Tag Archives: Sports

Two Challengers, Both Doomed

Heard an advance copy of the new album from The New Pornographers, entitled Challengers, due out on August 21st courtesy of the esteemed Matador Records.

At least the album cover is good…

Someone on the Hipinion board stated their opinion that each consecutive New Pornos album has been half as good as the last, and I more or less agree with that; Twin Cinema was the first mortal album of theirs, as The Electric Version was untouchably brilliant, and listening to Mass Romantic is almost akin to a religious experience. So where does that put Challengers? Continue reading


I Wonder How He Slept That Night

Everything that could possibly be said about last night’s Game 5 of the Cavaliers-Pistons series has already been said by sports writers both amateur and professional across the country. Yet I think we can all agree that it’s still not enough. Last night was one of those transcendent events that lifts sports, in general, from the realm of silly playfulness into the very core of what it means to be Human. Okay, well maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, I think sports are still inherently pretty ridiculous as a concept, haha. But it’s these kinds of moments that make you forget that!

What you get from moments like these is a glimpse into the extremes of what a human being is capable of, but not in a hey-look-I-can-throw-a-ball-through-a-ring kind of capability; it’s more general than that. Actually, it’s almost the closest we can get to witnessing war first-hand in our suburban American homes these days, with LeBron James as our soldier, vulnerable and human and needing our sympathy, and overcoming tremendous obstacles to singlehandedly dispatch the enemy, in a story that’s almost too awesome to be real at all. Deadspin posted the above photo this morning, and it continues to blow my mind to this very minute. There are five Pistons defenders in the photograph. LeBron James is the only Cavalier. This was the game-winning shot. It encapsulates everything that happened last night, both literally and metaphorically. Then again, if they turned Game 5 into a sports movie, I don’t think I’d like it. It just wouldn’t be the same. ‘Based on a True Story’ absolutely does not compare to the fact that I was there, I saw it, I had no idea what was going to happen next, but What Happened was beyond compare.

I know that I saw the immortal Jordan Flu Game live on tv, as well as his famous final shot to down the Jazz, but I was a little kid back then, and so my memory of those games is extremely fuzzy. Plus, that was almost expected from Jordan at that point in his career, so I don’t remember thinking that his accomplishments were all that amazing at the time. This, then, was quite possibly the most spectacular individual sports achievement that I have witnessed, and can remember vividly. Obviously that’s biased since this happened yesterday, while Jordan had his moment, what, almost nine years ago? When I was only 12 years old? But when I’m 30 years young, I think I might still remember LeBron James knifing through the Detroit defense over and over.

And after all that, wouldn’t it be hilarious of LeBron didn’t have anything left in the tank, and the Pistons won the next two games to win the series? The irony would be incredible. And I can totally see it happening!

In other news, nobody likes the Spurs. Please lose. Thanks. This video continues to crack me up, and also fuel the fury.
Can we at least have a consolation bracket, so we can watch the Suns again?

The Big Twitch

Just finished reading The Big Twitch, by Sean Dooley. Mr. Dooley is a comedy writer for TV shows by day, and a fanatical birder…also by day. I think he just sleeps by night, like most people.

Anyways, The Big Twitch is the story of how Sean Dooley spent one year trying to break the record for most birds seen in Australia in one year, an event creatively known in the birding community as a Big Year. But more than break the record, Mr. Dooley wanted to completely smash the record by reaching the previously untouchable level of 700 species in one year. The previous record was 634 or something. It was an ambitious goal, but Mr. Dooley felt that he had a reasonable chance of accomplishing his goal.

He does a pretty good job of keeping both birders and non-birders interested in his story, mixing in his tales of chasing down rare birds with his absurd adventures on the road. Another major theme of the book is his terrible luck at finding a steady girlfriend, as a fanatical birder, and how this Big Year attempt probably won’t help things any. Not only do the chapter headings give an update on how many species he’s seen thus far, but also how many girlfriends he’s gone through, a number which pretty much stays at zero all the way through the book. Ah, life as a birder, that’s the life I love.

Halfway through, it sorta became apparent that he’d break the record. Why else would he write the book? So then I started to wonder: is this a storybook ending where he gets a girl too? And that’s when I realized: oh no. This is like a romantic comedy! I’ve been tricked! Those scoundrels! I was lured in with the promise of rare birds, and got suckered into reading a romantic comedy! Kinda reminds me of a movie that came out many years back, I think it was called Forget Paris? It starred Billy Crystal as an NBA referee, and all I noticed during the previews was footage of guys like Reggie Miller and Charles Barkley draining jumpshots and making fun of Billy Crystal’s hair, and I almost went to see it until my dad rescued me from the abyss by mentioning that it was actually a romantic comedy, probably advertised as a sports movie to sucker boyfriends and husbands into seeing it with their giddy girlfriends and wives.

Fortunately though, Dooley gets one satisfaction but not the other: he gets the record, but on his first date of the next year, the girl, “with eyes like a Rainbow Pitta’s wings…” thinks he’s crazy and doesn’t follow up with a second date. Sorry Dooley old buddy, that does sorta suck for you, but c’mon, you got to see a Red-capped Flowerpecker! Doesn’t that make it totally worthwhile?! Sad thing is, some would argue that yes, yes that’s totally worth it. Hah.

The unromantic fanaticism of these guys really is quite amazing. Dooley is tortured by the constant struggle of how one can possibly nurture a relationship when an Eyrean Grasswren has just showed up six hours away. But there’s no way he can compromise and bring the two together either; you just can’t drag a girlfriend into a ten-mile hike through odious swamps just to see a small brown bird to add to the year’s list.

That’s the tension that makes the book work so well, the push-and-pull between the birding world and the normal world. The other two Big Year accounts I’ve read (Kingbird Highway by Kenn Kaufman, a great book, and Wild America by Roger Tory Peterson and James Fisher, historically important but not as good of a read) probably appeal only to birders; by the end they start reading like a laundry list of birds seen or missed. By contrast, The Big Twitch is a very accessible read that a non-birder could certainly appreciate, and a birder would also approve of. Well done Dooley, best of luck with the birds and the chicks, mate.

Edit: Just noticed something really weird. In the cover photo above, both birds are Red-browed Finches. On the copy I borrowed, the guy is holding what I think is a Rose Robin, and peering off to the right is a Regent Honeyeater or something, I haven’t checked the guide to ID either of them. I wonder if different copies have different birds on the cover? That’d be pretty cool.


So now I’ve moved on to Don DeLillo’s Underworld. The New York Times surveyed a vast array of American literature critics to compile a list of the Best American Novels of the past 25 years, and Underworld clocked in impressively at Number Two, just behind Toni Morrison’s Beloved. I’m a hundred pages in, and I’ve already been taken to the verge of tears. What was the reason, you might ask? Of course: sports. Baseball. The account of Bobby Thomson’s Shot Heard ‘Round the World. The joyous players, the ecstatic fans, a city rising together, that kind of stuff just kills me every time. Great book so far. But back to sports: as much as I love those sorts of miraculous moments in sports, I absolutely cannot stand sports movies. Actually, I can’t think of a single one that I actually enjoy. As a kid, I really loved Rookie of the Year and Angels in the Outfield, but I’m way past that point now. Well, in hindsight, those movies were sort of ridiculous, and would probably be entertaining for camp value. Can somebody arrange a viewing? But in general, I don’t like sport movies, because you know what’s going to happen. It’s the unpredictable and unscriptable stuff in the real world that gets to me. Remember the Music City Miracle? Holy cow, I’m tearing up just thinking about that thing. Sports are so great. Tar Heels, don’t let me down.


np: The Smashing Pumpkins – ‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’. These are among the most awkward lyrics I’ve ever heard, they’re just laughably horrendous. The music though, woah. The hook in the chorus is incredible. I start air-guitaring and screaming along to it, but then the lyrics I’m singing just crack me up and I burst out laughing. How frustrating is that. This song could’ve been Song of All-Time, but silly Billy Corgan had to slap on angsty goth-poetry that doesn’t even make any sense. The opening line: “The world is a vampire…” and you’re already down for the count, pounding the floor in laughter. Endless lols. I wish I could listen to this song with alternate, better lyrics. Oh man, what if Dan Bejar wrote the lyrics for ‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’. Best song ever, or, best song of all-time? Tough question.

Also, I saw that the new Rosebuds albums leaked, haha. Listened to the first song, and was really disappointed it. Shucks, what happened to these guys? They were Raleigh’s great shining hope for indie rock salvation, and after the brilliance of The Rosebuds Make Out, they just haven’t gone anywhere. There were a handful of nice songs on the Unwind EP and Birds Make Good Neighbors, but it doesn’t look like this new one’s going anywhere. In general, 2007 has been a bit of a disappointment, though clearly I’m missing out on a lot by being abroad with very little internet. Can people give some 2007 recommendations, including stuff I’ve already heard but may need to revisit? Much appreciation.


More Australia photos:

A little baby Stinging Tree!!! Adorable.

Whiting’s Fragment, which is the world’s smallest fragment of type 5b ‘Mabi’ forest left in the entire world. My partner and I did some surveys of frog populations in this fragment, and believe it or not, both of us actually got lost in there. It’s some of the densest forest I’ve ever encountered, and blindly hacking through it at night didn’t help. Somehow, we managed to get hopelessly lost.

Whale Rock, at Granite Gorge.

Green ants. That’s the queen in the center. They’re actually edible, and delicious: they have a sharp citrus taste. Unreal.

Fear of Music

Thought I’d dedicate a post to the classic Talking Heads album Fear of Music. I did one of these long reviews for Yankee Hotel Foxtrot about six months ago and promised that I’d make it a regular feature. Turns out, not so much, hah. But that doesn’t mean it’s too late to start making it regular! Or, at the very least, fit in a new installment to the ‘series’.

Before I dive into Fear of Music, I’ll establish my history with Talking Heads. So after my senior year of high school, I headed to party central at Salt Lake City to attend the Nationals debate tournament. I’d been told that paradoxically, Nationals was the most chill and laid-back debate tournament that I’d ever attend, and surprisingly that truly was the case. All of us had unbelievable amounts of free time to spend exploring the amazing attractions of…Salt Lake City. Oh.

Well, I have fond memories of watching Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban four times in two days at a mall located a good 30 minutes walk away, just because I had nothing better to do. I’ve mentioned it before, but Ed talking us out of renting Segways is a great regret in my lifetime thus far. I also recall seeing Who Framed Roger Rabbit in the hotel room, watching debate rounds in the absolutely surreal environs of the Mormon tabernacle, the ridiculous yet fascinating Mormon history museums, and many other things but we’re getting really off track here, aren’t we.

Somehow, a group of us ended up a record store in the mall, it was either Tower Records or Virgin Records or something, one of those big chains that we don’t have in my area. Anyways, they were having this sale where you could get three CDs out of a set selection for a total of $10 or something amazing like that. OMG SALE. So I ended up picking up Talking Heads – Talking Heads 77, Wilco – Summerteeth, and Built to Spill – Ancient Melodies of the Future. The latter was without a doubt the weakest record of the three, but I think it was the one I was most pleased about grabbing at the time. Man, my tastes in high school. What was I thinking. I passed up on Live at Leeds for that hipster-lite garbage.

Anyways, I didn’t particularly like Talking Heads 77 at the time. The production is so flat, I could listen through the record without getting hooked by any of the melodies, just because the production is so dull. I listened to it a number of times, because I really wanted to like it, but just couldn’t find the spark. It had some interesting melodies, but that was about it.

Fast-forward one year. The summer after my freshman year, I decided that I really wanted to get into film. So I subscribed to Netflix, just for the summer, and filled my queue with critical favorites and stone-cold classics. I made up for the short time by ripping everything onto my computer and sending back the discs the next day, ending up with dozens upon dozens of movies stashed on my hard drive. Netflix recommended Stop Making Sense to me, Berardinelli loved it too, and I could see some potential for Talking Heads to work themselves more into my life, so I zipped it to the top of the queue for investigation.

The attempt at becoming an overstuffed, pretentious, scholarly film critic didn’t quite work out, I guess I’m just not the type, but I did get to watch some incredible films, with Stop Making Sense being one of the best. It’s not just footage of the band playing live, it’s an actual film, and if you look at the details it’s one of the most immaculately-produced films that I know. Unless you confine your musical tastes solely to Baroque harpsichord music, Tuvan throat-singing, or some other extreme and hardcore niche, I don’t think there’s any way you could not enjoy Stop Making Sense, I practically guarantee that you will be converted into a Talking Heads appreciator, at the very least. I myself got turned into a fanatic, and have been working my way through the Talking Heads discography since then with great zeal.

I fortuitously began with their debut, so it made since to logically progress on to More Songs About Buildings and Food. The production immediately blew me away, but I felt like the songwriting was substantially weaker, which in my book is even more important (Shaw 389*). Over time, I’ve grown to love MSABaF (what a beautiful acronym!) but at the time I was a little disappointed, and delayed my advancement towards Fear of Music.

What a mistake. Fear of Music completely blew me away on the first listen, and by the time I’d gotten through the album four more times, it was completely apparent to me that this was one of the best albums I’d ever heard. Brilliantly written, produced, executed, and everything. Thematically too, the thing is brilliant, and Starostin’s review sums it up nicely:

This is clearly a concept album, and not only that – it’s a real concept album, which is very unusual, since most ‘concept albums’ are in fact pseudo-concept albums, whose main purpose is to leave the listener behind gaping at what the possible ‘concept’ could really be (think Sgt Pepper, eh?). The concept that lies behind all these songs is somewhat similar to the concept of Dark Side Of The Moon: fear and insecurity, madness and desperation at the sight of everything that’s actually mentioned in these songs: their titles speak for themselves – ‘Paper’, ‘Cities’, ‘Mind’, ‘Heaven’, ‘Animals’, ‘Air’, ‘Drugs’, ‘Electric Guitar’… Somebody at the Prindle site suggested that the key to understanding the record is its title: substitute ‘music’ from the title and put in most of these individual song titles, and you get exactly that same message that Mr Byrne wanted to communicate us. I really couldn’t agree more about that.

That sums up my thoughts on the album quite well. Byrne’s nervous energy used to just be a quirky character of the Heads, but here it’s harnessed to perfectly convey the dark paranoia and insanity of the album. The Prindle commenter’s analysis is spot-on, and thinking of each track as conveying the eponymous phobia makes the record that much more brilliant. Fear of Cities, Fear of Paper, Fear of Life During Wartime, it all fits perfectly. Well, except for Fear of I Zimbra perhaps. But even that song is reeling of madness, with its nonsensical verses and complex polyrhythms. And since we’re starting to talk about songs, let’s go track by track again:

  1. I Zimbra – The Opening Statement, and a great one, it really sets the tone for what’s to come. I thought this was an amazing track on the first few listens, but after a while you kinda figure out that it’s not too deep of a track. Really, it’s a bunch of people shouting nonsense words over some drums, there isn’t a whole lot of room for emotional complexity or subtlety there or anything. But it sure sounds cool as hell.
  2. Mind – that slinky guitar line in the opening gives me the creeps every time, and totally makes the song for me, along with the loud and distorted solo later on. The rest of the song isn’t particularly special for me, the chorus is sort of nice, but otherwise it sounds like something that could’ve fit on MSABaF (still a beautiful acronym).
  3. Paper – the guitars on this song are just…plain…ridiculous. This is the shortest song on the album, but it really packs a wallop. The interlocking guitar lines inject so much energy into this thing, I get these mental images of paper flying everywhere and office drones flying through office hallways like in those time-lapse videos, and there’s paper everywhere, and oh man, it’s just a nightmare! Completely, completely incredible song.
  4. Cities – the single repeated piano chord in the verse is what makes this song for me musically, it’s the lone source of clarity within the chaotic noise created by the staccato guitars and Byrne’s clipped delivery. Otherwise, the song seems a little overrated to me, though it’s still great. By the way, what’s up with the line, “Did I forget to mention, forget to mention Memphis? Home of Elvis, and the Ancient Greeks!” Am I totally mistaken on this, or was Memphis an ancient Egyptian city? I don’t recall the Greeks ever being involved with Memphis, Egypt, or at least as much as they were with Alexandria. I could be off base here, but that was just my thought. Historically accurate or not, it’s my favorite line in the song.
  5. Life During Wartime – I think ‘Cities’ is a little overrated, but I think ‘Life During Wartime’ is way more overrated. Nearly every review of this album mentions this song as the centerpiece of Fear of Music; it’s the brilliantly manic song that seems so spiffy and glam on the outside before further investigation reveals its dark thematic undercurrents. I don’t buy it. To me, it’s just a standard pop song that only stands out because of its sequencing within the album, after all the chaos of ‘Paper’ and ‘Cities’. I think that if this song had been put on a poppier, lightweight album such as Speaking in Tongues, nobody would really give it a whole lot of significant praise, because I think it’s just a decent song that’s especially well-framed by its context within Fear of Music. However, I do think it’s a necessary lightweight break to set the stage for…
  6. Memories Can’t Wait – …the song that defines this record for me. The first time I heard it, I sat stunned and just stared at the wall or something, I don’t even know what. The ominous walls of sound, the huge reverb on everything, it’s the darkest atmosphere you can find on the record. The final minute, with Byrne just wailing into the abyss, clutches at my soul every time, and to me it’s just one of the most affecting pieces of rock music.
  7. Air – you really need this break after all the emotional drama in ‘Memories Can’t Wait’. While you’re coming down though, you probably won’t notice how lightweight and innocent this song, but in a sort of forgettable way, unfortunately. For some reason, it sort of reminds me of Pixies, though I hate making huge comparative leaps like that because I know they won’t make sense to anyone else.
  8. Heaven – I kind of prefer the version of this on Stop Making Sense, maybe only because it was the first version I heard. But I don’t really like the piano on this album version, it adds an additional layer of complexity that I don’t feel this simple little song needs, and it drags down a lot of the drama and power that this song could have potentially had, were it kept sparse and simple.
  9. Animals – just plain bizarre and strange, but that’s part of its charm. The completely deranged closing is hilarious and brilliant.
  10. Electric Guitar – far and away my least favorite song on this album, and actually the only song here that I can’t say I like. Everything else, relatively weak or not within the rest of the album, is still great compared to the rest of the rock music wasteland. There’s too many strange noises, there’s not enough structure to help them make sense, the melody’s hook is too dull, and I just don’t like this song, really.
  11. Drugs – The slow, atmospheric closer. I really think this is a beautiful song, and possibly the album’s most underrated track (Starostin had the nerve to list it as his only disliked track, how is that even possible when ‘Electric Guitar’ is on this album?!). The award could also goto ‘Paper’, but in any case, this was the right way to close the album. A rousing crowd-pleaser would have clearly violated the moods built within Fear of Music, and nothing else could have worked other than this sort of contemplative, ambient stuff. It’s a beautiful closer to an incredible album.

And that’s Fear of Music. The album’s concept provides a cohesive framework to interpret each song, and the songs not only deliver on this concept, but stand on their own as well-constructed pieces as well. Musically as well as thematically, it’s gotta be one of the indisputable classics of the rock canon. I know that most people prefer Remain in Light, and I just don’t see it. Maybe I’ll touch on that later. Or, in a more likely scenario, not. To me anyways, Fear of Music is a towering achievement, and is one of the best albums in my collection. Generally I don’t like using ‘best’, I prefer to use ‘favorite’ since it implies personal preference instead of objective quality, but in this case it’s really both. Fear of Music is that good.

Some other things:

Sunday’s conference championship playoff games were the last football games I’ll get to watch until…September?! Sniff. Tear. More than anything, I’ll miss football during my time abroad. Okay, maybe not more than anything, but it’s up there. And it’s true, I’ll probably have to miss the Super Bowl. Because of the time zone differences, I’ll probably be in class or something, and it’s not like I could find a TV anyways, and even if I did, I doubt that any Australian stations would be showing American football. That’s three successive obstacles impeding my wishes to view the champion of the National Football League being crowned, but oh well. I’m not too excited for this matchup anyways. Or maybe I’m just not excited since I know I won’t be able to watch it. Chicken or the egg, you know. Speaking of which, isn’t the answer clearly the egg? Some chicken-ancestor-species laid an egg which contained a series of genetic mutations which caused the offspring to be Pure Chicken, rather than chicken-ancestor-species? Isn’t that how most species ultimately come about, evolutionarily? Somebody needs to refute me on this.

So the family jokingly went to Outback Steakhouse for dinner last night, as sort of a warmup for Australia. Ridiculous. I doubt they have Outback over there, but I wonder if they know about it. I also wondered whether there’s some novelty American restaurant out there, themed on cowboys, tumbleweeds, and ghost towns, but then I realized that, hah, we have those in America already, don’t we. So maybe Australia has those, and some self-mocking Australian restaurants. The novelty does go a bit overboard at Outback though, like how the restrooms are labeled Sheilas and Blokes? Wtf? On a random sidenote, I greatly appreciate restaurants that post the newspaper’s sports section in front of the urinal in the men’s restroom. I started thinking about what section of the newspaper would be in the women’s restroom, before I realized how impractical that would probably be. Or is it? Do they have this? I wouldn’t know, would I.

Also of note, I completely forgot that UNC and Clemson would be playing this evening, my last UNC game before I head abroad too! Fortunately, the game was playing on the big screen TV in Outback, causing the following conversation to occur over and over again:

Mom: I can’t believe my only child is going to Australia in a few days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Me: Lawson just hit his free throws, it’s 69-51 Heels, 8:41 left in the half.
Dad: Good.

And that’s my family in a nutshell.

I really like this year’s UNC team. Normally, I’m a very atypical sports fanboy, in that I’m extremely critical of all my teams. I know them well enough to know their glaring weaknesses, and I absolutely pick them apart for it. I didn’t like the 2005 championship team at all: not enough team play, streaky outside shooters fading down the tournament stretch, no shotblockers or solid interior defense, and I could go on. I was stunned when they won the whole thing, and none of my college friends could understand that. In hindsight, okay, that team was amazing. Sean May and Raymond Felton were consistently reliable, something we really don’t have on this current team, and they had an incredible cast of supporting players to go along with them. But whatever, for some reason, I’m willing to look past this team’s faults. I know those weaknesses are there, and I know what they are, but I don’t care anymore, because I love the team’s tremendous upside potential and where it could take them. I’m going to miss March Madness more than any other sporting event while I’m abroad, so for my bracket I’m just going to pencil in UNC ftw and leave it at that, so I don’t get too emotionally invested in the thing.

And that’s it for me. I doubt I’ll be able to fit in another post before I head out, so the next time you hear from me, I’ll probably be deep in the Australian rainforest! That hasn’t sunk in for me yet, but I guess it will by then, just because hey, it’s reality. So I hope everyone enjoys the rest of your January, and I’ll post here eventually with info on how you can contact me. Warning: letters will probably be delivered by parrot. I can’t wait.

Oh, and one last thing. So the best time for birding is the very early morning, as the birds begin to wake up from their long night’s sleep. I don’t mind these early wake-up calls because I’m just a morning person, but as if I needed an extra incentive to head outside so early, the sunrises are quite beautiful sometimes. I got this photo of the sun rising over Shelley Lake on Tuesday morning. And we’ll leave things there, as a really really corny metaphor for my adventures to come.

Sunrise Over Shelley Lake

*Okay so I don’t really have a book, sue me. But I wish I did. Alas. Perhaps I’ll get started at some point.

Can’t Get That, I’m in a Zone Over Here

One of the best things about being home is the newfound ability to watch sports without any sort of academic distractions hanging over my head. I’ve tried multitasking at school before, and no luck. There is simply no way I can concentrate on words on the page when linebackers are blitzing untouched from the outside on a television screen within 50 feet of my head. I’m starting to think that it’s actually physically impossible, like my retinas have field-goal-upright-shaped sports receptors, which activate a cascade of proteins which eventually shut down my cognitive brain functions, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Here at home though, no distractions, and it’s amazing. Actually, I just remembered that I have a 15 page report on the summer research that still needs writing, and of course there’s the whole packing thing, but there’s no urgency in either (yet), so I don’t feel completely guilty about spending this entire weekend watching playoff games.

Indianapolis 15 @ Baltimore 6

Not a pretty game to watch, but sort of disturbingly engrossing at the same time. Outside of the state of Indiana, and Peyton Manning fanboys who bandwagon with winning teams, doesn’t everyone enjoy watching this guy get picked apart by defenses flying all over the field? Bill Simmons’ “Manning Face” is absolutely crucial towards my enjoyment of a Colts game, and we got to see plenty of it during this game.

In the end, the Colts move on to the AFC Championship, but I wonder why all the talk is centering upon how the defense ‘saved’ Manning. Is it really the Colts defense, or was it more like an incompetent Ravens offense? As good of a leader as he is, nobody can really argue that McNair is a great quarterback anymore, and he just doesn’t have a supporting cast around him to make it work. I think that most defenses in the NFL could probably intercept McNair twice and not give up any touchdowns, the difference for the Ravens being that this time, the Ravens defense weren’t able to get the offense good enough field position off turnovers, and on the rare occasion that it was given to them, some sort of McNair blunder or penalty would push them back.

So now, we get to watch Manning choke in one more round. I will be stunned if he ever wins a Super Bowl, which makes me laugh. Statistically, he’s one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks of all time, but he just doesn’t have the right attitude for a championship winner. I’m not picturing any sort of late-career Elway-like resurrection either. Can you picture Peyton as a grizzled old veteran, making tough throws when it counts, and running for the first down on aging legs when the pocket collapses? The answer is no, Peyton the grizzled veteran will sit in the pocket too long until he’s swallowed up by the defensive line, or he’ll lob passes to safeties sitting in coverage. You can just picture it. He’s just that kind of quarterback, and that’s greatly amusing to me.

Philadelphia 24 @ New Orleans 27

I still don’t like Reggie Bush’s play in the NFL. His contributions to this game will largely be remembered by that spectacular 20-yard gain where he completely reversed field, outrunning several Eagles along the way, and for the touchdown run where he got stuffed inside and somehow bounced it outside where he beat Dhani Jones to the pylon. The thing that both plays had in common was that Reggie almost got stuffed by going straight ahead, so he decided to try for the Big Play by heading across the field and turning the corner.

That is not how you play in the NFL. Just look at how Deuce McAllister played this game: he hit his holes hard, and drove through the initial contact, and fought for yardage. I would argue that at this point, Reggie Bush is playing like a coward. He’s afraid of contact, he fights for yards with his fleet feet instead of with his considerable strength, and he doesn’t have the patience to wait for his blocks to develop. The fact that he keeps making these huge plays is kind of cool I suppose, like we’re supposed to be amazed by this kid’s athletic ability and imagination, but they almost seem like accidents to me. And the fact that he keeps succeeding is only going to encourage him to do it more. How much longer can he keep this up? I remain unconvinced that Reggie Bush will make a consistent every-down back in the NFL, he just doesn’t have the ability to run between the tackles like a traditional runningback. He either gets tackled for massive losses, which everyone seems to forget, or he madly dashes past confused defenders and gets praised as a genius on the scale of Leonardo DaVinci or Thomas Edison.

Great game though. Unless you live close to Philadelphia, you just had to root for the Saints on this one. They’re definitely America’s Team at this point. I have to say though: my favorite play of the game was early on, where Brees lobbed a soft toss to Bush in the flat, only for Bush to just..get…destroyed…by Sheldon Brown. That was the hardest hit I have ever witnessed live in a NFL game, it was incredible. I wish I was at a bar in Philly high-fiving everyone in sight, that was just the best hit. I’m glad that it’s on Youtube already. I liked how they went to commercial by playing that ‘Here Comes the Boom!’ song, it made me lol. Also, why the hell did Andy Reid decide to punt on 4th-and-15 on the last drive? Sorry Andy, that false start did not also add 3 minutes on to the clock, it’s just 5 yards, that’s it. Stupid, just plain stupid. Not one of the better coaches in the NFL.

Seattle 24 @ Chicago 27

Of course, all the pregame talk centered on the inconsistent Rex Grossman, and which side of Mr. Grossman we’d see in this game. The last time we saw him, he had a quarterback rating of…0. 0. That is a zero. Not the letter ‘o’ which I believe comes between the excellent letters ‘n’ and ‘p’. That is a 0. He completed more passes to the Packers defenders than he did to his own team. That is correct. Incompetence on a completely historic level. And wait, this team is in the playoffs?!

What most commentators seemed to forget was that we could get both sides of Grossman in a single game, like he’s schizophrenic or something! Incredible! So yeah, he made some amazing throws, for example that excellent deep ball to Berrian on the touchdown, yet there were some inconceivable decisions made under pressure as well. This time then, his inconsistencies were intra-game, rather than inter-game. Amazing.

Oh, and once again we’ve got a close game decided by a late field goal. Shaping up to a be a good round of playoffs so far, I gotta say. Chicago deserved this one, their defense stepped up at just the right times.

New England 24 @ San Diego 21

I have no idea what’s going on in that photo. I know it’s Kevin Faulk celebrating his 2-pt conversion to tie the game, but what is everyone else doing there? I can’t figure out what happened in this celebration at all, there’s just too many possibilities, none of which seem conceivable at all. I may have nightmares about this photo, so I thought I’d share it with you all!

Anyways, New England did not deserve this win. Even my token Patriots-supporting friend agrees! The number of San Diego mistakes is just too long to have allowed the Chargers to pulled it out, through no real intervention on the Patriots’ part. There’s was Parker’s bone-headed attempt to pick up and run with his own muffed punt, McCree’s interception stripped away by Troy Brown, Rivers’ soft lob intercepted by Colvin, and all the drops by those receivers. You can’t win when you make those kind of mistakes, and the Patriots did just enough to capitalize off them.

Meanwhile, this Gostkowski character is a monster. Remember when he got drafted, and everyone was just like, wtfwtfwtf? Mel Kiper didn’t even have the dude on his draft board of kickers or something! Of course, I laughed when one commentator said something to the effect of, “Well, let’s see, Bill Belichick is probably the greatest genius operating in the NFL right now, and he’s won three Super Bowls. How many Super Bowls has Mel Kiper won? Wait, zero? So maybe this Belichick guy knows what he’s doing?” Apparently so, apparently so. I can’t wait until Renaldo Balkman suddenly turns into Gilbert Arenas in five years, and starts dropping 35 on his hapless opponents on a nightly basis. If I were a Chargers fan right now though, I’d probably be all like

Let’s get to a few links then: