Archive for September, 2011

Baseball’s 10 Most Dramatic Division Series

Sep 29th, 2011

Old school baseball fans still bemoan the addition of the division series. To them, the extra playoff action devalues the six-month-long marathon of a regular season, which meant a little more when baseball consisted of fewer teams. But, expansion has brought forth the realization that things can’t remain the same forever. For the past 16 years, winning the pennant and winning the World Series have been a bit more difficult, as teams have fought tooth and nail to overcome comparably talented opponents in the short, opening-round series. The following dramatic division series prove that baseball, in its current format, is as healthy as ever, and October is even more captivating than it was two decades ago.

  1. Mariners defeat Yankees, 1995

    The introduction of the division series was delayed a year by the strike, which eliminated the postseason in 1994. So anticipation was especially high as the Yankees, who hadn’t reached the postseason since 1981, faced an upstart, star-studded Mariners squad in a five-game set. Game 2 consisted of four lead changes in 15 innings, then the longest game in terms of elapsed time in playoff history. The Yankees took a commanding 2-0 series lead when Jim Leyritz, whose propensity for playoff clutchness was still unknown, hit a two-run walk-off home run. The Mariners demonstrated their resolve by winning the next two games, including a Game 4 in which Edgar Martinez tallied seven RBIs, forcing a Game 5. Remarkably tense, the decisive game culminated with Martinez’s series-clinching two-run double in the 11th inning, which scored Ken Griffey Jr. from first base. Three outs from advancing, the Yankees went home heartbroken and determined to rebound in ’96.

  2. Red Sox defeat Indians, 1999

    Even though the defending World Series champion Yankees would be heavily favored in the ALCS against the eventual winner, both the Sox and Indians had the star power and confidence to make a deep postseason run. A Game 1 back injury to Pedro Martinez, who left in the fifth inning with a 2-0 lead, enabled the Indians to log three runs, enough for Bartolo Colon to secure an opening-game victory. Down 2-0 in the series, the Sox staged a ferocious rally in the next two games, scoring a combined 31 runs, 23 of which came in Game 4 as a still-tired Bartolo Colon started on three days’ rest for the first time in his career. Because both teams were beset by fatigued pitchers, Game 5 was another high-scoring contest. Three heroic scoreless innings in relief from the ailing Martinez enabled the Sox to capture and maintain the lead and advance to face their archrivals in the next round.

  3. Mets defeat Giants, 2000

    A wide open race for the NL pennant increased the stakes in the division series, in which two of the four games between the Mets and Giants, appropriately, reached extra innings. In Game 2, the Mets’ 4-1 lead in the ninth inning was erased by a three-run home run from JT Snow off of Armando Benitez. Jay Payton’s RBI single in the top of the 10th gave the Mets the lead again, and John Franco’s dramatic strikeout of Barry Bonds with the tying run aboard secured the victory. With the series tied, neither team wanted to surrender Game 3. The Giants’ Russ Ortiz took a no-hitter and 2-0 lead into the sixth inning before the Mets mustered a run. In the eighth, Edgardo Alfonzo’s RBI double off of Giants’ closer Rob Nen tied the game, and in the thirteenth, Benny Agbayani hit a towering walk-off shot to give the Mets control of the series. Game 4 is best remembered for the masterful performance by the Mets’ Bobby Jones, who one-hit the Giants to end the series, setting the record for fewest hits allowed a division series game — Roy Halladay broke it in 2010 when he no-hit the Reds.

  4. Yankees defeat A’s, 2000

    A young team that seemed destined to challenge for an AL pennant, the A’s were undaunted by the two-time defending World Series champions. Their Game 1 victory over the Yankees, who had swept their previous two division series opponents, caught the baseball world by surprise, as the Yankees were almost never in vulnerable positions. Not surprisingly, the veteran squad proceeded to win the next two games with excellent pitching performances by Andy Pettitte and Orlando Hernandez, the latter of whom boasted a remarkable 6-0 career playoff record. The A’s responded in resounding fashion by posting an 11-1 victory in Game 4, a game that pitted legend Roger Clemens against rookie Barry Zito. Game 5 was a dominated by the Yankees’ bullpen, which allowed just three hits, no walks and no runs in 5.1 innings of relief, baffling the Athletics’ inexperienced bats.

  5. Yankees defeat A’s, 2001

    One year later, the two teams dueled in a hotly-contested rematch in which four of the five games were decided by two runs or fewer. Poised to avenge last season’s loss and make a World Series run, the A’s took a 2-0 series lead as Mark Mulder allowed one run in seven innings in Game 1, and Tim Hudson pitched eight shutout innings in Game 2. With the chance to sweep the Yankees in Game 3, Barry Zito tossed eight innings of two-hit, one-run ball, but was outdueled by Mike Mussina, who tossed seven shutout innings. Memorably, during the seventh inning, the Athletics’ Terrance Long hit a line drive that almost scored Jason Giambi, who decided not to slide to home plate. In turn, Derek Jeter bare-handed and redirected a poor relay throw to Jorge Posada, who tagged out Giambi, maintaining the Yankees’ lead. The 1-0 victory sparked the Yankees’ series comeback and incredible postseason run, which ended with a heartbreaking Game 7 loss to the Diamondbacks in the World Series.

  6. Diamondbacks defeat Cardinals, 2001

    The Diamondbacks and Cardinals had both been eliminated by the Mets in each of their previous playoff appearances, and were hoping to take advantage of a weaker NL playoff field. Game 1 was a classic pitching duel between the Cards’ Matt Morris and the D-Backs Curt Schilling, who earned the 1-0 win with a three-hit shutout. The teams traded wins in the next three games, each of which were decided by three runs or fewer, before reaching Game 5, which featured a rematch between Morris and Schilling. Entering the bottom of the ninth, the game was tied 1-1, and the D-Backs had a chance to end the game and series. After they initially failed to manufacture a run, Tony Womack singled in pinch runner Danny Bautista from second base, giving the franchise its first-ever playoff series victory. Schilling again notched a win with a complete game.

  7. Marlins defeat Giants, 2003

    Two winning seasons, two World Series championships. The Marlins’ second improbable October run began with a difficult test versus the defending NL champs. In Game 1, Josh Beckett kicked off his outstanding postseason by pitching seven innings of two-hit, one-run ball, but the Marlins failed to score on Jason Schmidt, who tossed a complete game shutout. The Marlins won Game 2 in a relatively high-scoring 9-5 affair, and claimed the series lead after an 11-inning 4-3 win in Game 4 in which Pudge Rodriguez drove in the game-tying and-winning runs. Game 4 featured the defining moment of the Marlins’ postseason and Pudge’s career. Up 7-6 with two outs in the ninth, he withstood a collision at the plate with JT Snow, tagging him out and securing the series victory for the Marlins.

  8. Red Sox defeat A’s, 2003

    No team has suffered as much division series heartache as the "Moneyball" A’s. Two years after two consecutive five-game losses to the Yankees, they faced another big-market AL East team with pitching equally as strong. Oakland again won the first two games, the second of which came on the heels of Zito’s seven-inning, one-run and nine-strikeout performance. Two questionable calls in Game 3 prevented the A’s from taking a lead, and the contest eventually ended in the 11th inning with a two-run walk-off home run by Trot Nixon. In Game 4, the A’s bullpen picked up the slack for Tim Hudson after he left the game in the first inning with a strained oblique, but the Sox, resilient as ever, scored two runs in the eighth on David Ortiz’s double, giving them the 5-4 win. Fittingly, Game 5 was the series’ third one-run game, as Manny Ramirez’s three-run home run provided most of their scoring, and Derek Lowe escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth to close out the game and series.

  9. Astros defeat Braves, 2005

    Game 4 might as well have served as Games 4 and 5. The 18-inning affair featured a late-inning rally from the Astros, who erased the Braves’ a five-run deficit with an eighth-inning grand slam by Lance Berkman and ninth-inning, two-out solo home run from Brad Ausmus. The scoring ceased for the next eight-and-a-half innings, during which Roger Clemens made just the second relief appearance of his career, as the Astros were out of pitchers. He allowed just one hit in three innings, eventually logging the win. Chris Burke’s solo home run in the bottom of the 18th inning ended the longest game — in innings and time — in postseason history and advanced the Astros to their second consecutive NLCS appearance versus the Cardinals.

  10. Angels defeat Yankees, 2005

    Few playoff series in baseball history were as evenly matched as this one. Four of the five games were decided by two runs or fewer, including the nerve-racking Game 4, in which Al Leiter and Mariano Rivera surrendered no hits in the final 2.2 innings, enabling the Yankees to rally in the bottom of the seventh with RBI singles from Ruben Sierra and Derek Jeter. The 3-2 win forced a Game 5, giving the Yankees a chance to upset the Angles in Anaheim. This time, the Angels staved off the rally — and overcame Bartolo Colon’s second-inning hand injury — with gutsy impromptu relief work from Ervin Santana followed by the usual exemplary work from Kelvim Escobar and Francisco Rodriguez.

10 Most Lucrative Industries for Women

Sep 28th, 2011

Over the past 100 years, women have completely reinvented themselves. Gender boundaries are consistently being erased, and women continue to make huge strides in gaining the skills, recognition and compensation that they deserve. We are not far away from the end of the glass ceiling and true equality for women in all fields of work. While there is still a difference in pay between men and women in some fields, many industries have come to be dominated by women who make a very lucrative living. Here are the top 10 most lucrative industries for women:

  1. Law

    Some of the most effective lawyers in the country are women. Being a lawyer demands patience, persistence and the ability to fight for what you believe in, and many women excel in all of these areas and more. As a result, women can earn a lucrative living in the field of law. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), female lawyers earn a median salary of $78,468 per year. As more and more women earn law degrees, these earnings are likely to increase, and this makes being a lawyer an attractive and lucrative career option for women.

  2. Healthcare

    Nearly 78% of healthcare workers are women, and these women tend to make a lucrative living as healthcare professionals. The term healthcare is a broad one, and many different job titles fall under its umbrella, including nurse and physician. As a nurse, a woman can earn an average median salary of $62,450 per year, according to BLS. Physicians can make more than this, and some other fields make substantially less. Overall, healthcare is a stable field with high levels of job satisfaction and employment growth, which makes healthcare a very lucrative industry for women who want to earn more and enjoy what they do.

  3. Computer Management and Information Systems

    Women have the potential to make a lot of money as computer and information systems managers. Computer and information systems managers are involved in the management and administration of technology at organizations in order to help companies meet their business goals. According to BLS, women in this position can make median yearly earnings of $65,520. Most computer management and information systems managers are required to have a bachelor’s degree in subjects like business administration management, information technology and management information systems.

  4. Sales

    A recent study found that women are coming to dominate certain areas of sales, a traditionally lucrative field for those who excel. In fact, the study seemed to show that women tend to have better selling skills than men, translating into substantial earnings for saleswomen. Recent college graduates with a bachelor’s degree can expect to make around $54,000 per year on average, but certain fields, such as pharmaceutical sales, can bring in double or even triple that amount with a few years of experience. It’s no wonder that women are entering the sales workforce in record numbers. Stable job openings and substantial earnings make sales a very lucrative career for women.

  5. Human Resources

    Many women excel in the field of human resources and have come to earn a very lucrative living as human resource managers. Almost every person will deal with human resources at one point in their working life, and it takes dedication, patience and understanding to truly excel as human resources professionals. BLS lists the median salary for female human resources managers at $59,124, and this number is likely to go up as companies are forced to make difficult hiring decisions in the years to come.

  6. Executive Management

    Not long ago, the field executive managers were almost always male. Much has changed in the past 100 years, and one of those changes includes women taking senior executive management roles, such as the role of CEO or CFO. BLS lists the median salary for female Chief Executives as $83,356, but the highest earners can make up to millions of dollars. These salaries prove that having the right skills and knowledge to manage a large corporation has nothing to do with gender.

  7. Speech-Language Pathology

    Speech-language pathology is an increasingly popular field for women because it provides a high level of job satisfaction, favorable job opportunities and a lucrative salary. According to BLS, women in speech pathology can make a median yearly salary of $58,448, but this number can vary from state to state and depend on the employer. Most speech-language pathologists are required to earn a master’s degree, as well as obtain licensure and certification. The job also requires sensitivity, support, patience and compassion, which may come easy to many women. This exceptionally rewarding job does require a demanding level of schooling, but the pay off of helping patients develop or correct their speech is well worth it.

  8. Pharmacy

    Women are increasingly entering the field of pharmacy with lucrative results. According to Forbes, female pharmacists earn a median salary of $85,644. While that median salary is very lucrative, pharmacists must complete a rigorous graduate level program and post-graduate training in order to practice. The job requires exceptional skills in the fields of math and science, as well as a caring and personable demeanor for dealing with customers. Women are proving to exhibit all of these skills, and as a result they are making a lucrative living serving their communities as pharmacists.

  9. Computer Software Engineering

    Computer software engineering has long been a predominantly male career field, but in recent years women have stepped into the industry and have made a good living working as a computer software engineer or computer programmer. According to BLS, computer software engineers can make median yearly earnings of $70,252. Not only is computer software engineering a highly lucrative occupation, but the field is also projected to grow at an exponential rate, resulting in greater job prospects for both women and men. Most computer software engineers earn their bachelor’s degree in computer science or software engineering.

  10. Education

    Women have traditionally dominated the field of education, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. But while women have traditionally dominated the field of teaching, they are now infiltrating leadership positions within education, such as school counselor and principal positions. These positions are more lucrative than the traditional teaching position. According to BLS, an elementary school principal can make an average salary of $85,905 per year. With salaries like this, it’s likely that women will continue to enjoy the lucrative opportunities a career in education can offer.

9 Things You Didn’t Know About Firefighters

Sep 25th, 2011

If you were once a little boy (or maybe even a little girl), there’s a good chance you wanted to be a firefighter at some point. And who could blame you? Firefighters get to run stoplights in their shiny red trucks, carry axes, and save people from burning buildings. Those of you who didn’t quite reach your firefighting dreams are probably missing out on information about the men and women who risk their lives each day to keep us safe and fire-free. Some facts make firefighters sound even more awesome than we already know they are, and some highlight the sacrifices they make for their communities. Here are 9 things, both good and bad, you didn’t know about our heroic firefighters.

  1. They used to use buckets

    Before fire hydrants and huge tanker trucks were available to help firefighters extinguish flames, men had to rely on buckets of water passed down an assembly line. These units were called bucket brigades. In the 1680s, people in New York were required to have a certain number of buckets on hand depending on their building’s risk of fire. For example, bakers needed three and brewers had to keep six handy. When there was a fire, people would throw out their buckets and form two lines between the town’s well and the fire. One line would pass buckets full of water to the fire, and the other would pass empty ones back to the well to be refilled. Luckily, the equipment we use today is much more sophisticated and effective so we don’t have to put out fires one bucket at a time.

  2. Benjamin Franklin contributed to firefighting

    What didn’t Benjamin Franklin do? The man who invented the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove is also responsible for the first fire company in Philadelphia. The firefighters were known as the Union Fire Company or sometimes Benjamin Franklin’s Bucket Brigade. The men would meet every month to discuss firefighting techniques, and each was required to bring buckets and bags to fires in the city to tote water and protect valuables from theft. Though it was the first in Philadelphia, the Union Fire Company wasn’t the only fire club after long. Others sprang up later that year and the years that followed, and soon all of Philadelphia was protected pretty well from spreading fires — a major concern in a time of thatched roofs, wooden structures, and open hearths.

  3. Most are volunteers

    Of the more than 1 million firefighters in the nation, 73% are volunteers. Many fire stations use both volunteer and career firefighters to serve the community, and there are only about 2,000 career-only stations of the 30,500 stations in the country. This means that most of the firefighters that serve your community probably have other jobs on top of keeping their towns safe. Many of them have full-time jobs just like you do and volunteer their free time when someone’s in trouble. And don’t think that volunteer firefighters don’t face the same danger as career firemen. They have to undergo the same rigorous training and die in the line of duty just as frequently as those who fight fire full time.

  4. They started using Dalmatians for a reason

    If you thought firefighters chose the Dalmatian as their mascot because their white coats with black spots totally go with the red fire trucks, think again. While color coordinating may be a great way to choose your personal pets, firefighters used to have a specific use for the Dalmatian. Dalmatians were often referred to as "carriage dogs" in the days when horse-drawn carriages were the best way to transport goods and highway robberies were a common occurrence. The dogs got along extremely well with horses, protected the goods when the coach driver was away, and could run alongside the carriage for long distances. This made the dog perfect for firehouses, because the Dalmatian could guard the horses and equipment at the firehouse and on location at fires. Many fire stations still have Dalmatians, though their role has changed from guard dog to companion.

  5. Women firefighters have been around since the 1800s

    Even though firefighters are still often called "firemen," this term disregards all the ladies out there who put their lives in danger for their community. Men still dominate the field (just under 4% of firefighters are women), but the number of women firefighters is expected to increase. The first known female firefighter in the U.S. was Molly Williams, a slave from New York, who fought fires side by side with the men in the early 19th century. Another woman, Marina Betts, volunteered with the fire department in Pittsburgh in the 1820s. Since the early 1900s, there have even been several all-woman fire companies in Maryland, California, Texas, and other states. Women today still face many hurdles to becoming full-time firefighters, such as equipment that doesn’t fit feminine curves correctly and a lack of facilities for women to shower without having to endure male locker-room talk.

  6. They carry an extra 60 pounds

    Firefighters have to keep in tip-top shape to perform their jobs well. Not only do they have to run, climb stairs, and carry people, they have to do it all while wearing up to 60 pounds of equipment. That’s like lugging around a 9-year-old. The exact weight of the equipment varies depending on the materials used by the producers, but when you think of all the gear a firefighter has, it’s not surprising that it adds up. When responding to a fire, firefighters don thick pants, steel-toed boots, and a heavy jacket, which weigh at least 30 pounds on their own. Many wear a protective flame-proof hood and then put the helmet on top of it. Depending on the situation, a firefighter might use an air pack, comparable to the breathing apparatus used when scuba diving, or water tank, which allows those fighting wild fires to go where a hose can’t reach.

  7. They plan for fires in some buildings

    OK, so they don’t actually predict that certain buildings will catch fire (though that would be pretty awesome), but they do make plans for some buildings before a fire occurs. Places like schools and hospitals, as well as locations with highly flammable or hazardous materials, are normally at the top of the list for planning. These pre-incident plans contain information that helps the commander make important decisions when a fire or some other kind of disaster occurs. Knowing things like the floor plan, access points, hydrant location, and contents of the building has actually lowered the number of firefighter deaths.

  8. Heart attacks are their No. 1 killer

    You would probably think that the most frequent cause of death for firefighters would be, well, fire. At the very least, you would expect it to be buildings falling on top of them. But the top killer of on-duty firefighters is heart attacks. In fact, more than 45% of firefighters who die while on duty die from heart disease. A lot of Americans have heart problems, like high cholesterol or high blood pressure, but most Americans don’t have the sudden stress in their everyday jobs of dealing with life-threatening situations. When a firefighter has heart disease, they are putting themselves at risk of a heart attack every time they respond to an emergency. They are at least 12 times more likely to have a heart attack when they are putting out a fire than when they are doing non-emergency duties.

  9. They are twice as likely to get cancer

    If the increased risk of heart attack wasn’t bad enough, firefighters are also twice as likely to get cancer than the average person. When a building and the stuff inside go up in flames, the materials that are burning often emit dangerous chemicals like formaldehyde or sulfur dioxide. These can be absorbed into the firefighters’ lungs and through their skin if they’re not protected well enough or if they don’t clean their gear thoroughly after a fire. Combine this with the increased risk of asbestos exposure as firefighters deal with older structures, and you’ve got a profession that’s even more dangerous than you would’ve thought.

10 Former Stars Who Never Should Have Left Television

Sep 21st, 2011

When a TV star makes it big, it’s normal that they would start dreaming of a career in movies. Who wouldn’t want to see their face 1,000 times larger than life on the big screen? Other TV actors end a show and just try to find anything to do with their careers. But the entertainment business isn’t as fabulous as it seems (well, besides the limousines and entourages). If you stop showing up in people’s living rooms once a week, they sometimes forget about you. Here are 10 former TV stars who found that out the hard way.

  1. Shelley Long

    Everyone knows your name at Cheers, but everyone in the world knew Shelley Long’s name from her time on the hit show. Her character, Diane Chambers, was loved as the beautiful but stuck-up Cheers waitress and had a sexual chemistry with bartender Sam Malone that the audience ate up. She is often considered one of the best TV characters of all time and was on the show for five seasons before Long decided to pursue a film career. Since she had won two Golden Globes and an Emmy for her work on Cheers, Long probably thought she would find similar success on the big screen, but the closest she came was Troop Beverly Hills. She also appeared in the Brady Bunch parodies, which cemented her place as a washed-up actress.

  2. Jason Alexander

    Seinfeld was one of the most successful sitcoms of all time, an amazing feat for any show but especially for a show about nothing. Jason Alexander as tactless slacker George Costanza helped the show skyrocket to never-before-seen levels of awkwardness and viewership. But the cast of Seinfeld was rumored to suffer from the Seinfeld curse after the show ended in 1998 after nine seasons. Alexander was definitely a victim of this curse. He tried two other sitcoms, Bob Patterson and Listen Up!, but they failed and now he does a lot of stage acting. Alexander may not have chosen to leave television, but we wish he could’ve stayed on as George Costanza forever.

  3. Joe Piscopo

    In the early ’80s when people worried that Saturday Night Live would die after the original cast left, a few comedians resurrected the sketch comedy show. Standing beside Eddie Murphy, funny man Joe Piscopo brought memorable characters and laughs to the show’s set. The two of them left SNL in 1984 to pursue careers in the movie business, and one of them made it. Hint: it wasn’t Piscopo. Piscopo acted in a couple of terrible films, like Johnny Dangerously and Sidekicks, before becoming nothing more than a punchline because of his alleged steroid addiction. You’re more likely to hear his name in a Simpsons joke today than see it in the credits of a movie.

  4. Danica McKellar

    As Kevin Arnold’s love interest in The Wonder Years, Danica McKellar was everyone’s favorite girl next-door. Her character, Winnie Cooper, and Kevin spent six seasons trying to figure out love and growing up, and when the show ended, Americans everywhere felt like their childhood had just ended, too. But after the show, McKellar had a tough time landing any good roles. She filmed some Lifetime movies, which were obviously awful, and appeared in lingerie in Stuff magazine. Most recently, she’s had some guest appearances on TV shows and a made-for-TV movie called Inspector Mom, but she’s best known for her bestselling books that encourage girls that math is cool. That’s a far cry from the Winnie Cooper we knew.

  5. Jennifer Aniston

    Though Jennifer Aniston may still be considered a huge star, her life definitely started to go downhill after Friends ended in 2004. As Rachel on Friends, she ended up with the man she was meant to be with, a successful career, and a family. In reality, she became the topic of tabloids when she divorced Brad Pitt in 2005 and still appears on covers every time she starts or ends a relationship. Her acting career hasn’t dropped to the level of made-for-TV movies, but most people will agree that the movies she’s starred in haven’t lived up to her Friends hype. Her best works seem to be the ones where she takes a supporting or minor role in a film or guest stars on a sitcom, a sad step down from her Mrs. Pitt and Friends days.

  6. Jonathan Taylor Thomas

    As far as ’90s icons go, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, or JTT for those in the know, was the cream of the crop. As the smart-mouthed Randy Taylor on Home Improvement, Thomas won the hearts of girls across America and we all thought he’d go on to do spectacular things in the movie business. He left the show a year before it ended in order to focus on academics, but didn’t graduate from Columbia University until 2010. In the meantime, he took on various roles in pretty disappointing movies, like I’ll Be Home For Christmas, Speedway Junkie, and Walking Across Egypt, which you’ve probably never heard of. If he could find a spot on TV again, there are probably plenty of women who would watch just to remember his glory days.

  7. Dave Coulier

    Almost as famous for being Alanis Morissette’s ex-boyfriend as he is for playing Uncle Joey on Full House, Dave Coulier disappeared from our lives after he left our TV sets. He played the jokester best friend to a widowed dad who talked in funny voices and took care of the Olsen twins just because he was a nice guy. But when the show ended in 1995 (and he broke Morissette’s heart and was immortalized in "You Oughta Know"), Coulier’s career never really recovered. He has appeared in some Disney movies, done some voice work, and hosted a few cheesy comedy shows, but worst of all, he was on The Surreal Life and Skating With Celebrities. You’re better than that, Dave. As Uncle Joey would say, cut it out.

  8. Jessica Biel

    Jessica Biel got her big break in the long-running family show 7th Heaven, which dragged on for 11 seasons. In 2003, when Biel realized she was more attractive than the rest of her co-stars, physically and to directors, she jumped ship to pursue a movie career. She’s been mildly successful and appeared in a number of wide-release films, like I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and The A-Team, but she’s still as forgettable as ever. At least when she was on 7th Heaven, she stood out as the star. Now she fades into the background whenever she’s on screen with another actor. Her biggest recent success was dating musician-turned-actor Justin Timberlake, and even that is apparently over now.

  9. Ben Savage

    He was never exactly a teenage heartthrob but Ben Savage and his character Cory Matthews on Boy Meets World grew up with a generation. The show ran from 1993 to 2000, and Savage seemed to have mountains of star potential. Maybe the show went on a little too long or Savage stopped being cute after puberty, but after Boy Meets World finally went off the air, Savage was basically out of starring roles. His mistake wasn’t necessarily leaving television on purpose, but holding onto one role so long that he couldn’t find any others. He’s had some guest spots on prominent shows and found his way into some made-for-TV movies, but nothing he can do will ever top Cory Matthews.

  10. Kelsey Grammer

    After 20 years of playing the same character, it’s not surprising that Kelsey Grammer has had a hard time doing anything else. The celebrity known for playing Dr. Frasier Crane on Cheers and its spin-off Frasier was finally done with that role (except the occasional reprisal for a commercial) in 2004. Since then, Grammer has attempted to find his way back into television through some directing, producing, and then acting again, but his shows have been canceled after a season or less. His latest contribution to the entertainment world has been his ex-wife, who stars on the reality show Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Grammer will be making his return to TV in October in a new show, Boss, and let’s hope that works out because he says his next move will be politics.

10 Amazing Facts About Dreams

Sep 18th, 2011

Dreaming is a phenomenon that is not well understood or easily explained. There are many theories as to why we dream and what our dreams mean, but it’s difficult to explore and interpret the realm of the subconscious. Despite the fact that dreams are difficult to study, scientists have managed to learn a great deal about these subconscious thoughts and desires. Here are 10 amazing facts about dreams that will truly blow your mind:

  1. We spend about two hours dreaming each night

    Although your dreams may feel like they last for hours and hours, we only actually spend about two hours dreaming each night. That means a person spends a total of about six years dreaming throughout their lifetime. There are four stages of the sleep cycle and the last stage, called REM sleep, is where almost all dreaming takes place. Each sleep cycle lasts about 60 to 90 minutes and will repeat throughout the night.

  2. The most common dreams involve falling, being chased, school, cheating and your teeth falling out

    Since we know that anxiety is the most common emotion experienced in dreams, it’s no surprise that the most common dreams have negative content that would cause anxiety. Dreaming of falling is very common and often correlates to something in your life that is going the wrong direction. Many people also dream of being chased, which has been tied to avoidance. Dreams about teeth falling out are frequently reported and have been connected to your words and communication. People also report reoccurring dreams of their spouse cheating on them, which often has more to do with being "cheated" out of quality time with your spouse than infidelity. Lastly, dreams of being in school are common for adults at any age, which has been linked to work and the pressures from your job.

  3. Nearly 75% of the content in dreams is negative

    Most dreams won’t leave you happy and smiling. According to research, nearly 75% of dreams contain negative content. The emotions experienced in dreams vary from anger, joy, fear and happiness, but the most common emotion in dreams is anxiety. In addition, negative emotions are more common than positive ones.

  4. Dreaming helps relieve stress

    Dreaming help us make sense of the information and events that happen in our lives. Dreams play an important role in processing and memorizing information that we absorb every day. These subconscious thoughts also help relieve stress and even solve problems. It’s very possible to work through real life problems while dreaming at nighttime. They also provide a great deal of important content and meaning that can be used to inspire and direct our lives in the daytime.

  5. Five to 10% of adults have monthly nightmares

    Nightmares are most common in children between the ages of three or four and seven or eight. Adults have fewer nightmares overall, but they do happen from time to time. According to the International Association for the Study of Dreams, about five to 10% of adults have nightmares once a month or more often. There are a number of reasons adults may experience nightmares, such as medications or withdrawal from drugs, as well as physical conditions like stress and illness. Others experience nightmares after a traumatic event that becomes a reoccurring theme. However, some adults have frequent nightmares that are unrelated to their daily lives, which may indicate that they are more creative, sensitive and emotional than the average person.

  6. The average person has about three to five dreams each night

    There’s no limit to the number of dreams you can have while sleeping, but the average person has about three to five dreams each night. Some people can have up to seven or more dreams in one night. On average, we spend about two hours dreaming during a full eight hours of sleep. Shorter dreams happen in the beginning of the sleep cycle and tend to last longer throughout the rest of the night.

  7. Everyone dreams, but not everyone recalls their dreams

    It’s a fact that everyone dreams, but not everyone remembers their dreams. The most vivid dreams occur during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep when the brain is very active and the eyes move back and forth rapidly beneath the eyelids. Dream recall varies from person to person, but some people have little or no recollection of the content of their dream. Since 90% of dreams are forgotten after the first 10 minutes of being awake, the dream content needs to be documented right away. Keep a pen and paper by your bedside and try to write down as much information as possible to find the meaning behind your dreams.

  8. Blind people do not see visual images in their dreams, but their other senses are heightened

    Most blind people do not see images when they dream, but they do experience a heightened level of taste, touch and smell in their dreams. Whereas people with normal vision experience intensely visual dreams, but have decreased auditory stimulation and the other senses are mostly absent. Researchers have found that those who lost their sight before age five rarely saw images in their dreams, but those who go blind after age five may continue to see images in their dreams.

  9. About 90% of dream content is forgotten after 10 minutes of being awake

    Dreams aren’t easy to recall. Just five minutes after the end of a dream, you are likely to forget half of the content. At 10 minutes, about 90% of the content has been forgotten. It’s not that dreams aren’t important enough to remember, but other things have a tendency to get in the way. As forward thinkers, we often forget things when we first wake up and carry on with our days. There are many plausible theories as to why we forget dreams. Freud believed that dreams were repressed thoughts and desires that weren’t necessary to believe anyway. However, dream researcher, L. Strumpell, theorized that we forget dreams for several reasons, such as a lack of intense dream images, as well as little association and repetition to help us learn and remember.

  10. Animals also have dreams

    Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology discovered that animals do in fact dream and their subconscious thoughts are tied to actual experiences. Animals’ dreams are complex and they are able to retain long sequences of events while sleeping. Animals’ brains share the same series of sleeping states as humans, as well as replaying events or parts of events that happened while awake. Analyzing animals’ dreams and the content of dream states may help scientists more effectively treat memory disorders and develop new ways for people to learn and retain information.

10 Unlikely Product Partnerships Between High-End Brands and Middlebrow Outlets

Sep 15th, 2011

When you’re out shopping for groceries or wedding presents, you’re probably surprised when you stumble across a couture brand name. Suddenly you feel a bit out of place in your baggy charity-run T-shirt and $2 flip-flops as you wander among racks of clothes from designers you’ve actually heard of. In the past decade as the economy has taken hit after hit, low-price retail chains and big-name fashion brands have started teaming up to weather the recession or reposition their brands. Target might be the most famous retailer of affordable designer labels, most recently with their launch of Missoni for Target, but many other stores have brought in lauded brand names to help their image. Here are 10 high-low partnerships that might surprise you.

  1. Missoni at Target

    After advertising for weeks that the Italian designer brand Missoni would be arriving in stores, Target didn’t quite expect the rush of people who were clambering to get their hands on the zigzagged clothing. On Tuesday, Target’s website was down for most of the day as shoppers tried to buy the products before they sold out, and many stores around the country experienced rushes normally reserved for the Friday after Thanksgiving. This isn’t the first time Target, a cheap-chic expert, has brought in a big name to boost its appeal. In 2002, the store brought in a line from Isaac Mizrahi, and in 2010, it turned to Zac Posen and Jean Paul Gaultier, with many other designers in between. Target has managed to build an image of affordable but stylish clothes and home accessories by partnering with designer after designer, leaving us continuously surprised at their staying power.

  2. Vera Wang at Kohl’s

    Someone who designs wedding dresses that cost tens of thousands of dollars for clients like the Kardashian sisters and Ivanka Trump isn’t the first person that comes to mind when you think of a department store like Kohl’s. Kohl’s is known for it’s affordable clothing, decor, and housewares, so many wondered how a marriage between the store and top designer Vera Wang could work, especially when Kohl’s doesn’t sell wedding dresses. But Wang’s Very Vera collection, released in 2007, focused on clothing and lifestyle products that are useable in everyday life and affordable to women who don’t make six figures. Wang has also started providing dresses for brides without Trumped up budgets, selling gowns now at David’s Bridal for prices between $600 and $1400.

  3. Martha Stewart at Kmart

    Before her jailhouse days, Martha Stewart was the top name in entertaining and home making. OK, she’s still wildly successful, but before the tiny hit she took for insider trading, Stewart made a line for Kmart, the low-budget competitor of Walmart. The Martha Stewart Everyday collection included bedding and bath accessories, along with a line of interior paints. The Stewart collection kept expanding to garden and kitchen products and more even up until the time Kmart filed for bankruptcy protection. After Kmart merged with Sears in 2004, Stewart’s line lived on for five more years, but Stewart has gossiped publicly since the collection was discontinued that she wasn’t proud of the products toward the end of the partnership.

  4. Karl Lagerfeld at H&M

    Even those who swear by H&M as a major fashion store (or at least a major fashion store on a budget) probably think that Karl Lagerfeld seems a little bit out of reach for the retail chain. Lagerfeld has designed for Chanel and Fendi, as well as his own line, and those names aren’t exactly on the same level as H&M. But in 2004, Lagerfeld pleased penny-pinching fashionistas everywhere when he launched a 30-piece line for the store. You could buy a Lagerfeld product for literally 100 times less than you can through most of his other projects. But these high-low partnerships aren’t without their problems. Lagerfeld accused H&M of snobbery when they produced very limited numbers of his pieces, while also condemning them for producing sizes larger than those he wanted, saying his line was made for slender people. Make up your mind, Karl. Do you want more or fewer people to be able to wear your clothing?

  5. Charlotte Ronson at JCPenney

    There was a period of time where moms couldn’t bribe their kids to even walk into a JCPenney store. And then came Charlotte Ronson. Hitting JCPenney stores across the nation in 2009, Ronson’s I [Heart] Ronson line was highly anticipated and abundantly praised on fashion blogs and in fashion magazines. Finally teenage girls could afford the clothes they wanted to wear without having to take on the dreaded after-school job. The cute but edgy clothing in I [Heart] Ronson sells for about half the price of Ronson’s normal products, allowing Ronson to find a wider audience and helping JCPenney retain more than a shred of fashion dignity. Charlotte Ronson may even be more well known now than her DJ twin sister, Samantha, of Lindsay-Lohan-lover fame.

  6. Norma Kamali at Walmart

    Norma Kamali may not be a household name for young fashion lovers, but she has created some pretty iconic pieces in her career. Ever heard of parachute pants? That was her. Wonder how shoulder pads became so popular in the ’80s? Kamali played a big part. So maybe Walmart was going vintage when they signed Kamali on for her own line to be sold at the bargain giant. Her Walmart collections have been available since 2009 and include women’s clothing, child’s clothing, accessories, and items for the home. Here’s the best part: each piece from her line is sold for less than $20, so even the thriftiest shoppers can afford it. It seems like Walmart’s trying to overcome the image they’ve gotten from the hilariously awful website, PeopleOfWalmart.com.

  7. Diane von Furstenberg at Gap Kids

    You may not be able to afford a Diane von Furstenberg design for yourself, but in March 2012, your 2-year-old could be sporting one. The fashion all-star, famous for inventing the wrap dress, is bringing her talent to children’s clothing for the first time at Gap Kids. Because if anyone needs to have the latest fashions, it’s a child who will outgrow the clothes next week. Gap is hoping the partnership will boost sales, which have been down during the past few years. Von Furstenberg, who has a full plate of projects, might be thinking that clothing that is half the size of adult wear and costs half as much will only be half the work.

  8. Max Azria at Sears

    Around the time Sears was trying to convince women to come see its softer side, it should’ve simply been telling them to come see its Max Azria side. The name normally seen beside "BCBG" started showing up beside aisles of power tools in 2005, which was a great publicity move for the store. After four years of declining apparel sales at Sears, Azria generated buzz that the company couldn’t have produced without help from a big name. The Parallel line designed by Azria introduced several collections to Sears, including plus-size options. Since the partnership with Azria seemed to pull in customers, Sears has since tried using other big names, like LL Cool J and the Kardashians, but the success has been questionable.

  9. Donna Karan on Home Shopping Network

    If you don’t even leave the house to do your shopping, you probably don’t need designer clothing or accessories. But now even those who buy things from the TV can glance at a Donna Karan watch to make sure they don’t miss their stories. The Home Shopping Network and Donna Karan launched a line of watches in August, the sales of which benefit a women’s charity called Fatigues to Fabulous. Rather than using the partnership to increase a store’s sales or widen a designer’s audience, HSN and Karan seem to just want to give back to the non-profit that helps women in the military blend back into civilian life and highlights their sacrifices. More instances of brands teaming up for giving purposes rather than greed would be welcome in our society.

  10. Christian Siriano at Payless

    Payless ShoeSource is the place where thrifty shoe lovers go for the best deals, but in 2009, shoppers had an even trendier reason to head to the bargain shoe store. Christian Siriano, known for winning Project Runway after a drama-filled season (of course, what season isn’t?), made a deal for an accessories line for Payless after high-end stores declined to carry his pricier designs. While many accused Siriano of selling out, he seemed to see the discount shoes and bags as a way to dig his heels in during the recession and maybe as a stepping stone to more expensive markets.

9 Surprising People with Honorary Degrees

Sep 11th, 2011

While some people spend years poring over dusty books and slow computers trying to complete their doctoral dissertations, others simply have a degree given to them. Honorary degrees are often handed out to people who have made important contributions to a field, but sometimes they end up in the hands of celebrities for vague reasons. More than likely, the university wants the publicity that comes with giving a doctorate to someone famous. Whether they deserved the degree or not, here are 9 people you’d be surprised to know have honorary doctorates.

  1. Tim Allen

    We all know Tim Allen as Tim "The Toolman" Taylor in Home Improvement and as the voice of Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story, but most of us wouldn’t imagine that he holds a doctorate of fine arts from Western Michigan University. He finished an undergraduate degree at WMU in 1976, and was given an honorary degree in 1998. Maybe Allen’s degree should’ve been in fortune-telling, because in 1995, an episode of Home Improvement portrayed his character receiving an honorary degree from Allen’s alma mater. Just three years later it wasn’t fiction anymore.

  2. Kim Cattrall

    The star who plays the promiscuous Sex and the City character isn’t originally from New York. She was born in Liverpool, England before moving to Canada a few months later and eventually to the U.S. Her home city honored her in 2010 with a degree from John Moores University for her contribution to the arts. She brought her family with her to the ceremony and thanked them from the lectern. She was even fully covered in traditional academic regalia — a far cry from her trademark character’s skin-baring outfits.

  3. Bob Barker

    When this recipient was called to the stage, the announcer should’ve shouted, "Bob Barker, come on down!" In 2007, Barker received an honorary degree from his alma mater, Drury University, where he had earned a degree in economics in 1947 despite an interruption by his service in World War II. A year after receiving his Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Barker gave Drury a $1 million gift for a fund to promote the study of animal rights, and the school named a campus street after the long-time Price Is Right host.

  4. Robert Mugabe

    Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe since 1980, still holds a handful of honorary degrees, but he’s had at least three revoked, along with some other awards. Since 2000, Mugabe’s government has violently seized land and the country’s economy has suffered greatly. After a contested 2008 election, Mugabe retained power even though his party lost. Because of this, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Massachusetts, and Michigan State University revoked the degrees they had given him in the ’80s and early ’90s due to human rights abuse.

  5. Dolly Parton

    When you think of Dolly Parton, you’re more likely to think of double Ds than a Ph.D. But the platinum blonde has held an honorary doctorate of humane and musical letters since 2009 when she accepted the degree from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She earned the degree from her home state for her legendary career and her charitable works, such as advocating for education through her Imagination Library program and other initiatives. She has also given more than 20 million books to U.S. schools and often provides funds for schools to continue operating when their budgets are low.

  6. Jack Nicholson

    Earlier this year, Brown University awarded Jack Nicholson a Doctor of Fine Arts degree. The reason was that the school considers him "the most skilled actor of our lifetime," and wanted to honor his ability to bring characters to life and make us laugh and cry at the same time. At a ceremony where scientists, poets, and journalists were also honored, it seems like Nicholson may have been brought in to provide the comic relief, which he did when he told the audience that he dabbles in particle research.

  7. Mike Tyson

    Notorious boxer Mike Tyson was awarded a doctorate in humane letters in 1989 from Central State University in Ohio. The school’s president said he deserved the degree because of his influence on young people through his promotion of civic causes and education. As he received the award, he said to the audience, "I don’t know what kind of doctor I am but watching all these beautiful sisters here, I’m debating whether I should be a gynecologist." Since receiving the degree, he has famously bitten off a piece of another boxer’s ear and was convicted of rape. Maybe he thought since he’s a doctor now, any part of the anatomy is fair game.

  8. William Shatner

    From spaceship captain to honorary doctor, William Shatner has certainly had a successful life. Born in Montreal, Shatner attended the city’s McGill University for his undergraduate degree and went back earlier this year to claim his honorary doctorate of letters. Besides playing Captain Kirk on Star Trek, Shatner is famous for his roles on Boston Legal, T.J. Hooker, and the Priceline commercials. Surprising to some, Shatner said he’s actually been offered other honorary degrees, but has turned them down until this special one from his alma mater.

  9. Kermit the Frog

    Many people are green with envy that they don’t have their own honorary doctorates since Muppet favorite Kermit the Frog received one from Southampton College in 1996. The degree is in amphibious letters, probably the only one of its kind. The school says Kermit earned the degree through his advocacy for environmental responsibility, as seen in things like his theme song, "It’s Not Easy Being Green," which is encouraging to environmentalists. The Muppet has also spread positive messages through public service announcements and Sesame Street, and has proven that you can do anything if you set your mind to it, even if you’re a frog.

College Football’s 10 Most Promising Newcomers for 2011

Sep 5th, 2011

College football is an incredibly difficult game to master. With the speed, strength and complexity of the schemes, it’s unreasonable to expect a first-year player to make an immediate impact. But, when a freshman or JUCO transfer can productively fill a position of need, it can catapult his team to a different level. Before last season, few college football fans knew about Cam Newton — a year later, Auburn is the defending national champion and Carolina Panthers fans are abuzz over their No. 1 overall pick and franchise quarterback. It’s unreasonable to expect the following newcomers to have that kind of success, but each one has the potential to become a household name in their respective states by year’s end.

  1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State

    The unceremonious departure of Terrelle Pryor has thrust Miller into a difficult position. A possible starter as a true freshman with a new head coach at the helm, he’ll have to learn on the fly to steward the Buckeyes’ offense to a Big 10 title. Thus far, coaches are encouraged by his ability to grasp the offense. An early enrollee, he made a good impression in the spring game when he went 7-for-12 with a touchdown, and his composure and athleticism have since been the talk of Columbus.

  2. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

    Although Will Stein will likely start from the beginning, offensive coordinator Mike Sanford is making an effort to immediately incorporate Bridgewater into games to utilize his athleticism. Like Miller, he was an early enrollee, and he possesses the maturity and leadership skills to shoulder the responsibility of leading an offense.

  3. Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU

    Les Miles has been loyal to a fault to Jordan Jefferson, who, if nothing else, has experience on his side. But, with the senior quarterback now facing legal issues after a bar fight, the door could open for Mettenberger, the JUCO transfer and former Georgia quarterback. Currently third on the depth chart, his competition isn’t exactly stiff, as senior and No. 2 quarterback Jarrett Lee has been given multiple opportunities in the past, only to perform about as poorly as Jefferson. As it stands now, Mettenberger has the best arm, quickest release and sharpest accuracy of the three.

  4. Malcolm Brown, RB, Texas

    In dire need of offensive help, the Horns will rely on the top-10 recruit to make things happen. Mack Brown has emphasized establishing a steady rushing attack, something his team has lacked since Jamal Charles received a bulk of the carries in 2007. Weighing 220 pounds, Malcolm Brown has the build to take a punishment each Saturday — along with the starting gig from Fozzy Whittaker.

  5. Isaiah Crowell, RB, Georgia

    Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo already has a capable quarterback — now he needs a capable running back. Washaun Ealey and Caleb King are gone, and Carlton Thomas is suspended for the opener, leaving the uber-talented Crowell, the Bulldogs’ most highly-touted recruit in 2011, as the starter. His speed, quickness and cutting ability are impressive even by SEC standards, and he could have a Marcus Lattimore-like impact for the Dawgs.

  6. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

    The Gamecocks, familiar with that aforementioned Lattimore-like impact, hope that Clowney, the No. 1-ranked recruit in the nation in 2011, can do the same for their already solid defense. So far, he’s lived up to the hype, tallying five sacks, a forced fumble and a touchdown during the team’s three inter-squad scrimmages. He’ll be competing with All-SEC defensive end Devin Taylor and team sack leader Melvin Ingram for a starting spot, but his talent alone will earn him his fair share of playing time.

  7. Aaron Lynch, DE, Notre Dame

    After allowing fewer than 10 ppg during the final four games of the 2010 season, the Irish defense certainly has something upon which to build. Further improvement may come with the addition of Lynch, a 6-foot-6, 265-pound early enrollee who performed well in the spring game, logging seven tackles. Not expected to start, he’ll own a spot in the rotation so that he can provide his plus pass rushing skills.

  8. Jesse Williams, DE, Alabama

    Nick Saban recognizes the value of a good JUCO d-line transfer, as he recruited Terrance Cody, a two-time Consensus All-American who anchored a defense that lost just two games in two seasons. A possible defensive tackle or defensive end, Williams may not be the next Cody, but he has a chance to emerge as a starter. The 6-foot-4, 325-pound tatted-up Aussie has the ability to take up space, occupy multiple blockers, and become an intimidating force in the SEC.

  9. Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU

    There’s a reason LSU is ranked in the top-4 of every preseason poll despite losing Patrick Peterson, Kelvin Sheppard and Drake Nevis — its three best defensive players from last season. Recent top-ranked recruiting classes have filled the roster with incredible talent, including "Freak," a 6-foot-3, 295-pound freshman who runs a 4.8-second 40. Scouts have been fawning over him since he started high school, when he already appeared to have an NFL-ready body. His positive attitude should enable defensive coordinator John Chavis to mold him into one of the SEC’s best at his position.

  10. Thomas Finnie, CB, Miami

    As Miami attempts to rebuild under new coach Al Golden amid an NCAA investigation, several promising freshman are expected to receive significant playing time and give Canes fans something for which to cheer. Finnie is certainly one of them — since he arrived on campus last January, he has wowed his coaches with an excellent work ethic and has already risen to second on the depth chart. His presence will likely enhance an already solid defense.