Football: A game of heros and scapegoats

The Conference Championship games are over and the Super Bowl matchup is set.  A rematch featuring the New England Patriots and the New York Giants.

Oddly, both championship games came down to the final play.  The New York Giants advanced by the foot of kicker Lawrence Tynes, thanks in large part to the two muffed punts by San Francisco 49ers’ Kyle Williams.

The first miscue skinned the knee of Williams and was cleverly recovered by the Giants in great field position. The Giants marched down the shortened field to score the go-ahead touchdown.  The 49ers rallied back and tied the game, so Williams’ adverted being a scapegoat.

The second fumble was not as forgiving.  Williams lost the ball deep in his team’s own territory, putting the Giants into game-winning field-goal range.  Williams basically set the table and served the food, waiting only for a hero to emerge for the Giants and kill the 49ers Super Bowl dreams.  Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes put his team on his back and nailed the game winner from 31 yards—a chip shot for any NFL kicker.

Don’t tell Billy Cundiff this.

Only three hours before, Cundiff missed a potential game-tying field goal from 32 yards out.  There must be a line drawn separating a chip-shot field goal a kicker can make 99 out of 100 times from a distance that requires complete focus.  This line lies about 31 and-a-half yards away from the uprights. Anywhere farther requires a kicker to put a good foot on the ball.  Not too much, or else they might shank the kick wide of the uprights.  Cundiff either put too much foot on his kick, or he successfully completed 99 attempts prior to this last-second kick.

In Cundiff’s defense, a successful field-goal attempt from 32 yards at the end of the game would have only sent his team into overtime.  Anything could have happened.  Perhaps New England Patriots’ kicker Stephen Gostkowski would have been the kicker burying his head at the end of the game; too sick to watch the Baltimore Ravens celebrate their birth into the Super Bowl in unfriendly territory.  But that didn’t happen and we will never know.

This last-second field goal could have altogether been adverted if Ravens wide receiver Lee Evans would have held onto his potential game-winning touchdown.  Instead the ball was dislodged from his clumsy grip, an epic failure reminiscent to Bill Buckner’s missed routine groundball, which would have won the World Series for his 1986 Boston Red Socks.  Instead, Buckner’s team lost that game, lost the following game and ultimately lost the World Series.  Like Buckner, Evans’ team did not lose immediately following his miscue.  That burden was reserved for Cundiff only a few seconds later.

Today, three football players experienced plays they would love to forget, but will probably never live down.  Today, three football players were put on suicide watch.  Taking all things into consideration, nobody had as bad of a day as Joe Paterno.

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How to Keep it in Your Pants: 7 Ideas to Frugal Your Date

The classic “dinner and a movie” date has spawned a new meaning—four McDoubles from the dollar menu and a movie from Redbox. This is not the most romantic date, but it is an easy alternative to the high-priced theater.

The cost of going to a movie can quickly add up to as much money you make in one day; that is if you have a job.  Despite the high prices, you decide to go regardless and will soon face the consequences.

Two tickets, one large popcorn and a large drink will have you thinking about how much money you just spent. Forget washing down your popcorn with a drink.

Many college students are faced with the same problem—they don’t have enough money to go out on a date.  There are ways you can compensate for what you lack in your pants.

1. Cheap Movies

Tinseltown is not the only place to watch a movie in Chico.  After high ticket prices and expensive food at the concession stand you may ask yourself, “is it really worth it?”  No, it is not worth it.  There are other theaters where you can have more fun.

The El Rey Theatre located downtown, shows classic movies every Tuesday for only $2.  Aside from the cheap ticket prices, El Rey also has cheap refreshments, among these, beer!  Cheap prices and lax rules attract Chico residents like 24-year-old Seth Silvera.

“When else can you go to a movie, drink a beer and not worry about getting kicked out.  It’s awesome,” Silvera said.

The ultimate reward you get at the end of the night is knowing that Tuesday was a success and you are one day closer to the weekend.

Slightly farther from downtown, but just as much fun, the Pageant Theatre is another place to watch a cheap movie.  “Cheap Skate Monday” is a perfect for a date night—tickets are only $3.

Before the movie, you can hang out at Café Flo and enjoy coffee, beer, or wine.  Drink as much as you can before the movie, then order up one more drink to take into the theater with you.  Yes, alcohol is allowed.

2. Go to the “Real Movies”

If old or independent movies are not what you are into, you can go to Tinseltown and still find ways to save money.  Matinee shows are a few dollars cheaper, but between class on the weekdays and fighting the urge to sleep in on weekends, this might not always work.

Instead of spending a fortune at the concession stand, walk across the parking lot to the Dollar Tree and load up on snacks.  There is an aisle lined with various candies, so chances are you will find something sweet.  Don’t forget to grab a bag of pre-popped popcorn and a soda.  Walk in with $4; walk out with a large bag of candy, popcorn and two sodas.  Purchasing the same items at the theater will cost you more than $15.

If you plan your movie date accordingly, you may be able to watch two movies for the price of one.  Find out which movies play back-to-back, or anywhere within 30 minutes of each other, and you can subtly slide into the next screening.  A perfect way to kill time waiting for the next movie to start is munching on that candy that you purchased at the Dollar Tree.

3. Put That in Your Cup and Eat it

A conversation over a cup of coffee can run you anywhere from $8-$10.  Be bold and opt for a cup of ice cream instead.  Not only will this make for an interesting date, you will save yourself money.  Coldstone Creamery offers $1 scoops of ice cream every Monday and Tuesday between 6-8 p.m.  Two scoops, one cup.

Although ice cream in winter does not sound like the best idea, it doesn’t mean it has to be a bad one.  Turn this cold idea into an opportunity to find creative ways to “warm up.”  Here is a start.  Guys: be a gentleman and lend her your coat. Girls: playfully hint that you are cold and could use something to warm you up.

4. Pick Your Poison

Meeting up for a drink or two at a bar does not have to be costly.  Bar drinks can be expensive, especially if you are paying for two, but you can avoid paying $4 for a beer.  Each night, different bars in Chico have different drink specials between certain hours, or throughout the entire night.

If you are looking for a stronger drink, then $2 Margarita Mondays at the University Bar is the place to be.  The University Bar also has $1 pint night for select beers on Wednesday nights.

The fun at the University Bar is not limited to alcohol.  If you have a pocket full of quarters, there are fun games to play that keep patrons like Nate Ferrini, 22, coming back.

“The U-bar is a nice place to hang out, talk, drink beer and shoot some pool,” Ferrini said.

You and your date can enjoy a game of pool, air hockey, or choose from a variety of arcade games.

Try different bars and find out which one fits your style, then figure out which nights will be the cheapest for you and your date.  If you don’t feel like wandering, Duffy’s always has $2 Pabst Blue Ribbons—everyday.

5. Take Me Out to a Ball Game

Take your date out to a ball game and take it out of your pants—your Chico State ID that is.  A valid Wildcat Card will allow you to attend any Chico State sporting event for free.  Technically this isn’t free because part of your student fees pay for this.  Now there is a reason to attend some games.

Basketball games are perfect for a group date.  The loud atmosphere is not ideal for a one-on-one conversation, but it is perfect to get comfortable, let loose and go crazy.  You and your date can share a few laughs yelling obscure things to the opposing team.  The season lasts until March, with about two home games per week, so you will have plenty of opportunities to get out and get rowdy.  Check the Chico State website for the dates of home games.

6. Lights, Camera, Get Some Action

Living in Chico makes it hard to catch a Broadway show.  Settle for the next best thing—Chico State.  AS LIVE! hosts entertainment events such as night concerts, comedy shows and movie nights.   Of course, there are free events, too.

Paying money for a concert does not guarantee that you will see quality entertainment.  A free concert might even give you a better experience.  Lead guitarist for the band MIP, Dustin Rohleder, plays in many free concerts and knows how important the relationship between the crowd and the band is.

“Smaller venues allow the crowd to interact more with the band and the band can feed off of the energy from the crowd,” Rohleder said.  “Free concerts allow the audience to enjoy the show more because they don’t have to worry about long lines or big crowds.”

If you are trying to have the best experience possible, you should consider the quality of the entertainment.  Don’t fail to impress your date by wasting money on a lackluster concert.

7. Bowlin’, Bowlin’, Bowlin’, Keep Those Beers on Flowin’

Bumpers, balls and beer.  Not to be confused with a bizarre sex ritual, this is an ancient act.  One that probably dates back to your early childhood, though drinking beer might have been frowned upon.

Bowling is cheaper than a movie and you don’t have to worry about being quiet; perfect if you are planning on going on a group date.  You can bowl at your own pace.  This is ideal if you plan to go Monday nights, when beer is only $1.  Spend a few minutes between frames to finish your beer, o make a drinking game out of the experience.  What could be more fun than playing two games at the same time?

Even if you aren’t in a relationship yet, you can still impress your date.  Don’t give up hope just yet.  There are places you can go that don’t involve a lot of money.  Like all good romantic movies, you will end up with the girl—or guy—or whatever you are into.



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How to Make Nine-Minute Nachos

You get home from class at 3:00 p.m. and feel a little hungry.  Sitting through lectures all day drains all your energy, but you don’t want to spend any money on campus for food.  You need to rejuvenate immediately, although you ask yourself some questions that will postpone your feast—is it too late for lunch, or too early for dinner?  Will a little snack be enough?  Should I just settle for the taco truck again?

One really quick meal you can make that will leave you content is nachos.  They are extremely easy to make and can be made with just chips and cheese (though you can get creative). Here is a list of materials needed, as well as a list of optional toppings:


  • Oven
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Cheese grater
  • Tortilla chips
  • Cheese of your choice

Recommended toppings

  • Ground beef
  • Hot sauce
  • Guacamole
  • Sour cream

Now that you have everything you need on the counter, you can get started.  First thing you want to do is turn on the oven to 400 degrees.  While the oven is heating up, this is when you will prepare the nachos.

Place a sheet of parchment paper over the baking sheet.  Begin spreading tortilla chips across the baking pan in an even layer. 

Next, begin to grate the cheese directly over the nachos.  It may be easier to grate cheese over the center and then spread the cheese out equally with your fingers.  The amount of cheese you grate depends on how much you desire.

After you have covered the chips with cheese, you are ready to put the tray in the oven.  Before you do so, this is where you would add the meat and hot sauce, if you choose to use add them.

The oven doesn’t have to be heated up to 400 degrees, but at this time it should be hot enough.  Place the tray in the oven and leave for approximately seven minutes.  You can check to see how much the cheese has melted if you are concerned about burning it.

After seven minutes, take the tray out of the oven.  If you decide to add sour cream or guacamole, this is when you would do so.  Add the desired amount and then begin to place chips onto a plate.

Once you have transferred the chips from the tray to the plate, you are ready to eat.  The entire process takes no more than 10 minutes.  This is a great snack to enjoy when you are in a hurry to eat and it does not require much effort. 

I learned how to make nachos this way while I was living in Germany.  Mexican restaurants are extremely hard to find and while you may find one, the food is surely to be different than you would expect.  I decided that the only way I could enjoy decent Mexican food would be to make it myself.  Knowing that nachos consist of nothing more than melted cheese and chips, I came to the conclusion that I could do just that—melt cheese on chips in the oven.  This is how I found out how to make my go-to snack.


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Six-word Memoirs

Photo: Kara Kuhn

Photo: Sarah Kuhn

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Thursday night, or better, “Spass am Stint” is a night of epic proportions. The title of the party to begin spring simply translates to “fun at the Stint,” a street that is second in the world, only to Madrid, for having the most bars per square mile. Throw in a five dollar entrance fee that allows you to enter EVERY bar and receive a free drink at each simply translates to “you are going to have a really fun night, but suffer a horrible morning.”

A horrible morning one would indeed suffer if they had to catch a train at 4 a.m., followed by a three hour flight that departs at 7 a.m. This was my game plan. This was my vacation. After all, there is no such thing as a hangover if rally past sleep and continue to party.

April 15, 2010 started off like every other day. I would wake up way too early, only to sit through three hours of class, taught strictly in German. The boredom endured throughout these 180 minutes is enough for one to contemplate sleeping through their alarm—something I progressed in over the course of the year.
As soon as the teacher announced which page our daily one page essay was on, my ears closed and my mind shut down. It was a Thursday—schnitzel day in the cafeteria. With no Friday test that week, the weekend just began and this was a weekend full of events.

Later that night, my friends and I would attend Spass am Stint which was a guaranteed good time. Early Friday morning I would fly to Edinburgh, Scotland along with my girlfriend. We were going to stay three nights, a quick weekend getaway. I do not know if I was more excited that my roundtrip plane ticket was around 45 dollars, or I would eat at a McDonald’s in my tenth country.

Despite the long night and the lack of sleep, we managed to make my way to the train station and my vacation begun. The train would arrive at the airport about an hour before the flight was scheduled to depart—the same amount of time needed to check in and go through security. We were cutting it just about as close as we could.

When we arrived at the airport, we were relieved to see that we were early. We headed towards our check in and took our place in line, about twenty people back. Pretty soon the line grew behind us and we were thankful that we got there when we did. After a few minutes, we noticed that the line was moving at a snails pace and the faces people leaving the desk were expressionless. None of these people were heading towards the security check in.

More people began to leave the desk with different expressions. The people who stayed at the desk for a longer period of time grew impatient with the assistant. When distance to the desk was cut in half, we were close enough to understand what was making everybody leave the desk in the same manner. We heard the assistant tell the customer at the desk that he would not be flying to his destination. It was now clear that nobody would be flying, all thanks to Eyjafjallajökull.

Eyjafjallajökull is a volcano in Iceland that erupted March 20. According to the Global Volcanism Program, a second phase of the eruption began April 14, generating ash plumes that blew to Europe.

I remember seeing news of this activity on the internet, the day before I was to depart to Scotland, but never thought anything more. Since I was out so late on Thursday night, I did not have time Friday morning to check the news. If I were to log onto the internet, I would have learned that many airports in northern Europe (Germany included) were going to ground flights and monitor the ash cloud that began making its way south.

When it was our turn at the Ryanair desk at the airport, we were well aware that we would not be flying. The Assistant asked if we would like to reschedule our flights to a later day, or get a full refund on our ticket. I responded in a sarcastic way and said, “I would like to take my flight to Edinburgh.” I knew it would be a gamble to try and reschedule my flight, so I opted for the wiser decision and took the refund. The day had not lasted more than 30 minutes for this lady so her sanity was still in tact. For the remainder of the day, she would be telling every Ryanair patron that they would not be flying.

April 16, 2010 was the beginning of a nightmare for Europe. For five days, the entire continent was virtually shut down, all thanks to an ash-spraying volcano thousands of miles away. The eruption “resulted in a 20-80% decrease of airline flights for as much as a week (Global Volcanism Program).” I became one of over a million travelers who were grounded due to the eruption.

The European economy was set to take a devastating blow, as well as all airlines that operated in Europe. Ryanair had suffered a 24% drop in quarterly profits after losing business due to the volcanic eruption in Iceland (London Guardian). Ryanair “took a €50 million ($75 million) hit from the volcanic ash cloud which led to the temporary closure of European airspace in April and May. Almost a week later flights resumed and Europe seemed to crawl out of the hole it was thrown in. That would remain so for almost a month.

Five weeks later, when I was set to fly back home, I found myself in a familiar situation. The Icelandic volcano began releasing more ash into the air—hopefully this would not be déjà vu for Europe. To my disapproval, my flight from Hamburg to London had been canceled because the amount of ash measured in the sky was seen as too unsafe for flight. Once again I was grounded. On two occasions, I would not be flying because of a volcano in Iceland that nobody knows how to pronounce.

Since I had my mind set that I would be flying home, I wanted to leave. After people began to leave the British Airways desk, I confidently approached it, knowing that I was not going to be turned down—not again. My patience with British Airways was gone, stemming from a similar situation, one in which they were set to strike the day of my return journey home five months earlier.

When I talked to the assistant at the desk, she gave me hope that possibly she could find another connecting flight for me to take so that I would be able to head home after all. After ten minutes of her toying with the computer, she approached me and told me that she found a way for me to get home, though it would consist of four connecting flights. Her plan was for me to fly south to Frankfurt, instead of north to London, around the ash cloud. I accepted her offer and once again was set to fly home.

After 35 hours of transfers, layovers and a rain delay, I was back in San Francisco. My journey was not over, because I was still had a two hour drive home from the airport. My parents greeted me at 11:30 p.m. and we headed to the baggage claim. There was nothing more that I was expecting than for my bags to be the last ones to slide down out of the conveyor belt. After 45 minutes, no more bags circled. I did not have my bags. In my efforts to get home as planned, I accepted a plain ticket where I transferred in four different airports, only increasing the probability that my bags could get lost.

Since nothing else worked out in my favor that day, it was only fair that I would arrive at home only to have none of my bags arrive with me. Nine months of living in Germany, my entire wardrobe and a few souvenirs were at any one of the four airports I flew through. For all I knew, my bags could have been stolen or even accidentally routed to China. The only thing that I cared about at the time was the fact that I was finally home. It was time for some sleep.

Global Volcanism Program,
London Guardian,

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Filho do Brasil

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Non-verbal Interview

The girl that chewed her gum too hard

The first person I observed was a black female of lighter skin, possibly mulatto. Though she was sitting, I could sense that she was taller than most women and weighed around 160 pounds, or at least more than I weigh. Her dark black hair was pulled back in a pony tail with bobby pins supporting the strands of hair that could not reach the back. Each earlobe had a piercing with a complementary piercing in the upper cartilage of each ear as well.

She wore a bright purple track jacket with a low-cut black shirt underneath, revealing a crucifix necklace. Her right hand supported her head as she leaned over a book, alternating between reading to herself and chomping her gum. Every so often she would check her phone and write a text, then continue studying from where she left off.

I wanted to know which sport this girl played. Her larger build made her an easy pick for a home run belting softball player, or a shot put champion. Because this girl is black, I immediately assumed that she is a good athlete. Also, I had this girl pegged as a good student. The way she concentrated on reading and mouthed the words led me to believe she attacked her studies. On the contrary, the occasional check to the phone may also mean she gets distracted easy and her grades may be a reflection of this.

Observe this woman and you will fall in love

I enjoyed observing this woman. Her short blonde hair, shorter in the back as it grew length in the front, was the perfect length to expose the glowing tan on her shoulders. It was a perfect tan. Dark, yet not so dark that she appeared unhealthy and baked. Both of her arms seemed to be that much darker pressed up against her white tank top. She was slender, but not too skinny where she looked unhealthy. This girl has to work out with the kind of body she has.

She sat on a brick ledge holding a phone up to her right ear, engaged in a conversation. When the conversation seemed to get exciting, she would throw her hands up as if the person on the other end of the line would see her gestures. The left leg of her dark blue pants was crossed over her right. This made me notice her sandals. There were many straps, a style I would imagine a Greek goddess to wear.

A Greek goddess would not be a bad guess. She was a beautiful blonde, tan girl—obviously she was in a sorority. She was also a goddess to her boyfriend, the one she was on the phone with. I believed she was a heterosexual female in a relationship because every pretty girl I see, I immediately assume they have a boyfriend. Why wouldn’t they? I also assumed that she was talking to her boyfriend on the phone, because every time I see a girl on the phone, I think she is talking to her boyfriend.

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