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Let's Play Hoops! 12-31-09

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Overall: 21-17-2

Arizona St. -1.5 UCLA (loss)

21-18-2

I Pick Every NFL Game - Week 17

Overall: 117-120-3

Last chance to get to .500.  The drive for mediocrity will not be televised!

Jags +1 Browns (loss)
Bears -3 Lions (win)
NE +8 Houston (win)
NYG +9 Minn (loss)
Niners -7 Rams (win)
Atl -2.5 TB (win)
Dallas -3 Philly (win)
GB +3.5 Ariz (win)
Balt -10.5 Oak (loss)
SD -4 Wash (loss)
Tenn -4 Sea (push)
KC +13 Den (win)
Bengals +10 Jets (loss)
Indy -2.5 Buff (loss)
Steelers -2 Miami (win)
Carol -2.5 NO (win)

9-6-1
126-126-4

A full season, picking every NFL game, and I go .500.  There you are.  Me and a coin. 

Let's Play Hoops! 12-30-09

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Overall: 20-17-2

Providence v. NDame over 168.5 (win)

21-17-2

Karl Rove - Divorce Number 2

Tuesday, December 29, 2009



Karl Rove has been on the front lines in the fight to stop gay marriage:

Marriage is a very important part of our culture and our society. If we want to have a hopeful and decent society, we ought to aim for the ideal. And the ideal is that marriage ought to be and should be a union of a man and a woman. And we cannot allow activist judges to overturn that. We cannot allow activist local elected officials to thumb their nose at 5,000 years of human history and determine that marriage is something else.

Last week, Karl Rove got his second divorce. 

Here's my question - for how many of those "5,000 years of human history" has it been acceptable to be twice divorced?

The longstanding claim by conservatives has been that gay marriage would undermine (as homemade porn star/conservative icon Carrie Prejean said) "opposite" marriage.  That straight marriage is devalued by gay marriage. 

2 divorces from Rove.  Imagine how many he'd have if gays were undermining him?

Let's Play Hoops! 12-29-09

Overall: 18-14-2

Pacific +12.5 OkSt (loss)
LaTech v. Houston over 161(win)
LIUBrook +5.5 UTChat (loss)
NMex -8 TTech (win)
Minn -13 Penn St (loss)

2-3
20-17-2

Let's Play Hoops! 12-28-09

Monday, December 28, 2009

Overall: 16-14-1

DePaul v. Pitt under 117 (push)
BYU -5.5 Arizona (win)
Cal -25.5 Utah Valley St. (win)

18-14-2

The Weekly Tendown: December 20-26 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hi.

This is Issue 7 of the Tendown, my weekly look at the very best things that happened in the past week; Last Week, we discussed Bill Moyers, Howard Zinn, gooey butter bars and Snooki getting punched dead in the face on Jersey Shore.  What...what...what do you suppose we'll talk about this week?

First - Putting the Holla! Back in Happy Holidays




I got no gods and ain't no gods coming.  Not yours, not your neighbor's; I am thoroughly disinterested in magic however it's packaged.  O'Reilly would call me a secular progressive; a term which I'm willing to wholly embrace but which he uses to describe all that is wrong with western civilization.

He particularly likes to go on this tear around Christmas, upon which, perhaps you haven't heard, people like me have been fighting a war. 

It's a poorly coordinated war, as the first time I ever heard about it was when Bill O'Reilly told me I was fighting.  One would think I'd start a little lower on the holiday scale; pick on, say Arbor Day, get a couple of wins under my belt, before challenging the big dog.  I'd be a good homecoming opponent for Christmas U.- I pick up good paycheck to refurbish the weight room, Christmas rolls me up like 72-3, standing over my prone defensive backs after another big play taunting "Say my name!  Jesus is the reason for the season!"

It's just not a game I particularly want on my schedule.  Me, I like Christmas.  And had a very nice one this year, which is why it's the very best thing that happened this week.



See?  What's more Christmas than that?  A tree and presents and a dog to keep me away from all of it? 

I am not the enemy of Christmas!  I'm just a guy with a car that still isn't working. 

Look, how is this for terms of a truce - anytime we ever say Happy Holidays, we are implicitly acknowledging that Christmas is, in fact, one of those holidays that we are wishing bring people happiness.  Maybe we don't literally say the word "Christmas" - because to then rattle off a list of holidays (Chanukah, Saturnalia, Freaknik) just isn't very efficient.  But really - Happy Holidays isn't code for "Happy Holidays - unless you're talking about Christmas - then I hope you get hepatitis c" - it really just means, "Happy Holidays." 

And if you'd like to say "Merry Christmas" without it sounding like "You'd Better Bow Down Before My Savior on His Birthday, Bitch." - that'be great too. 

Really, no one's trying to take your religion away.  That's a good thing about having secular progressives as an opponent, we just don't care what you do with your own life.  No - seriously.  Marry ANYBODY YOU WANT.  Go ahead.  It's not a trick.  See?  It's good times.  Have sex with whomever you want, read whatever books you want, sing whatever songs you want - say Merry Christmas all year around.  It's cool. 

Sure, Christmas is really just an alliance of on-your-sleeve religion and conspicuous consumption; the two halves of the Republican Party.  Sometimes that's meant GOP=Abolitionists+Whigs, now that means GOP="climate change deniers" + "CEOs" or GOP="keep Obama's Nazi death panels from killing my Down's Syndrome baby" + "repeal the estate tax forever".  Either way I'm not down, but the State has to worm its way in your head somehow, comrades, and I don't have gods and don't care about our national chants, but I do believe the only way to be worthy of love is to buy presents, so I am sort of stuck with Christmas.  But if there's a war, honest, I didn't start it. 

Good talk.  After the jump - lets see the rest of the best things to happen this holiday week.

The Serial Killer and the Hero.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

There's a photo coming up a little bit later that you may not want to see.  I've written about Michael Vick before but have intentionally avoided putting up any of the photographs introduced into evidence against him.  One of those, just one, is in the middle of this post.  Consider that before going forward.  I'll give you another warning before we get there. 




Each year, every NFL Team selects a recipient of a "courage" award and then from those representatives the NFL picks one player as its good samaritan of the year.

The Philadelphia Eagles, by a unanimous vote of the players, picked Michael Vick this year.

Vick, humbled by this show of appreciation, said this:

I've overcome a lot, more than probably one single individual can handle or bear.

It's too bad all the year end, decade end compilations are in the can - because that's one of the most amazing things I've ever heard an athlete say. 

Meanwhile...criminal profiler Pat Brown, who gets a lot of run on cable news shows I do not watch, said the following about Tiger Woods:

It hasn't been a hidden thing. He got careless.


We see that with serial killers. In the beginning of their serial killing they are careless because they don't know any better. Then they get smart and they're careful. And then they get so arrogant, so used to doing it, they stop paying attention to what they're doing.


I think Tiger's the same way. He got to the point he was doing it so much, he just got more and more careless. He thought he was completely untouchable.

So, there you go.  Mike Vick tortured dogs for years.  He didn't make a mistake.  He didn't get careless one night.  And he wasn't just a bankroll.  He personally, multi-millionaire Michael Vick, tortured dogs at his own hands - over and over and over again.  Here comes the picture.
 
 

 


Mike Vick went to prison.  And after Mike Vick went to prison, he returned to his multi-million dollar job.

Now, that's fine.  I don't need Mike Vick to go back to jail.  And if the Philadelphia Eagles want to pay Mike Vick 1.6 million dollars a year to hold a clipboard, I don't think they should be stopped.  It isn't the world the way I'd draw it up, but I understand the world that is.  If it were me, a college professor with a Bar membership and two graduate degrees and a negative net worth - my career ends with that conviction.  That conviction means I'm an hourly wage earner the rest of my life.  But I understand the world that is.  And although even very smart people like Dave Zirin, people who I would normally agree with, wrote that everyone would get a second chance - the truth is that if Mike Vick had, say, been caught in a compromising position with a 15 year old boy - you would never see him on a football field again and no one would complain he was being persecuted.   

But as we get to 2010, here's where things stand.  Michael Vick has been named the most courageous member of the Philadelphia Eagles.  Michael Vick is able to talk about how much he's overcome, how he's overcome more than "95%" of the population could bear.  It's not just that he's served his time; it's not just that he returns to his multi-million dollar profession - it's that he is officially stamped as a good guy.  It's one thing to say "he's served his time" - it's another thing to say "because he served his time, now he is a hero."  This is a league which bans end zone celebration dances as not consistent with the image it wants to present to the public - but the official personification of courage of the Philadelphia Eagles is a man named such because he no longer tortures dogs.  Those employed to comment on football have historically shown outrage whenever some degree of "sportsmanship" which exists in their minds hasn't been displayed on the field.  There is no invective too strong to be hurled at someone overly gyrating after a touchdown.  And god forbid a prop is used - because that really is what tears at the fabric of civil society.  Ask any NFL fan if TO or Chad Ochocino should ever win his team's good guy award.  Show offs.  Selfish "look at me" show offs. 

T.O. ran to the Cowboy star after all.  Remember?  And that one time he pulled a Sharpie out of his sock!  Outrageous!  And Randy Moss fake mooned the Packer fans!  Joe Buck really let him have it.  Good for you Joe Buck!  Some things are unforgiveable.  Why can't the players today just turn and hand the carcasses of their tortured dogs to the referee after they score like good ole' Barry Sanders?  Now that was a classy dude. 

And Tiger Woods - Tiger Woods is said to share the personally traits with serial killers.

If Tiger Woods were to go away for a year and a half, come back to the tour, not play very much or very well - but at the end of the year win some sort of sportsmanship award, what would be the reaction?  Plug Barry Bonds into that equation too while you're at it.  But Mike Vick said, and I can't re-write it enough:

I've overcome a lot, more than probably one single individual can handle or bear.

That's where we stand at the end of 2009.

I Pick Every NFL Game - Week 16

Overall: 110-111-3

SD +3 Tenn (win)
Oak +3 Cleve (loss)
Bengals -13.5 KC (loss)
Texans +3 Miami (win)
Saints -14 TB (loss)
NE -8 Jax (win)
Steelers -2.5 Balt (win)
GB -14 Seattle (win)
Bills +9 Falcons (loss)
NYG -7 Panthers (loss)
Cards -14 StL (win)
Niners -12.5 Lions (win)
Eagles -7 Denver (loss)
Colts -5.5 Jets (loss)
Redskins +7 Dallas (loss)
Vikes -7 Bears (loss)

7-9
117-120-3

Let's Play Hoops! 12-23-09

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Overall: 14-13-1

Long Beach +24 UK (win)
Missouri +1 Illinois (win)
San Jose St. v. Santa Clara under 140 (loss)

2-1
16-14-1

2009 Athlete of the Year



Manny Pacquiao.

This was a difficult year, no one demanded to be chosen - I began the year tracking LeBron, as he was a (1) historic player (2) having a historic season, one better by the advanced metric than you're aware - but not making the finals gave an opening to the rest of the field; I had similar thoughts about Pujols, and he wound up maybe a little bit below James when trying to consider their seasons.  Federer (who finished second in the AP, behind Jimmie Johnson, who didn't win an Athlete of the Month from me, but his candidacy is similar to Federer's) had less of a spectacular year and more a good year that culminated a significant achievement. 

And at the end - it left Pacquaio - only the second boxer I've ever chosen (Foreman in '94, one of my weaker decisions).  Like all of the men in the previous paragraph, Pacquiao is historically significant in his sport and had a very good year (maybe Pacquaio's best, certainly the one where he received the most acclaim - this is the first year he's been considered almost by acclamation the best fighter in the world) and he's never won my award before (and Federer has).  

It was close, but I feel good about it.  Pacquaio becomes my 20th Athlete of the Year.  I've listed all of my choices since beginning this continuous process in 1990, but haven't broken them down by month.  I'm considering posting all of that as well, as I have all of the records since January of '90, each monthly winner plus all of the runners up for each month.  I was 19 when this began, in a world with a very limited access to information; I don't want to say some of this choices were terrible, but I was looking at shadows in a cave for several years. 

We'll see how that goes; maybe that happens next week. 

Athlete of the Month - December, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

This is my third post of the day.  Don't ever say I didn't give you anything for Christmas, 2009.

Sure, I've already made my Athlete of the Decade post (getting out front of the AP) so my final Athlete of the Month for 2009 may seem superfluous.  But, you know, hey, look over there!


Ndamukong Suh

Runners-up: Mark Ingram, John Wall, Brandon Marshall

That means the 12 nominees for Athlete of the Year, 2009:

Larry Fitzgerald
Santonio Holmes
Maya Moore
LeBron James
Lionel Messi
Roger Federer
Mark Buehrle
Usain Bolt
Drew Brees
Cliff Lee
Manny Pacquiao
Ndamukong Suh

The Athlete of the Year post will be up by the end of the week.

Let's Play Hoops! 12-22-09

Overall: 11-8-1

BYU -8 Nevada (loss)
StMarys -5.5 Northeastern (win)
Texas -8 Michigan St. (win)
Missouri St. over Arkansas (loss)
Ohio St. -15 Cleveland St. (loss)
Murray St. +2 WKentucky (loss)
AForce -1.5 UC Davis (win)
SD St. -8 Drake (loss)

3-5
14-13-1

A Reform Bill?

This is from Reuters yesterday. 

Shares of Cigna rose 5.3 percent to $37.69. Shares of Aetna Inc rose 5.84 percent to $34.41. Humana Inc rose 3.79 percent to $45.17 and United Health Group Inc rose 5 percent to $33.14. Shares of Wellpoint Inc rose 3.8 percent to $60.51.


If you're wondering where you should stand on the health care bill - the market has spoken.  It's a good bill for insurance companies. 

And according to Huffington Post, here are the numbers since Joe Lieberman's October 27 promise to join a Republican filibuster of any bill that contained a public option:

Coventry Health Care, Inc. is up 31.6 percent;

CIGNA Corp. is up 29.1 percent;
Aetna Inc. is up 27.1 percent;
WellPoint, Inc. is up 26.6 percent;
UnitedHealth Group Inc. is up 20.5 percent;
Humana Inc. is up 13.6 percent.

Heckuva job.  We've managed to fix health care for the people who matter most - insurance companies. 

Let's Play Hoops! 12-21-09

Monday, December 21, 2009

Overall: 9-8-1

My plan's to post Athlete of the Month and Athlete of the Year this week.  If you've yet to read this week's Tendown, it's the best thing I do. 

UTEP +2 Oklahoma (win)
Long Beach v. Loyola over 159.5 (win)

11-8-1

1st and Ten - The Weekly Tendown: December 13-19 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hi.

This is the 6th issue of our weekly recap of what's good - The Tendown; I count down the very best things that happened this week.  Last time, I talked about how I wasted my 2008 presidential vote, the Top Chef finale, and my meeting Chris Cornell in an Anthropologie.  Let's see what the very best thing was that happened this week...

1st...The Bill Moyers Journal.

One of the reasons for this blog is my sense that I want some accurate recording of my thoughts.  I'm not sure why that is.  But next year I turn 40, and 2009 is the year my neck began to crackle for no good reason other than now my neck crackles.  A year ago, I had a body where my neck wasn't chronically weird, now I don't. Now, the neck I've had my entire life has a sound effect. Sure, there are probably ways to view that other than it being a harbinger of the long, slow descent to death; and probably other ways to react to the long, slow descent to death than blogging about the derivatives market.  But I occasionally make curious decisions. 

Regardless, Robert Kuttner of the American Prospect said something on this week's Moyers that precisely reflects my current worldview, and its the best thing that happened this week:

I think it's not accidental that the last three Democratic Presidents have been at best corporate Democrats, and one hoped because of the depth and the disgrace of deregulation as an ideology and the practical failure of the Bush presidency, that this was a moment for a clean break.  That even at such a moment, even with an outsider President campaigning on change we can believe in, that Brack Obama has turned out to be who he has been so far is so revealing in terms of the structural undertow that big money represents in this country. 

If there's one element, aside from the right wing referring to the first African-American President as a racist who is trying to bring down the United States, that will be most revealing about American character - it's how quickly we re-embraced the ethos of letting corporate America do anything it wants.  Rewind to September '08 - even the McCain/Palin campaign made noises about Wall St. regulation.  There was a month and a half in this country where you couldn't seriously say "just keep government's hands off everything and let the market take care of itself" without sounding like you were advocating Hoovervilles. The value of sitting on the precipice of global economic collapse was it so clearly put into focus the bankruptcy (pun intended) of a worldview that government's primary job was to get out of the way of business.  Corporate power above all has created a world where we are designed to live in a constant state of anxiety; we have sold our soul to the company store over the past quarter-century, and if there was any time that we'd ever get it back it was now.  That doesn't mean I thought we'd get it back - doesn't mean (to return to last week) that my vote for Obama was an expression of belief in a progressive White House - but in the universe in which we actually live (as opposed to the universe where...who would my ideal ticket be...Bernie Sanders/Blake Lively?) we did step into 2009 with a confluence of factors that, if there was ever any chance to turn around the three decade movement away from economic justice (I think of the United States the way I think of the WWE - I'm stuck with it and occasionally something really nice happens - but it is intentionally booked in a way entirely contrary to what I think is best.  It's not incompetence, although there's plenty of that - we're this way because this is what those entrenched in power want.  I am entirely disposable.  When I break down from my years of heavy courseloads and class sizes, I'll be swept aside no differently than if I worked in a Chicago sausage factory in 1909.  If that means my house is foreclosed, and I have no health care, my screams will not be heard by my government any more than Vince cares that I want to see Bryan Danielson and Low Ki pushed) it would have happened now.

But it did not.  What happened now is what happened now.  And what's going to happen next is worse.   Also from Kuttner on Moyers:

Democracy is the only possible counterweight to concentrated financial power, and ideally that takes a great President rendezvousing with a social movement.  One way or the other there's going to be a social movement, because so many people are hurting.  People are feeling correctly that Wall St. is getting too much and Main St. is getting too little, and if it's not a progressive social movement that articulates frustration and a reform movement, you know the right wing is going to do it and that oughta be scaring us silly.

And I think he's exactly right.  And it's exactly what I want to say right now.  And that's the best thing this week.  After the jump - the rest of the Tendown!

Let's Play Hoops 12-19-09

Saturday, December 19, 2009

 6-7-1

Kansas -19.5 Michigan (loss)
NColorado +15 Oklahoma (win)
Miss St -3.5 Houston (win)
Miss St v Houston under 163 (win)

9-8-1

Let's Play Hoops! 12-18-09

Friday, December 18, 2009

Still 40 minutes to tip of the very last game of the day - so Let's Play Hoops!

Overall: 5-7-1

NMex St. v. Peppdine under 156.5 (win)

6-7-1

2009-10 College Bowl Picks

During the season, I picked my ten favorite plays each week, virtually all of them I thought were good plays; this is not that, here, I'm picking every game.  Some are better plays than others, but this is more about completion. Good luck

New Mexico: Fresno St. -10.5 Wyoming (loss, off to a helluva start)
St. Petersburg: Rutgers -2.5 UCF (win)
New Orleans: S. Miss -3.5 MTenn St (loss)
                      Under 57.5 (loss)
Las Vegas: Oregon St. -2.5 BYU (loss)
Poinsetta: Cal -3 Utah (loss)
Hawaii: SMU +15.5 Nevada (win)
Little Caesars: Ohio -2.5 Marshall (loss)
Meinke: Pitt -1 UNC (win)
Emerald: USC -7 BC (win)
Music City: Clemson -7.5 UK (win)
Independence: Georgia -7 A&M (win)
Eaglebank: Temple +4 UCLA (Loss)
Champs Sports: Miami -3 Wisconsin (loss)
Humanitarian: BGreen -1.5 Idaho (loss)
Texas: Navy +6.5 Missouri (win)
Holiday: Arizona -1 Nebraska (loss)
Armed Forces: Houston -4.5 AForce (loss)
Sun: Stanford +8 Oklahoma (win)
Insight: Minnesota -2.5 Iowa St (loss)
Chik Fil A: Va Tech -4.5 Tenn (win)
Outback: Auburn -7 Nwestern (loss)
Gator: Fla St. +3 WVA (win)
Capital One: LSU +2.5 Penn St. (win)
Rose: Oregon -3.5 Ohio St. (loss)
Sugar: Cincinnati +13 Florida (loss)
International: NIU +7 SFla (loss)
Papa Johns: UConn +4.5 SCarolina (win)
Cotton: Ole Miss -3 OK St. (win)
Liberty: Arkansas -7.5 ECarolina (loss)
             Under 63.5 (win)
Alamo: TTech -7 Mich St.(win)
Fiesta: Boise +7 TCU (win)
            Under 55 (win)
Orange Iowa +4 Georgia Tech (win)
GMAC: Central Mich -3 Troy (push)
            Under 63 (loss)
National Title: Alabama -4 Texas (win)

Let's Play Hoops! 12-17-09

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Overall: 5-6-1

FIU v. Denver over 139.5 (loss)

0-1
5-7-1

I Pick Every NFL Game - Week 15

106-100-2

I'm out of the fantasy playoffs; Roethlisberger/Mendenhall didn't give me anything on Thursday - and then I hit Brandon Marshall and his 32 points. 

I am uneasy about this week and am picking all the favorites. 

Don't believe me? 

Colts -3 Jags (win)
Saints -7.5 Cowboys (loss)
Chiefs -1.5 Browns (loss)
Pats -7 Bills (push)
Cards -12.5 Lions (loss)
Eagles -7.5 Niners (win)
Ravens -11 Bears (win)
Chargers -6.5 Bengals (loss)
Broncos -14 Raiders (loss)
Seahawks -6.5 Bucs (loss)
Steelers -2 Pack (loss)
Titans -3.5 Dolphins (loss)
Jets -6.5 Falcons (loss)
Texans -9.5 Rams (loss)
Vikes -9 Panthers (loss)
NYG -3 Skins (win)

Do with that what you must.

4-11-1
110-111-3

Top 10 Baseball Players of the Decade.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

By WARP3, only regular season is considered.  For an alternate view, see Rob Neyer.

1. Albert Pujols
2. Alex Rodriguez
3. Barry Bonds
4. Mariano Rivera
5. Scott Rolen
6. Carlos Beltran
7. Lance Berkman
8. Johan Santana
9. Jim Edmonds
10. Roy Halladay

Let's Play Hoops! 12-16-09

Overall: 3-3

For whomever it is that (wisely) considered my college football advice this season, I don't have the same level of confidence about hoops (at least not yet).  I did this last year, really for the first time on a daily or nearly daily basis and went about .500.  If I start to get hot, consider hopping aboard.  Right now, for example, I seem sort of locked in on the NFL.  I wouldn't anticipate feeling the same level of confidence about this for awhile.

My bowl picks will be Friday.  I may pick them both against the number and note if I have a different outright winner in any given game for those of you in confidence pools.  We'll see. 

SFla -7.5 UCF (loss)
Richmond + 5 SCarol (loss)
Ohio over Ill. St. (win)
Ore St. -4 Ill Chi. (loss)
NCol -11 UL-Mon (push)
Ark-LR v. SAla over 135.5 (win)

2-3-1
5-6-1

Top 10 Films of the Decade

My cinematic involvement is almost entirely limited to US films, which makes this of only limited warrant.  Do with that what you will.  My Top 10 TV Series are right there, those are far more solid at least in terms of my measuring what I like; I just take television more seriously than I take the full cinematic landscape.  I do watch a ton of documentaries. 

1. Adaptation
2. Farenheit 9-11.
3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
4. Synecdoche, NY.
5. No Country for Old Men
6. Why We Fight
7. Memento
8. The 40 Year Old Virgin
9. Juno
10. Murder on a Sunday Morning/The Staircase

I slid Juno ahead of Lost in Translation, the Dark Knight and There Will Be Blood (which is getting a lot of internet run as best film of the decade; I think I like it where I like it, right off the top ten) Sideways, You Can Count on Me, Bowling for Columbine, Once, and Chuck and Buck are all near misses.  As a crazed Charlie Kauffman fan I'm tempted to put Synecdoche here also and say "Y'all just don't get his delicate genius" - but 2 Kauffman's are enough.  Hey, that makes 20.  I've yet to see any of the 2009 Oscar-bait, so I may amend in 6 months or so.

I amended.  Synecdoche belongs.  Done. 

Lets Play Hoops! 12-15-19

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

As college football ends, college basketball begins, I don't know how often I'll do this, but Let's Play Hoops! 

NMex St. +8.5 UCLA (loss)
St Marys -15.5 Portland St. (win)
Murray St +3 LaTech (loss)
La-La v. SMiss over 140 (loss)
SMiss -8 La-La (win)
NIU v. Minn under 138 (win)

3-3

Top 10 TV Series of the Decade

The end of the first decade of the 21st century means two things (1) apparently it means even when I pay 1800 dollars to get my car fixed, my car remains not fixed and (2) there will be end of the decade lists.

Already, I've posted my Athlete of the Decade and Wrestling Matches of the Decade.  This is the TV list.

No shows which debuted before the 2000s are eligible, which cuts off Sopranos/Daily Show among others.  Sure, I could have said just the seasons of those shows which aired in the 90s were not eligible, but that's a lot of work for a guy whose car is currently on fire in his school's parking lot. 

But my lady type friend beat jury duty today, so it's not a total loss. 

1. The Shield
2002-08
-Like an 88 hour long Sophie's Choice.  It's the heir to the Hill St/NYPD line and better than both. 

2. The Wire
2002-08
-The Wire's more important - if you've never seen an episode my suggestion isn't to start with season one - instead, it's to start with the David Simon appearance on the Bill Moyers Journal from 2009 (I assume it's available at Moyers's site) the Wire's a significant 21st century American document; the Shield is more emotionally satisfying.  They're 1 and 1A in my eyes and seeing them inverted wouldn't shock my conscience. 

3. Arrested Development
2003-06
-The only thing that kept it from being this decade's Seinfeld is we're dumber than we were in the 90s. 

4. Curb Your Enthusiasm
2000 -
-There are misses; some plotlines/episodes/entire story arcs sometimes have fallen flat. But sometimes Larry David inadvertantly sprays urine tears on a picture of Jesus and the earth caves in with the funny.  The add on to the Seinfeld-verse from this past season elevates it to this spot.

5. Mad Men

2007 -
Hardest show to rank, given how few episodes we have and the radical shift at the end of last season, with some trepidation, I put it here.

6. The Office (UK)
2001-03
-I don't reflexively think something's funnier because it has a British accent; my view of even Python isn't as elevated as other sketch devotees.  This show was this good. 

7. 30 Rock 
2006 -
-Doesn't seem likely, given Alec's oft stated desire to quit the business and become a sherpa and the enormous weight on Tina that the show will maintain its quality for too many more seasons, but for this decade, it's number 7.

8. Chappelle's Show
2003-06
-It's better to burn out than to fade away.

9. The Office (US)
2005 -
It feels like The Office has reached its decline phase; I don't think, at this point, it's just lack of buzz, I think we've started to see a creative shortfall after the Parks exodus.

10.. Gilmore Girls
2000-07
-The poster child, on this list, for decline phase - the last two seasons of GG raise the complication of how to rate episodic television; if I say - give me a list of movies or books - then you're talking about definable works, with a largely singular creative vision - but I'm not sure what a deconstruction of the Simpsons would mean.  You'd have to think of it as having phases - we may be in its blue period right now, for instance.  I want to put Friday Night Lights here instead; I've been going back and forth.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Pardon the Interruption, The Colbert Report, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, How I Met Your Mother would be 12-16 and I think in that order.  The Rachel Maddow Show and Big Love would probably be at the back of the top 20.  I'd have to seriously start thinking reality shows at 17-18.

1st and Ten - The Weekly Tendown: December 6 -12 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hi. 

This is issue 5 of my weekly feature here at TBOR - The Tendown - where I count down the very best things that happened over the past week.  In Last Week's Issue, I talked about my mathematically precise dislike for Tim Tebow, Marc Maron's brother's wife-swap, and the grilled chicken wings at Pollo Tropical. 

How did this past week measure up?  Let's go to the Tendown - what was the very best thing that happened this week...

First...A Vote is a Terrible Thing to Waste.


The best thing I read this week was Glenn Greenwald's reaction to Obama's Nobel acceptance speech:

Obama puts a pretty, intellectual, liberal face on some ugly and decidedly illiberal polices. Just as George Bush's Christian-based moralizing let conservatives feel good about America regardless of what it does, Obama's complex and elegiac rhetoric lets many liberals do the same. To red state Republicans, war and its accompanying instruments (secrecy, executive power, indefinite detention) felt so good and right when justified by swaggering, unapologetic toughness and divinely-mandated purpose; to blue state Democrats, all of that feels just as good when justified by academic meditations on "just war" doctrine and when accompanied by poetic expressions of sorrow and reluctance. When you combine the two rhetorical approaches, what you get is what you saw yesterday: a bipartisan embrace of the same policies and ideologies among people with supposedly irreconcilable views of the world.

A friend from grad school and I are in a long running good natured debate over which of us is the more soft.  That's not a reference to my expanding midsection as I near the 40th year of my life; instead it's an historical critique of the radical left.  Karl Marx predicted the inevitably of western revolution; instead, what happened is the working class got bought off.  The rest of the west got health care and paid vacations; in the US, we got  three hundred forty seven different flavors of potato chips (I lean toward kettle cooked BBQ).   

The intellectual leaders of the left were (complicit would be the pejorative term) in the early 20th century; repeatedly backing away from the type of violence which would be required to challenge the legitimacy of western governments in order to earn seats at bargaining tables.  I don't have a rote answer on how favorably this should be viewed; it's easy from the safety of one's notebook to argue living wages and workplace health and safety regulations were small victories when ensuring perpetual enslavement to the corporate state, but if (for example) you're a 65 year old in the United States 80 years ago when senior citizens were the most impoverished group in the country, you'll correctly welcome the creation of the welfare state when it means a Social Security check each month.

People with full bellies don't so much take up arms against their oppressors.

My role in the great struggle is inconsequential.  I'm just an average man, with an average life. I work from 9 to 5, hell how I pay the price.  I'm a leftist; I see both church and state as hegemonic tools; and while I've spent the plurality of my waking hours in my almost 40 years plunged into sports and popular culture, I see all of that too as just the drug I find palatable.  I don't devote my life to invisible guys in the sky - but I do have a 30,000 word piece of wrestling fan fiction.  I don't tear up at displays of nationalism - there isn't a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner or an unfurling of Old Glory that will cause even the slightest lump to form in my throat - but you show me that tape of Joe Montana coming out to play that second half on that Monday night against the Lions in his last game as a Niner and I will sob like nobody's bidness.

It's all bread and circuses, but bread is tasty and I have a giant TV.

Where I had held out was in Presidential politics.   It's no more than an eggshell, but I had drawn the line at supporting political candidates whose views I found to be corporately controlled.  Over the two plus decades that I've been voting, occasionally a Democrat was closely enough aligned to my views that he received my support - but that had never been true for a winning candidate for the Presidency.

(Note the word "winning" - that's true for both primaries and the general election - I did unenthusiastically vote for Dukakis in the general election in '88, and I was even more uneasy about my vote for Kerry in '04).

Last year, I voted for Obama.  My grad school friend did not.  My argument was that it was necessary; that the divide between Republicans and Democrats had grown real (not as real as the public believes, but real) as the American right had pulled to an unrecognizable place that literally threatened the planet's existence.

My eyes were open about Obama, he's a businessman's President, but I did argue the possibility of growth within the office - that like FDR or LBJ, the enormity of his ability to enable some measure of economic justice would manifest in the types of  policies that make softs like me feel we're accomplishing something with our lives.

But a year in, instead what we have is a President who gave a Nobel acceptance speech saying that America's mission is to fight evil using its military.  A speech embraced by Rove, Gingrich, and Sarah Barracuda.  And we have a President who has presided over an enormous money grab by Wall St - one which has the feel of one last round of profit taking before our company..er...country..goes belly up, but one which, in the second best piece I read this week, Matt Taibbi writes is the same type of institutionalizing of right wing policy domestically as was articulated in the Nobel speech:

The extensive series of loophole-rich financial "reforms" that the Democrats are currently pushing may ultimately do more harm than good. In fact, some parts of the new reforms border on insanity, threatening to vastly amplify Wall Street's political power by institutionalizing the taxpayer's role as a welfare provider for the financial-services industry. At one point in the debate, Obama's top economic advisers demanded the power to award future bailouts without even going to Congress for approval — and without providing taxpayers a single dime in equity on the deals.

And that's what got me this week.  When right wing policies come from right wing mouths, you can retain the argument that there's a possibility of change.  When right wing policies come from perceived left wing mouths, then they become normalized, embedded - they marginalize opposition, move it outside of what we allow as debate in our country.  Our national debate isn't going to change for the next three years - it's going to be "is Obama too liberal" - so the degree to which his right wing foreign and domestic policies become attached in the public mind to the Democrats, the further and further and further away from my preferred version of the United States we become.  Maybe the only way not to waste my vote is to vote for a candidate who can't win. 

On that discouraging note.  After the jump - the Ten Next Best Things that happened this week!

I Pick Every NFL Game - Week 14

Thursday, December 10, 2009

95-95-2

Win and I'm in the fantasy football playoffs - and a decision has to be made right now - Roethlisberger or Flacco?  It's a weather motivated conundrum; if not for the weather in Cleveland I'd just say Ben.  But I think I have the advantage with my matchup, and a fairly certain moderate game from Flacco may be worth passing up Ben's upside to avoid a TD free windswept evening.  I haven't decided.  I'm leaning Ben.  Fortune favoring the brave and whatnot; generally, I avoid gripping about the weather. (edit - well, that was error)

First week without the burden of winning college games (19 over .500 the final total for the regular season, 5 over .500 in my weekly locks, and a contest win that will probably find its way into this week's Tendown) so now we're headed over .500 for good in the NFL.

(unrelated - Dear Brian, please sign Nick Johnson.  Thank you.)

Steelers -10 Browns (loss)
Saints -9 Falcons (loss)
GB -3 Chicago (win)
NYJ -3 TB (win)
Jax -3 Miami (loss)
Ravens -13.5 Detroit (win)
Houston -6 Seattle (win)
Indy -7 Denver (win)
Buffalo over KC (win)
Vikes -6.5 Bengals (win)
NE -13.5 Panthers (loss)
Wash -1 Oakland (win)
Titans -13 Rams (win)
SD +3 Dallas (win)
NYG -1 Eagles (loss)
Niners +3.5 Cards (win)

11-5
106-100-2

More Fox Math

Tuesday, December 8, 2009




The best part, of course, is the content of the poll in which the numbers add up to 120%. 

Keep hope alive, Fox!  Don't let those...what do you call them...facts get in your way. 

!st and Ten - The Weekly Tendown: Nov 29-Dec 5 2009

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Welcome to issue 4 of the Tendown, my Countdown of the very best things that happened in the culture this week; last week, I talked about Sam sending Diane a telegram on the last epsiode of Cheers 16 1/2 years ago, so I'm clearly trying to keep things current.  Let me put my Bell Biv Devoe cassette in my boom box (I don't ever trust a big butt and a smile.  Ronald Bivens is very wise) and start the Tendown!

1st....Kirk Hiner Hates Madonna



Not more than a couple years after Sam wrote that telegram, I began my fruitless internet writing career; one of my very first essays was entitled Kirk Hiner Hates Madonna, explaining (with benefit of an X/Y axis) that it wasn't jealousy or shadenfreude which leads to our sometimes seemingly outsized dislike of particular public figures, that instead it's the distance of the level of acclaim they receive from the level of acclaim we perceive they deserve.  Kirk Hiner had a passionate dislike of Madonna twenty years ago; mentioning her in his presence would have brought forth a torrent of furious invective.  Today, I'm guessing he views her the way all right thinking people do.  As the finest, sexiest, most talented woman who ever lived. 

Last night, the biggest roar during the SEC Championship game took place when the above screen capture was shown on the jumbo video board - the moment when Tim Tebow cried. 

That roar was matched by the one coming from my house.  And that's because Jim Jividen Hates Tim Tebow.

Scott Van Pelt and Michael Wilbon, in their separate ESPN platforms, considered the issue of the Tebow backlash this week; SVP (talented, but exposed in the daily radio format) concluded that the reason people (like me) dislike Tebow is because there's no reason to dislike him, and that drives people crazy; Wilbon (more talented and less exposed) with the PTI topic clock ticking, said if you meet Tebow for 30 seconds you can't help but love the guy and any other opinion is not worth considering.

They're wrong.  I hate Tim Tebow because as opposed to looking at him as Chris Weinke or Gino Torretta or Tommie Frazier or Charlie Ward - the discussion about Tebow has been "is he the greatest college football player who ever lived" and is he the finest man alive?

A year ago, in the national title game that Florida won't be returning to, Fox play-by-play man Thom Brennaman not only said "if you're fortunate enough to spend five minutes or 20 minutes around Tim Tebow, your life is better for it," but followed that up by saying that a prior claim by an Oklahoma cornerback that Tebow would be the 4th best QB in the Big 12 was "probably the most ridiculous thing ever said," and that a subsequent unsportsmanlike conduct penalty given to Tebow was "the first thing he's ever done wrong."  Last night, even as Florida was taking a terrific beating from the Crimson Tide (and more importantly for my purposes, was far away from covering that pretty clearly Tebow-inflated 5 1/2 pt spread) the game narrative focused on the guts and glory and heart and determination and all that's masculine and right about America in a Tim Tebow shaped box.  With 11 minutes left and trailing by three scores, Gary Danielson noted that if Tebow could muster up the fortitude to bring his team back (Tebow had, after all, been giving his defense a stirring sideline speech not long before, and as the sports media decided a year ago, the power of his words alone can move men to greatness) he would be the slam dunk Heisman winner (my Heisman ballot (1) Ndamukong Suh (2) Toby Gerhart (3) Mark Ingram).  The thrust and effect of the game story was entirely wrapped up in how it impacts Tebow, not unlike the way every Brett Favre game has been analyzed since 1998, and it always reminds me of a Kids in the Hall sketch in which Scott played a French whore, constantly rhapsodizing about an unseen man named Tony "wondering where he could be, who is he with, what is he thinking, is he thinking of me, and whether he'll ever return someday."  I expect there will be a Florida Gator game next season where the announcer will approximate something along those lines and then shudder with orgasm.

The Sports Media Industrial Complex wants to remove from Tim Tebow the burden of his self-confessed virginity is my point.  He's had a terrific career, probably isn't much of a pro prospect, and likes to talk about Jesus a whole lot; everything beyond that is excessive, and it's everything beyond that which is why his tears got cheers.  Especially from my house. 

After the jump - the Rest of the Best Things to Happen This Week.

And Not a Moment Too Soon - Week 14 College Football Picks

Thursday, December 3, 2009

73-55-2
9-4

Just a Weekly Five this week as we end the regular season.  I will pick every bowl game.
Houston -2.5 ECarolina (loss)
West Virginia + 1.5 Rutgers (win)
Alabama +5.5 Florida (win)
UConn -7 SFlorida (loss)
Wisconsin -12.5 Hawaii (win)

Final Regular Season: 76-57-2
Final Locks: 9-4

You could do worse. 

I Pick Every NFL Game - Week 13

Overall: 86-88-2

I'm coming off my strongest week of the year and hoping to nudge my way into the black by year's end.  Fantasy wise, I'm in the playoff hunt in one league, Seattle deciding to split carries between Forsett and Jones is good for my real team (go Niners!) but probably means I sit Forsett for Jacobs, and that (along with the Roethlisberger/Flacco choice I have to make) puts me in a hard spot in a must win game. 

Jets -3 Bills (win)
Broncos -5 KC (win)
Steelers -14 Raiders (loss)
Jags over Texans (win)
Niners over Seahawks (loss)
Dolphins +6.5 Patriots (win)
Carolina -6.5 TB (win)
Bears -9 Rams (win)
Colts -7 Titans (win)
Bengals -13 Lions (loss)
Saints -9.5 Redskins (loss)
Falcons +5.5 Eagles (loss)
Chargers -13 Browns (loss)
NYG +2.5 Dallas (win)
Minn -6.5 Arizona (loss)
Pack -3 Ravens (win)

9-7
95-95-2

Athlete of the Decade - Tiger Woods



Runners-Up (1) Barry Bonds (2) Roger Federer (3) Peyton Manning (4) Lance Armstrong

The public, says this piece by a "senior writer" from SI, "will never look at Tiger Woods quite the same way," because he's lost his "image as a good guy."

Tiger Woods is no worse than the second greatest golfer who ever lived; his level of dominance makes him (in a close call over all of the runners-up, a good argument could be made for any of them) the Athlete of the Decade.  But apparently, that isn't enough accomplishment to maintain his image in the face of all that sex.

Unlike the chaste, one woman man who received SI's Sportsman of the Year Award just this week:

"It was that combination of on- and off-field achievement that helped make Jeter this year's Sportsman. Said Sports Illustrated Group Editor Terry McDonell, "Derek Jeter has always presented himself with class; he does numerous good works for the community with his Turn 2 Foundation, which is one of the most efficient, effective foundations of its kind; and he's extremely generous with not just his money but with his time, which in many cases is more valuable. He also had another signature year on the field."

Do a search for Derek Jeter's girlfriends.  It's no wonder the guy is a hundred fifty fielding runs below position for his career, dude's got better things to do with his hands. 

Other than Tiger's wife, it's unclear to me why a member of Sports Illustrated's "public" would view Tiger as no longer a "good guy" but Cap'n Jetes as "classy", but the things that bother others, I am aware, don't much concern me.   Tiger Woods's marriage doesn't belong to me.  The contours of his relationship with his wife are good gossipy entertainment; he gets sent through the same news cycle that spun Dave Letterman around earlier in the year, but the degree of their achievements dwarfs a momentary unflattering snapshot. 

I'm pretty confident in that.  Tiger has a lot of equity, and presumably, many more years on the stage; my assumption is that in most ways, this week becomes a footnote. 

Not for his wife.  But we aren't her. 

I've never cheated in a relationship, but, as Chris Rock said about ten years ago "men are only as faithful as their options."  And I don't have Tiger's options.  You give me all the money in the world and make me Athlete of the Decade, I'd hope I'd be able to keep my promises, but the experience of being Tiger Woods, of having that be your life in no way bears any resemblance to the experience of living my life; to say I wouldn't be frantically leaving voicemails to women from Tool Academy is entirely wishcasting. 

We used to understand this.   Men who have the ability to do so enjoy sex with multiple women.  If you don't know a married man who has had an affair you're being lied to.  I'm not saying it covers men in glory that we are this way, not saying it should be celebrated; I'm just saying it's so. 

One of my pet theories of longstanding is that Clinton was able to muster up so much visible anger in his finger pointing denial "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" because he was angry.  Not angry that he was being falsely accused - but angry because he was being accused at all.  My reading was that what he felt inside, what he could not say was "Wait...this is a thing?  This?  How many Presidents do you think didn't have sexual relations with some woman they weren't married to?  Not just US Presidents...Bank Presidents.  School Board Presidents.  Presidents of charitable organizations.  It ain't all - but it's more who do than don't."

I felt the same way about Barry Bonds, who grew up in clubhouses, who watched the legends of the 60s and 70s survive on all manner of amphetamine and pain killer and then joined the legends of the 80s, 90s, and this decade who added steroids to that diet.  "Of course I take drugs.  I've been taking drugs since junior high.  That's how this works.  You're children." 

If you're bothered that Tiger Woods didn't live up to a vow he made to a person who is not you, you know, okay, I guess.  But let's not pretend it makes him unique.  In fact, I think it more likely that, if people are bothered, it's by the common quality of it all.  It's not Tiger Woods and Marissa Miller; it's Tiger Woods and someone from the Rock of Love bus; it's Tiger Woods horny and stupid.  He's just like us.  He's Eldrick.

Because we don't want him to be just like us.  We loathe us.  He's one of the chosen people.  The rich, the famous, the people who matter to us.  Our royalty. Too good for our awful mortgages and crappy health care.  Too good for our stifling dead end corporate jobs, for our scary, alcoholic racist neighbors, too good to be just another one of the lies we're sold - God - Country - Tiger.  We know we're screwed.  Just marking time in our little, inconsequential lives, eating our ice cream and watching CSI, working 7 days a week with no possible hope of escaping the fate of dropping dead one day at our desk.  It's not that we live in a glass house and judge Tiger for his cheating in a way we never would - we hear that voicemail and read those texts and think of him bleeding, running away from his wife and think "shit - he ain't Tiger, he's me."

And being us ain't worth being for a man with as many options as Tiger Woods has. 

Me, I don't care about any of that.  Tiger's the Athlete of the Decade.  Not a single text message he could ever send that would change that.  He can run through the entire VH-1 stable of reality shows; he can bang Antonio Sabato's ex-wife and Lorenzo Lamas's daughter and the Kardaashian sister they keep doped up on thorazine and locked in the basement.  Wouldn't change the way I thought about him at all.  Tiger's not my husband or my babysitter.  He's the Athlete of the Decade.  That's plenty. 




Quick Afghanistan Take -

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tonight Obama, who I voted for and probably you did too, becomes LBJ without the Great Society. 

There really was a political way out:  "We can't afford it." 

Somehow, Democrats never understand the "we can't afford it" objection resonates with the public whenever the Republicans make it about a social program.  There shouldn't have been a single Democratic objection to either war over the past decade that didn't begin with the phrase, "Well, first of all, we can't afford it."  And now, a year into an Administration that does not have an exit strategy for double digit unemployment, we're about to escalate by 30,000 US troop involvement in Afghanistan. 

We can't afford it. 

According to the Cato Institute, the 2010 Pentagon budget (which doesn't assume additional money for this escalation) means "every man, woman and child in the United States will spend more than $2,700 on (defense) programs and agencies next year."

When you consider the escalation, that makes one year of the defense budget the equivalent of ten years of health care

Why is that a good tradeoff?

We are, as I've written previously, in a period of rapidly unlearning what took generations to understand (that would be the title of my book: The Unlearning).  The difference between Obama and LBJ is LBJ didn't have a Vietnam to look back upon.  When Obama announces this troop escalation tonight, what I will see is the equivalent of that Republican Presidential debate when the candidates raised their hands to indicate they didn't believe in evolution. 

A decade of trillion dollar wars and tax cuts for the wealthy - a quarter century of deregulation on banking and corporate America has left our cupboard bare.  One out of every 8 Americans and 1 out of every 4 American children is currently on food stamps.

That's socialized food.  Probably a Nazi/Muslim/Communist plot.

1 in 4 kids.  Right now.  Today. 

And right now, today, we're about to escalate our involvement in an absolutely unwinnable Afghanistan.

We can't afford it. 

1st and Ten - The Weekly Tendown - November 22-28 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Welcome to issue 3 of our newest feature here at TBOR; last week, you learned of my admiration for the giant balls of Larry David, Bill Belichick, and Will Phillips.  Oh - and Publix has a secret liquid which kills all germs, so that's probably going to hit the scientific journals very soon.

Here's the best thing that happened this week:



First: 

Adam Lambert Is Not Your Babysitter

My favorite part of Adam Lambert's AMA performance last Sunday night wasn't the actual performance (I like the song; it's top end on what is, frankly, a little disappointing first album; but my tolerance for camp is fairly low). My favorite part wasn't even the straight from the playbook reaction - a small but vocal conservative outrage (the best quote - "America's children are literally under siege!" which is probably hyperbole unless "America's Children" is the nickname Lambert has given to his testicles) leading to Lambert's de-booking from Good Morning America (nobody buys records anymore except for country music fans; that's why the real most interesting occurrence at the AMA's was Lady Gaga losing the Best New Artist fan text vote to a country group that not only didn't I know then, but I don't know now and I looked up the name a day and a half ago in preparation for this open - and because of that, it's not exactly a Tiger getting the hell beaten out of him by the hot Swedish wife Brenda Ritchie style and then frantically fleeing into a fire hydrant level of cover up to imagine some co-ordination between the two ABC shows to ratchet up some level of publicity for everyone).  My favorite part wasn't even the rank hypocrisy by the CBS Morning Show hosted by.....Paula Zahn?...Ray Gandolf?...Ethan Frome?...how the hell is that show still on the air...when it, within the same story, showed the Madonna/Britney makeout from whichever MTV Awards that was, and then blurred the image of Lambert's boy on boy kiss from the night before. 

That was pretty good though.  Lambert correctly pointed out that it was an obvious double standard - earlier in the night, Janet Jackson grabbed a backup dancer's crotch (recreating a moment from a, what - 15 year old video?) which went without comment, and as the Britney kissing her grandmother moment illustrated, faux lesbianism has been incorporated into our collective sexualization.  The engine which runs our cultural acceptance of sex is straight dude orgasm - that's why Viagra commercials run all Sunday afternoon. 

My favorite part was Lambert's response to the "what about the children?" question by the predictably vapid morning host...Kathleen Sullivan?...Frank Reynolds?....Tammy Sytch?...

"I'm not your babysitter."

And then he sang another cut from the album - the seemingly prescient selection of Whataya Want From Me:

Just don’t give up I’m workin it out

Please don’t give in, I won’t let you down
It messed me up, need a second to breathe
Just keep coming around
Hey, whataya want from me
Whataya want from me
Whataya want from me

Because then I realized that it was entirely a playlet.  Team Adam Lambert, with an album coming out, in his first significant public act since American Idol, scripted this entire event, from soup to America's Children.  The decision was made to not play up to an assexual contest winner image ("Bet ya thought that I was soft and sweet" was a lyric from the song at the AMAs) but instead go full on gay - (there's a song on the album that uses a the masculine pronoun to refer to a love object - I don't know if I've heard that before from a male singer - we get a lot of non gender specifc references in songs - but not "there he goes, my baby walks so slow" which is a lyric from yet another of the songs on the album (It's not bad, just a little disappointing - the best song, by the way, and by a good margin, by the current crop of Idols is Allison's "Friday I'll Be Over You").  In a show filled with big hitters (Jay Z, Green Day, Gaga) it was Lambert who was the main event; he pressed the only button that can still get some mainstream traction (and did so in a slow news week) and didn't respond to the questions with "oh, gosh" apologies - instead he furthered the story by recognizing the political dimension to the coverage - even having a song at the ready to seemingly respond to the attacks.
 
And scene.  Well done, Sir!
 
That's my favorite thing this week.  After the jump - The Remaining Ten!

The Weekly 10 - Week 13 College Football Picks

Thursday, November 26, 2009

72-47-1
9-3

Cincinnati -21 Illinois (loss)
Boise -14 Nevada (loss)
Boise v. Nevada under 70 (loss)
Clemson -3 SCarolina (loss)
NCarolina -6 NC St (loss)
Florida St. +24.5 Florida (loss)
Geo Tech -7 Georgia (loss)
Arizona -3 Ariz St. (push)
Miami -6.5 SFlorida (win)
Lock: Navy -9.5 Hawaii (loss)

1-8-1
73-55-2
9-4

But those early season winning works sure were fun. 

I Pick Every NFL Game - Week 12

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

74-84-2

Looks like I was a week early in the concussion talk; the NFL announced over the past week a policy change, requiring some level of outside consultation in determing the nature of the head trauma suffered by the players.  How seriously the league will (or can) take this is up in the air; Roethlisberger and Warner both took head blows last week and very deftly their organizations refused to specifically attach the word concussion to the results.  The plan is for Ben to play (he's my QB on the only of my 3 fantasy teams that still has reasonable playoff hopes; I have to decide between he and Flacco) I don't think there's a Warner decision yet (I remain a Leinart fan; I'd like to see him get a couple of weeks behind center).  With the collective bargaining agreement coming due soon and the cultural wheel on head injuries turning a little bit, it will be interesting to see how football balances what is, essentially an almost untenably violent sport with emerging sensibilities on concussions.

Packers -11 Lions (win)
Cowboys -13.5 Raiders (win)
Denver +7 NYG (win)
Colts -3.5 Texans (win)
Bengals -14 Browns (loss)
Redskins +9 Eagles (win)
Buffalo +3 Miami (win)
Ravens -2.5 Steelers (win)
Arizona +.5 Titans (loss)
Seattle -3 Rams (win)
Atlanta -12 Tampa (loss)
Jets -3 Panthers (win)
Niners -3 Jags (win)
Chargers -13.5 Chiefs (win)
Vikes -10 Bears (win)
NE +3 Saints (loss)

12-4
86-88-2
My worst college week and my best NFL week.  What a difference a day makes

A Talking Point You May Have Missed

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Occasionally, I'll have a student whose understanding of American history is largely informed by conservative talk, who will be of the belief that civil rights legislation largely came out of  the conservative movement. 

They know, after all, that Lincoln was a Republican - and that many of the southern leaders supporting segregation were Democrats.  And that's pretty much the extent that is demanded by Rush and Hannity.

Now, you and I know that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was fought for and supported by the left and (eventually) mainstream Democrats (although Democrats and Republicans were far behind the American Communists in their civil rights support - the connections between the communists and civil rights were noted by all the red baiters at the time, and probably appear somewhere on Simple Jack's chalkboard) and signed by Lyndon Johnson.  And you and I know that establishment Republicans opposed it, and have continued (to this day) to oppose many civil rights measures as examples of big government, or social engineering, or special treatment for minorities.  You and I know that the passage of the Civil Rights Act split the Democratic Party, and the southern Democrats who had made up the "solid South" since the formation of the Party under Andrew Jackson, left to become Republicans.  You and I know that the Republicans used a "southern strategy" of race-baiting to forge 40 years of electoral victories.  From the election of FDR in '32 through LBJ winning in '64, the only Republican elected President was Ike, who not only won WWII, but coined the term "military-industrial complex" in a speech which would cause him to be labeled anti-American by Fox were he to give it today (I never thought the deified Reagan his ownself would be too liberal for the Republicans, but take a look at this purity test) But after '64 - after '64 - the next 44 years saw only 2 Democrats elected to the White House - and both of those were from southern states.  Until Obama.  Who apparently is both our first black and our first Nazi President.  What are the odds? 

A congresswoman from North Carolina stood on the floor of the House of Representatives last week and said that not only were Republicans the real environmentalists - but they passed Civil Rights legislation without the help of the Democrats.

You can see discussion of this here. 

It's being called revisionist history, but that's not what it is.  Revisionist history is fine.  No reason why the first historian to get a crack at something automatically should be believed.  What's happening here is just false.  2+2=5 level of false. 

This level of false is not singular.  I'm uncertain what Simple Jack's 100 year plan will actually consist of, aside from planned marches on the anniversary of the I Have a Dream speech and an anti-Obama rally on 9/11 - but there does seem to be styled an "educational" component where he will look to roll back the past hundred years of US history - as instead of locating all of America's sins in the 1960s (which would be the typical conservative lament - I mean, they apparently now love the part where they were pushing for civil rights legislation when the Democrats were smoking dope and listening to Country Joe and the Fish) he's fixated on the Progressive Era as the source for all evil.  You know, all that health and safety legislation that brought the US out of the Gilded Age (and was the first stage in saving capitalism; what Simple Jack sees as the dawn of socialism was actually the softening of capitalism's edges enough to prevent the type of radical change seen elsewhere in the world.  The New Deal was the second stage; and if its introduction here rings a bell it should; recall the stimulus package comparison to the New Deal - one of the current conservative claims is the New Deal made the Great Depression worse.  It would be sad if it weren't getting in the way of your life right now.  The problem with Obama's stimulus, according to most economists, is it wasn't nearly large enough - but instead of a second massive round of stimulus, which is what we need - we'll be interested primarily in deficit reduction.  Republicans always talk deficit when they're not in power to dramatically raise it with trillion dollar wars and tax reductions for the wealthy.  But the "tighten our belts" mantra is going to frighten Obama, who thusfar has shown as little political will as could have been expected, and the Democrats, playing as "conservatively" as do my Niners in first halves, are showing just as strong a result.  I knew I could shoehorn sports into this parenthetical if I made it long enough.  Sports!)  There is an undercurrent of Simple Jack's blackboard presentations where he fixates on the word progressive as being related to communism and Nazism and ACORN and Bernie the Toiletless Nextdoor Neighbor (which would be news to Fightin' Bob LaFollette) and it seems to me as if the conservative re-education plan involves a broadside at this portion of US history.

Which makes sense.  If the FDA was proposed today it would be seen as government intrusion upon the relationship normal, every day, middle Americans have with their butchers.  The tea parties would be BBQs where godfearing carnivores would scream "If You Want my Tainted Bratwurst You'll Have to Pry it Out of My Cold, Dead, Chubby Hands."

(If you haven't seen this little slice of American ugliness, you should. )

For virtually everyone who will ever read this - the idea that anyone could believe that the civil rights movement in this country was conservative - Republicans fighting those liberals at every turn (and look how African-Americans have paid them back, voting with the Democrats at a 90+% clip ever since) is just fantasy-land stuff that isn't worth any more of your time than wondering if the world really is going to end in 2012 (I have students who believe that too). 

But there's a congresswoman who believes it -who believes it and has said it. 

Your tax dollars at work.

I wish there were a better movie than Mike Judge's Idiocracy that I could reference that so starkly demonstrates a United States of Amnesia, where we so quickly unlearn truths that took generations to acquire (the film's a bit of a mess).  But until then, that's the dystopian look at our future which strikes me as most worthy of your notice.

Palin/Simple Jack in 2012.  Things have taken a bad turn.

Your Athlete of the Month, November 2009



Manny Pacquiao

Runners-up: Chase Utley, Hideki Matsui, Steve Nash

I think I have a good line on Athlete of the Year now, it's a tight race, but I've settled on where I'm going to go absent something unexpected in December.  Also, there will be an Athlete of the Decade awarded as well. 

Fox Math

Monday, November 23, 2009



Aw, Fox (this time it's the Chicago affiliate).  You're my hero. 

The Shotgun

First Half: Alex Smith, 3/7  5 yds  3 sacks  17 offensive plays/6 shotgun
Second Half: Alex Smith 13/26  222 yds. 3 TD/1int  0 sacks  29 offensive plays/28 shotgun

I'm unsure why this is complicated.  We're 4-6.  There's no pressure to win a title this year, contend for a title this year, or even back into a wild card spot. 

Open up the offense.  Jesus. 

1st and Ten - The Weekly Tendown November 15-21 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

This is episode two of our new weekly feature here at TBOR - The Tendown!  Last week, you read about Mad Men, strawberry pancakes, my selection of Jon Stewart as Entertainer of the Decade, the best North American wrestling match of 2009, and many, many more.

So - what's the best thing that happened this week...



First: 

If Only There Were a Horrible Name That I Could Call You That Would Make You As Angry As I Am...

I've been excessively excited about the Seinfeld reunion all year, and it's not really because all 4 actors will be at the same place at the same time, that doesn't give me the feelings - it's because the Seinfeld story continues - Jerry's the sperm donor for Elaine's daughter; George invented the I-Toilet app then invested all his money with Bernie Madoff; hey look - it's Bania!  Bania!  And that would be good enough - but what Sunday's penultimate episode of this season of Curb (question, is the word penultimate overly used, and if it's overly used is that by pretentious writers who want the reader to know that they know the definition of the world penultimate?) the best thing that happened last week were Larry David's gigantic balls.

Larry David's fearless in the way that only someone with go away money can be; so on the episode of Curb likely to draw more attention than any other in show history, he not only undertakes an attempt to rehabilitate Michael Richards ("it's been 3 years, don't hurt me"), but covers whatever offense might be taken to that with a show long joke about a 9 year old girl's "pussy."

(Hey, that's gonna lead to an unsettling new google search that will now find me.  Welcome devotees of child porn!  I got nothin' for you, but if you also enjoy leftist rants and the german suplex, stick around).

Larry David isn't going to earn another dollar by saying Michael Richards doesn't need to be Jimmy the Greeked, but he does what he wants.  Very, Very early in my life (uncomfortably so) I recognized very clearly, in maybe what is the only fully realized thought I've ever had that seemingly hit me from nowhere, my only real epiphany - that there were many times in life where you don't have a choice, that you need to toe the line or the cost will simply be too great - and my goal would be to make those times as few in number as I could get away with.  I wanted a life where I did what I wanted.  I don't know if that's made for good choices more often than rule following would have, and I am not necessarily advocating the Jividen plan as a way to success.  But I tried.

Larry David clearly gets to do that now.  He does what he wants.  I'm looking forward to tonight.

After the jump....The Ten Next Best Things that happened this week (get it, first and ten?  Huh?  Huh?)

The Weekly 10 - Week 12 College Football Picks

Friday, November 20, 2009

Overall: 66-43-1
Locks: 8-3

Nebraska -16.5 KSt (loss)
TCU -31 Wyoming (win)
New Mex St. +30 Nevada (loss)
New Mex St. v. Nevada under 60 (loss)
Oregon St. -31.5 Wash St. (win)
Memphis v. Houston under 75 (win)
UCLA -4.5 Ariz St. (win)
Tennessee -17 Vandy (loss)
Baylor v. Texas A&M under 61.5 (win)
Lock: Iowa -10 Minnesota (win)

6-4
72-47-1
9-3

My Ballots - 2009 Cy Young/MVP AL/NL

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Congratulations to Tim Lincecum.  I'll have more about that this weekend on the Tendown.

NL MVP
1. Albert Pujols
2. Adrian Gonzalez
3. Dan Haren

NL Cy Young
1. Dan Haren
2. Javier Vazquez
3. Ubaldo Jimenez

AL MVP
1. Zach Greinke
2. Joe Mauer
3. Roy Halladay

AL Cy
1. Zach Greinke
2. Roy Halladay
3. Mariano Rivera

Survivor Series Preview - 2009/Best ever Survivor Series Matches

Survivor Series is Sunday from...little help...where is Survivor Series...Los Cruces?  Red Rocks?  Where the hell is Survivor Series?  DC.  Boom. 

For those of you unaware, I've been doing previews/reviews of WWF/E PPVs for my long time occasional writing partner Kirk Hiner since right after WM XII.  Kirk and I are both 39 and have been wrestling fans our entire lives, so we span the full Wrestlemania era; in the summers of 1990 and 1991 we would sneak into his shuttered fraternity in undergraduate school to watch WWF programming (see, cable television was hard to come by for impoverished college students in northwest Ohio two decades ago).  We've seen multiple PPVs together; Kirk attended Wrestlemania VIII (yes, that's how old we are, we bought tickets, with our grown up money, for Wrestlemania VIII) and we were at the greatest ever Survivor Series, '96 in MSG (on my myspace page, now behind the firewall, is a pic of us holding up our tickets) Kirk doesn't really watch anymore, relying on my quarterly updates - I watch..er..well...maybe a little more than that.  Don't judge me!

So, if you aren't Kirk, you can read this if you like, but it's really not for you. 

1 WWE Title: John Cena (c) vs. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels
-When last we left at Summer Slam, Orton was the champ - he and Cena feuded all autumn, switching the belt back and forth (a pretty bad feud, by the way - I have a post where I list every 4 star match in WWF/WWE history with Dave Meltzer's ratings for comparison with mine, we've grown further apart as the years have gone in our qualitative evaluation of top end WWE - but never further apart than a particular Orton/Cena that I thought was really more theater than wrestling and he gave 4+ stars ).  Hunter and Shawn are still doing their tired DX act - the program here is there isn't one; it's 3 babyfaces just having a match to see who wins the title.  It seems unlikely that's how it ends - there's really only two ways to work a 3 way where two of the guys are friends; TNA just did one (a 4 3/4 star match with Samoa Joe/AJ Styles/Chris Daniels which was either TNA's best ever match or their second best ever match - those three guys had the other contender for that title 4 years ago) and they took the two babyface friends (Styles/Daniels) and broke them up before the match.  WWE didn't do that - they are going into Survivor Series with Michaels/Hunter still supergood close buddies, which means one of them is turning on the other (and I assume taking the strap).

-There's nothing Hunter could possibly do to make me remotely interested in another match he'll ever have in his career.  He's dead to me.  But Shawn could turn heel.  A heel turned Shawn Michaels - a full on heel turned Shawn Michaels and I'm on board.  I really hope they go that way.  If I had to bet, Hunter turns.  This match will be okay, others will like it more than I. 

(edit, I'll go 3 1/2 here, albeit on the lower end of that number which will keep it out of the top ten- it was just fine, right about as expected absent the turn - maybe next month)

Someone bought the Silverdome for half a million dollars.  That's it.  The whole Silverdome.  Half a million dollars. 

2 World Heavyweight Title: Undertaker (c) vs. The Big Show vs. Chris Jericho
-Punk was Smackdown Champ when last we were here; he's one of my guys, and I enjoyed his being on top (Punk/Jeff at SummerSlam is WWE Match of the Year; that's a minority view - a true view, but a minority view).  But he dropped to Undertaker in October.  Jericho and Show are still tag champs, but they've got a business relationship gimmick - not friends, not enemies, just business associates.  The Show can't work even a little bit.  I'm assuming the Undertaker keeps, I probably won't like this match so much, others will like it a little more than that. 

(edit - maybe 2 1/2, again, as expected)

3 Batista vs. Rey Mysterio
-Batista just turned; he and Rey are legit friends and they've tried to pump up their on screen friendship to give some gravity to Batista's turn.  It's a good turn, his jackass heel character is significantly better than the alternative, neither version can work much.  Rey apparently is going to shut it down with a knee surgery (Rey keeps missing Wrestlemanias, as detailed in the Counterfactual; this one will be 3 in the past 4 years assuming he's still out).  So Batista's gonna hurt him.  I would guess we're building to a Batista/Undertaker thing. 

(edit - maybe 1 3/4, it was a squash, fine for what it was but it wasn't much - I assume they shut Rey down now)
4 Team Kingston (Kofi Kingston, Montel Vontavious Porter, Mark Henry, R-Truth, and Christian) vs. Team Orton (Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase, CM Punk, and William Regal): Five-on-five Survivor Series Elimination match


5 Team Morrison (John Morrison, Matt Hardy, Evan Bourne, Shelton Benjamin, and Finlay) vs. Team Miz (The Miz, Drew McIntyre, Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler, and Jack Swagger): Five-on-five Survivor Series Elimination match

-We've got 3 elimination matches scheduled (the women are the third, so no preview, as it will be pointless); Kingston's getting a TV push in a program with Orton and it seems to be taking hold (he's good, he wouldn't be my first choice for this push, but they could do worse), I wouldn't be surprised to see them book Kingston strong over Orton here such that they can keep this going.  MVP/Mark Henry are a filler babyface tag team (MVP is good, or was, he hasn't been in a position to do much in awhile; you know Mark Henry's deal) I guess they're feuding here with Legacy (Dusty's kid Cody, and Ted, Jr.) they're both fine, it's Ted they like and the working assumption is a face turn is coming sooner than later.  No way to tell yet if either of them can work.  R-Truth is Ron Killings; he's been nowhere since coming back from years in TNA, but now is feuding with Punk, who has been a top guy (and successfully so, at least seemingly - and certainly successful from a work and a character perspective) but they've buried him here.  And you know Christian, he's terrific - currently babyface ECW Champ - feuding with Regal (so good for the Counterfactual!  Look at all the workers!  I heart Survivor Series!)

John Morrison is the former Johnny Nitro, babyface (wow, can he not talk - he can work, but he cannot talk) IC Champ.  The Miz is the kid from the Real World, heel US Champ - they were longtime heel tag partners, now broken up and on different shows.  Miz has really improved, both on the stick and in the ring - he still wouldn't be in the first 20 guys I'd want to see in his spot, but I don't hate him.  The rest of the babyface team is made up of good workers they don't care about - Matt, Evan Bourne (a terrific high flyer, he's Matt Sydal in the Counterfactual) Shelton and Fit.  The heel team has two super green guys they really like (Hunter, apparently loves them both) McIntyre and Seamus (two UK guys both doing killer gimmicks on different shows).  Dolph Ziggler is Nick Nemeth, a good amateur wrestler - and Jack Swagger is Jake Hager, a better one.  They're both young but good (you'd like Swagger).  I'm going to tag them up (spoiler alert) in the Counterfactual next year (babyface team in my world, call them D1, for Division One). 

Let's say faces go over in the first match, heels in the second. 

(edit, let's say 3 1/4 for both of them, maybe the top end of 3 1/4 for both - I liked them both just fine, the book was exactly as I expected - the downside of their pushing the young guys they're pushing is it means they won't push the young guys I want them to push; if it was Danielson getting the Seamus push, I'd be really excited).
6. Women.

-That's it.  They say the new Hart kids (Davey's son Harry and TJ Wilson) are going to wrestle dark (Harrys fine, TJ is really good) and that would be good for the Counterfactual.  And anytime they want to bring up Low Ki and Bryan Danielson (I've lost you now, I know - but remember how I told you in '96 you had to start watching Benoit/Eddy/Dean? - if the opportunity ever presents itself, we're gonna have a similar conversation) that would be great. 

So, I'm not expecting much work - but I like Survivor Series matches, so I'm looking forward to that.  And if they turn Shawn and not Hunter, I'm popping. 

There's lots of room to crack this list as Survivor Series has historically been the weakest of the big 4 events; after just the top few, this is really not a great list -
Here are the Top 10 Matches in Survivor Series History.


1. Bret Hart d. Steve Austin ('96)
2. Bret Hart d. Shawn Michaels ('92)
3. Bret Hart d. Diesel ('95)
4. Shawn Michaels d. Bret Hart ('97)
5. Eddy/Chavo d. Angle/Benoit and Edge/Rey ('02)
6. Jericho/Christian/Orton/Steiner/Henry d. Michaels/RVD/Booker/Dudleys ('03)
7. Sid d. Shawn Michaels ('96)
8. Strike Force/Young Stallions/Rougeaus/Bees/Bulldogs d. Hart Foundation/Islanders/Demolition/Bolsheviks/New Dream Team ('87)
9. Bob Backlund d. Bret Hart ('94)
10. HHH d. Ric Flair ('05)

I Pick Every NFL Game - Week 11

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

67-75-2

Why did Brian Westbrook play last week?

Westbrook was knocked out two weeks prior; this comes on the heels of multiple studies detailing the impact of concussions on retired NFL players - and those studies come as part of a larger movement to more clearly recognize what role it is that concussions have played regarding extreme depression in retired athletes.  Malcolm Gladwell recently wrote in the New Yorker that the concussion evidence is such (and the impossibility of disentangling football from causing those injuries) that, in our lifetimes, we will see football as we know it disappear.  You'd think that in the middle of that, a high profile player like Westbrook wouldn't take the field two weeks after getting knocked out - a professional boxer, you know, a lawless sport like boxing - a professional boxer can't fight for at least 30 days after getting knocked out - but in the corporate NFL, 2 weeks go by and a running back is right in the game again. 

The evidence of brain trauma caused, really just by playing the game of professional football is stronger than the evidence of harm by (here it comes) steroids, I'd suggest.  The difference in interest the media has in talking about both subjects is titanic (well, to be fair, the media never cared about steroids in football, just baseball, and it stopped.  Once the Sports Industrial Complex drove over Barry Bonds for years guys like Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez largely got a free pass.  It's a better position we're in now, but forgive a Giants fan if he can distinctly recall every Bonds at bat having to include a disclaimer "remember, what you're seeing isn't actually happening" - but ARod just won a World Title and if the word steroid was uttered at any point during the Series I missed it) and that allows Westbrook, hardly an obscure player, to maybe have ended his career by playing last Sunday. 

Dolphins +3 Panthers (win)
Lions -3 Browns (loss)
Jags -8.5 Bills (loss)
Steelers -10 Chiefs (still alive in the suicide pools, and I've got the Steelers this week)(loss, and that ends my suicide dreams)
Colts -1 Ravens (win)
Pack -6.5 Niners (loss)
Vikes -11 Seattle (win)
Redskins +11 Cowboys (win)
Saints -11 TB (win)
Cards -9 Rams (loss)
Jets +10.5 Pats (loss)
Bengals -9 Raiders (loss)
Eagles -3 Bears (win)
Falcons +6.5 NYG (win)
Denver +2.5 SD (loss)
Texans -4.5 Titans (loss)

7-9
74-84-2

1st and Ten - The Weekly Tendown!: Nov 8-14 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Welcome to the first ever TenDown, my countdown of the ten best things that happened this week.  Actually, it's a countdown of the best thing that happened this week - followed by the next ten runners-up.  Sure, some of this may actually have happened prior to this week - but if it didn't happen to me until this week, it didn't happen.  We live in a DVR world of time shifting and whatnot, I do not fight the tide.  I am the tide.  And whatnot. 

The best thing that happened this week.....



First:

Something happened, something terrible, and the way people saw themselves is gone.
-The Mad Men season finale was Sunday; although receiving the accompanying critical acclaim, at no point has Mad Men really been the best drama on television.  It's been on the short list since ep 1, but with Wire/Shield and then season two of Breaking Bad (not to mention its peer group, Friday Night Lights and Big Love) there's never been a point where I would have definitively said, "that's the best drama on TV."

Until this season, specifically, until this week.  Mad Men has always deftly played with its being a period piece, trying to co-opt the style of the late 50s/early 60s without the historical substance of the era acting as a barrier to modern viewers.  In other words, you could appreciate the Mad Men universe even without appreciating the real universe in which it was historically situated. 

-That's really ended (and for the better) this year; race/homosexuality/the women's sphere were all infused in front burner storylines all year - and building our readiness toward thinking of Mad Men as less stylized contemporary drama and more an insight into a pivotal moment in US history (sort of the way the Wire was about urban 21st century America - that you could watch it as much for socio-political insight as for entertainment).  In the season finale, clearly Mad Men is staking out an historical view - that the Kennedy assasination marked the end of the "Mad Men" post WWII era of American history; Draper and his gang of bourgeious revolutionaries leave the comfort of Sterling-Cooper to go into business for themselves, and Betty leaves her marriage (and her two older children; Betty, if you're unaware, is a pretty crappy mom) with a similar motive in mind.  A loyal viewer might be uncertain about season 4 - the show as it as been thusfar is clearly gone - the ad agency is now in a hotel suite and Betty Draper's on a plane to Reno - but that, of course, is the whole point.  If the death of JFK is the big bang that creates the new America (a reductionist but defensible proposition) an America which could not have been imagined even three years previous - that's the sensation Mad Men created Sunday.  It has taken the combustible uncertain soup of the time and risen from it a new world.

Mad Men is dead.  Long live Mad Men.  The remaining ten after the jump:

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