Straight Out of the Onion?

And it turns out that people flocked to my blog right before that Favreapalooza on Monday night. Go figure. But I’ll take the page hits!

Anyway, my current work schedule, has somewhat kept me from posting. Well, that and not having timely material for when I would otherwise have put up a new entry. But, let’s see if the upcoming weeks and months are a bit friendlier towards regular updates.

This morning’s events finally forced me to post. I’m absolutely stunned, just like the President was when he found out, and frankly most of the press too. The Nobel Committee’s reasoning is fair enough, including a comparison to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1980 (before glasnost really took hold), and Fareed Zakaria seems to think along the same lines (‘America rejoining the world’).

I guess most people assume that the prize is a lifetime achievement award. That has always been what I was led to believe, too. Plenty of joke fodder already, some on the right, and of course quite a bit of it is absurd hyperbole, but even Obama surely knows that he has to go earn this with his and our country’s actions in the next few years. If not, you can be sure this “rockstar” theme is going to come up again in 2012, just like it did after his tour of Europe in 2008.

Even non-conservatives might be concerned about this development. It could have both positive and negative implications for Obama’s policy-making efforts, particularly on foreign policy. Chris Cilliza expands on this and some of my other points.

Hey, it makes for a nice wake-up call though, if you can get it. Enjoy the award, Mr. President, I’m not going to say you need to turn it down by any means. But as you said in your press conference today, don’t dare let this award get to your head. There is a lot of work to be done, and everyone will be watching you more closely than before (if that’s actually possible).

The fun begins withi figuring out what to do in Afghanistan. And then reconciling Congress and the nation on healthcare (no disrespect to Sen. Tom Harkin, but try to minimize the government’s direct involvement) without actually using reconciliation. Oh, and don’t forget the “Es”- economy, environment, and education…


Hilton Head… Or How I Became a Semi-American Hero

At least, that’s what some of my friends claim!

I haven’t taken many road trips, or things resembling them. A couple of trips with my parents to search for colleges, but those don’t really count. As an aside, though, here’s a 100% true story. Colgate was the first school they took me to see. I hadn’t considered applying there, heck, I didn’t really even know anything about it, other than that someone I knew had gone there several years earlier. Less than a year-and-a-half later, I was getting ready for Orientation atop the Hill, Colgate’s cure for the Freshman 15.

Once in college, I pretty much traveled home on breaks, took vacations with the family, and so on. Yet, I did randomly run into what became some of my closest friends in a San Juan casino while spending one Spring Break with my mom. As I think I’ve said, I’m never shocked to run into anyone from Colgate in New York City. But one random casino in Puerto Rico?

That brings me to Hilton Head, a traditional Colgate trip leading up to graduation. A couple of the friends I’d gotten closer to since San Juan asked if I wanted to join their group. If they hadn’t, I’m not sure if I would have gone at all. But I did, we rented a pretty sweet house one block from the beach- okay, it did evoke memories of Brady Bunch, except with woodchips instead of Astroturf on the lawn- and those several days were as fun as any I’ve ever had.

Our 16-hour trip down saw us get caught up in nasty storms near Washington and into Virginia, which I suspect were related to this set of devastating tornadoes across the South and Mid-Atlantic. But aside from a stretch of heavy traffic, we managed to keep going, thanks to great driving/co-piloting by Simon, Casey, and Dan Belke! Mike Nanna, Alex, Eric, and Mike M. also did a masterful job in the other car. Not that I’m shocked, they were ace writers/editors for the Maroon-News, top-notch Division 1 athletes, and/or are just plain great guys. They’re friends I will always be grateful for having made.

We also had to dodge the temptation to stop for this legendary tourist trap, but somehow we resisted…

Naturally, we all celebrated with a beer upon arrival the following morning. Aside from the trip down, the weather was just about perfect. A friend of mine, who’s senior week was in Ocean City saw it marred by a lot of wind, rain, and cool temperatures. Us? Beach and poolside! And of course, drinks by night. Who could begrudge us this after four years of work and lake-effect snow? Yet, I’m comfortable saying that we largely behaved with the dignity expected of graduates-to-be.

For reasons of taste, I won’t delve into the event which spawned the post title and the note in my ‘About Me’ page. However, if you ask me in a non-public forum, I’d probably be happy to tell the story. Neither I nor my friends will forget it for a long time.

Oh, and I probably won’t need to take many road trips in the future; they couldn’t be quite as much fun as the first one. But again, if anyone’s up for it…

There Are Two Places…

Thus begins Walter Cronkite’s supposed quote about Colgate University. He might have said and meant it, or maybe he didn’t, just as Yogi Berra joked about his infamous quotations (and later titled a book in the same manner). Doesn’t matter to us Colgate-types who actually lived the school. We wear it like a badge every time Spring Party Weekend comes around. Is it as crazy now as it supposedly was “back then”? I’d have no way to tell you; nobody else in my family has gone there and I don’t know too many older alums.

Actually, I do have one piece of anecdotal evidence to at least put Colgate up there with anyone else’s springtime festivities. Last year, my brother was a freshman at another prestigious liberal arts school (actually, it’s more of a small ‘full-service’ university). His version of SPW was the same week as ours. More students, more endowment, and arguably bigger-name musical acts, all over there, halfway across the country. And when I asked him how it was going early on the Saturday night, he and some of his friends were just about done. Some wouldn’t even wake up for the big concert.

I laughed. That would never happen at Colgate. From mid-afternoon Friday until the bars closed early on Sunday morning, it always was and still is pretty much non-stop anything and everything goes. Somehow, I only really experienced one SPW in this vein- last year. Not much of anything doing my first couple of years (to be fair, the event and Colgate’s social scene generally were undergoing some renovations), then I was abroad as a junior. Maybe it’s a good thing, as I’ll carry some distinct memories for a while to come of times and drinks shared just before the final push to graduation and real life. If that last point’s true, then when someone asks me about Colgate and SPW before experiencing it, my description won’t be a blurred compilation of years or complaints about the event getting worse as my four years progressed.

Of course, I’ll still start him or her off with Walter Cronkite’s quote. After all, he did give us a near mythological reputation to live up to.

Apologies for my relative lack of stories or specificity. Maybe I’ll do that later, but for now, I think that in an era of loose talk on facebook or the blogosphere frequently carrying unanticipated consequences, it’s probably better to keep the details private!

Watch This Space

More coming later today or tomorrow. Been pretty busy this week with day job-related stuff, not to mention all the baseball, playoff b-ball and hockey, etc… But with Colgate’s Spring Party Weekend coming up- no I can’t really make it up there- I’ll probably reminisce a little bit. Trust me, most of the memories are pretty tame! Also, with the terrific weather expected for this weekend, you might see me out and about some in Manhattan. So keep posted for updates and thanks for your continued support for Danimal’s Den!

Game, Set & Match (NCAA Championship Instant Reaction)

Ty Lawson celebrates a good play

Ty Lawson celebrates a good play

Source: UNC’s Athletic Department website.

Wow, North Carolina made that look easy.

55-34 at the half, the highest point total and lead any team has ever had in the title game. Michigan State had more turnovers (14) than field goals (12) in the first half, and for the game it was 22 field goals to 21 turnovers. Raymar Morgan, Delvon Roe, and Travis Walton all held to under five points apiece. A double-digit UNC lead from virtually the first TV timeout-on. Boom. Good night; the 89-72 score being mostly window-dressing and an opportunity for players to pad their stats in the final period.

Seriously though. You gotta give the Tar Heels credit for this performance. Everybody stood out tonight. Ty Lawson had to be stopped for Michigan State to contend. Result? 21 points, a final game record eight steals, six assists, and one turnover. MOP (aka “MVP”) Wayne Ellington- 7-12 on field goals and 19 points total. Oh, and that Hansbrough kid? Yeah, he signed off on college pretty nicely, grabbing 18 points. He also leads a class of seniors that won a school-record 124 games. Thanks to Lawson’s spectacular performance (and you could have made as good an argument for him as MOP as for Ellington), he was once again not very many people’s focus. A reality which pretty much tells you how close to unstoppable North Carolina was in this one- and throughout the tournament. They won every single game by double figures; uber-rival Duke was the last team to do that back in 2001. As Jim Nantz said near the end of the game, North Carolina trailed in games for less than 10 minutes total. Both of those stats are mind-boggling in a tournament known for parity, close games, and upsets.

So let the coronation begin of a team that actually lived up to the hype, both prior to and during the season. And as I write this, wild parties and street celebrations have broken out in Chapel Hill which undoubtedly will last into tomorrow and maybe beyond (update: they actually cleared out around 2 or 3 AM, per local police). While President Obama picked the ‘Heels, and I didn’t on my facebook bracket, I did have them in The Beer Lodge league and made a late rally to finish second, two points behind. As for facebook, I finished in the Top 14% but unfortunately outside the top-50,000 people. All things considered, I guess my friends are right about me having decent sports knowledge, at least compared to most Americans. But obviously I still have a long way to go! And based on percentile, Obama only finished in ESPN’s top-20%! Okay, I don’t think I could fare as well as him at his day job.