Friday, August 29, 2008

Know Your Foe - Utah

Since one of my favorite Michigan football-centric sites, The MZone, closed its doors a couple months back, I thought I would steal borrow one of my favorite features of theirs - Know Your Foe. I don't expect this to be as good and exhaustive as Benny's on the MZone were, but it's my first one. Consider this as an homage to Benny, Yost, and the MZone. What are they gonna do - sue me?* Cheers, fellas.

*Note: Please don't sue me.

As everyone who's reading this is probably aware, this is the first game of the Rich Rodriguez era ("It's a New Dawn!"). The only time Michigan and Utah squared off was in 2002, the year before Urban Meyer took over at Utah and introduced the spread (he was at Bowling Green that year). The game was a thrilling 10-7 snoozefest in the heat of September. I was at the game, but I don't remember all that much about it. Looking at the recap of the game, it was indeed ugly. Phil Brabbs missed a couple FGs (including a 27-yarder), Chris Perry ran for 91 yards, and the defense only allowed 20 yards rushing. This season, Utah is expected to challenge BYU for supremacy in the Mountain West conference, and this week's game should be an entertaining contest, if only for the fact that both teams like to utilize the spread offense. This should be a welcome relief from last year's grueling opener.

Pretty boring logo

The University of Utah was founded in 1850 by none other than Brigham Young and it was originally called University of Deseret. It closed two years later for financial reasons and reopened in 1867. It was renamed University of Utah in 1894. The current enrollment is listed at 22,661 undergrads (for reference, Michigan's undergrad enrollment is 26,083).

Salt Lake City, Utah. Portions of the present campus are located on the grounds formerly belonging to the US Army's Fort Douglas, which was closed in 1991. The first permanent settlers in the Salt Lake Valley were Mormons, led by Brigham Young (unsurprisingly, his name is all over the state's history). In 2002, the University was home to the Olympic Village, and hosted the opening and closing ceremonies and several Olympic events.

"The Utes," named after the Ute tribe of Native Americans. The basketball team is known as the "Runnin' Utes," a reference to the time when Brigham Young ran all of the Native Americans off of "his" land so he could build his big church in the Salt Lake Valley. "Look, them Utes is runnin' now!" For some reason, the women' gymnastics team is known as the "Red Rocks." Insert your own joke, because I can't manage to come up with one.

The Utes colors are a very popular combination - Red and White. In fact, three of Michigan's first four opponents this year wear these colors as well. The logo is a capital "U" with a couple indian feathers hanging off the back.

According to US News and World Reports, Utah ranks a mediocre 127th, on par with the likes of Arkansas, Colorado State, Michigan Tech, and SUNY-Buffalo (as a reference, Michigan ranks 26th). They're right at the bottom of the "tier 1" rankings. Their medical school is known as one of the finest in the region (yay). However, in 1989, then-chair of the chemistry department, Stanley Pons, claimed to have discovered a chemical process known as "cold fusion," which has since been discredited by the scientific community (boo).

Current head football coach Kyle Whittingham has coached the Utes to three straight bowl victories, and the school is currently on a seven game bowl winning streak overall, dating back to 1999. The basketball team has traditionally been pretty successful, last making the final four in 1998, when they lost in the finals to Kentucky (a game that I watched in a sports bar in Trinidad). The women's gymnastics program is consistently successful, with ten national championships since 1981, as well as seven second place finishes in the same time period (including the last three in a row).

Famous Alums
As you might expect, the list of alumni from the University of Utah includes numerous former Presidents of The Mormon Church. In addition, Robert Jarvik, the inventor of the artificial heart, is a former Ute; as is Wilbert Gore, the inventor of Gore-tex fabric. The list of "celebrities" from the University of Utah is woefully lacking, unless you count Ted Bundy, who attended law school there before he was arrested for killing and raping a large number of women (estimates range from 26-57), and former Bush aide Karl Rove, who attended Utah but did not graduate. In fact, he does not have a college degree, which is probably why GWB kept him around for so long - to make himself feel smarter ("Hey Rove, where'd you get your degree again? Oh, I forgot - you don't have one. Heh heh. I went to Yale."). Numerous sports stars are former Utes, including two former number one overall draft picks in their respective sports - QB Alex Smith, and forward Andrew Bogut.

The Game
I wish I could offer some sort of insight as to what's gonna happen here, but just like everyone else, I have no clue. I'll make a stab at it anyway. Michigan's defense plays stout, holding the usually efficient Utah offense under 300 yards, and forcing a couple key turnovers. Michigan's offense sputters at first, but bolstered by a strong running game, manages to take advantage of the Utah turnovers to put three TDs on the board. It will be a close game until the fourth quarter, when the Wolverines will add a late TD to seal the victory. Michigan 24, Utah 13. The Rich Rodriguez era begins with a solid, but unspectacular victory. Huzzah. (Take that, Candyman!)

Go Blue!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Can't Wait For Kickoff

Why am I so damn disinterested in reading about the upcoming Wolverine season?? Like never before. I could never get enough. I mean, there is so much to read about…or is there? Everything at this point is pure speculation and supposition. Quite frankly, I don’t care what xyz reporter or blogger has to say because they have no idea what is coming. Yes, that can be said during any pre-season, but this year with all the player and coaching changes, nobody knows what to expect, probably including Rich Rodriguez himself. Instead of wasting my very precious time reading what all the pinheads have to say, I have taken the approach of waiting for it all to happen and unfold a bit, and then get into reading about. Reporting versus prognosticating. It is actually quite refreshing.

I equate it to playing a new golf course. When I play my home course, I always have preconceptions of where I have to hit the ball, and then what trouble I am in for different shots. When I play a new/different course, I just hit the ball – shot by shot. Sometimes that innocence and blank canvas frees the mind and helps, and sometimes you step in a pile of shit.

That is how I am looking at this Michigan Football season – let it all happen, see how it unfolds, and base thoughts on what is actually happening, not the speculation and opinions of our esteemed press. I fully intend to see some great/exciting/fun stuff and I also fully expect to step in that proverbial pile of shit on occasion. My baseless prediction is that we win 8 games this year – don’t know how or why, but with the athletes that Michigan has I just think we win that many games even through the growing pains. Either way, it will all come down to blocking and tackling.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Michigan Football Preview - 2008

Okay, I'll admit that I have no real tangible reason for the optimism that I have for the upcoming season. The list of areas in which Michigan is seemingly deficient is long:

None of the QBs on the roster has taken a meaningful snap in a college football game. The starter may be a walk-on. The freshman who's best equipped to run the spread is not ready to run it on a regular basis yet. Expect to see some direct snaps to Carlos Brown or other non-QBs several times per game. Each of these sentences sends shivers up my spine and undoubtedly will make me reach for the Maalox on a regular basis while watching games this year.

Experience with new offense
Which is to say, "none." None of the players on the offensive side of the ball has played in this offensive system in college, although some have played in a variation of the spread in high school. It could start out a bit ugly.

After the departure of stud MLB David Harris, I was not real happy with our linebacker play last year. The personnel is similar this year. Coach Shafer's new aggressive style of defense may help, but I'm not sold on the LBs. I hope they prove me wrong. On the bright side, Shawn Crable and his reckless style of linebacking are now gone.

Both starters from last year (Adams and Englemon) are gone. Hopefully, upperclassmen can step in, because having freshmen at the safety position is a scary proposition. My trepidation is tempered, however, because of the general ineptitude of Big Ten QBs this year. Still, not an area of strength, in my opinion.

Offensive Line
Only one starter returns from a line that was not all that good last year. Jake Long is gone. Judas Boren is gone. This, to me, is the most critical deficiency on the team. We can survive with mediocre QB play, but a porous OL will hurt the running and passing games. The OL is one injury away from a real major crisis. If the OL can manage to be decent, I'll be happy. If the OL can somehow manage to excel and dominate, the sky's the limit.

But the list of things Michigan has in their favor is decent too:

Defensive Line
The prospective starters on the DL all have started games at Michigan. Terrance Taylor, Brandon Graham, and Tim Jamison all have the talent to be all-Big Ten performers. This unit is going to have to have a good year, like the 2006 team had (with Branch and Woodley), or it could be a very long season. With the overall experience level of the DL, this is not a concern and this is probably the single strongest unit on the team.

Morgan Trent is a very good veteran corner with great speed. Sophomore Donovan Warren is going to be all-Big Ten before he's through at Michigan. Boubacar Cissoko is supposedly impressing in practice. Woolfolk has been coming on. Brandon Harrison is a good nickel back. This is a strength, and with the pressure that is likely to be brought by the veteran front line and the overall lack of quality Big Ten QBs, I would not be surprised to see a lot of INTs registered by this unit.

Wide Receivers
The strength here is in the numbers. While we lost Arrington and Manningham to the NFL, there are several potential bright spots. Greg Matthews is a Jason Avant-like talent - very good hands, but not great speed. Matthews, Clemons, Stonum, Hemingway, and Savoy are more like the prototypical Michigan receiver from past years - tall and rangy. The new generation of receivers is small and quick - Odoms, Robinson, Shaw. I'm excited about the possibilities and the variety. Plus, saying the name "Martavious Odoms" gives me pleasure.

Running Backs
Despite the loss of Michigan's all-time leading rusher Mike Hart, this position is loaded. Carlos Brown and Brandon Miner return from last year, and Sam McGuffie and Michael Cox (and Michael Shaw as well) provide a new infusion of speed and explosiveness. With the spread offense, these guys are also used in the slot, so expect to see these guys all over the place - and several on the field at once.

The Barwis

The conditioning program instituted by The Barwis has revolutionized the way our players train and lift. They are going to be stronger, faster, and have more stamina to finish games strong.

If all else fails and the offense sputters, the all-powerful Zoltan can unleash a sixty yard punt and pin the opposition deep in their own territory. All Hail Zoltan! (At the same time, I fully appreciate the irony of saying that one of the bright spots on the team is the player whose mere presence on the field is a sign of temporary offensive surrender, so don't bother pointing it out)

Enthusiasm of new coaching staff
For the first time in like forever, there is an infusion of new blood into the Michigan program. While I know many (including myself, to some degree) will miss the Bo era, it's time to move on. The RichRod era is upon us and I for one could not be more excited.

Like I said, I am optimistic about this season (go ahead, call me a shameless homer). Last season, Michigan was rated in the top five to start the year. We saw how well that turned out. This year, nothing much is expected of the Wolverines - in fact, most polls do not have Michigan ranked at all. I think the team will be better than most people expect. I'm seeing a 9-3 season, including a victory over the Buckeyes that will send us to a New Years Day bowl game and catapult the Wolverines to securing a solid recruiting class, thereby setting up next year for awesome QB recruit Shavodrick Beaver and his team of lightning quick Lilliputian receivers.

"It's a new dawn."
- Grace Slick

Go Blue!

Monday, August 18, 2008

SEC Preview - Fun with Names

I thought there were some unusual names in the Big Ten, but those are nothing compared to what I found when I was scouting the Southeastern Conference. Just as the Big Ten representative has been thoroughly trounced by the SEC in the last two BCS title games, the SEC again scoffs at the Big Ten's strange names. Last year, we all had fun with the Arkansas Razorbacks team with Dick throwing to his favorite Johnson, and coached by Nutt. I suppose that's where my interest in mocking people's names came from. Again, I did not verify if any of the players listed below has exhausted their eligibility. Many of them might be gone, but I used the ESPN roster listing for each team. So sue me. Anyway, here's the SEC.

M'ore' Un'necesary A'postrophes
- Don'ta Hightower, Alabama LB
- De'Anthony Curtis, Arkansas RB
- D'Antoine Hood, Auburn DB
- Da'Shaun Barnes, Auburn LB
- Sen'Derrick Marks, Auburn DE
- T'Sharvan Bell, Auburn DB
- De'Mon Glanton, Mississippi State DB
- Donte'e Nicholls, South Carolina DT
- Ja'Kouri Williams, Tennessee RB
- Demonte' Bolden, Tennessee DT

Team with the Most Opportunities for Snickering at Their Roster
The Hogs not only have two Dicks (QBs Casey and his little bro Nathan), but they also have a Penix, and lots of Love (see below). Also, this photo always cracks me up. This year, even the Hogs are Nutt-less, they still have a pair of Dicks (if the first one is injured, the other one can just step in and take over). In fact, there are times when they could use both Dicks on the field at once. In addition, their new head coach is kind of a dick too. (Yes, I have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old)

Most Obvious Birth Certificate Spelling Error
Weslye Saunders, South Carolina TE
Don't hospitals have proofreaders?

Best Porn Name - For a Woman
Foxy Foxworth, South Carolina TE
This is strictly a soft-core porn name, since hardcore would be something like "Honey Titsworth."

Sometimes "Y"
Jhyryn Taylor, LSU WR
Are those considered vowels in this circumstance? If not, a vowel intervention is required.

Most Appropriate Name
Mississippi State has a linebacker named Nick Pounder, which is exactly what you want a linebacker to be - a pounder.

Military Names
Major Sosebee, Mississippi State WR
Captain Munnerlyn, South Carolina CB

Destiny's Children
Okay, if it's true that you grow into your name, then the ladies with marriage on their minds should start lining up for Mississippi State TE Jason Husband, but should stay away from South Carolina G Heath Batchelor. What woman in their right mind would want to put up with being called Mrs. Batchelor anyway? That would get old really fast.

Other Cool Names
- Rowdy Francis, Georgia S - I hope he lives up to his name.
- B.J. Wiedemann, Kentucky DE - Heh heh, his last name is a crappy G. Heileman beer - of which we drank copious amounts in college.
- Vanderal Shackleford, South Carolina LB - This sounds like a made-up name from "Fletch."
- Montario Hardesty, Tennessee RB - Another one that's got a rhythmic quality.
- T-Bob Hebert, LSU C - He is the son of former Michigan Panther and USFL Championship QB Bobby Hebert. This has dual Sienfeld significance. First, George claimed to be fascinated with the name "Hebert":

You know what's interesting. The quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons is Bobby Hebert. No "r" - which I find fascinating. You know it's Herbert h-e-r-b-e-r-t, Hebert h-e-b-e-r-t. "Hebert" it's a fun name to pronounce. Try and say it - Hebert.

Also, the name T-Bob reminds me of the episode where George wants to give himself a nickname and decides that T-Bone would be a good one. "But there's no 'T' in your name. What about G-Bone?" "There's no G-Bone."

Other Cool Names - Roman Division
-Quindarius Carr, Auburn WR
-Rodgerigus Smith, Auburn WR
-Octavius Balkcom, Auburn DE
-Omarius Hines, Florida WR
-Dontavius Jackson, Georgia RB
This sounds like a role call from a Roman Empire regiment. "Octavius, Quindarius, and Omarius - you go with Dontavius. The others will run with Mucus."

Mississippi State
This is a special commendation for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. In addition to the names already mentioned above, they have a great looking roster. Sylvester Croom has been very selective in the kinds of names he recruits. Have a look:
- Demario Bobo, DB - Great rhythmic sound for announcers. Go ahead - imagine how the stadium announcer would say it.
- De'Mon Glanton, DB - Is that pronounced like "demon" or is it more like "de-moan" or "de-mahn?" I need to know.
- Co-Eric Riley, WR - He's not the main Eric on the team. He's just a Co-Eric.
- Jasper O'Quinn, DB - Is he a leprechaun?
- Mike Hunt, DB - "Great coverage my Mike Hunt on that play. Mike Hunt was all over him. Mike Hunt is really looking good today. Uh-oh - it looks like Mike Hunt is hurt."
- Trevor Stigers, DL - There must be some mistake. Obviously, this guy is a striker on an EPL soccer team.
- Quinton Saulsberry, OL - I love his steaks.
- D.J. Looney, OL - I think I saw this guy DJ-ing in a club recently. "DJ Looney is in da house!"
- O'Neal Wilder, WR - His parents were fans of American playwrights.
- Cortez McCraney, DL - A clash of cultures - it's Spanish and Irish all in one!
- Dontavious Morrisette, RB - I just like the way this one rolls off the tongue. Another one that's just fun to say.
- Cleveland Tubbs, FB - Wasn't this guy Sonny Crockett's partner on Miami Vice?

"All You Need Is Love"
- Tyler Love, Alabama OL
- Jamar Love, Arkansas CB
- Jermaine Love, Arkansas LB
- DeMarcus Love, Arkansas G
- Omar Love, Ole Miss QB
- Logan Love, Tennessee DB

Mississippi State wins this one hands down, but Auburn also had a strong showing. Kudos to the Bulldogs. It will be the only SEC title they win this year: The First Annual Grateful Blue SEC "Best Names" Competition.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Big Ten Preview - Fun with Names

I wanted to do a Big Ten Preview before the season gets started, but that would require actual work: you know - research, knowledge, etc. So, being a lazy-ass semi-blogger, I thought I would instead try the next best thing. Look at the rosters and pick out funny names. I guess that's "research" in a manner of speaking, since I had to read thru eleven lists of names and try to tenuously connect them. If anyone actually reads this, he or she might discover some of the names referenced herein are no longer on the these teams anymore. Let me preempt that by saying that I really don't care. I got the names from the rosters listed on and I don't intend to do any further research to validate the current enrollment status of any individuals listed. Anyway, here it is - The Big Ten Preview of Strange Names:

Girlie First Name, Badass Last Name
Whitney Mercilus, Illinois DL
If his parents had any sense, Whitney would not have even been a consideration with the last name "Mercilus." First choice should have been Ming D. Of course, the wife may not have liked that one, so at least something like Colossus, or Zeus, or Dontarrius, or Demetrius.

You May Have Knowledge, But We Have Wisdom
Wisdom Onyegbule, Illinois DL
Knowledge Timmons, PSU CB
Judging by their positions, I would say that Wisdom is much stronger than Knowledge, but Knowledge is a lot faster than Wisdom.

M'ost Unnecessary Use of an Apostro'phe
Brand'on Riggins, Purdue LB
J'Michael Deane, MSU OL
Da'Jon McKnight, Minnesota WR

Worst Case of Indecision by Parents
Stephfon Green, PSU RB
"I like the name Ste-fon. How do you think we should spell it? With a 'ph' or an 'f'?"
"I don't know. Fuck it. Let's do both. S-T-E-P-H-F-O-N."

Xzavian Brandon, Minnesota WR
"Wouldn't it be cool to have our baby's name be the highest possible scrabble score? We should put an X and a Z in the name. That's 20 points right there. Oh yeah, V's are worth four points too. Let's add one of those. Can I have another hit?"

Most Cartoonish Name
Will Suess, Indiana QB
"I will not throw up INTs
I will not flinch when they dive into my knees
I will not wait for Lewis to leave
I want to start now, if you please
I'd like to throw to Andrew Means
To either sideline or in between
I wish I wasn't such a loser
But I'm the one who chose the Hoosiers"

New Members of The Reggie Cleveland All-Stars
Wisconsin DL O'Brien Schofield
This dude sounds like a white lacrosse player from a prep school somewhere in New England. Apparently, he's a black guy from Chicago.

Purdue WR Joe Whitest
Indiana has a guy named Larry Black. Minnesota has a guy named Damien White. But only Purdue has the Whitest. Wide Receiver Joe Whitest, that is. Oddly enough, Joe Whitest is a black man, as pictured at right.

Buy a Vowel? Donate a Consonant?
Wisconsin offensive lineman Jake Bscherer's name seems to either be missing at least one vowel, or has too many consonants. Perhaps you could donate one of your consonants to Minnesota LB Logan U'u (I'm not even sure how you pronounce that one). Jake, if you donate your B, the two of you would be "Scherer" and "Ubu."

Most Appropriate Name
The Illini have an offensive lineman named Eric Block. It seems quite appropriate - like a library cop named Bookman, or an ice cream man named Cone.

Other Cool Names
-Michigan WR Martavious Odoms - It just flows off the tongue. "Back to receive the punt - Martavious Odoms. Punt fumbled by Martavious Odoms."
-Minnesota RB Shady Salamon - If his nickname is not "Slim," someone is not doing their job.
-Purdue WR Desmond Tardy - He's always late for practice.
-Illinois DL Clay Nurse - Is that a nurse that is made out of clay, or a nurse who helps treat clay objects?
-Wisconsin WR Nick Toon - Isn't that a show on Nickelodeon late at nite? Nicktoons?
-Minnesota DT Jewhan Edwards - I'm not sure how to make a joke out of this one, but there is definitely something funny about it.
-Illinois QB Juice Williams - I could not leave this one off the list. Announcers no doubt have fun with using "Juice got squeezed" at every opportunity.
-Indiana has two different guys with the first name "Keegan." There oughta be a one-Keegan-per-team quota. Get to work on this, NCAA.
-There are several instances of the names Deon and Dante being combined to form some strange hybrid name. But none are spelled quite the same: Deante, Diauntae, Dionte, Deon, Deandre, Diondrae, Donsay, and Deonte.

Corporate Sell-Out
Purdue FB Frank Halliburton used to be Frank Enron before Enron went belly up. He got new sponsorship deal and has a job lined up with Halliburton after he graduates. This is all legal under NCAA rules, but Frank cannot accept a free pizza or oilfield services from Halliburton until his eligibility is used up.

A Whole Lotta Love
Indiana has WR Charles Love and OL Kenny Love. Michigan State has WR Terry Love. Minnesota has CB Daron Love.

The Illini have Juice, Wisdom, Mercilus, Block, and Nurse. The Gophers have Xzavian, Jewhan, Shady, U'u, Da'Jon, and one Love. It's too close to call...

Go Blue!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Tropical Storms and Super Bowls

Tropical Storm Edouard crawls toward Texas

The Assman lives in the Houston area, and Tuesday the big news was Tropical Storm Edouard. It was supposed to hit Galveston and then tear across Houston and destroy property and create havoc. Many businesses downtown (including my employer) told their employees to stay home, just to be safe. You may have read about the storm, but it turned out to be largely unimpressive. We live west of Houston and we got about three inches of rain, but no wind. It was not really any different from a normal spring or summer storm. But what struck me about the storm was the intense media coverage. As you might expect, there was wall-to-wall coverage on all local networks (there's nothing else on daytime TV anyway). All the networks had reporters stationed throughout the area, undoubtedly hoping for some horrific footage and spectacular visuals. Tuesday, however, the field reports were quite lame.

It was not too dissimilar to coverage of the Super Bowl. It can be divided into three categories:

1. Before the storm (The Pre-Game Show)
While waiting for the storm to make landfall, the reporters were standing by at various gulf coast locations. Reporters told us that it was getting windy, but you couldn't really tell until they showed the bushes moving. "Steve, the wind is starting to pick up a bit, and if the cameraman will pan over here you'll be able to see the leaves on this small bush start to move. See that? Now, if you'll pan to the harbor you can see the waves have started to pick up as well. See how the surface is moving? Our wind gauge is now showing about 20 mile-per-hour wind gusts." Granted, a lot of Houston area residents were concerned about the storm, but the constant "pre-game" stuff was unnecessary. The weathermen in the studio with their fancy radar, mega-doppler, and what-have-you was very informative. The on-site reporters? Not so much.

Similarly, the the Super Bowl pre-game shows tell us all what they think is gonna happen, but like the weathermen, they are usually wrong. In addition to telling us what's going to happen during the game, the pre-game team, led by several on-field reporters live from inside and outside the stadium, will tell us what the current mood is: "Well Joe, the mood during warm-ups was quite loose. The defense really was intense and focused," or "The Giants just got off the bus." Like the on-site weather dudes, these guys generally provide no insight. Like the pre-game show for the storm, the football pre-game show is full of hype and hyperbole, and does not really add anything to your enjoyment of the game. They have to throw in the occasional Erin Andrews interview to keep things interesting.

2. During the storm (The Game)
After the storm made landfall, the networks were looking for their money shot. Shots of reporters being pelted with rain drops are not so dramatic when the winds are only 40 mph, as opposed to the hurricane footage where reporters are struggling to stand against the 120 mph winds. The best we got from Tuesday's storm was something like, "Steve, the raindrops are falling diagonally from the sky, and the drops are actually stinging my face." Whoop-de-damn-doo. Just as much information could be gathered by showing footage from the various traffic cameras that are positioned throughout the area.

This is the only important part of the Super Bowl experience - the game itself. Just like with the weather reporting during the storm, what happens in-game is what the audience is looking for - the money shot, if you will. For the storm, it's flying debris, reports of heavy damage, and pictures sent in from camera phones. For the football game, it's hard hits, a beautiful spiral nestling into the arms of a receiver in the back of the end zone, a great block by a pulling guard, gratuitous upskirt shots of cheerleaders, finding the hottest chicks in the crowd, showing the stars of the new Fox sitcom sitting together in the stands.

3. After the storm (The Post-Game Show)
After the storm had mostly passed through the area, the "post-game show" began. Where is there flooding? Who's lost power? How much rain fell. How injured are the on-site reporters? How does it rank with previous storms? And the inane cell phone calls from ordinary citizens. Yesterday's storm, being rather lame, did not yield too many breathless calls from local residents fearing for their lives.

Much like the weather post-game show shows the aftermath of the storm, the football post-game show shows the aftermath of the game: highlights, stats, injury reports, on-site retrospectives/recaps. Usually, they both have the same ultimate result: disappointment. The storm and the Super Bowl rarely live up to the pregame hype. Every storm is going to cause MAJOR DAMAGE, and every Super Bowl is going to be the BEST EVER.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Team USA Olympics - Fun with Names

Well, the Summer Olympics are coming up (opening ceremonies are on Friday) and for the most part, I have no particular insight into who's going to win. Most of the events in the Summer Olympics are pretty obscure. I can't even begin to tell anyone with any degree of certainty who's going to win the fencing medals (or what the rules of fencing are, or the names of anyone participating, or...). I can, however, make fun of names. Here are some of the more interesting names on the US team:

Men's 100m
The US has two competitors named Gay and Dix. People ask me all the time, "Who do you like in this race?" And I'll tell you what I tell them: "A lot of people like Dix here, but not me - I'm a Gay man*. Go Gay!"

*I'm not actually gay (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Women's Heptathlon
Hyleas Fountain is one of the US competitors in the heptathlon. Her name sounds like a landmark, not an athlete. "You're looking for directions to the park? Okay, turn right at the next light. Then, take a left at Hyleas Fountain. You can't miss it..."

Pop Quiz: Which of these two photos shows Hyleas Fountain?

Women's 400m
DeeDee Trotter is in this event, but something tells me she would be better suited for distance running. Where is BeeBee Sprinthoff? Or GiGi Fasterton?

Women's 200m
Marshevet Hooker is running this race, and I for one find it shocking to find a Hooker anywhere near an Olympic venue. If the Chinese government gets wind of this, she'll be detained until the games have been completed, at which time she can resume her hooker-esque behavior.

Women's 400m Hurdles
Queen Harrison's parents must have had some high aspirations for their daughter. She's not a queen yet, but she did make the Olympic team. The announcers and writers are just salivating at the possibility of the puns they could potentially use if she wins. "Queen rules the hurdles," is but one lame example of the pain we may have to endure.

Women's Soccer
The women's soccer team has not only has Mitts, but also Cox and a Boxx. "Do I like green eggs and ham? I do not like them Sam I Am. I will not eat them with Stephanie Cox, I will not eat them with Shannon Boxx. But I would like to eat them with Heather Mitts, but only if she shows her..."

Men's Soccer
The men's soccer team has Maurice Edu and Freddy Adu. I'm not sure if that's funny or not, but it is strange.

There are several permutations of the name Shawn on the US Olympic team. For the men, Shawn Crawford will be running the 200m. LaShawn Merritt will be running the 400m. Bershawn Jackson will be running the 400 meter hurdles. Tayshaun Prince will be lacing up the sneakers for the hoops team. Shawn Estrada will be boxing in the middleweight division. Sean Rooney is an outside hitter on the volleyball squad. Sean McLelland is a skeet shooter.

On the women's side, Chaunte Howard will be competing in the high jump. LaShaunte'a Moore will be available to help out on the 4x100m relay team. Shawn Johnson will be leading the gymnastics team. Shani Marks is a triple jumper.

Most Melanin-Deficient Sounding Teams
The USA Baseball team sounds more like a fraternity pledge class and less like a team of world class athletes: Jake, Trevor, Jeremy, Brandon, Blaine, Casey, Taylor, Jason, Jayson.

Similarly, the USA Women's Field Hockey team sounds like roll call at my daughter's preschool: Lauren, Katelyn, Lauren, Jesse, Tiffany, Kayla, Rachel, Kate.

Team with Most Soap Opera Names
The Men's Volleyball team has several members whose parents got their names right off the "Soap Opera Names" website, if such a thing exists: Reid Priddy, Clay Stanley, Riley Salmon, Gabe Gardner, Hugh McCutcheon. All that's missing is someone named Frisco, Steele or Ridge.

Most Obvious Use of Foreign Ringers
Table Tennis: David Zhuang, Wang Chen, Gao Jun, Chrystal Huang. What has happened to American dominance in ping pong? Have we fallen so far behind in table tennis that we have to outsource to Asia, even for the Olympics? Why doesn't the USOC have any funding set aside for inner city table tennis training? I want my tax dollars spent on American table tennis development, not on outsourcing. We have the resources here in this country. There are ping pong tables in millions of American basements and fraternities. Who's with me? Anyone?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Happy Birthday MTV - You Suck!

Oh no, it's another "This Day In History" post. Deal with it...

On this day in 1981 (27 years ago!), MTV made it's debut at 12:01 am, starting off with "Video Killed The Radio Star" by the Buggles. Some might view this event as something to celebrate. I'm not necessarily one of those people. Don't get me wrong - I have nothing against videos in general. They can be a welcome distraction and sometimes are interesting. At the risk of sounding like an old crotchety windbag (which in all fairness, I am), to me MTV ceased being relevant or interesting many years ago. Let me be the 1,726th blogger to rail against the ills of the MTV. Here are my beefs with MTV, both currently and in the past:

1. They don't show videos
The moniker "MTV" stands for "Music Television." Originally, the concept was that MTV would show music videos 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Fine. In the early days, this was fantastic, because the videos were new and interesting, in addition to being a novel concept. Sure, there were not a lot of them, which led to replaying some videos over and over again. Sure, the quality of the videos left a lot to be desired (in hindsight). But they were showing music videos more or less constantly. A few years ago, MTV just stopped showing music videos. They air awards shows, reality shows, game shows, dating shows, "idiotic stunts" shows, etc. It's not really "Music Television" anymore - it's more like "Pop Culture for People Under 25 Television." Where is there a place for videos from good rock and pop bands like Wilco, Old 97s, Ryan Adams, Steve Earle, Bright Eyes, Son Volt, Ben Harper, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Death Cab for Cutie, My Morning Jacket, etc?

2. "Image is everything"
Music videos became ubiquitous due to the existence of MTV. Every record label now has to consider the video when they are making a CD. This led to empty headed prima donna no talent "artists" who looked good in front of the camera being featured on MTV - hair bands (Poison, Cinderella, etc), Britney Spears, Duran Duran, boy bands (NSync, Backstreet Boys, etc), etc. Good old rock and roll has been diminished because of MTV and their repeated play of crappy videos that featured scantily clad skanks, and artists that are only getting played because they dress a certain way or look a certain way. The Rolling Stones would not have stood a chance if they had gotten their start in the MTV era. That is one ugly band.

3. Reality TV
I place the blame for the current reality TV craze squarely on the shoulders of MTV. When "The Real World" debuted in 1992, the downward spiral began. Granted, not every scripted show on TV is some sort of award winning endeavor, but some are worthwhile diversions. Thanks to MTV, instead of scripted shows, we have shows in which people stab each other in the back and connive and scheme to vote each other off the show (Big Brother, Survivor, etc.), shows in which participants race to see who can eat testicles and bugs the fastest (Fear Factor, etc.), shows in which people humiliate themselves in order to potentially "date" a famous attention whore (Tila Tequila, Flavor of Love, I Love New York, Rock of Love, etc.), shows in which people compete for the chance to date a non-famous attention whore (The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, etc.), shows in which odd stunts are performed in a race to a finish line (Amazing Race, Road Rules, etc.), shows that are supposedly unscripted, but are so well lit and filmed that there is obviously writing and re-shooting involved (The Hills, Laguna Beach, etc.), shows that display the vapid excessiveness of celebrities and non-celebrities alike (Cribs, My Super Sweet Sixteen, etc.), and shows that are just about someones insane and/or unusual behavior at home with their family (The Osbornes, Newlyweds, Breaking Bonaduce, The Kardashians, etc.). It's all thanks to MTV and The Real World.

What started out as a great idea - making videos as a complement to the audio of popular music - has turned into a steaming pile of crap. Who knew how apropos the first video shown on MTV would be: Video did indeed kill the radio star.

Now get off my lawn, you hooligans! I will not tolerate any more shenanigans from you youngsters!