Game Day Preview: fUCLA & Pac-1x

OK, where do we start?  To begin with, we all thought that this season would be fun, right?  New stadium with a zillion restrooms and real food cooked within 20 miles.  Lovely terraced landscaping replacing the random forest.  And then there’s the team.  Number one in sacks against.  Number one in negative yards.  And yet some of these guys are going to be playing on Sunday after they graduate.  What’s the matter?

My wife is a social worker and she’s maintained for a number of years now that the Bears missed the boat on modern sports psychology (even though allegedly they have or at least had a sports psychologist for the team).  This would be consistent with the general theme that we’ve got a team that is being coached in the 90s playing 2012 opponents because it certainly looks that way.  The Bears don’t think that they can win, so they don’t.

And now we’re facing another opponent who hasn’t beaten us in Memorial Stadium for over a decade.  And this time it looks like a perfect storm.  One of the top offenses going against our oft-confused defense, and a serviceable defense to prey on our vulnerable offense.  If I were Tedford, I wouldn’t even worry about game film and the big binder of plays – the other guys have the big binder anyway (it hasn’t changed in ten years).  While you can’t put in a new offense in a week, you can run it differently and that’s what they have to do.  fUCLA will want to play up tempo, we just slow the game down.  Snap the ball on 1 or 2 on the play clock.  Huddle.  Put players in motion.  Shift formation once or twice.  But don’t run up to the line, and then stare at the sideline for 20 seconds “awaiting instructions” because that isn’t working.  Either the other guys have the signals (to go along with the binder) or we’re just plain running the same plays out of the same formations over and over again.  It’s probably a combination of the two.

Ball control will be the key to this game (what a surprise).  Turnovers and time of possession.  And we do have a guide – the Large Brown Rodents put a stick in the eye of the Baby Bears in the Rose Bowl in a game they weren’t supposed to be in the same area code.  Use their game plan and their big fat binder.  Because whatever we’re doing isn’t fooling anybody.

Statistically its David vs Goliath so why we’re only a 2.5 point underdog is a mystery to me.   What in God’s name do the oddsmakers think we’re going to do on Saturday.  Well, tune in (your radio) or turn up and see.

As for the rest of the Pac-1x, although the pundits don’t believe the Dawgs can tackle the Quacks, this could be the upset surprise game of the week if the Dawgs are even allowed on to the field by the insane Quack fans.   If the Dawgs keep it close for 3 quarters, they might have a chance this year, otherwise it looks like another blowout for the Quackers.

‘furd coming out of the Dawghouse to face the ‘cats at home should have an easy time of it if they haven’t completely lost their senses.  But you never know.

Large Brown Rodents dominate Wazooo.  Just as well the game is on the P-12 Network as the carnage is not going to be pretty.

And what can you say about $C’s Thursday night win?  Nothing.  Likewise.  $C on road to nowhere the way they are currently playing.

U. C. L. A.

Another gem from 66 Years on the California Gridiron:

The University of California at Los Angeles (U. C. L. A.) is a branch of the University of California at Berkeley in the same manner that the California Agricultural College (also known as California Aggies or Davis) is a branch of the College of Agriculture of California at Berkeley.  U. C. L. A. had existed for many years, but their football teams had never been considered worthy opposition for the larger, older, and more experienced collegiate elevens of such schools as California.  In fact the Bruins had, in the long ago, been humiliated by teams such as Manual Arts High School by the score of 72-0 in 1919, the year of the southern school’s birth.  In1920 little Whittier had mowed them down 103-0.  But all was different now.  U. C. L. A. was matured and ready to take her place along with the rest of the large schools in the West.

The game itself was not much to describe.

Game Day Review

Seriously, I feel like its Christmas in September and my birthday has been moved up by a week (its next Saturday).  We’ve been arm wrestling with Apple for over a month to get this into the App Store.   And now that we know what can be approved, we’re going to make some improvements (notably iOS 6 / iPhone 5 stuff – the current version 2.0 runs on iPhone 5 in letterbox mode) just for fun to close out the season.
And, I know, on top of everything else, the team is, shall we say, under-performing.  As I was walking away from the Stadium (is it the curse of the tree sitters?), a couple of young guys who looked like recent graduates (so they probably never experienced the dry years we have) and one said to the other, ‘the worst thing is that they massively suck’ or something like that.  Then they hugged and went their separate ways.  Bonding over bad football.
My friend John texted me during the game and said essentially “so does this mean 3-9”.  If you watched ‘After the Game’ on Channel 7 after the real football game they showed between T Boone Pickens U and TexASS, they had exactly this discussion (after doing a eulogy for Tedford).  They looked at the schedule like I did and the only two wins they could find in the remaining games were at Wazoo and at Utah – both unpleasant road games and ESPN’s Miller has already called the Wazoo game a loss.  So we could be looking at best case 2-10, worst case 1-11.

And after Tedford took a knee to close the first half with 30 seconds left to a chorus of boos (duly noted on ‘After the Game’), I think it is pretty clear that his letter of resignation is sitting in Sandy’s or Birgeneau’s vault waiting to be opened December 1.   Why not just open it now, and give the team to Ron Gould. Hell, I’d pay money to see the wishbone, power I or straight T formation brought back with Sofele, Anderson and Bigelow.  Quarterback – who needs a friggin quarterback.  If we’re heading for 1-11, I want to do it in style.  Let’s roll up 400 yards rushing on ‘furd.  Let’s see the guys with the 4.5 GPAs out of Fairview Prep catch Bigelow.  Frankly, I don’t think anyone in the Pac-1x has the talent to cover 3 different backs going every which way on every play.  Then there is what to do with the receivers – well they can come around on reverses and screens.  It would certainly be more fun to watch than seeing Maynard getting the crap knocked out of him. Seriously, we lead the country in sacks and negative yardage plays, and we have not played against 5 great defenses.  Something has to change.

Game Day Preview: Azoo & Pac-1x

First, some positive thoughts. I will, for a short period of time, not complain about Pac-1x refs after the debacle that used to be known as the NFL. You mean I could have been a replacement ref in the NFL??? Jeez, I should have applied.

When even the Merc says that your team is one loss away from oblivion, you know something is wrong in River City, or shall we say Creek City. Your intrepid reporter was on a working vacation this week trying to recover from what some have called a “game” with $C. Frankly, I’m not sure what it was. In any case, I think it has come down to the team having to watch game films to see exactly how the game is played as it appears that they are no longer familiar with the rules. Every other team in the Pac-1x is showing some glimmers of life, even the lowly Wazoo (who many have already picked to ambush the Bears). So what’s the story with Azoo? There is talk of national prominence although I don’t see the total personnel there. The defense has been strong, they have gotten some good games from Taylor Kelly, and they can run the ball, too.

But history is on the side of the Bears, with an 8-1 record against the ‘zoo who have gone winless in Strawberry Canyon since 1997. But so many things need to improve since last week. Offensive line. Offensive line. Oh, and Offensive line, too. And that’s about all I can bring myself to say. This has got to be the most talented 1-3 team in Major College Football. To say that Tedford is on the hot seat is putting it mildly, and I have to wonder like others whether this is a pre-ordained lame duck “so long and thanks for all the fish” season. Because it is probably the least inspired coaching I’ve seen so far in Futbol Americano this year.

A quick trip through the Pac-1x and then its time to tailgate.

‘furd (you know I originally mistyped that as ‘frud and I kind of like that) got tripped up by the Dawgs in the Big Kennel and so proved that a huge, mean O-line doesn’t solve all problems in life. Would have been my upset pick of the week had I not been kayaking in Emerald Bay.

Quacks at Wazoo in what will not be a surprise or an ambush or anything of the sort. There’s a reason why these guys are #2. If you have to watch the game, wear sunglasses or the helmet reflections may blind you.

My surprising Large Brown Rodents (why have they suddenly become “my” team?) have a tricky road trip ‘gainst the ‘cats and in what could be an interesting game of cat and mouse. Can the Giant Water Rats maintain poise on the road and push ‘zona toward oblivion. ‘cats put up a good show for three quarters then take nap for rest of game.

And in the game you can skip to mow the lawn, Baby Bears and Bisons face off in the rarified air of Boulder. Another trip up game possible – depends whether fUCLA remembers to bring the oxygen (note: idea for app, Remember the Oxygen). Anyway, Buffs can prove that last week’s win wasn’t just the battle for the last place in the Pac-1x.

Wines to Pair with Southwestern Cuisine

Southwestern Cuisine – some rights reserved by stevendepolo

It’s Saturday morning Bears! Since we’re playing a team from the spicy state of AZ, today’s focus is on wines that pair well with Southwestern cuisine.

You might be somebody who reaches for a beer at the very mention of spicy Southwestern food. Beer is an incredibly refreshing complement to a spicy meal. But the right wines can be an amazing addition to a spicy meal as well. According to eatingwell.com, wine can “complement spicy flavors in one of two ways: First, wine’s acidity boosts the layers of flavors in a dish while softening its extremes… Second, wine’s fruitiness or sweetness tones down spicy heat, letting the dish’s other flavors shine.”

On the wine and food-pairing front, I’m a big advocate of experimentation. I love the idea of serving a few different wines with a spicy meal and having everybody try the wines and talk about which ones they like best with which dishes and why. While I love experimenting, I do have two gotcha advisories:

  1. Avoid Chardonnay. This wonderful white wine just doesn’t work well with spicy food. The exception is a sweet Chardonnay, but these are hard to find.
  2. Avoid heavy red wines. These wines are also a bad fit. They will compete with the food in unpleasant ways and result in a very heavy tasting experience.

Now for my recommendations. Southwestern dishes typically feature chili, lime, citrus and cilantro. These flavors pair beautifully with a similarly tangy, herbal wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc. If your dish has a lot of meat in it, you might want to look for a Fumé Blanc, which is a Sauvignon Blanc aged in oak.

Regardless of which wines you serve, make sue to have fun before the game, during the game and after the game 🙂

GO BEARS!

About

Betty Kaufman is a wine lover and a consummate wine student. Her love of wine started when she was a student at Berkeley. Back then, wineries didn’t check IDs the way they do now. So it was a lot of fun to head up to the wine country and be treated as an adult. Over time, she grew to really appreciate wine and the wine country lifestyle – the laughter, the clinking of glasses, the good food, the friends, the deliberate pace.

Her wine career started in 2006, after nearly 20 years in high-tech marketing, when she became an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home.

One of her favorite things about wine is that you always get to be a student. Whether you know a lot or a little about wine, there’s always more to learn. Betty really enjoys learning about wine and helping others explore the world of wine.

ASU – A Critical Game

Today’s game against ASU is another one of those “must-win” games for Cal.  Maybe it’s a “must-win” in the sense that getting to a bowl game will be extremely difficult if they don’t win.  Or maybe it has to do with the amount of heat that will be under Coach Tedford’s backside if the Bears lose…

A lot of people get fairly analytical about this.**  And yes, I’m one of them.  Not just x’s and o’s, but deeper stuff.  In the meantime, it’s pretty clear that the Bears’ offense would be doing a lot better with Matt Summers-Gavin (MSG, for those who are into this), and Dominic Galas at full speed, and at least one or two of their three TEs healthy.  Cal is loaded at the skill positions, as usual, but if Maynard is running for his life, it may be a long afternoon.

Despite the injuries, and despite the rule that limits Bigelow (Bigs) to 6 carries per game [OK, I made that up], I think it’s a close game today. It’s Cal by 4.

ASU has a good team this year, and they might just have Cal’s number.  However, Cal seems to play some of its best games against ASU at Memorial. What the mechanism is, I have no idea — but it’s the same one that has us playing our worst games against U$C, wherever we play them.

So that’s what I think, FWIW.  Time to wrap up my cleaning chores, re-install the iGoBears app on my cheap-ass, memory-limited Samsung smartphone, and catch a few z’s before my 5:30am wake-up for…  Alumni Band Day!  Yes, once again I’ll be making the trek to cold, foggy Berkeley at sun-up, putting 38 lbs of brass onto my left shoulder, and blowing it for Cal.  *Always* a great time.

Update: My body let me know that it was needing a lot more sleep this morning, so no ABD for me this time around. Next year!…

** – “The Roman” and I have this trait in common, but rarely discuss Cal Football at work, since we’re usually crazy-busy with app development.

Go Bears!  Beat the Sun-Dried Demons!

(And happy tailgating to The Roman and the rest of the Tailgate Crew!)

What Dan Thinks

Another new feature in iGoBears is “What Dan Thinks” where our intrepid tubist shares with you his feelings about the game, the environment, and what it was like to play the tuba in the Bay-to-Breakers. Anyway, he’ll be able to tell you more himself after he finds out that he has to actually write something…

Ancient History

Another feature of iGoBears is Ancient History where The Roman digs through the archives of Cal Bears yore and presents priceless snapshots of the way things were. This week, the coda of the Foreword of “66 Years on the California Gridiron, 1882-1948, The History of Football at the University of California” by S. Dan Brodie. This book was only recently supplanted by Ron Fimrite’s excellent “Golden Bears” which I can heartily recommend as Mr. Fimrite was an esteemed friend and colleague of my journalist in-laws. In any case, Mr. Brodie opens his book with something that feels like a cross between a convocation and a roast.

“Several exchanges strongly advocate the idea of an intercollegiate athletic contest. Let us have one by all means. Let a few men in each college neglect their proper work, become skillful acrobats and tumblers, and then at the expense of the mass of students who have improved themselves by applauding the feats of these few in the gymnasium, go to a considerable distance to be beaten. But let us not stop here. Let us go on in the noble work. Let us have a permanent Intercollegiate Circus Troupe; let us have an Intercollegiate Association of Tight Rope Walkers; let us have an Intercollegiate Combination of Tumblers and Trapezists. Then shall American educational institutions have completed their great work; then shall American colleges have reached the highest pitch of their glory.”

I’ll tell you when and where that was written next week – you can have a good argument over it at your tailgate party – until one of you googles it. These mobile phones kind of ruin things like this…

OK, it was in an editorial in the April 2nd, 1879 edition of the Berkeleyan, the predecessor of the Daily Cal, 10 years after the first college football game was played but 3 years before California’s first game, and 13 years before the first Big Game with Stanford.

Recipes

Harvey Wallbanger Cocktail & Cake

This is a twofer recipe from the NFL Gameday Cookbook.  The only trick is that it tastes best with Duncan Hines orange cake mix which is almost impossible to find.  Some turned up at our local dented can store and I bought the whole stock.  The alternative is to use yellow cake mix with some orange extract.

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.

In each of two separate large glasses, pour 1/4 cup of the Galliano, 1 ounce of the vodka, and 3/4 cup of the orange juice.  Put ice in 1 of the glasses, stir, and drink it.  Set the other glass aside.

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, oil and eggs.  Add the reserved cocktail to the mixing bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer until smooth.  Gently fold the oranges into the batter.  Pour the batter evenly into the Bundt pan.  Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove it to a rack to cool completely.  Garnish with whipped cream to serve, or (in our version) make a glaze for the cake.

  • 1/2 cup Galliano liquer, divided
  • 2 ounces mandarin orange vodka, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice, divided
  • 1 box orange cake mix (18 1/2 ounces)
  • One 3.4-ounce box of instant vanilla pudding mix.
  • 1 pint sour cream – we used non-fat sour cream – works fine
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil – I increase the non-fat sour cream and sometimes drop the vegetable oil completely.
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten (or egg substitute)
  • One 8.4-ounce can mandarin orange slices, drained and chopped
  • Whipped cream, for garnish
  • Optional sugar glaze

Tequila Lime BBQ Chicken

This is another modification from the NFL Gameday Cookbook.  And it it just so simple.  Marinate your chicken breasts overnight in what is essentially a margarita – tequila and fresh lime juice.   Maybe a little pepper as well.  Then bring them to the game in your cooler, crank up the BBQ and grill.  I like to sear both sides first and then, depending on the size of the breasts, they can take a while to cook and the danger is over-cooking – if you do it just right, the chicken is juicy, tender, and has that hint of margarita.  The solution: my sister-in-law gave me a radio transmitter thermometer a while back and that is perfect for this – pings you when you’ve reached correct internal temperature so that you can socialize while the bird cooks.

Padron Pepper Omelet

If you haven’t had these peppers before, you really must try them while they are in season.  We have them both in our local farmer’s markets and at our local organic grocer.  As the saying goes, the Padron Pepper, some are hot and some are not.  They are mostly mild but occasionally you get a barn burner and that’s part of the fun.  Not enough time this week for a full recipe, but the key is to blister and partially blacken the peppers in an iron skillet before either eating by hand or putting them in another recipe like an Omelet.  They are wonderful in an Omelet with almost any other vegetable, some jack cheese, and other herbs.  We served this at our first two morning tailgates and it’s a hit.

Blackberry Crumble

A simple recipe in my view requiring fresh blackberries but you could get away with frozen in a pinch. Also, mixed-berry is an option depending on what you like. Another recipe modified from The NFL Gameday Cookbook where it was Sweet Blueberry-Apricot Crumble.

This is one of my favorites from when I was a student in London and a place in Covent Garden called Food for Thought made the most wonderful fruit crumble. This doesn’t quite match it, but you’ll enjoy it and it is pretty easy to make.

Preheat the oven to 375F, and lightly butter or Pam a 2-quart shallow baking dish. In a large bowl, take about two pounds of blackberries and mix them with about a cup of sugar, some fresh Meyer lemon (or even lime) juice, and I used 2 tablespoons of vanilla pudding mix, but the recipe called for two tablespoons of quick-cooking tapioca (which I didn’t have). The pudding/tapioca helps give the fruit some body so it doesn’t just become a syrup. Pour the mixture into the baking dish. The NGC sprinkles blueberries over this layer which you could do, but we skipped that part.

In a separate large bowl, combine a cup of flour (you could use whole-wheat if you wish like Food for Thought) with about 2/3 cup of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of oatmeal. The oatmeal is what provides the extra crunch to the topping. Cut in a stick (4oz) of butter until the mixture is, well, crumbly – hence crumble. Sprinkle this mixture over the fruit in the baking dish.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the topping is browned. Cool at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve with ice cream or whipped topping.

Spicy Tangy Slaw

I’m going to start our gastronomical tour of tailgating with one of my favorites – Spicy Tangy Slaw. Not long after I started making this recipe from The NFL Gameday Cookbook by Ray Lampe a.k.a. Dr. BBQ, my favorite restaurant Duarte’s in Pescadero started serving their own Mexican Cole Slaw variant of it. And the nice thing about it is that you can vary the ingredients based on the tastes of your tailgate group and what is available fresh from your farmers market or produce aisle.

The recipe calls for a 1-pound package shredded coleslaw mix – but who doesn’t want to take the Cuisinart off the top shelf and put it to work with the shredding blade. Again, you can control your ingredients and their proportions – white cabbage, red cabbage, napa cabbage, carrots, even some mustard greens for extra tang. I also put a whole red bell pepper and a whole green bell pepper thru the shredder for extra color and finish it off with an onion – you can do a whole onion or just half of one. I prefer to use Vidalia or Maui sweet onions but a red onion will do fine. Finally, pick your favorite hot pepper – typically jalapeño, but there are about a dozen alternatives that would work, and thinly slice that.

Mix it all up in a large bowl – I find that I need a bowl about two sizes larger than I thought I needed when I started because I added more ingredients.

One omission of Dr. BBQ which Duarte’s remedies is cilantro. For crying out loud, how can you have spicy anything with jalapeños without cilantro – I throw a typical bunch in, again finely chopped.

For the dressing, again go with what is in season. If you can get your hands on some Meyer lemons and limes, you are in business. A couple of lemons and/or limes will do, add a touch of olive oil to soften the edge of the citrus, and salt and pepper to taste, and a bit of cider vinegar if you must. I’m not a fan of adding sugar to this recipe, but some say that it improves the flavor – about a half teaspoon. Finally, if you don’t think you have quite the tang, add some red pepper flakes or even some cayenne – again about a half teaspoon..

Toss to coat, let rest, toss again, let rest, toss again, etc. Then refrigerate for at least 4 hours, but for maximum flavor go for the overnight stay before serving well chilled.

Goes great with practically anything, stands up to all the classic BBQ favorites.

Ingredients

  • about a pound of cabbage & carrots, shredded a la Cuisinart
  • a red and a green bell pepper, shredded aussi
  • half to a full sweet or red onion, sliced thinly
  • at least 1 fresh jalapeño or similar hot pepper, thinly sliced
  • a bunch of fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Dressing

  • juice of 2-4 Meyer lemons and/or limes
  • a touch of cider vinegar if you must
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • half teaspoon of sugar if you must
  • (optional) half teaspoon of red pepper flakes for extra kick

 

The Best Place

Right now we’re going to nominate – as the Best Tailgating Location in the World – the parking lot across McCovey Cove from PacBell Park (and so it shall remain forever for me). OK, you’ve got a view of downtown, you’ve got a view of the bay, sailboats are passing by, and you’ve got a view of this beautiful stadium. And you’re on a flat piece of land which is relatively easy to reach from an Interstate. Seriously, that is Tailgate Heaven. And its where we played last year. In a baseball stadium. Oh, come on, it wasn’t that bad, and the tailgating was awesome. But I’m informed that I must redirect the discourse back to Berkeley and environs…

Of course, the first thing you need to tailgate is a parking space. Good luck. No one in Berkeley has seen one of those since the 60s.

The reality is that some small lucky number of folks do get the privilege of parking in one of Cal’s storied parking structures or, as it was in our case, the hole left in the ground after the seismically challenged parking structure was torn down, the infamous Underhill Field (now making a comeback along with the stadium).

If you are used to say, the Rose Bowl, or midwestern or even East Coast tailgating, “urban” tailgating is a different experience. A good portion of tailgaters have to make do with multi-storey car parks which we used to sneer at – until we got moved into one for this season (the aforementioned Underhill).

Prior to the redistribution of the wealth by the ESP Program, we had a parking spot in the Foothill Lot which we will throw out there as the best tailgating spot in Berkeley (knowing full well that you have your own opinions) so please email us (go to About…). Foothill is challenged by many of its features. It is at the absolute top of campus, can only be reached from the North side, and I think got upgraded from one to two porta-potties. After the game, when you’re exhausted, tears streaming down your face from having your heart broken not once, but half a dozen times in the 4th quarter, you have to climb a steep hill to get back to your car. We’ve seen some people take an hour to make it up that hill. But this is where some of the big tailgates with multiple tents and satellite TV are set up. We enjoyed rubbing shoulders with them for a number of years and gradually upgraded our equipment (BBQs, tables, chairs, ice chests, etc). More on equipment, food, and drink later this season.

I see my time is up – quite literally – since this app has to go into Apple for their review like in 5 minutes… please remember that this is our first release in a work in progress – our plan is to update the release at least 4 times this season with new tidbits and features for each home stand so be sure to keep an eye on your App Store updates.