Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Week 11 observations in the NFL

* The next time Broncos rookie coach Josh McDaniels spits his game, his team better show up to play. McDaniels walked up to Chargers linebackers Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips and engaged in a little pregame smack-talking, saying, "we own you." Big mistake, as he later found out on the first drive when Phillips forces a strip from QB Chris Simms, only to be recovered by Saftey Steven Greggory, his first of two recovery fumbles on the game. That forced fumble was the beginning of San Diego's ass-whipping of the Broncos, 32-3 (yikes!), and the re-capture of the top spot in the AFC West Division. Another helpful tip for the young Belichick protege: when you lose your starting QB to an ankle injury and your backup hasn't played a full game since 2005, you really shouldn't be talking smack about your opponent.

* A show of hands, who here thought Sunday's most exciting game would come from a pair of 1-8 teams? This week's story wasn't about the power shift in the AFC west division, or how Indy and New Orleans are both 10-0, it was about the shootout at Ford Field between QB's Brady Quinn of the Browns and Matt Stanford of the Lions. Both young OB's threw for a combined 8 touchdowns and passed for a combined 726 passing yards. A few things we've learned in this game:
a.) both Quinn and Stafford have great potential. If these two can come out swinging like this later on down the road (and with the right set of offensive weapons), look out. These two would be scary to face every Sunday.
b.) despite a 2-8 record, Detroit fans finally have something to cheer about. For the first time in a long time, the Lions come out with a dramatic win, instead of coming out with another moral-crushing loss....one that will be toked about for months, even years, to come in a city that has become the poster child for how bleak the American economy is right now.
c.) Eric Mangini, for all intensive purposes, is probably the biggest bust to come out of the NFL since Ryan Leaf of my San Diego Chargers.

* Every year, there always seems to be a football team that catches lightning in a bottle and becomes the Cinderella story of the NFL. Last year, it was Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals and their amazing postseason run that got them to Super Bowl XLIII. This year, its the re-emergence of Vince Young and the Titans, a team under backup Kerry Collins, wound up clinching the no.1 spot in the AFC playoff seeding last year, only to star a shocking 0-6 this season. After last night's win over the Houston Texans, Tennessee has won four straight games since Young was re-activated, and could possibly shock everyone and make a playoff push. Can they do the impossible and win out to make it a real horse race in the AFC Wild Card race? Don't bet on it. Next week, they face last year's NFC Champs Arizona (7-3), and the the unbeaten Colts (10-0) the week after. In fact, four of the remaining six games in the regular season, the opposing teams are playoff bound with five wins or more (Cardinals, Colts, Dolphins and Chargers). A tall order to fill for Young and RB Chris Johnson, and one I highly doubt they can overcome.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I guess this was unaviodable...(Redux)

Tonight all across the country, the multiplex will be overun with tweens, high school girls, and mothers who dig vampires and werewolves who are more Calvin Kline-type models than they are, you know - vampires and werewolves. That's right, the next chapter in the Twilight series, New Moon, is set to make some serious box office gold this weekend and nothing I, or any of the critics who say the film flat out tanks, will matter. Much like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, this movie is critic-proof. For two hours and ten minutes, young girls will be staring at studly eye candy (with extra sappy teenage romance/angst and a splash of vampire and werewolf action thrown in).

Am I annoyed about hearing/reading about the relentless parade of movie news and what not? You bet. Do I really give a rat's ass about the rumors of lead actors Kirsten Stewart and teen heartthrob Robert Pattinson dating? Hardly. Am I going to be happy when this franchise joins with Hannah Montana, the Jonas Brothers, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and High School Musical in the trash bin of flash-in-the-pan pop culture hits of the moment? Hell, I probably won't even remember The Twilight Saga, ten years from now (I hope). To all the Twilight-haters out there (and yes, I am a proud member of that group): Let the sparkling vampires have their moment, and allow all the pubescent tweeners mind-frig themselves silly to Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner. Later on in life, they'll come to the same conclusion that the rest of us knew right off the bat: 'God, that franchise sucked!'

Late Edit: When teen queen Miley Cyrus thinks the Twilight franchise sucks, you know it's only a matter of time before all the tweeners (i.e. the most fickle demographic on Gods green earth) wake up and get wise to the con job.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In the midst of tragedy, rationality must prevail

The events that unfolded at Ft. Hood in Texas are no doubt, a tragedy. We now know the culprit, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a 39 year-old Army psychiatrist shot and killed 13 men in uniform and injured over 30 others. We also know that various U.S. government agencies knew this guy was off, but sat on their asses anyway. And just today, President Obama made the trip to talk to and grieve with the families of the Ft. Hood victims. But one huge aspect that, I feel, is being lost in the new cycle, is how some people are desperately trying to, in the face of great loss, quell the backlash the Muslim community is receiving because of one extremist's actions. General George Casey's voice on the subject matter, to me, spoke volumes on Meet The Press.

"I think those concerns are real, and I will tell you, David, that they are fueled based by the speculation based on anecdotal evidence that people are presenting. I think we have to be very careful with that. Our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength and as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse."

Days after the shooting, one extremist's actions have ignited fear-mongering and hatred against Muslims in the military and the faith in general.

Let's be mindful of one thing: This man's action's are both deplorable and condemnable, but his violet act does not speak for the vast ethos of the Muslim population and the Islamic faith, nor should it be taken that way in any context. These are sad and mournful times, but we must resist the worse angels of our nature to easily paint the bastard with the same brush of the normal, moderate people who practice the religion of Islam. To do so would only weaken our nation's resolve and creates hostilities between our own citizens.

As Chris Martin sang once before: "Give me love over lies / love over lies."

It's A Brand-New Ballgame In the AFC West

Let's rewind the clocks back to three weeks ago today: Denver just asserted itself as the real McCoy in the AFC by ripping San Diego a new one on Monday Night Football, 34-23. The Broncos were sitting mighty high at 6-0 and under rookie coach Josh McDaniel and red-hot QB Kyle Orton, the message was simple: there's a new, emerging elite unit in the AFC.

The Chargers, on the other hand,were on the outside looking in at 2-3, and thanks to a slew of injuries(an 8-week ankle injury to Pro-Bowl center Nick Hardwick in Week 1 vs OAK, a season-ending injury to nose tackle Jamal Williams among the hardest hit to SD), a lackluster O-line and D-line, and a laughable linebacking corp, looked like they were all but fucked; a team that was in complete disarray, and no answers in sight.

It looked like, once again, Norv Turner would have been in the unemployment line come the end of the season, along with General Manager A.J. Smith, Defensive Coordinator Ron Rivera, Shawne Merriman, Antonio Cromarte, and whoever else's heads were waiting on the guillotine. Fans (myself included) were calling for a near-cleansing of the Chargers organization, and for Bill Cower and/or Tony Dungy to come out of retirement.

How quickly the tide can turn in football. In three weeks, you could be the team to beat in the Super Bowl, and five weeks later, the analysts would even question if your team could make the wild-card.

After Monday night's 28-10 ass-kicking from the World-Champion Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver's got a new problem in the form of a three-time, AFC West powerhouse San Diego team, and from the looks of Philip Rivers, Vincent Jackson, Darren Sproles, Antonio Gates, Shawn Phillips, and Eric Weddle, they're ready to take back what is theirs. Did I mention that in the span of three weeks the Chargers have gone 3-0, including finally beating a team with a winning record, and that "Lights Out" Merriman is back?

Should San Diego come out with ferosity against the Philidelphia Eagles on Sunday and win, next week's matchup between the Chargers and Broncos will be a no-holds barred slugfest to decide who will take the AFC West crown on national television.

Three weeks to the day, the AFC race was all but wrapped up. As the saying goes (and it should be applied to footbal, how sad that we fans keep forgetting), "it ain't over, til' it's over."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Daily KOS founder calls out GOP chickenhawk

Markos Moulitsas, founder of the liberal website Daily KOS.com, and military veteran slams former GOP congressman Tom Tancredo on the Friday edition of "The Ed Show" with David Shuster filling in for Ed Schultz. Both men were brought in to discuss yesterday's Tea Party Rally that was held on the Capital building and some of the over-the-line signs that were used.

The debate became heated when Moulitsas defended health care reform when stating that the U.S. military uses government-run health insurance, with Tancredo stepping in and saying that he knew veterans who don't like their health insurance, and desire to switch to a voucher system and buy into a private insurance plan. Here's the clip:

Tom got mad when Markos called him out as a conservative who talks a big game, but never putting his money where his mouth was when it came to the military, and stormed off in the middle of the interview. Turns out that part was true.

As a Republican student activist, Tancredo spoke out in favor of the Vietnam War. After graduating from the University of Northern Colorado in June 1969, he became eligible to serve in Vietnam. Tancredo said he went for his physical, telling doctors he'd been treated for depression, and eventually got a "1-Y" deferment.

At any rate, great job from Markos for calling on this guy's BS.

It's almost the holidays

For everyone it means it's time to dig into our wallets and spend, spend, spend for our loved ones, make plans for Thanksgiving and X-Mas dinner, etc.

For some, it means getting into the holiday spirit by means of the usual traditions, like ice skating, or going door-to-door singing Christmas carols, or nuzzling by the fire with family, friends, or lovers.

For me, it's the most depressing time of the year.

Depressing, because its hard to get into the spirit of the season, and when I can't, I get even more depressed. I constantly replay, in my head, all the missed opportunities I should have taken if I wasn't so scared; I keep playing the "what if..." game repeatedly, and wonder if this will be the year where i'll have to go on some sort of anti-depressant medication.

For me, attending annual solstice parties result in me isolating myself from everyone else so I don't bring down their jolly good time.

X-Mas songs like "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree," and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," are replaced by Radiohead's "How To Disappear Completely," and Weezer's "The World Has Turned And Left Me Here" as carols.

Winter nights where people flock to ice rinks or to other parties to do holiday stuff become me sitting in my room, or in my dad's office, wondering when this mood of feeling like complete shit will pass.

Its the most wonderful time of the year....except for me.

And, like a train that's never late to its destination, it'll be on the platform on the dot, never early never late, but always on the dot.