Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I Did It! I Did It! I Saw the End of the Game!

That is the tallest man in the world, Sultan Kosen he is 26 years old and 8 foot, 1 inches tall.

Holy Cow was that a crappy a first half but the 2nd half was pretty good as the Cowboys beat the Panthers 21-7. They should have beat them by a lot more but the defense sure did look good.

Embattled defense rescues Dallas Cowboys in 21-7 win

03:43 AM CDT on Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Column by JEAN-JACQUES TAYLOR / The Dallas Morning News | jjtaylor@dallasnews.com

ARLINGTON – For the first time this season, Mr. Fix It's defense sacked an opposing quarterback. The defense also collected its first turnovers ­ two interceptions and a fumble ­ this season.


Miracles do exist.

In the process, Mr. Fix It's defense proved it's capable of playing a complete game as the Cowboys beat Carolina, 21-7.

The Panthers aren't that good offensively.

Yes, DeAngelo Williams is a nice running back, and we all know the real Steve Smith is one of the NFL's best receivers. But quarterback Jake Delhomme has struggled, which is the primary reason their offense has been unproductive.

Still, you should give Wade Phillips credit for listening to his players and simplifying the game plan. More base defense and fewer gimmicks.

It makes sense.

Players who know what they're doing, play instinctively. They play fast. They play aggressively because they know what chances they can take within the scheme.

Players who aren't sure what they're doing, think way too much in a game where one false step can lead to disaster.

That's why the Cowboys spent much of the game in their base defense.

Delhomme passed for 220 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Williams rushed for 64 yards, while Smith caught just four passes for 38 yards.

None was a factor.

Terence Newman, awful last week against the Giants, played easily his best game of the season. He shadowed Smith ­ safety Ken Hamlin provided deep help – and did not allow a reception of more than 15 yards.


So was the job the run defense did on Williams, who gained 1,515 yards rushing and scored 18 touchdowns last season.

Linebacker Keith Brooking played his best game, and defensive linemen Jay Ratliff and Igor Olshansky did a good job of holding their ground at the line of scrimmage.

The Cowboys sacked Delhomme three times ­ twice in the fourth quarter ­ and pressured him much of the game. He never came close to finding a rhythm.

Ratliff recorded the Cowboys' first sack of the season in the third quarter. Mike Jenkins had collected the defense's first turnover, in the second quarter when he intercepted Delhomme's underthrown pass.

The unit that failed to stop the run in Week 1 or the pass in Week 2 kept both facets of Carolina's offense in control.

Phillips and the players vowed to play better after their raggedy performance against the Giants last week left the Cowboys near the bottom of the league in most key defensive stats.

"We couldn't do nothing but get better," Bradie James said.

In the end, the game is about making plays.

No more. No less.

It's funny, as I watched the game last night I began to wonder if part of Tony Romo's problem is that the coaches want him to be more of a pocket passer, I thought are they crimping his style? Apparently Randy Galloway doesn't agree with me.

No sign of Crazy Tony in Cowboys simpler game plan

Ft. Worth Star Telegram

ARLINGTON —The multitude of critics called for it, loud and clear: Better the safe and smart Tony Romo than the mindless craziness of a week ago.

So after eight days of ongoing local and coast-to-coast rip-jobs, Tony was back in front of a national TV audience Monday night, and compared to the let-it-rip Romo you once loved, and, of late, hated, this almost looked like a political statement.

Very conservative.

Forcing nothing, risking nothing — well, almost nothing — Romo was effective but so un-Favre like, Bret probably disowned him. And if Tony even bored himself, at least a turnover-free performance and a 21-7 victory over the Carolina Panthers allowed him to crawl back into the good graces of Cowboy Nation.

Not that Romo and Co. were exactly rolling thunder, as a 13-point output for four quarters represented the struggle that it was against a Carolina defense that was missing two starters due to injury, had a rotation mess in the middle of the line due to earlier injuries, and with several other dinged up players on the field despite missing practice all week.

But be safe, be smart, and do so even while under defensive heat in the first half, which was not one of the usually reliable Marc Colombo’s finer moments at tackle.

Then again, when Romo isn’t giving away gifts, the odds are good the Cowboys will win. Well, at least that’s the case when the other quarterback is having his problems in the turnover area. Thank you, Jake Delhomme, for helping Wade Phillips survive another week as a defensive coordinator under fire.

Overall, Romo handled very balanced play calling from Jason Garrett — balanced but questionable — and did throw 33 times, with 22 completions for 255 yards. Four different receivers went over 30 yards in catches. Only once, on a throw back all the way across to field to Tashard Choice was there ever a "there he goes again" moment. That pass, by the way, was complete for a nice gain.

And while Dallas’ offensive frustration was building well into the third quarter, Romo never wandered into the panic area, although a scoreless first half and then a worrisome failure to find the end zone on the first possession of the third quarter could have been enough to send him over the edge.

Apparently they are freaking out in Charlotte. They were a 12-4 team last year, currently they are 0-3.

It's woe and 3 for Panthers
Cowboys seal victory on Newman's interception
By Charles Chandler
Charlotte Observer

ARLINGTON, Texas Mercifully, the Carolina Panthers have a bye this weekend.

They can rest, hope to get healthy and contemplate a season that might already have slipped far, far away even though it is only three weeks old.

The Panthers lost a game Monday night they admitted they had to win, falling 21-7 to the Dallas Cowboys at snazzy new Cowboys Stadium.

Carolina is 0-3, a hole so deep that only three teams in the previous 19 seasons have overcome it and gone on to reach postseason play.

"It stinks," said left tackle Jordan Gross. "There's no way to sugarcoat it. We haven't won in a long time and we're losing ugly."

The Panthers' last win was last year, back when they were 12-4 and on a roll.

Counting their playoff loss to Arizona in January and a 0-4 preseason, they've suited up eight consecutive times without a victory.

Their goal of making the playoffs for the second consecutive season for the first time in franchise history doesn't seem realistic.

But coach John Fox continues to preach hope of a turnaround.

"We've got a lot of football left and we're only through a quarter of the season," he said. "We've been on three-loss skids before. We really need to stick together."

The Panthers are 0-3 for the first time in Fox's eight seasons as coach. The other two times they started 0-3 were under Dom Capers - their debut season in 1995 when they finished 7-9 and '98 when they wound up 4-12.

Carolina's offense, which is supposed to be the team's strength, couldn't do much against Dallas' defense in the second half.

The Panthers punted without a first down on their first four possessions after halftime, then got the ball back at their 10-yard line with 5 minutes, 57 seconds remaining, trailing 13-7.

DeAngelo Williams' run for a first down gave some hope for a rally, but that dissipated moments later when quarterback Jake Delhomme was intercepted by Dallas cornerback Terence Newman, who returned the pick 27 yards for a touchdown.

A successful two-point conversion raised Dallas' lead to 14 and gave the Cowboys the cushion they needed to improve to 2-1.

Wide receiver Steve Smith said he was to blame for the interception, not Delhomme, because he failed to run his route properly.

Fox said of the play: "We obviously weren't on the same page."

The Rangers got crushed last night and the Angels officially clinched the AL West. Would you belive though that the Rangers still have a shot at the wild card? Not a realistic one but they do. Here is what has to happen, the Rangers need to win all 6 of their remaining games and the Red Sox need to lose all 6 of theirs. One Ranger loss or one Red Sox win will officially eliminate them. Hey, I said it wasn't much of a chance.

Rangers fall hard to Angels

Ft. Worth Star Telegram

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Needing a miracle, the Rangers had vowed to fight to their final gasp as they opened a last-stand four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim here Monday night. They never dreamed the Angels wouldn’t even give them room to breathe.

It wasn’t painless, but at least it was quick.

The Angels clinched the American League West division championship by burying the Rangers 11-0, forcing them to watch glumly from the visitors dugout as they celebrated in front of more than 40,000 fans at Angels Stadium.

In the Rangers’ post-game clubhouse there was no talk about the strides the team made this year, no satisfaction over staying in the race until the final week of the season.

“To be honest with you, the first thing that crosses my mind is just being (hissed) off,” said Michael Young, who returned to the Rangers’ lineup at third base for the first time in two weeks and only the second time this month. “I don’t care about the future or what our team shapes up like next year. I don’t care about that. I care about winning now.

“In the big leagues you either go to the post-season or you go home. We didn’t get it done and that’s not a good feeling.”

The Rangers began this final seven-game road trip knowing they had to win all seven games and then get some help from the A’s. Instead, they never had a chance.

The Angels jumped rookie starter Tommy Hunter for three runs in the first, two on Kendry Morales’ home run over the center field fence and never let up, knocking Hunter out in the third and building an 8-0 lead by the time four innings were complete.

Angels’ right-hander Ervin Santana did his part in finishing off the Rangers, spinning a seven-hitter and persuading the Texas hitters to roll into three double plays.

The Rangers are still alive -- barely -- in the wild card race, because the Red Sox lost 11-8 to Toronto earlier Monday, but the Texas loss trimmed Boston’s magic number to just 1.

The Rangers not only couldn’t hit and couldn’t pitch, but couldn’t play defense either, chipping in three errors to make it an all-around miserable night.

“I don’t think we laid down and gave them anything. They just beat up on us tonight,” manager Ron Washington said. “Our backs was against the wall. They came out and jumped on us early and kept pouring it on. We couldn’t get nothing going against Santana. That’s the bottom line.”

The lone bright spot -- but only about 40-watt bright -- for the Rangers was that Young returned to the lineup and went 2-for-3, including a first-inning double that represented the team’s only extra base hit. Washington wisely gave Young the rest of the night off after six innings when the game was clearly out of hand.

Hunter, pounded for seven runs in his last start against Oakland, put up even less resistance against the Angels, coughing up another seven this time in just 2 1/3 innings, by far his most abbreviated start of the season.

“I just told them to keep their heads up,” said Washington, who pointed to the Rangers’ recent 2-7 homestand as the real culprit in dooming the Rangers. “ We didn’t get it done but there are still games to be played. We didn’t finish first but I’d like to win as many more games as we possibly can. We certainly don’t want to fall all the way down to third or fourth, that’s for sure.

“I’m disappointed that we didn’t accomplish what we had a chance to accomplish but I’m very proud of those guys in that clubhouse. They’re not happy but they played their hearts out and when it was all over, the best team won it.”

He’s right, the Rangers weren’t happy and the best team did win.

At least the game was on late and I wasn't awake to watch the Angels celebrate, that would have drove me nuts, even though it is a good story.

AL West title is sweet, and bittersweet, for Angels

By Mike DiGiovanna
Los Angeles Times

They clinch fifth division championship in six years with 11-0 rout of Texas, then start the celebration -- but only after an emotional remembrance of the late Nick Adenhart.

The champagne-and-beer showers, the ear-thumping hip-hop music and dancing, the victory cigars -- all the trappings of a traditional division-winning celebration would have to wait.

Before the revelry came a remembrance.

The Angels clinched their fifth American League West title in six years with an 11-0 romp over the Texas Rangers in Angel Stadium on Monday night, and after a huge group hug in the middle of the infield, players and coaches quickly retreated to the clubhouse.

But before any corks were popped, Manager Mike Scioscia spoke for several minutes about the fallen Angel, Nick Adenhart, the 22-year-old pitcher who was killed along with two friends in a car crash on April 9, just four days into the season.

"It was definitely very emotional," reliever Kevin Jepsen said. "It was Scioscia saying, 'No matter what happens, everywhere we go, Nick is with us.' He's been with us the whole way, and he's pulling for us. He was a part of this team. He can't be here to celebrate with us, but he's in our hearts."

The Angels got the party started, dousing each other with large quantities of booze, but Adenhart was again in the middle of it, a clubhouse attendant taking Adenhart's No. 34 jersey around the room and players pouring beer and champagne on it.

The Angels then jogged en masse to the center-field wall, where a picture of Adenhart in mid-pitching motion has been affixed since the tragic crash. Players bowed their heads, tapped Adenhart's face, and some poured beer over his head.

"Nick Adenhart should be here celebrating with us," center fielder Torii Hunter said. "But the good Lord took him. Now, we're just celebrating in his name. He's a very important part of the team. We're playing hard for him. Trust me, he's here in spirit and in love."

The Angels have gotten used to such celebrations, having advanced to the playoffs in six of the last eight years and winning the World Series in 2002.

"They never get old," said pitcher John Lackey, the Game 7 winner in the 2002 World Series. "You've got to celebrate, for sure. We've been together since the middle of February, it's been a long journey, and a lot of things didn't go as planned."

For that reason, many Angels said, this celebration felt different.

"This one is special because we're one short," pitcher Joe Saunders said of Adenhart. "We miss him. We wish he was here with us. This season is dedicated to him. We're celebrating for him and for his family. We're trying to win this thing for him."

Added Lackey: "He's definitely in our thoughts. This is the first step of our goal. We're going to take him all the way."

The next step is a likely AL division series rematch with the Boston Red Sox, who eliminated the Angels in the first round of the playoffs in 2004, 2007 and 2008 and need just one victory, or one more Texas loss, to clinch the AL wild card.

"They're going to get a battle," Saunders said. "They've had our number in the postseason. We've got nothing to lose. We're going to give them everything we've got, and hopefully, we'll play until November."

The Angels achieved their first goal Monday night by crushing their closest pursuers in the division, throttling the Rangers with their bats and smothering them with their pitching and gloves.

Ervin Santana, who entered with a 7-6 career record and 6.67 earned-run average against Texas, threw a seven-hitter for his second shutout of the season, and the Angels racked up 12 hits, including three each by Bobby Abreu and Maicer Izturis.

Vladimir Guerrero hit a run-scoring double and Kendry Morales followed with a towering two-run home run to center field in the first inning, giving the first baseman 33 homers and 104 runs batted in on the season.

Erick Aybar hit an RBI fielder's choice in the third, and Izturis keyed a three-run third with a two-run single.

Abreu tripled and scored in the fourth and hit an RBI double and scored on Hunter's single during a three-run sixth.

Dennis' College Story of the Week:

This one is just crazy scary, the USC running back had a throat surgery after a bench press incident. I'm not sure much more has to be said to make that any scarier.

USC running back Stafon Johnson hurt in weight-room accident

By Gary Klein and Ben Bolch
Los Angeles Times

USC running back Stafon Johnson underwent more than seven hours of throat surgery Monday after he was injured in a weight-room accident on campus.

Johnson, a senior, was in "critical but stable" condition, a California Hospital Medical Center spokeswoman said. His post-surgical prognosis is good, she added.

Johnson, who starred at Dorsey High, was just starting a set of bench-press lifts near the end of a midmorning workout when he apparently lost control of the bar and it landed on his neck, Coach Pete Carroll said.

Johnson reportedly spit up blood through his mouth and nose.

Reserve quarterback Garrett Green and fullback Stanley Havili did not see the accident, but both said they saw Johnson sitting quietly as he awaited the paramedics.

Carroll said Johnson's neck had been stabilized with a brace before he was transported by gurney to an ambulance.

"This is a guy who's been an integral part of our program for years," Carroll said. "Everybody loves Stafon. . . . When you're as connected as we are, we feel every bit of this. . . . We all feel a bit damaged today and injured. . . . It's a bad deal."

Surgery began about 2 p.m., according to family friend John Eatman, a former high school teammate of Johnson's.

Eatman was among about a dozen friends and family members gathered at the hospital Monday evening.

"Right now we don't know anything," Eatman said outside the hospital. "We're just hoping he's all right."

Johnson's mother, Kim Mallory, was at the hospital but declined to comment through a family spokesperson.

Another source close to the family, who asked that they not be identified because they were not authorized to speak on their behalf, said surgeons had planned to realign Johnson's larynx and they were hopeful that he would regain his voice.

The hospital spokeswoman said the doctor said while it is unlikely Johnson will be able to complete the season, he is expected to make a full recovery.

Carroll said incidents such as Monday's were rare.

"With all of thousands of reps that guys take, for the most part, guys don't get injured," Carroll said. "Unfortunately, this one happened today."

USC did not make strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle available to the media. However, a news release posted on the school's website said Carlisle was within feet of Johnson when the accident occurred.

Carlisle also said that such a weightlifting accident was rare.

"I've seen players have the bar slip and fall onto their chest, but never in my 25 years of coaching have I heard of someone dropping a bar on their throat," Carlisle said on the website.

Carlisle also said an assistant strength and conditioning coach was acting as a "spotter" for Johnson at the time, but he did not identify the staff member.

It's only been a week but it appears people are watching new shows this fall. 6 shows had higher debuts than any show last fall. I know just from my couch I can say this, there seems to be better new shows this fall, I figure that can't hurt.

New shows rolling this fall
Debut series drawing unexpected numbers

By James Hibberd
Hollywood Reporter
Sept 28, 2009, 07:36 PM ET

After two years of new shows opening to middling numbers, broadcast is showing renewed signs of life this fall.

Many veteran series continue to decline, but audiences are checking out new programs in higher-than-expected numbers.

"Viewers have shown an encouraging willingness to sample new shows," said John Rash, senior vp-director of media negotiations at Campbell-Mithun. "It's proving that the death of the scripted series, let along network TV, is greatly exaggerated."

After only a few weeks, broadcasters have rolled out six new shows that generated at least a 4.0 rating among adults 18-49 in their series premiere: NBC's "The Jay Leno Show" (5.3); Fox's "The Cleveland Show" (4.9); CBS' "NCIS: Los Angeles (4.4); and ABC's "Cougar Town" (4.4), "Modern Family" (4.2) and "FlashForward" (4.0).

By comparison, at the same point last year, the highest-rated new show was "Worst Week" (3.8), which benefited from the biggest comedy lead-in on TV in CBS' Monday night block.

"It was really terrific week for network TV," CBS scheduling chief Kelly Kahl said. "People sampled new shows, they came back for returning shows. Practically every network had something to feel good about. We got people back in the house."

Even syndication, which has been particularly hard hit in recent years, has a reason to celebrate. Freshman talker "The Dr. Oz Show" has performed very well in daytime.

" 'Dr. Oz' appears to be a hit," said Bill Carroll, vp-director of programming at Katz Television. "It's still too early to know for sure, but the early numbers are promising."

Carroll gave some credit for broadcast's numbers to Jay Leno's nightly primetime show, saying that all the media attention surrounding the program and relatively early premiere might have helped other premieres.

"After being focused on cable all summer, all of the attention around Jay Leno caused viewers to check out broadcast again," he said.

While every network seems to have a reason to celebrate this week, each also has a couple of concerns.

CBS generated a jaw-dropping rating for the return of Tuesday's "NCIS" and its new spinoff and also drew a sizable audience for new drama "The Good Wife." Longtime Thursday procedural "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," however, continues to take worrisome hits since the departure of William Petersen last year.

Fox's "House" was one of the few veteran shows to improve this fall, and the network's Thursday lineup of "Bones" and "Fringe" has improved the network's time periods in the evening, though "Fringe" is taking a pounding from tough competition in the slot.

ABC opened new Wednesday comedies "Modern Family" and "Cougar Town" to network TV's biggest half-hour premieres in two years, while also launching Thursday night drama "FlashForward" to a terrific number for its early 8 p.m. time period. The ABC pilots also picked up some encouraging additional sampling on Friday night in repeats. Sunday's "Desperate Housewives" fell steeply, but fellow top-rated soap "Grey's Anatomy" only dropped modestly on Thursday.

"Jay Leno" continues to draw better-than-expected numbers for NBC while also steadily eroding. Wednesday's "Mercy" opened modestly, and Thursday's second episode of "Community" fell more than one might hope.

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds died yesterday. I was just telling the story of her the other day, I thought she was Julian's teacher, didn't realize she was his age.

Lucy of 'Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds' fame dies

By Gregory Katz, Associated Press Writer

LONDON — Lucy Vodden, who provided the inspiration for The Beatles' classic song Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, has died after a long battle with lupus. She was 46.

Her death was announced Monday by St. Thomas' Hospital in London, where she had been treated for the chronic disease for more than five years, and by her husband, Ross Vodden. Britain's Press Association said she died last Tuesday. Hospital officials said they could not confirm the day of her death.

Vodden's connection to The Beatles dates back to her early days, when she made friends with schoolmate Julian Lennon, John Lennon's son.

Julian Lennon, then 4 years old, came home from school with a drawing one day, showed it to his father, and said it was "Lucy in the sky with diamonds."

At the time, John Lennon was gathering material for his contributions to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, a landmark album released to worldwide acclaim in 1967.

The elder Lennon seized on the image and developed it into what is widely regarded as a psychedelic masterpiece, replete with haunting images of "newspaper taxis" and a "girl with kaleidoscope eyes."

Rock music critics thought the song's title was a veiled reference to LSD, but John Lennon always claimed the phrase came from his son, not from a desire to spell out the initials LSD in code.

Vodden lost touch with Julian Lennon after he left the school following his parents' divorce, but they were reunited in recent years when Julian Lennon, who lives in France, tried to help her cope with the disease.

He sent her flowers and vouchers for use at a gardening center near her home in Surrey in southeast England, and frequently sent her text messages in an effort to buttress her spirits.

"I wasn't sure at first how to approach her," Julian Lennon told the Associated Press in June. "I wanted at least to get a note to her. Then I heard she had a great love of gardening, and I thought I'd help with something she's passionate about, and I love gardening, too. I wanted to do something to put a smile on her face."

In recent months, Vodden was too ill to go out most of the time, except for hospital visits.

She enjoyed her link to The Beatles, but was not particularly fond of Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.

"I don't relate to the song, to that type of song," she told the Associated Press in June. "As a teenager, I made the mistake of telling a couple of friends at school that I was the Lucy in the song and they said, 'No, it's not you, my parents said it's about drugs.' And I didn't know what LSD was at the time, so I just kept it quiet, to myself."

Vodden is the latest in a long line of people connected to The Beatles who died at a relatively young age.

The list includes John Lennon, gunned down at age 40; manager Brian Epstein, who died of a drug overdose when he was 32; and original band member Stuart Sutcliffe, who died of a brain hemorrhage at 21.

A spokeswoman for Julian Lennon and his mother, Cynthia Lennon, said they were "shocked and saddened" by Vodden's death.

I guess this is what's it's come to, Rockers I dug as a teenager are now putting out stuff for my kids. I guess that ain't so bad.

Rockin' Heart sisters deliver bedtime CD, kids' book

By Kristin McGrath, USA TODAY

Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson are known for electric guitars and rock 'n' roll power ballads. The sisters' latest projects, though, might just lull their audience to sleep.

Ann's children's book, Dog & Butterfly, and Nancy's lullabies album, Baby Guitars, will be released Oct. 6 exclusively on Amazon.com. The releases coincide with the 30th anniversary of Heart's Dog & Butterfly, and a new version of the song recorded by the sisters will be available as a free download with the book's purchase.

As moms, both know what it takes for a smooth transition to bedtime.

Baby Guitars, Nancy says, has been well "road-tested" on children. She wrote and recorded the songs with Heart guitarist Craig Bartock five years ago as a gift for a pregnant pal. Up until now, the recordings have been heard only by family and friends. (When Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes became parents in 2006, Nancy passed along a home-burned copy to his team for daughter Suri.)

"Friends of mine have said, 'Oh, my God, this music really works on my kids,' " says Nancy, 55. "They'll be in meltdown mode, and you put it on and there's sort of this atmospheric change in the room."

Baby Guitars features "pure, innocent" sounds like acoustic guitars, mandolin, harp and Japanese koto. The tracks are instrumentals, recalling Nancy's work scoring Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous, written and directed by husband Cameron Crowe. Her 10-year-old twin sons, Billy and Curtis, drew the cover art, and Billy's beloved blanket inspired Nancy's favorite song on the album, Silky.

"The comfort zone of that blanket when he dragged it around in the house, I was trying to describe that feeling," Nancy says. "It's got a slow shuffle. It's kind of fun."

Ann's Dog & Butterfly book also is catered to the "soft souls" of children, Ann says. The book is inspired by the same event behind the song and album of the same name — her sheepdog, Moffa, chasing a butterfly.

"At that time, it was kind of comical," says Ann, 59. "But all of a sudden, there was a metaphor for me."

She says the book's deeper meaning gives children something to think about after they hear the story of a puppy that's able to catch a butterfly only after he lets it come to him.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Do I Have Any Chance to Stay Awake for the Cowboy Game Tonight?

That certainly doesn't look like Venice to me. It's actually near Manilla in the Phillipines.

Dennis' College Story of the Week:

Would you believe fans of Baylor Bears football (Stephen) actually had hope for this season? Not anymore they don't as their star QB (meaning, their team) is out for the season now.

Baylor must bear a season without Robert Griffin

01:02 AM CDT on Monday, September 28, 2009

Column by CHUCK CARLTON / The Dallas Morning News | ccarlton@dallasnews.com

Because of Robert Griffin, Baylor became a more dangerous, more exciting and more viable football team.

Now coach Art Briles must maintain those qualities without his star sophomore quarterback, who had become the face of the program's budding turnaround.

A Baylor news release late Sunday afternoon announced that an MRI had revealed an "isolated tear" in the anterior cruciate ligament of Griffin's right knee. He will miss the remainder of the season, the school announced. Baylor also lost senior defensive back and kick returner Mikail Baker to a knee injury.

The severity of Griffin's injury came as a surprise.

Griffin was hurt in the first quarter of a 68-13 win over Northwestern State, yet returned to complete 13 of 19 passes for 226 yards and three touchdowns in the first half.

Now the Bears (2-1) have to regroup and quickly.

Griffin's game-breaking speed, ability to throw with accuracy and surprising maturity as a sophomore gave Baylor a chance to take a major step forward in the Big 12.

No other conference player, not even Colt McCoy or Sam Bradford, may have meant more to his team.

Complicating the quarterback situation for this weekend's game against Kent State will be the status of backup Blake Szymanski. He suffered a bruised right shoulder on a hit near the goal line and was listed as "day-to-day."

"Blake is mature," Briles said earlier Sunday before the school knew the full implications of Griffin's injury.

"He is weathered, he is a veteran and he understands. When he is on the field we have a pretty good indication of what the outcome is going to be because he pays attention and he is knowledgeable. He can get things done from an offensive standpoint."

Szymanski has started 13 games in his career, including 10 in 2007, when he threw for 2,844 yards and 22 touchdowns in the final season of the Guy Morriss era. A traditional pocket passer, he threw for 400 yards in consecutive games that season, a Baylor first.

But Baylor finished 3-9 in 2007, failed to win a Big 12 game and never scored more than 23 points against a conference opponent.

You are correct sir, no one expected the Rangers to be this good this year. Yes, this has been a very fun season to be a Ranger fan, the best in years. None of that makes yesterday any easier. The threads of hope the Rangers had for this season were cut violently yesterday and as I sad to Angela, well, they certainly did ruin a perfectly good nap. They were winning 5-0 with 2 outs in the 8th, on the verge of going into LA down 5 games with 4 straight against them. You start thinking a sweep of the Angels would leave them 1 back with 3 to play. Keep Hope Alive! Then Chris Davis makes an error and 4 Ranger pitchers later they lose 7-6. Now they are down 6 games with 7 to play. Oy.

Ninth a nightmare for Texas Rangers in 7-6 loss

01:20 AM CDT on Monday, September 28, 2009

By JEFF WILSON / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

ARLINGTON – Four outs separated the Texas Rangers from a series sweep that would have sent them on the final road trip of the season with a case of late-season pennant fever.

But by the time Sunday's game had ended, and they had boarded a pair of buses for their charter flight to Southern California, the Rangers were simply just feeling sick.

An error with two outs in the eighth inning opened the door to three Tampa Bay runs, and the Rays scored four more in the ninth to stun the Rangers, 7-6, in the home finale at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

The Rangers were up 5-0 with two outs in the eighth inning, but 15 Rays would bat before the Rangers could get the four outs they needed.

The loss, coupled with a win by Los Angeles, leaves the Rangers six games behind the Angels in the American League West with seven games to play.

"We just needed four outs," manager Ron Washington said. "It got away from us with the guys we've depended on all year. It hurts."

The Rangers' next four games are against the Angels, who beat Oakland to reduce their magic number to two. The Rangers need a sweep to avoid being eliminated from AL West contention this week at Angel Stadium. They also trail Boston in the AL wild-card race by six games.

"It's tough," center fielder Marlon Byrd said. "If we win this one, we go into Anaheim feeling positive, trying to sweep. Right now, we've made it easier for them."

Just about every main character in Law and Order: Criminal Intent is leaving the show this year.

USA confirms 'L&O: CI' departure
Vincent D'Onofrio leaving at the start of upcoming season

By Nellie Andreeva
Hollywood Reporter

Sept 25, 2009, 07:21 PM ET

USA Network on Friday confirmed that "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" star Vincent D'Onofrio will leave the series at the beginning of the show's upcoming ninth season.

D'Onofrio has been on "CI" since the show's beginning as a series on NBC, portraying Detective Robert Goren.

"(D'Onofrio) has decided to transition out of the idiosyncratic role he created to explore new acting challenges in film and television," the network said Friday.

According to "Law & Order" creator/executive producer Dick Wolf, D'Onofrio will appear in a two-part opener of season nine that will serve as his hand-off to Jeff Goldblum.

"Vincent is one of the main reasons 'Criminal Intent' has been so successful for eight seasons. He turned Robert Goren into one of the great detectives in the history of television," Wolf said.

D'Onofrio addressed the timing of his departure.

"After eight seasons, and with the addition of Jeff Goldblum, now is the perfect time for me to explore other acting opportunities and I leave the show knowing it is in great hands with Jeff," he said.

But he left the door open to returning on the show for guest starring stints.

"For all my loyal 'CI' fans, I wouldn't be surprised if Goren pops up from time to time."

D'Onofrio's departure is part of a major casting overhaul on "CI" next season.

He is one of four regulars on the show, along with Kathryn Erbe, Eric Bogosian and Julianne Nicholson, leaving. New mom Nicholson is being replaced by Saffron Burrows.

One of the 2 new chicks on SNL dropped the F Bomb on her first show. Whoops.

'Saturday Night Live' starts season with F-bomb

By Frazier Moore, AP Television Writer

NEW YORK — Saturday Night Live has started the season with a bang, or, more precisely, an F-bomb.

Newcomer Jenny Slate let the dreaded word slip during a parody of a talk show by biker women. Called "Biker Chick Chat," the sketch was laden with tough talk from its participants, played by Slate, Kristen Wiig and guest host Megan Fox.

But the most objectionable word was substituted, with rapid-fire comic frequency, with an inoffensive stand-in for that vulgarity.

Then, midway through the sketch, Slate slipped and said the word she meant to avoid.

"You know what? You stood up for yourself," she declared, "and I (expletive) love you for that."

She puffed her cheeks, perhaps realizing her error, but the sketch continued with no interruption or further flubs.

Slate is an actress and comedian who this summer appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and is perhaps best-known as half of the comedy duo Gabe and Jenny — until her memorable SNL debut this weekend.

NBC declined to comment on the incident, other than to say the word had been restored to the intended "freakin'" for the show's replays in western time zones.

The sketch aired live at about 12:40 a.m. Eastern, well after prime time, when use of expletives can be punished by the FCC.

Bruce taped an episode of Spectacle with Elvis Costello on Saturday Night at the Apollo Theater.

September 25 / Apollo Theater / New York, NY

Over the course of a nearly four-hour Spectacle taping at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello discussed everything from their Catholic upbringings to fatherhood to being labeled "The Next Dylan" to Asbury Park to the role of the songwriter in a democratic society. They talked quite a bit about where and how their paths crossed over the years, including Roy Orbison's "Black & White Night" performance. It's unlikely that nearly all of last night's absolutely engrossing conversation will make it to air; the only consolation to seeing some of these insightful artistic musings fall on the cutting room floor is that they'll be left out to make room for the music. My God, the music!

Costello and the Imposters opened the show with a cover of "Point Blank," setting the tone early for what was to be a night of many non-traditional Springsteen tunes. At Costello's request, Bruce opened with "Wild Billy's Circus Story," for which he was joined onstage by an acoustic Nils Lofgren (who had performed "Like Rain" earlier with The Imposters backing him) and Roy Bittan on accordion. Costello coaxed some early memories from Springsteen regarding the traveling circus in Freehold and the sense of wonder and fear it inspired in him as a child. This was not Storytellers Part II, though. There was no line-by-line deconstruction of songs. Costello seemed primarily interested in the emotional effects of the music, both on Springsteen and his audience, and a major portion of their talk was devoted to the thematic shift that occurred following Born to Run. As Springsteen explained it to Costello, he became more invested in writing songs he felt he would still be able to relate to at the ripe old age of 40 (this of course drew a laugh).

The show was very explicitly a television taping and not a "concert," though, which meant a lot of stopping and starting to rearrange the stage and to get things just right. A solo acoustic version of "American Skin (41 Shots)" came off after a false start, and Springsteen initially forgot that "Galveston Bay" was in Drop D tuning. When the conversation wandered to Roy Orbison, Costello joined Springsteen in an impromptu cover of "Pretty Woman" that ended abruptly halfway through. They redeemed themselves shortly after with a show-stopping rendition of Sam & Dave's "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down," Bruce taking Sam's part and Elvis taking Dave's.

Following a quick break, the two reconvened with talk of family life. Costello praised Patti's role as musician, wife, and mother, and performed an acoustic version of her "Black Ladder." Springsteen discussed the pleasure he felt standing outside of his son's room one evening and hearing him listen to "Chimes of Freedom." "What do you think of it?" he asked. "Epic," his son replied, "it's epic, dad." And who could argue with that?

More than three hours into his own epic discussion, Springsteen expressed fear that the audience would keel over soon and indicated that it was time for the finale. He strapped on an electric guitar and delivered a gut-wrenching version of "The Rising" backed by the Imposters, Bittan, Lofgren, and Costello (who stepped up for the dream of lifes). There was a fiery quality to the performance that was only intensified moments later when the band ripped into "Seeds." Springsteen wailed on the guitar and bellowed like he was half his age or younger, and the crowd was on its feet. The night concluded with a "Radio" medley, connecting Springsteen's "Radio Nowhere" with Costello's "Radio Radio." While the two might not have been the perfect musical pairing to mash together, it was a thematically appropriate and satisfyingly creative ending to a truly unforgettable night.


Point Blank (Costello & The Imposters)
Like Rain (Lofgren & The Imposters)
She's the One (Costello & The Imposters)
Wild Billy's Circus Story (Springsteen, Lofgren, Bittan)
American Skin (41 Shots) (Springsteen)
Galveston Bay (Springsteen, Bittan)
Pretty Woman [Aborted] (Springsteen, Costello)
I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down (Springsteen, Costello, The Imposters)
Black Ladder (Costello, Springsteen, Lofgren)
Brilliant Disguise (Costello, Springsteen)
The Rising (Springsteen, Costello, Lofgren, Bittan, The Imposters)
Seeds (Springsteen, Costello, Lofgren, Bittan, The Imposters)
Radio Silence/Radio Nowhere/Radio Radio (Springsteen, Costello, Lofgren, Bittan, The Imposters)

Friday, September 25, 2009

For a Guy With Nothing to Do, the Week Sure Does Go By Fast

It does kinda feel like Fall lately, been pretty nice here actually.

It seems I've spent most of the last week defending Tony Romo. Uhm, apparently maybe he is having issues lately. Whoops.

Cowboys' Romo just hasn't been the same lately

08:03 PM CDT on Thursday, September 24, 2009

Column by JEAN-JACQUES TAYLOR / The Dallas Morning News | jjtaylor@dallasnews.com

IRVING – Right now, we have no idea where Tony Romo fits into the NFL's quarterback hierarchy.

Is he a franchise quarterback? A solid starter? Or is he the ultimate tease, a coach-killer who will always leave you wanting more?

Don't feel bad. No one knows exactly where to put him, including Wade Phillips and Jerry Jones, no matter how much politically correct rhetoric they spout this week.

These days, Romo is consistently inconsistent, a huge problem for a team with high expectations that hasn't won a playoff game since 1996.

Sure, Romo's 94.2 career passer rating trails only Peyton Manning's 94.9 for the highest rating among active quarterbacks, but anyone who thinks they're comparable needs professional help.

In Romo's first 23 games as a starter, he was 17-6 with 50 touchdown passes, 24 interceptions and a 101.7 passer rating. When that stretch ended in 2007, the Cowboys were 12-1 and en route to earning the NFC's top playoff seed.

Since then, Romo is 11-9 as a starter with 34 touchdowns, 23 interceptions and an 85.0 passer rating.

The guy from the first 23 starts can lead the Cowboys to a championship; the guy from the last 20 starts can't.

My theory: Romo misses former Cowboys coach Bill Parcells more than any other player on the roster.

No one challenges Romo like Parcells did. No one holds him accountable like Parcells did. Certainly, no one dog cusses him like Parcells.

When Romo screws up, there are no real ramifications – other than he feels bad. It's not like Phillips would ever bench him, even though Jon Kitna is a capable backup.

Romo's way too comfortable. He's the type of guy who's at his best when someone like Parcells is constantly on his butt while using language that would get your kids grounded for a month.

Phillips certainly doesn't employ that style. Neither does offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.

It didn't matter as much in 2007, his first season without Parcells, because Romo had been around Parcells so long and still embodied all of the coach's philosophies. Parcells has been gone nearly three years, and Romo certainly isn't adhering to Parcells' philosophy now.

All you have to do is watch him play.

Most of the expectations heaped upon Romo are based upon his first 23 starts, when he showed star potential.

That guy had 14 games with a passer rating of more than 100.0 and led the Cowboys to winning streaks of four, five and six games. That Romo made the Cowboys a Super Bowl contender.

We haven't seen that Romo in a long time. Maybe we'll never see him again. There are no guarantees.

Perhaps we should accept that Romo will always be a player who is equally capable of making the big play and the big mistake in the same game.

The final 14 games of this season will determine whether we need to lower our expectations for Romo, who is 29.

If that's the case, Jerry has made a $67 million goof. Jerry signed Romo to a lucrative deal that included $30 million in guaranteed money because he assumed he was the next great quarterback in franchise history.

We all did – unless you're into revisionist history.

I can't tell you what a pain in the keester the Party Pass was for us at the Cowboy game on Sunday. Apparently it won't be like that anymore. Or will it?

Cowboys say Party Pass limit already was in place

04:30 PM CDT on Thursday, September 24, 2009

By JEFF MOSIER / The Dallas Morning News

The Dallas Cowboys reiterated today that the team would not limit the number of standing-room-only Party Passes at their new stadium after fans became unruly Sunday when they were refused entry.

An Arlington fire department official said earlier today that the Cowboys had agreed to limit the number of party passes issued for the end zone decks to 15,000, but a Cowboys spokesman said that limit was already in place.

The Cowboys sold 30,000 Party Passes to Sunday’s home opener, which set the NFL regular season attendance record. A large number of fans with Party Passes were unaware the tickets didn’t guarantee them access to the stadium.

The number of people who can stand on the six end zone decks is 15,000, city and Cowboys officials said. Don Crowson, an Arlington assistant fire chief, said that is based on current configurations for those areas. If bars, concession stands and other structures are added or removed, that number could change.

Crowson said standing room only capacity could also be added in clubs or other parts of the stadium outside of the decks.

Team spokesman Brett Daniels said Sunday was a special event because it was the Cowboys’ first regular season game at the new $1.15 billion stadium. The attendance for that game against the New York Giants, which the Cowboys lost, was 105,121. City officials said they don’t expect the Cowboys to have crowds that size at every game.

Daniels said earlier this week that about 7,500 Party Passes had been sold for Monday night’s game against the Carolina Panthers. The new stadium holds about 75,000 fans in the suites and seating bowl. It was the large end zone decks and plazas that allowed the Cowboys to set that attendance record.

Fans who purchased Party Passes were sent e-mails saying they could stand on decks inside the stadium only if space were available. If the decks reached capacity, people with Party Passes would have to remain outside in the 7 acres of plazas.

Many fans with Party Passes said they were unaware of the restrictions and pressed against the end zone gates and demanded to be allowed inside. Public safety and Cowboys officials decided to take down the barriers and allow the crowd to move freely between the plazas and decks for safety reasons.

The new Michael Moore flick comes out tomorrow. It's currently at 63% on Rotten Tomatoes. Here is a 3 star review from the USA Today.

'Capitalism: A Love Story' profits from populist outrage

By Claudia Puig, USA TODAY

Capitalism: A Love Story may be the timeliest documentary in Michael Moore's two-decade career.

No matter what side of the political fence you're on or what you think of Moore as an activist and provocateur, a film that explores the economic meltdown and its historical roots is something most of us can get our heads around.

Capitalism is impassioned, informative and entertaining, if sometimes repetitive. Moore has never pretended to be objective. Few documentarians are. The minute a camera is aimed at a subject, subjectivity sets in.

Moore may be the most overtly biased major filmmaker and therefore a figure some love to hate. His facts and assertions will continue to be debated with Capitalism as they were with his past films. But his populist sensibility and lively filmmaking techniques are put to good use. Capitalism is as entertaining as Roger & Me, and its critique skewers both major political parties, calling into question the economic policies of Bill Clinton as well as Ronald Reagan.

This is quintessential Moore, with a clear-cut agenda: Capitalism has superseded democracy, encouraged corruption and greed, and failed our nation. Political bigwigs and wealthy executives may love it, but it's not working for the majority of Americans. His thesis may enrage, amuse or inspire, depending on your ideology and your wallet.

Moore makes his case with humor, humanity and outrageous scenarios intended to get people fired up.

His rallying cry is simple: The country needs to return to its democratic roots.

The film intersperses interviews with historical footage, even unearthing a riveting address by Franklin Roosevelt. He travels from Wall Street to Washington and all around the USA, documenting sheriffs forcibly evicting families from foreclosed homes.

The recurring theme: The rich have gotten richer, and everyone else has suffered. He likens the fall of Wall Street to the decline of the Roman Empire, juxtaposing absurdly funny visuals.

But he's deadly serious. In an eye-opening interview, Moore talks to a widow who discovered her husband's employer had taken out and cashed a huge life insurance policy on him. He also discovers the prevalence of this practice in corporate America.

Pearl Jam and Dave Matthews are going to be on the 35th season of Austin City Limits that begins next week.

Austin City Limits sets new season
Dave Matthews, Pearl Jam scheduled to perform

By Michael D. Ayers, Billboard

Sept 24, 2009, 05:53 PM ET

NEW YORK -- For its 35th year on air, the famed public broadcast music show Austin City Limits is going big.

Scheduled to perform this season are major acts like the Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam, Willie Nelson (performing with Asleep at the Wheel), Elvis Costello, Ben Harper and Them Crooked Vultures (the newly formed supergroup of Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl, Led Zeppelin alum John Paul Jones and Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme).

This season also promises to continue the diverse nature that the series is known for, including country acts such as Kenny Chesney, Steve Earle, and Kris Kristofferson as well as more indie rock oriented acts such as Andrew Bird, St. Vincent, M. Ward and Okkervil River.

New Orleans songwriter Allen Toussaint, jazz-pop singer Madeleine Peyroux and the show's first hip-hop acts, Mos Def and K'Naan are also scheduled to appear."We've talked about it for a few years, and it finally came together," ACL producer Terry Lickona tells Billboard.com of expanding into hip-hop. "It's probably the most unique thing about [this season]."

For a TV show, Austin City limits has made an unprecedented run over the last three and a half decades, of which Lickona attributes to PBS. "Our audience loves the eclectic mix," he says. "We wouldn't have lasted more than 3 years on commercial television with a format like this." In recognizing this achievement, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame also announced this week that they were designating the ACL Studio landmark status.

"Rock Hall president Terry Steward came up with the idea," Lickona recalls. "We were sitting together in Clear Lake, Iowa where they had just designated the Surf Ballroom -- the site where Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper played their last shows -- as a historic landmark. He said, 'we should do the same thing for your place in Austin.' My first reaction was disbelief, but I was easily convinced."

This merit follows the show's being awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2003, the only television show to receive this award.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Our Security Blanket is Gone

How can you not like pandas?

My mom and dad left on Monday. My mother had been here for 3 months and was nothing short of a Godsend. I'm not sure we could have survived without her. Since she has left we can't help but miss her. Sadly, the blog has been shafted a bit as it has become difficult to post but we are trying to get some normalcy back around here.

Due to a lot of circumstances I haven't been paying much attention to football season this year and I think this story declaring the Cowboys defense dead is a good reason not to pay much attention.

Cowboys' defense lacks direction

09:26 PM CDT on Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Column by JEAN-JACQUES TAYLOR / The Dallas Morning News | jjtaylor@dallasnews.com

• E-mail

IRVING – Wade Phillips has well-documented issues that make me question his ability to succeed as the Cowboys' head coach, but he's always been an outstanding defensive coordinator.

Until now.

These Cowboys can't stop the run. Or the pass. At least not in the same game.

Here's the problem: The players don't know what they're supposed to do.

After giving up 174 yards to Tampa Bay's group of average runners, Phillips told us the Cowboys did a poor job of run blitzing. He said the defense hadn't practiced it much during training camp to avoid injuries during blitz drills, so the players weren't sure what gaps they were supposed to plug.

On Monday, a day after Eli Manning passed for 330 yards and two touchdowns, and a couple of average receivers such as Steve Smith and Mario Manningham combined for 20 catches, 284 yards and two touchdowns, Phillips said it was in part because the secondary didn't understand its defensive concepts.

Phillips cited Manningham's 22-yard touchdown catch late in the first half as an example.

The Cowboys blitzed, which meant Terence Newman, should've known the receiver was either going to run into the end zone or run a slant because Manning wasn't going to have time to throw anything else.

"Once our whole group understands the whole concept of what they can do, and we get a strong rush, we can take away some things better than we've been doing," Phillips said.

Are you kidding me? What a joke.

These guys spend most of the off-season attending various OTAs and minicamps before spending about a month in training camp. Aren't they supposed to be learning the defensive concepts during those practices?

This isn't all about Phillips.

Some guys simply have to play better, especially Newman and Anthony Spencer. Each is supposed to be a key part of the defense.

Neither has contributed much. The time is now.

Besides, the NFL season is too short for on-the-job training. This isn't the NBA, NHL or Major League Baseball, where you can easily overcome an awful start.

Whether he's having early morning tutoring sessions or late-night study halls, Phillips had better make sure his guys know what to do against Carolina because they've been making mental mistakes, while often using poor technique.

Some physical mistakes such as missed tackles will always exist, though there were way too many against the Giants. The other miscues must stop.

The core of this defense is a veteran group that has played together for several seasons, so it's hard to fathom they're struggling mentally. Phillips said it's because the Cowboys have played more man than zone coverage this season.

"Our plan of attack was to be aggressive and play man-to-man, but we haven't played as well as I have liked," he said. "We have to make some adjustments."

The numbers are obscene, but SportsDay provided special permission to reveal them in a family newspaper. Here's where the Cowboys rank in several defensive categories:

• 26th in points allowed per game (26.5)

• 30th in yards allowed per game (438.5)

• 30th in passing yards allowed (303.0)

• 24th in rushing yards allowed (135.5)

Don't forget, the Cowboys are the only team without a sack. They haven't forced a turnover either.


Modern Family begins tonight, I laugh every single time I see the commercials for this new show. Here is a 3 1/2 star review.

Finally, ABC gives us a 'Modern Family' we can relate to

By Robert Bianco, USA TODAY

It's about time.

After years in the comedy wilderness, much of it spent in a futile attempt to clone NBC's snarkier, more ironic sitcom style, ABC is finally returning to its family roots — and in gloriously funny fashion. You get The Middle next week and Cougar Town later tonight, both terrific sitcoms. But the best of the bunch, and the best new series of the fall, comes first.

Modern Family, created by Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd, smartly updates ABC's Home Improvement/Roseanne tradition for a new TV generation. True, the shooting style borrows the faux-documentary approach made popular by a rival, The Office. But the down-to-earth tone of this good-natured comedy, and its bighearted embrace of its characters, harks back to ABC and Disney at their comedy peak.

Times, however, have changed, and families have changed with them. The show does pivot on a sitcom-familiar home mix, a mom and dad (Julie Bowen and Ty Burell) who take a comedically different approach to raising their two kids. But Mom has an extended family, and they're the "modern" part of the title: Her father (Ed O'Neill) has just married a hot young single mother from Colombia (Sofia Vergara), and her brother (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and his partner (Eric Stonestreet) have just adopted a Vietnamese baby girl.

Courtney Cox's new show Cougar Town starts tonight, here is a 3 star review.

'Cougar Town' or 'Eastwick'? Go with the cat

By Robert Bianco, USA TODAY

Today's TV lesson: It's better to live in Cougar Town than Eastwick.

Both shows deal with women who are rethinking their choices and reclaiming their lives, though whether it's wiser to do so by dating a young stud or dabbling in witchcraft remains open to question.

But one thing is as absolutely certain now as it ever has been: You can't sell any concept without the right cast and good writing, and Cougar Town wins that battle of the TV townships hands down.

For that victory, you can start by thanking Courteney Cox, making a sparkling return to network television as a newly divorced, middle-aged single mother facing a world where all the so-called eligible men are "either broken, gay or chasing younger girls." She feels too young to give up on love, but she's afraid to do anything that violates her "act your age" rules.

Your first thought is that Cox is too gorgeous to have such concerns, but from her opening scene (as she's unhappily studying her bare body in the mirror), Cox is not only convincing but touching — and unfailingly funny. Her insecurities seem as natural and ingrained as her loving if sometimes tortured relationship with her teenage son, wonderfully played by Dan Byrd of Aliens in America.

Luckily, Cox has an excellent writer behind her (Scrubs' Bill Lawrence) and excellent actors around her. They all shine, from Busy Philipps as a younger, slightly trashy co-worker, Josh Hopkins as the neighborhood playboy and Brian Van Holt as her underachieving ex, to Christa Miller (Lawrence's wife) and Ian Gomez as the happily married couple next door.

Still, it's Cox who does all the heavy lifting, and she does it beautifully. There's a fragility to Cox that in the wrong show can come across as brittle, but is used here to increase her vulnerability and appeal.

Bruce played a show Sunday in Chicago and another one Monday in Des Moines.

September 21 / Wells Fargo Arena / Des Moines, IA

Bruce and the band hit Des Moines just two days before Springsteen's 60th, the closest we'll get to a birthday show. Lots of "Happy Birthday" signs scattered around, including those words emblazoned across the shirts of two women in the crowd, who got a lot of screen time. There wasn't a full house for the party, with much of the deck curtained off, but as is often the case, Springsteen seemed to work harder because of it.

It was an energetic show from the start, kicking off with a powerhouse trio of "Tenth Avenue," "Badlands," and "Candy's Room," with a blistering solo from the birthday boy. Max pounded the drums all night. "Two Hearts" included the "It Takes Two" outro, and by the sixth song, Springsteen circled the pit on "Hungry Heart" for the third show in a row. Tonights Recession Trio wrapped with "Youngstown," Nils again blowing minds with his solo.

Then, a choice request set. In a WXRT interview this morning, Little Steven called the recent E Street Band world debut of "Satisfaction" "one of the greatest moments of our career." Tonight they reprised it, bashing out the Stones classic for the second time ever. "Cadillac Ranch" followed before another first: Dion's "The Wanderer." Bruce and the band had a particularly long meeting before this one, but soon enough they were working it out, with an impromptu lyric change: "I tear open my shirt, I got Rosalita on my chest!" The sign for this one read, "The Wanderer... Stumped?" After their performance, Bruce tore the sign up.

You can request "Incident on 57th Street." And Bruce and the band might play it, and you know it'll be good. But you never know just how good it's going to be. Tonight's was stellar. Bruce stretched out his solo, and this was one for the ages. To top it off, they followed it, just as on the Wild & Innocent album, with a rare mid-set "Rosalita." (Sorry, no "New York City Serenade" to close it all out.) A couple songs later, a rare "Into the Fire" was an extra request, Bruce propping the sign agains the mic stand. Lovely emotional color from Curtis and Cindy.

In the encore, Steven led the crowd in a sloppy "Happy Birthday" for the Boss. Bruce had a wry smile as he sang "we ain't that young anymore" in "Thunder Road." But as he told the crowd, thanking them for coming out to the show, "We're having the best times of our lives." Which, hovering around 60, is saying something. Soon, Springsteen had an octogenarian up on stage with him for some "Dancing in the Dark," a nice reminder that it ain't exactly autumn yet. Wrapping it all up fittingly with "Glory Days," Springsteen finally hollered, "Thanks for a great birthday party!"


Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Candy's Room
Two Hearts
Outlaw Pete
Hungry Heart
Working on a Dream
Johnny 99
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
Cadillac Ranch
The Wanderer
Incident on 57th Street
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
The Promised Land
Into the Fire
Lonesome Day
The Rising
Born to Run


Thunder Road
Hard Times
Bobby Jean
American Land
Dancing in the Dark
Glory Days

September 20 / United Center / Chicago, IL

What a wonderful diversion this show was, as the band settles in for the last leg of what has amounted to a two-year-plus-long tour. We knew we were going to get the Born to Run album start to finish but could only speculate whether it would open the show, close the show, or none of the above. Bruce takes such care to craft a new show—how would he insert a 40-minute opus into an otherwise solid set?

Not to open: a gritty "Seeds" took that spot for the first time. "No Surrender" followed, with Nils and Bruce locked in their frenetic guitar duel. "Johnny 99" had Bruce prowling the stage, cueing each solo with a shake of his fist. "Cover Me capped off this early Recession Suite, Bruce repeating the refrain "times are tough, just getting tougher" several times, and Nils closing the song with a searing solo.

Ater "Outlaw Pete" the mood brightened with "Hungry Heart," a major crowd pleaser for which Bruce again circumnavigated the pit as in South Carolina. He dropped out of sight for a moment, then suddenly he was making his way across the back barricade, hopping from one built-in bench seat to the next. Back on stage, two verses into "Working on a Dream," the song came to a halt. "Ladies and gentlemen, I hear the sound of the E Street Band fucking up! It can still happen after all these years... It ain't pretty." Following the song, Bruce fessed up: "Steven said I missed a verse, so it was the Boss's fault."

At 9:05 pm, the night's centerpiece began. Bruce introduced the Born to Run album: "What we are about to do we've only done once before, in a little theater in Red Bank.” He added, “When we made this record we were close to being dumped by our record company. This was our last chance." At the opening notes of "Thunder Road," the crowd became unhinged with emotion, turning the song into a full-length audience participation event.

And so the album sequence began. The only song of the eight that lagged, surprisingly for me, was "Night." It lacked the intensity with which I've seen them play it before. The much-coveted "Meeting Across the River" into "Jungleland" pairing was phenomenal, closing the Born to Run show-within-a-show at 9:54 pm; 49 minutes in total. In an era of iTunes and record company meltdowns, it was a treat to hear an album played as it was originally meant to be heard, some 34 years ago. Guest musicians included Curt Ramm on trumpet for "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out and "Meeting Across the River," along with Richard Davis for the latter, reprising his album role on on stand-up bass.

Back in the regular set, it was time for "Sunny Day." Mid-song, Bruce threw his guitar to Kevin Buell—it shot farther up in the air than out, leaving Kevin to dive in front of Max's kit to catch it. Bruce hunched his shoulders, offering a sheepish “Uh... Sorry?" A young boy, ten or 11 years old, came on stage to sing the chorus. His voice was shaky, but as Bruce made a move to count him back into tempo, the kid kept singing. Bruce laughed and looked at him as if to say "Don’t mind me, kid. It looks like you know what you're doing."

"Badlands" closed the main set, a counterpoint to its opening slot on much of this tour. And on to the encore: "Hard Times" was stellar, in particular the a cappella portion at the end, and the request portion of the night began, delayed but not preempted by the Born to Run performance in the main set. The band vamped on "Raise your Hand" as Bruce collected signs. I saw requests for "Man's Job" (!), "Point Blank," "Splish Splash," "Spirit in the Night," "Ramrod," "Runaround Sue," and what looked to be several hundred others. The first winner, however, was "Da Doo Ron Ron," on a big bright green sign from up in the 300 level, courtesy of my buds Jeff and Sarah (way to go, guys!). Bruce dedicated it to Ellie Greenwich, "a fantastic songwriter who passed away recently." The band didn’t have much trouble with it, achieving a Spector-worthy Wall of Sound just a few bars in. Bruce said to Clarence: "C, it’s got a very complicated sax solo. Just play it!" And Bruce sang it from a woman's point of view, channeling his inner Crystal: "I met him on a Monday and my heart stood still, Da Doo Ron Ron Ron, Da Do Ron Ron. Somebody told me that his name was Bill..."

Next was Bobby Day's "Rockin' Robin" (no mention of Michael Jackson), which was considerably harder for the band to sort out. As the band worked to find the right key, the crowd started singing the song. Bruce said, in a gravelly, insincere, funny voice: “Yeah, we appreciate it! Yeah yeah, it’s a great one...” "Dancing in the Dark" (with a gaggle of adolescents on stage for the Heyyyyy, babys), "American Land," and a very loose "Rosalita" closed the show. Bruce shouted, "Thanks for a great night!" And off he slipped into the night.


No Surrender
Johnny 99
Cover Me
Outlaw Pete
Hungry Heart
Working on a Dream
Thunder Road
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Born to Run
She's the One
Meeting Across the River
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
The Promised Land
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
The Rising


Hard Times
Raise Your Hand (instrumental)
Da Doo Ron Ron
Rockin' Robin
I'm Goin' Down
American Land
Dancing in the Dark

Friday, September 18, 2009

Can Someone Show Me How To Use the New Stuff in iTunes?

Which one do you think is the most upset of these 2?

If the Rangers are going to have any chance at winning the division, they must sweep the Angels starting tonight. They are 6 1/2 back with 17 to play, 7 of which are against the Angels.

Rangers can take a last thrill ride, if they stand tall

11:56 PM CDT on Thursday, September 17, 2009

Column by KEVIN SHERRINGTON / The Dallas Morning News | ksherrington@dallasnews.com

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When you've scored one more run than a dead man in 37 innings and were nearly no-hit by a last-place team, in effect, playing the most lifeless baseball of an inspiring, improbable season at the worst possible time, it's safe to assume you must be dead men walking. And the Angels lurking about aren't escorts, either.

But these are the Rangers we're talking about, so let's make other assumptions.

Let's say they play to their pattern this weekend, which is this:

The first week of August, they drop three of four to Oakland, then take two of three from the Angels. Or Aug. 31, Toronto drops a monumental, 18-10 embarrassment on them, and they respond with three straight wins over the Jays.

Or the first week of this month, they lose two of three in Baltimore, then sweep Cleveland in less than 24 hours.

Bottom line: These Rangers are a resilient bunch, and the reason we know that is because occasionally they're so awful.

For that matter, if they can suddenly turn around a historically horrific homestand, Six Flags should name its next roller coaster after them. But first they've got to grow up a little, and fast.

One of the more unfortunate consequences of a bad week was that Ron Washington unwittingly provided his impressionable charges an excuse: He complained about the weather. He said his young guys need to frolic in the sun and grass and dirt instead of being holed up in their rooms every day, noses pressed to the glass.

Of course, if I'm not mistaken, it rained on the A's, too, and Bob Geren's kids aren't exactly the Gashouse Gang.

At issue here is make-up. The chemistry in the Rangers' clubhouse has been good for years, mostly because of the laid-back nature. They're good guys. But occasionally it works against them. The manager learned early on not to jump anyone too hard. Everyone's afraid of hurting someone else's feelings, even when it might be necessary.

When the Rangers added Milton Bradley to the lineup last year, scouts raved about the toughness he brought. And they were right. He was immensely popular with teammates early. But as the season wore on and Bradley missed more and more time for a vast array of bizarre maladies, the respect of his increasingly dubious teammates ebbed away.

Bradley's in Chicago now, but, in some respects, the condition lingers.

Josh Hamilton says he won't be available in a now-or-never series against the Angels because he doesn't want to injure his back any further. No one else knows how he feels, and, frankly, I've never been one to question an athlete's injury.

But what's he risking? Just 17 games remain, and he's got an off-season to recover. When Hamilton says he can't play, he doesn't complain about pain in his back. He says it's because of pain sure to come.

Only out of respect for Hamilton's immense talent would I even presume to make a comparison, but let's consider the case of Mickey Mantle, another five-tool player with injury issues and demons of his own. Taped up like a mummy beneath his pinstripes, Mantle gritted it out. As a result, he earned his teammates' everlasting respect.

Most athletes learn that they're never going to be 100 percent. In Hamilton's case, it's looking like injuries will always be an issue. If he's going to come anywhere close to his promise, he needs an epiphany like the one that came to Jack Nicholson's character in a psychiatrist's waiting room. Turning to the other patients, Jack asked, "What if this is as good as it gets?"

Randy Galloway doesn't think they have a shot and thinks it's all Tom Hicks' fault.

Rangers stuck in mire as Tom Hicks gets his soccer kicks

By Randy Galloway


galloway As a very good baseball season in Arlington has been quickly reduced to a collapsing finish on the field, heavy clouds are gathering over the ballpark.

No, it’s not about the ongoing rain. These are clouds of uncertainty that the Rangers will face in the coming off-season.

It was heartwarming to read this week, via The Associated Press, that Tom Hicks is very pleased about the financial stability he’s brought to the Liverpool Reds of top-shelf European soccer.

Don’t know about you, but I’ve been kept awake deep in the night highly concerned about the status of the Reds. Granted, the British media and Liverpool fans strongly disagree with Tom on this financial stability issue, but when it comes to Hicks and his hip pocket, conflicting opinions run rampant these days.

Hicks has his version, a version that doesn’t necessarily make sense to anyone else.

Just a week ago, in a report on MLB.com, Tom said outside of "normal" financial limitations, the Rangers are doing just fine in money areas. He admitted the obvious, that Major League Baseball had to front him money (to keep the team afloat), but MLB had no say in what goes on in Arlington, including the failure to sign first-round draft pick Matthew Purke last month, or the failure to add any heavy salary in trades to help what was then a contending team.

On Purke, Hicks termed it "strictly our call not to go above" what he said was an offer of $4 million.

If true, that would mean the likes of Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels suddenly wasted months of detail work in deciding to draft Purke, and then Ryan and Daniels also decided it was OK to look like idiots in not getting the deal done. Who believes that?

They knew from the start it would take at least $6 million to sign the kid. Just guessing, but both Nolan and Daniels are still reeling from the sudden failure of that money to surface.

Another uncertainty is how much money, if any, will be available in the off-season. Will the payroll budget even reach this year’s total of $65 million, or will it dip as low as $50 mil?

No one has that answer. It’s all about Hicks finally selling the team, and for a new owner to surface, but the timetable on that reaches into next season, which doesn’t cover the off-season.

Meanwhile, there is absolutely nothing positive to take from the combined hitting and pitching collapse of the last week, but you can hear ballpark points being made in one area.

As the Rangers have played themselves out of a postseason contending situation, at least it gives no one a false sense of security on how good the team really is.

In a perfect there’s-much-work-still-to-be-done world, the off-season focus would be on acquiring new talent in certain areas. But it’s impossible to do so under these current circumstances.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It was Fun While it Lasted

Kinda odd how every year the state of California catches fire and how every year people around the country yawn.

The Rangers have scored 1 run in their last 4 games. Awfully tough to win that way.

Going quietly: Slumping Texas Rangers one-hit by A's

12:24 AM CDT on Thursday, September 17, 2009

By JEFF WILSON / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

ARLINGTON – Normally a verbose and opinionated bunch, the Rangers found themselves at a loss for words Wednesday night.

They had just been shut out for the third time during a four-game losing streak.

Rookie right-hander Trevor Cahill and two relievers combined on a one-hitter to lead Oakland to a 4-0 victory, completing a three-game sweep at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

No matter what might be contributing to the funk – rain delays, no Michael Young, no Josh Hamilton, the nature of the game – the Rangers can't put a finger on the reason.

"There is no explanation," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "How can you explain something like that?"

The last-place Athletics left town with a 9-6 record against the Rangers, who are off today before opening a three-game series against Los Angeles.

The Rangers' best chance at the postseason is to overtake the Angels, who lead the American League West by six games after losing to Boston. The Red Sox have pulled away to a 61/2 game lead in the wild card race.

"We need to see if can put a long string together, see if we can get a miracle to happen," said outfielder Marlon Byrd, who had the lone hit. "It's been done before. We're going to have to put together wins. If not, we're going to be out of this thing mathematically."

The Rangers were down a run in the first inning after right fielder Nelson Cruz misjudged a fly ball that turned into an RBI double for Scott Hairston.

Dustin Nippert pitched effectively through five innings, but the A's put the game out of reach with a three-run sixth. The final blow was a two-out solo homer by backup catcher Landon Powell.

"Nippert threw the ball pretty good. We just didn't put any runs on the board," manager Ron Washington said.

Cahill had a career-high seven strikeouts in seven innings, and the Rangers lifted only four balls to the outfield. He retired 17 straight hitters after allowing a bloop single to Byrd and a walk to Kinsler to start the second inning.

The only thing keeping hope alive for the Rangers is the fact that the Angels have hit a bit of a bad streak this week, losing 3 in a row. Hopefully that streak lasts throughout the weekend and the Rangers can get back on track as they play each other.

Loss to Red Sox has even Mike Scioscia shaking his head
Usually stoic manager protests two calls in the ninth inning.

Bill Shaikin
Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Boston - This was not the usual Mike Scioscia, the manager with the famously even keel, the leader who orders his charges to "turn the page" from adversity.

Two dozen reporters crowded into his office at Fenway Park late Wednesday night, within a clubhouse still seething about two umpiring calls that the Angels thought had robbed them of victory. Scioscia asked for questions, and a radio reporter tossed him a softball.

"Where do you start with this one?" the reporter asked.

"Is that all you got?" Scioscia snapped. "Where do you want to start?"

There was only one place to start. At the end.

The plate umpire called ball four. The Angels saw strike three.

And, even after some 25 minutes to cool down, Brian Fuentes wondered aloud whether that umpire was too "timid" or "scared" by the charged Boston atmosphere to make what the Angels believed was the right call.

"It's a big pitch," Fuentes said. "A huge pitch. I'm buckling down. The hitter is buckling down. He needs to do the same."

The Angels had coughed up a 3-0 lead and a 7-5 lead, in a park where whatever can go wrong usually does. They scored one run in the top of the ninth and handed an 8-7 lead to Fuentes, their embattled closer.

Jason Bay popped up. Mike Lowell flied out. One out to go.

Fuentes pitched around David Ortiz and walked him. J.D. Drew followed with an infield single, and so did Jed Lowrie, and the Red Sox had the bases loaded.

This brought up Nick Green, the seventh position player off the Boston bench. Green, a reserve infielder, had not driven in a run in 37 days.

He swung and missed at the first pitch, and the second. He started to swing at the third pitch and held up, although Scioscia so vehemently disagreed that the generally stoic manager grabbed the sides of his head in disbelief, screaming at the umpires.

Green fouled off three pitches, then took two, and the count was full.

Green took the next pitch, for ball four, to the disgust of the Angels. Fuentes slammed his glove against the ground, as the Red Sox tied the score.

Alex Gonzalez followed with a game-winning single, and the Angels shot verbal darts at plate umpire Rick Reed from every corner of the clubhouse.

"What was the count at the end?" Scioscia said. "Three-and-four to Green?"

Bruce played Greenville, SC last night.

September 16: / Bi-Lo Center / Greenville, SC
Another magical night in the Carolinas, where as Bruce said once again, there must be "something in the water." If so, this time it was Springsteen who seemed to have taken a long draft. The crowd in Greenville was fine, good, responding with a roar as Bruce put a spin on his usual question, "Is everybody alive out there?" But Bruce himself was particulary committed, his energy unflagging all night, from the rousing "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" to start. It was that self-generated energy that made the show. On the fly, Bruce put together a selection of songs to match: he dropped the soundchecked and setlisted "Wreck on the Highway," replaced the slowburn of the setlisted "My Hometown" with the intensity of "Backstreets," bypassed "Bobby Jean" in the encore and called an audible for "Detroit Medley." Start to finish, there was hardly a dip.

We felt the energy coming off the stage in the first three songs, "Tenth" into "Badlands" and "No Surrender," and by slot four, the stage couldn't contain it. "Hungry Heart" found Bruce heading into the pit, and it was no brief visit — he wound up circumnavigating the thing. He cruised slowly across the back barrier, slapping skin with those behind it, making his way around to the opposite side of the stage. The mass of fans up front surged and rolled along with him but seemed careful to keep things trouble-free— from where I stood, the pitgoers looked like gracious hosts, and the whole place kept singing along. Soon enough Bruce was back on stage, leaving a whole lot of "I can't believe that just happened!" expressions behind. (More pit forays later in the show, for signs and to pick up two girls to sing on "Sunny Day.")

The exuberance continued with a rollicking "Johnny 99," just a frenzy at the end as Jay wailed away on the drums (he played all night). "Atlantic City" was in the following slot instead of "Point Blank" or "Factory" or anything that might have slowed things down. The band vamped on "Raise Your Hand" as usual while Bruce gathered signs, and as he went to sing it, he began riffing on a sign he now held up: "You Sexy Thing." "I believe in miracles," Bruce sang, and the crowd sang back, Bruce eventually segueing into "Raise Your Hand," but bringing "Sexy Thing" back at the end, too. A great, hilarious slice of spontaneity.

A muscular request set followed: "This Hard Land," the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction," and "Ramrod." "This Hard Land" was a challenge for the drummer, who had to scramble—"Jay just told me he's never played this before!" the Boss laughed, but he wasted little time going right into it regardless. Nils could be seen back by Jay's riser as Bruce sang, some quick coaching before the drums had to kick in.

Then it was time to, as the sign read, "Give SC some Satisfaction! Hey Hey Hey!" Bruce played it with the Castiles back in '65, and a couple decades later he actually shared a mic with Mick Jagger on the song at a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. But he was right when he called out to Greenville, "The E Street Band has never played this song!" Sure didn't sound that way. As you'd expect. The place ate it up.

As the encore began, Curtis and Cindy really got to shine on "Hard Times," with that immense a capella break, before a whole new set of folks got the spotlight: the Swingin' Medallions. "We're big fans of beach music," Bruce said as he brought them out, and he's long been a fan of their "Double Shot of My Baby's Love" specifically, breaking it out live from time to time. Here in their South Carolina stomping grounds, it was cool to see these guys get a moment, hamming it up and even adding some choreography as Bruce looked on and laughed. "The Swingin' Medallions... still swingin'!" Corny but cool.

Springsteen filled out the rest of the show as one big party, "Detroit Medley" being the high point of the encore. A majestic "Thunder Road" to wrap it all up was as sedate as this show got—and by that point, a cool-down felt like just the thing. Satisfaction delivered.


Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
No Surrender
Hungry Heary
Outlaw Pete
Working on a Dream
Johnny 99
Atlantic City
Raise Your Hand
This Hard Land
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
The Promised Land
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
The Rising
Born to Run


Hard Times
Double Shot of My Baby's Love (w/ the Swingin' Medallions)
American Land
Glory Days
Detroit Medley
Dancing in the Dark
Thunder Road