Archive | November, 2011

This Thanksgiving, Detroit brings something new to dinner

24 Nov

By Jared Kuczenski

During this holiday season, Detroit Lions’ captains have something to be thankful for. Credit: Detroit Lions Facebook Page (Gavin Smith/Detroit Lions)

Across the United States, from the sunny shores of California to the now frosted landscapes of Maine, Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be the same if professional football didn’t grace television screens throughout the afternoon and evening.   For the Detroit Lions, football on Thanksgiving Day is a tradition that began many years ago in 1934, and just as turkey, pumpkin pie, and intra-familial arguments are to that last Thursday in November, so too are the Lions’ televised holiday-home-games, regardless of whether or not you’re familiar with Matthew Stafford or  Calvin Johnson.

In recent years, though, the excitement and fanfare that should come with these games – a part of a trio of NFL matches throughout the festive day – has been virtually non-existent.  Detroit has more often than not showcased a lackluster team, and since the dawn of the new millennium the silver and blue have won just two Thanksgiving Day matchups.  And it’s no coincidence that in all but one of those 11 seasons, the Lions finished with a losing record.

Not surprisingly, this general lack of anticipation and interest in Detroit’s holiday affairs reached its pinnacle sometime between the 2006 and 2009 football seasons.  It was over this four year span that the Lions, perhaps affected by the decimation of the Motor City, or perhaps – and more likely – affected by the wrong combination of greedy egos, compiled an unimpressive and decidedly pathetic 12 wins and 52 losses.  During that span, they put together a shocking 19-game losing streak which comprised the end of the 2007 season, the beginning of 2009 season, and all of the 2008 season, making them the second team in NFL history to lose all of their regular season games, and the first to do so since the NFL moved to a 16-game schedule in 1978.

This abysmal part of the 2000s prompted analysts and fans to begin mulling over – and rather intensely I might add – the question of whether or not teams should play on Thanksgiving just because tradition dictated so.  Football is such a big part of the holiday, critics argued.  If millions of people who don’t even care about the NFL are going to sit down and watch the sport, as well as millions more who do care, shouldn’t they be treated to a good game played by good teams?

Well, this season, those who wanted respectable, competitive matchups most certainly got their wish.  And those who wanted to keep tradition alive, well, they definitely got their wish too.  Because with a record of seven wins and three losses, tied for third best in the NFL, the Detroit Lions, for once, are actually good.

And I’m not talking about a will-be-a-force-in-the-future good. I’m talking about the type of good that has put them atop of every discussion list—the type of good that may very well see the Lions making the playoffs for the first time in 11 years, and perhaps winning a few there too.

This Thanksgiving Day, Detroit will face off with the undefeated, defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers in what many are referring to as one of the best Thanksgiving Day matchups in recent history.  With division rival Green Bay looking to remain perfect on the year, and Detroit just one victory away from its first eight-win season since 2000, this game has all the makings of an epic battle.  If it’s not something for football fans and non-football fans alike to be excited about, then I don’t know what is.

For the first time in a long time, a Lions’ Thanksgiving Day game will be filled with energy and vigor.  Brought to the table will be some of the best players and coaches in the NFL, and on the line will not only be the pride of winning on one of the nation’s most important holidays, but also significant team goals that could very well define their respective seasons.

Beating Green Bay would certainly be a tall order for any team, and the road will not be easy for Detroit.  But regardless of the outcome, regardless of whether or not they lose their 10th Thanksgiving Day game in the past 12 years, the last Thursday in November has taken on new meaning once again. And finally, Lions’ football – like stuffing and apple pie – is something to be excited about.

For more information on this year’s NFL Thanksgiving Day games, check out nfl.com/thanksgiving.

Jared Kuczenski works for the recreation department in the town of Kent, New York.  He received his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and is passionate about physical activity and sport.  He can be reached by e-mail at jkuczenski@yahoo.com

Common misconceptions surrounding supplements and cardio workouts

19 Nov

By Ronald Poveda

“Common misconceptions surrounding supplements and cardio workouts” is the second of a two-part series. “Common misconceptions surrounding weight training for weight loss” was part one. 

Fitness enthusiast Ronald Poveda (pictured) addresses misconceptions surrounding supplements and cardio workouts. Credit: Ronald Poveda

In part one of this series, I focused on misconceptions surrounding physical training. However, that’s only half the battle. The following misconceptions focus on how individuals tend to work, eat and supplement themselves in certain areas instead of keeping a positive, healthy balance.

Misconception 3: I don’t want to put on too much bulk , so I stick to cardio machines and I deprive myself of meals throughout the day

This is common among women who are worried about touching barbells, dumbbells or any sort of free weight. However, machines can only take you so far. If you lift with free weights frequently, you not only will strengthen the muscles that you target, but you can also tighten them up, as well as other body parts, such as your core. In general, you can burn a lot of calories during weight movements. For example, when performing a squat, your quads, glutes and hamstrings are not the only parts that are being engaged—though they are the primary muscles that help in the movement. Your calves help keep balance on the floor, and your core helps stabilize the barbell to keep it from moving side to side as well as back and forth. You should prop up your shoulder and back to have a proper hold on the barbell. And, of course, you need to hold it using your arms. It is considered an excellent whole-body exercise, and it is considered one of the seven most effective exercises according to a featured article published by Barbara Russi Sarnataro, a fitness industry professional.

Depriving yourself of food is a big no-no. One may think that more food means more fat, especially in terms of calories and carbohydrates. I would agree, especially if you consider the entire McDonalds menu appropriate. The key idea to burn fat is to burn more calories than you consume. Therefore, eat towards your goal: if you want to become relatively slim, then stay away from high-calorie foods and look for healthy, low-calorie alternatives. If you are looking to bulk up, go for wholesome meals. You also need a certain level of carbohydrates to function properly throughout the day physically and mentally, so depriving yourself becomes a bad idea. Spreading meals throughout the day also helps to rev up your body’s metabolism to help burn calories, and an article by Jesse Cannone, a renowned personal trainer, reiterates this in more detail.

Misconception 4:  Supplements are bad for your health

Supplements are currently not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration—every bottle bought is required to have that very statement in writing. Also, public opinion seems to be skewed on the subject, since many believe that drugs and supplements are in the same category. Drugs are generally considered a type of supplement; supplements, however, do not fall under the category of drugs. Vitamins, minerals, caffeine, protein powder, and even special teas are considered supplements, where caffeine is the only drug in the list. Especially with active, athletic individuals, one should maintain his or her level of health and energy throughout the day through the use of supplements.

Protein is required for muscle building and recovery, and is found in many types of food that is consumed. The general rule of thumb is to consume one gram of protein per pound of body weight, where that amount may vary depending on individual requirements. Vitamins are essential for bodily maintenance, and even more so for athletic individuals. Several other supplements, including creatine, amino acids (BCAA’s), and nitric oxide supplements, have been discouraged for fear of side effects. However, like certain foods and other supplements, you should do some research to see if they are appropriate for you, rather than immediately dismissing them as dangerous. Supplement labels are everywhere, as well as information about most of the common ingredients found in weight training supplements. On sites such as WebMD, there even exists a library of supplement lists, so that individuals can inform themselves about what exactly they see on the ingredient list of the supplements that they take on a daily basis. Use these and all other informational resources to your advantage.

Ronald Poveda is a fitness enthusiast with a focus in weight training, and a graduate student at Polytechnic University, where he is working toward a Ph.D in mechanical engineering. 

Radiohead announces 2012 U.S. tour dates

11 Nov

By Chris Engelhardt

Radiohead has announced 2012 U.S. tour dates. Credit: Radiohead Facebook Page

Radiohead will hit the road for a U.S. tour next year in support of their eighth album, “The King of Limbs.” The band announced the first dates of the 2012 tour on Nov. 7.

The news comes following the band’s appearances on “Saturday Night Live” and “The Colbert Report” in September, and a pair of shows at New York’s Roseland Ballroom last month. The tour will kick off Feb. 27 in Miami and make various stops throughout the U.S. General tickets for shows will go on sale this Saturday. More tour dates are set to be announced at a later time.

Tour Dates:

Feb. 27 – Miami, Fla. (American Airlines Arena)

Feb. 29 – Tampa, Fla. (St. Pete Times Forum)

March 1 – Atlanta, Ga. (Philips Arena)

March 3 – Houston, Tex. (Toyota Center)

March 5 – Dallas, Tex. (American Airlines Center)

March 7 – Austin, Tex. (Frank Erwin Center)

March 9 – St. Louis, Mo. (Scottrade Center)

March 11 – Kansas City, Mo. (Sprint Center)

March 13 – Broomfield, Co. (1stBank Center)

March 15 – Glendale, Ariz.  (Jobing.com Arena)

Ebert: ‘At the Movies’ in danger of being cancelled

10 Nov

By Chris Engelhardt

“Ebert Presents: At the Movies” is in danger of cancellation. Credit: “Ebert Presents: At the Movies” Facebook page

Film critic Roger Ebert has said that “Ebert Presents: At the Movies” is in danger of cancellation, unless the syndicated program receives more investor funding.

“Unless we find an angel, our television program will go off the air at the end of its current season,” Ebert wrote on Nov. 6. “There. I’ve said it. Usually in television, people use evasive language. Not me. We’ll be gone. I want to be honest about why this is. We can’t afford to finance it any longer.”

The program, co-produced by Ebert and his wife, Chaz Ebert, debuted in January and is co-hosted by Christy Lemire of the Associated Press and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of the Chicago Reader. Ebert co-hosted previous versions of “At the Movies” until his battle with thyroid cancer.

Movie Review: The Ides of March

1 Nov

By Chris Engelhardt

Ryan Gosling and George Clooney star in The Ides of March. Credit: The Ides of March Facebook Page

 

 

“There’s only one thing I value in this world, and that’s loyalty,” Philip Seymour Hoffman tells Ryan Gosling early on in The Ides of March. “Without it, you are nothing.”

Both loyalty, and the lack thereof, are arguably the prevailing themes in March, a juggernaut of a political drama which touts an air-tight screenplay and enthralls with a top of the line ensemble cast.

Gosling stars as Stephen Meyers, a diligent press secretary for Democratic presidential candidate and current Pennsylvania Gov. Mike Morris (George Clooney). Morris, an open-minded idealist, is locked in a head-to-head Ohio primary race against Arkansas Senator Pullman (Michael Mantell). Much is at stake. And as both candidates tackle the issues and concerns of citizens to garner support, it’s up to Stephen and campaign manager Paul Zara (Hoffman) to do everything in their power to secure Morris the state of Ohio.

Morale is high for Morris’ campaign. All seems to be running smoothly, until an unprecedented phone call from Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti), Pullman’s campaign manager. He contacts Stephen and stresses that they meet privately. Stephen agrees, reluctantly, and they meet. Duffy’s news, it turns out, is a threat to the Morris campaign. Ohio, he says, is in the bag for Pullman. What’s more, Duffy tries to entice Stephen to work for the Pullman campaign, because he’s “working for the wrong man.”

He vehemently declines. But Stephen, overwhelmed with guilt, confesses to Paul his meeting with Tom. That’s when The Ides of March begins its slow transition into a superb narrative. With loyalties in question, the media, including journalist Ida Horowicz (Marisa Tomei) vying for inside information, and unexpected secrets threatening the success of Morris’ campaign, March expands into a gripping tale of political friction, power and corruption.

The film, directed by Clooney, is visually decent, but where it excels is in its story. The Ides of March is about dirty politics, and what people will do to get ahead in the game, no matter how, no matter the cost. Clooney brilliantly illustrates both. It also calls into question whether or not those who run for office can remain true to themselves and their values, or if they must surrender their ideals in order to win.

The screenplay, which Clooney co-wrote, is based on the play Farragut North by Beau Willimon. March takes us into a highly politically-charged climate and behind closed doors where we as viewers are privy to the strategies, tactics, and plans of these characters. We come to understand how Stephen and company operate, how they think, how they strategize. But it’s not all about politics—the story, smartly, shifts from the campaign trail to the personal lives of these people, although politics, for the most part, are what define them.

Every performance is focused and authoritative.  Everyone, from Gosling to Clooney, from Hoffman to Giamatti, to Evan Rachel Wood (in an understated, though important performance as intern Molly Stearns), brings depth and poignancy to a story with perfectly planted twists and subplots you don’t see coming. The Ides of March captivates until its final frame.   Grade: A

(Article copy-edited by Tiffany Mesk Mattson for ChrisEngelhardt.com)