Saturday, May 31, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
Thank you in advance. You're the reason God made Oklahoma.
One of the greatest movies for obsessed nerds like myself in history is Keanu Reeve's "The Matrix" trilogy, and only because it's the sort of flick where nothing can go unnoticed -- every detail, every line from every character, everything may matter to the outcome of the story. And the more times you watch it, the more things you see.
This season was the one where "Lost" moved into "Matrix" territory, all capped off by the season finale: time-traveling bunnies, tapes that rewind themselves for no apparent reason, even a corpse that may or may not be John Locke. And all of it ultimately matters to the storyline at hand.
And with that, here are my things I think I think about the season finale.
-- I think we now know why Jack turns into a depressed, drug-addicted jackass: his dogged pursuit of a method off the Island ultimately got nearly all of the survivors killed. Keep in mind, as we discussed previously, the push to get off the Island was largely a product of Jack's own hubris: I promised I would get us off the Island, and I'm going to be the one who does that.
Well, here's the result of Jack's pride: not only are most of his loyal subjects now shark food; the Island -- and what remained of the survivors -- is also gone. And the ones who are still alive are doomed to a life of dishonesty and unhappiness. Congratulations, Dr. Giggles.
-- I think Ben's character continues to grow more complex, and it's become very difficult to discern what's truth and what's fiction from him. For example, did Ben really lose control of his emotions when he killed Martin Keamy, or was he well within himself, fully aware of the consequences when the man's heart stopped beating (important question from EW: why didn't Locke just put on the heart monitor himself?). Did Ben know he'd wind up in the Tunisian desert after he spun the wheel? Can Ben really not go back to the Island? And what did he mean when he told Locke, "I'm sorry I made your life so miserable"?
-- I think -- and I learned this also from the EW recap -- that Kate's mysterious phone message was someone saying, "The island needs you. You have to go back before it's too late." Which is interesting, because that message was followed immediately by a vision of Claire -- apparently Kate's personal ghost -- warning Kate, "Don't you dare bring him back."
-- I think I'm no geography expert, but I found myself confused by Hurley's assertion that they "sailed 3,000 miles" to Indonesia to be rescued. It's possible, given Hugo's tendency toward hyperbole, that he was exaggerating the whole thing. But if he isn't ... I mean, where exactly is the Island?
-- I think I enjoyed Locke's assertion that the Island is "a place where miracles happen." Because it seems to be a mixed bag -- Locke crashed on the beach and suddenly could walk again, while Rose says the cancer afflicting her left her body. But Jack suffered a ruptured appendix (possibly caused by his own hubris), Sawyer got personally hounded by a boar, Ben contracted a spinal tumor.
-- I think the storylines of Charlotte, Sawyer and Miles will be juicy sub-plots for next season. Miles has the ability to talk to the supernatural; Charlotte appears to have been born on the Island; Daniel ... actually, no one really knows what happened to Daniel. We left him with a group of people somewhere between the exploded boat and the disappearing Island. Did he move with the Island? Is he still out in the middle of the ocean? And what of the people on the boat with him?
-- I think now I see why the ladies love Sawyer. He's got a heart of gold. Also, he's about to start romancing Juliet, which will make for an odd reunion if the four of them -- he, Kate, Juliet and Jack -- all get back together at some point.
-- I think I enjoyed the return of Walt, given that I devoted an entire entry to him a month ago. We mustn't forget that Walt has some special powers of his own, and that he was devoted enough to the Island that he set his father's raft on fire wayyyy back in Season 1.
-- I think I don't understand the meaning of Sun's meeting with Charles Widmore. Is she double-crossing him? Is she going after Jack? Ben? Sayid?
-- I think the name "Jeremy Bentham" is another loaded "Lost" facet, as described here by TBL. Furthermore, as those guys say ...
And if you scroll down on the wiki, you see the term auto-icon, and wax head … and yup, THAT’S NOT LOCKE IN THE COFFIN! No way. It’s a fake. A cunning ruse by Ben to try and get Jack back to the island. ... There’s absolutely no shot that Locke is dead with two seasons left.-- I think, finally, that the return party will be much larger than anyone realizes. Ben says none of them can go back alone, that they all must go back together. But who does he mean? Does Penny have to go with them? Lapidus? And will Kate and Aaron be willing to travel with them?
My head hurts. That's the effect this show has on you.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I am a 'Bama guy, however, and I do have opinions. So perhaps I can at least keep myself amused, even if it doesn't count in the grand Roundtable scheme.
With no more adieu ...
1) Will the new offense and Offensive Coordinator be a positive change for John Parker Wilson? If so, how much? If not, what concerns you?
John Parker is a senior, which is probably the most important point in the whole discussion of the offense. He's faced some of the fiercest pass rushes in all of college football (and has the lumps to show for it), and shouldn't be rattled by much of anything he sees. The real question, to me, is how much of the offense they'll actually put on his shoulders -- supposedly, Saban didn't trust Applewhite enough in '07 to let him run his own offense. That shouldn't be a problem with McElwain, who's much more of a veteran presence as an OC.
The biggest issues with a changes in a coordinator spot is the subtle things. Similar plays may have completely different names -- the 3 back under one guy may be called a 2 in the new offense. One story that comes to mind is Gary Hollingsworth's adjustment from Homer Smith -- who basically let Hollingsworth call all the plays himself -- to Stallings and Mal Moore in 1990 -- their system involved basically no checks whatsoever. JPW's adjustment likely won't be that dramatic, however, but it will take some time.
2) We’ve all felt the excitement of landing this studly freshmen class on signing day, but what expectations should we have once they all land in Tuscaloosa?
High expectations are part of the deal when you play football at Alabama. These freshmen carry an extra weight, if only because of all the fan and media attention slathered on them since the moment the last seconds ticked off the clock in Shreveport.
As for what expectations fans should have? Tough to say. My old high school head coach used to say that for every 10th-grader (a rookie in high-school terms) you start, that's a loss on your schedule. I've a feeling several people in this group are going to be expected to compete for starting spots.
3) What were your initial thoughts of the somewhat split job of Defensive Coordinator? Have they changed since then, or are they still the same?
A moot point. Saban runs the defense and pretty much everyone knows it. One needs only to watch him on the sidelines furiously giving out signals to know it's his show when the other team has the ball.
4) In your eyes, who needs to step up the most in a position of depth concern?
I actually discussed this right after the Auburn loss in November: the biggest issue for Alabama, bigger than the offense, bigger than the secondary, is toughness up front defensively. Auburn imposed its will on Alabama with its front -- and I'll reiterate what I said in that LJ post: whether it's offseason training, replacing personnel or merely a change in attitude, Alabama simply must be better at stopping the run. Otherwise, prepare to be average for another season.
5) We’ve all heard the talk of this possibly being Mal Moore’s last season as Athletic Director. What will his legacy be when it is all said and done?
I'm obviously no expert at running an athletic department, and so find it difficult to say whether he's done a good or bad job in the near decade he's been at the helm. It's also worth noting that an athletic director is in charge of the entire department, and not just the football program (something Finebaum and his ilk have never seemed to understand, just as they've never comprehended that a university president isn't president of the football team ... but now I'm getting off-topic ... Finebaum sucks, by the way).
Anyway, Mal's legacy, ultimately, will be Saban, for better or worse. Essentially, that $32 million was Mal's version of pushing his chips to the center of the table and going all-in. Sink or swim, that's what we'll remember about his tenure 30 years from now.
(More interesting, to me, is that his legacy could have been Sly Croom, a hire he came close to making back in May 2003. It probably all worked out for the best, I suppose.)
6) Other than Georgia, what non-Alabama SEC team impresses you the most? (because everyone would normally answer UGA)Honestly, the team I fear the most is Auburn. That sounds strange, of course, but the situation at Auburn right now is exactly the sort Tuberville likes -- his team is basically being ignored by media both nationally and in-state, they have enough talent to dominate people on defense ... and no one has any idea what they'll look like in the fall because of the coordinator changes. Also, the schedule sets up for them nicely: two weak non-conference games before a trip to Starkville and then coming home to face LSU ( and the final score there could be 2-0).
Of course, if Tony Franklin's offense struggles out of the gate, this could all play out very differently. At the moment, the War Eagles are the team that terrifies me most. Other than Georgia, of course.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
(Sorry ... couldn't resist.)
Monday, May 26, 2008
The whole "print media is dying!" discussion is one of my favorite subjects to explore, for two reasons:
-- Print media puts food on my table, and has for nearly five years now.
-- The future of the organized media after print is so vague, very few people know where we'll be even five years from now.
I can only speak with authority on this issue from the sports perspective, of course, but all the signs of the gradual decline of newspapers are in place. Seriously: how many people reading this blog right now subscribe to a newspaper? Not "subscribe" as in "receive daily emails from" or "visit their Web site" daily -- how many people reading this right now actually subscribe to a printed edition of a newspaper?
Very few, is my guess. And those that do are almost invariably middle-aged or older -- people who don't peruse the Web on a daily basis (like I do), and need to read the local paper for whatever news they receive (last night's National League scores, the election results and so forth).
Of course, the Web is taking over, and why shouldn't it? The immediacy and the access it provides make it a vastly superior option to the printed word (even if it's hard to imagine someone carrying a laptop into the john), plus Web access through handheld devices like cell phones and Blackberries make reaching the Web easier even than finding a computer. In less than 10 minutes, one can consume the London Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post ... or, if you're into just gleaning the most relevant headlines, sites like Google News.
With resources like that at your fingertips, why would anyone bother with unwieldy devices like newspapers, which invariably are hard to open and leave ink all over your fingertips?
(Web-related note: I caught a TNT broadcast of Silence of the Lambs the other day -- because TNT knows drama -- and saw one scene where Clarice Starling was in the library searching old newspaper articles via micro-film. And that movie's less than 20 years old! Unbelievable.)
Here's what makes this interesting: with nearly every outlet in control of its own Web domain -- and really, who doesn't have their own Web site at this point? I even have my own domain name and I've never even won an APA award -- everyone's in charge of his own publicity. Which makes me wonder where we're headed as a medium.
From a sports perspective, let's put it this way: at this point, you can learn everything you'd ever need to know about Alabama football from rolltide.com. They've got the schedule, the preliminary roster; you can read scouting reports about the next opponent, watch the coach's press conferences each week, even read a transcript of what he said after the fact (just in case you think Ian Rapaport and Gentry Estes are mis-quoting him).
Well ... how long before major universities simply decide, "You know, we can handle our own publicity from now on -- you media guys aren't invited anymore"? They already publish the stat boxes and their own game reports online -- how much longer before they decide to give themselves exclusive access in that area? Many smaller, less-publicized programs already do this -- Alabama A&M, for example, has an excellent SID who sends out coaches' quotes, stat boxes and game recaps for every week -- you could give sufficient coverage to their program without ever setting foot on campus.
I'm just curious if this is where we're headed -- to a place where every university can be in charge of every piece of disseminated information, and the public is more than happy to let that be the case (since the evil MEDIA just caused trouble in the first place). If this is what happens, then the blogosphere is more important than we currently realize. Bloggers, for better or worse, won't allow P.R. people to dictate to them, will always call 'em like they see 'em and will absolutely tell the truth when the truth needs to be told, whether it's unpleasant or not. Take Capstone Report, a 'Bama blog that wound up becoming a central source of information during the 2006 coaching search. Caps took a pretty solid beating from Alabama fans for his stance on firing Shula (people forget that his original handle was Fire Shula Now), but stuck to his guns -- Shula was fired, of course, and then the Report became a meeting place for new info on the coaching search. It's that sort of fourth-estate style reporting that keeps people in power honest, and it's why we have a mass media in the first place.
We'll see, I suppose.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Before we do that, however, allow me a moment to muse about Sylvester Stallone's "First Blood," running Sunday afternoon on Spike TV. It's one of the greats among mindless action movies, and it was the movie that introduced the world to John J. Rambo, one of the go-to action heroes of our time.
However, even among mindless action movies, "First Blood" makes very little sense. If you've never seen it, I'll summarize the plot for you: guy's a disaffected Vietnam vet; gets hassled by the local sheriff for no real reason; eventually snaps and starts harming people (though he never actually kills anybody).
Maybe the strangest part of the movie is when Rambo is thought to have been killed, after a group of National Guard goofs fire an RPG into a mine where he's hiding. Surviving by snaking his way through a miraculous group of underground tunnels, Rambo eventually reaches an opening and climbs out, basically unharmed.
Now free, Rambo faces a three-fold choice:
a) Take advantage of the momentary lapse caused by his assumed death and slip away, possibly moving to Montana and living in relative peace and solitude.
b) Call Col. Trautman, turn himself in to the friendly military, get a pardon (again, he didn't actually kill anyone, though he did cause some rather serious injuries) and basically diffuse the whole situation.
c) Go back to town and start setting things on fire and blowing things up for absolutely no reason.
I'll let you guess which one he chooses.
Needless to say, I'm riveted by this movie every time I see it. Why was John Rambo drifting around the country in the first place? Why did Brian Dennehy start randomly manhandling a war veteran? Whose idea was it to call in an entire battalion of troops to take out one person? And did they shoot the scene where Stallone tries to act in one take, or did he work on those lines first?
Anyway, on with the links ...
-- As always, EDSBS has its page of corrections, always a must-read.
A Wednesday night news bulletin showed video footage of obliterated dock pilings on Alabama’s Lake Martin, and attributed the collapse to “flash flooding”. The cause of damage has since been identified as “Auburn University’s offensive line.” We regret the error.-- An old post I forgot to link a while back: Jay Coulter at TET explores the greatness of Tommy Tuberville, specifically, whether he is, in fact, great. Of course, since it's an Auburn blog, Jay comes to the conclusion that ... yeah. He is.
-- SMQ explores Mississippi State from the standpoint of statistics, in the process proving why you can never totally trust stats. Of course, we all could've saved him some time to explain MSU's success in '07 (hint: their initials are BC and JPW).
-- Alabama related links: Rapper has the skinny on Alabama's NCAA future; ESPN starts up its own Tide-related site (and hires an old co-worker of mine to run it); and Capstone explores why people like Nick Saban.
Naturally, I'm torn on the Saban issue. As a UA grad, and as someone to whom Tide sports has run a close third in importance to life (behind faith and family), I'm naturally very content knowing that the guy in charge of the athletic department's most important program is capable, confident and experienced. There's no two ways about it: he was the best hire for the position, and, given his track record and the resources he has at his disposal, it's fair to believe he'll have Alabama contending sooner than later.
On the other hand, at a personal level, the guy's a nightmare, the sort of person who'd try to pass off "trickeration" or "quone" as a word in a game of Scrabble, then get mad and turn over the board when you proved him wrong. Part of me wonders if I can ever truly cheer for the guy -- honestly, even if Alabama wins a national championship under Saban, it'll be a hollow thing, like ultimate success could only be achieved through a giant paycheck to a hired gun (basically, every bad thing everyone says about the Yankees every time they win a title). And every failure comes with the same caveat -- "Y'all paid $4 million for a 7-6 football team and the Independence Bowl?" I suppose it doesn't help that Saban is, by all accounts, about as pleasant to hang out with as a rattlesnake -- most Alabama fans have already forgotten he was the head coach at LSU, and raised the ire of then-head coach Dennis Franchione to the point that the two of them nearly came to blows at midfield following a 2002 win (Alabama's last win over LSU, incidentally).
The Tide majority, of course, will support Saban as long as he's the head coach, simply because he's the head coach. We've discussed this before, but -- despite what the national perception of Alabama fans may be -- the people who wear crimson are typically loyal to a fault, many of them carrying it to inane levels (a chorus of Tide fans defended Mike Shula rigorously until the day he was fired, then immediately tossed Shula off a cliff so they could sing the virtues of Nick Saban).
So why is Nick Saban popular? Well ... because he wears crimson. It's that simple.
(Note: Try to ignore that the singer giving you chills eventually became a coked-out maniac who gave us the greatest reality show moment of all-time. Still a cool moment, regardless of that.)
Friday, May 23, 2008
Obviously, with this show, thematic elements and unanswered questions can go on and on and on for hours. What is that smoky monster? Why is it that no one from the Island can die? And exactly who in this story are the real bad guys?
One of the keys to solving many of these puzzles, it seems, is discerning who's in charge here.
Recall, in the next-to-last episode, that Ben refuted the long-held notion that he's the guy in charge of The Others.
HURLEY: Is that why you killed all these people, too?This exchange, needless to say, is more than a little out-of-place. We learned in earlier episodes that The Others -- with the exception of Juliet, who was brought into The Others' group -- revere Ben, and certainly he's not averse to giving orders ("I want lists in three days"). And yet, Ben doesn't seem to think of himself as a leader -- we know that he's insecure enough around Locke that he tried to shoot him, and that he's actually taking orders from the mysterious Jacob.
BEN: I didn't kill them.
HURLEY: Well, if the Others didn't wipe out the DHARMA Initiative--
BEN: They did wipe them out, Hugo, but it wasn't my decision.
HURLEY: Then whose was it?
BEN: Their leader's.
HURLEY:But I thought you were their leader.
BEN: Not always.
(By the way, "Jacob" is a wholly different story. Who is he? What does he want? And why? These are questions I'm trying to answer but can't.)
It's actually not the first time Ben's mentioned someone else being in charge -- this is from when we still thought his name was Henry Gale (and yeah, he was conning us the whole time -- doesn't mean he was lying right here).
BEN: None of this matters. I'm dead anyway. The doctor's gone to make a trade and we both know he'll come back empty-handed and then I've lost my value. So either Jack comes back here and kills me or my people find out where I'm being held and they do it.The question of leadership has existed since the beginning of the show, however. At first, it was Jack who gave most of the orders (against his will, but that's what happened). Then Locke -- revealed to be an adept hunter capable of providing food -- won the respect and admiration of everyone. The two of them shared it for a time, before Sawyer delivered this priceless scene:
LOCKE: Why would your own people want to kill you?
BEN: Because the man in charge -- he's a great man, John, a brilliant man -- but he's not a forgiving man. He'll kill me because I failed, John. I failed my mission.
But Sawyer, despite his cunning, never really seemed equipped to lead anybody. Following the capture of him, Jack, Kate and Hurley at the end of Season 2, Locke assumed leadership briefly, and when Jack returned (and Locke realized his destiny by joining The Others), leadership went back to him. And now Jack's (apparently) vowing to take everyone off the Island himself, a vow that's apparently getting him physically punished.
It seems, off the Island, that Jack's still in charge of the survivors -- giving them orders about the story once they're rescued, visiting Hurley in the hospital ("wanted to see if I was gonna tell"), even saving someone's obit to show to Kate. Of course, it's gradually slipping away from him, as we've seen.
So leadership, in addition to being fluid, appears to be corrosive. Look at Ben, for example -- freed of the responsibility of leading The Others and saving the Island (a role that seemingly has passed to Locke), Ben's turned into an international assassin, pulling strings and making himself the personal enemy of Charles Widmore.
Widmore's an interesting case of leadership, as well. Presumably the one sending the boat after Linus, he's also ruthless enough to have faked the wreckage of the plane (unless Ben did that, as he claims). As TBL and EW have noted in separate stories, however, it seems that Widmore isn't alone, either -- he's apparently in cahoots with Mr. Paik, the person who -- according to Sun, at least -- is at least partially responsible for the death of her husband.
So it all comes back to who's in charge. Is Ben the real leader of The Others? Is there someone else trying to attack the Island who we haven't yet discovered? And who's going to lead those remaining on the Island to safety? Is there even any safety to be found?
Once we figure out who's really in charge, we may actually gain some insight into what's going to happen next.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Not only is this game the unequivocal highlight of Brian Burgdorf's life (at least until his arrest), it also gives us the following things:
• Craig Sager interviewing a freaked-out Jay Barker.
• A young Mack Brown stomping around the sidelines for UNC.
• Alabama players actually dousing Gene Stallings with the water cooler for winning the damned Gator Bowl ... less than a year after winning the national championship. Wow.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
So let's try and pass the time by passing out a few links to tide us over. OK? OK.
— SMQ checks in with a hilarious rendition of Athlon in the classroom.
Math and Science. We know this group can put gold stars on the board. Now they have to prove they can do it without Kevin Polk, who led the homeroom in cross-multiplication of irregular fractions three years in a row. Seventh grader Courtney Drake and sixth grader Chase Stubblefield are the top two candidates to take the helm of the pre-algebra class. Even though he solved only eight basic equations in his Timberlake Elementary career, Subblefield arrives with the reputation as a gunslinger whose decision-making process is sometimes short-circuited by his supreme confidence and high blood sugar after brownie day in the cafeteria.— Worried about the academic standing of the nation's #1 recruiting class? Like a bridge over troubled water, RBR will ease your mind.
— Capstone eulogizes the Steve Spurrier Era, which appears to be passing in front of our eyes.
I'll say this for Spurrier: out of all the coaches in the SEC, he's still the one who inspires the most fear and trepidation from opposing fans, just by showing up. One of the fun stories from the 2006 season was the one about Auburn's Will Muschamp doing something unexpected on defense during their Thursday-night tango with South Carolina, causing Spurrier to junk his game plan and call the entire game completely out of his own brain. That's a telling story — not that it actually happened, but that you BELIEVE it could. That's the power of Spurrier.
— Druid is passing the summer by playing mascot games.
— Finally, EDSBS has indisputable proof that Lee Corso is a distant cousin to Mel Brooks.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Wait, you want stranger? We had our dogs with us the whole time, forever answering the question, "What kind of (expletives) participate in stuff like this?" As it turns out, A LOT of people do -- we could barely move around once we got in the park. For the record, there were no incidents -- everyone enjoyed themselves, particularly the lady of the house, who was already talking about buying tickets for September's version.
Anyway, I've been busy and sick lately, so your links have been lacking. Here's what I've got this morning ...
-- Much of this blog is spent taking you behind the curtain, so you can see exactly what it's like to write about sports for a living. Deadspin, however, has been blowing my mind with their own series of stories, written by writers who cover actual pro athletes, many of whom are completely crazy. Here's a great one, for example, about covering the Mariners.
(Warning: the language in these things is a little coarse. Such is the life of covering pro sports.)
-- For those who missed it, Jacksonville St. landed the embattled Ryan Perrilloux to play quarterback for its football squad this fall. Needless to say, Finebaum's upset about it.
-- So, the Alabama baseball team is going to Hoover this weekend, after all. The bracket is available here -- 'Bama takes on Kentucky Wednesday in the late game.
-- Capstone takes on Ty Willingham. He's got a point, as always -- Ty's not really in the position to complain at this point. I've often wondered how deep is the pool of minority candidates in college football -- people have often complained about our paper not employing minorities, but the fact is that many don't want to work at a place our size, because they can get bigger, better-paying gigs elsewhere. So how many minorities actually want to break into college coaching? Someone should attack this thing.
-- OTS checks in from the new-look RBR with a look at the SEC's non-conference schedules for the fall. At the top? National championship contender Georgia. I'm telling you, their road is way too tough. They're going to finish with 3 losses.
-- And finally, someone at ESPN woke up Gregg Easterbrook to write a Belichick column. Good for you, sir. Good for you.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
As always, stop reading if you haven't seen the episode yet ... SPOILERS, blah, blah, blah.
This week's episode is synopsized here. And since we're pressed for time, here's the main quotation of the week:
"Since when you have EVER been entirely truthful?"
It's an accusatory question, asked by John Locke to Ben as the two of them (along with a thoroughly confused Hurley, who's like a five-year-old going to the dentist) march to The Orchid, whose symbolism is recorded here by EW.
One thing we've learned throughout this show: no one is being entirely truthful. Sawyer lies constantly; Sun lies about not understanding English (later, we see Charlotte do the same thing in reverse); Kate lies at every turn; Jack won't tell everything; The Others are never forthcoming about anything; Ben's a con man of the highest order. And so forth, and so on. The 6 who leave the island, we learn, are not only liars -- they've actually rehearsed a story together, as evidenced by Jack going over it once more before they leave the plane.
All of this leading to the one big question: what the hell is actually going on here? Is Benjamin the enemy? Charles Widmore? Mr. Paik? Jacob? Oceanic? The rep who shares her name with a former Nazi solider? Who's the bad guy here? Who are the good guys?
Most importantly, what's going to happen to the island?
As always, feel free to discuss in the commentary section below. For more musings, read the EW recap or TBL.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Now ... what's the best part of this video? Is it the fact that neither of these guys has even one move (Goldberg's got his finisher, and that's really all ... and Hogan ... well, Hogan's old)? Is it Tony Schiavone's grinding skills as an announcer? Or, is it the fact that Karl Malone shows up to execute the diamond cutter for no apparent reason?
I'll let you decide.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
The statement below is often credited to Jay Leno. But itwlh
wasn't said or written by Jay, it was written by Craig R. Smith.
Only the closing paragraph of this MountainWings is by Jay Leno.
Here it goes:
The other day I was reading Newsweek magazine and came across
some poll data I found rather hard to believe. It must be
true, given the source, right?
The Newsweek poll alleges that 67% of Americans are unhappy
with the direction the country is headed, and 69% of the
country is unhappy with the performance of the President.
In essence, two-thirds of the citizenry just ain't happy and
wants a change.
So being the knuckle dragger that I am, I started thinking,
"What're we so unhappy about?"
Is it that we have electricity and running water 24/7?
Is our unhappiness the result of having A/C in the summer and
heating in the winter?
Could it be that 95.4% of these unhappy folks have a job?
Maybe it's the ability to walk into a grocery store at any
time, and see more food in moments than Darfur has seen in the
Maybe it's the ability to drive from the Pacific Ocean to the
Atlantic Ocean without having to present identification papers
as we move through each state?
Or possibly the hundreds of clean and safe motels we'd find
along the way that can provide temporary shelter?
I guess having thousands of restaurants with varying cuisine
from around the world is just not good enough.
Or could it be that when we wreck our cars, emergency workers
show up and provide services to help all, and even send a
helicopter to take you to the hospital.
Perhaps you are one of the 70% of Americans who own a home.
You may be upset with knowing that in the unfortunate case of
a fire, a group of trained firefighters will appear in moments
and use top notch equipment to extinguish the flames, thus
saving you, your family, and your belongings.
Or if, while at home watching one of your many flat screen
TVs, a burglar or prowler intrudes, an officer equipped with a
gun and a bullet-proof vest will come to defend you and your
family against attack or loss.
This all in the backdrop of a neighborhood free of bombs or
militias raping and pillaging the residents. Neighborhoods
where 90% of teenagers own cell phones and computers.
How about the complete religious, social and political
freedoms we enjoy that are the envy of everyone in the world?
Maybe that's what has 67% of you folks unhappy.
Fact is, we're the largest group of ungrateful, spoiled brats
the world has ever seen. No wonder the world loves the USA,
yet has a great disdain for its citizens. They see us for what
we are: the most blessed people in the world who do nothing
but complain about what we don't have, and what we hate about
the country instead of thanking the good Lord we live here.
I know, I know. What about the President who took us into
war and has no plan to get us out? The President who has a
measly 31% approval rating? Is this the same President who
guided the nation in the dark days after 9/11? The President
who cut taxes to bring an economy out of a recession? Could
this be the same guy who's been called every name in the book
for succeeding in keeping all the spoiled ungrateful brats
safe from terrorist attacks?
The Commander-in-Chief of an all-volunteer army that's out
there defending you and me? Did you hear how bad the President
is on the news or on a talk show? Did this news affect you so
much, make you so unhappy, that you couldn't take a look
around for yourself and see all the good things and be glad?
Think about it. Are you upset at the President because he
actually caused you personal pain OR is it because the media
told you he was failing to kiss your sorry ungrateful behind
Make no mistake about it. The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan
have volunteered to serve, and in many cases may have died for
your freedom. There's currently no draft in this country. They
didn't have to go.
They're able to refuse to go and end up with either a
"general" discharge, an "other than honorable" discharge or,
worst case scenario, a "dishonorable" discharge after a few
days in the brig.
So why then the flat-out discontent in the minds of 69% of
Americans? Say what you want, but I blame it on the media. If
it bleeds, it leads; and they specialize in bad news.
Everybody will watch a car crash with blood and guts. How many
will watch kids selling lemonade at the corner? The media
knows this, and media outlets are for-profit corporations.
They offer what sells, and when criticized, try to defend
their actions by justifying them in one way or another.
Stop buying the negativism you're fed every day by the media.
Shut off the TV, burn Newsweek, and use the New York Times for
the bottom of your birdcage. Then start being grateful for
all we have as a country. There is exponentially more good
We're among the most blessed people on Earth, and should thank
God several times a day, or at least be thankful and
With hurricanes, tornadoes, fires out of control, mud slides,
flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one
end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist
attacks, are we sure this is a good time to take God out of
the Pledge of Allegiance?
Monday, May 12, 2008
But you don't care about that, obviously. So here are a few links to get through a Monday.
— In case you missed it, Alabama took two from Florida in Tuscaloosa this weekend. Here's Ian's recap of the crazy Game 3 ending.
— Out of things to analyze, Cecil ponders Rolando McClain's wreck.
— You've probably heard about the Alabama receiver arrested for public intoxication by now. You may not, however, have seen the Druid's outstanding photo of the incident.
— RBR is on the ball as always: a roundup of spring practice in the SEC.
— TBL wonders how dirty is USC. Let the record show, by the way, that of all these programs caught cheating in the last decade, Alabama's is the only one to basically be crippled by the NCAA. Was Alabama's cheating that much worse than everyone else? You decide.
— Finally, EDSBS' page of corrections. Always worth it.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Was it Charles' surprise admission? Was it Charles chuckling "that was good" over and over again? Was it Charles snidely correcting Kenny by saying "no ... I can read?" Or was it during Ernie's intro, when he asked (rhetorically) if anyone had seen "Anchorman" and Chuck rebuffed him by saying "nope"?
I'll let you decide.
Friday, May 9, 2008
One other note: for those not interested in "Lost," read about the story of Rolando McClain, who hurt himself in a motorcycle accident late Thursday. Lord, help us all.
Ready, then? On with the show ...
Last night's show — synopsized here — was all about revealing more about the complexities of John Locke, a character who, from the moment we first meet him, seems desperate to find his purpose in life. And because the Island brought him to said purpose, he's hell-bent on defending the Island. Exactly what does he mean when he says he's going to "move" it? We don't know, and to be honest, the harder we try to figure it out, the more confused we get.
With that, here are a few things I think I think about "Cabin Fever."
• I think I was battling a stomach bug yesterday, and thus may have drifted in and out during last night's episode, so I'm open to critiques and commentary if anything here doesn't make any sense. I'm also certain I saw an open-mouthed man-kiss on Grey's Anatomy, but I'm not entirely sure.
• I think the notion that Claire is dead now has more ammunition, which makes me squeal with delight.
• I think I have no idea what's going on in this scene:
• I think that's an interesting scene where teenage John is encouraged to go to science camp. His responses "don't tell me what I can't do!" and "I'm not a man of science" echo back to the first season, when the adult Locke — suddenly having the use of his legs and carrying on like a boar-hunting savage — uses the phrase, "Don't tell me what I can't do!" before killing a boar on his own. Also, there's this exchange between Jack and Locke from the Season 1 finale:
• I think I've made myself look like a jackass the last few weeks, wondering who the sixth member of the Oceanic 6 is, without even considering Claire's child, Aaron. Feel free to ridicule at your leisure.
- Locke: That's why you and I don't see eye-to-eye sometimes, Jack -- because you're a man of science.
- Jack: Yeah, and what does that make you?
- Locke: Me, well, I'm a man of faith. Do you really think all this is an accident -- that we, a group of strangers survived, many of us with just superficial injuries? Do you think we crashed on this place by coincidence -- especially, this place? We were brought here for a purpose, for a reason, all of us. Each one of us was brought here for a reason.
- Jack: Brought here? And who brought us here, John?
- Locke: The island. The island brought us here. This is no ordinary place, you've seen that, I know you have. But the island chose you, too, Jack. It's destiny.
- Jack: Did you talk with Boone about destiny, John?
- Locke: Boone was a sacrifice that the island demanded. What happened to him at that plane was a part of a chain of events that led us here -- that led us down a path -- that led you and me to this day, to right now.
• I think I never did figure out exactly what that was on Martin Keamy's arm that prevented the captain from shooting him. I also found it interesting that Keamy couldn't shoot Michael, considering he's tried so hard to shoot himself.
• I think the parallels between Locke and Ben Linus are downright scary, as detailed in the EW recap.
Locke is born early. At age 5, he takes a test that most likely would have taken him to the Island if he had passed. He didn't. That same year, Benjamin Linus is born. At age 16, Locke is invited to go to a science camp that again would have taken him to the Island. He refused. About that same time, Benjamin Linus and his father joined the Dharma Initiative. The implication, it seems, is that Ben has been walking the path that was originally meant for Locke. Ben was the contingency plan — the course correction — for Locke's altered destiny. But Ben is his own person, of course, and he has done things differently from what Locke would have done, and this, in turn, has created further changes in the original order of things — changes that I think a certain ticked-off, Island-deprived billionaire named Charles Widmore is trying to reverse. The scene at the rehab center between paralyzed adult Locke and his wheelchair pusher, the creepy Matthew Abbaddon — who accepted the description of ''orderly'' with knowing irony — was meant to suggest one way Widmore is scheming to restore the original order: by getting Locke on that Island and taking back the birthright that was supposed to be his.• I think there's some kind of a time lag between the island and the ship — somehow, the doctor washes up on shore at the Island several hours before he was actually killed. Something strange is going on here, and Locke's intention to "move the Island" may have something to do with it, as well.
(Unless I’m getting this reversed: What if Ben was the man of destiny, but for decades, various forces — including Alpert and Widmore-Abbaddon — have been vainly trying to change destiny by getting Locke to the Island to supplant the über-Other?)
• I think I'm about to lose my mind over this thing. The season finale is next week, and then eight months of no show. Yikes.
For more "Lost" thoughts, check out TBL.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
OK, now that I've posted the video, let me clarify exactly why I'm doing it (as if I need to). It's not to torture my Auburn friends (seriously, it's not -- stop looking at me like that). And it's not only because of the goofy "earthquake" aspect of the game (not a huge deal -- in the SEC, there are at least 7 different stadiums that can generate the same amount of noise on the right night).
Actually, it's because of my own personal history -- during this game, my parents, then living in Eufaula, hosted a dinner/game viewing party. Being a child who was constantly hearing things like, "Go play outside," I went back to my room to draw ... something. Whatever it was, I needed a blue lead pencil. Running down the hall to show off whatever it was I was drawing, I turned my head to see the television, bumped the wall, snapped the pencil and -- here's where it gets a little weird -- forced the shards and a piece of the lead into my hand. Blood, crying, old men showing off their own scars ... the whole works. A few days later I was in a hospital being treated for blood poisoning.
I still carry a blue mark on my right hand from the affair. So thank you, Tommy Hodson. You gave me a really bizarre story to share with the half-dozen folks who read this blog.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
One humorous note before we start linking today: I've started listening to Dan Patrick's live audio stream recently, if only because I really miss listening to him and Olbermann on weekday afternoons when I was on my way to work. Anyway, the live stream features some, um, "different" types of commercials in between segments, including one hilarious ad where Ryan Seacrest advertises something called RAADD, which I believe stands for Recording Artists Against Drunk Driving. That's exactly what's going to dissuade from drunk driving, by the way: listening to a guy from Hollywood tell me why I shouldn't. Is Paris Hilton a member of RAADD? What about Lindsay? Britney? I'm dying to know more about this organization.
One other note: Sportsouth is currently re-running an old broadcast of the 1993 LSU-'Bama game, when the Tigers ended Alabama's unbeaten streak at Bryant-Denny. Weird game. Barker was hurt, and David Palmer played most of the game under center. Taurus Turner just carried the ball for 15 yards, which may have been the highlight of his career. Really bizarre.
But we move on ...
-- Who's No. 1 in college football, according to the guy with college football in his name? Well, he does work for the Atlanta papers, of course. For what it's worth, he likes Auburn at No. 10. I don't like UGA to win it all, incidentally -- the schedule's too tough. At South Carolina, at Arizona State, at LSU, at Auburn ... and that's not even counting potentially dangerous home games against Central Michigan, Alabama, a re-tooled Georgia Tech and their annual war against Florida.
-- More on last week's Ryan Perrilloux story: JSU head coach Jack Crowe says he's interested in bringing RP to Jacksonville. Is it terribly interesting? Maybe not, but the mere mention of Crowe's name gives us an excuse to do this ...
-- A tough break for UAB football: APR takes away nine football scholarships, and two more in basketball. I heard about this yesterday when I turned on Finebaum for five minutes, and he'd worked himself into a later about the need for UAB to drop its football program, entirely, and do it right now, if possible. A fair argument -- I have no idea why UAB started a football program to begin with. Anyway, bad day to be around their media relations office, I suppose.
Speaking of APR, if you're interested in seeing how the SEC programs stack up against one another, al.com has a solid search engine for you. Thanks to Capstone for turning me onto this one.
-- Druid has a rant about the existing stereotypes about Alabama fans. And he does have a point, although we don't exactly do ourselves any favors by purchasing XXL t-shirts with giant boasts on them that make absolutely no sense, as personified by this post by the (insanely vitriolic and bitter) Deep South Sports. I've done a fair bit of traveling and observing various fan bases in my brief time on Earth, and I can with some degree of certainty that no SEC fan base has the right to call another fan base "rednecks" or "obnoxious" ... at least, not with a straight face.
-- Finally, the always-inquisitive SMQ considers exactly what it means to be consistent. Somewhere, the guys at FJM are frothing at the mouth.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
The aspect of the story nobody's covered yet, however, is exactly what this news does to the balance of power in the SEC West. Honestly, the favorite in the West was going to be difficult to pick out anyway -- LSU's got to rebuild and suffering the year-after malaise, plus they've got a tough, tough schedule (at Auburn, at Florida, at South Carolina, home against Georgia, at Arkansas).
But now? Prior to last season, I foolishly wrote that there were "cracks" starting to appear in the Les Miles Foundation at LSU, using that as the basis for picking them to finish third in the division. It was dumb, and I was letting my biases cloud my better judgment (that LSU team was stacked).
Now it's 2008 and I'm wondering if those ominous portents are coming true. It's unfair, of course, to think that Perrilloux's complete failure to mature as a person is a signal of unrest in the program, just as it is ridiculous to point to the misfits at Alabama staying out too late and getting into trouble as a symbol of undisciplined pandemonium in Saban's program. Still, Miles' goofy play-calling and blustery demeanor nearly submarined LSU's title chances last year -- and actually it would've, but Miles got luckier than Bryant was in 1965. And so he won the title, didn't go to Michigan and looks like a genius.
Anyway, getting back to what we were talking about: the favorite to win the West in 2008. Here's what the quarterback situation looks like at the QB position coming back this fall, in reverse alphabetical order:
Miss St.: Judging by the offense's epic performance in the Maroon-White Game, Jesse Carroll's going to be handing off to his tailbacks a lot for another fall.
Ole Miss: After Ed Orgeron spent the last three seasons yanking around his quarterbacks, Houston Nutt is likely to go with Jevon Snead, the highly-touted QB. He's talented, obviously, but you never what you're getting out of a young guy.
LSU: No idea.
Arkansas: All indications are that this fall's offense will belong to Casey Dick, currently in his 9th consecutive season starting behind center, this year running an offense that drew high marks from springtime observers. Again, hard to know what you're getting from Casey -- who, by all accounts, is closing in on 40 very quickly -- since he's spent much of the last decade handing off to whomever is lined up behind him in Houston Nutt's Mal Moore-esque offense.
Auburn: Assuming Chris Todd can't solve his bizarre arm issues, the show's going to belong to Kodi Burns, whose redshirt was foolishly (repeat: foolishly) squandered in 2007 for the sake of two exciting quarters against Mississippi State. Burns looked good in a limited role last fall, but was gradually phased out following the win at Florida, then re-appeared in scrub duty against Tennessee Tech, where he (and I'm quoting a fellow writer who covers the team) "basically (bleeped) himself." Tony Franklin seems like enough of an outside-the-box thinker to put his guys in position to succeed, so the question remains whether Burns can be an every-down guy running the show.
Alabama: On paper, the most experienced and successful QB belongs to the Tide -- John Parker Wilson will start his third season this fall, he owns several single-season passing records and he's shown a penchant for coming through in clutch situations (Arkansas, Georgia, Florida St., etc.)
Unfortunately, JPW was a basket-case mentally by the end of 2007, after basically being neutered in the State and Auburn games, and playing like a JV quarterback in a ghastly loss to La.-Monroe. And he's on his third OC in as many seasons. And it's hard to know if his offensive line will protect him.
Anyway, we'll delve into this question more in-depth when I have more time (softball, unfortunately, is going to occupy most of my day). In the meantime, who's YOUR favorite to win the division? I'm always up for reader input here -- who do you like?
Sunday, May 4, 2008
As always, the episode recap is located here.
"If we can't live together, we're going to die alone."
OK, so a lot went on this week, and I'm going to try to cover as much as I can think of, I promise. But the more I review this episode -- and Jack's future on the show in general -- the more I keep coming back to that mantra he established early in the show. Live together, die alone. And everything that happened in the flash-forwards -- Hurley saying, "We're all dead," Jack sabotaging his relationship with Kate, Jack beginning the road to his painkiller addiction -- keeps echoing back to that statement, and portending a dark future to the leader of the survivors. He and Kate can't live together. And so he's going to die alone.
And thus, with a nod to Peter King, we move on to the Things I Think I Think about "Lost," episode 4x10.
-- I think the main thing we learned about Jack -- and maybe the main reason he's going to die alone -- is his selfishness/self-reliance. To be fair to Jack, he went to medical school, and most surgeons carry themselves like gods among men. And he's obviously got some issues left over from his dad.
Still, his own selfishness is submarining every area of his life. This is going to sound like a reach, but I started thinking about Moses -- yes, that Moses -- early in the episode when he uttered the phrase, "I've gotten us this far, and I said I was gonna get us off the island," blah, blah, blah. Moses never got to see the Promised Land because he'd convinced himself that it was he who'd led the Israelites out of trouble, but he was really just the vessel. In a related story, Jack fell over as soon as he said those words.
-- I think I absolutely loved this moment.
-- I think I really enjoyed the theory set forth in EW that Claire's actually been dead ever since the explosion, and that's why she disappeared like that, and that may explain why Miles was so interested in her (maybe I'm biased on the subject: I despise Claire). The only problem with theory is it doesn't explain who's been carrying the baby the whole time -- after all, we know the baby's alive, right? Right?
-- I think the Oceanic 6 are still minus one. Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sun and Sayid -- five. I don't think Michael counts, nor does Ben -- the sixth is still a little up for discussion.
-- I think I enjoyed the writers having Jack reading part of "Alice in Wonderland" to Toddler Aaron. Just for fun, here's the passage he read:
Alice took up the fan...and, as the hall was very hot, she kept fanning herself all the time she went on talking: 'Dear, dear, how queer everything is today. And yesterday things went on just as usual. I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think: Was I the same when I got up this morning?...If I'm not the same, the next question is, who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle.-- I think Locke, Ben and Hurley are about to run across something very sinister: I've been trying to roll over in my head exactly who Jacob is and what he's doing, but to be honest he's scaring me.
-- I think Daniel Faraday is more dangerous than he's letting on. Just a sense. And Miles' "Ghost Whisperer" abilities are going to come into play eventually, too. And while we're on the subject, how many languages does Charlotte speak, anyway?
-- I think I'm dying to know what favor Sawyer asked of Kate. Maybe it's to look in on his illegitimate child and her mother. Whatever it is, it's enough to truly upset Dr. Giggles. To quote TBL ...
She (Kate) couldn’t have been talking to him on the phone, could she? Eventually, there’s going to be one helluva reveal, and everyone will probably crap themselves while trembling on the couch. Or more likely, run to the internet AND BLOG ABOUT IT!
Friday, May 2, 2008
Thursday, May 1, 2008
One thing I forgot to add in yesterday's post: I find it funny that many of the criticisms the old sportswriters' guard are leveling at the blogosphere are the same negative things they've been hearing from readers for most of their careers. In order ...
• You've never played, so you don't know anything (they've changed it to, "you don't get any access, so you can't say anything.").
• You just want to be negative and inflammatory.
• You're hurting the morale of the program by being so critical.
Of course, most of us don't want to hear these things, just as many politicians want to go on believing that none of their critics are truly relevant. But the truth is they ARE relevant, and if we keep carrying on with this ivory tower mentality, it's going to destroy us.
— Gump has a beautiful poem about Draft Day.
— EDSBS turns in its usual hilarity: Tommy Tuberville and his chop-blocking.
— The poor, pitiful Atlanta rotation.
— Simmons writes a eulogy for the fast-break Suns.