Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cal vs Utah - Cal's Poinsettia Bowl loss is very disappointing

In watching Cal vs. Utah, we saw Cal's season in microcosm: a strong start followed by a surprisingly disappointing middle, then a promising final quarter that comes up short. The Cal vs Utah game, again like the season, was lost by our Cal Bears due to a combination of a poor offensive game plan, terrible execution by quarterback and receiver, little defensive pass rush, a lack of use of the blitz, coaching inflexibility, and poor tackling.

Cal's uphill battle toward success

The California Golden Bears lost the Poinsettia Bowl to the Utah Utes 37 to 27. This was a game Cal could have won.

It started off with promise: Cal Running Back Shane Vereen (20 for 122, 6.1 yard average and two touchdowns) ran for 36 yards and a touchdown on Vereen's nifty stop to let the defense flow by him, then shooting through the resulting hole like a missile. Cal's Defense followed that with Eddie Young's 31 yard interception return for a touchdown. The Bears were up by a quick 14 and Utah could have folded.

But the Utes didn't.

Utah did what I wish Coach Jeff Tedford would do: forget offensive balance and go for the opponents defensive weakness. In this case it was Cal's Defensive Secondary. But Utah didn't attack by throwing deep; they used a steady mix of screens, wide receiver bubble screens, play action passes, and short swing passes, and crossing routes.

On many occasions Cal missed tackles, and was so confused on defense that Cal Defensive Coordinator Bob Gregory was "calling scared", leaving his charges in base three-four, and three-three-five defenses. If Cal blitzed, it was one person, sending four. That was it, except for one time late in the 4th quarter when Gregory elected to turn them lose as Utah threatened to score.  The Cal Defense came up with a great stop.

At first, I thought Utah's own bad play calls were going to help Cal. Like failing to realize that Cal wasn't going to play straight man-for-man against their three-to-one-side receiver set. Instead, Cal's Gregory left two defenders against three receivers. Utah didn't exploit that in the first quarter of the first half.

But in the second quarter, they did, calling receiver screens because they had the numbers advantage. Watching Cal not adjust to this was punishment on Festivus. Painful.

That set the tone for the game.

Once again, Cal Quarterback Kevin Riley (20 of 36 for 211 yards, one touchdown and 2 interceptions for a passer rating I'm not going to post) was left to suffer under a game plan dictated by Coach Tedford's stubborn need to establish a running game, even when the defense was loaded to stop Shane Vareen. When Cal did throw, the passes were downfield to receivers running into a defense that was sitting back waiting for them to come to that depth.

Utah gave Cal the chance to call simple five yard "stick" passes, and Cal didn't do it.

But not all of it was Tedford and Cal Offensive Coordinator Andy Ludwig's fault. Riley made some predictably terrible throws. Specifically, the flat passes he always has missed on all year long, but Tedford and company keep calling them. Look, Riley needs to learn to make that throw, but he's not done it all year long, I don't know why they think he's going to get religion when they call it.

I have the impression Coach Tedford calls some offensive plays that they may not have practiced because they're the right technical call, but Riley's not the right person to make the throw that's called for.

But one throw Riley did not make was all his fault. On a third and eight in the fourth quarter with about 10 minutes left, Riley dropped back and looked to his right with Utah blitzing backers on the left. Instead of Riley calmly throwing to Vareen in the right flat with green space, Riley held the ball and got plastered. Riley's got to develop that all important feel for the rush. If he wants to survive.

I could write for days about this game, but it's Festivus, Christmas is a day away, and I'm getting ready and helping my Mom, and I don't coach Cal's Offense and they don't ask me to send them plays.

All I do is write this funky blog.

Oh, did Cal miss Jahvid Best? Yes. But Shane Vareen's done a wonderful job. Hats' off to him.


Stay tuned.

Christmas Cards give way to E-cards - sort of

As I start to send out Christmas Cards e-cards, having mailed the paper Christmas Cards, I wondered if the same online rush to read, buy, and even try products online had severely impacted the card industry at Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

Unfortunately, it has, but not in any way to as great a degree as I suspected.

One of so many cool aspects of Christmas is shopping for cards and laughing at selections, sometimes with people you don't even know. But Christmas Card shopping is more and more an online process. The Toronto Sun reports that Canadians buy about 6 percent to 7 percent of their greeting cards online, and in America the purchase of traditional cards has slowed, but not by much.

But while the e-card market is not growing so fast that paper cards are a thing of the past, the number of makers of e-cards has grown. reports that where there were 80 companies making e-cards seven years ago, there are 250 today. I attribute that to the ease of online product-making that software allows. Special and inexpensive hosting platforms and graphic software programs form a great foundation for an online card-making business.

On top of that, we can add Facebook. Now, you can send Christmas e-cards over the popular social network. And with over 350 million people on Facebook, chances are you can cover all of your friends in one card-sending session.

If there's any other reason for a slight drop in traditional card-giving it's the bad mood this terrible economy has put the collective nation in. The Seattle Times reports this season's shaping up as a "ho-hum year" for cards in general. A number of retailers, including Walmart and Target, are seeing drops in card buying.

Still, I think the reason traditional Christmas Card buying has not fallen off as much as I thought it would have is that it's still a part of the Christmas shopping rush. Buying cards just goes with shopping at stores, so the fun, social aspect of Christmas Card shopping will be with us for years to come.

Thank God.

Dems Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins split - political power couple

When I read that Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins separated after 23 years together, my thoughts immediately turned to their two decades of liberal political activism. The Democratic power couple was particularly active during the 2008 Presidential Campaign.

Here's Susan Sarandon talking about Sarah Palin at Boston University in September 2008, when she says that Palin's views are "worrying" and would set the woman's movement back. She also quoted actor Ed Harris, who said Palin "would be a really large footnote in the annals of moose hunting". Saradon also expresses her thoughts on the media's coverage of politics.

Tim Robbins was no less involved in political commentary and activism. In this video originally provided by, Robbins appears on Real Time with Bill Maher and really gets after Steve Hayes, who tried to claim a connection between al-Queda and Saddam Hussein. Tim Robbins got the best of him:

Robbins: "You're partly responsible, you could start with an apology. You wrote a book saying there was a connection Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda."

Hayes: "You want to know why I wrote that book? Because there was a connection Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda."

Maher: "No there wasn't.

Robbins: "You can lie a thousand times—it doesn't make it true."

But when I think of Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, this photo comes to mind. It says it all. I saw it in January 2008 during the New Hampshire Primary and added it to

I found this photo on Flickr, with this explaination:

Tim Russert died on June 13, at the age of 58. He was photographed while covering a house party for presidential primary candidate, John Edwards, in Bedford NH on the eve of the NH primary in January 2008. Elizabeth Edwards speaks to Tim Russert. Also pictured are Matt Lauer, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon.

He really enjoyed getting out there it seems. Russert will be missed.

This is sad news. I really enjoyed seeing them in action, together.

A Festivus For The Rest Of Us (Video Bloggers) at Mediaite

Yahoo, MySpace,
Metacafe, DailyMotion,, Sclipo
and Viddler

Mediaite's one of my favorite online destinations as they take an interesting look at media and the movers and shakers that shape the formation of news today. Mediaite's Festivus on "Media Influencers" caught my eye today, because we're in a unique and fascinating period in media where New Media is not just replacing but outright destroying Old Media.

But Mediaite's take on who's doing the influcing was missing some key names and the photo's one hint. I shared my view with Mediaite Editor-at-Large Rachel Sklar and she encouraged me to offer my video-blog-based view.

Here it is: A Festivus For The Rest Of Us (Video Bloggers)

Richard Heene - Balloon Boy dad and wife should not be jailed

Richard Heene, the Balloon Boy Dad, and his wife, have been sentenced to 90-days in jail for what was really a stupid hoax of a stunt of having the industrialized World believe his six-year-old son was trapped in a weather balloon far in the sky. Wrong, of course. Bad, totally. But jail time? Nuts.

Richard Heene

I'm not at all saying he shouldn't have been punished. Not at all. But ordering Richard Heene to do jail time is too simple, stupid, and wasteful of tax dollars. The judge who laid down the sentence didn't give the matter a moment of creative thought. He just bent to mob rule. Reminds me of Frankenstein, where the screaming masses of bubble-headed town folks wanted nothing but the burning-at-the-steak of the so-called "Monster."

Nuts. And if you're angry or thinking of writing some weird comment at this point, then you're part of the horde I'm complaining about. Richard Heene should have been sentenced to make a reality TV show about a non-profit organization helping battered women recover from domestic violence assaults and violent relationships.


My point is if Richard Heene wants to be a star, so what. Let him become one in the process of helping others rather than himself. See? There are scores of domestic violence prevention programs and organizations that go unnoticed except when a star like Nicole Kidman goes to Congress to talk about the problem.

Richard Heene could have put his considerable skills to work in getting those organizations publicity and funding.

I'm personally sick and tired of seeing people like Lil Wayne or Richard Heene punished for the sole reason of saying "They're just like anyone else." Why is that important? It's not true to start with. Moreover, expressing that point of view is the byproduct of many an unhealthy ego. But it does nothing to improve society. Moreover, it may not even curb Richard Heene's desire to be on TV.

It'll just delay it 3 months.


BART - a plug for the wifi service much needed in Oakland

I read at where the new BART Transbay Tube wifi service is off to "a weak start" but I'm really happy the system's being expanded in that way. I use BART Wifi to upload my videos on the go; it's that powerful.

In fact, it's so strong I've uploaded a 350 mgb video in less than 10 minutes. That's a video of about 20 minutes in length. Frankly that kind of power is expensive to obtain so BART's a really useful tool for this vlogger. That written, I've figured out a way BART can use this to its revenue advantage.

An Internet Cafe at Embarcadero and Montgomery Street stations, and Oakland City Center, 12th Street Station.

There's a huge expanse of unused space in the very front of the platform at the Embarcadero BART Station, and similar areas in Montgomery and Oakland City Center. They're perfect for small, four table, Internet cafes where people can have coffee or tea.

I know BART currently doesn't want you to have drinks on the train but they need to get rid of the rule in favor of this cafe approach. For one thing it helps create jobs and allows people who work online to have one more great place to hang out.

Such a plan means expanding wifi to Oakland. Even station agents in downtown Oakland say such a service is long overdue. Moreover, BART should work some kind of deal with the City of Oakland and the Oakland Chamber to help spearhead a fund to pay for the wifi service.

The 21st Century workplace is mobile; BART can earn revenue and become the place of choice for online workers.

Tiger Woods PGA Player of The Year

A quick note of congratulations to Tiger Woods for being named "PGA Player of The Year" but in light of this current scandal-plagued episode of his great life, I think the PGA should have renamed the award "Golfer of The Year".

Player of The Year

Or perhaps the PGA was engaging in a cruel joke on Tiger Woods.

The term "player" has several meanings in American culture today. According to The Free Dictionary, they are:

1. One that plays, especially:
a. One who participates in a game or sport.
b. A gambler.
c. One who performs in theatrical roles.
d. One who plays a musical instrument.
2. An active participant: a major player in world affairs.
3. The mechanism actuating a player piano.
4. A machine that reproduces recorded audio or audio-visual material.
5. Slang One who actively seeks out sexual partners and carries on a number of sexual affairs at the same time.

Guess which of the definitions applies to Tiger Woods? Hint: more than one.

Regardless, Tiger Woods is The World's Greatest Golfer. Period.

NY Times picks Utah over Cal in Poinsettia Bowl - Grrr...

I just read the NY Times' take on this evenings Poinsettia Bowl matchup pitting 9-3, 23rd-ranked Utah against Cal. Most of their team of bloggers picked Utah to win because of Cal's poor performance in, as one blogger put it, some games.

He forgot the Big Game, where Cal, not given a chance against the Tiger Woods-backed Stanford Cardinal, beat the Cardinal 34-28 at Stanford Stadium and kept Stanford from a trip to The Rose Bowl.

That game plan Cal used was its best of the year. All Cal has to do is avoid falling in love with the deep pass. A varied short passing game, play action using Running Back Shane Vareen, and occasional gadget plays, combined with Vereen runs off-tackle will move the chains.

But Cal Head Coach Jeff Tedford and Offensive Coordinator Andy Ludwig must show they have the discipline to execute that kind of game plan. They got away from it against Washington and the result was a pasting by the Huskies.

I certainly hope Tedford does this.


Top Ten Reasons to Hella Love Oakland in 2009

[by Aimee Allison, Executive Producer OaklandSeen]

By now, you've likely seen the whining from a certain columnist calling 2009 one of Oakland's worst years ever. Um, no. The OaklandSeen team compiled our own list and we're happy to report that good news abounds.

Here are OaklandSeen's top ten reasons to Hella Love Oakland in 2009.

1. Schools Comin' Up: East Oakland's Urban Promise Middle School and Fruitvale's International High School were nationally recognized. The School of the Arts gets a new home at the Fox Theatre and a waiting list around the block.

2. Better Democracy: Oakland finally gets instant runoff voting – now, you'll get to rank your choices in the November election, saving the city 800k, bringing in more candidates and making incumbents play nice or be #2.

3. Good Times ahead for BART: The Bart Police Chief Gary Gee is gone. He should've been fired for his mismanagement of the department, and mishandling after the shooting of Oscar Grant. Instead, he retires silently into the night. Good riddens and we welcome to the opportunity to pick a new and better head of this troubled department. This goes double for the Oakland Police Department.

4. How We Roll: Town Park opens in West Oakland, the city's first skate park. Kiddie skaters all over Oakland are aglow. Just look at what committed community and generous donors can do; thanks to K-Dub and other amazing community organizers.

5. Finally, Oakland is a Destination with big “D”: Uptown is hot: Somar, The Ave (2022), Mimosa, New Parrish, Mua all give us something to do after dark. The new nightlife in Oakland does us proud. Incidentally, a recent visit to the Mission in SF was a stark contrast. The neighborhood was dead, ChaChaCha empty by 10pm on a Thursday. Where are they? Yeah, across the bridge.

6. Government Sometimes Works: It's mostly a secret, but the city economic development team successfully attracted green business First Solar(
We also got the good news that food manufacturers are making a comeback - manufacturing that's lifeblood in our city. Plus, the first crop of green jobs training graduates complete their innovative course. We gotta put our hands together for Oakland taking a national lead on the new economy. Good use of our tax dollars.

7. We Eat Good: Despite suggestions to the contrary, Oakland has eaten well many years. Now we have even more good restaurants to add to the mix: Camino, Pican, Ozumo, Commis, Adesso, Sidebar, Marzano on Park, Barlata, Burma Superstar, Cafe Trieste. For those “discovering” Oakland – welcome and enjoy the food coma.

8. Festivals are Back, Big Time: The Eat Real Festival found a new home in Oakland (relocated from windy Fort Mason, SF). It went from a pricey fete to a free festival infused with the Oakland vibe. Oakland at it's very best.

OaklandSeen is a compelling mix of radio broadcasts Friday 8am on KPFA-FM 94.1, social networks on Facebook ( and Twitter(, and a group blog rolling out in February 2010.

Tiger Woods, Brittany Murphy autopsy photo in high demand

Being Tiger Woods neighbor can make you rich. Being a physician working on the Brittany Murphy autopsy can score you a lot of money. Welcome to New Media, where a Tiger Woods and a Brittany Murphy autopsy photo is in such high demand you could earn $300,000. That's the current going rate for a photo of The World's Greatest Golfer; a rate so high it could turn close friends into enemies.

It almost sounds like a George Romero movie - Invasion of the Image Snatchers - but in this case if your Tiger Woods, the blood suckers could be your friends, taking a photo to score big bucks. Again, Tiger Woods' seclusion and silence is fueling a market for his image and allowing others to frame who he is. All for money.

Tiger Woods friends want something...

 If Tiger Woods wants this bad movie to stop, there's only one answer: he has to talk and to show himself. But that does not explain the late Brittany Murphy.

For some of the same reasons, there's a massive demand for even one Brittany Murphy autopsy photo. That image would gain about the same money as that given for Tiger Woods, but I've got to ask who want to see such a thing? I don't. Do you?

Who would show it? Why?

The New Media

I'm frequently surprised that people in media don't understand that the industry has changed from artistic to technical. The future of media is demand-driven and sometimes that window of demand is only a moment - an hour - long. Who captures it consistently is king of New Media.

But more than that, the persons that do that can be black, white, Asian, Latino, young or old. The problem of lack of minorities or women in the newsroom is a thing of the past. A person who knows how to make an online media platform, develop a coordinated content strategy, and gather a group of like-minded folks to work with wins. Job title is meaningless; technical knowledge rules above all.

But I digress, sort of.

If Tiger Woods had people around him who understood media in the way I discuss, this story would have been old news. But he doesn't and so it goes on. Want to score $300,000? Friend of Tiger? Get out your cellphone camera, and hurry before someone else does!