Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Manning’s Greatness

If you know me, you know that nobody totes the Manning bag more than I do, for both brothers. Heck, Cooper is awesome too, at whatever it is he does. This Super Bowl was about Peyton Manning and his ascending the list of great quarterbacks of all time. For most people they thought it was going to be a coronation, and while many thought the Colts would win they weren’t as big a favorite as everyone thinks. Most of the Vegas sports books had the line at 4.5. I thought before he even made this Super Bowl that he was somewhere in the top 5, so this whole article is going to come from that biased viewpoint.

Now, I know several of the people who read this blog are very anti Manning, both Peyton and Eli. We also live in the media over hype era so I can see how people can be sick of Peyton being shoved down their throats. But that facts are the guy is great and this loss doesn’t do that much to diminish his place in history.

I believe Super Bowls can enhance your legacy more than it can damage your legacy. Yes Manning made a critical error at a critical juncture, but its not like he played bad. He completed 69% of his passes, threw for over 300 yards, had the same yards per attempt as his counter part, and an 88.5 QB rating. All of those numbers are better than his MVP performance three years ago. Had his team won he was the MVP. Also, most experts agree the interception was broken into thirds; 1/3 bad decision by Manning, 1/3 terrible route and job coming to the ball by Wayne (who looked as if he was upstaged by the magnitude of the game all night) and 1/3 great play by Tracey Porter. His big Interception wasn’t Neil O’Donnell-esque or even Favreian. He didn’t play his best game, by his lofty standards or anyone else’s, but he certainly wasn’t tragically awful in the big game like many a hall of fame QB have been, even some all time greats (see stats below).

Losing the big game has never permanently damaged anyone’s reputation, especially if you already have a ring. Take Favre for example, his place in history is no further down the rung of great QB’s because he lost Super Bowl XVI to the Broncos. Most people forget the Packers were almost a two touchdown favorite in that game, but the game enhanced Elway’s legacy but didn’t do irreparable damage to Favre’s. I think most people have Favre in the top 10 area somewhere but nobody says, boy he lost that Super Bowl I think he is only 12th all time. Nope, they say, hey he won a Super Bowl so he is in the discussion. The only guy who gets a pass on any of this is Dan Marino, why, because most people who watched him play knew he was great, regardless off Super Bowls. Well to me Manning passes that same eye test. You watch him and you know you are seeing unbridled greatness.

Lastly, this is nowhere near the final act. Peyton just finished year 12 of his career and is only 33 years old. Now that used to be old in QB terms, but not for a guy who has had no major injuries, doesn’t get sacked (24 times over the past 2 seasons), and including the playoff has started 210 consecutive games. This was supposed to be an off year for the Colts, dare say rebuilding. A new coach with no NFL head coaching experience, the loss of a hall of fame receiver and all Peyton did was win all but one game, won his fourth MVP trophy and had statistically perhaps his best season; completing a career best 391 passes at a 68.8% clip and his second best overall yardage and yardage per game season.

I truly believe he will play in at least one more Super Bowl, there is no reason not to think so. He wins 2 out of every 3 games throughout his career. Remember Elway capped off his career by winning back to back Super Bowls in years 15 and 16 (although one of those was against the Falcons, so does it really count?). As far as regular seasons numbers are concerned he will soon have no equal. His greatness cannot be overlooked and to me one pass in yesterdays game doesn’t damage that.

Four of the all time greats, Montana, Favre, Bradshaw and Starr have all had better than average performances in all their Super Bowls. But a host of all time greats have had at least one pedestrian performance including Brady, Staubach, Tarkenton, Elway and Aikman.

SUPER BOWL STATS (Combining all games)

Johnny Unitas- 42% cpt. 99 ypg. 1-2 td-int 55.5 rating

Dan Marino- 60% cpt. 318 ypg. 1-2 td-int 60.9 rating

Jim Kelley- 55% cpt. 225 ypg. 3-7 td-int. 63.4 rating

John Elway- 50% cpt. 226 ypg. 3-8 td-int 65.9 rating

Fran Trakenton- 51% cpt. 162 ypg. 1- td-int. 44.9 rating

Peyton Manning- 67% cpt. 290 ypg. 2-2 td-int. 85.2 rating

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Here Come The Warm Jets: Playoffs (!!) 2009

Well, damn.

It's a couple of days later and I'm still not really sure that game really happened.

This Jets team? The AFC Championship game? Sure. Why not?

It wasn't the prettiest game, by any means. The offense looked kind of bad in the first half. The defense didn't look perfect, and it seemed like it should have been more than 7-0.

But I'm sure I had the same thought as most Jets fans - hey, if we played that imperfectly in the first half and are only down 7? There's a chance.

And sure enough, the team came through in the second half. Big plays by the offense and the defense. Ballsy coaching from Rex Ryan.

A little bit of luck, too.

I've said this before here, but luck plays more of a factor in sports than we care to admit. Kickers missing easy kicks. Punts a fingertip away from being blocked. Balls bouncing one way vs another.

For so many years, though, it always seemed like the Jets were on the wrong side of that luck equation. Every time.

This year? They've been on the right side of it ever since week 16, when every team that they needed to lose lost and the Colts decided to pull their starters in the middle of a close game.

Was there some luck in this game? Sure. Revis' interception where the ball hit off the reciever's foot and landed in his lap was lucky. That punt the Chargers almost blocked in the second half, the fact that he missed by just a touch was lucky.

Does being on the right side of luck mean they didn't "earn" their success? Of course not. The Jets did a lot things well in this game, and they weren't handed a game by fate. They stopped the run. They confused Phillip Rivers. They only turned the ball over once on offense, and were able run effectively, especially as the game wore on.

This has been a fun playoff run, for sure. It's so much easier with our expectations lower. Again, there would have been no shame in losing to San Diego, as long as they didn't roll over and die (like, say, Dallas.) The Chargers are a really good team. The Jets are a new team, still figuring things out.

Same deal with the Colts. That team is really damn good, and has been for some time. At home, with relatively good health, they should beat the Jets. I don't think it'll be a blowout, but the Colts were 14-0 for a reason.

That said, is it possible? Sure. The way this team has been playing, the way Rex Ryan has them believing, the way the luck has been favoring them? If they keep things close, it's entirely possible to pull off yet another upset.

Another fun travel note - I'm going to be in Krakow, Poland on the day of the game. Obviously I made my January travel plans not expecting a Jets playoff run. Will I be able to find somewhere to watch the game there? I have no idea. If I can't, I'll have to use my phone (with unlimited data services internationally, thankfully) and hit refresh on Yahoo Sports.

No matter what happens on Sunday, though, it's nice to be this late in the season feeling this good about the Jets. It's been a long time since it's been this much fun to be a fan.

Now, please, don't get embarrassed by Peyton fucking Manning. Thanks.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

All Quiet on the Western Front, 1930

This is second film in my quest to watch all the Academy Award Best Picture winners. I knew going into this that some films I would just have to tolerate and get through because the just don’t stand the test of time. This film was not one of those, this was a daring and brilliant adaptation of the novel of the same name. Director Lewis Milestone created what can be called the first masterpiece of American cinema.

I had never read the novel itself, but I know what it’s about. For those of you who don’t, here is a quick synopsis of the novel which the film takes directly. It is 1914 and World War I is just underway and a group of German teenagers, encouraged by their teacher, enlist in the army. They are green and ambitious, believing they are doing their patriotic duty serving the fatherland. They are sent immediately to the western front to fight the French and English in the trench’s of WWI. Over the course of 5 years each of them suffers the horrors of war, all dying. Some go crazy, others have legs amputated and one almost survives all while experiencing the atrocities of war.

The movies cinematography, sound and editing was way ahead of its time, heck in today’s world it would still be considered excellent. The opening of the film is gripping with the use of what is now known as a tracking shot. Following German soldiers as they march through town then pulling back into a classroom where an impassioned patriotic teacher encourage the young men of his class to enlist. He preaches to the young men about loyalty to ones country, the fatherland, and the romances of war.

Six of the young men enlist and are shipped off to boot camp. Early on they realize that the army isn’t all the glory and romance that their teacher made it out to be. After they get shipped out to the western front the begin to get picked off one by one. The mood in the fill turns from one joy and patriotism to anger and disillusionment. The films underlying themes could easily work in today’s climate with the Irag/Afghan war.

The movies mood shifts to a somber war film. As the men wait in the trench’s the bombs explode around the, starvation is around every corner and if it cant get any worse they have to fight off rats in order to sleep. Paul, the most central character, tries to hold his friends together. One of them goes insane because of the noise. Another is injured and taken away toa hospital. When the boys get some leave the go to check on their friend who has had his leg amputated but refuses to admit his leg is gone. The destruction of war continues to affect Paul.

The climax of the movie begins when Paul, hiding in a fox hole, is force to stab a French soldier who jumps in the hole with him. Throughout the night as the French soldier slowly dies Paul begs for his forgiveness and questions why God has put him in such a predicament. Paul gets leave and decided to return home to try and reconnect with his youth. However, its been 4 years in the trench’s and while the town is the same he has changed.

He spends time with his father and his friends who lecture Paul on how the Germans can win the war. The men argue over how this is all for the glory of Germany. Paul disgusted by their misguided views walks out and goes to visit his teacher who encouraged him to enlist in the first place. He finds that the teacher is preaching the same message to his students and ask if Paul wants to say something. Paul, ravaged by the thoughts of what has happened to him and his friends, tells the boy of the horrors of the war and the uselessness of it all. The teacher cannot believe Paul’s change in attitude. Paul now realizes that the only place his belongs is back with his company on the front lines. When he returns he is waiting in a trench when he see’s a butterfly. As he reaches for the butterfly he comes out of the trench and is picked off by a sniper. The final shot is just that of his hand reaching for the butterfly and going limp.

The movie is a gripping realistic portrayal of war. I would say no such film until Saving Private Ryan again showed people that war is no Hollywood movie. Upon the release of the movie, Variety magazine wrote the following: “The League of Nations could make no better investment than to buy up the master-print, reproduce it in every language, to be shown in all the nations until the word "war" is taken out of the dictionaries.”

Monday, January 11, 2010

Here Come The Warm Jets: Playoffs (!) 2009

I was in Cancun for a wedding this past Wednesday through Sunday.

Was I going to try and find a way to watch the Jets-Bengals playoff game on Saturday? You know I was.

Did I find it? I did, at a bar in the resort I was staying at. They showed it on a large projection screen, and only the commercials were in Spanish (though I think I'd rather have heard the game in Spanish than having to listen to Gibbs and Theismann.)

Did I feel guilty about watching football while in the tropics? Nope. Especially because it rained in Cancun on Saturday. A perfect excuse to sit inside drinking beers with lime in it and taking celebratory shots of tequila.

Was this the type of game we were hoping the Jets would consistently play all year? Yes, yes it was. Run the ball effectively. Just enough good play out of the QB. No turnovers. Stifling defense. Solid special teams.

Are we Jets fans feeling good about our team? You better believe it. Love the way they're playing now, and love what it means for the next couple of years, what with all the young players and the favorable system that Rex Ryan brings. There's no reason besides bad luck with injuries that the defense and run game won't continue to be good.

Can they beat the Chargers? Sure. It's not a terrible matchup for the Jets. The Chargers can't run the ball and don't have a particularly great defense. If the pass rush gets to Rivers and the offense doesn't turn it over, it's a winnable game.

Are we being set up for a horrible letdown? Of course we are. This is still the Jets. We'll talk ourselves into being able to beat the Chargers. Then we'll go out and lose 42-10.

Does that matter? Not really. This is about as good an end to the year as we can hope for. In fact, getting blown out of the playoffs might be a good thing for the team - more motivation and less overconfidence going into next year.

Will I remember that during the inevitable letdown so I won't be cursing and yelling and saying things most vile? What do you think?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A tale of two halves

In the words of Les Grossman, a nutless monkey could do my current position. The "Man" tells me I'm an IC Specialist. The eye tells me I pick up boxes and files and move them from point A to point B. Needless to say, I have tons of free time and have used it to listen to countless books on my mp3/iPod.

As Kris tackles the greatest films of all time, I've started to tackle some of the literary classics. Recently I listened to Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities" with the famous first chapter that has been paraphrased by countless people since...

Needless to say, Saturday's #12 Georgetown vs. #13 Connecticut was a tale of two halves and I saw it as such thanks to the magic that is the Digital Video Recorder.

After letting the youngest watch three hours of educational TV, or whatever kept her from making the most noise and running me up a wall, I took over the tube for the 12 noon start for an early jump on the Big East title.

I've seen as much of the Hoyas this year as possible and it's clear to me that Greg Monroe will be a quality NBA pro. He won't be a superstar, but I can see him doing what another recent G'Town big is doing. Last year, Jeff Green averaged 16 ppg, 6 rbns and 2 assists. His numbers are down this year, but that's about where I see Monroe.

The problem the Hoyas have is Chris Wright is a junior leader, yet plays like a stupid freshman for at least 5 minutes of every game. Even when he's scoring 30 against Harvard or putting up 20+ to take down a scrappy St. John's team, he makes too many dumb plays to be a positive difference maker. Early on against the Huskies, he took a couple of stupid shots and made a silly pass and UConn will make you pay.

Watching UConn for the first time reminds me of a typical well-recruited but young team. Jim Calhoun has a ton of talent that wants to play a structured street ball game. They want to press, run after every change of possession and attack the glass. They're a poor shooting team, whether it's from behind the arc or from the stripe. Nevertheless, if you get caught up trying to run with them you'll fall behind quickly.

That's what happened to the Hoyas. There are no seniors on this team, so no one to explain that while we can run with teams, to run with the Huskies falls into their game plan. I was waiting for my wife to finish getting dressed and saw my boys fall down by 15 at the break. I then set it to record and left to go shopping and eat a lot of meat at Golden Corral.

I returned to listen to Dick Vitale stop slurping UConn and start marveling the breakout performance of Austin Freeman. The 6-4 junior guard supposedly slimmed down this year and it's helped his shooting. On this afternoon, he was left open on Town's basic screen hand-off at the wing. It's a shot that's always there in this modified Princeton offense and for some reason, UConn never closed out on the shooter.

Maybe they got comfortable with such a big lead (They led by as many as 19 in the first half). Maybe they didn't think Freeman would hit the shot (which is silly after he had nailed the first two). Maybe, despite the fact they block a lot of shots, UConn is just not a great defensive team (that's my opinion). Either way, Freeman got hot and for a long portion of the second half was outscoring the entire Husky squad.

With the Hoyas hanging onto a 1-point lead, the final 40 seconds should just be it's own highlight. Probably cut it down to the final 20 cuz UConn had a couple of chances but couldn't hit either open look. End result was a quality win, the Hoyas' third victory over a Top 20 team this year and likely enough to stay in the Top 15 when the polls come out on Monday.

An ideal movie night

While our fat friend has started an admirable journey through classic films with pedigree, I have my own little aside into the business that is show. At least for one evening.

With two little girls running around and a wife who works an overnight weekend shift, you can imagine just how much time I have. Yet alone the time to watch what I want when I want to watch it. My current situation has allowed me to see films like the first two Cheetah Girls movies (Remember Raven Symone from the final years of the Cosby Show? Combine her with the girls from 3LW, a short-lived R&B group and you have proof that Whitney Houston didn't blow all her money away since she was a producer).

Houston was also a producer on both film adaptations of The Princess Diaries, the vehicle that got Anne Hathaway's career moving and reminded America that Julie Andrews is still kicking ad vital.

And sadly, I've seen all three High School Musicals. I can only say this — if you want a quick laugh, watch any of the basketball scenes from any of the films. The fictional high school in New Mexico wins back-to-back state championships with the dreamy Zak Efron as the star. Only Efron can't play a lick of basketball. I mean he looks bad just shooting unguarded...

But I digress...

Needless to say, the opportunities I get to watch a film I actually like are few and far between. So on Friday night when I was able to get my 2-year old asleep and looked up, I was shocked to see that there were three films on my expansive list of films I love.

I'll start with the selection from Starz - The Count of Monte Cristo starring Jim Caviezel and a standout performance by one of the most underrated actors of our time, Guy Pearce. First the film, an adaptation of the book by Alexande Dumas. The fat Frenchman also wrote The Man in the Iron Mask and The Three Musketeers, but this is the best story of the three in my opinion. When I was working at the University of South Carolina, I went on a book splurge.

While sleeping behind the couch on the floor, I read the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy (in 2000 before the films came out) and The Count. The movie takes a slightly different but well conceived path than the book. It's a tale of a decent guy who gets railroaded and betrayed by a "friend" and ends up doing 13 years in a French prison. He escapes with a treasure map to countless cash and revenge on his mind.

The director, Kevin Reynolds, has a hit or miss resume but he did a really good job with this unlike Waterworld. It helps when you have a great story, quality actors and Pearce doing what he does like in LA Confidential, Memento and The Hurt Locker.

Bravo was showing Fight Club and that's one of my all-time favorites. I just finished that book and David Fincher, who also gave up Se7en, The Game (with Sean Penn and Michael Douglas) and Panic Room, really hit a home run. Going in reverse-order (film to book), I now see what they were working with and admire the ability to bring such a complex story to the screen and do it so well. It's the little touches, like the splices of Tyler (Brad Pitt) before he's introduced. An absolute classic.

Finally, TV Land was showing Groundhog Day, the tour de force of Bill Murray's career. Harold Ramis, who according to IMDb.com has talked everyone into doing Ghostbusters III, directed this absolutely perfect film. You get all sides of Murray. You get Andie McDowell, who is a classic beauty. You get an absolutely perfect film from start to finish.

So there you have it, all three films on one night and both kids asleep so I can flip without having to stop on Nick Jr. or PBS Sprout.

Now playing: ESPN 980 - January 7 2010 The Tony Kornheiser Show Part 2
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My New Journey

No this isn’t some big new years resolution or anything, just me trying to accomplish something. Well this isn’t even accomplishing, just doing something fun. As some of you know I am a big fan of movie making. In some respects I can be considered a bit of a movie snob, not so much of an art house goon like my friend Dan. But I wouldn’t be caught dead seeing a Transformer movie, or anything else starring Megan Fox.

Okay, I know you are saying to yourself what is this fat man talking about. I have always been a fan of old time movies as well. Television channels like Fox Movie and Turner Movie classics have helped me watch some of these great old time movies but not enough. I have always wanted to go back and watch the movies that won the Academy Award for best picture, but its hard to always find when these movies can be on these channels.

This Christmas not really wanting or needing anything I decided to get a Netflix subscription. With that subscription I have decided to embark on that journey of watching every Academy Award winning film. Now I have seen in full and more than once 29 of the 81 films so I have a bunch to see, most of which are from the 20s-60s. I have decided to try and go in order as best as Netflix could fulfill that request for me.

Be sure to check in early and often this year as I will be giving a full review of each movie. Now some of the first few reviews may boar some because some of the movies may not be that interesting. However there are some real intriguing movies early on like; All Quiet on the Western Front, Mutiny on the Bounty, and Gone with the Wind. Then there are also movies like How Green was my Valley which famously beat out Citizen Kane for best picture in 1941 (these two movies I will watch together). And then there are some absolute classics; Cassablanca, From Here to Eternity, On the Waterfront, Ben-Hur, Westside Story and Lawrence of Arabia.

The first two movies up are the 2nd and 3rd winners. From 1929 the first musical to win, The Broadway Melody and next will be an adaptation from the great novel 1930’s All Quiet on the Western Front.

Broadway Melody

The first musical, and only second picture, to win the Academy Award for best film, this tells the story of two sisters who come to New York to star on Broadway. They come at the behest of a singer/songwriter who wants to marry the older more talented sister but winds up vying for the affection of the younger taller, blonder, more beautiful sister.

It is so interesting to watch movies from the older era because of the lack of camera movement and shots. There were probably only 3 types of camera shots in the entire movie. This makes editing more important, you cant stick with a shot too long otherwise it gets boring. This makes long scenes in one set location somewhat difficult. However the director in this movie helps that a long by having a lot of character movement throughout the scenes.

The movie seems really provocative for its time. There is a lot of men and women together, dancing and kissing and obvious sexual innuendo of women sleeping with different men. Also there are several scenes in Broadway dressing rooms and bathrooms of women changing and wearing very little clothing.

The movie has a decent story, one that could likely be told in a movie today. There isn’t much action, it is more song and dialogue driven but in its era I can see how it works. Overall I would give it a 6 of 10. It is worth watching if you are really into old movies but isn’t something that you would re-watch or use to teach anyone about filmmaking.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Here Come The Warm Jets: Week 17 2009

Well, that was an ass-whoopin' if I ever saw one.

The Bengals definitely did not want to play this game. As soon as Brad Smith broke off that long run to set up the first TD and the defense smacked them around early, the Bengals packed it in, if any of them bothered to get up for it all.

And now the rematch next week in the playoffs.

It's definitely been an unlikely path to the playoffs for this Jets team. Looked good, looked horrible, looked okay, blew a couple, and looked good again.

I don't want to hear about how they somehow don't "deserve" to make it over teams like Pittsburgh or Houston or Denver. All those teams were just as inconsistent and lost just as many games they shouldn't have as the Jets did. It's not like the Steelers were a "better" 9-7 than the Jets - they lost to Oakland and Cleveland in consecutive weeks, as well as losing to the Bears and Chiefs, who stunk this year.

Yeah, the Jets got a little lucky to play Indy and Cincy when those teams didn't have much to play for. But they got unlucky against Atlanta in that the field goal unit kept f'ing things up. And against Buffalo where Sanchez threw 75 interceptions.

The AFC wasn't all that good this year below Indy and SD and occasionally the Pats. The Jets were just okay enough to get in. I'm okay with it.

Will they beat the Bengals again next week? It's possible, especially with all the injuries Cincinnati has. And a team like the Jets that relies on defense and the run game always has a chance to win playoff games on the road.

If they manage to beat the Bengals, will they beat the Chargers or Colts on the road the following week? Not bloody likely. But they can give either of those teams a good game, and even making it that far with a rookie head coach and QB is about as good an outcome as we could hope for.

You want a team like this to get a taste of the playoffs. Because this is a team that appears to be gearing up to make a serious run over the next two years or so. It's good to get all the principals, especially Ryan and Sanchez, some playoff experience, so if they make it next year with a better, more consistent team, the pressure/hype/etc. won't be new.

For now, though, I'll enjoy a 37-0 prime time decimation of any team. The Jets don't get too many games like that, kicking that much ass when it counts, so I'll enjoy it regardless of circumstances.

Oh, and I'll also be in Cancun next Saturday. So there's a good chance I'll enjoy that game regardless of the outcome. If the Jets win, I'll be really happy. If they lose, I'll go back to my all inclusive resort and keep drinking.

Either way, I win (well, except for my liver.)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Aughts have Ended

I want to say I had a dumb debate with Josh over the summer if this really is the end of this decade, it may have been someone else. Well, it is. The decade goes from 00-09, just like the 90’s went from 90-99. Whomever I had the argument with was saying that 2000 didn’t belong in the aught or some shit, because there was no year 0 so the decade went from 1-10, then 11-20 and so on. Well, that stupidity aside, as this decade comes to a close you are bound to see many lists and things to help define a decade which so far has yet to be defined by cynics.

We have already addressed movies of the decade in a post a few months ago. The other day a friend of mine brought up the query, what is the song of this decade? Well like any of these sorts of questions you cant necessarily say just one song defined a decade. Looking back as long as commercial music has been in the mainstream (1950’s-present) each decade has a myriad of songs that mark the time. I can only think of one decade where the defining song is fairly inarguable and that is the 90’s with Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit.” (Of course that statement will now spawn massive arguments)

This decade feels so segmented to me. People claim to have eclectic taste in music, but they really don’t. Part of that is because the music isn’t all that different. This is the “American Idol”/boy band generation; manufactured musical artists who have no creativity or artistic talent made to sound good through advance recording techniques and packaged marketing. They are like the Frankenstein’s of music world.

To quote my favorite artist in a poignant song written in 2007, Radio Nowhere:

I was spinnin' 'round a dead dial
Just another lost number in a file
Dancin' down a dark hole
Just searchin' for a world with some soul

This is radio nowhere, is there anybody alive out there?
This is radio nowhere, is there anybody alive out there?
Is there anybody alive out there?

I just want to hear some rhythm
I just want to hear some rhythm
I just want to hear some rhythm
I just want to hear some rhythm

I know there are quality artists out there, but you do really have to dig nowadays. And I mean come on people, I am a busy person. I got emails to send, text messages to receive, Bret Michaels dating shows to watch and internet porn to download.

However, there are still some songs that have resonated through this decade of decadence, ipods, octomoms, terrorism, Omorosa, war and of course “Change we can Believe in.”

I decided to do more of an informal poll of friends and acquaintances and see what they said. The thing that kept coming up the most were certain artists but not necessarily a certain song. So maybe this is the decade of artists and not songs, who knows. Those artists that came up repeatedly were Eminem, Outkast, Coldplay, Jay-Z and Foo Fighters. I was left to my own devices to decide which songs would be placed as the quintessential songs of this decade though most of them were the most popular of these artists.

“Lose Yourself” Eminem- The top selling artist of the decade was clearly more popular on the front end than the back end. He went through as swoon of personal problems which limited his artistry in the middle part of the decade. In 2004 he released a semi autobiographical movie, “8 Mile”, which featured Lose Yourself. A song about the characters inner conflict about rising up and performing to the best of his ability rather than giving into his fears. It is a rap ballad of a personal nature and is Eminem to the core.

“Hey Ya” Oukast- One of the most intriguing and experimental mainstream hip hop artists. The duel album SpeakerBox and the Love Below was a daring experiment by a group who didn’t need to take the chance. The bombastic outrageous personality of Big Boi and the classic styling and flow of Andre 3000 make this song a certain type of classic hip hop party anthem of a generation.

“Clocks” Coldplay- I think this is a no talent song by a group of no talent ass clowns. But is seems to resonate as the pop/rock song of this decade which I guess says a lot about popular music of this era. Maybe this is the most defining song of this decade, a sad terrible definition.

“99 Problems” or “Empire State of Mind” Jay-Z- While Eminem was the best selling rap artist (and overall artist) of the decade, Jay-Z may be its most important. 99 Problems was a creative production using the combination of the era’s foremost artist and the genre and generations best producer Rik Rubin. It a classic rock rif with a new school flow. The latter song was released right near then end of the decade but is proving to may be his biggest hit yet, and this during a decade in which he retired. Empire has became a new wave anthem for the City that never sleeps and was featured prominently during the Yankees world series championship and subsequent parade.

Foo Fighters- I couldn’t come up with a Foo Fighters song to put here but they are clearly the best rock and roll band of the decade which makes them essential to this list. While most other bands will fade into the ether, 30 years from now people will still be listening to the Foo Fighters. What’s amazing is the fact that Dave Grohl has been in the most important rock group of back to back decades, yet doesn’t always get the credit he so richly deserves.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Here Come The Warm Jets: Week 16 2009

This is the time of year where we're thankful for the good people, friends and family, in our lives.

I was taking a train from northern Illinois back to Chicago while the Jets-Colts game was on. I didn't have to worry about knowing what was going on, though, since I was getting regular updates from Matt, Greg, and my brother Eric, who all knew I was on a train.

Sometimes it's the little things. This story won't make it on an Oprah special, but it was heartwarming to me nonetheless. All my people taking care of me, making sure I knew what was going on with the Jets game I couldn't watch. Aaaaw.

Anyway, for once the Jets got lucky all the way around. Everyone they needed to lose lost. The Colts pulled the starters, and the Jets had played well enough up to that point that they were able to take advantage and win the game.

And now it's simple: win against the Bengals and make the playoffs. Lose and they don't make it.

The game's at home. Last game in the Meadowlands ever. Last game of this entire NFL regular season. Prime time Sunday night. The Bengals don't have anything really to play for. The Jets have a good enough defense to beat good teams, let alone a team with not much to play for.

This is one of those games where it helps to have a great run game and great defense. Don't turn the ball over. Grind the win out. Figure the Bengals stop giving a crap around the 3rd quarter, if not earlier.

Or, you know, do what the Cowboys did last year and get walloped by 35 points or whatever.

Either way, all things considered, it's fitting that the season comes down like this. Maybe it shouldn't have had to, considering the 3 or 4 games the team should have won if the QB wasn't such a turnover machine. But the QB is a rookie. The head coach is a rookie.

It won't be a losing season. The defense is great, and just about every important piece will be back next year. The offensive line has been pretty good, and they'll all be back. Between Thomas Jones, Shonn Greene, and Leon Washington, the run game should be good again next year. G-d willing, Sanchez improves next year.

So this is where my mind is at - of course I want them to win. Of course it will suck if they lose, especially if they do that classic lose-in-the-last-minute Jets special.

But it won't be the end of the world. This isn't the last shot for this group. It's just the beginning.

Anyone buying that? No? Yeah, me neither. Never mind. I'm going to go prepare my liver for the drinking and crying on Sunday.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Here Come The Warm Jets: Week 14 2009

I'll be honest - it was cold in Chicago. I was out late on Saturday. The Jets were starting Kellen Clemens. And playing the miserable Bucs.

I didn't leave my apartment so I could watch this game at a bar.

I stayed home and watched the Red Zone Channel (still the awesomest thing in home NFL viewing.)

I'm not sorry about that decision.

The Jets did what they were supposed to do - rely on the defense and the run game and conservative play calling. Make no big mistakes and beat a bad team physically.

That's what they were supposed to do. They did it. Good.

I'm of two minds about the team at this point in the year. I am happy that the team has the number one rush offense and the number one defense. That is what the team set out to do before the season started, and they achieved it. However, that makes it all the more frustrating that they are 7-6 instead of 9-4 or so (I figure the Buffalo and Jacksonville games both should have been wins.)

Anyway, the last three games aren't particularly easy. Atlanta next week. They're banged up, but just played a pretty good game against the Saints. Then the Colts, and then the Bengals.

Best case for the Jets in order to win out would be for the Colts to lose their next game so they wouldn't be trying for a perfect season anymore, and for the Bengals to have locked up their playoff seed prior to the last game, so they don't play their starters the full game.

Not that likely that they'll win out - it's hard to win 6 games in a row in the NFL. Still possible, though. It's also still possible that they can go 10-6 and miss the playoffs (that's what they get for losing to the goddamn Dolphins twice.)

I think when it's all said and done this year, I'll be okay with it if they finish 8-8 or better. Rookie coach, rookie QB, a couple of tough injuires, and something to build on for next year.

I think I'll even be okay if they finish 10-6 and end up missing the playoffs. It'd be annoying, but not devastating. Mostly because I'm already resigned to the idea that they're not making it.

Which, by the way, is what Jets fans never seem to learn - you can't get your expectations crushed if you don't have any in the first place. That's where we always get in trouble - allowing a couple of good games early in the year to raise expectations.

Right now, I'm in the right place. I expect the Jets to miss the playoffs. I expect they will lose at least one of the last three, if not more. If they do, whatever. If they win out, then, hey, lucky me, I get to be unexpectedly happy.

A little unexpected happiness this time of year never hurt anyone, right?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Here Come The Warm Jets: Week 13 2009

We all know where this is going, right?

Of course the Jets beat the Bills on Thursday night, to get the team back to 6-6.

Of course the Pats, Steelers, and Ravens all lost.

Of course the Jets are going to find a way to get really close to making the playoffs and then blow it spectacularly.

Maybe it'll be by losing to Tampa next week. Maybe it'll be losing to a banged up Falcons team at home in a couple of weeks. Maybe it'll be winning the next three and blowing the last game against Cincinnati's backups to fall just short.

We know this is coming. This is how this always works. There is no other way for this to play out. These are the Jets. They're not going to just lose the last four, go 6-10 and make the last couple of weeks easy, if a bit sad, for the fans.

No. We are going to get simultaneously kicked in the stomach and punched in the balls. Or vice versa. Or both.

Anyway, until then, it was a decent win against the Bills. Should have been bigger, but Sanchez missed Cotchery in the end zone once, and Braylon Edwards let a perfect bomb hit him in the face.

The defense was outstanding, except for the one drive where Marshawn Lynch had two big runs in a row. Sanchez played better. The running game was unstoppable. The offensive play calling was only occasionally retarded. The kick coverage was good (no small thing against the Bills, who always seem to kill us on kicks one game a year.)

If there's any real positivity to take out of this season, it's that the defense has been pretty consistently good (last drive in the Miami and Jacksonville games aside.) That means that Rex Ryan's system isn't a fluke. Get a few more of "his" guys in there, especially in the secondary (Kerry Rhodes and Lito Sheppard aren't playing very well) and it can be even better next year.

Also, despite some bumpy games early on, the offensive line has played generally well. I'd be somewhat concerned about Faneca and Woody's age, but other than that you have to be pleased.

And, if Sanchez gets a bit better next year, too, then this turns into an interesting, possibly contending, team.

But this is optimism for next year. And this isn't August. So for now we have to embrace the approaching doom.

And embrace it we shall. Do your worst.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Here Come The Warm Jets: Week 12 2009

So I realize that I didn't write anything after the week 11 loss to the Patriots. I guess it just didn't seem worth it. Didn't really have another "man, this team sucks and why do I bother rooting for them" post in me. Another "Mark Sanchez is a turnover machine" game. Fine, whatever.

As for the win against Carolina, the best thing about it was that I was there. In terms of a football game, it was sloppy, and probably the least inspiring win I can think of. The Jets tried to give it to Carolina, turning the ball over often. Luckily, Carolina turned it over even more, and the defense managed to play a really stellar game (for the most part.)

But let's talk about being there, since it will be my final game at Giants Stadium. They move to the new building next year, and I won't be in Jersey for either of the last two home games. So this was it for me.

Many of the games I've gone to have been on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, since that is the Sunday during the season when I am always home.

Never, though, has the weather been this perfect. Unseasonably perfect. It was in the low 50s, and sunny. It was actually pleasant to be outside.

Also, major props to my friend Jared, who has a great tailgating setup. A highlight were the sliders and the breakfast sausage that had marinated overnight in maple syrup (off the charcoal grill, and even better than you think.)

The atmosphere was relaxed. I was with friends I've known forever. We ate, had a few drinks, threw a football around, and made fun of people (particularly each other.)

The seats were great. 50 yard line, 2 rows from the top of the stadium. You can see every thing that happens from up there, see plays as they develop, see the open receivers that your rookie QB inevitably missed.

The game wasn't particularly tense. The Jets were more or less in control the whole game, despite the turnovers keeping it closer than it should have been. So we were relaxed in the seats, cracking a few jokes, complaining about our team, and throwing paper airplanes.

It was a perfect cap to my week back home. It was a perfect personal send-off to seeing the Jets at Giants Stadium - a win, but not one I could feel all that good about.

The team is 5-6. The next two games are Buffalo and Tampa Bay, which are winnable, even for a majorly flawed team like the Jets. At 7-6 they'd be in the mix for the playoffs. Then, of course, they'll blow it, but that's how this team always is. Give you a bit of hope, snatch it away so that you promise you'll never get roped in again, win a bit so you get roped in again, and then be left ultimately and in retrospect inevitably disappointed.

It's a lifetime of frustrating mediocrity, being a Jets fan. But at least it's a comfortable frustration.