Tabloid speak: Congress was in session

I used to think the smartest person in the country had to be the president.Of course, I no longer think that.Now, I’m not sure who the smartest person is. But I’m pretty sure it’s not Ryan Seacrest.However, I do know who the cleverest person is. Actually, it should be the cleverest people because I’m talking about the headline writers at the two New York tabloids — the Daily News and the Post.It’s downright decadent to be that utterly clever.If I were as clever as they, you’d be reading this blog on Salon.com — well, perhaps someday if I take my dictionary to bed every night and wrestle with it.But I digress.A headline in the Daily News today caught my attention. Caught my attention? Hell, it flashed right off my PC screen and digitized itself into both my retinas!It reads: ‘Factory’ is seen as fully unionized The article it headlines is a typical serving of tabloid gossip: Sienna Miller and Hayden Christensen, the costars of “Factory Girl,” supposedly “actually coupled on camera” as the Daily News put it. Priceless!

Super a moniker that doesn't fit some quarterbacks

Sunday worship sports a new dimension every Super Bowl. Two teams go out there and undergo the most unbearable of sporting pressure while the whole world — OK, a few cloistered monks may miss it — is watching.This year the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears get to tangle in what ideally will be the most excruciatingly exciting and monumentally meaningful game ever played (that’s what’s called Super Bowl hype, my friends!).It’s not the sort of game in which a quarterback wants to come up small. The Colts’ Peyton Manning and the Bears’ Rex Grossman both are hoping not to become pathetically microscopic on the biggest stage imaginable.Manning has had a stellar career, but must win a championship to cement his legacy. Grossman is a young gun who is either brilliant or atrocious, depending on the particular play. In fact, some folks think Grossman could be the worst Super Bowl starting quarterback ever.Such speculation has prompted at least one guy to rank the all-time worst Super Bowl quarterback list.Tony Eason of the New England Patriots gets the dubious distinction of ingloriously topping the list for his utterly threadbare performance against the Bears in Supe XX. Eason failed to complete a pass as Chicago’s “46” defense of Buddy Ryan smothered him up to his shoulder pads in despair. Eason was a total Patsie that game before being exiled to the bench.Berks County folks may be interested to know that former Wilson High and Penn State star Kerry Collins ranks sixth on the list. He led the New York Giants against the Baltimore Ravens in Supe XXXV and was picked apart like a Thanksgiving turkey. He uncorked four interceptions in going a dismal 15-for-39 for 112 yards. The Ravens steamrolled Collins and left him more grounded than a misbehaving teenager.

G.O.A.T. watching

I know there is a football game transpiring this coming Sunday that is sort of a big deal to a lot of folks. Consequently, the focus of the sporting universe this week is on Peyton Place. And this blogosphere will get to all things Manning when we tackle Colts vs. Bears later this week.Meanwhile, the sports world is gaping in awe at a pair of G.O.A.T.s. G.O.A.T. as in the Greatest Of All Time.We’re talking Roger Federer in tennis and Tiger Woods in golf. The former wields a racket while the latter wields clubs. Like nobody before them. Tiger just won his seventh straight on the PGA Tour. Roger won the Australian Open over the weekend, his 10th grand slam title.I realize some folks may look down their noses at golf and tennis, considering them to be strictly boutique sports. But people shouldn’t sniff at what Woods and Federer are accomplishing. Still in their prime years, their achievements promise to be of unsurpassing splendor.While playing different sports, the two seem to share an abundance of traits. Both are lavishly talented and known for their power and precision, patience and panache. Their performances are virtuoso recitals. They both go after their opponents with a clinical fury and elevate their games by sublimating them.Finally, there is the aura of blue steel about both of them.We may not see their likes again. So take a good look at them while they’re still incandescent, resplendent and transcendent.

Pick your tax poison in the primary

Most voters, unfortunately, blow off primary elections with the casual ease that clings to apathetic Americans like lint.Berks voters, however, may want to cast their ballots this May. And they may want to be rooted in hypnotic concentration as they do their homework on Act 1 before going to the polls.What the hell is Act 1? Well, it’s not the opening act of a play. But Act 1 does come with its share of high drama. It involves taxes, which enfold all of us in their relentless embrace.Berks County residents could save or lose hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of dollars under tax-shift proposals school boards will present to voters in the May primary. The proposed changes are part of Pennsylvania’s property-tax relief law, or Act 1, which was created to reduce residential property taxes by increasing local income taxes. Supposedly, homeowners with lower incomes would save money; renters and high-income earners would pay more money. Each school district had to appoint a tax-study commission to recommend a tax mix that best suits their community. Now each school board must craft a tax-shift referendum by March 13 so it’s cued up for the May ballot.Taxes, of course, have about as much charm as a strangler’s cord. And there’s no question that the tentacles of property taxes have strangled some folks. Then again, income taxes usually don’t prompt people — with wallets in hand — to do cartwheels of joy. But at least Act 1 does give voters more options and more involvement in how their schools are funded.Then again, there are at least three other options that might work better:1. Let your school district solve its money crunch by robbing a Swiss bank.2. Have Bush hightail it out of Iraq and funnel the billions of dollars spent on the war to local school districts.3. Eliminate public education and let the home-schoolers and private schools pick up the slack (of course, your doorbell then will be ringing constantly as entire regiments of kids peddle candy, magazines and other fundraising goodies).

Caffeine pastry could be a scrumptious high wire act

We all know folks who are so wired on caffeine their eyes resemble slot machine lemons and their hair looks like Albert Einstein’s after he stuck a wet finger in an electrical outlet.Life can be clumsier to wrestle than an alligator greased in Crisco, so these caffeine junkies rely on a big buzz to get through the day.Now these addicts could be getting a sizzling lightning bolt of a jolt — with oodles of calories to boot! Indeed, they soon may be wolfing their way through the pastry tray of life. Yep, they could be munching on a Buzz Donut or a Buzzed Bagel. Imagine how furiously they’ll be chewing on those goodies!A molecular scientist, who should be working on more important matters like curing cancer or eradicating the IRS, has developed a way to add caffeine to baked goods. But without the bitter taste of caffeine. Each piece of pastry would be the equivalent of about two cups of coffee. Wash a few of those dandy donuts down with a couple of lattes and they’ll have to scrape you off the ceiling. Unless you rocket right through it.

A longer shelf life may be yours if you stock that shelf with the right amount of alcohol

Medical studies, as we have pointed out several times in this blogosphere, can be even less reliable than weather forecasts. Medical researchers frequently contradict one another until their credibility is lower than a shifty guy trying to peddle you a supposedly expensive watch on a Manhattan street corner.But medical studies do perform one important function — they can stamp our lifestyle choices with an official imprimatur.For instance, researchers in Italy have just released a study that says moderate drinking may lengthen your life while too much booze will shrivel up your liver until it resembles Joan Rivers and then kills you.Granted, this study seems to be playing rehashed chords. But the Italians, likely a thirsty lot, have rather liberal criteria on what constitutes moderate drinking.They claim up to four drinks per day in men and two drinks per day in women can reduce the risk of death by 18 percent.Four drinks a day? That’s a lot to swallow. But if it can help me live as long as Methuselah, it won’t take a lengthy negotiation with my inner self to make me drink to that. Indeed, this report has a tide so strong it should suck in legions of drinkers. Then again, after four drinks our willpower could be drowned in shots. And we soon could find ourselves on a gouged and pitted road to an early death as we take the fifth.

Perhaps McNabb and the Eagles aren't on a collision course. But they could be scraping fenders!

Andy Reid says Donovan McNabb is NOT suffering through a winter of discontent. He claims reports that McNabb is squabbling with the team over his rehab and that some Eagles prefer Jeff Garcia as the starting quarterback are pure fabrications.McNabb’s agent, Fletcher Smith, echoes the party line.Granted, there may not be a fire. But perhaps there’s smoke, generated by Reid canceling McNabb’s news conference last Friday.The perception, of course, was that Reid was pressing the mute button on McNabb in a clumsy attempt to throw a sheet over the Birds’ crackling cage of friction. Personally, I don’t think the alarm systems are shrieking inside the Eagles’ nest. McNabb, when healthy, definitely will be the starter. And Garcia could leave via free agency if he gets a shot at a starting gig.Still, McNabb and his mother are sensitive people. Who knows what sniping little psychiatric terrors have been popping up in Donovan’s minefield while he has been sequestered without control? While the Eagles were making their dramatic run to the playoffs without him, McNabb likely was ambushed by insecurity and anxiety.Now the big question is: By the time the regular season rolls around in September, will McNabb still need a periscope to a world that suddenly has grown alien to him?

Hey, Rocky: There's gung-ho and then there's nuts!

Sylvester Stallone claims he knocked off sex to improve his on-screen performance in “Rocky Balboa.”Some critics of Sly’s thespian talents, of course, likely would say his sacrifice in order to conserve energy was all in vain. Stallone does fancy himself as a boxer, even if just a celluloid one. And the practice (or non-practice) of sexual abstinence among fighters in training is only slightly younger than carbon. Granted, giving up sex at 60 — Stallone’s age — isn’t quite as hard as abstaining when you’re 30. As we move into the winter of our lives, stoking the furnace no longer is as automatic as an elevator door.So if Stallone did abstain, I’m sure he didn’t find it as hard to do as, well, barrel rolling an F/A-18 Hornet. Still, I do admire Stallone’s dedication to his craft. My question is: How many of us would be willing to sacrifice sex for better job performance? I’m thinking the answer would be less than zero.

Cardiac arrest alert!

For the record, I’ve never seen porn queen Jenna Jameson in a movie. Scout’s honor.However, I’ve seen Scarlett Johansson in several flicks. And why not? My girl has a face to die for and her body has enough curves to shift any man’s salivary glands into third. It seems Jenna also has an eye for Miss Scarlett. Jameson has handpicked Johansson to portray her in her biopic. Jameson currently is in talks with producers and hopes the movie adaptation of her book “How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale” begins filming next year.Johansson is on record as saying she would strip for the cameras for the right role.Sounds like a match made in heaven. Then again, perhaps my geography is a bit north.

Super is perhaps the most overused non-swear word in the English language — but it sure fits Colts vs. Pats, Manning vs. Brady

A great sporting contest can be great theater. Indeed, Indy’s 38-34 thriller over New England for the AFC Championship last night was such great drama that I do believe William “Bill” Shakespeare must have penned it himself.Colts vs. Patriots. Peyton Manning, Mr. Choke, vs. Tom Brady, Mr. Clutch. It was an improbable encounter with Manning out-dueling Brady in a match of magnificent gunslingers.Not to dip into the hot broth of deep hyperbole here, but what the hell! This had to be the biggest Clash of the Titans since Achilles vs. Hector, Greeks vs. Trojans. And that latter epic wasn’t even on network television (although Brad Pitt later turned Achilles into a Pretty Boy on the silver screen). It was utterly intoxicating watching all the thrills and spills as the Colts wrought their miracle comeback. And I was drinking bottled water at the time. And now Peyton is going to the Super Bowl — finally. Thank God for that because I believe there would have been more than a whiff of the lynch mob building in Indianapolis if he had fallen short one more agonizing time. He is a marvelous talent but he seemed to be hopelessly fighting an inanimate object called Wicked Fate until Sunday evening. I guess the conspiracy to shaft Peyton Manning no longer is afoot in the land.Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears dismantled the New Orleans Saints 39-14 amidst snow flurries to win the NFC Championship and embark on a mass migration to Miami to square off with the Colts in the Super Bowl Feb. 4.The Bears won because their defense was crunchier than Crackerjacks and because the Saints had more turnovers than a pastry shop. And did those Big, Bad Bears ever wolf through that pastry tray!Granted, Bears QB Rex Grossman made a few plays with his arm. But for the most part he was as ragged an old pair of jeans. Fortunately for Chicago, it has a relentless running game that pounds people into pulpy tissue.And how cool is it that Wilson grad John Gilmore, a backup Bears tight end, is going to the Super Bowl? He becomes the second Wilson product to make the Big Game. Kerry Collins quarterbacked the Giants to a Super Bowl against Baltimore. Hopefully Gilmore has a better experience than Collins. I believe they still are adding up the score in that astounding Ravens’ romp.For you trivia buffs, there is another Berks high school alum who has played in the Super Bowl. Steve Kreider of Schuylkill Valley was a wide receiver on the Cincinnati Bengals’ team that had the misfortune of running into Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers in their prime.Since I’m Zeke the peerless pigskin prognosticator who is all-seeing and all-knowing, I predict Gilmore will suffer the same losing Super fate as his Berks brethren.After all, Manning suddenly seems to have caught the winds of destiny by the coattails.Who would have thunk it? Except maybe Shakespeare.