ErnBlog Divisional Projections – The AFC North

Over the past few years, the AFC North has proven why the NFL has the best Playoff system in North American Pro Sports.  In 2010, both Pittsburgh and Baltimore finished 12-4 and the Steelers won the division based on divisional record.  The result: Pittsburgh hosted the Ravens in the AFC Divisional Playoff round and won by a touchdown on its way to a Super Bowl XLV matchup against Green Bay. 

In 2011, both teams finished 12-4 again, only the Ravens beat the Steelers in both of their regular season contests.  The result: Baltimore earned a First Round bye that eventually helped it reach Foxboro for the AFC Championship Game.  Pittsburgh, on the other hand, as a Wild Card, was forced to visit Denver (8-8) in the First Round, and lost to the Broncos in OT.

ErnBlog’s 2012 AFC North:

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5) (Division Champions):

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has led Pittsburgh to the Super Bowl twice in his five NFL seasons. (Source: zimbio.com)

Once again, the divisional games will make all the difference in the AFC North.  ErnBlog has the Steelers going 4-2 in the division (losing on the road to Baltimore and Cincinnati).  In 2011, the Steelers, Ravens, and Bengals all qualified for the playoffs.  With ErnBlog already selecting the Jets for a Wild Card spot from the AFC East, that only leaves one more Wild Card available for the AFC North. 

Although ErnBlog gives the edge at both QB and running back to the Ravens, the Steelers defense appears to be younger and quicker than Baltimore’s in 2012.  When December arrives, defense will rise to the pinnacle of importance in this division. 

So here’s the big question: When are the Steelers-Ravens games in 2012?

Both games fall within a three-week fortnight, starting in late November:

Nov. 18: at Pittsburgh (NBC Sunday Night Football)

Dec. 2: at Baltimore

The most favorable segment of the Steelers’ schedule is the last quarter, starting right after the second Ravens game:

Dec 9: vs. San Diego

Dec. 16: at Dallas

Dec. 23: vs. Cleveland

Dec. 30: vs. Cincinnati

Three of those final four games are within the chilly, windy comfort of Heinz Field.  ErnBlog projects that the Steelers will emerge victorious in all four of those final games. 

2. Baltimore Ravens (10-6) (Wild Card Playoffs):

Ravens QB Joe Flacco took Baltimore within a dropped pass of Super Bowl XLVI. He will try to direct the 2012 Ravens to Super Bowl XLVII. (Source: zimbio.com)

The Baltimore Ravens got the closest to a Super Bowl in 2011 than at any point since their intial 2000 trip to Tampa.  Lee Evans dropped a fifteen-yard pass in the end zone in the closing moments of the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium.  Then, kicker Matt Stover missed a 30-something-yard field goal attempt that would have sent the classic battle with New England into OT.  The one unflappable cog in Baltimore’s 2011 postseason run was QB Joe Flacco. 

Flacco, entering his fifth year out of Delaware, has now been to playoffs in each of his four seasons and has visited the AFC Championship Game twice.  Is this the year for Flacco and Baltimore to win the AFC Title and head to New Orleans for the Super Bowl?  Well, for that answer, you’ll have to tune in to ErnBlog’s NFL Playoffs Simulation (coming sometime between 8/30 and 9/5).  Stay tuned!

The Raven’s “reward” for winning that 2011 AFC North Title is a schedule more difficult than Pittsburgh’s in 2012.  The Ravens pull right out of the gate against Cincinnati on ESPN Monday Night Football.  Then, two weeks later, they host New England on NBC Sunday Night Football.  The Steelers don’t have to play the Patriots in 2012.  On October 7, Baltimore visits Kansas City, one of the best young teams in the AFC West.  Then on October 21, the Ravens go to Houston for a Playoff Rematch with the Texans.  The Steelers don’t have to play Houston in 2012. 

On Thanksgiving Weekend, Baltimore visits San Diego while Pittsburgh gets to host the Chargers in December.  Finally, the Ravens final two home games in Weeks 15-16 are against the Defending World Champion Giants and then versus Peyton Manning and the Broncos.  Ouch.  Early indications are that if the Ravens are going to make a February trip to New Orleans, they may have to earn that goal from a Wild Card spot.

3. Cincinnati Bengals (7-9):

Last year the Bengals went 9-7 and made the Playoffs.  This year, the schedule is harder and they will go 7-9.  Are the Bengals better this year?  Probably.  QB Andy Dalton from Texas Christian is back for his second season.  BenJarvus Green-Ellis, a free agent running back from New England, should help to reduce the pressure on the young QB.  Marvin Lewis’s defense can rush the passer.  And the Cincinnati receiving corps is led by young talent AJ Green.  But they play Pittsburgh and Baltimore twice each, the entire NFC East, and the entire much-improved AFC West.  Sorry Cincinnati!

4. Cleveland Browns (2-14):

Very little about the Cleveland Browns excites me.  Coach Pat Shurmur, QB Brandon Weeden (who’s a baseball player), or the rest of the more familiar cast.  Alabama rookie running back Trent Richardson appears to be the bright spot in Cleveland.  Although, look out for tight end Dan Gronkowski – Yeah the Gronk’s brother!

ErnBlog Divisional Projections – The NFC West

Well, ErnBlog has finally gotten around to the NFC West, which the Big E has assessed as the second WEAKEST division in the NFL, trailing only the AFC South in that department.  Strangely enough, the 2012 schedule pits the NFC West teams against the combination of the AFC East/NFC North (ErnBlog’s 2 STRONGEST divisions).  The net effect could be some very good records [New England (13-3), Green Bay (12-4), Chicago (12-4)] and some very bad records [See Below]. 

1. San Francisco 49ers (12-4) (Division Champions):

49ers Coach – Jim Harbaugh
(Source: gridironfans.com)

The Big E searched long and hard for an image of 49ers Coach – Jim Harbaugh standing in unison with his prized off-season veteran acquisition – wide receiver Randy Moss.  Looks like I couldn’t find one.  And with the infinite number of yards that the Internet seems to cover these days, is it possible that Harbaugh and Moss have never shared such a moment?  If the answer is Yes, could this upcoming 2012 San Francisco campaign ticket have a bumpy ride?  Remember, these 49ers aren’t looking merely for a division title.  Any accomplishment less than a ticket to the Louisiana Superdome for Super Bowl XLVII is not the Treat San Francisco is looking for!

The 49ers big regular season games:

1) Opener at Green Bay

2) Week 2 vs. Detroit (NBC Sunday Night Football):  The last time Harbaugh “ran into” Lions Coach – Jim Schwartz, we almost had a scene from Wrestlemania III (also in Detroit)!

3) Week 6 vs. the Giants (Rematch of 2011 NFC Championship Game, won in OT by New York en route to their Super Bowl Title)

4) Week 11 vs. Chicago (ESPN Monday Night Football).  This matchup stirs up shades of those 80’s tilts between Walsh’s 49ers and Ditka’s Bears.

5) Week 12 at New Orleans (Rematch of 2011 NFC Divisional Playoff won by San Francisco in dramatic fashion)

6) Week 15 at New England (NBC Sunday Night Football)

Out of these six heavyweight bouts, ErnBlog sees the Niners going 3-3 (winning on its home Candlestick turf).

The San Francisco defense in 2012 can hold its own against ANYONE.  QB Alex Smith made extensive progress last year and now he needs a Go-To guy in the receiving corps.  Will Randy Moss be that guy?  We will know the answer come Playoff Time!

2. Seattle Seahawks (7-9):

QB Matt Flynn can play ball.  The LSU grad has a National Title under his belt (2007).  At the end of the 2010 season, he took the snaps for Green Bay in a late-season game at New England, filling in for a banged-up Aaron Rodgers.  The surprising result was a consistent Packer lead for most of the game before the Patriots (who finished 14-2 that year) came to life in the final seven minutes.  The point is: Matt Flynn is ready to take the ball in big games and key situations.  Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has made a steal here. 

One of the key factors to determine whether Seattle will be able to score enough points in 2012 will be the play of running back Marshawn Lynch.  Lynch ran for 1200 yards and scored 12 TDs in 2011.  Even if his output drops to 1000 yards and 10 TDs in 2012, that should be enough production to lower pass pressure on Flynn and allow the young QB to find weapons Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Kellen Winslow, Zach Miller, and newly acquired TERRELL OWENS!  Clearly, the 2012 NFC West is the division of the Hall of Fame Wide Receiver who just doesn’t know when to hang up the cleats! 

That leads to this special:

ERNBLOG QUESTION OF THE DAY?:

WHO WILL CONTRIBUTE MORE IN 2012:

RANDY MOSS in San Francisco or TERRELL OWENS in Seattle ???

ErnBlog thinks the Seahawks can score points, but can they stop anybody?  No big names on defense.

3. Arizona Cardinals (4-12):

The other day on the NFL Network, I saw that Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt was still deciding on his starting QB.  His choices? Kevin Kolb and John Skelton.  This is kind of like Big Ern selecting between a Honda Civic and a Ford Focus.  If I’m Ken Whisenhunt, this is just not what you have in mind on August 26th!  While the Honda Civic may get you to work on time, I’m not sure if you want to be sledding around in one of those on:

December 2 at Jets (Chance of Snow or Rain: 50%)

December 9 at Seattle (Chance of Rain: 95%)

December 30 at San Francisco (Chance of Rain: 50%)

So, I’m not feeling too good about the Cardinals in December, especially considering that their home games are against Detroit and Chicago.  Ouch!  Have fun, Larry Fitzgerald!

4. St. Louis Rams (2-14):

Here are the Rams finishing records for the last FIVE seasons:

2007: 3-13

2008: 2-14

2009: 1-15

2010: 7-9

2011: 2-14

And looking for a Rams Win on the 2012 schedule is like trying to find the next exit off the highway in Vermont when you really have to go to the bathroom. 

September 16 vs. Washington ?

October 4 vs. Arizona ?

December 16 vs. Minnesota ?

December 23 at Tampa Bay ?

Yeah, I mean, I’m sure they’ll win ONE of those games.  Maybe TWO?

ErnBlog 2012 Divisional Projection – The NFC North

The Bears’ Signal Caller – Jay Cutler
(Source: www.fantasyfootballsportal.com)

While ErnBlog has marked the AFC East the best division in the NFL going into the 2012 season, there is much the case to label the NFC North – Number #2.  A division armed with offensive firepower and blessed with defensive speed, ErnBlog has picked 3 of its teams to make the Playoffs in 2012.  It is interesting to note that ErnBlog’s two highest-rated divisions (AFC East and NFC North) both have 8 games this year against the divisional combination of the the league’s two weakest divisions (the AFC South and the NFC West). 

1. Green Bay Packers (12-4) (Division Champion)

Returning from their 2010 Super Bowl XLV Championship (4th in Franchise History), the Packers were the favorite to also win Super Bowl XLVI in the early stages of 2011.  As the season escalated, Green Bay appeared poised to not only secure the Vince Lombardi Trophy (named for that club’s legendary Coach), but also to go Undefeated.  They were caught in December by Romeo Crennel’s Kansas City Chiefs on a tricky afternoon at Arrowhead.  As former Chiefs coach Herman Edwards says better than anyone: “You Play to Win the Game!”  But even that loss and the ease in which it was handled by Packers QB Aaron Rodgers seemed to urge experts to lean even MORE in the corner of Green Bay with regard to Super Bowl Title selections.

Unfortunately for the Packers, they picked Divisional Playoff Weekend to have thier worst game of 2011.  The result – a home postseason loss to the eventual World Champion Giants.  But now in 2012, the Pack is Back with virtually the same Star-studded lineup as a season ago.

Green Bay opens the 2012 campaign with one of the biggest games of Week 1, a home matchup against defending NFC West Champ – San Francisco.  Things don’t get any easier for the Packers in the early going as they next welcome division rival Chicago only four days later as NFL Network enters its first season of broadcasting Thursday Night Football for the ENTIRE season.  With a Monday Night Football matchup at Seattle and another late Sunday afternoon home tilt with New Orleans next on the docket, the Packers first four games will be staged in front of full national television audiences.

The Packers get their rematch with the Giants (recent 21st Century rival) on NBC Sunday Night Football to conclude Thanksgiving Weekend.  Despite the big national TV bouts with the other 2011 NFC Division Champs, the Packers most difficult segment of the schedule will be the four games against Detroit and Chicago – the games that will determine this year’s NFC North Title.      

2. Chicago Bears (12-4) (Wild Card Playoffs):

The Bears were riddled with injuries in 2011, but still managed to finish 8-8.  Now Chicago (led once again by their defensive guru Head Coach – Lovie Smith) is healthy again and positioned to make a postseason run.  The Bears drafted one of the best young wide receivers in April with the selection of South Carolina’s 6’3″ speedster Alshon Jeffrey.  Power running back Matt Forte has been locked up to a long-term deal and linebacker Brian Urlacher is ready to lead the Monsters of the Midway Defense for the 13th season. 

The most important factor in Chicago’s 2012 fate lies in the right arm and legs of QB Jay Cutler.  One of the most talented passers in the league, Cutler has shown signs in both Denver (his first NFL stop) and the Windy City that he can emerge as a consistent Pro Bowler.  Unfortunately, to this point, the Vanderbilt slinger still has been unable to develop the total QB package required to lead a team toward title contention.  If the Bears are going to make the playoffs in a very competitive NFC, Cutler will have to deliver not only with his arm, but he will have to pick up some key first downs on his feet.

The biggest game on the Bears schedule – December 30 at Detroit.  The chances are very strong that the winner of that game WILL make the playoffs.

3. Detroit Lions (10-6) (Wild Card Playoffs):

The Lions made the playoffs in 2011 for the first time since 1999.  Matt Stafford threw 41 TD passes and tossed 5,038 passing yards.  Wide receiver Calvin Johnson emerged as one of the most potent weapons in the league.  The big question for 2012 is whether the Detroit defense will be able to keep the other NFC’s prolific offenses out of the end zone. 

The Lions schedule heats up right away in Week 2 when they visit the 49ers.  It is difficult to forget the conclusion to the 2011 Detroit-San Francisco matchup at Ford Field, a San Francisco last-minute win culminating with Niners Coach – Jim Harbaugh giving Lions Coach – Jim Schwartz a celebratory bump on the way off the field.  Schwartz took immediate offense and the two coaches almost came to fistacuffs on the field before being separated by their more responsible players.   

Once the Lions get through that drama, the key to 2012 (like their rival Packers and Bears) will be to win their divisional games.  

4. Minnesota Vikings (5-11):

Unfortunately for the Vikings, they play in a brutal division.  Adrian Peterson will once again be among the league leaders in rushing and QB Christian Ponder from Florida State will continue to develop behind center.  Minnesota will pick up two additional wins in 2012 and look toward the future.

ErnBlog Breaks Down the 2012 AFC South

With the two most High-Profile divisions from the Northeast’s population hub down, ErnBlog turns his attention to the NFL’s weakest division – the 2012 AFC South:

 1) Houston Texans (10-6) – Division Champions

Arian Foster of the Texans is poised to propel Houston to another AFC South Title.
(Source: sportsillustrated.cnn.com)

The Texans finally made the Playoffs for the first time in 2011 – the franchise’s tenth year in the league.  With quarterback injuries on the forefront of last season’s campaign, Rookie TJ Yates from North Carolina took the ball after both Matt Schaub and Mat Leinart went down in the first half.  Yates was stellar, directing Houston past Cincinnati in the First Round and into the closing minutes of a dogfight at Baltimore in the Divisional Playoffs, before ultimately narrowly succumbing to the Ravens. 

As this summer winds down, the Texans (led by Houston native and former Aggie’s QB Gary Kubiak in his seventh season) are fully loaded on offense, healthy, and prepared for another postseason run with Schaub and running back Arian Foster back in the starting lineup together.  Despite the loss on defense of Pro Bowler, Mario Williams (to Buffalo), the Texans feature defensive end JJ Watt (a second-year prospect from Wisconsin), who blossomed into a respected NFL pass-rusher by the end of 2011.

The big tests on the Houston schedule in 2012:

– 10/14      vs. Green Bay (NBC Sunday Night Football)

– 10/21      vs. Baltimore (AFC Divisional Playoff Rematch) 

– 12/10      at New England (ESPN Monday Night Football)

 

2) Indianapolis Colts (6-10):

The Colts are familiar with selecting their QB from the Number One Overall Position on Draft Day. Here, Andrew Luck (right) receives his Indianapolis jersey from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (left) back in April.
(Source: pigskinbuzz.com)

Things seem so familiar in Indianapolis.  Remember 1998?  Peyton Manning was selected First Overall in the April Draft out of Tennessee – the clear-cut decision.  Manning joined a team with a steady defense, but with need for complete redevelopment on offense (with him as the critical focal point).  Now gunslinger Andrew Luck from Stanford enters the equation in Indy with Rookie Head Coach, Chuck Pagano.  Pagano, from the Baltimore Ravens, understands the complexity and competitiveness across the top-heavy AFC.  He is accustomed to one divisional game potentially dictating playoff positioning.  And while that experience will not factor into the 2012 experiment, Pagano brings the level of strategic planning necessary in Indy over the long haul. 

Playing in a very weak AFC South, ErnBlog sees Indy winning at least 3 of 6 division games.  With a defense still bolstered by Pro Bowlers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, and with a sellout crown at LucasOil Field eager to watch Andrew Luck; Big Ern has the Colts picking up 3 other wins along the way to finish 6-10.  Now that will be a foundation to build on! 

3) Tennessee Titans (5-11):      

The young Titans surprised several critics in 2011 by finishing with a 9-7 winning record under Rookie Head Coach, Mike Munchak.  Veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck was able to step into a new offense and bring order to expected chaos last season.  However, the 2012 alarm clock could deliver a rude wake-up call in Nashville.  Just when it appears that second-year QB Jake Locker (Washington Huskies) will take the helm behind center, the Titans will be greeted by a brutal first seven games:

– vs. New England

– at San Diego

– vs. Detroit

– at Houston

– at Minnesota

– vs. Pittsburgh

– at Buffalo

Let’s say they beat either the Chargers or Vikings.  That would start Tennessee’s season at 1-6.  The young players will improve and star running back Chris Johnson should back on track in 2012 after a disappointing 2011.  But, Big Ern sees the Titans getting buried too far behind the Eight Ball this season to make a playoff run.

4) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15):

Got some work friends in the Kansas City office that are pretty excited about the potential of former Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert, as he takes the helm this year in Jacksonville.   Gabbert showed signs of promise last year, but unfortunately for the Jaguars, there isn’t much around the young quarterback with the exception of star running back Maurice Jones-Drew.  With all of the coaching talent prevalent at both the pro (Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden) and college levels, Big Ern isn’t too excited about first-year Head Coach, Mike Mularkey in Jacksonville.  Mularkey has had one unsuccessful stint in Buffalo.  With the worst attendance in the league, this was not the coaching decision that ErnBlog had in mind.  And with the Jaguars having to play both the AFC East and NFC North (2 of the league’s stronger divisions), the 2012 season could get very, very sloppy in North Florida.  With that said, Big Ern usually does not take shots at the NFL Schedule Maker.  But, when December starts, the Jaguars will only begin to play the AFC East – for 4 weeks in a row! This brutal stretch concludes with a Christmas visit from the Patriots on 12/23!  Is that some kind of sick joke?  Will Goodell let Belichick dress up as Santa Claus “to boot”? 

With suitors in Los Angeles, Big Ern hopes that the Jaguars will be given an opportunity to return to Jacksonville in 2013.

Ern’s Final Top 20 Songs to Close Out the Summer of 2012 !!!

1. Tonight is the Night by Outasight 

2. I Like it Like That by Hot Chelle Rae

3. The Edge of Glory by Lady Gaga

4. Dynamite by Taio Cruz

Taio Cruz performing at the London Olympics Closing Ceremonies (Source: www.billboard.com)

5. Drive By by Train

6. Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jespen 

7. What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction

British Boy Band, One Direction performing at the London Olympics Closing Ceremonies (Source: usmagazine.com)

8. Payphone by Maroon 5

9. Starships by Nicki Minaj

10. Good Life by One Republic

11. Last Friday Night by Katy Perry

12. Whistle by Flo Rida

13. Scream by Usher

14. Good Time by Carly Rae Jepsen and Owl City

15. Blow Me One Last Kiss by Pink

16. We are Young by Fun

17. We Run the Night by Havana Brown and Usher

18. Super Bass by Nicki Minaj

19. International Love by Pitbull and Chris Brown

20. Party Rock by LMFAO

 

Ern Didn’t Start the Fire!

Ern has moved into 1951.  It is now time to own up to the fact that ErnBlog will not complete this project by summer’s end.  Billy Joel wrote and produced this song in 1989, in conjunction with his 40th birthday.  ErnBlog has thus far reached the stage when Billy was 2 years old!  Perhaps the end of 2012 would be a more reasonable completion estimate for this ErnBlog Series!

1951

In early 1989, Billy Joel was talking to a younger friend about the prospects of turning forty.  The younger friend remarked that “Nothing happened in the fifties!” when Billy was a kid.  Joel’s response was this song, the theme of which suggesting that “The Fire” of social change, political unrest, corporate greed, drug abuse, and a new disease epidemic that “Was Burning” in the late 1980’s was the result of continual matches being added during the beginning part of Billy’s life.

1951 indeed has been repeatedly referred to me through the beginning of my own life by my Italian grandfather – Dom – a Marine positioned in South Korea that year. 

Dom on Christmas 2007

Dom has recollected on more than one occasion about General Douglas MacArthur being denied permission to “cross the Yalu River” and invade North Korea by US President Harry Truman, the very first person referenced in Billy Joel’s song.  It is at this point in the song that Billy reiterates earlier images first identified in his intial two verses for 1949-50, first with:

1) ROSENBERGS, Julius and Ethel: Jewish-American immigrants from the Soviet Union who were found guilty of sharing military secrets with the Russians.  US Senator Joe McCarthy (previously referenced) was instrumental in uncovering communist activities transpiring in America at that time.

2) The H-BOMB, or Hydrogen Bomb, denotanes when the splitting of a hydrogen atom is triggered over or directly on opposition territory.  Once again, this ties directly to Truman, who authorized and executed the less-specific splitting of “atoms” over Japanese islands Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6, 1945 – concluding World War II. 

3) SUGAR RAY Robinson was Boxing’s Welterweight Champion of the World from 1946-1951 and later hoisted the Middleweight Championship on 4 different occasions throughout the 1950’s.

 

 Boxing Champ – Sugar Ray Robinson (Source: boxingiq.com)

 

The topic of Boxing leads us back to Dom again.  It has been, on more than one occasion, that Dom would sit in a booth at East Boston’s classic pizza joint SanTarpio’s, reflecting on the wall’s pictures of the boxers gone by.  Sugar Ray Robinson has been classified by Dom and several other boxing experts as “The Greatest Pound-for-Pound fighter who ever lived”.  In other words, according to Dom, if you could pick any boxer, in any weight class, against any competition, in any conditions (most fights were outside in blistering heat in Dom’s day); Sugar Ray would be the guy.

Perhaps Sugar Ray’s dominance of professional boxing over a twenty-year period is best exemplified by his closing 1951 record of 128-1-2 with 84 knockouts (KOs).  At that point in time, his only defeat had been suffered at the hands of Jake “Raging Bull” LaMotta in 1951, a ten-round rematch between the two warriors.  Jake LaMotta was later depicted by Robert DeNiro in the early 1980s classic sports movie “Raging Bull”. 

Sugar Ray Robinson would conclude his historic boxing legacy with an overall record of 173-19-6 with 2 No-Contests, totaling 200 career bouts fought.  He knocked-out an opponent 108 times, including a 1947 knock-out of Jimmy Doyle that resulted in that opponent’s death.  On the eve of the fight, Sugar Ray had a nightmare that one of his punches had killed Doyle.  Still feeling uncomfortable with the dream in the hours leading up the match, Robinson decided not to fight.  However, the priest on hand in the locker room convinced Sugar Ray that a dream should not dictate reality; and the Champ ultimately entered the ring.  This decision would haunt Robinson for the rest of his life. 

Arguably the most successful boxer in history, Robinson would ironically die pennyless in 1989, the same year that Billy Joel’s song hit Number One on Billboard.  Joe Louis was another former champion of that time (a heavyweight) to die in poverty. 

I have a Question for Dom about Sugar Ray:

Sugar Ray Robinson was only knocked out ONCE in his entire 200-fight boxing career.  WHO did it, WHERE, and WHEN?”     

 

4) PANMUNJOM:

The de facto border between North and South Korea.  The Korean Armistice Agreement of 1953 was signed there, ending the Korean War.  However, because North and South Korea still have not reconciled their differences and because the government systems of the two nations are so diametrically opposed, the name Panmunjom has become synonomous for the Remaining Cold War as currently constituted in 2012.

One more quote from Dom that I remember as a nine-year-old watching the Seoul Summer Olympics in 1988:

“I remember walking through there (pointing to the television) … and it was all bombed out.  Little Korean kids would walk up to us and ask for food and water.  We didn’t have much, but what we had, we would give them.”

Ern Didn’t Start the Fire!

Yeah, it’s been a little while, but Big Ern’s back to finish Verse Two of Billy Joel’s 1989 ballad hit:

North Korea:

Deceased North Korean dictator Kim Jung Il
Source: hollywoodreporter.com

South Korea:

South Korean Pop Band – “Girls’ Generation”
(Source: wikipedia.org)

 Marilyn Monroe: “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” – Marilyn Monroe (Source: goodreads.com)