This Super Bowl pick comes down to the heart

I hear they are playing a big football game Sunday. The Super Bowl. With a bunch of Roman numerals after it, so it must be important.
It’s even being televised. Of course, I think they’re just doing that so they can have enough breaks in the action to show all those supposedly Super commercials.
Granted, with the economy in a fourth down-and-long situation, who has money to buy what they’re pitching?
But I digress.
Who’s gonna win — the Cardinals or the Steelers?
After all, I should know — being the incomparable Zeke and all.
Well, my head says the Steelers. So do the bookies.
But my heart says the Cardinals.
Arizona has been on an improbable run, as Eagles fans may have noticed. But Pittsburgh’s got a defense that could protect all our nuclear missile silos.
But the Cardinals have quarterback Kurt Warner, the most amazing rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-riches saga in the history of sports.
Warner’s deeds have been so unexpectedly heroic, dramatic and historic that someday there’s gonna be a screenplay scripted about him.
If a Super Bowl title is in the Cards for Kurt Sunday, it will put me over the moon.
I can’t wait to look down and see Neil Armstrong’s footprints on the lunar surface.

A recipe for self-destruction

Apparently not everybody has gotten the message that eating healthy can prevent you from becoming a ticking time bomb by the age of 40.
The recipe for the Bacon Explosion has become all the rage on the Internet ever since instructions for building this malevolent monstrosity consisting of two pounds of bacon woven through and around two pounds of sausage and slathered in barbecue sauce first went online.
This baby is flat-out guaranteed to torque obscenely the hardware of arteries and heart valves.
Indeed, all those foolhardy folks who indulge and gorge themselves are picking a fight with survival. As they approach the table, they should be robed and oiled — snorting all the way as they trail an entourage of barking sycophants.
Of course, their excuse could be this is comfort food in tough times. But cardiac arrest ain’t all that comfortable.

John Updike, Ted Williams and me

John Updike, who has passed at 76 into the big library in the sky, could write. He wrote his way right out of Berks County and all the way to two Pulitzer Prizes for fiction. He wrote more than 50 books, 20 or so of them novels. He wrote enough short stories to wallpaper a mansion. He penned art criticisms and essays. He wrote poetry. He undoubtedly wrote on napkins.
But I wasn’t a fan. Updike always overwrote. I know I do, too, and I can’t even carry Updike’s typewriter ribbon. Nevertheless, his prose has too much opulence for my simple tastes. His soaring phrases too often segue into a slobbering state and wind up having all the relevance of sculling.
However, I loved it that Updike was a baseball fan. As a former sports columnist, I do commend him for the large piece he wrote on Ted Williams way back in 1960 for the New Yorker.
As someone whose longest column ever was on Williams when he visited Reading to speak at a testimonial for former Boston Red Sox roomie Broadway Charlie Wagner, Updike’s connection to the Splendid Splinter does give me some sort of affinity for Updike.
Which just goes to show you that sports is the universal language for writers of all skill sets.

Cooper vs. Stamm — let's get ready to rumble in a rematch!

The Reading School Board over the years hasn’t always been an august, austere body of pantywaist academics.
Still, having gladiators on the board usually hasn’t been part of the equation.
Until now.
Educational leadership in the city hit the deck Thursday night when Reading School Board member Pierre Cooper allegedly scuffled with fellow board member Keith Stamm during an argument over a proposal to replace high school principal Wynton Butler.
Stamm said Cooper became enraged and grabbed him during a human-resources committee meeting.”Pierre grabbed me by both arms and threw me to the ground, ” Stamm said. “My knee hit first and he was standing behind me getting ready to hit me with a chair when someone grabbed him and stopped him.”
Apparently Harry Storch, board vice president, wound up as the referee before the cops were called.
Shades of the WWE! Stamm was treated in Reading Hospital for a bruised knee.Cooper declined comment. He was cited for harassment Friday.Stamm said he is exploring whether Cooper can be removed from the board. Stamm said he also wants Cooper to compensate him for missing work and for hospital and ambulance bills.
Two school board members getting in a tussle certainly doesn’t set a fine example for a student body that has been prone to violence.
Stamm and Cooper should now stand up and show the students that aggression should be limited only to the ring.
If Stamm and Cooper were to stage a rematch in a boxing ring at the Geigle Complex, they could demonstrate the physical art of fighting.
Accomplished boxers, after all, are action poets. These warriors rely on such attributes as punch, size, speed, intelligence, command and imagination — not guns and knives.
Besides, Stamm needs to stand up for himself. Right now, he seems almost seems insectile compared to Cooper. If Stamm fought back with drilling aggression punctuated by threshing-blade punches, he would regain some respect in the ‘hood.
Meanwhile, Butler may want to rough somebody up on the board since his job as principal seems to be on the ropes.
Storch said the board, meeting as a committee of the whole, plans to consider action on Butler on Monday night and Cooper threatened to fill the board room with black residents to block a vote.”I don’t care if anybody stacks or tries to fill up the room because when we vote it will be in executive session,” Storch said. “So either the people will leave the room, or the board will recess to another room, but we won’t be stopped.”The state Sunshine Law requires school boards to vote in public, not in executive session.
Granted, the Sunshine Law has taken it on the chin so often it’s usually groggier than a four-round stumblebum.

A slamming good time!

If you’re finding the economy more nauseating than eating live bait for breakfast, stop fretting and focus on more important matters.

For instance, the art of the slam dunk.

Hoops folks know that every conceivable variety of dunk, short of having a guy get whacked with a pipe across the knees as he soars toward the rim, has been done.

Until now.

You just gotta check out the designed double alley-oop dunk these high school kids pulled off.

When a house is more than a home

As we all know, the economy is deathly ill.
Unless Barack Obama can figure out a way to slip the economy a couple of aspirin and have it call him in the morning, the economy figures to be coughing and wheezing for sometime.
So people are diversifying. The more revenue streams you have the better. Even if some of them are mere trickles. Every drop of income adds up.
Since I spend a little time each day surfing the Internet in a never-ending quest for blog material, I came across a story today about how ancient Greek homes doubled as pubs and brothels.
Which got me to thinking. OK, I know that can be a dangerous thing. But please indulge me for a moment or two.
If a guy chose to turn his home into a combination cathouse/speakeasy, winking at such nuisances as liquor licenses and zoning ordinances, he could reap some extra income and not get flak from the Mrs. for never being home.
Granted, there always is an asterisk or two to trip you up. A brothel doesn’t have to have rooms that resemble those at the Ritz-Carlton, but you likely will have to redecorate a couple bedrooms and install a nifty wet bar in your basement. Plus, your foyer likely will be choked with boisterous Bubbas. And with all that drinking and carrying on every night, you won’t get much sleep and will be a bit bleary eyed when you report to your day job.
Nevertheless, these are a small price to pay to increase your income and the value of your home. And your neighbors won’t mind all the riff-raff if you entice them to become regular customers with a good-neighbor discount.

A president pregnant with potential and promise

Sometimes life wears us like a heavy necklace, jangling us at its every whim.
Like the current state of our nation.
The frustration has risen, has found no drainage and has flooded everybody with discontent.
Which has left us a nation of Hamlets — too much the dark tragedians.
But …
Today trumpets a new beginning.
Today heralds the coming of hope.
Today we turn to a new messiah in Barack Obama.
Excitement is gushing as from an open faucet.
Many are smitten with Obama. They find him energizing and intelligent, a guy who won’t have to be briefed about his cornflakes every morning.
Many are magnetized by the steel in his soul and his backbone — giving him a regal carriage.
Many are convinced his eyes have the vision of a prophet.
For all our sake, the president we inaugurate had better be great.
Because for him to be able to rinse everything clean, he’s going to have to walk on water.

Eagles, Reid and McNabb pop the clutch to snuff their Super Bowl quest yet again

The vigorous debate undoubtedly shall reach ear-splitting levels in Philadelphia: Will the Andy Reid/Donovan McNabb tag team ever win a Super Bowl?

Suffice it to say after Sunday’s 32-25 loss to the upstart Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz., the answer should be a resounding, teeth-jarring NO!
The Eagles of this era simply will not whisper hushed tunes of glory into the winter winds.
The Eagles now are 1-4 in NFC title games with Reid and McNabb. And if there ever was a time to get back to the Super Bowl, today was the day.
The Cardinals are not one of the elite teams in the NFL. They just are in an incredible zone right now, riding a supernova toward the Super Bowl.
The Eagles should have won this game.
Instead, Arizona came in like a thunderstorm Sunday and closed the show with another thunderstorm as Kurt Warner threw wicked lightning bolts — three first-half touchdown strikes to Larry Fitzgerald in the first half and a TD bullet to Tim Hightower to seal it with 2:53 left.
McNabb, who had mounted a furious second-half comeback that gave the Eagles a 25-24 lead, misfired from midfield four times in the dying moments of the Eagles’ season.
World champions deliver in the clutch. Reid and McNabb have yet to master that.
And the sands in the hourglass are growing scant.

Miracle landing in water comparable to walking on water

Pardon me for taking so long today to address the truly compelling saga of the US Airways Airbus A320 that had to ditch into the Hudson River Thursday after a double bird strike.

But the realities of my working day interceded and intercepted any efforts to enter my blogosphere until now.
Having finally extricated myself from other endeavors, suffice it to say that I have been drawn to this story like cold hands to a fire.
Modern jetliners are electronic marvels, but even they can’t cling like a spider to the sky when their engines’ fan blades are broken by colliding birds.
I cannot imagine what was going through the minds of the 155 people aboard the Airbus A320 as they plunged toward the icy waters of the Hudson. They had to think, at least for a bright-lime nausea moment or two, that they were as gone as an expired breath.
Then again, the human condition inherently is tethered to a resilient spirit and the passengers and crew also had to experience moments spongy with hope that their pilot would pull off a miracle.
Thanks to the extraordinary skills and composure of the pilot, Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III, the Miracle on the Hudson did break a sweat after sweat had moistened many foreheads.
Everybody survived the harrowing incident and undoubtedly profusely thanked their maker for the reprieve.
Of course, henceforth all us will be watching the not-so-friendly skies when we fly. From 1990 to 2007, there were nearly 80,000 reported incidents of birds striking nonmilitary aircraft, about one strike for every 10,000 flights.
Still, safety experts will tell you that you’re safer in a plane than you are on the highways or even in your bathroom.
Granted, it helps to a have a hero like Sully in the cockpit to save the day.