Sunday, May 25, 2008

John Rambo, Nick Saban and Memorial Day links

Got to work tomorrow -- you know, people expect their newspapers every day, regardless of whether they're on vacation -- so I figured I'd toss out some links to keep you (and me) occupied, just in case you're like me and stuck near a computer.

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.


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