Friday, September 12, 2008

Who Is Matt Cassel?

This Sunday, for the first time since 2001, the New England Patriots will have someone other than Tom Brady under center for the start of a regular season game. Instead, fans will see Matt Cassel, a guy who is not dating Gisele, not the father of Bridget Moynahan's baby, and isn't constantly confused with Matt Damon.

Bridget, I Love You
Ignore The Man On The Left

Who exactly is this guy?

If you're a sports fan, or have even watched the news, you've probably heard that Cassel hasn't started a game since high school. You may even know he's married to a total hottie former USC volleyball star.

Seen here, unfortunately, hobnobbing with a certain someone...

Meeting George W.
Talk About Embarrassing Pictures On The Web...

I was curious to see what I could find out about this mystery man. This is what I uncovered:

His father, Greg, was a script writer on the CBS series "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" and his mother is a set designer. Matt and his family had to live in a hotel for weeks after the Northridge earthquake of 1994 destroyed their home.

Cassel was actually better at baseball as a kid. He batted cleanup on Northridge California's national championship Little League team in 1994, which eventually lost to Venezuela in the Little League World Series. "He's got tools other guys might not possess," his little league coach said. "He doesn't let anything bother him."

Then, his sophomore year, he took over as quarterback. He followed a solid sophomore season with a jaw-dropping junior year, quarterbacking his team to a championship.

His sophomore year football coach said, "With his personality, he's one of those kids who can throw an interception, then come back and throw a touchdown. I haven't had many kids who can go one play at a time. He's a big-time player, no question."

His high school girlfriend was a major hottie too:

Matt Cassel's High School Girlfriend
She's a "professional model." Sort of like Gisele!

I guess that's what you get when you're the star quarterback.

He was ranked the #53 prospect in the nation coming out of high school. Although it should be noted, no one else in the top 100 that year has become an NFL superstar, except maybe Willis McGahee at #16.

There was no doubt he'd be a big star at USC. Carson Palmer was leaving for the NFL soon.

"It's a good situation at USC. I get to learn behind Carson Palmer for a few years and then I'll get my shot. I just want to make the most of my opportunity," Cassel said, back in 2000.

His freshman year, he threw only two passes, but ran for 22 yards.

Then... well. Then the career path got derailed. Paul Hackett, who was high on Cassel, was let go. Pete Carroll came in. Cassel backed up Palmer in 2002, throwing 4 passes, completing 3 for 27 yards. But the next season, Matt Leinart, not Cassel, got the starting nod. From then on, the kid with the golden arm didn't make one start at quarterback. His only start was.. very weirdly.. at tight end.

Cassel's junior year, he threw 13 passes. Senior year, he threw 14 passes and completed 10, for 97 yards and an interception.

Leinart took the reins and never looked back, becoming a 1st round draft pick of the Arizona Cardinals. Cassel was chosen in the 7th round by the Patriots, who were roundly criticized for being out of their minds. One respected sports magazine called their draft choices "bizarre."

This guy was high on Cassel before it became popular. He goes as far as comparing him to Matt Hasselbeck, though the comparisons he offers are far from compelling.

All in all, what we have here is the story of a gifted athlete who was all set for big things-- but then missed out on his big break.

I hope it doesn't happen against the New York Jets.

One more picture of Bridget for good measure:

Big Mistake, Brady
Let's Hope Her Baby Doesn't Inherit Brady's Weak Knees


P.S. Curt Schilling's wrong. New Yorkers don't take glee in Brady's injury. We take glee in Curt Schilling's injury. Cause he's an obnoxious jerk.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Welcome, Giants Fans, To Nazi Stadium

Oy vey...

Nazi Insurance Company Bids To Name New Meadowlands Football Stadium

It should be said that, apparently, Allianz has apologized for their Nazi past and worked together with Jewish organizations to make amends.

Of course, according to their own website, it wasn't until 1997 that Allianz began addressing its past as a Nazi-supporting company. Coincidentally, that was the same year Allianz was sued for not paying the life insurance policies of Holocaust victims:

"After a lawsuit was filed in 1997, Allianz immediately responded by establishing a 24-hour, multilingual telephone helpline in the United States, Europe and Israel to enable potential claimants with life insurance policies, from the Holocaust-era, to have their inquiries answered. We have offered immediate payment for each legitimate claim of Holocaust victims or their heirs that was found to have been unsettled after the end of the war."

"Since 1997 Allianz has been intensively engaged in addressing its past between 1933 and 1945."
Interesting... you mean they didn't begin apologizing for their Nazi past until they were sued more than 50 years later?

Heil Giants!!!

[Update: Thanks entirely to my blog post, the Jets and Giants have canceled talks with Allianz.
Seven Years

Osama Bin Laden is still free.
The World Trade Center is still a hole in the ground.
Oil prices have quadrupled.
4,721 American soldiers are dead.

The national debt has doubled.
Russia is performing military exercises in Venezuela.
The Euro is stronger than the dollar.
91,380 civilians have been killed in Iraq.

The inflation rate has doubled.
More than 40 terror groups have joined al Qaeda in the past 3 years.
The Taliban control half of Afghanistan.
A BBC poll found 49% of people worldwide think the U.S. hurts the world.

In the seven years since 9/11, the United States has done nothing to erase the scars created that tragic day. In fact, in most cases, our government has increased the magnitude of the loss we suffered. Nearly 3,000 died on that September morning, but since then, thousands upon thousands more have lost their lives. By attacking the center of our nation's financial strength, the terrorists sought to destroy our economy and change our way of life. Thanks to the Republican administration over the past 7 years, the terrorists have largely succeeded. The economy is imperiled, overwhelming security has hindered even the most innocuous of our recreational activities, and the national discourse now focuses on "who's more patriotic" rather than promoting advances in science and technology.

That would be bad enough.

Worse, the mastermind of this crime is still at large. His organization is growing. The despotic leaders that gave him shelter still control half of Afghanistan, seven years after the greatest army in the world began an attempt to drive them out. Worse, we devoted our resources to a different nation, Iraq, a country which had nothing to do with the attacks on 9/11. In doing so, we created two safe havens for terrorists-- in an uncontrolled Afghanistan and a leaderless Iraq.

We sunk so much money into our misadventures since 9/11, that our nation's infrastructure is crumbling. New Orleans, one of our nation's most beautiful cities, is still a shattered shell, 3 years after Hurricane Katrina. The city hardest hit by the September 11th attacks still has its gaping, open wound downtown, while skyscrapers and hotels are popping up in places like China and Dubai with astonishing speed and regularity.

Seven years after 9/11, our country hasn't recovered. What's worse, it's actually declined further. When the world saw the towers fall, they reached out to us, unequivocally. They wanted to know how they could help. We brushed them aside with a preemptive war that even Colin Powell had to lie about to justify. And now, stuck in the money pit, we see our banks and mortgage lenders collapsing. Oil prices inflating the costs of everyday goods and services. And rapidly disappearing influence, both financial and political, throughout the world.

Seven years after 9/11, make no mistake. The terrorists are winning. Every day Bin Laden twiddles his thumbs is testament to that. Our President isn't concerned with any of this. Indeed... we've seen him little in the past few months, save for an address at the Republican National Convention.

"Osama bin Laden is not out there leading any parades," says White House spokesperson Dana Perino.

He doesn't have to. He's doing just fine destroying America while sitting in a cave.

You should really check out Thomas Friedman on Charlie Rose. He says some real intelligent things. "We've become the United States of Fighting Terrorism." So true. Whatever happened to the America that was the beacon of freedom, science, and culture? Is the new American dream simply "lets not get blown up??" Feel free to skip to 20:09, because a lot of the earlier stuff is about the environment and Friedman's latest book.

A nice piece on the Republicans' failed attempt to "change the world" after 9/11.

You can read my previously stated feelings about 9/11 here.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Top Secret

In this time of terror, security is more important than ever. Which is why one of this nation's most valuable treasures, and some say, most enduring secrets, will have nuclear-level guard when it is transferred to an undisclosed location today.

I'm talking, of course, about KFC's fried chicken recipe. The AP article, with my notations in bold:

KFC shoring up security for secret recipe

By BRUCE SCHREINER, Associated Press Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Pssst. The secret's out at KFC. Well, sort of. Colonel Harland Sanders' handwritten recipe of 11 herbs and spices was to be removed Tuesday from safekeeping at KFC's corporate offices for the first time in decades. The temporary relocation is allowing KFC to revamp security around a yellowing sheet of paper that contains one of the country's most famous corporate secrets. The other one being, "What's at the center of a Tootsie Pop?"

The brand's top executive admitted his nerves were aflutter (who uses the word, "aflutter?") despite the tight security he lined up for the operation.

"I don't want to be the president who loses the recipe," KFC President Roger Eaton said. "Imagine how terrifying that would be." Yes, just imagine. Chaos. I can see Harrison Ford in the movie role.

So important is the 68-year-old concoction that coats the chain's Original Recipe chicken that only two company executives at any time have access to it. The company refuses to release their name or title, and it uses multiple suppliers who produce and blend the ingredients but know only a part of the entire contents. When either of the two executives resign and/or get fired, they are immediately killed.

Louisville-based KFC, part of the fast-food company Yum Brands Inc., hired off-duty police officers and private security guards to whisk the document away to an undisclosed location in an armored car. Coincidentally, the same undisclosed location Dick Cheney fled to on September 11th. The recipe will be slid into a briefcase and handcuffed to security expert Bo Dietl for the ride.

"There's no way anybody could get this recipe," said Dietl, a former New York City police detective. His security firm is also handling the security improvements for the recipe at headquarters, but he wouldn't say what changes they're making. Rumor has it that a giant trap-filled "Hypercube" will be constructed.

For more than 20 years, the recipe has been tucked away in a filing cabinet equipped with two combination locks in company headquarters. To reach the cabinet, the keepers of the recipe ("Keepers of the Recipe": sounds like a Lord-of-the-Rings-type job) would first open up a vault and unlock three locks on a door that stood in front of the cabinet. They then have to pass several tests. Only the penitent man may pass.

Vials of the herbs and spices are also stored in the secret filing cabinet. Which means that, thankfully, in case of a nuclear holocaust, future generations will still be able to enjoy the golden spicy deliciousness of KFC.

"The smell is overwhelming when you open it," said one of two keepers of the recipe in an interview at company headquarters. If it smells anything like this KFC, I feel bad for him:

The biggest prize, though, is a single sheet of notebook paper, yellowed by age, that lays out the entire formula — including exact amounts for each ingredient — written in pencil and signed by Sanders. It also includes an obscene, crudely-drawn doodle by Sanders of Wendy from the fast-food franchise of the same name, getting it on with the Hamburglar.

Others have tried to replicate the recipe, and occasionally someone claims to have found a copy of Sanders' creation. The executive said none have come close, adding the actual recipe would include some surprises. Like PCP.

Sanders developed the formula in 1940 at his tiny restaurant in southeastern Kentucky and used it to launch the KFC chain in the early 1950s.

Sanders died in 1980 (click it), but his likeness is still central to KFC's marketing.

"The recipe to him, in later years, was everything he stood for," said Shirley Topmiller, his personal secretary for about 12 years. He didn't have much else to stand for, apparently.

Larry Miller, a restaurant analyst with RBC Capital Markets, said the recipe's value is "almost an immeasurable thing. It's part of that important brand image that helps differentiate the KFC product." Am I the only one who sees the potential in a Kentucky Fried Chicken movie?

No, I don't mean this. I'm picturing a crime caper buddy comedy.

KFC had a total of 14,892 locations worldwide at the end of 2007. The chain has had strong sales overseas, especially in its fast-growing China market, but has struggled in the U.S. amid a more health-conscious public. And people who saw the above video. KFC posted U.S. sales of $5.3 billion at company-owned and franchised stores in 2007.
Well, I have my next project to work on. Starring Adam Sandler and Damon Wayans as two friends determined to steal the KFC recipe (which was originally Wayans's grandma's) from the corporate headquarters to hold it for ransom. Things go comically awry due to a hardnosed security guard (wrestling's The Rock) and a series of misadventures including stumbling onto KFC's other secret-- what KFC is really made of. Hint: it rhymes with "Soylent Green is People!!!"

Okay. Enough giving away my ideas for future blockbusters. Next time you go to KFC, just think of all the security that goes into making that piece of chicken. There's a little bit of the "Keepers of the Recipe" in each one.

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