Monsters of the Midway, with Intermission Between Acts

Finally, I got to kick back tonight to watch Monday Night Football, for the first time all season. Combinations of orchestra rehearsal and literal piles of homework have taken me away from such a luxury during the schoolweeks, but today I got to stretch out on the couch, bring out the chips and salsa, plus a tall glass of orange juice (Bojangles sweet tea supply already exhausted), and just watch the game.

First off, I’d totally forgotten that the Hank Williams MNF Theme Song even existed. What a terrible song. Seriously, does anybody like the song at all? Obviously we all know the MNF instrumental theme, ESPN even played off that with a series of commercials featuring everyday workers humming it on the way to work, but the Hank Williams song? I don’t know anybody who likes it, yet every week they need to feature footage of him “performing” it live, all intense-like. I get much more excited and pumped up by the instrumental theme, no need to feature an ancient country washup in the pregame. I’ve already forgotten how the song actually goes now, I just have this massive image of Hank Williams’ face filling the camera shot, branded into my skull. What a nightmare, and I mean that quite literally.

As for the game itself, the Cardinals come out and just take care of business, Leinart mechanically guiding the team down the field for two touchdowns and a couple of field goals in the first half. The kid looks incredibly calm and collected, he’s going to be a great quarterback some day for sure. I will note that he didn’t make any long throws, most of the long gains came after the catch, but at least Leinart made the proper reads and delivered the ball accurately.

That’s a huge contrast from Rex Grossman. Two interceptions and two fumbles in the first half would seem to explain the large enclosed circle associated with your team’s name on the scoreboard. Meanwhile on defense, the Bears didn’t do anything particularly poorly, but Leinart just did a good job of picking them apart. Meanwhile, Edgerrin James remains useless. If you drafted him for your fantasy team, you are a fool. Please see my team if you would like to see a model of success. At least, this week.

And so we reach halftime. I was looking for something to do during halftime, and I felt like I’d been doing something fairly interesting before the game started, but I’d forgotten what that actually was. Then I realized: it was the new Jay-Z video.

There are times such as these when I’m really, really tempted to plagiarize. Tom Breihan’s writeup on both the song and video are pretty spot-on, but clearly for ethical/legal reasons I can’t just claim his work as my own, as much as I’d love the fame and glory that comes along with such brilliant blogwork. Anyways, you can find the full post over here, and I’ll attach the Jay-Z segment below (Also please note that the My Chemical Romance section brought incredible lols, but is unfortunately unrelated to the issues at hand):

Jay-Z: “Show Me What You Got.” The song leaked last week, and the internet’s been hating it since then, mostly because Jay’s lyrics are undeniably lazy, the sort of stuff he probably comes up with on the toilet. But it totally works with the video. Just Blaze’s beat sounds lush and expensive, with that “Rump Shaker” horn riff languidly snaking over all those hectic drum-fills and organ-blurts. The video doesn’t have much of a plot: Jay rides around in cars with famous racecar drivers and drives a boat in circles and raps at a casino on the beach where people are dancing with torches or whatever. But F. Gary Gray edits everything really quickly and uses all kinds of split-screen pyrotechnics. The whole thing reminds me of the opening credits to Hawaii Five-O, and that’s my favorite shit ever. Jay Smooth calls it “yet another episode of ‘Hooray! I’m rich! Watch me do rich people things!’,” and that’s true enough, but it’s all done with such breathless verve that I’m really looking forward to seeing it on an actual TV instead of a smudgy-ass YouTube scan.

True enough, I’d been watching the video before the game started. And I totally agree with Breihan, Just Blaze’s production is amazing as usual, but Jay-Z’s rapping is a little uninspired here. The video is, however, really really well done, I agree. I too was looking forward to seeing it on a real tv, outside of the YouTube vid which I now see has been taken down, sadly. I’m sure it’ll pop up elsewhere, do some searching around. Edit: Yeah, do a youtube search, there’s a few copies up again.

But just as I was about to head back to my computer to watch the video again, Stuart Scott came on for the Halftime Report, and things took a turn for the incredible. He’s got a fairly normal sportscaster vocabulary most of the time, but now suddenly Scott was dishing out phrases like, “Jigga’s got a new record droppin in Novembeh, homies,” while making exaggerated hand motions, and I just started loling, and totally missed everything else he said, which I greatly regret. But yeah, turns out ESPN was about to unveil the exact video I was hoping to see, its first airing on national television. Funny how things work like that.

Well, not exactly, as it was an edited version with a bunch of NFL highlights spliced in to make it marginally relevant to ESPN. The screen-splitting now showed the Jigga and Dale Earnhardt Jr. cruisin’, Danica Patrick checking her mirrors, the two cars aerial-view, and Michael Vick diving for the endzone. You’d also get Jay spittin’ at the camera, then a quick cut to Tiki Barber juking out some poor Falcons linebacker. And as the video went on, the editing got heavier, until they cut out the entire second verse with respective boat scene (my favorite scene! those bastards), cutting straight to the casino, which was actually shown less than the football footage. Prominently featured was Jeff Fisher awkwardly celebrating his first victory of the year as if it were the Super Bowl, and the juxtaposition of ecstatic white boy Fisher with coolness personified in Jay-Z was fantastic. The whole thing was short too, probably only two minutes, before we went back to the Time Warner Cable and Verizon commercials. Oh well, a nice enough break, and we continue into the second half.

Edit: I totally forgot, the video came up again during the third quarter, this time in a Budweiser Select commercial. It was a lot of alternate shots taken from the video sessions, except now they’re suddenly drinking Bud instead of expensive wines at the casino party. Closing shot: Jay-Z sitting in this plush chair, cigar smoke snaking through the air, spits out, “The King is back!” They’re really pushing this comeback, aren’t they.

Third quarter, the Bears still can’t get anything going on offense, and the Cardinals are content to sit on their substantial lead. Since the game isn’t going anywhere, we get more and more shots of the ecstatic Cardinals fans, and I became amused at the dedication of some of these fans. One Cardinals fan was wearing this t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan PROTECT THE NEST in a massive font, and he was incredibly intense, pumping his fists and screaming at the camera, and I couldn’t help but laugh. PROTECT THE NEST, what an absurd slogan, is that supposed to pump me up? PROTECT THE NEST. So awesome, I suppose that’s what you get for having a small songbird as your mascot. Somehow, this was topped by a Bears fan who was shown at least three or four times, who wore a normal black t-shirt, except that he’d made a neon Chicago Bears logo sign, somehow attached to the shirt, which he could light up at the press of a button. What. I can’t imagine how you could possibly look like a bigger fool. Despite all this, American football still doesn’t seem to compare to European football in terms of the fans’ fanaticism; do you remember all that World Cup footage of lighted flares being thrown around, the town squares literally packed with fans watching on a projector screen? Not even mentioning hooligan riots, or that Colombian footballer who got shot by angry fans after scoring an own goal against the US. I feel like sports are just simply absurd in general, but so what, they’re still awesome.

So last play of the third quarter, Kornheiser and Theismann are talking about clock management, when suddenly Leinart gets sacked from behind and the football flies out of his hand, a fumble! Mike Brown recovers for a touchdown, and now the Bears are only down 23-10. So what, everyone thought, the Bears have looked completely incompetent on offense, and the Cardinals should be able to sustain drives and run out the clock. Some minutes later, what do you know, Grossman throws another pick. After some mild amusement at the sight of a defensive end rumbling down the field with a convoy of Cardinals celebrating around him, the return is brought back because his knee was down, and Leinart and the offense promptly go nowhere. So Grossman gets the ball back, and throws another interception. I can’t imagine a quarterback having a worse game. Four interceptions, two fumbles, zero touchdowns. Probably hurt your fantasy team somewhat.

Now, the Cardinals try and run the clock down with the run, but then, Urlacher makes a brilliant play and strips the ball away from Edge, and Charles Tillman returns that for a touchdown. And suddenly, the Bears are only down by six. Theismann is starting to panic. Kornheiser is just flipping out. Everyone outside of Chicago wants the Cardinals to win this game, but everyone can smell it: the Bears are somehow on the verge of reeling this game back in, against all odds.

There’s only five minutes left in the game, so if Leinart can just sustain a drive, they’ll be safe. But no luck, a couple of passes batted at the line, and Edge gets stuffed a few more times by Urlacher, and its time to punt.

Devin Hester returns the punt for a touchdown.

The entire state of Arizona melts down, and the apocalypse ensues.

The score was 23-3 with five seconds left in the third quarter, but now the Bears are up 24-23, without even scoring an offensive touchdown, and actually having one of the most offensively incompetent games in recent memory. But there is still some hope, sez Theismann, as Leinart has looked quite good thus far, and this is the sort of environment he thrived in at USC. Remember last year’s unforgettable Notre Dame game? And sure enough, short completions to Boldin, Ayanbadejo, and a few other faceless Cardinals brings them into field goal range for the automatic Neil Rackers, who now has a chance to save face and win the game.

He misses to the left.

That Bears fan gleefully lights up his neon shirt-sign, and the entire world melts down, and the apocalypse ensues.

Good game, good game. But Kornheiser and Theismann stated it pretty well: everyone wanted to see Leinart bring the Cardinals back. And he pretty much did, Rackers just forgot that he gets paid millions of dollars to kick footballs well, and they lost the game. Again, they were up 23-3, and lost to a team who had 6 turnovers and touchdowns coming from defense and special teams. If I were a member of the Arizona Cardinals, or if I was a rabid fan, this is about the time that I would get that ceremonial samurai sword out from storage, and commit ritual seppuku. I’m so glad that all of my teams are competent, except for the Bobcats but at least they have a good excuse.

After the Phillies lost out on the NL Wild Card race on the final day, we asked the fanatical Phillies fan who works in Tarble for his thoughts, he was completely emotionless, he simply looked at us and said, “I’ve been a Phillies fan for over fifty years, I’m not surprised that this happened at all, so I’m not even upset.” I sincerely hope that my Panthers, Tar Heels, Hurricanes, and Bobcats never sink to such a low level, as it would truly destroy my soul. Let’s just conveniently ignore the fact that the Tar Heels just lost to Central Florida in football. I always forget that they have a football team. But for now, I’m very sorry Cardinals fans, the nation mourns with you. Your quarterback has a bright future ahead, just don’t count on anyone else to be decent.

Edit: I really like this stat. In the final 22 minutes of the game, the Bears offense managed…39 yards, two interceptions, no touchdowns. Yet they overcame a 20 point deficit to win. Unbelievable.

Show me what links you got:

  • Certainly, as illustrated tonight, sports can be incredibly agonizing, and even a little absurd. But there are times when sports can become absolutely transcendant. The Wharton girls asked me before the break: When was the last time I cried? I said it was a few weeks earlier, watching a replay of the Music City Miracle. I wasn’t lying. I almost choked up again today, watching Magglio Ordonez’s walkoff homer to send the Detroit Tigers into the World Series today. Or David Ortiz’s walkoff single in Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS. In all three videos, just listen to the call, and look at the fans. Look at the fans. I’m tearing up just typing this. How sad is that, that the only thing that makes me cry is sports, and it’s not even my home teams that we’re considering. Long live sports, and congratulations, Tigers fans.
  • A pretty good compilation of bone-crushing NFL tackles throughout the years.
  • Some great time-lapse footage from the cities, reminds me a lot of Koyaanisqatsi and such.
  • This website has a really fantastic design, lots of fun.
  • The portrait photographer Philippe Halsman asked his subjects to jump, to loosen them up, and here’s a sample of his work, and a nice article too.
  • Kids these days are so spoiled. Now they can get night vision goggles that shoot darts. Srsly guys, you could’ve invented this 15 years ago, get with the program.
  • Instructions for making your own beanbag chair.
  • Useful website where you can print up pdf calendars, graph paper, sudoku puzzles, and all that jazz.
  • Someone compiled a map of the town of Springfield from The Simpsons, with frightening detail.
  • A very mysterious boat has been sighted in the waters off Washington state.
  • And finally, Radar Magazine has listed the 10 dumbest politicians on Capitol Hill, with some pretty great anecdotes for each one.

    McKinney fought back by proudly producing a survey that ranked her as the 277th most effective legislator in the House. In fact the survey, by congress.org, placed her at 408.

  • That’s it and that’s all, have a nice week.
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2 responses to “Monsters of the Midway, with Intermission Between Acts

  1. Ok, roger, I think that 10 dumbest politicians pretty much fails. Any list that fails to include Nancy Pelosi and Dick Durbin is sincerely lacking in credibility (especially when, and I’ll be the first to admit the republican party doesn’t have the best representation merely the quantity, the top 4-5 nominees were republican).

  2. Also, that long post about the game just mad me more and more depressed as I read it, knowing that all it took for me to win this week was a decent performance by Rackers and Berrian, one that was indicative of the previous FIVE weeks for the Bears. I am just….depressed.

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