expect this to be a much better game than the records portend, and the kick-return battle between Hester and Leon Washington should be worth the price of admission on its own.

4. NY Jets at New England, 4:30 P.M. EST on FOX – It’s Jets-Pats, baby. How much more is there to say? In our second divisional matchup of the weekend, two of the biggest teams from this season will square off for a third time. At the Meadowlands, the Jets got a huge two-touchdown victory over the Patriots in Week Two, and looked to have the fast track to the top of the AFC East. Then, in lucky Week Thirteen, the Pats returned the favor and then some, as they absolutely demolished New York in a 45-3 drubbing at home. Now the Jets will return to Foxboro with both teams’ seasons on the line. New York initially seemed to be reeling from that New England game, but then they appeared to have righted the ship at the end of the season, winning two of their last three match ups, including an important victory over the second-seeded Steelers. The Patriots, on the other hand, have won their last eight games in a row, and scored no fewer than thirty-one points in each outing. This matchup between the top seed and the sixth seed in the AFC has the potential to be a back and forth affair or a blowout. As fans of good football, let’s hope for the former.

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