Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Snake Oil Contributions

Note: This was written right before the OSU game

Timing is everything. Here we were leading up to the most meaningless Michigan-OSU game in my lifetime and I get the envelope from our esteemed Athletic Director Bill Martin – the Preferred Seat Donation Form. Outstanding! What a great time to demand more money from the fans. (Note the excellent use of the euphemism “donation,” it infers some voluntary component in the process – there is nothing voluntary about the fee for the right to buy your season tickets). Bill’s letter closed with these inspiring words as we sat on the cusp of our first 9 loss season in the history of Michigan football: “Now more than ever, it is great to be a Michigan Wolverine.” Really, it is true. Read it for yourself here. Hmmmmm. If Bill thinks this is the best time ever to be a Wolverine, I really fear for our future.

But since this is a critical year and I know Bill and Mary Sue Coleman need our help, “now more than ever,” here are some ideas for the next solicitation letter:

· The Rich Rodriguez Contract Termination Fee Fund
For a modest $2.5 million you can help fund the Bill Martin brain trust that concocted the plan to lure our third choice for a coach away from the place where he had just signed a contract. Our friends in West Virginia need this money much more than we do. Let’s chip in and help them rebuild their program after the loss of their native son.

· The Rich Rodriguez Salary Contribution Fund
This recurring $2.5 million delivers terrific value for all friends of the Michigan Athletic Dept. Our average cost per win (excluding contract buyout provisions) is now only $833,000.

· The Weight Room Improvement Fund
This was a relative bargain at $1M+ and it has paid vast dividends already. Just look at the performance of our athletes in the second half of games this year - 1-6 after leading or tied at halftime. Stamina, endurance. And don’t forget an important byproduct of this investment was our trainer Mike Barwis and his world-renowned "prehab" regimen. This makes players less susceptible to injury and able to bounce back faster from injury. Isn’t it evident that this team suffered far fewer injuries than the Carr teams of yesteryear with that Neanderthal training regimen?

· Naming Opportunities
How about naming a column in our new stadium? Skybox and club seat sales are robust given the two exciting wins against Wisconsin and Miami the team notched at home this year. So why not just bypass those pedestrian luxury seats and really step up for the U, how about $10M+ and we will name a concourse or brick tower after you or your favorite trophy wife? We will throw in a luxury box in the end zone for free – we have a large inventory of those still unclaimed.

As you can see, contributions to these funds and others have already delivered great, immediate returns for the football program. We will concern ourselves with the secondary and meaningless stuff like funding scholarships and aid for needy students later. First things first, let's get our world-class coaching staff up and running, eh? They need all the support they can get.

Let’s hope we didn’t buy the most expensive batch of snake oil ever peddled and that 2009 brings a lot more success and maybe we can bring the average cost per win down to $193,000 with a little something leftover for scholarships and the like.

Go Blue!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Seinfeld Band Names

Unlike most years, when the Michigan-Ohio State game would be the focus of a post on the Friday before the game, I have instead chosen to take my mind off what will probably be an ugly blowout. Instead of football, to take your mind off the impending disastrous 33-6 shellacking, how about some Seinfeld and music?

My wife and I were having a conversation a couple weeks ago about a band that named itself after something from a Seinfeld episode. The name of the band: Jerkstore. Brilliant. They're apparently a heavy metal (or "nu metal," whatever that is) band. Anyway, I thought this would make a great blog topic. So if you are a band in search of a good pop culture name that will catch the attention of potential fans, here are some ideas for "Band Names Derived from Seinfeld Episodes."

1. Mulva
This would have to be some sort of hard rock girl band - think Sleater-Kinney or Hole. Band members could even take on aliases like Delores, Bovary, Celeste, and Regina.

2. The Van Buren Boys
I think this would have to be a progressive bluegrass combo. They would be very popular at summer festivals and in small clubs throughout the country - think Leftover Salmon, Yonder Mountain String Band, or The Gourds. Instead of flashing the peace sign or the heavy metal "devil horns" sign, fans of the band would show eight fingers during the twelve minute mandolin and fiddle solos.

3. The Re-Gifters
I think these guys would have to be a cover band, perhaps playing covers of contemporary homogeneous pop noise like Nickelback, Daughtry, and Creed. They're probably playing at a bar near you this weekend.

4. Poison Envelopes
This band would have to be emo or goth. They wear black clothing, black eyeliner, their instruments are black, and their music is completely depressing. Their fans cut themselves or burn themselves with cigarettes and read Sylvia Plath and the Anarchists Cookbook for fun.

5. Izzy and The Mandelbaums
This would have to be a klezmer band. They play bar mitzvahs, Jewish weddings, and they'll even play at your son's bris. Their hit song would have to be titled "You Think You're Better Than Me?" Which brings us to our next band name...

6. Shakey the Mohel
Punk rock. Loud. Think Sex Pistols - only more Jewish. The sight of Hasidim slamming in the mosh pit is something to behold. Beards, hats, and sideburns would be flying everywhere.

7. Spongeworthy
This would have to be kind of a novelty jam band. Maybe kinda like Ween or Phish. Lots of good jamming, but with some quirky lyrics. Fans would be called "Spongeheads" and might even fashion some hats out of sponges, kinda like Green Bay Packer fans with their cheese heads. Oh yeah, and they smoke a lot of weed.

Any more suggestions?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

NCCA Hoops

I guess it's never too early for a NCAA tournament bracket. Wait, maybe it is. ESPN's Joe Lunardi already has fabricated a tournament bracket - it's March Madness in November! I'm not sure if they had previously come out this early in the year with a bracket, but here it is. As strange as it is to see a bracket out so early in the season, it's even stranger to see some of the comments from the readers. Some of the espn.com readers are really taking this seriously. Here are some examples, but you can peruse them from the link too.

JMoist21 (11/12/2008 at 12:00 PM)
Wisconsin as a 2 seed??? Michigan State AND Purdue are better than Wisky by a landslide. Do you do any research Joe, or do you just pull names out of a hat? Terrible.

Not only is JMoist21 upset that Wisconsin is a 2 seed ahead of MSU and Purdue, but has the stones to say the they are both better than Wisconsin "by a landslide." Wow. Perhaps he knows more about Big Ten hoops than I do. In fact, he probably does. But making hyperbolic statements like that before the season seems to me to be - oh, I don't know - the dumbest thing in the world - by a landslide.

NWarsh23 (11/12/2008 at 12:26 PM)
Wisconsin is not even the best team in their state, Marquette is clearly better and it is not even close, but yet Marquette is a 5 and Wisconsin is a 2, now that is a joke

This guy is certain that Marquette is "clearly better" than the Badgers and that it's "not even close" before he has seen either team play a game. Hmm. Perhaps these guys should be working for ESPN. Look, I'm not a fan of the Badgers, but it seems to me that Wisconsin is consistently pretty damn good. Coach Bo Ryan has taken them to the elite 8 once and the sweet 16 twice in his seven years as head coach. I have no idea whether or not they (or the other teams mentioned by these two clowns) are going to be good this year but considering their track record, it seems foolish to me to totally discount the possibility that they might be better than Marquette or MSU or Purdue. Of course, I suppose it's no more foolish than having a bracket in November in the first place....

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

2008 Election - Five Stages of Grief

Well, the 2008 election is finally over and I for one could not be happier with the result. Plus, the campaign coverage was getting tiresome and monotonous. Living in Texas, I am surrounded on all sides by McCain supporters - at work, in my 'hood, everywhere. There is definitely a palpable anger that many people have toward our new president, and I can't say I blame them because I was the same way in 2000 and 2004. Right now, McCainiacs are going thru the standard five stages of grief that are characteristic of any person dealing with a loss:

Stage 1 - Denial:
"I can't believe it. How could this have happened? How could we have elected a commie terrorist sympathizer?" I think even the most ardent McCain supporters probably cruised right thru this stage pretty quickly. After all, it was a pretty resounding victory for Senator Obama. if you were in denial at all, a quick look at the election returns should have cured you of that rather quickly. It happened - so move on to stage two already...

Stage 2- Anger:
"NO! NO! How can you accept this?" This one may linger for a lot of people. As much as we may like to think that as a nation we have risen above the days of bigotry racial discrimination, ask any minority and they'll tell you differently. But there are a lot of people who are angry about the election results, and not just for racial reasons. Many people think that their taxes are going to go up, that our military will become soft, that other countries are just waiting to attack us now that the Republicans are out of office, they're gonna take my guns away (gun sales have skyrocketed since the election), etc. Some people might be stuck in stage 2 for the duration of Obama's presidency. I know Rush Limbaugh and Anne Coulter were stuck there for the entirety of the Clinton Adminstrations. For the rest of you, just move on stage 3...

Stage 3 - Bargaining:
"Maybe this will be good for the country afterall. We were guided thru our country's most serious economic downturn by a Democrat. And it's great to see a black man elected to the presidency." After you have gotten over your anger, try to find something to grab onto. If you wish, you can focus on the insprational story of a mixed race man being raised by a single mother and his maternal grandparents to become the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, and then go on to ascend to the office of the President of the USA. Isn't that the American dream? Certainly much moreso than GW Bush's rise to power: born into wealth, born into political entitlement, stumbled to the presidency with dubious electoral victory in Florida. After you are able to be inspired by the wonder of Obama's accomplishment and his strength of character, you may want to move on to stage 4...

Stage 4 - Depression:
"Man, this terrorist socialist is actually gonna be POTUS? I wonder what no-good leech on society my tax dollars are going to support now." Well, pretty much the same same leeches your tax dollars currently support. Only now you'll be subsidizing their meth habits and lottery tickets with even more of your tax dollars! Jesus - why don't we all just stock up on ammo, move to the storm cellar, and wait for the end of the world. Or you can move to stage 5...

Stage 5 - Acceptance:
"It's going to be OK." It may take a while for most of you McCain supporters to get to this point. Some of you might never get there. I eventually got there with GWB as President. It definitely took a while though. Every time he opened his mouth and made one his famously stupid proclamations or verbal gaffes, I would slide back to stage 4. At my place of employment, within shouting distance of my desk, there are people in all five stages at this point in time. One of the more pragmatic of those guys has already made it to stage five. I applaud his practical approach. If you find yourself stuck in any of these five stages, step back, take a deep breath, and move on. John McCain already has...