Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Anything Can Happen On Halloween

Where would we be without Tim Curry? I mean really.

Rise Up, With Fists

I've been playing a lot of Rilo Kiley on my iPod over the past few weeks. As I learn more about the band, I find that they are so ubiquitous in the world of indie rock that its amazing I didn't get into them before now. For instance, in the summer and fall of 2004 I played the Postal Service's "Get Up" quite a bit, and Rilo Kiley lead singer Jenny Lewis owns the female voice on that record. Members of Rilo Kiley contributed to "Do They Know Its Halloween," which I've now posted twice in this space. Last but not least, there is Jenny Lewis' terrific solo album Rabbit Fur Coat.

My favorite song on Rabbit Fur Coat is 'Rise Up With Fists.' The song is really beautiful. The video . . . I've got some issues with. Clearly, its based on the old CBS variety show 'Hee-Haw.' Believe it or not, I seen more than my fair share of Hee-Haw - my grandmother, who was my most frequent babysitter, really liked the show (much to my grandfather's chagrin), and so I spent a lot of time with Buck Owens and Roy Clark as a little kid. The video strikes me as an attempt at parody, though it plays more like an attempt at a straight-up accurate imitation than it does as satire. The laugh track was exactly that intrusive and corny, and the editors really did cut from one camera to another seemingly at random. The set and lighting are right-on. So, it seems like an imitation. But then, why is Sarah Silverman hosting it, and why does the cast make so many ironic facial expressions? The song itself is very sincere, which doesn't match the irony of the cast, which in turn doesn't match the accurate, straight-laced imitation of the source material. Is all of this dissonance intentional? If so, how does that effect your interpretation of the song? What effect do you believe the filmmakers intend?

Thoughts on the NBA's Opening Night

The San Antonio Spurs-Portland Trailblazers game went more or less as expected; Tim Duncan had 24 and 13, and Manu Ginobili had 16 points, 8 assists and 5 steals off the bench. The Spurs made few changes this off-season, but it looks as if they will be playing Matt Bonner a lot more this season. Are they beginning to ease out Robert Horry?

The Rockets are playing the Lakers tonight. I have no rooting interest in the Rockets one way or another, but I'm really interested to see what they can do with Rick Adelman as their coach. Jeff Van Gundy is really good at what he does, but I've always believed that the best and highest use of Yao Ming is as the pivot in a motion offense. Remember Yao's rookie year? In his first couple of games, he had 6 points, 8 points, 7 points . . . everybody thought he was more athletic than they expected him to be, but less ready for primetime. Then, in the ninth or tenth game of the season, he exploded for 20 points and started pinning guys against the backboard and hitting Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobely with bounce passes on backdoor cuts, and all of a sudden he looked like the second coming of Bill Walton. His game has changed since then, mainly because Van Gundy likes slow-tempo games and offenses which pound the ball into the post . . . but with the motion-oriented offenses favored by Coach Adelman, the play-making aspect of Yao's game will finally be back on display.

Also of note is the Rockets' addition of Luis Scola, a power forward from Argentina. Scola, a 27 year-old NBA rookie, is an Olympic gold medalist, world champion, and the two-time MVP of the Spanish professional basketball league, the best league in the world after the NBA. He's best known to American basketball fans as the guy who trimmed Jermaine O'Neal and Ben Wallace in the 2002 World Championships, and dropped 43 points on the Untied States on 60% shooting in the 2006 Worlds. I don't know how his game will translate to the NBA - at 6'9", he gives inches to almost every power forward in the NBA - but, if Fabricio Oberto, a 10-10 guy in international play, can start for the NBA champions, then Scola (a 20-10 guy in international play) should make a significant impact this season.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Weekend Links, Belated

Here's what we've been reading this week:

So Long, Joe - The peerless Roger Angell on the end of Joe Torre's managerial career with the New York Yankees.

Waiting For Manny -
The New Yorker's Ben McGrath on Manny Ramirez, the most eccentric player in Major League Baseball and clean-up hitter for the 2007 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox.

Not to Get Too Mystical About It
- Steve Nash is profiled in the New York Times Magazine.

Quirked Around - According to the Atlantic Monthly, we as a culture are 'drowning in quirk.' Do you agree?

The Life Obsessive - New York Magazine's profile of Wes Anderson. Lots of profiles this week, I guess. Defending Wes Anderson, by Ross Douthat, offers another take on the subject.

Thanks to JMFM for the Wes Anderson links.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Do They Know Its Halloween?

I've already posted this, but, hey, its that time of year:

Sunday, October 28, 2007

On Corporate Executive English

In the past couple of weeks, I have encountered a lot of documents written by corporate executives to their colleagues and employees. The process has taught me that these people have their distinct sub-dialect of the English language, which I will call "Corporate Executive English." Corporate Executive English follows most of the grammatical conventions of standard English, only wordier, and with wordy euphemisms intended, one assumes, to minimize the emotional power of their writing and speech, but which have the effect of creating long passages which mean almost nothing at all. If George Orwell, E.B. White, and William Strunk Jr. had to spend twelve hours a day reading this stuff, they would have thrown themselves off of the George Washington Bridge or jumped onto the third rail by now. Some choice examples:

"Let him go," instead of "fire him."

Little redundancies such as "red in color" or "the reason is because" instead of "the reason is that."

"Rubric" or "benchmark" instead of "standard."

"Timings" instead of "dates."

"Goal-oriented" instead of "motivated."

"MD's" to mean "doctors."

"Belongingness" and "excellently," which are too awkward to be used under any circumstances.

"Company's" instead of "companies."

"Business's" instead of "business'."

"Proactive" instead of "prepared."

"Discourse community" instead of . . . hell, I don't know. "Group," perhaps?

These are just a few examples, there are too many to count. Do businesses really entrust their strategic planning to assholes who refer to themselves as "innovative ideas teams" (sic)? Beyond the tortured English which can be attributed to Corporate Executive English, there are countless examples of just-plain improper English. Do high-earning and presumably well-educated businessmen really not know how to punctuate plurals, possessive plurals, and possessives ending with the letter "s?" Did somebody really type, in an e-mail to a French person, "bon swa" instead of "bonsoir?"

My personal favorite was found in an e-mail from a boss to his subordinate, explaining revisions the boss wanted the subordinate to make to a memo that she (the subordinate) had just drafted. The boss' e-mail contained the following phrase:

●Response is misspelt

Though the underlying memo was not attached, one assumes the subordinate committed a typo on the word "response." Hey, it happens to the best of us. Her boss, who mis-punctuated "response" and misspelled "misspelled" committed two errors out of ignorance in an attempt to get his subordinate to correct the error she made out of carelessness.

I am not a grammar snob by any means, but, at some point, bad grammar becomes bad manners. Am I the only person who finds this sort of thing appalling? Does it bother you to know that these people earn hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, before benefits and stock options? You're smarter and more professional than these people, right? If you were in a managerial position, would you consider a person who writes like this to be worthy of increased responsibility?

Your thoughts?

Millsaps College Needs to Work on Their Tackling Skills

I never thought I'd say this, but I think miraculous, game-ending lateral plays might have just officially jumped the shark. Yesterday afternoon, Trinity University, in a Division III matchup with rival Millsaps College, scored a 65-yard touchdown on the game's final play, which featured 15 different laterals between 7 players. The play sounds pretty exciting, and obviously it was inventive and completely unexpected, but in my opinion the sloppy and slow-developing nature of the play, along with Millsaps' complete ineptitude - and, at times, lack of effort - in bringing down Trinity ball-carriers prevents it from being the "greatest ending ever," as Sports Illustrated has suggested.




As far as final plays involving a lot of laterals go, I'd say it falls behind Cal/Stanford 1982, as well as the (in)famous Saints-Jaguars game from 2003.

Cal-Stanford 1982:


Saints-Jaguars 2003:


And if it's a measure of merely the greatness of the final play/ending, regardless of laterals, it doesn't compare to the Flutie/Phelan Hail Mary against Miami, the Stewart/Westbrook Hail Mary against Michigan, LSU's Hail Mary against Kentucky, or Boise State's Statue of Liberty play in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Greatest Gay-Themed Daily Show Segments

Despits its awkward title, AfterElton's "Jon Stewart's Greatest Gay Moments" is really interesting and well-done. My personal favorite is Stephen Colbert's incident with the banana (see below). A close second is "Popping A Big Tent," which really has to be seen to be believed:

The recent "Trapped in the Closet" parody, though cliche and a couple of years out of date, wasn't bad, either:

Friday, October 26, 2007

Halloween Costume Ideas

Via Amelie Gilette.

This is Tim McCarver's Country; We're Just Living In It

ESPN's Bill Simmons has given sports fans a lot to complain about lately, but this bit, from today's mailbag, made me laugh out loud at my desk:

Q: You mentioned the significance of Oct. 16 for Red Sox fans (in a bad way) with the Boone home run in 2003, the 19-6 loss in 2004 and the Game 4 loss to Cleveland in 2007. Guess what else happened on Oct. 16? In 1941, Tim McCarver was born!!
--Timmy, Groton, Conn.

SG: You couldn't make this stuff up. You really couldn't. At the rate we're going. I'm waiting to see McCarver pop up in a Chevy commercial right as John Cougar Mellencamp is giving out free Taco Bell tacos and "Transformers" DVDs to poor people from the bed of a Chevy Silverado.


"John, here's the thing about our country -- it might be a country that belongs to folks like you and me, but the key to this country is that we fought two major World Wars in the 20th century, and each time, we defeated foes who could have potentially conquered democracy inside our borders. Had we NOT won those wars, this might not be our country right now. (Dramatic pause.) But we DID win those wars. And when you win wars, usually, with very few exceptions, you get to keep your country. That's why ... This is ouuuuuuur country."

Portions For Foxes

For the past three years, I've been operating under the effects of a bad first impression.

Around the time I moved to Madison, in the fall of 2004, friends started to recommend the band Rilo Kiley to me. Without fail, these were good friends whose taste in music I shared. One friend played me a couple of songs off of their indie-label debut, but those songs left me totally flat. For some reason, I filed them away in my brain as one of those bands that critics like, but which failed to do anything for me. Another friend offered to burn me a cd, and a third friend actually offered to give me their extra ticket to see Rilo Kiley perform in Chicago. They meant well, but let's face it - everybody dislikes a couple of critically praised bands, and sometimes the very nature of the fawning praise they receive is enough to discourage me from ever picking it up. For years, Rilo Kiley was one of those bands - I just didn't understand why they were such a big deal in the world of indie rock.

Now that I'm living in New York City, I spend more time commuting than I ever have before. I invest some of the time I spend standing around waiting for trains to test-drive some new music - usually stuff I got from a friend some time ago, but haven't yet gotten around to playing. Rilo Kiley is one of these bands; their album More Adventurous was a last-minute addition to a data disc my friend Sarah burned for me last spring. Last week, I got around to playing it. Its a little uneven, but its high points are absolutely fantastic. The first time I heard "Portions For Foxes," and "I Never," I backed up and played them four or five times more, before moving on with the rest of the album. How did I let it sit for so long, unplayed? I'd like to thank/apologize to Sarah, Brian, Tom, Jessa, and April, all of whom knew I would like Rilo Kiley years before I realized it myself.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What's the Pope Blessing Now?

I'd like to thank Jake for calling my attention to the video archive at The Daily Show's newly revamped homepage. If there's a more elegant way to summarize The Daily Show's decline than the phrase "Samantha Bee is now doing 'This Week in God,'" I don't know what it is. Here's Colbert at his best:

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cartoon Of The Day

Sorry about all of the New Yorker cartoons in lieu of actual posts, but these two just had to be posted. Somebody should forward this link to Dane Cook's myspace page, but he'd probably be too stupid to get the message.
"We're done - there's nothing left in the world to bastardize."

Monday, October 22, 2007

Jackpot

If you have some time to kill - a few hours, perhaps - there are a lot of gems to be found in the Daily Show's new/updated/superfantastic homepage. Among the better ones I saw was this clip from 2003, which is notable because (a) it's pretty funny and (b) it's probably the only time I've seen Stephen Colbert (then Daily Show Senior Correspondent) break out of character/lose his straight face.



I'm making a point to go back and watch all the old "Even Stephven" debates.

True Story


I was at a party this past weekend where I ran into a friend from college. Now, while she's a nice girl, and book smart, she has some outstandingly ditzy moments. With this one, she topped herself:

She's working at an internship out here in LA. Someone tells her they need some more office supplies, and that she should go to Staples.

She goes there, even though its a bit out of her way.

She arrives at the largest Staples she's ever seen.

She's amazed at how empty the parking lot is.

She goes inside and can't find any office supplies.

She asks someone, where the office supplies are, since isn't she at Staples?

She is told she need to go a mile down the road to an actual Staples store, and not the Staples Convention Center, where she is at, where the Los Angeles Lakers and Kings play.

Further showing lack of common sense, SHE'S the one telling the story of this happening to her to me at a party. If this happened to me, this shame would have followed me to my grave.

Yes, she's attractive. No, she's not blonde.

Cartoon Of The Day

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Weekend Links

Here's what we've been reading this week:

Sparky From St. Paul -
John Updike reviews David Michaelis' new biography "Schulz and Peanuts" in The New Yorker magazine.

The Comfort Zone - CSD favorite Jonathan Franzen writes about growing up with Charlie Brown.

Stealing Life - The New Yorker profiles David Simon, creator of 'The Wire' and author of 'The Corner' and 'Homicide.'

True Believers - The New York Times reviews 'The Abstinance Teacher,' the new novel by CSD favorite Tom Perrotta.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Its That Time of Year

Is anybody more literary than Roger Angell? Angell is best known as the long-time New Yorker magazine fiction editor, who helped popularize the writing of Philip Roth and John Updike, among others. He is also the editor of the last several editions of The Elements of Style. The man is an authority on great fiction and on great non-fiction writing.

Every year around this time, I dust off my old collections of Roger Angell's baseball writing. In 1962, Angell then editing the fiction section of the New Yorker, on a lark, went to the Polo Grounds to see the newly formed New York Mets get slaughtered by the San Francisco Giants. His article about that game - not about the game itself, but the experience of watching the game - was intended to be a one-shot deal, but proved so enormously popular that the New York decided to make it a regular feature. For more than 40 years, the New Yorker ran Roger Angell's baseball stories - once during spring training, one regular-season game, one profile-style article during the season, and one final article about the postseason. If better sports writing exists, I haven't read it.

Two of my recent favorites:

"The Long Voyage Home,"
about the Red Sox' improbable run in the 2004 playoffs.

"Gone South," about the 2003 post-season and the Marlins-Yankees World Series.

I also recommend his books "The Summer Game," "Five Seasons," "Late Innings," and "Season Ticket." He also has two 'best-of'-style collections, "Once More Around the Park" and "Game Time: A Baseball Companion."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Neither Colorado Nor Arizona Fans Deserve Their Baseball Teams

With a man on first base and two outs in the bottom of the third inning of tonight's game, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Michael Owens grazed Colorado Rockies' Matt Holliday with a pitch. The hometown Colorado fans booed, implying that Owens had hit Holliday on purpose. Its possible that Colorado fans believed that, facing elimination and a four-game sweep, the Diamondbacks pitcher would hit a Colorado batter with a pitch, putting two men on base for Todd Helton, the Rockies' clean-up hitter. Helton is a .332 career hitter who has averaged 80 extra-base hits a year for the past decade. He is one of the top five or ten hitters of his generation. It takes guts to hit a batter intentionally to bring up Todd Helton in a potentially game-breaking spot . . . or, its possible that Rockies fans are just morons. They've only had a team for fourteen years, you see, and, since most of Colorado grew up in a baseball-less state, none of them appreciate the finer points of the game. As a fan sitting at home, it aggravates me that such baseball ignoramuses are five innings away from the World Series, while loyal, knowledgeable, and long-suffering fans in Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia keep waiting until next year.

This seems like as good of a time as any to mention that, as Holliday was trotting to first base and the Arizona catcher walked out to the mound to calm down his pitcher, the P.A. system at Coors field blasted the song "Call On Me." Colorado fans, shoot yourselves.

By no means do I intend to let Arizona fans off the hook. Tonight's incident in Colorado reminded me of Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. That game saw ace Yankees closer Mariano Rivera hit Arizona second baseman Craig Counsel, to load the bases in the bottom of the ninth inning of the deciding game of the World Series, which happened to be tied at the time. That brought Luis Gonzalez - who hit .325 with 57 home runs and 110 extra-base hits that year - to the plate. Who would ever hit a batter to load the ninth inning in a tied game, let alone on the biggest stage in all of baseball? Who would do it to face Gonzo, who was the best hitter in baseball that year, aside from Barry Bonds?

Its entirely possible that I'm overreacting, because I'm from Buffalo, a city full of knowledgeable sports fans who teams find innovative and heart-wrenching ways to lose big games. I'm convinced that mental depression and alcoholism in Buffalo would cease overnight if the Bills ever win the Super Bowl, or the Sabres ever win the Stanley Cup. Having said that, I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that Arizona and Colorado just flat-out don't deserve baseball teams as successful as the Diamondbacks and Rockies have been this year. Leave your artificial tanner, pom-poms, white towels, and thunder sticks at home. Take the price tags off of your shiny-new bullpen jackets, and, for the love of all that's holy, learn at least a few of the nuances of the sport before scalping your seats from real fans who actually know what the hell is going on out on the field.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

On Notice: Frank Caliendo

Remember last fall's advertisement campaign for Chevy trucks, the ones that featured the John Mellencamp song "This is Our Country?" Chevy ran those ads during every advertisement break of every nationally televised NFL football game last fall and, by the end of September, every man in America knew that song by heart. The ads were terrible - cynically combining patriotism, iconic American imagery, and crass exploitation of the Hurricane Katrina tragedy, all in the name of selling expensive, gas-guzzling trucks to middle-class Americans who will never use them to haul anything other than commuting and taking their kids to soccer practice, the ads are among the most reviled in television history.

The ads for Frank TV, TBS' new late-night comedy program, are so awful that they make the Mellencamp Chevy ads look like Got Milk?'s "Aaron Burr" or Apple's "1984." They're annoying and corny, and all of the impressions that Caliendo performs - Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Jack Nicholson, President Bush - are all corny, dated subjects for impersonation. Is there a hack comedian who doesn't do an impersonation of Al Pacino or Jack Nicholson? Didn't Will Farrell close the book on George W. Bush impressions five or six years ago? And why are the ads on during every commercial break - don't they realize that we're all going to be sick and tired of the show before it even premieres?

Worst of all - and its difficult to overstate the degree to which this pisses me off - is TBS' habit of referring to it as 'the show that is literally changing the face of late-night." First of all, its not changing anything at the moment, because it hasn't aired yet. That's #1. Secondly, YOU CANNOT LITERALLY CHANGE THE FACE OF LATE-NIGHT TV. LATE-NIGHT TV HAS NO FACE. ONE CAN ONLY CHANGE THE FIGURATIVE FACE OF LATE-NIGHT TV. When you misuse the word "literally," you use it in the exact opposite way from which it is intended. Not only is that one of my pet peeves, but it should be a pet peeve of educated, literate people everywhere. Ooooh, how I loathe you, Frank TV! May you be canceled after your first episode.

Here, see for yourself:

Weekend Links

Here's what we've been reading this weekend:

Parade's End - An interesting look at Philip Roth's Nathan Zuckerman novels, with special attention paid to the just-released "Exit Ghost."

Rinkmaster - A New York Times style section interview with the New York Rangers' Sean Avery reveals him to be a well-read guy with a taste for high fashion and the arts. Who knew? All this time, I thought he was just a checking line pest who was lucky enough to parlay his Canadian citizenship and position as a member of the Los Angeles Kings into a string of romantic relationships hot Canadian actresses and an engagement to Elisha Cuthbert.

Crosstalk: The Fall TV Season Check-Up -
The always-excellent Noel Murray, Keith Phipps, and Scott Tobias from the Onion A.V. Club comment on the fall television to date.

Leaving It All Behind - The New Yorker's Anthony Lane reviews Wes Anderson's "The Darjeeling Limited" and "Control," the new bio-pic about Ian Curtis, the late lead singer of Joy Division.

I Am An Op-Ed Columnist, And So Can You - Maureen Dowd turns her regular New York Times column over to Stephen Colbert for a day.

Radiohead Downloads Up To 1.2 Million - Apparently, Radiohead's new album 'In Rainbows' has been downloaded 1.2 million times since it went online Wednesday at midnight. Admittedly, some of these 'sales' were for $1.00, as listeners could name their price, but when you consider that every penny of these sales goes directly to Radiohead, this has to be one of the most lucrative cd releases of all-time.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Who Are These Fuckin' Guys?

I've never heard of half these guys!
Yorvit Torrealba?
Troy Tulowitzki?
Ryan Spilborghs?

I've never heard of half of these guys and the ones I do know are way past their prime Some of these guys never had a prime. And for the past five years, I've thought that Elmer Dessens was dead. Byung-Hyun Kim? I wish they had him two years ago . . . wait, they did! Seven years ago, then.

Yet, somehow, behind the bats of Matt Holliday and Todd Helton, the great-looking young pitcher Jeff Francis, and a surprisingly deep bullpen, the Colorado Rockies have a two-games-to-nothing lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks, and stand on the verge of going to the World Series for the first time in their franchise's young history.

David Bowie-Inspired Clothing Line to Hit Target Stores

For serious. Some of the shirts even have his lyrics stitched right into the fabric.

There are so many jokes to be made about this . . . what the hell is the David Bowie clothing line going to look like? Are young Americans going to start wearing skin-tight grey camel-hump-exposing pants like 1986 David Bowie From the Movie Labyrinth? Are all the young dudes going to start wearing gold lame thongs, like the one he wore at his 1979 concert in Woolsey Hall? Even Cat People and Diamond Dogs appreciate Target's low, low prices on clothing!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The New Radiohead Album Drops Tonight

The new Radiohead album comes out tonight. I'm excited about it, because I love the fact that, after five consecutive must-own albums, Radiohead has the inclination to stick its success up the music industry's ass, and the power to pull it off.

I've just downloaded it from Radiohead's website, and I'll probably find time to play it once or seven times when I'm stuck at a desk for 12 hours tomorrow. I figured that a good way to mark the release of "In Rainbows" would be to revisit some of my favorite Radiohead albums from their previous records. Here we go:

Just
This video, from The Bends, is in my opinion one of the great underrated classic music videos of all time. Like so much about Radiohead, its edgy and weird, but with a sort of mesmerizing power.

Karma Police
Creepy and vaguely David Lynch-ish, this video is still haunting after all these years.

Fake Plastic Trees


Creep
Creep

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Wes Anderson's Influences

The Onion A.V. Club nails it. I guessed "The Graduate" and "Harold and Maude" (obvious), "A Boy Named Charlie Brown", and "Sullivan's Travels." One important aspect of "Sullivan's Travels," which The A.V. Club could also have mentioned was that Preston Sturges, like Wes Anderson (and Woody Allen) after him, liked to find a small group of talented actors who "get" his style, and then cast them over and over in every movie he made. The films of Martin Scorcese have also clearly been a major influence on Anderson's style; I'm not sure I would single out "The King of Comedy," but I guess it would have been difficult to list them all.

See also "Ten Films That Couldn't Have Happened Without Wes Anderson."

I Don't Even Know What To Say About This


Its Brasco, the Jewish, gun-toting bear!








Do you think the Jews for the Preservation of Gun Ownership ever makes Nalgene decals of that American flag-Star of David-crossed rifles logo, I'll be all over it.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Running Diary of the Bills' Monday Night Game

The Buffalo Bills are playing at home on Monday Night Football for the first time in 13 years! This calls for a a simul-blog! I'm watching the game with my roommate Jack - the biggest Buffalo partisan I know - and my two other roommates, who don't like the Bills half so much as they hate the Cowboys.

7:00 - 8:30pm: A lame opening in which Tony Romo had his balls gargled by Tony Kornheiser, Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, Chris Berman, and half of the State of Connecticut.

8:30 - 8:35pm: Tony Kornheiser says that Dallas should "pound Buffalo like veal." In other news, NFL.com's front page features a close-up of Tony Romo with the caption "Mr. Perfect." God, I hate Tony Romo.

8:35 - 8:37pm: In the interests of equal time, ESPN allows two Bills fans to take the audience on a video tour of Buffalo's heavily Polish east side. For two brief minutes, the screen is filled with fat Italian men waving out of pizzareia windows, fat Catholic priests waving out of the doors of their churches, and fat old people waving to the camera from the tables of a bingo hall. Thanks, ESPN! Now I feel really good about myself.

8:38pm: Mike Tirico gives the obligatory "these are good people here in Buffalo, they really deserve to get a home Monday night game more than once every thirteen years."

8:45:pm - Kickoff, only 15 minutes later than scheduled. Funny how that works. Terrence McGee dances too much on the return and gets stuffed at the 19.

FIRST QUARTER

15:00 - 13:00 The Bills go 3-and-out

12:50 Bills punter Brian Moorman, client of Greater Buffalo Savings Bank and quite possibly better at his job than anybody in Ralph Wilson Stadium, takes a fake put 14 yards for the first down. Then, he is hit with a blatant late hit on the Bills' sideline, which goes uncalled.

12:50 - 11:00 The Bills go 3-and-out. Again. Brian Moorman pins the Cowboys back at their 1 yardline.

9:30 - After the Bills stop two straight running plays for no gain, Tony Romo drops back and hits a wide-open George Wilson (note: he's one of Buffalo's safeties) who returns it thirty-some yards for a touchdown. 6-0, Bills.

9:30 - 7-0 Bills.

9:00 - 7:55 - The Cowboys take their time driving to midfield. Romo drops back and finds a wide-open Aaron Crowell. (Note: he's one of Buffalo's linebackers.)

7:25 - Trent Edwards completes a wide-receiver screen pass for a short gain. Camera cuts to a close-up of Terrell Owens, in the words of Mike Tirico, "checking up on" Tony Romo. Anybody want to bet this ends badly for the both of them?

7:14 - Marshawn up the middle for a short gain. Camera cuts to a close-up of Tony Romo sitting on the bench with his head down, staring at his feet. Suddenly you don't look so cocky anymore, do you, Tony?

6:00 - The Bills line up to go for the 4th down conversion. Marshawn gets hit in the backfield and dropped for a loss.

5:52 - Tony Romo take the field again. Hand-off goes for a yard.

5:21 - Romo drops back and air-mails a square-out over Terrell Owens' head and 15 yards deep into the Cowboys' sideline. The Buffalonains applaud ironically.

5:11 - Romo can't get the play off in time; the Cowboys are flagged for delay-of-game. The Buffalonians are in a legitimate frenzy.

4:33 - Kornheiser, on the Bills' pre-snap re-alignments, intended to confuse Tony Romo, who, lest we forget, is only making his 14th career start: "It looks like they're playing musical chairs."

4:18 - Marshawn gets stuffed at the line of scrimmage.

3:04 - After a screen pass goes nowhere, Trent Edwards hits Roscoe Parrish (one of my favorite names in professional sports) for a first down. This seems like an appropriate time to mention that the injured player Parrish is replacing is named Peerless Price.

1:56 - Edwards has all the time in the world, but ends up checking it down to Anthony Thomas. The Bills' receivers are totally unable to get open downfield. Also, of all the adjectives announcers can apply to your running back, "salty veteran" probably isn't the one you would prefer to hear.

0:50 - Romo evades pressure, rolls out of the pocket, and hits Jason Witten over the middle. Let's hope he's not starting to regain his confidence.

SECOND QUARTER

13:33 - After two short completions, Romo drops back, gets smoked as he releases the ball, and lucks out when the Buffalo defensive back drops a sure-fire interception.

12:51 - Terrell Owens makes a spectacular 14-yard catch, gets up, celebrates, spikes the ball, and gets flagged for a 15-yard penalty. That worked out pretty well for Owens, don't you think?

12:09 - A wide-open Jason Witten blows right past the linebacker guarding him and catches a 22-yard touchdown pass from Tony Romo.

11:30 - Edwards finds Marshawn Lynch on a screen pass for a 23-yard gain. This guy's got great hands.

9:20 - A series of short passes and inside hand-offs. The Bills are playing it pretty close to the vest with the whole "brand-new rookie quarterback making his second career start on a big stage" thing.

8:58 - Edwards takes an ill-advised 9-yard sack. He's still got some learning to do.

7:43 - On third-and-8, Edwards finds Lynch for a first down. We're starting to warm up to this combination. On the next pass, he finds Robert Royal for eight more yards. Edwards is now 11-for-15.

6:03 - Good news: Edwards is now 12-for-16. Bad news: He just hung Roscoe Parrish out to dry. That crunch could be heard all the way to Cheektowaga.

4:21 - On third-and-goal from the 5 yardline, the Bills run a play-action pass that goes for one yard. Jack's take: "Somewhere, Kelly Holcomb is smiling." The Bills kick a field goal. The drive took 8:43 off the clock, which is approximately five minutes longer than any drive J.P. Losman has ever engineered in his life.

3:25
- After the kick-off, Romo takes the field again. Mike Tirico points out that Romo's first two pass attempts were intercepted, and that the last time this happened in an NFL game was 15 years ago, when the Broncos' Tommy Maddox found Dallas Cowboys with his first two passes.

3:15 - HOLY SHIT! On first down, Tony Romo has his pass tipped straight up into the air by Chris Kelsay, who casually catches it for a touchdown. Jack sprints to the other side of teh apartment, sprints back, and jumps into my arms. We exchange a hearty round of high-fives with the other roommates.

3:13 - The subsequent kick-off goes for a touchback. Romo takes the field yet again. This time, they go with a hand-off up the middle. I wonder why?

3:00 - Tony Romo throws ANOTHER interception, this time to the Bills' Jamari Greer. Jack and I are just giddy at this point.

1:23
- After a couple of low-risk passes and a beautiful deep ball negated by a holding penalty, the Bilsl are looking at third-and-8 from the Cowboys' 40.

1:10 - The Bills are late getting up to the line of scrimmage and have to call a timeout. ESPN shows a graphic stating that the last NFL quarterback to throw four interceptions in a half was Kyle Orton. Tony Romo, you've just been compared to Tony Romo on national tv.

1:00 - ESPN cuts straight from a close-up of the distraught Tony Romo to a Suzy Kolber sideline interview with Bills hall of famer Jim Kelly. Really, this couldn't be going any better for Buffalo fans.

0:59 - Another low-risk pass brings up fourth down. What follows is an awkward sequence in which the Bills bring the punting unit onto the field, followed by a Cowboys timeout, followed by the Bills sending their field goal unit onto the field and missing a 54-yard field goal.

0:30 - Romo lofts one down the left sideline to a well-covered Terrell Owens, who drops it out of bounds.

0:18 - Romo finds Sammy Hurd over the middle, followed by a quick spike and a Cowboys field goal.

HALFTIME. Buffalo 17, Dallas 10.

THIRD QUARTER

All they talked about at halftime was "can Tony Romo recover from his awful first half blah blah blah." ESPN is starting to redeem itself.

15:00 - The Kickoff return goes nowhere.

13:15 - A weird Julius Jones run on third-and-short results in his jumping through a hole in the line of scrimmage, getting up, running six more yards, and getting tackled.

12:58 - Another jump=ball pass from Tony Romo. Terrence McGee gets a bead on it, but a surprisingly deft play from Terrell Owens, essentially playing defensive back, breaks up the play at the last minute. That's two very near picks, in addition to the four he's already thrown. I hope Carrie Underwood mentions this the next time he drunk-dials her for a booty call.

12:45 - 10:50: Rome's finally starting to look good - moving the pocket, rolling to his right, finding open backs and ends on crossing routes.

10:35 - Terrell Owens drops a wide-open screen pass. Suck it, Terrell.

9:18 - Terrence McGee makes a gorgeous play to deflect Romo's pass on Dave Anderson's corner post-up route.

9:08 - Bills linebacker John DiGrigorio makes a gorgeous diving play to nearly pick off yet ANOTHER Romo pass.

9:02 - Fourth down. Nick Folk kicks a 29 yard field goal; 17-13, Bills.

8:48 - Terrence McGee takes the ensuing kick-off and takes it back 103 yards for the Bills' third return touchdown of the night. 24-13, Bills. Pandamonium in Orchard Park, New York.

8:48 - ESPN's acouncers make a point of complimenting the Bills' fans for the third time tonight.

8:45 - An inadvertent facemask on the Bills somehow goes for a 15-yard personal foul. Curious . . .

7:50 - How did a minute come off the clock already?

7:36 - Terrell Owens catches a forty-yard pass from Romo, but lands out of bounds. Owens and Romo continue their stellar outings.

7:31 - An errant pass from Tony Romo bounces off of Terrell Owens' fingertips. Keep flapping your gums, Terrell.

7:22 - Move-the-chains type pass from Edwards to Reed for 11 yards. Edwards' accuracy continues, but he still hasn't really thrown downfield yet.

6:44 - Marshawn up the middle for a hard yard. If they don't find a way to get this guy outside of the tackles sooner or later, he's doing to end up walking like Earl Campbell.

6:03 - On third-and-nine, Edwards checks it down to Robert Royal, who breaks it for 18 yards and a first.

4:28 - Short pass to Roscoe Parrish, who dances too much, then is tackled by his facemask, which somehow goes uncalled. Curious . . .

4:00 - A bizarre reverse call by Dick Jauron results in a three-yard loss and approximately 12,974 western New York heart attacks.

3:41 - Moorman's punt goes out of bounds at the Cowboy 9 yard-line. I'm telling you, nobody in the NFL is better at his job than Brian Moorman.

3:35 - Mike Tirico reminds us that its been 13 years since Buffalo hosted a Monday Night game. I think the last time the Bills played at home on Monday night, Jerome Bettis was growing up in Detroit.

3:30 - Romo scrambles for a short gain, losing his helmet in the process. The referees bail him out by calling a "grabbing the back of the helmet" penalty on the Bills, which nobody in the stadium, or in the booth, or watching at home, has ever heard of before. Curious . . .

2:20 - A nice-looking screen pass to Julius Jones gets the Cowboys a first down.

0:58 - After a couple of short gains, the Cowboys call an all-too-foreseeable play-action pass which nonetheless goes for a first down.

0:13 - Another Romo pass is deflected, but the Bills' defense is beginning to look tired.

FOURTH QUARTER

15:00 - Romo fumbles the snap, then fires incomplete to Jason Witten. Romo's current stat line: 16/33, 1 touchdowns, 4 interceptions.

14:47 - The Cowboys kick another chip-shot fieldgoal. 24-16, Buffalo.

13:50 - A perfectly charming interview with Thurman Thomas.

13:20 - Trent Edwards holds the ball for an eternity and takes a bad sack.

12:45 - Edwards can't find anybody open, stumbles around in the pocket, fumbles, recovers his own fumble. It is now 3rd-and-30. Jack: "Somewhere, J.P. Losman is smiling."

12:44 - They end up calling it 3rd-and-29. My bad.

11:58 - Another booming Brian Moorman kick. Its too bad this guy is married.

11:20 - Cowboys' ball at their 27. Kornheiser: "We've already talked about how Romo grew up in Wisconsin, idolizing Brett Favre. If we have time to talk about him later, we'll get back to this." Um . . . if we have time to talk about him later? What is there to say about him that you didn't say in your five fawning pre-game featurettes?

11:18 - Romo gets pressured, steps up in the pocket, gets hit and fumbled. Hig

9:51 - On first down, Roy Williams horse-collars Anthony Thomas. Thomas is immediately taken out of the game. Gee, this is called the "Roy Williams Rule" for a good reason. I can't wait to see the 15-yard penalty on this one.

9:50 - Um, somehow the refs called an unintentional facemask penalty on another member of the Cowboys. Roy Williams gets off yet again. They didn't call the linebacker's late hit out of bounds, either. Curious . . .

9:49 - I swear, if I ever see Roy Williams in an airport or something, I'm going to horse-collar tackle him and blow out both of his anterior cruciate ligaments.

8:00 - Marshawn Lynch goes off right-tackle for 14 yards. Man, this guy is tough.

7:03 - Lynch gets his hard on an inside hand-off. Tirico: "He just had the hammer dropepd on him." Thanks for that.

6:21 - Trent Edwards in the shotgun. Let's see how he does. Oops, a lofted throw to Lee Evans on the outside gets tipped, then picked off, and returned 70 yards to the Buffalo 25. Lee Evans, pursuing from behind, forces a fumble at the 25, which bounces closer to the Bills' goal line before being recovered at the 17. Well, that was awesome.

5:33 - On first down, Tony Romo drops back and throws a 25-yard pass . . . INTO THE ARMS OF JOHN DiGiorgio, who runs it out of the end zone and all of the way to the 40 yardline.

5:32 - FIVE INTERCEPTIONS! Take it all, Romo!

5:21
- Come on, offense! A first down or two is all we need.

5:21 - The Bills run for a yard. The camera cuts to a close-up of Terrell Owens biching out Tony Romo on the sideline. Don't tell me I'm the only person who saw this coming.

3:53 - The Bills run a totally uninspired drive takes ninety seconds off the clock; Brian Moorman bombs a 65-yard punt into the Cowboys' endzone.

3:45 - The Cowboys get the ball back. Come on, defense! One more stop is all we need.

3:08 - Completion.

2:54 - Completion.

2:40 - After a couple of short gains, Romo's pass bounces off his receiver's hands, then off of a surprised Terrence McGee's chest before falling safely to the ground. Romo, that was almost #6.

2:33 - Completion.

2:05 - Completion. Fuck.

1:57 - Completion.

1:29 - Completion.

1:22 - Completion.

0:53 - Incomplete pass. Moral victory for the Bills.

0:47 - Completion. This is getting ridiculous.

0:40 - Completion.

0:24 - Romo to Romo just went 9-for-11 on that drive. Lob pass to T.O. for the conversion?

0:20 - Incomplete! Another round of high-fives and Miller Lites get passed around the room.

0:18 - Shit! Dallas recovers the onside kick, after its man touched the ball just inches across the 45-yardline. Also, apparently only two seconds came off the clock during that whole ordeal, despite the fact that the Dallas player slapped it forward and it bounced a couple of times before it was recovered. Curious . . .

0:05 - Tony Romo's pass to Terrell Owens is caught on the Bills' 27-yard line.

0:05 - No! He dropped it! No catch!

0:05 - Wait, now its possible that Dallas rushed up to the line of scrimmage and spiked the ball before the referees were able to rush in and stop the clock in order to review the play upstairs.

0:13 - Incomplete! But they put 13 seconds back on the clock.

0:07 - Short right pass for 7 yards. Now we're really in trouble.

0:02 - Cowboys field goal.

0:02 - No! Dick Jauron called timeout before the ball was snapped. Do-over.

0:00 - Cowboys re-kick and make a 52-yard field goal. Shit.

11:58pm - Well, the Bills' season is now officially over. I am now going to drink myself into a stupor.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Big Record Companies v. Consumers and Recording Artists

The conglomerated recording industry just won a significant lawsuit in Federal Court in Minnesota. For violating the record labels' copyright protection on 24 songs, Jammie Thomas was hit with a jury verdict of $222,000.00, or $9,250 per song. The judge has the authority to reduce a jury verdict if he finds it unreasonable, and many legal experts expect him to do so in this case.

The Recording Industry Association of America has brought lawsuits against approximately 30,000 people since 2003, but this lawsuit is unique for a couple of reasons. First, the enormous amount of monetary relief. Secondly, the Judge in the case, Michael J. Davis, ruled that merely making songs available for downloading by others violates copyright, regardless of whether or not the songs are actually downloaded. This second point has enormous implications for internet users, because, if the verdict is upheld and the precedent is followed by other courts, every user of Kazaa or Limewire is now subject to damages of $9,250 per song. Thirdly, the only evidence the record companies had in this case was that an IP address was linked to a Kazaa user name that belonged to Jammie Thomas. There was no evidence that she actually had Kazaa installed on her computer, or, if she did have it installed, that she ever used it.

A list of the 24 songs can be found here. Are "Iris" and Richard Marx's "Now and Forever" really worth $9,250 each? To anybody, even the record companies, or the artists themselves? I have less difficulty believing that "Faithfully" is worth that much money, but still . . .

I realize that the record companies own their intellectual property, and that, legally, they are entitled to damages when their copyrights are violated. Having said that, you're naive if you think these laws are anything but terribly out of date, and that the record company's policy towards their enforcement is enormously bad business sense.

When television was first created, the owners or professional sports franchises refuses to let their games be broadcast. Their rationale was that, if fans could watch at home for free, nobody would every pay money to see their games in person. To give you a little context, at this time the average baseball game played to a stadium that was little over half-full, and World Series games routinely failed to see out. Even the 1951 National League tie-breaker, one of the most famous and certainly the most-anticipated baseball game of all time - a game so big that New York businesses closed early, and prisoners at Rikers Island and maximum-security death row inmates at Sing Sing were allowed to listen in - was played before almost 8,000 empty seats. Eventually, owners realized that, if they allowed television stations to broadcast their games, this broader exposure would generate increased fan interest, and increased future ticket sales. Within ten years, some franchises, such as the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, were selling out entire seasons worth of games before the season even began.

The major record labels are today making the same mistakes that the major league baseball owners made in the late 1940's and early 1950's. As piracy has increased, so has attendance at concerts. John Mayer, 50 Cent, Alisha Keys, and countless other singers first became popular via 'illegal' piracy, as their independent records were copied and transmitted via an earlier generation of file-sharing technology, such as Napster and Audiogalaxy. John Mayer's first major-label record reached #1 on the music charts, because, before he had ever had a song played on the radio, or a video played on MTV, college students around the country were familiar with his music. 50 Cent's first major-label record debuted at #1, which he readily acknowledges was the result of years of file sharing and bootleg cd distribution.

Back in the day, musicians had no way to promoting themselves but through the major record labels. It cost a lot of money to produce vinyl records, and it took a lot of influence (and, let's face it, a lot of payola) to get songs played on the radio. Today, with internet media websites like Pitchfork, internet radio stations, Pandora, and television around to promote new music, the marketing advantages of working with major record labels is no longer as important as it used to be. Legal internet downloads, such as iTunes, mean that the record labels no longer have to front the artists as much overhead as they once did. In short, the record labels just don't give artists as much value as they used to.

The typical major-label recording studio gives its artists eight or ten cents per song per unit, so that an artists receives about a dollar for every cd that gets sold. On the other hand, artists receive a significant fraction of concert ticket sales, as much as 33% or more, depending on the venue.

Let's face it, a major reason that young people don't buy units in stores is because they can get the songs for free on the internet. But another major reason, one that is too often overlooked, is that young people today are more aware of the scam-jobs that record companies pull than their parents and grandparents were. Would Motown have sold as many records as it did if people knew how badly it was screwing its artists? If you people know that recording artists receive 1/15th of compact disk sales, but 1/3 of concert ticket sales, can you blame them for 'illegally' copying their cds and using the money they save to buy concert tickets? What is the moral hang-up here, exactly? Can the record industry legitimately complain that a college student spends 5 minutes turning a $0.75 blank compact disk into the new Kanye West album, when it charges $15.00 to turn a 25-cent blank cd into the same finished product? Where is the efficiency in that? The labels claim that, if the music is not protected by copyright, then people will lose the economic motivation to make new music. But the people making the new music aren't the ones losing money - if anything, they are gaining money through increased ticket sales. Its only the record labels - the middle men - who stand to lose money. Who cares if they do? These lawsuits reek of desperation.

Eric Byrnes Is Shootin' Ropes

Common Sense Dancing, your site for champagne bukkake.

All photos via Deadspin.

Weekend Links

Here's what we've been reading this week:

The Onion's Bruce Springsteen Primer: The Onion A.V. Club compliments their review of Bruce Springsteen's new album "Magic" with this really well-done primer on the full scope of Bruce Springsteen's career. Some of the songs they feature are a little obscure ("Cindy," "Seaside Bar Song") but it does a good job of highlighting underrated albums like "Tunnel of Love" and "The River."

Outlaws: The rapier wit of The New Yorker's Anthony Lane is on full display in these reviews of "The Kingdom" and "The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford."

Time Out New York's Annual Sex Issue:
A lot of our friends are talking about this issue. Even if its not your type of thing, this particular issue is worth checking out.

The Woes of the U.S. Dollar: The American dollar is no longer as valuable as a Canadian Looney - one American dollar now buys you 98 Canadian cents.

Conservatives Are Such Jokers: Paul Krugman examines the way in which conservative politicians in recent years have laughed off the cuts they have made to health and human services. Have you noticed that "all of the famous Bush malapropisms . . . have involved occasions when Mr. Bush was trying to sound caring and compassionate?" Something tells me the same would not be true of Barack Obama.

Friday, October 5, 2007

More From the Lost Classic Archive

I'm too lazy to really write anything today, but Paul's post from a couple of weeks ago reminded me of exactly how much fun Whitney Houston used to be before she went batshit insane. My parents played Whitney Houston approximately 600 times during the summer of 1985, and Whitney approximately 700,000 times during the summer of 1987, so I'll always associate these songs with long days in the sun, wide expanses of empty sand, warm Lake Erie breezes, and little league baseball games. These are the sort of things you think about as you get ready to step onto the PATH train for eleven hours of computerized document review.
I Wanna Dance With Somebody
How Will I Know

Harvard Hates To Have Fun

Apparently, a few years ago the different houses at Harvard College set up something called the Party Grant Program, for the purpose of promoting the undergraduate party scene at Harvard. What Yale student hasn't spent the eve of the Harvard football game, wandering around Cambridge with his friends, looking for someplace - anyplace - to hang out? With 90+ percent of its students living on campus, brutally strict policies against alcohol in the college dorms, and bars that card like security guards an JFK airport, its pretty hard to get a drink around Harvard Square if you're under 21 years old. Which is to say, in college. Which is to say, at the point in your life when you're kinda supposedta drink and do foolish things with your friends.

The Party Grant program existed to give grants to undergrads who had clever party ideas the funds with which to throw them. Yale, Princeton, Williams, and other schools full of hard-working nerds have programs like this; without them, such school get anti-social in a hurry . . . in fact, the program made so much sense that David Pilbeam, the Dean of Harvard College terminated it last week. His reasons? Basically, that the program was working too well. Undergraduates were getting drunk, you see. And underage drinking is a serious healthy concern! And anybody who doesn't think that "the fund should be used to support house-wide events" is anything but code for "the nerdy wallflower kids choose not to attend because they don't want to feel self-conscious, and since that's the majority of our campus that's probably a bad thing for school morale" clearly hasn't spent much time around selective private university campuses.

On the other end of the spectrum, Yale College's entire drinking policy is "no grain alcohol or kegs in the campus dorms; everything else goes." In my residential college, the Master and the Dean would give one room the funds to purchase a keg of beer every Tuesday night, just to give people a reason to get out of the library and socialize a little bit. On the weekends, students threw their own parties, mercifully free from campus police scrutiny. What's the healthier policy? Should kids learn how to deal with alcohol like responsible adults, even if that means making a couple of mis-steps along the way? Or should a campus full of the most intelligent students in the country treat them as if they're still in elementary school?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Booyakasha

A great new video from the Onion News Network, featuring the acting debut of my roommate Daniel Mirk. Be sure to stay tuned for the 40-second bonus clip, which comes after the Jeep advertisement.
Country Music Stars Challenge Al-Qaeda With Patriotic New Song "Bomb New York"

Blog Notes

1) Thanks for all of your funny entries in the "Awkward Wedding Photo Caption Contest!" I am going to ask the bride and groom to pick a winner this weekend, so if you've been sitting on a good one try to get it up by the end of the day on Friday.

2) Common Sense Dancing may have just become the first website in the history of the internet to have been hit by people google-searching for "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "Jewish couples fucking" in the same day. You have no idea how proud this makes me.

3) Per reader recommendations, we have educed the number of posts on the blog's front page, to improve load times. Hey, I understand - we post a lot of videos. Also check out our newly re-organized blogroll and favorite link sections.

4) Did Sarah Silverman do something controversial recently? In recent days, google searches for her have been landing a lot of people on this post for some reason.

From the Lost Classic Archive

I started a new job today. So far, the best thing that can be said for it is that I get to listen to my iPod while I work. Hey, this is the life I lead. Creating an on-the-go playlist afternoon, I stumbled across this classic Jackson 5 song, which I haven't heard in a very long time:I've always loved this song, but other than High Fidelity's Rob Gordon (in the novel, not the film), I don't know anybody else who's even heard of it. In the book, Rob Gordon also loved Solomon Burke; further proof that the narrator in the book has better taste than the main character in the movie.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The New England Patriots Make Me Want To Punch Babies

Allow me to introduce this post with four real quotations from ESPN's broadcast of tonight's Monday Night Football game between the New England Patriots and the Cincinnati Bengals.

"What is it about putting on the New England Patriots' uniform that makes ordinary players perform at extraordinary levels?" - Tony Kornheiser

"Tom's Brady's good, that's all there is to it!"
- Ron Jaworski
"And he's pretty good-looking as well!" - Tony Kornheiser

"Its not that the Bengals are doing anything wrong, its just that the guys on the other side of the ball are good!" - Ron Jaworski

When is the media going to stop shoving the New England Patriots down our throats? Surely I can't be the only person who is sick and tired of it.

The Patriots are 4-0 this season. Yes, they have looked sharp in their first four wins of the season, but teams start 4-0 almost every season. There are several 4-0 teams in the NFL as we speak, and yet ESPN's pundits were all but handing the New England Patriots a 19-0 season from the first week of the season. Some context: in recent seasons, the Chicago Bears, the Indianapolis Colts (twice, in '04 and '05) and the Denver Broncos have gone undefeated deep into the season, but never received similar favorable treatment from the media. For those three teams, the prospect of an undefeated season was raised only for the purposes of discussing why an undefeated season was unlikely to happen in the modern NFL, but when the Patriots start the season with consecutive impressive victories, football experts

The Patriots have defeated the 1-3 New York Jets, whose only win was over 0-4 Miami. In order to beat the Jets, the Patriots had to cheat, using cameras to record the Jets' sideline conversations and play calls. They've also defeated the 1-3 Buffalo Bills, whose only win was over the Jets, and who were missing three members of their starting secondary and two of their starting linebackers. Read that again - out of their top seven pass defenders, five of them did not play because of injuries. The Patriots have also defeated the 1-3 San Diego Chargers, who are a complete mess after losing two key members of their offensive line and undergoing the arrogant, misguided firing of head coach Marty Schottenheimer. And they are about to defeat the 1-3 Cincinnati Bengals, who are missing their top two running backs (including all-pro Rudi Johnson) and four of their linebackers. In short, the Patriots' opponents are 4-12 on the season, and three of their four wins were over seriously injury-depleted teams. The Patriots have looked just about as impressive as a football team can look, but the teams they have been facing have been little more than practice squads.

For ten years or so, football fans have complained that that John Madden - the most famous announcer in football - appears to openly cheer for Brett Favre, the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. Isn't that annoying? Now take it and multiply it by every announcer in the NFL, and by the number of players on a team, and that's how the media treats the New England Patriots. Not only is their play incessantly praised, but their personalities and lifestyle choices are the subject of endless adoration. GQ recently ran a ridiculous photograph of Tom Brady wearing a suit jacket over a grey hooded sweatshirt. Surely, this would subject him to ridicule, right? Wrong. When the subject came up, an ESPN broadcaster said "hey, its unusual, but that's just Tom, he's a high-fashion guy and that's a high-fashion look that a lot of hip guys are wearing these days." Um, really? A high-fashion look? That a lot of hip guys are wearing? Where are these hip guys of whom you speak? Maybe I should check with my high-fashion colleague, but . . . I'm pretty sure that look is ridiculous. Actually, now I'm totally certain. As if that wasn't bad enough, the broadcasters mentioned his good looks on several different occasions. many football players, including, coincidentally, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, are good-looking, but Brady is the only player over whom every Armani-suited broadcaster seems to have a man-crush.

Finally, there is the entire question of the Patriots' cheating. During the first quarter of their Week 1 game against the New York Jets, the Patriots were caught using an illegal camera to spy on the New York sideline. Their defensive captain, Rodney Harrison, has been suspended by the league for 4 games for failing a test for Human Growth Hormone, a type of anabolic steroid. (Of course, he will continue to reap the benefits of the illegal steroids long after his suspension terminates at midnight tonight.) One of their star linebackers, Junior Seau, 'retired' from football, thus voiding his contract with the San Diego Chargers, at which point he immediately signed with the New England Patriots at a much lower salary. The unbelievably talented Randy Moss had malingered, exaggerated injuries, and played lazily for years, to the point where his former team, the Oakland Raiders, gave him away for cents on the dollar, trading him to the Patriots in return for a 4th-round draft pick. However, since the Pats could not afford Moss' salary, Moss sold out the NFL players union by agreeing to take a $6,000,000 pay cut so that the Patriots could stay under the salary cap. This is the same guy who, just months earlier, had claimed that he was underpaid. The legality of Moss' haircut was questionable, but the league eventually approved it.

At best, the Patriots violate a significant number of the league's unspoken "man-laws." At worst, they are cheaters. When the NFL penalized the Patriots a 1st-round draft pick for illegally filming the Jets' sidelines, the general consensus amongst football writers and broadcasters was that the NFL had overrated to a one-time infraction, totally ignoring that the NFL had caught the Patriots doing the exact same thing twice in the past, and specifically reminded every NFL team over the last off-season that such conduct was against the league's rules.

Did I mention that the Patriots' dynasty began because referees blew a call in the 2002 AFC Championship game so badly that the NFL apologized and changed the rule book so that it would never happen again?

Does anybody remember Super Bowl XXV, when Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, then the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants, instructed his players to engage in a systematic pattern of creating dog-piles, lying on top of Buffalo ballcarriers once they have been tackled, and kicking the ball once the referee had marked it, in order to slow down Buffalo's no-huddle offense, because the NFL didn't have the balls to enforce the rules and penalize the Giants 15 yards for doing so?

Most suspicious of all was the sudden way in which the NFL cut short its investigation of the Patriots' cheating. When the NFL caught the Patriots spying in week 1, it asked the Patriots to turn over every copy of every such videotape they have ever recorded, for inspection by league officials. Two days after the box of Patriots' tapes arrived at NFL headquarters, the NFL announced that it had found nothing incriminating, and destroyed all of the tapes. If there was truly nothing incriminating on those tapes, then why did they need to be destroyed? Why couldn't some third-party sportswriters have been allowed to watch them, to verify the league's story? If the Patriots' turned over all of their copies, having presumably already milked them for all that they were worth, why did they need to be destroyed at all?

Could the NFL have found evidence of cheating so serious that its publication would cast doubt on the credibility of the league? Could have found evidence of cheating in one of New England's three Super Bowls? Could it have found evidence that the New England Patriots' defensive linemen, as widely expected, hid microphones in their shoulder pads to capture the opposing team's audibles? Is the NFL protecting its credibility by protecting the Patriots? If NBA Commissioner David Stern had destroyed all evidence of the 1984 draft lottery, or Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig had destroyed all evidence of Barry Bonds' drug tests, sportswriters and fans would have never let them hear the end of it. And yet, everybody is not only willing, but downright eager to let New England off the hook. Why? Why them? Which almighty power decided that the New England Patriots were unique and delicate snowflakes, whose accomplishments are in need of perpetual laud?

I don't know how much more of this I can take. Please, deliver us from the New England Patriots and the sportscasters who jerk them off with one hand while tickling their balls with the other. There's not much more of this I can take.

Reasons Why This Weekend Kicked Ass

Four great things that happened over the weekend:

1) The Buffalo Bills won for the first time this season, 17-14 over the New York Jets.

1a)
The J.P. Losman experiment may have ended; the Trent Edwards era may have begun.

2) The '07-'08 NHL season opener, between the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings.

3) It was announced that an Eva Longoria sex tape has been leaked, and will soon be widely available to the public.

4) David Letterman made Paris Hilton cry. You have no idea how happy this made me. I know it sounds as if I'm piling on, but come on - being born into a wealthy family wasn't enough for Paris, she wanted to be famous. But, since dumb, no talent bitches with no character or work ethic rarely become famous on merit, so she whored herself out to a series of sex tapes and cynical reality tv shows which exposed the fact that she was not only enormously, staggeringly stupid, but also conceited and lacked respect for anybody or any thing. Cited numerous times for driving drunk, she had her license suspended. Of course, when I said that she lacked respect for anybody or any thing, that includes judges and the rule of law, so of course she not only continued to drive without a license, but she continued to drive drunk without a license. A tabloid caught her driving home from a hearing in which she faced charges of driving without a license.

Oh, everything about this video makes me happy, from Letterman's introduction "our first guest is a, uh, woman of many talents" and his "who's that, somebody you met in prison?" joke to Paris' pathetic "now you're making me sad that I came" and the Paul Schaffer's choice of "Let Me Clear My Throat" as her recessional music.