Playing The Brain Carnage Game

I'm as excited as the next person about September.

I love the the passes, the last-second field goals, the Hail Marys, the diving interceptions, the crowds, the parties, and of course, the cheerleaders. And if I'm honest, I like the hits, too. It's the dark side of me that gets brought out when I see a linebacker crush a quarterback - something I've been pretty used to as a Penn State fan for these past few years.

But this whole Chris Henry situation's got me all shook up. I hated seeing Taylor Mays deliver THAT tackle on Jordan Norwood in the Rose Bowl, that nearly decapitated the kid. I hate meeting defensive linesmen for big schools who'll never get the chance to play the game they love again because of a blown knee that has ensured an untimely ending to their career.

Sure, football is dangerous. You've got guys over over 6ft and varying weights hammering each other.

But to be frank, it's better that they wear helmets and pads than, say, rugby, the 'real man's game', where the hitting's also ferocious, and the injuries are even worse. Having spoken to some of the Scottish youth team before their trip to South Africa for the IRB Junior World Championship, they told me that the ferocity in the hitting has been 'inspired' by what they see on the NFL and in Rugby League - the latter where you are hit constantly and are meant to risk life and limb.

What I want to see from the NFL, NCAA and High School level is even more sanctions on dangerous hitting. In all three aspects of the game, I want to see professionals, college footballers and kids padded up to their eyeballs so that a big hit won't cause so much damage. As for tackles - and we're talking the Taylor Mays-type ones to be completely outlawed so that any player who doles out a hit like that won't just receive a 15-yard penalty, but can be dismissed from the field of play (like they do for dangerous tackles on the soccer field) and then suspended for a game or two. Suddenly, Big Johnny who decides to try and wreck the career of Little Johnny, the opposition quarterback might think twice about it when he's suspended for a few games for it.

If someone wants to go out and maim somebody or knock seven bells out of them, can I suggest a future career in boxing, UFC or WWE?

Sure, the NFL's blind-side ruling and 'Brady rules' of 2009 have worked - so some degree. But we need to stamp out more of them - the dangerous ones that could put a guy's career - or life - in mortal danger.

We need the rules in hitting to go from the top to the bottom, and if they are too draconian, then so be it - we might see an increase in life expectancy for people who play football.

And that can only be a good thing.

Now, back to why I really love football:


You may have guessed that by now I finally had the baby. Lincoln Ross was born on June 24th at 5:14am. The birth was short and fast and brutal. No pain medication whatsoever.

But he was well worth it. He's a sweet little boy and we are all now trying to find a new groove, a new "normal". I'm struggling a bit with that. It's pretty hard right now. Everything is.

For now, here is a picture of my sweet little boy...

Miss Teapot's Summer collection of crown adornments is about natural fibers - wool, cotton, silk; unique and exquisite details such as metal clay, hand dyed velvets, needle and bead work, repurposed vintage fabrics, acorn pouches with dainty surprises, hand painted yarn, and needle felting.
Miss Teapot is about staying true to herself, incorporating the natural world while marrying vision with a joyful sense of play. Her designs are available for children of all ages at the Ark on 4th Street in Berkeley.
Every season is a creation of newness and wonder
unlike anything else.

41 weeks

In case you don't pick it up from the look on my face - I don't want to talk about it. 

Staying with Miss Teapot means hospitality, care, attention, and always a venture into a new creative outlet. More on that tomorrow. Our visit also included down-time and attendance at the annual Scottish Ball.

Making ready.
A lone bagpiper begins the Grand March.
Strathspeys, reels, jigs. Bow and courtsey.  The participants dance until midnight, when we finally make our way home after a buffet of sandwiches and tea.
Summer's early morning light to capture part of Miss Teapot's latest collection, breakfast served, 
steamy fresh coffee, ruffled tutu tutorial (tuturial?)
and paper cranes.
There is just this to say:
And...I already miss you.

Ok, so maybe not cousins by relation, but family at heart. :) Fairyland. 

Should The College Football Powers Penalize 'Troubled' Programmes?

The VFA was just checking out a rather good article by Bleacher Report writer Trey Bradley on how Notre Dame may have dodged a bullet by not hiring Urban Meyer, who just saw his 28th person arrested under his guise as Florida Gators coach.

While there is still the argument that Notre Dame would probably have killed for someone who could coach AND recruit (Charlie Weis could recruit, but his coaching sucked - as proved by a string of under-par seasons as the Irish coach before he was fired), there is also the argument for the fact that Notre Dame looks at character, grades and footballing ability, while other schools (ahem! ahem! Florida!) just look for footballing ability, and if the kid can get good grades and keep his ass in church and out of jail, then all the better.

But let's face the fact, Urban, you - and the other coaches who see their players getting repeatedly busted by the police - are bringing college football into disrepute.

This got me thinking: at what time does the Southeastern Conference or those lovable fellows at the NCAA cite the universities that see their kids constantly getting arrested, as seems to happen at the University of Florida (and was Joe Paterno's problem during the 2004 and 2005 season), and threaten them with possible sanctions if they don't get their house in order?

Personally, we're fed to the teeth with seeing yet another college sportsman arrested for driving while texting/marijuana use/ underage drinking/robbing a fraternity/ selling crack/ firing arrows into walls/ being wasted while driving/ fighting in a club etc etc and would like something done about it.

In VFA world, we'd love to see the NCAA hand out fines to schools and five match bans to players who are arrested. That might be the deterrent that college footballers need to stop acting like children.

Overdue and reading

I am now officially overdue. And do you know who I blame? The Canucks, that's who. Those sonofabitches couldn't make it past the second round again this year and I just KNOW that if they had gone all the way this year and won the cup, I would have been so excited that it would have forced my body to go into labour and the baby would have been born on "that day". The day the Canucks won the cup. But no, sadly it wasn't to be. You know what else is not to be, Canucks??? The baby will not be named, "Roberto", "Henrick", "Kesler" or whomever else may have been the MVP. That will surely teach them.

In other news, I have been reading up a storm. Every day I look so forward to bedtime (8pm??) so I can roll my carcass into bed and get to reading. It's my only real pleasure lately. (Well, that and chocolate but the chocolate part isn't something I want to brag about on here.)

I recently finished "Little Bee" by Chris Cleave - and I loved it. Super good book, I highly recommend. It's not a long one, great for summer reading on the deck - although some parts are fairly heavy.

I also recently read, "The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner". And yes, I did go down to Chapters and buy it on it's release date. So what?! I've finally come to terms with the shame of admitting that I do actually enjoy the Twilight series. Yes, there I've said it! So if Twilight is/was your guilty pleasure, I recommend this one too. It's a short quick one but good.

And now I'm working on "The Passage" by Justin Cronin. This book was getting some really great reviews and I couldn't wait for it to be released. I was a bit surprised when I went to purchase it and found it to be a monster of a book. Thick and huge and of course as all books when they are first released - hardcover. Normally this means $cha-ching$ but as luck would have it, I picked it up on sale for 60% off cover price! I paid less than $14 for a $35 book. Oh was I pleased with myself that day (throw me a bone, it's the small things)! I've only been through the first 3 chapters but so far so good. I'm liking it and look forward to picking it up every chance I get!

So why the hell am I now wasting valuable "nap time" by writing a blog post?

And lastly, blogger has some new templates. I've had fun playing with them and trying out different ones. I finally got my comment problem fixed too - comments were showing at the top of each post no matter what I did to try to get them at the bottom. Well now they're at the bottom and I got a shiny new look. You like?

That is all for now.

More museum hopping in today's entry as it pertains to the DeYoung Art Museum. Enjoyed the larger-than-life sized Impressionist paintings on exhibit from France, but truly preferred the slower pace and improved elbow room in the rest of the museum.
More local pursuits are in our future
as we vacation from home this summer. :)

Scuppered by the Longhorn: Expansion dies

It shouldn't have been as exciting as it was. According to sources who talked to the VFA on Tuesday, the decision to keep Texas in the Big XII had been made Texas' governor last week, so we shouldn't have been battling it over.

But that might just be hype and B.S. - especially if you know my source. We know that Texas governor Rick Perry loves Texas A&M, and there's no way that Texas A&M would have moved without Texas.

But then again, there's no way that Texas would have moved without A&M. Without Texas playing the Aggies every year, the Aggies would simply be a mid-to-awful football school with superb fans, a great Friday party, and weird male cheerleaders. The Aggies didn't want that - and friends in powerful places would have let it happen.

Now, it's Texas Rules in the Big XII. The Longhorns will have their own TV network, they'll be on Fox every two minutes, and the Big XII (or is it ten?) will be able to forget about Nebraska's move to the 'other biggie?' - right after they see the Big North completely ignored during September to December - simply for the fact that the teams are horrible. Colorado's move to the Pac-10 becomes a "who cares?" move, and Dan Beebe, and Bevo, are happy.

Texas' move has meant that the Big XII surprisingly has been kept together, and now there's no longer a need to loot it. Dammit! I could have done with a Bevo sandwich!

The Aquarium, at the California Academy of Sciences. Thankful the croc tank/enclosure remains from the old 20th century building. I miss the archaic architecture but so much care has been put into this renovation. Well worth the effort as I'm not much of a fan of city driving. Aquariums offer an undisturbed glimpse into a quiet, mysterious world. We always wish we had more time to simply observe. Below, Sarah. Then Matthew and Justin, buds.

 We could have sat here for hours...
Fun with the camera...

The temperature has risen. I know this because our once emerald-green hills have turned their golden hue. The butterflies are dancing through our back yard in pairs and the roses and butterfly bush are in full bloom. I know this because my paint turned to globs on the brush and in my cup while I painted the exterior of a house today. It does not matter that it hit 90 degrees, according to our digital thermometer that records the factual highs and lows. The temperature has risen and this I just know. Summer comes. The wheel of the year turns. Half the year passes whether we are ready or not. Above and below are two recent shots captured by taking the side roads home yesterday. It's always worth the effort...even in the heat. :)

Expansion: A name-changing narrative

We'd just like to tell you that we at the VFA are not only news breakers, we're news makers.

When we heard about the Big expansion, we couldn't believe our ears when Pac-10 commish Larry Scott gave us a call.

VFA: "Hello Larry. How are you?"

LS: "Hi, VFA. We have to say we LOVE your work and we're really at the crossroads of where we want to be right now. With Nebraska scooting across to the Big Ten and Colorado moving to the Pac-10, me and Jim Delaney are having some thoughts."

VFA: "What, that having Colorado actually weakens your on-paper schedule, and you look like the ugly unpopular kid at school that only one person has picked up your eight invitations to their birthday party? And that Nebraska's line about best aligning itself academically is just a joke, when really it's about a TV deal and lots of moolah?"

J&L: "Well, you might say that, but we couldn't possibly comment. Anyway, as you know, I handed the top boys at Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Texas A&M invites to the Pac-10, and between you, me, ESPN, SI, Fox Sports, Yahoo, and college football booster and messageboard known to man, we're expecting them to come on board. (Quietly) we don't really want Texas Tech there, but they threatened to lock us in an electrical cupboard at the NCAA meetings if they didn't get an invite. Plus, they run a fun offense - which fits into the 'general lack of defense' we've experienced for years in our league. Baylor might come too, depending on whether they think it's beneath them or not"

VFA: "Soooooo. Thought about the divisions in the conference?"

S: "I did, actually. In the North will be Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Colorado, Stanford, Cal, Arizona and Arizona State, and in the South will be "Texas, Texas Tech, USC, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M". We may well put OSU and Tech in the North and put ASU and Colorado in the South, but we want two pretty strong conferences."

VFA: "Dude, that sucks. It'll effectively be an old Pac-10 division and a new Pac-10 division."

Larry: "We understand your concerns, but wait until you think about the new name.... 2-Pac. Gettin' me?"

(Suddenly Jim Dulaney calls)

Jim: "We understand that the Pac-10 is going to rename themselves, and after much thought, we're going to change our name to reflect the addition of Nebraska, a move which will heighten the academic and athletic potential that our conference has to offer."

VFA: "Go on....."

Jim: "Biggie"

VFA: "And how about the Big, er, something.....containing Kansas, Kansas State and Mizzou?"

Jim: "Smalls".

With that the phone conversation  was over.

(Excuse the language)

Oh dear, USC

Right now, it seems to be only Oregon who's a bigger beaten-up program than USC in college football.

Oregon are beaten up because their starting quarterback couldn't keep his hands to himself, while USC has been beaten up over incidents where people couldn't keep their hands on the green.

As outlined by probably every news outlet in the United States, the Trojans have been given a two-year postseason ban, been told to vacate the 2004 postseason and all of the 2005 season victories, and had 30 scholarships removed over the course of the next three years. In other words, the good ship Los Angeles is listing (unless you're at UCLA, then you're celebrating!).

Bill Hancock, BCS executive director, said: "In accordance with the findings released today by the NCAA, the University of Southern California's 2005 Orange Bowl game victory has been vacated. We take the integrity of NCAA rules seriously. As a procedural matter, the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee (POC) must meet to formally consider vacating USC's championship title and the game records. If the POC takes such action, there would be no BCS champion for the 2004-05 season."

Bugger. That makes the BCS just soooooo much better, doesn't it - when your champion's a cheater!!

The question is is: should we feel sorry for them?

As much as I want to put a crying Song Girl's head on my shoulder and comfort her, it's hard to feel sorry for the program.

1) It's hard to feel sorry for Lane Kiffin, who's betrayal of Tennessee would probably have made Nick Saban - or even Judas himself- proud.

2) USC has been one of the most successful programs in recent years. It's nice to break up the monotony of consistent Trojan victories in the Pac-10. In other words, it makes things exciting.

3) The postseason bans are only for two years. Can you imagine how psyched they'll be when that ban's over. Some teams will be in for a kicking when 2012 comes along.

4) They might win their appeal. So let's not cry any tears yet.

What we'd like to see is a financial hammering given out to Pete Carroll, who's scuttled off to Seattle. If running back's coach Todd McNair was as guilty as the report indicates, then why wasn't he given a five-year ban from coaching? And more's the case, why the Heisman committee remove Bush's Heisman and Bush himself completely erased from all NCAA record books (although his highlights will remain etched on the memory, thank God) and declared ineligible.

But that's unlikely.

Oh, and here's Pete Carroll's response:

Thinking today of a special young lady who continues to impact the world in her quiet, creative, beautiful ways. See you soon Maddy.

Now We've Got Nebraska, What Else Can We Steal?

As you might learn if you bothered looking at the View From (North) America's our account, we're quite prodigious on the old computer, Twitter's been alive since the news that on Friday, Nebraska will talk about leaving the Big XII possibly moving from the Big XII to the Big Ten, where they are guaranteed zillions of dollars a bigger competitive position.

That got 'Twitter Nation' thinking: what else could be stolen from the Big XII.

1) We had loads of people calling dibs on Mike Mangino's jackets, shirts, and, er, one for his butt. And his 'cookie' cave.

2) Other people wanted Bevo as a pet, while others wanted him for lunch (let's be honest, he's so full of drugs that he's make Jeremiah Masoli seem like Tintin).

3) We at the View From North America wanted:

a) Colt McCoy's fiancee
b) Texas' cheerleaders - chaps included
c) Texas' freaking huge-ass TV screen - would look great over the end-zone at Beaver Stadium
d) Sam Bradford's girlfriend, and - to deal with a man-crush we might have - Sam Bradford
e) Eric Crouch's Heisman Trophy
f) Bo Pellini's sense of humor after a defensive error
g) (Jeez, this is an exhaustive list) - Mike Gundy's "I am a man" speech
h) Texas A&M's fans - quite possibly the best in the country
i) Texas A&M's ability to grab defeat from the jaws of victory - year in, year out
j) Yell Practice - The Best Football Friday Event In All Of College Football (not that we've been!)
k) A date with some Texas or Oklahoma co-eds. Just one. Just to say we had.
l) Some of that good Southern weather in late October/early November

4) The guys at Every Day Should Be Saturday wanted Iowa State. We want to know: why?

5)  Jordan Shipley/Colt McCoy's apartment. Imagine the guests, people

6) And finally - and hilariously - the apartment that Sergio Kindle drove into.

Frankly, we'll also take games like this:

Jeremiah Masoli: What A Waste of Talent

If there's a bigger waste of talent in college football this year than Oregon's former quarterback, Jeremish Masoli, then please let us know.

First of all, he gets suspended for the whole of the 2010 season for robbing a frat house, which must have enraged Oregon fans royally enough.

And if that wasn't enough (and by God, these QBs don't do it by half), he then gets thrown off the team after getting arrested for possession for under an ounce of pot, driving with a suspended license and "failure to stop at a driveway or a sidewalk".

He's now had been booted from the team. No forgiveness in Eugene, then. Frankly, we feel sorry for the Oregon cheerleaders - who we may have talked about on this blog before!

Either the cops were looking for him to do something wrong (we think that the dumbass was caught failing to stop at a driveway or a sidewalk, then had his license inspected and phoned in, and was then searched where pot was found), or he made a mistake up there with driving your car into a building while texting (we still can't believe Sergio Kindle got off with that in Austin). Either way, the king of Oregon, who took the Ducks to a Rose Bowl and Pac-10 Championship, is dead.

Here's some Masoli highlight reels, Oregon fans. Not that you'll be any more in Ducks jersey.

Going *to* the new mother instead of her bringing the baby to a photo shoot just makes sense. We take our time. We wait for the baby to be fully fed, changed, relaxed, at rest. This may take an hour. Or in our case, 3. It's all about patience.
The reward is pure sweetness.

And this last one, taken for Daddy, just makes me giggle...