Saturday, January 28, 2006

For Your Viewing (Dis)pleasure...

Here it is, another Friday evening, at home. I am closing in on almost 16 months being separated from my wife with no end in sight. I spoke with her last Saturday evening at around midnight. I was shocked that she returned my call. I got a statement of benefits from Aetna Insurance, where I have dental insurance from. I tell you what - let's start from the beginning...

During the Christmas holidays, I got a call from the dentist about my ex's upcoming dental appointment. I spoke to the ex about the appointment, & she told me she knew nothing about it. So, last Saturday, when Aetna's statement came in, it stated that on 1/2, the ex gets her teeth cleaned & has a couple of x-rays taken. On 1/9 she gets two wisdom teeth pulled & has two cavities filled. I was furious. I called the ex, & she told me to give her the bill when it comes in & she'll take care of it. I said damn right you will! But that's not the point! She continues to use my insurance, knowing that I can not take her or the kids off of it until the divorce is final. I told her to quit mooching off of me and quit mooching off of my insurance!

Is it any wonder that I have trust issues with any person that I come in contact with?

Anyway, I faxed a copy of the property description to my ex's lawyer. Hopefully we can get this show on the road. After 16 months... it's about time.

I worked every day this week, & I got off work at around 10:30 this evening & went home (I had no plans - no woman in their right mind would want to be seen with me!). I turned on the TV to the WB, & watched a two-hour program called "Confessions Live!". This was hilarious - freaks calling in to this show & spilling their guts in more ways than one. I heard confessions about sleeping with the sister's fiance, confessions about sleeping with the girlfriend's mother, and so on. The host is a real smart-ass, but I like him because he is straight up & to the point. Hot models occasionally co-host the show. It's good for a laugh.

Ditto for "Blind Date". Desperate people in desperate times. It made me think about the few blind dates that I went on. They were actually pretty fun, but I have gone out on a few blind dates when I was single many years ago that left a lasting impression on me - namely, to RUN LIKE HELL!! I never thought that I would say this, but the greatest blind date I ever went on was with a girl named Dana. It was in 1991. I was 23, Dana was 20. I was a junior at Arkansas State University, she was a sophomore at UCA. Both of us were mathematics majors. Dana was very insecure about her looks & her weight. Of all people in the world to fix us up - my sister! The first time I saw Dana in Conway, I thought she was drop dead gorgeous!! We went out & had so much fun. It started a 6-month relationship where we would see each other every other weekend. However, since it is three hours from Jonesboro to Conway, and since both of us had jobs along with our studies, it became more difficult to maintain the relationship. It was a mutual split. I spoke to her last when I started seeing the young lady that I would eventually marry (and now am in a very bitter divorce battle with), & we haven't spoken to each other since. No matter where my travels take me, I will always have very fond memories of Dana. I hope she can say the same about me.

Up to this point, it was an OK if uneventful evening. The next show that came on was a show called "Cheaters". Right from the get-go, I figured my evening would crash after watching this show. As you can tell from the title, it was a reality show about people cheating on their significant others. I felt a very uncomfortable feeling throughout the show. I almost felt as if I was on that show. Strange as it may seem, I couldn't turn away from the show, but I felt a numbing feeling inside while that show was on.

I wondered what would happen if I had used the "Cheaters" angle to confront my ex. I still think she wouldn't have spoken. She would have just walked away, leaving me to wonder what I did wrong.

That has been the big thing for me - sure, it has been well-documented WHAT she has done. But a lot of us would like to find out WHY she did it. She has shown no remorse, and she has no regrets for her actions. Was I really this bad? I thought I was doing everything possible to be the best husband & father that I could. What was I doing wrong? I know that I have friends telling me that it wasn't my fault & that I am better off without her, but really, am I? The man she has hooked up with works in a factory, & that's all he knows how to do. The fact that they have kept their affair a secret from me since 2002 - I never realized that any one person could be so cold & so cruel. But nevertheless, they have a family between them, and I am flying solo.

I can't help but think of all the dreams we had between me and my ex. We had dreams & aspirations for the future. I always thought that we would have each other. All the plans that we had made, just the two of us. We went to the Bahamas for our 5-year anniversary, & we had intended on going on a cruise for our 10-year anniversary. Yeah, right, like that will ever happen now. But back then, if nothing else, we shared the love of travel & the love of audio/video equipment, according to my ex.

I thought that things would get better once everything settled down. Those dreams I had are now turning into nightmares. I swear, I have at least one nightmare a week about my ex. What gives? And when will this ever end?

And what will happen once I get back on the dating scene? I had always said that I had enjoyed myself when I was single, but God I hope I never have to go through that again. Well, guess what... Anyway, how much has things changed since 1993? I had always tried to be a perfect gentleman while on a date - opening the car door for my date, taking her coat off, pulling her chair out in a nice restaurant, giving her flowers, giving her a back massage, a shoulder massage, a foot massage... do those rules apply anymore? And what really does a lady look for in a guy that she is interested in? Money, security, stability, a nice car... just what do they look for? And with me just a few months away from turning 38, how slim are my chances? Would I be better off just to hang it up & tell myself that I had my chance & totally blew it?

Anyway, nothing on TV after that, so I turned on my stereo & played one of my favorite albums of all time: Talking Heads' "Remain in Light". I had two of my favorite things for supper - hot dogs & cold beer. I have mellowed out a little.

Oh, one final note - I saw my father-in-law the day after Christmas. My grandmother & I went to Couch's BBQ in Jonesboro (the greatest BBQ, I should add) for breakfast, & I saw my father-in-law sitting with someone talking. I didn't say a word to him, he didn't say a word to me, & I think that we were all better off. I am just thankful that my aunt wasn't there - I know she would have had a few choice words.

That's all, folks - see you on the flip side. "Bolivar's Blog" is brought to you every chance possible by Stiggy Theater. See a movie a Stiggy Theater - you'll be glad you did, I think.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

With a Nod to Talmadge... July 30, 1977, revisited

I have the greatest friends! In Talmadge Gleck's last post, he went down the list of the top-40 of the week of July 30, 1977. I will give my feedback to that list here shortly, but I had to stop and reflect on that time in history...

At that time, I was one day away from turning 9 years old (July 31 is my birthday). I was having the greatest summer of my life. I have had summers before I had to grow up and get a job where there were certain moments that I will forever remember, but the summer of 1977 will stand above and beyond the rest as the best summer of my life. I was living in an apartment complex in Irving, Texas, about one mile from Texas Stadium. The days were hot, & I spent them with my friends playing baseball. We had a swimming pool in my complex, and I spent every day that summer there, when I wasn't playing ball. I had my first crush on an older lady (she was 19 years old & attending SMU; she thought I was soooooo cute - she thought of me as her little brother). I also had my first kiss with a girl who was my age. We were riding our bicycles when we stopped, and all of a sudden, she just grabbed me & kissed me - right on the lips! And what did I do? Was I offended? Well, I grabbed her & kissed her right back! Talk about banging my nose into adolesence! My first crush & my first kiss - in the same summer! Good times, good times...

But there was one other time that summer that stood out in my memory. When the report cards came out at the beginning of the summer, I had made straight As. As a result, my mother bought an LP that I had wanted - the first Wild Cherry LP. I played that album a lot that summer. However, shortly after that, my father weeded out a bunch of his old LPs, & he divided them between me and my sister (I wound up taking all of them because my sister didn't like her stack). He had some killer stuff, LPs that still grace my collection some 30 years later: Cream's "Disraeli Gears", the Music Machine LP with "Talk Talk", the Standells' LP with "Dirty Water", the Beach Boys' "Surfer Girl" LP, the first Hendrix LP, & the Who's "Tommy" LP. What's more, for my birthday that year, I got three more LPs to add to my collection: Peter Frampton's "I'm in You", Aerosmith's "Toys in the Attic", and, unfortunately, Barry Manilow's "Live" LP (that last one courtesy of my MOTHER). The strange thing about the Manilow LP, even though it had a lot of crap on it, it also had him doing a medley of commercials he had written, & it was actually pretty funny. It also had his first recording of "It's Just Another New Years' Eve", which was a staple of the New Years' Rockin' Eve show for many years. And before we slam Manilow too hard, remember that he produced the first two Bette Midler LPs - and I LOVE Bette!

This was also the first summer I grew attached to the radio. I felt that pop music was at a peak during this time. Even though it seemed like the Eagles & Fleetwood Mac were all we heard that summer, I certainly wasn't complaining. There were a lot of good songs during this time. So, without further adieu, here is the top-40 list for the week of July 30, 1977, with my rubbish comments - take them for what they are worth. Discussion to follow...

40. "Float On" - The Floaters

I vaguely remember this one, & I remember it being OK.

39. "Christine Sixteen" - KISS

I might as well say it now - KISS is the most overrated rock band in history. KISS was forbidden by my mother as well, but, at one time, I owned the "Double Platinum" LP. That LP contains all the KISS you ever need. Totally useless band.

38. "Slide" - Slave

I had forgotten about this one - how dare me! Killer song, killer groove.

37. "Strawberry Letter 23" - Brothers Johnson

Another one I had forgotten about! This is also pretty cool.

36. "Slow Dancin' (Swayin' to the Music)" - Johnny Rivers

Real light groove, along with Johnny's vocals - far from the "Go-Go" days, but I have always liked this song.

35. "Way Down" - Elvis Presley

August 16 was a sad day at my house. My mother cranked up Elvis all day long. Even though this is not my favorite Elvis song by any means, Elvis will always remain "The King".

34. "Remember the Days of the Old Schoolyard" - Cat Stevens

I'm sorry - Cat Stevens is the most overrated singer/songwriter of all time. I could care less about his vendetta with Salman Rushdie. Cat made only one great song - "Morning Has Broken". I should note that the guy playing piano (and the solo) on that song goes by the name of Rick Wakeman. Shortly after the "Broken" session, he would give up session work to join a little band called Yes - one of my all-time favorite bands.

33. "Ariel" - Dean Friedman

I agree with Tal - this song sucked. 30 years hasn't changed that.

32. "On and On" - Stephen Bishop

This is an OK song, but I still feel that Stephen should have had an Academy Award nomination for his performance (albeit brief) in "Kentucky Fried Movie". His performance brought tears to my eyes - it was so good! Actually, it was hilarious!

31. "Black Betty" - Ram Jam

What a killer song! My ex-wife didn't believe me when I told her that I used to have a copy of this on a 45. When she first heard it in 2002, she thought that it was a new song. That just goes to show how STUPID my ex-wife is. I could care less if the cold, spineless, heartless, two-faced, backstabbing b*tch likes this song - I still love it anyway. So there.

30. "Got to Give It Up (part 1)" - Marvin Gaye

Not my favorite Marvin Gaye song, but still a good song nonetheless. It's funny that Tal would mention about the Here, My Dear album. Yes, the royalties from that album went to Marvin's ex-wife (who was Berry Gordy's sister Anna). Ironically speaking, that LP was Marvin's worst selling LP of all time. Just desserts, my friends. And let's get one thing straight right now - the royalties from my next album will not go to my ex-wife. And I will write whatever I want! And she can't stop me!! She will not get royalties from my 8-minute opus to Nettiemac!

29. "Smoke From a Distant Fire" - Sanford-Townsend Band

Cool song - good memories from that summer.

28. "Rocky (Gonna Fly Now)" - Bill Conti

I could care less about this song, but I must admit - I loved the first Rocky movie, even though they ran it into the ground pretty quick. And Talmadge, it isn't Sly Stallone you have to worry about. Sly doesn't do a roundhouse kick like Chuck Norris can. Sly is allowed to stay around because Chuck Norris allows Sly to stay around. If Apollo Creed's punches aren't enough to knock Sly out, a roundhouse kick from Chuck Norris can.

27. "How Much Love?" - Leo Sayer

Not my favorite Leo Sayer song (you have to fast-forward to 1981 for that one), but it is OK.

26. "Telephone Line" - ELO

I will get flack from Tal & Nettie for this, but I LOVE this song. And the album it's from, A New World Record, is ELO's best album by a mile and a half. I prefer "Livin' Thing" & "Do Ya", but I have always loved this song. One of my favorites on this list.

25. "Give a Little Bit" - Supertramp

Another of my faves on this list. And the album it's from, Even in the Quietest Moments, is a classic as far as I'm concerned. No bad songs on the LP, and the title track is a killer.

24. "Telephone Man" - Meri Wilson

I have this and "Peter the Meter Reader" on a couple of Dr. Demento collections. I love both.

23. "It's Sad to Belong" - England Dan and John Ford Coley

The Peter and Gordon of the 1970s insofar as they are totally irrelevant. And forgotten. And rightly so.

22. "Don't Stop" - Fleetwood Mac

Oh boy, I may get in trouble for this... OK, I loved this song & the Rumours album when it came out. I still can not find it in myself to put this album down. However, in the 1980s, I became aware with the rest of their catalog. The early stuff with Peter Green, their middle period with Bob Welch... and you know what? I prefer that over Lindsey and Stevie! "Oh Well" with Peter Green is a bitter song. "Station Man", from Kiln House, is a very underrated song. I prefer "Hypnotized", "Future Games", & the original version of "Sentimental Lady" over this. I'm sorry.

21. "Jet Airliner" - The Steve Miller Band

How's this for early sampling? Compare the opening notes of this song to Cream's "Crossroads". I still love this song anyway. Three cheers for the "funky sh*t"!

20. "Barracuda" - Heart

Oh man!! I love, love, love this song. I don't care who they stole it from! Annie Wilson could sing me the yellow pages & I would buy it. And the future Mrs. Cameron Crowe was pretty sexy too. Early Heart remains my favorite, and 1980's Bebe Le Strange, in my opinion, is Heart's "Led Zeppelin 4".

19. "Handy Man" - James Taylor

You gotta love that voice - very distinctive. The moment he sings, you know who he is. This isn't my favorite James Taylor song by any means, but this is still good.

18. "You're My World" - Helen Reddy

From "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar" to "You're My World"? Give me a break.

17. "Just a Song Before I Go" - CSN

To answer Nettie - yes, "Dark Star" is on the CSN album, and it is my favorite track on the LP. However, I love the "story" behind this song. A limo came to pick Graham Nash up to take to the airport. The limo driver told Graham, "We've got about 15 minutes to get to the airport; I bet you can't write a song in that amount of time." Guess what? This is the result, as told by David Crosby on the CSN boxed set. Cool story, cool song. I love it.

16. "Angel in Your Arms" - Hot

Haven't heard this one in many years, but I remember it being OK - better than #15.

15. "Undercover Angel" - Alan O'Day

Proof positive that there were too many angels on this list. Where are the devils? Oops, I forgot - "Devil Woman" was in 1976. Sorry!

14. "Knowing Me, Knowing You" - ABBA

Talmadge, please forgive me for this, OK? I love this song. OK, they made some pretty crummy studio albums. However, in 1982, they put out an album called The Singles - The First Ten Years. Believe it or not, Rolling Stone magazine gave that album 5 stars back in 1982. In my humble opinion, it deserved 5 stars. They made some classic pop songs, & this is one of my favorites.

13. "Easy" - The Commodores

I like this song, despite the fact that it would lead to "Three Times a Lady" and "Sail On". But once again, I apologize - Lionel Richie took the funk out of this band. Give me "Brick House" over this 99 times out of 100.

12. "You Made Me Believe in Magic" - The Bay City Rollers

And this song nearly killed all the magic for me in 1977. Pathetic.

11. "You and Me" - Alice Cooper

Alice's bid to become Barry Manilow. And it worked. Give me a break.

10. "Whatcha Gonna Do" - Pablo Cruise

Great, great song. Pablo Cruise was a breath of fresh air for pop music in the 70s. It's a shame they are all but forgotten.

9. "Higher and Higher" - Rita Coolidge

Got a ton of airplay in 1977. I prefer Jackie Wilson's version, but this is OK.

8. "Margaritaville" - Jimmy Buffett

What can be said about this song that hasn't already been said? Timeless music that has only improved as the years go by. I can see myself, Talmadge, Seraphim, & Nettiemac in our 80s, out on our swings, still looking for that lost shaker of salt. And still singing this song, drinking margaritas, & living the rest of our lives in total peace. What a cool thought!

7. "Do You Wanna Make Love" - Peter McCann

"... or do you just wanna fool around?" Isn't that the same thing, Peter? Crummy song, although I had the 45 at one time. What was the flip side to this song? A song Peter wrote called "Right Time of the Night", that Jennifer Warnes turned into a big hit in 1977. That one was far better than this one.

6. "Best of My Love" - The Emotions

I agree with Nettie - anything Earth, Wind, & Fire had a hand in, I will take anyday. Soul music & funk music still lives!

5. "Da Doo Ron Ron" - Shaun Cassidy

I despise this song with a passion. I must make note of the original performing family, the Cowsills, who I prefer by a wide margin. Barry Cowsill was one of the victims of Hurricane Katrina. He was identified by his dental records this past weekend. A very sad tragedy - RIP, Barry.

4. "My Heart Belongs to Me" - Barbra Streisand

Thank God this song doesn't! Egad!

3. "Looks Like We Made It" - Barry Manilow

Inspired "Hari Kari for Barry" by Billy and the Boingers (with Bill the Cat on "lead tongue").

2. "I'm in You" - Peter Frampton

Very fond summer 1977 memories. Loved this song, loved this album. It's a plain shame (no pun intended) that Peter would kill his career in 1978 by making the boneheaded career decision of all time: to become an actor. That movie he did, Sgt. Peppers, killed the careers of so many great talents. Peter has yet to recover. The Bee Gees never did. And speaking of the Bee Gees...

1. "I Just Want to Be Your Everything" - Andy Gibb

I prefer the Bee Gees, but I have to say this: I liked this song, and it was Andy's best song by a mile and a half.

So there it is - there will be a pop quiz on this. I hope you all were paying attention.

Bolivar "Forward Into the Past!" Shagnasty

Thursday, January 05, 2006



In a post back in November, I had said that I was looking forward to the USC-Texas showdown for the national title. I had also said that if Vince Young didn't win the Heisman, someone was napping.


That Rose Bowl game, in which Texas won, 41-38, was one of the most amazing games I had ever seen. And I almost lost hope when USC took a 38-26 lead with 6 minutes remaining. Vince Young took all of two minutes to move Texas down the field to score again. With 4 minutes left, Texas was down, 38-33. Plenty of time, I thought - now what we need is a hell of a defensive stand. Easier said than done, because, up to that point, all 4 USC possessions in the second half resulted in touchdowns.

With two minutes left, I got my wish when Texas stopped USC on fourth and two. Two minutes remaining on the clock, and two timeouts left - and Vince Young on the field - what better odds could you ask for? Vince moves the ball down the field, and then comes fourth and 5 at the 8-yard line with 0:23 remaining. As I expected, no one was open, so Young takes it to the house himself. When he started running, I slowly & softly went, "touchdown, touchdown" and then yelled out, "YES!!!" Oh man, what a rush!!

I had seen, either on TV or in person, many exciting games in my 37 years on Earth, but I don't remember one as exciting as that. Even when USC got the ball back with 0:19 left, I said that I wasn't going to rest until I saw 0:00 on the clock. When the clock ran out, USC was about 15 yards - one good completion - away from field goal range. I would not have counted USC out by any means.

Matt Leinher finished with 365 yards passing, 1 TD and 1 INT. The Heisman winner, Reggie Bush, had 82 yards rushing (1 TD) and 95 yards receiving, but had the boneheaded play of the game with the funble on the lateral in the second quarter that woke up Texas. Still, a solid if unspectacular evening.

Vince Young? How is this: 267 yards passing, 199 yards rushing, 3 TDs. The 467 yards total offense totally shattered the Rose Bowl record for most yards by one person. Now the next question - will Vince enter the NFL draft & get picked by Houston (ironically speaking, his hometown)? Stay tuned.

Like I said, that may have been the most exciting game I had ever seen. I rank that with Doug Flutie's hail mary pass when he played for Boston College against Miami that beat Miami 47-45. The Super Bowl between St. Louis & Tennessee when the Titans came a yard and a half short when time ran out. The playoff game when Buffalo came from a 35-7 deficit to beat Houston in OT, 41-38, in the playoffs. Any comeback that the original comeback kid, Roger Staubach, may have generated in the 1970s.

And speaking of comebacks, I was at Salsa's Mexican restaurant Monday evening having some good Mexican food with friends when we were watching the Sugar Bowl, pitting West Virginia against Georgia. Well, being a SEC fan, I was all for Georgia. Georgia put up one hell of a fight, and they never quit. They were down at one point, 28-0, but came from behind and almost won the game - they lost, 38-35. That was one hell of a game.

I had also said in a previous post that I was rooting for any SEC team that was in bowl games. Six teams from the SEC played, and the SEC's record was 3-3. LSU won huge over Miami in a game that wasn't even that close. Alabama beat Texas Tech on a last second field goal. Florida beat Iowa impressively. I already talked about how close Georgia was to pulling off a huge comeback. Wisconsin upset Auburn - I don't even think Auburn showed up. Yeah, I'll give Wisconsin credit - they are a tough team. But I thought Auburn was better.

But I have to ask Nettiemac - why did South Carolina lose to Missouri?? Especially after leading Missouri at one point, 21-0? I was so upset at that! But it only goes to show that no lead is safe if you make mistakes (Missouri's first touchdown was an interception return) and if your defense can't get the job done. Still, I am proud of the SEC teams that played in Bowl Games.

But the Texas victory is something I will savor for a long time. So, congratulations to Mack Brown, Vince Young, and the Texas Longhorns - 2005 NCAA National Champions!

Hook 'em Horns!!

Bolivar "OK, let me catch my breath" Shagnasty

Monday, January 02, 2006

The NFL playoffs are set

...and here is Bolivar with his predictions!

Yesterday was the first time in history that I can remember rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles. It was real simple - if Philly knocked off Washington, and Dallas beat St. Louis, then Dallas is in the playoffs. Well, it didn't work out like that - Washington beat Philly, 31-20, and St. Louis beat Dallas, 20-10. The big question is, will Bill Parcells step down as the Cowboys' coach? Will Andy Reid get fired as the Eagles' coach? One year ago, the Eagles were in the Super Bowl - this year they finished 6-10. Not to mention all the controversy surrounding Terrell Owens & Donovan McNabb this year.

I know one thing - Minnesota wasted no time in getting rid of Mike Tice. Talk about controversy this season! Minnesota made one hell of a run towards the last half of the season, but a 9-7 record does not get into the playoffs (which is real strange, considering that, last season, they were 8-8 & got into the playoffs).

How about the Houston Texans? They fired Don Capers this morning, but I wondered how many people in Houston cheered when San Francisco kicked the winning field goal in OT yesterday. Yes, Houston lost, but they also won. They won first pick in the NFL draft next year. Reggie Bush, say hello to your new team.

Other milestones - Dick Vermeil's farewell to football after KC crushed Cincinnati yesterday, Jerome Bettis's possible last game in Pittsburgh, Doug Flutie's last game (loved that drop kick yesterday!), and is Brett Favre calling it quits? Vermeil is one of the greatest coaches of all time, "The Bus" one of the greatest running backs of all time, Flutie's passion for the game cannot be overstated, & Brett - say it isn't so! I would love to see Brett come back & take Green Bay to the playoffs just one more time. Yes, Brett had a rough year, but all of the greats have had tough times at one time or another. Yes, Brett has done it all - NFL MVP, all-Pro quarterback, a Super Bowl ring - but I would love to see Brett do it just one more time. Even if all he does is get them in the playoffs, and then retires after being eliminated in the first round - I am satisfied. Please do not go out this way, Brett.

OK - Bolivar's playoff predictions!!

Jacksonville @ New England

Jacksonville finished 12-4, which is surprising knowing that Byron Leftwich is out for the season. But when you look at how soft their schedule was toward the end of the season - it is not surprising that they made the playoffs. Still, Leftwich is the most underrated QB in the NFL, & his presence is missed. New England, on the other hand, despite losing yesterday with the second-string players in, has won 4 of their last 5 games, and are very tough to beat at home. Bolivar's prediction: New England 24, Jacksonville 10.

Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati

This will be the third time these two teams have met this season. Pittsburgh has playoff experience on their side. Even though Pittsburgh's defense struggled a little bit yesterday, they still have what it takes to get it done. Cincinnati's defense has struggled the last half of the season, & the defense didn't even show up yesterday. Their defense has given up an average of 31 points over the last six games - a terrible statistic. The offense has been great - Carson Palmer has definitely earned his paycheck this year - and Cincinnati deserves to be in the playoffs. That's not enough... Pittsburgh 34, Cincinnati 21.

Washington @ Tampa Bay

Tampa has not been in the playoffs since they won the Super Bowl in 2002. Washington has not been in since 1999. Congrats to both teams. There is a lot of bad blood surrounding this game - Tampa beat Washington, 36-35, a few weeks ago due to a very controversial call by an official. Washington has not lost since. Tampa struggled against New Orleans yesterday. Washington stuck with the game plan & beat Philly yesterday. Both teams have sound, solid defenses, and both will be on display next Sunday. Washington, as I have pointed out, has won 5 games in a row. Next Sunday will be 6. Upset Special #1: Washington 24, Tampa Bay 21.

Carolina @ NY Giants

Around the middle of the season, I predicted a Manning vs. Manning Super Bowl, after the Giants destroyed Washington 37-0. But the Giants have been so inconsistent after that impressive victory. Carolina, on the other hand, is running on all cylinders after crushing Atlanta yesterday. Yes, the Giants are impressive on both sides of the ball - Eli Manning has earned his spot, & Tiki Barber is having a career year. Michael Strahan is the role model for what a defensive leader should be. But Carolina is rolling, and next Sunday will be no different... Upset Special #2: Carolina 21, NY Giants 17.

OK, some words about the top seeds:

Indianapolis - The Colts are the team to beat in the playoffs. Even if New England knocks off Jacksonville this Sunday, NE will have to go to Indy this time instead of the other way around. NE has struggled against Indy in Indy (case in point: Indy 40, NE 21 in Week 12, in a game that wasn't even that close). Pittsburgh was beaten soundly by Indy four weeks ago on Monday Night Football. Indy has crushed Denver two years in a row in the playoffs, with Indy scoring an average of 45 points in those two contests. The past problem the Colts have had - namely, a lack of a good defense - has been solved this year. The only team that can beat Indy, in my opinion, is Indy.

Denver - What a season Denver has had! Do not count Jake Plummer out for MVP consideration. The only team that stands in Denver's way is Indy. I look for those two teams to play in the AFC Championship Game, and even though Denver will come up short, it will be a much better contest than the above-mentioned games. Do not count Denver out by any means.

Seattle - This is Seattle's year. Solid on both sides of the ball. The only team I see that could cause problems for Seattle is Carolina. I still see Seattle making their very first appearance in a Super Bowl.

Chicago - This statement should surprise no one: Chicago is in because of their defense. Their offense is one of the worst, if not the worst, in the NFL. Keep in mind that the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl a few years back with defense. But defense will not be enough against Carolina or Washington, two teams that have solid defenses of their own. Look for Chicago to get eliminated in the second round if they don't get an offense going in the next two weeks.

I can't end this without something for the teams that got left out in the cold: Kansas City (10-6) had the toughest schedule in the NFL this year. I am surprised they finished as well as they did. San Diego (9-7) should be proof that a football game lasts 60 minutes: in 5 of the 7 losses they had, they had the lead in the fourth quarter & couldn't hold on. Dallas (9-7) could not win in the clutch this year. I predicted that losing to Washington in Week 2 would come back to haunt them... need I say more? Minnesota (9-7), despite all obstacles, made one hell of a run towards the playoffs, even without Randy Moss & Dante Culpepper. And Miami (9-7)! For all practical purposes, they were eliminated from playoff contention 6 weeks ago when they were 3-7. What a hell of a six weeks they had! They finished with a winning record & big-time momentum on their side for next season.

Hey Nettiemac - I know you are a fan of the NFL. Care to put any wagers on the playoffs?

In the words of Bobby Darin, "That's All..."

Bolivar "NFL overdosed" Shagnasty