My first job out of law school was as an investigator for a public defender's office. As jobs go, it was fine; I could come and go as I pleased most days, it was low stress, and I enjoyed about 75% of the people in the office. Basically, the job consisted of serving subpoenas, tracking down and interviewing witnesses, and photographing crime scenes/evidence/whatever.
This is a story about "whatever."
So, there were technically four investigators, and after about a year on the job, some heavy turnover left it so that I was the only male. One day, a female attorney came into the office to request someone to go take pictures. One of the other investigators --- an overly perky, slightly-too-eager lass who had recently been hired --- quickly volunteered. Only half listening (because I knew that the new girl would volunteer), I heard the attorney say, "No, I think Matt probably has to do this one."
"Yeah, it's ... well ... it's a rape case, and I need photos of the defendant's ... penis."
"Wait, seriously, what are you saying to me?"
"I need pictures of his ... penis." (She was loath to say the word "penis," though she had no problem asking me to go photograph one. The bizarre juxtaposition was not lost on me.)
"Well, the defendant says that he has some prominent moles on his ... you know ..."
"Yes. Anyway, he says that there are moles and that the victim would have mentioned those moles when she was describing it if she'd really seen it."
And so it was that I found myself at a county jail in Arkansas, digital camera in hand, explaining to the 135-year-old deputy what it was I needed to do. When she stopped laughing and coughing and laughing some more, she called the captain and asked him. When he stopped laughing, he agreed to escort me down to the cells and arranged to have the defendant meet us (read: me) in the medical exam room. Somewhat frighteningly, the defendant did not laugh at all. He simply waited until I turned the camera on and then dropped his orange pants.
For my part, I turned my head, closed my eyes, and tried to think happy thoughts while I snapped off a bunch of pictures in his general direction. (Other than the "taking pictures" part, I imagine a lot of unpleasant prison memories start with that same description.)
When I got back to the office, I gave the camera to the attorney and told her to print them off herself. She started scrolling through the photos, and I was walking away when I heard it.
"Well, it's just that ... you see ... the victim described his ... penis in a different ... state."
"She described it as being ... erect."
"So I need pictures of it in that state."
"Just so we are crystal clear on this: you want me to ask this dude to ready himself and then take more photos of his d*$k?"
"Sorry. If it makes it any easier, he has a motion hearing tomorrow, so I can have the bailiffs bring him to the jury room and you won't have to go back to the jail."
"Oh, gee, thanks a whole pantload, Chet."
And so it was that I found myself the following morning in the jury room on the second floor of an old courthouse. The attorney had already explained to the defendant why she wanted more photos, but he was unclear as to how this was to be accomplished, asking me "so, how do you want me to do this?"
I explained rather bluntly that I didn't care how he did it because I wasn't totally sure if I cared about life at that very moment. I suggested that he go into the adjacent bathroom and come back out when he was "ready." He did, I again did the whole turn-head-cry-and-snap-photos-blindly routine, and I left the camera on the attorney's desk.
About a year after this incident, just when the sandpaper-and-bleach wounds were beginning to heal on my eyeballs, I left that job for a job with a state government agency. Theoretically, I was going into a job that would give me time in court, would make me feel like I was doing something good, and would pay about 40% more than I was making at the public defender.
In reality, however, I was going to a job full of terribly unlikable people who were miserable in their own jobs and who had no goal in life other than to make everyone else miserable as well. It was a job where the odds were good that, at some point every day, I was going to have to deal with a terrified/irate/inconsolable relative of my client and was never going to get home before 6 or 7pm on court days, which were thrice weekly.
Needless to say, I hated this job. I was miserable from the moment I woke up each day until the moment I went to bed. I wasn't even fun to be around when I wasn't at work. Luckily, I was only at this job for three and a half weeks --- three days of which I called in sick --- before I managed to luck into my current job, which I love.
In the year since I left the terrible government agency job, I've used that whole story as an allegory for how, no matter how bad things seem at the moment and no matter how many penis photos (literal or figurative) you are taking, things could always --- ALWAYS --- be worse. I honestly believed that.
I don't believe that anymore, at least as far as the Texans are concerned.
Sure, in terms of final record things could be worse. We could have a run like the Lions where you never have any illusion of being competitive. Or we could have a three-season stretch like St. Louis, with six wins total. At least in those situations, you KNOW before the season ever starts that you are not going to win much, that you are not going to have meaningful games in November and December, and that there's no reason to let yourself get too high or too low because the season is what it is. I honestly think that would be preferable to what the Texans have put fans through over the past couple of seasons.
So, really, I hope someone can tell me how it could get worse if you are a Texans fan. Lose the Super Bowl on a last second kick? We should be so lucky; that would require making the playoffs and winning playoff games, which is lightyears beyond where we are now. Go 0-16? So what; just like the Lions, you'd know the season was over by mid-October and you could adjust your expectations accordingly. You'd also get a good draft pick, which is nice if you trust your staff to make good draft selections. D'oh.
I cannot think of a scenario that would be worse that what the Texans are currently doing, which is showing just enough every week to make you think that they can win, only to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at the last minute nearly every single time; finding incredible new ways to lose games on a near weekly basis; and staying blindly loyal to coaches and players, even when all evidence points to that coach or that player being absolutely terrible at his job. (Yes, I am looking at you, Frank Bush and Brice McCain.)
It can't get worse. If we lose out? So what? At least the draft pick improves and the case for cleaning house becomes even stronger. If we win out and most of the coaches somehow keep their jobs? So what, we'll just have the same level of pain and frustration; it won't actually be any worse, it will just be extended.
You know what really hurts, though? I've no doubt in my mind that all of you reading this who are Texans fans will watch on Sunday, just like you watch every Sunday, because that's what fans do. Even when they hit rock bottom.
Number of games, including this season, under Gary Kubiak that the Texans have entered the week above .500. That's out of 78 total weeks, mind you. If we lower the threshold to AT or above .500, the total jumps to a whopping 33 out of 78...and that's if we're counting week 1 of every season, when we are 0-0 entering the game.
Gary Kubiak's winning percentage (7-21) against teams that made the playoffs in a given season, 2006 to 2009. If the season ended today and we included 2010, his record actually falls slightly to 8-26 (.235). By way of comparison, Dom Capers was 3-26 against playoff teams. The Gary Kubiak Era: About One Game Better Per Season Against Good Teams Than Dom Capers Was!
Totally Random Thought
In The Wizard of Oz (film or book, take your pick), the Tin Man has a rust problem. In the book series, he goes so far as to have himself nickel-plated to protect himself from rust. The problem with this, of course, is that tin does not rust. In fact, tin is so resistant to oxidization that it is used to plate steel to prevent the steel from rusting.
Yes, I realize that Oz is an allegory and that the rust was needed so that oil would be needed so that Frank Baum could deride John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil. Whatever. It still strikes me as incredibly odd not to have the Tin Man made out of steel or iron.
(Tangent: the genesis of the Tin Man in the Oz books is incredibly dark and makes watching the movie version a little weird.)
Total rushing yards this season by Arian Foster, the most in a season in club history. With three games remaining in 2010, Foster already has 48 more yards than Steve Slaton did in his former-record-setting season. Foster's 1,834 total yards from scrimmage are also a team record, besting Domanick Williams's 2004 total.
Catches per game and receiving yards per game, respectively, that Foster needs to break the team record for catches by a running back (68 by Domanick Williams in 2004) and receiving yards in a season by a running back (588 by same).
Rushing yards and yards from scrimmage that Arian Foster needs to average over the last three games to set the single-season record for each by an undrafted player (1,615 and 2,287, both by Priest Holmes in 2002).
Average rushing yards and total yards per game allowed by Houston's final three opponents.
Three Gripes About College Football That Are Not About The Need For A Playoff
1. I generally root against Arkansas football, mainly due to the fact that I am a contrarian by nature. I also enjoy the Schadenfreude of watching the true Arkansas fans deal with disappointment. But, noooooo, I don't get to do that this year. Somehow it has happened that the stars have aligned and, by pitting them against Ohio State, have forced me into one of two scenarios in the entire world where I will have no choice but to root for Arkansas. (The other scenario being Arkansas v. Notre Dame.)
THANKS, BOWL-PICKING GUYS!
2. There is a stadium called The Cotton Bowl. There is a game referred to colloquially as "The Cotton Bowl." This game is no longer played in that stadium, choosing instead to be played in Jerry Jones's Palace of Fail. Instead, something called The TicketCity Bowl will be played in the Cotton Bowl in January.
Look, you want to move the game? Fine, whatever. But I feel like someone should make you change the name.
What's that? AT&T sponsors the Cotton Bowl now, and NCAA is far more concerned with money than with doing anything that might make sense? OK, nevermind. Carry on.
3. I am old school, in that it still bugs me that there are bowl games after January 1. I am sort of ok with the national championship game being a few days after the rest of the bowls, but I feel like all other bowls should end at the first of the year, ideally with only the best bowls being played on Jan. 1.
What I absolutely cannot stand, however, is the presence of meaningless bowls that few people have ever heard of being played in the interim between the last BCS bowl and the championship game. The GoDaddy.com Bowl? Go away.com. The BBVA Compass Bowl? The needle is pointing toward S...for "Suck." The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl? How about you fight off this terrible boredom I feel while watching your game? Oh, and the Cotton Bowl (game) which does not take place at The Cotton Bowl (stadium)? I hope you all get eaten by boll weevils.
Where on the continuum of quack faux science does Rumpology rank? It has to be somewhere below phrenology, right?
What is "Rumpology"? Well, I am glad you asked. According to Jacqueline Stallone, who is apparently the Andre Johnson of Rumpologists (or is he the Jacqueline Stallone of wide receivers?):
Just as a printo of your fingerprints, palms, soles, and ears tell a story, so does your rump. The lines, crevices, and folds of your fanny, rear-end for those of you in the UK, can, to the trained eye, reveal your personality, fate, and future in luck and love. So they thought in ancient India and Babylon and so today. The Greeks used palm and behind prints to determine health and fidelity. The Romans used the prints to identify potential future success. The prints reveal your whole being.
Butt seriously, what kind of ass would you have to be for a photo of your backside to reveal your whole being?
One Last Note On Arian Foster
During the Texans' game-tying drive, Foster turned in one of the most awesome heads-up plays you'll ever see (pictured at the top of this post). Ball on the Baltimore 27, 1:00 on the clock, with Houston out of timeouts (because, bah, who needs THOSE things, amirite!?!?), Schaub takes the shotgun snap and dumps the ball over the middle to Foster coming across right to left from Schaub's point of view.
Foster, being the smart player he is, knows he has to get out of bounds, so he angles toward the left sideline in the general direction of the first-down marker. About two yard from the sideline, as two Ravens closed in, Foster stopped on a dime, made one of the defenders miss with a quick sidestep, adjusted his angle so that he could get past the first-down marker, and went out of bounds. So many NFL players would either have broken that back away from the first-down marker or, worse, gotten tackled in-bounds.
Speaking of Fantastic Plays
If one catch can exemplify exactly why Andre Johnson is so great, it might be his TD near the end of regulation. Johnson jumped up to catch the ball, immediately looked down to make sure his left foot landed in-bounds, and then his momentum started to carry him out of bounds.
His natural reaction was to put his hand down to catch his balance, but he had the presence of mind to stop the hand-down motion, look back, tap his right foot in the endzone, then complete the act of stopping his fall. You can see it in this video (starts around the :17 mark), and here are some screen caps.
It seems the more I write about movies in this column, the more I find myself thinking and talking about movies in my day-to-day world. This, in turn, leads me to write more about movies, etc. etc. etc. Case in point: two random realizations I had about Back to the Future and Miracle on 34th Street.
Back to the Future
Remember the underlying plot at the beginning and near-end of the film with the angry Libyans? They come tearing into the parking in that VW bus, gun down Doc Brown with AK-47s from close range, and then chase after Marty, who has hopped into the DeLorean. The DeLorean hits 88, Marty bounces back to 1955, and the Libyans crash the bus into a little insta-photo kiosk.
When Marty is done getting fondled by his mom, he returns to the present (or, technically a few minutes before the present) and, as he is running to the mall, he sees Doc get shot, sees himself speed into the future, and sees the Libyans crash. He runs up to find that Doc had pieced together Marty's note warning him about the Libyans, so Doc had invested in a bullet-proof vest (ignore that the range from which Doc was shot with AK-47s would have made such a vest only moderately helpful). Smiles! Hugs!
WHAT ABOUT THE LIBYANS WHO CRASHED A FEW HUNDRED FEET AWAY? They still don't have their money and/or their weapons-grade plutonium, and, if anything, they are probably more angry now that they just rammed their little bus into something. There was no explosion, there was no fire, and there was therefore no reason to think that all the Libyans in the bus died from the fairly minor crash. So why in the world would we pretend like they wouldn't shake the cobwebs off, see that same punk kid come running back into the parking lot, see that the dude they just shot was still alive, and then go over and execute Marty and Doc?
Miracle on 34th Street.
Blah, blah, blah Macy's hires a dude who looks like Santa Claus and calls himself "Kris Kringle" when the store's usual Santa is too drunk to let kids sit on his lap without launching into a thirty-minute rant about how his ex-wife was a evil harridan. Or something like that.
Anyway, Ol' Man Kringle keeps telling people that, by golly, he IS Santa Claus! He repeats this bit of lunacy enough that people start to wonder about the fella. Macy's manager, apparently unimpressed that business in the store is fantastic thanks in part to Kringle, wants to fire him because she's convinced that he's thiiiis close to snapping and killing everyone in the store.
Mr. Macy --- who, you know, doesn't have the jingle bells to tell the manager that, if she fires Kringle, she will also be fired --- sends S dot Claus to a psychiatrist to get him checked out. In the course of his interview, the shrink irritates the old man (look, the manager was kind of right!) and Kringle whacks him on the head with his cane. Kringle is arrested, and a court hearing is held to determine if he's crazy.
HERE is where the whole thing drives me nuts. Kringle's defense at the hearing is that he is Santa Claus, and you can't very well be nuts for claiming to be who you really are. Of course, he offers no actual evidence of this: I suppose social security cards and government issued IDs are hard to come by at the North Pole. Instead, a bunch of witnesses are presented, all of whom admit that, yes, this guy who was hired because he resembled Santa Claus sure does resemble Santa Claus. Great.
Just when you think the judge is about to provide the only voice of sanity in this whole movie and declare that Mr. Kringle should be locked away with everyone else who thinks he or she is a fictional character, some mailmen come in with a bunch of undeliverable letters to "Santa Claus c/o North Pole." The judge sees the dead letters, and he figures that, since kids would never do something so bizarre as write a wish list to a fictional character that their parents made up, Kringle MUST BE Santa Claus. Case dismissed!
Two problems with this: (a) If Kringle is NOT crazy, then that means he was completely sane when he bashed the doctor in the head with a cane (non-candy variety). So, um, there should probably be some charges and whatnot, followed by some jail time, etc. (b) The judge knows there's no such thing as Santa, because there's no such thing as Santa, yet he ruled that the shrink-whacking nutjob on the stand who claims to be Santa was sane simply because there are some letters that the post office couldn't deliver. Because they were addressed to someone who does not exist.
The Streak Ends
No, I am not talking about Brett Favre. As I was writing this post, the news has come from Texansland that Mario Williams will be placed on IR with a sports hernia, ending his season and ending his streak as the only player taken in the 2006 draft who had never missed a game. That's kind of sad, really, but you knew something was wrong with the guy when the Texans notched five sacks against Oh No Joe Flacco and Mario had none of them.
Mario's final line for the year: 28 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 1FF, 5 TFL.
Five Random Player-Related Thoughts
None of which was important enough to warrant its own entry:
- It is entirely possible I will go to my grave never understanding why Jacoby Jones can make ridiculously athletic catches on balls most WRs wouldn't get to, but he cannot consistently catch well-thrown balls that hit him in both hands. This is a paradox on par with Russell's.
- Psst...wanna know a secret? Brian Cushing has played like garbage much of the past two weeks.
- Repeated from previous Hangover: Eric Winston is having a terrible, terrible season. There, I said it.
- Since his two-week nadir versus Jacksonville and the Jets, Glover Quin has come on as a defender. He had two defended passes against Baltimore that no other corner on our team would have had. Wait...that's not much of a compliment. You know what I mean, though.
- Though it was only in flashes, I really liked what I saw from Earl Mitchell against Baltimore.
The Bug, She Be-A Bitin'
Also placed on IR were David Anderson and Mike Brisiel, which means more snaps for Dorin Dickerson and Antoine Caldwell.
Question: is there a bigger upgrade from a physical standpoint than from David Anderson to Dorin Dickerson? That strikes me as akin to replacing Dudley Moore in your whimsical romantic comedy with Michael Clarke Duncan.
The Marijuana Pepsi Sawyer Inexplicable Decision Of The Week.
Much like the decision to name a child "Marijuana Pepsi," Gary Kubiak's decision not to run on first or (and?!) second down in overtime is baffling. You have the league's leading rusher averaging five a carry on the night and you are pinned inside your own 10. More to the point, that defense that seemed so gassed during your last drive in regulation had the break between 4Q and OT as well as Baltimore's 7-play possession to rest, and they were coming after you to try and force a turnover. The only way you're slowing that down is by running the ball in that situation.
I realize that Schaub had been throwing all over that defense during the fourth quarter, but Baltimore was in a prevent for all or much of those possessions. They were decidedly NOT in a prevent in OT. It is almost as if Kubiak did not realize that the defense was no longer doing the same thing, and he assumed that he could continue doing the same. That, right there, is as succinct an explanation I can give you as to why Gary Kubiak will never, ever be anything but an average head coach in the NFL.
TXT MSGS of the Week
Shake, opining on the future
Have I told you that I can't freakin' wait for the dumbasses in early April that claim we were just seconds away from 3-5 more wins? I hate being a sports fan this year. Time to see what's on Skinemax.
Tim, with a measured response to my suggestion that he should put his dad in a home because his dad thought the Texans would win.
F--- that. Anyone who thinks the Texans are going to win tonight deserves to be Old Yeller'd.
Paul, noting Brian Cushing's problem with the concept of a "neutral zone."
2x ROY Cushing can't find LOS. LOL.