Sunday, September 27, 2009

Football Grab-Bag!

Fightin' Texas Aggies

The Aggies have done pretty well in their creampuff games. Last night was pretty impressive, especially for QB Jerrod Johnson. Three rushing touchdowns and three touchdown passes? Yes, please. The offense has looked very good, the defense has seemed decent, and last night the Ags managed not to get a whole boatload of penalty yards (which was the most frustrating aspect of the frustratingly-close game against Utah State). But next week playing Arkansas at some new stadium you may have heard of--that will show us how much of the Aggies' performance is a result of lousy opponents vs. actual ability.

I don't read as many Aggie football articles as I used to, but one I don't like to miss is "Robert Cessna grades the Aggies." It's always nice and succinct while still giving a pretty good idea of what went down and why. Highly recommended reading for fellow Aggies.

My Picks!

I really, really enjoy making picks, you guys. Here's how I'm doing:
On Facebook, I'm still in the lead among my miscellaneous friends and in the "Kick Frank's Tail" group. It's hard to care too much, though, for two reasons. First, the Facebook application or picks just isn't that good. It has a lot of bugs and it just suffers in comparison now that I'm picking on other websites. It doesn't seem like my other friends on there care too much, either, so it's kind of a snooze. The second factor is that on Facebook, you pick straight-up, and I've discovered that I prefer picking against the spread.

Picking against the spread is fun because it makes the easy picks harder (of course Florida is going to beat Troy, but are they going to beat them by 37 points or more?) and it makes it easier to reap the rewards for picking an underdog (I didn't really think Houston was going to beat Oklahoma State, but I thought they'd get closer than 14 points).

My Yahoo! group, where I'm playing against people from my dad's work, is therefore pretty fun. The first week, when I didn't realize it was a gainst the spread, I came in around the middle of the pack; the second week, when I figured it out, I came in first; last week, I just had a terrible week, dropping me back down to the middle overall; but then yesterday I did pretty awesome, and I'm now back to tied for first overall.

I'm also doing pretty well in my pro football picks (although not many of my morning-game picks are looking very hopeful so far). It's just a shame that I'm only in one group, and it's huge and therefore impersonal. I do like that ESPN tells you what percentile your picks are in, though. (As of last week, I'm at 97.9. Pretty good, eh?)

Finally, in case all that information wasn't dorky enough for you, let me tell you about the routine I'm developing for making my picks. I've put together an iTunes playlist with songs inspired by Barney Stinson's "Get Psyched Mixed," and I listen to songs like "Eye of the Tiger" while I pick the games. You know, to get pumped up. That's right. I'm that ridiculous.

Pro Football Opinions

My miscellaneous NFL thoughts are like kittens, and I'm givin' 'em away.

1: I don't understand what's going on with the Packers.
They looked really good in the pre-season, and I know they have a lot of good pieces, but they're just having a hard time putting them all together at once. Lots of puzzlingly dropped passes, way too many sacks, inability to convert take-aways into touchdowns, etc. They should be better than they are, is all.

Also, as I mentioned on Facebook, Johnny Jolly refuses to say "Texas A&M" whenever they do that self-introduction thing at the beginning of games. He says his high school, which really frustrates me. What is he, ashamed? So I want to be mad at him, but on the other hand, he's been makingn some really awesome plays for the Packers. Why can't he let me be proud of him?

2: Tony Romo has problems.
I am by no means a Cowboys fan, so I'm just saying as a dispassionate observer--tony Tomo has problems. I'm certainly not the first person to point this out, but he has a serious mental block with big games. It's been long enough now that there's no good reason to think he's going to turn it around. If he ever manages to lead a team to the Super Bowl, I will buy a hat in order to eat it.

3: Jay Cutler is intrinsically hilarious.
He's like some annoying, entitled frat boy-cum-quarterback. And it doesn't look like he's ever going to be particularly dependable, either. I saw a Jay Cutler Bears poster in a window on State Street, and I actually pointed and laughed. I dunno, it's just funny.

4: Jets vs. Titans
I picked the Titans over the Jets, but I sincerely would have picked differently if I had known they were going to wear throwback uniforms. I disapprove of the Titans wearing Oilers uniforms (they're not the Oilers), and it just can't be good karma.

Edited to add:
5: The "new" Football Night in America crew
The guys who do the games on Sunday night on NBC are configured so much better than they were before. Tony Dungy does not have an impressive TV presence, but that's the only weak spot. I adore the bluntness of Rodney Harrison, and I don't miss Tiki or The Bus at all. It's less crowded in the studio now that they've shipped Bob Costas out to the game location. And, most impressively, Cris Collinsworth is just an enormous upgrade in the booth over John Madden. Everybody knows that John Madden is a very nice man who loves football very much. But Collisworth is insightful and a skilled communicator. He'll point out something that's happening on the offensive line, and I'm like, "Oh yeah! Now I see how that was important!" He's pretty great.
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Friday, September 25, 2009


I've decided to steal an idea from the A. V. Club again. This week, its writers answered this question:

Do you guys have any incredibly specific micro-genres that you feel you might be the only fan in the world of?

Their answers include things like "movies about hitmen," "graphic non-fiction" (which I did not realize was a thing), and "old country and folk songs about mules."

I don't really care about superhero movies per se. But for whatever reason, I really like movies/TV shows (or the parts of movies or TV show episodes) focused on a superhero grappling with his or her secret identity. I mean, I liked My Super Ex-Girlfriend. And apparently, that's saying something. I still love Lois and Clark, because it's 75% Clark and 25% Superman. My favorite parts of Iron Man were the ones where Tony Stark interacted with his secretary, not the ones where he was building stuff and shooting things. And my favorite episodes of Darkwing Duck revolve around Drake Mallard dealing with being a parent. (What? Darkwing Duck is really good.) I'm sure there are other examples that I'm not thinking of right now, because I am a total sucker for watching the life and struggles of the meek alter ego.

Except in the Spiderman movies. I don't like those. At all, really.
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Saturday, September 19, 2009


Apple is obviously doing wonders for lots of quirky, indie-types bands, since their ubiquitous commercials always feature catchy, quirky, indie-type songs. But whatever they paid to their newest protege, I hope that some of that money is going to Gary Lewis and perhaps his Playboys.

I submit as evidence these YouTube videos, although my argument is encapsulated in the first eleven seconds of each one.

Miss Li's "Bourgeois Shangri-La" (2009):

Gary Lewis and the Playboys' "Count Me In" (1965):

It's a lot more obvious than "My Sweet Lord" and "He's So Fine," so if George Harrison had to cough it up to The Chiffons, how is the iPod song OK?
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My Nefarious Netflix Plan

A couple of weeks ago, I ran into A Situation with my Netflix.

Neal and I had finished the first disc of the second season of Alias, so in a hurry one morning I got the disc out of the DVD player, slapped it into the little white sleeve, put the sleeve in the red envelope, and deposited it in our outgoing mail receptacle. It was not until many hours later that I remembered that, in the time between finishing Alias and mailing the disc, we had watched something else.

Specifically, we had watched How I Met Your Mother (season one, disc three). I know I've mentioned it before, but we love that show. We watch it all the time. Also, we got the first season as my Christmas present from my sister-in-law. So when I realized what I'd done, I felt a stab of panic, but then as I was explaining the situation to Neal, it came to me that Netflix is awesome. They're so good as what they do! Netflix, I felt sure, would correct my mistake.

I visited the Help section of their website and found an FAQ Q reading, "I accidentally returned a personal CD or DVD. How do I get it back?" How helpful that they should have my exact question! I thought. But then there was the answer. I'll spare you the whole quote, because the gist was, "You can't." I even called up the help guy on the phone. This is an approximation of our conversation:

Me: "Hi, I sent back my own disc by accident."
Him: "Oh, ok! We'll get that squared away! What disc was it?"
Me: "How I Met Your Mother season one disc three."
Him: "Oh, ok! Here's what we'll do: we can't get that back to you."

Then I hung up and cried. (I had had a hard day.)

Here's where the nefarious plan part comes in: I got my usual "Hey there, friend, we got the disc you sent us!" from Netflix. They were under the impression, thanks to the aforementioned little white sleeve, that I had sent them Alias season two disc one. "Aha!" I thought.

I added How I Met Your Mother season one disc three to my Netflix queue and moved it to the top. Netflix, being so good at what they do (aside from the whole "you can't get your disc back" thing), plopped that thing into my mailbox by the next day. Then I totally kept it, sending Alias back in its sleeve.

So, from one point of view, I stole a disc from Netflix. From another point of view, I righted a karmic wrong. And in the process, I found out Netflix's one weakness: they will believe whatever the sleeve says, regardless of what disc is actually in there. Now, maybe some people would try to use that to their own advantage (trading in your own busted discs for nicer Netflix ones?), I would only use it for that whole righting a karmic wrong thing.
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Monday, September 14, 2009

This is My Extremely Timely Michael Jackson Post

The Michael Jackson fervor has obviously died down quite a bit (it went like this: "Whoa, Michael Jackson died?! I've only been thinking of him in his capacity as a possibly-criminal weirdo. Now I remember that he sang several very good songs!"). It's not gone completely--people are still putting Michael Jackson CDs on hold with alacrity at my library. (The powers that be at the library clearly anticipated this. Many of the CDs that pass through my hands--on their way to the hold shelf or to the patrons that ordered them in--are very very new. ["Whoa, Michael Jackson died?! We had better buy several copies of the very good songs he sang!"])

I observed Michael Jackson Times by purchasing The Essential Michael Jackson on iTunes. Unfortunately, I have yet to warm up to any Michael Jackson songs I hadn't already known and enjoyed. On the other hand, the ones I already liked are really good. And since I haven't slapped together some YouTube videos for awhile, here are--from the 38 tracks on the album--my top four.

4) "Beat It." Not only is this a good song, but I am fairly awesome at it in Guitar Hero: World Tour. Just so you know.

(There's an ad that has babies "skating" and "break dancing" to "Beat It," but I find it more creepy than cute.)*

3) "Billie Jean." You can criticize the hair, but how could you criticize the song?

"Be careful what you do, because a lie becomes the truth." Now those are lyrics, man.

If you are familiar with my taste in music, it will not surprise you that my top two (and there's a big gap in my affection between #s 3 and 2 on this list) are Jackson 5 songs. Ebullient!

2) "The Love You Save." This song sounds so cute, and the lyrics have a lot of schoolyard metaphors, but the real message is "You are acting like a woman of easy virtue. 'Ware lest you lose your prospects for marriage!"

Wow, the Jackson boys were bad lip synchers. Good dancers, though.

1) "I Want You Back." It's similar to the more famous "ABC," but "ABC" is inferior. This video has, again, the terrible lip-synching, but that's only the second-most distracting thing about this. The winner is the inexplicable JERMAINE splashed across the back wall.

*I made it through that whole thing without an "Eat It" reference! I'm surprised, too.
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Sunday, September 13, 2009

College Football Roundup! (OK, Just a Big 12 Roundup)

Well, the Aggies started to look a lot better this weekend without even playing.

It was not a good weekend for the Big 12. Some teams took care of business this weekend. Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Nebraska, and Kansas dominated in their games, which is what major conference members are supposed to do against Idaho State, Rice, Arkansas State, and UTEP.

If you only saw the final score of texas vs. Wyoming, you'd think they fell into that category. 41-10? That sounds pretty good. But 10-13 (Wyoming) at the half? Not so much. As far as I could tell, the 'sips went in at halftime, and Mack was like, "Hey Colt? Remember how you finished second in Heisman voting last year?" And then Colt was like, "Oh, right. That does sound familiar." Missouri was even worse, not taking the lead against Bowling Green at Missouri until there were five minutes left in the game. Tsk tsk, Missouri.

The biggest disappointment for the conference was of course Oklahoma State. See ya later, national title buzz and top five ranking! (Or, more likely, see ya perhaps not for another coupla decades.) I'll be honest with you, I'm a little annoyed that the Aggies declined to hire Houston's Kevin Sumlin before last season. But then again, maybe Mike Sherman will be able to beat Okie State too? (Stop it, Rachel. Stop getting your hopes up!)

Finally, in the "sad and getting sadder" category, we have half the Big 12 North. Iowa State lost by 32, but to Iowa, so it's actually less sad than K-State's loss by two points to the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. I wonder how much U La La was paid to play K-State? I'm going to post my Bill Snyder poster again.

But the most car-wreckily fascinating story in the conference is the breathtaking awfulness of Colorado. I actually thought they might have a shot at turning the corner this year, but aparently they turned the wrong one. Last week they were beaten by their poor little brother Colorado State at home; this week they were crushed at Toledo (Toledo!). Before the season started, soon-to-be-fired coach Dan Hawkins promised "Ten wins, no excuses," but that's going to be mathematically impossible the next time they lose. Hey, maybe next week at Wyoming! What's going on, Colorado?!

Even though I'm trying not to get my hopes up for the Ags, I can't help but start to mentally upwardly adjust my conference-win estimate.
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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Didja notice?

Did everybody remember that went live yesterday? If not, that's OK. I've added it to the blogroll over there on the right. Also, as long as I stay ahead of the game (right now I'm working on the entry for the 16th), it's going to update every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7:00 AM (Central, of course). I'm pretty excited about tomorrow's.

In entirely unrelated news, I love football. I love that the Aggies did well last Saturday, I love that Oklahoma lost, I love that we apparently get an SEC game of the week at 11:30 AM on an over-the-air channel, I love that the Packers did so well in preseason and that Aaron Rodgers is shaving off his pornstache, and I love pick 'em competitions. I'm in three!

I'm in a Yahoo college pick 'em group with people from my dad's work. I didn't do all that well last week because I neglected to notice that we're picking against the spread instead of straight up. (Curses! I never would have picked Oklahoma to beat BYU by 22 points!) Then there's a Facebook college football picks application in which I am part of a group called "Kick Frank's Tail" which I of course intend to do. (Last year I was within spitting distance of coming in first out of all of Facebook. It was awesome.) Finally, as of today, I'm in the B.S. Report Pigskin Pick 'Em group on (Do any of you guys read Bill Simmons? He makes me laugh.) Now that one is pro football picks, which I haven't done before (last year was the first time I've really followed pro football since the Broncos' Super Bowl seasons when I was in high school, so this year I feel like I might have some knowledge to base picks on). So I don't know how I'll do, but I hope I can at least mildly represent, on behalf of ladies.

So, clearly, I'm a dork. But I'm a happy dork, because it's football season.

ETA: As long as I'm telling you about unrelated things--I just found the least flattering photograph of Teddy Roosevelt ever taken.

WHOA, Foureyes, put those things back on!
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Friday, September 4, 2009


The Onion's A. V. Club (a pop culture website that has become my go-to pop culture website now that all the funny, intelligent people have left Television Without Pity) runs a feature on Fridays where each of its contributors answers a specific question. Every week, I think "I should come up with an answer too and post on the ol' blog." And finally, this week, I have.

This week's question is "What story clichés do you actively enjoy, or at least usually find effective?"

I realized my favorite storytelling cliché right away: when the villain derisively addresses the young (and, of course, idealistic) hero as "boy." Explaining why I enjoy this is a little trickier Maybe it's because it's so effective at emphasizing the contrast between the jadedness of the villain and the innocence/vigor of the hero? Or maybe it's just because it happens so often to Luke Skywalker.

That question was a response to last week's: "If you could permanently wipe one cliché—character, plot, anything—from the future of culture, what would it be?"

I didn't realize until today that my answer would be actual tension turning into romantic tension. You know, when the male and female leads hate each other and squabble constantly, and then they're right in the middle of their biggest fight ever and BOOM! they start making out. I hate that, and I'll give you three reasons why. 1: It's been done to death. 2: It's lazy storytelling, because the writer doesn't have to show development of a relationship, they only have to write point A (fighting) and point B (totally in love!). 3: Does that ever happen in real life? My money's on no.

How about you guys? Do you have favorite and dis-favorite movie/TV/book clichés?
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