During my freshman year at Mizzou, I lived across the hall from a guy named Darren. Darren was fairly nondescript in that he looked like every other Midwestern college kid in the late '90s. What made him memorable, however, is that Darren loved music --- all of it --- in a way that you or I (or anyone who was even remotely normal) could never understand. There was literally no genre, no artist, no song that he couldn't find something positive about. Celine Dion? "She has amazing range and really brings out emotion in the songs." The Smiths? "Morrisey speaks for a lot of kids who can't speak for themselves." Livin' La Vida Loca? "Just an incredibly fun song, and the closest a lot of mainstream music fans will ever get to Spanish-influenced sounds." In fact, the only time I ever heard him say something negative about an artist was after he picked up Bush's sophomore release, Razorblade Suitcase, and declared that it was "weak" because "they are trying too hard to go dark like Nirvana did with In Utero."1
Predictably, Darren knew the Columbia, Mo., music scene like nobody else. One night, he knocked on my door and asked if I wanted to go to a party that had free beer (because he was friends with the bartender) and a "classic rock cover band." I was 18; after he'd said "free beer," he could have finished the statement with "a Yngwie Malmsteen-inspired bluegrass-jazz fusion quintet" and I'd have agreed to go.
The party was being thrown in a recently closed restaurant on the edge of downtown, and there were about 40 people there when we arrived. At roughly 10:30pm, the "classic rock cover band" took the stage, and the familiar nine-note guitar riff of "More Than a Feeling" filled the small room. I remember thinking at the time that Boston was an odd choice to open with. More odd, however, was when that song was followed up with another Boston tune, "Smokin'."
Turns out, this was not so much a "classic rock cover band" as it was a Boston tribute band unironically calling themselves "Beantown." Despite his very best efforts, Beantown's lead singer did not have the range of Brad Delp. This would not have been such a bad thing were it not for most of Boston's catalog being based around Delp's upper register. Beantown were not deterred by this and, for the next two-plus hours, they assaulted the party-goers with everything from "Amanda" to "Walk On" and did so in a manner that prompted me to re-name the band "The Boston Massacre." (This was unspeakably funny at the time, which probably says more about the free Bud Ice rather than my wit.)
Even ignoring the finished product, for the life of me, I cannot figure out the chain of life events that leads someone to think "hey, I should totally start a Boston tribute band!" I mean, there is nothing inherently cool about Boston (the band or the city), so it's not like starting a Guns & Roses tribute band in the hopes of landing chicks or drugs or chicks on drugs. There's likewise nothing timeless about Boston, so it's not like starting a Led Zeppelin cover band in the hopes of cashing in on the fact that everyone in the world loves the band and knows all the popular songs. Nor is there anything kitschy or ironic about Boston (save, possibly, for Delp's mustache), so a tribute to Boston is not like, say, a tribute to the Village People or Parliament Funkadelic.
If you asked people2 to name their fifty all-time favorite bands, no one would mention Boston. This is not surprising; Boston was actually a terrible band that people pretended to like because they would occasionally pump out a made-for-radio song that chicks in the late 70s and early 80s liked to sing along with. They turned schlocky power ballads and vapid lyrics into a career, so congrats to them for that, but that doesn't change the facts that (a) they sucked and (b) everyone secretly knows it.
Everyone, that is, except the members of Beantown. Beantown took Boston's underlying terribleness, polished it to a shiny brown luster, and made it the focal point of their stage show. They were attempting to give tribute to a band that was not in need of duplication, and Beantown failed to realize that they lacked some of the pieces (talent, mainly) necessary to even do that. They were a Xerox copy of a bad original, and there were no power chords that could hide it.
I was reminded of all of this when watching the Texans be terrible in Nashville on Sunday. Where we might have started this season with a defense that could be favorably compared to Boston (i.e. bad, but occasionally tolerable in the right setting, and with the win against the Colts serving as their "More Than a Feeling"), the Texans defense that took to the field in the first half Sunday was Beantown --- a poor facsimile of an already poor original.
Also, both require a tremendous amount of beer if you are forced to suffer through them.
Adding to this analogy, Tom Scholz --- the mastermind of Boston --- is Boston's Frank Bush: each thinks his way of doing things is not only the best way, but the only way, and refuses to adjust based on circumstances. Case in point: after Delp left the band, Scholz forged ahead and released Corporate America, which might be the worst late-career album ever released by a "great" band.3
In a nice twist of verisimilitude, however, Boston's "Foreplay/Long Time" lyrics might just be applicable to Frank Bush in about three weeks. "Yeah. It's been such a long time, I think I should be goin', yeah / And time dosnt wait for me, it keeps on rollin' / There's a long road, I've gotta stay in time with / I've got to keep on chasin' that dream, though I may never find it."
Gary Kubiak's win percentage (3-7) against the Tennessee Titans.
Dom Capers win percentage (2-6) against the Tennessee Titans.
Injury As Metaphor.
Rotoworld.com Direct Football Update for Dec 20 2010 11:02AM est
Arian Foster - RB - Houston Texans - Dec 20 2010 10:30AM est - Top Rotoworld.com News
News: Arian Foster said a muscle spasm in his glute -- not an ankle injury -- caused him to miss time in Sunday's loss to the Titans.
Impact: Foster missed the final 10 minutes of the game. Coach Gary Kubiak said it was because of an ankle sprain that limited the breakout running back in practice last week. Either way, this will be one of the biggest storylines of fantasy's Super Bowl week. We'd expect an update from Kubiak on what truly ails Foster later today.
Question: why do we describe things as "inadvertent" but never "advertent"? Related: why are postal workers sometimes "disgruntled," but we never refer to the ones who are not shooting up the place as "gruntled"? Both alternatives seem perfectly cromulent, and their use could embiggen the smallest man.
7 Catches, 142 Yards, 1 TD.
What Andre Johnson needs to average over the last two games to (1) reach 100 catches for the third straight season, (2) reach 1,500 yards for the third straight season, and (3) set a career high in TD catches. While all are nice milestones, the second one --- 1,500 yards in three consecutive seasons --- has never been done before in NFL history. Had Dre not been forced to miss the Oakland game, setting that record would be somewhat easier, but it's totally within his reach nonetheless. After all, Denver (227.6 passing ypg allowed) and Jacksonville (255.6) are not exactly strong passing defenses, and you know for absolute certain that Houston's defense is going to allow the opponents enough points that we will be forced to throw.
Yards by which Arian Foster leads the NFL in rushing over Maurice Jones-Drew. He holds this lead over MJD despite the latter having 22 more carries to this point in the season.
Number of catches and receiving yards that Foster needs to average over the last two games to break the single-season team record for catches and receiving yards by a running back (68 for 588 by Domanick Williams in 2004).
Rushing yards and total yards from scrimmage that Foster needs to average over the last two games to break the single-season record for each by an undrafted player (1,615 and 2,287 by Priest Holmes in 2002).
"Dead or alive, you're coming with me!"
When he became Grand High Poobah of Internet Quality for SBN Houston, Rivers added "Robocop Theorist" to my job description. I don't whether he did this for humor purposes only or because Rivers actually knows me well enough to suspect that I had some thoughts on the film. My guess is that it was the latter, however; that Rivers is an insightful fellow.
Anyway, there are any number of reasons to dislike Robocop. For one thing, the physics are laughably stupid at times. (Most notably when R.Cop bends the barrel of a gun being held by a regular person.) For another, it tries way, way too hard with it's Christ imagery and allegorical storyline. Either of these flaws might be forgivable, however, if it weren't for a much larger flaw:
Robocop is absolutely terrible at his job.
I mean, we're told early on that, as a human cop, Officer Alex Murphy is a pretty good cop, and he certainly gives every indication that he's a by-the-book type. Yet after he gets shot full of more holes than a junkie's arm and is rebuilt with robot parts, all of that goes out the window. Apparently, someone didn't bother to program the ROBOT PARTS being used IN A ROBOT COP to ACT LIKE A COP AND FOLLOW COP PROTOCOLS. Even Clancy Wiggum thinks this is a bit of an oversight.
Don't believe me? Try this on for size: over the course of the entire movie, Robocop arrests exactly one person. ONE. The first call he responds to after his rebirth as a robot is at a convenience store (this is the scene with the aforementioned gun bending). Robocop disarms the (alleged) perpetrator, puts handcuffs on the guy, and, when the guy takes a step toward the door as if he might run, Robocop gives him a vicious pimpslap to the jaw/throat that sends the (alleged) criminal flying into a freezer door. Assuming the (alleged) robber weighs about 200 lbs, the amount of force required to send him flying 10 feet or so is probably going to do an insane amount of physical damage to the suspect. Even in dystopian Detroit, that's probably a violation of some laws, and it was certainly unnecessary when Robocop could have just grabbed the (alleged) criminal and carried him with one hand to the squad car. But, nah, why bother with that, right Robocop? Just smash in his face really good, leave him in a bloody crumbled heap, and be on your merry way without arresting him at all.
His next call? A couple thugs have a woman held hostage at knifepoint. Robocop's answer to this situation? Negotiate a peaceful resolution? Hold the muggers at gunpoint until other police arrive? Use advanced psychological tactics that were smartly pre-programmed into Robocop's computer?
Nope. Robocop opts for the tried-and-true "shoot just below the hostage's crotch and blow the attacker's testicles off" method. I hear that teach that at Quantico now.
Over the court of the film, Robocop kills 16 people, injures/maims 3 (including the two guys I just mentioned), and is shown arresting 1. To borrow a line from a much better film, "I'm not sure I agree with you a hundred percent on your police work, there, Lou."
Caveman Sad No Play Good Grr!
So...um...Eric Winston's play this year has been pretty terrible. As BFD pointed out to me during the game, Winston got eaten alive three times by the exact same stunt move from the Tennessee line. We're not talking exotic blitzes here, either. A simple stunt-twist that every offensive lineman has seen from pretty much every opponent at one time or another. Yet Winston looked like someone who had just stumbled onto the field and was being asked to play RT for the first time in his life. Not good.
The really frustrating part, however, is not that Winston's play has been atrocious. If Texans fans are used to anything, it's poor offensive line play. No, what is irksome is that Winston's regression has come seemingly from nowhere. Prior to this season, his play was consistently between above average and good. Has he really taken the Geico commercials so personally that it's affecting his work life?
It seems that the UConn women's basketball team has won 89 straight games. (I know this only because every channel has mentioned it to me today.) In pure numerical terms, this is one game more than the UCLA men's team won in the 1970s. In terms of an accomplishment, however? Well, not to put too fine a point on things, but claiming UConn's achievement is similar to UCLA's is a lot like claiming that an undefeated college football season is more impressive than the New England Patriots' 17-1 season.
I'm not even talking about the trite "no way these girls could beat any men's team" argument. I am talking about how much harder it is for a men's team in an era when basketball players played three or four years in college before going pro (and an era without as much cupcake scheduling, without the modern training methods, and without the easy travel that teams have today) to win 88 than for a modern women's team to win 89+. So, congrats Lady Huskies; now let's all stop pretending like they are more impressive than UCLA's run.
TD passes allowed by the Houston Texans, tied for worst in the league with the Dallas Cokeboys. You know ... the team that fired their head coach mid-season because their play was so inept.
Tangent: why is nothing ever described as "ept"?
Passing yards allowed by the Texans' defense, worst in the league by 165 yards over the New England Patriots. The Texans are on pace to allow 4,402 yards. That total would be third-worst all-time behind the 1995 Falcons (4,541) and 2005 49ers (4,427).
Collective rating of QBs against the Texans. For comparison purposes, Peyton Manning's career rating is 94.1. (Steve Young has the record for career rating with 96.8). Manning has only two seasons in which he's posted a higher rating than the Texans are allowing collectively right now. And the Texans have managed this "accomplishment" despite having games against such notable QBs as Rusty Smith, Bruce Gradkowski (career rating 65.9, rating v. Texans 78.8), and Mark Sanchez (career rating 69.6, rating v. Texans 100.2).
The Marijuana Pepsi Sawyer Inexplicable Decision Of The Week.
Much like the decision to name a child "Marijuana Pepsi," Matt Schaub's constant willingness to throw three- and four-yard passes on third and long absolutely blows my mind. He did it most visibly on 3d & 12 in the first quarter Sunday, throwing a four-yard pass to Andre Johnson, but it's been happening pretty much every single week.
Don't get me wrong here: I still like Schaub, and I still think he's a very good QB who I would not want to trade for many other QBs in this league. That said, he seems way too willing to fire that short pass and hope his target can make something happen after the ball is caught. Since he seems incapable of realizing "wait...no...that's not far enough," can we please --- PLEASE?! --- just stop having people run those underneath routes in those situations? Is that asking too much, Santa?
An Open Letter to the Texans from Evan Haas.
To Whom It May Concern:Let us be honest from the start. This email will have no impact and I will still watch the Texans this coming Sunday. Why? Because I'm a glutton for punishment and blinded by loyalty. Now that we're both aware of this, allow me to assuage my overwhelming sense of disappointment by sending a strongly worded email to a generic email address that will be read by a media department intern and ultimately discarded.By this point in the season anything resembling hope is gone. It's been replaced by cynicism, frustrating, and ultimately apathy. These are the emotions that permeate the fan base. And yet, I am told by the franchise that we are "battling", that other owners are "impressed", and that we will soon round the corner and drive headlong into the playoffs. These are the same party lines I have been hearing for at least three years now. You know who else buys such blind, spoon-fed nonsense? Communists. And don't mistake that for a veiled shot in these super-charged political times. No, I literally mean that communism - as a system of governance - disseminates false-positive news as a means of keeping subjects in line.But that's plenty by way of introduction. Lets get to the meat of this email: begging you not to bury the 2011 season before it even begins. There's only one topic Texans fans care about anymore, and its the future of Gary Kubiak, Head Coach of the Houston Texans Franchise. Did you watch the game yesterday? I did. The team didn't show up until the second half. Do you know how many times they've done that? Ten. Ten times we have fallen behind by 14 points or more. Have we fought back? Yes we have. Only to lose in absurdly devastating fashion? You betcha! Once might be frustrating. Twice could even be considered bad luck. Ten times? Ten times indicates a systemic problem that has not been addressed.I could go through the litany of problems that are visible to even the most novice football fan. I could make you a spreadsheet that documented major problems and provide multiple in-game examples to support my statements. I would, of course, be wasting my time as we've already established that this email will ultimately have no impact. You and I both know that fan interaction is akin to propaganda, and listening to actual fan concerns is as likely as Eugene Wilson breaking up a pass.(It's funny because Eugene Wilson is truly atrocious, and yet this coaching staff continues to play him on a weekly basis. It's even funnier because the joke is actual a sad indictment of our current predicament AND a supportive statement of my ultimate thesis. Layers within layers.)I grow weary of this exercise. I hoped it might make me feel better, but after putting my thoughts into words... I'm even more sad. If nothing else, I ask one thing of the franchise: Come out and assure me that Kubiak's job is NOT safe. Give me a glimmer of hope that Mr. McNair is willing to make the sort of bold and aggressive move that winning franchises make. Give me a reason to care about the 2011 Texans. Because as it stands right now, I don't. I'll watch. Of course I'll watch. But I doubt I'll take much enjoyment out of it.Sincerely,99% of Texans Fans With A PulsePS: Of course, if February 2012 rolls around and we're celebrating a Super Bowl with Kubiak in charge, feel free to post this missive. But know that as of December 20, 2010 - it is true and accurate.
In case you are wondering, yes, he did actually send that email. Apparently, someone read it, because he received the following response:
Thank you for your email. We appreciate your feedback regarding Mr. McNair, our coaching staff and our future. Thank you and have a great day.Go Texans
You can feel the changes being made already.
Wait ... no. Nevermind. That was only gas.
By my count, Chris Johnson has ripped off large runs against the Texans by making hard cutbacks against the flow (and toward the Texans linebacker responsible for backside contain) approximately 4,537,998 times in the past two seasons. (Number is approximate.) Yet, for whatever reason (probably because he's an idiot), Brian Cushing ignored this trend, overpursued from the backside, then whiffed on his attempted tackle of Johnson like Jacoby Jones on a calculus test. How is this even possible at this point?
I suppose that the answer stems, in part, from whatever it is that has Cushing playing generally like a mediocre outside linebacker this season. Whatever that might be. You know ... like ... whatever could possibly have had him playing much better last year and is not helping him this year. Whatever that is.
Bernard Pollard has the last two defensive touchdowns for the Houston Texans -- a fumble recovery against the Patriots on Jan. 3, 2010, and an INT return against the Seahawks on Dec. 12, 2009. In other news, it's been over a year since the Texans returned an INT for a touchdown.
TXT MSGS of the Week
I can haz Bill Cowerz?
Tim, from LP Field:
Titans CMT Trivia: "How many videos are shown during CMT's Top 20 Countdown?" No, I am not kidding. That was the question.
The Texans are going to give me alcohol poisoning.
1 Random tangent: Darren and I once argued for nearly four hours over whether Weezer's Pinkerton was as good as their eponymous first album. As I recall, this started over his claim that "El Scorcho" was as good as "Say It Ain't So," which struck me as a patently ridiculous, and it quickly devolved into an examination of both albums in their entirety. I also recall that I went on an extended rant about the virtues of the song "The World Has Turned and Left Me Here," which he countered with something about "The Good Life" and the lyric "I ain't gonna hurt nobody, ain't gonna cause a scene / I just need to admit that I want sugar in my tea." While this seems odd as I write it today, these were the things that college kids argued about the last days before the internet stole everyone's soul. In retrospect, though, I guess I have to concede that he was right as far as the quality of the overall albums was concerned; Pinkerton has aged much better than Weezer (If you don't believe me, give "Undone--The Sweater Song" a listen and see if you aren't a little amazed that it was ever a hit.)
I still think he's nuts vis-a-vis "El Scorcho" and "Say It Ain't So," however.
2 The only people who like Boston are the people who also consider Olive Garden to be fine dining and who consider Friends to be among the greatest television shows of all time. They also likely own multiple pairs of Crocs. You should not be friends with these people.
3 Unless you count Jefferson Starship's Jefferson's Tree of Liberty, but that seems like cheating.