Archive for January, 2011

Armchair Gladiators

Posted by Matt on Friday, January 28th, 2011

Am I really doing this? I don’t want to do this. I would much rather let the NFL Season pass into the night with its fast-food-sub parity and dozens of babbling talking heads, low on grey matter, yet high on decibels. I would much rather turn my attention to a considerably more likeable Chicago sports figure, and current leader in the race for NBA MVP. I would much rather hang a shaken beehive from my left ear lobe.

However, this morning I turned on the radio and caught myself listening to the haughty and self-important Mark Schlereth, prattling on as he does – like the motivational speaker at the National Reacharound Convention. But more about him below.

5 days later and the nonsense hasn’t stopped. It has made a very frustrating and painful loss that much more infuriating. So I can’t help myself…

1st, I don’t want to defend Jay Cutler.  He’s not a likeable guy. On the field, his mechanics are inconsistent. When rattled, his downfield reads can be questionable. Still, he is the best quarterback the Bears have suited up in the Modern era.

But these issues are neither here nor there in this case. He’s a villain, and cast as such, just as Peyton Manning is the hero,  Conrad Dobler was the crazy, and Tony Siragusa-in-drag is the perfect Sicilian Grandmother. Why? It’s probably a few things not related to his on-field performance. Again, he might not be the greatest guy, though he’s not a criminal and does a lot of charity work under the radar. He’s aloof, and seemingly indifferent much of the time.  Perhaps his most egregious offense in the minds of these critics is his failure to placate the media with the meaningless clichés, or do the forced rah-rah Tebow-act that professional athletes don’t even like in most cases. His PR is terrible, which makes it that much easier to focus on a 3 second cutaway that shows his smirking jerkface.  By the way, what’s a 3 second snapshot of you at work likely to produce? Maybe it will show your brilliance or collegiality, but more likely it will show you itching your grundle. The fact is, he doesn’t care about his public perception, and those shallow hacks who prefer to pick at the cosmetic scabs of most stories don’t like that.

But here’s the deal: I don’t care that he doesn’t care about that stuff.  Leave it on the field and I’ll judge you by your performance.  Yes, when the stars of your favorite team are more likeable, it’s definitely an added bonus (see Derrick Rose).  I also think it’s great when public figures such as athletes are truly ‘good guys.’ It’s awesome that Luol Deng contributes so much time and resources to helping the people of Southern Sudan. But I’ll package the one-time NBA Man of the Year, and whatever garbage salaries and draft picks necessary, on the first Frontier flight out of Midway if it brings back the enigmatic Carmelo Anthony.  If I wanted to watch nice people do nice things, I’d bring a six-pack and lawn chair  down to the Salvation Army.

But the reflexive ambush from 3 groups has been unlike anything I’ve ever seen in sports, and has been considerably more reminiscent of ever-present, baseless political “issues,” such as ‘death panels’ or ’9/11 Conspiracies.’ At the very least, it has certainly been something I have never encountered as a religious Chicago sports fan.

I mean, Scottie Pippen chose to sit out the final 1.8 seconds of an Eastern Conference Semis game against the rival Knicks, and the reaction was nothing like this.  That’s ‘quitting.’ That’s ‘pouting.’  The dude’s still not tipping 15% on the full tab when he gets comp’d a free dessert around town. It’s ridiculous.

The 3 ‘groups’ I refer to are as follows – Current NFL Players, Ex-Players and the National Sports Media, and finally, Many of My Fellow Bears’ Fans (you know who you are)…

But first the facts: (My information is primarily derived from 3 sources – WBBM Bears’ Sideline and beat-reporter Zach Zaidman, WSCR’s Bears’ Insider and former beat reporter Lawrence Holmes, and Pro Football Weekly Editor, and longtime Bears’ expert Hub Arkush. These guys have a history of objectivity and 100,000x’s more knowledge as to the actual facts on the ground than 99% of all the mouth-breathers making grandiose assumptions and judgments at their whim to fit the fixed narrative, all the while gesticulating like retarded sea lions.  Finally, there’s GW’s Senior NFL hack – me.)

First of all, the dude has been absolutely DESTROYED for 2 years. Sacked almost 60 times this year, and hit dozens of others. Yes, 57 fucking times. 92 sacks in 2 years with the Bears. 51 in 3 years with Denver and their decent-not-great O-Line.  As a point of reference, Peyton Manning has never been sacked more than 29 times in any of his 13 NFL seasons.

Cutler played with a below-average (at best) WR unit, and without a doubt, the league’s worst offensive line. Throw in his 3rd offensive system in 3 years, and it’s amazing he has only missed 1 full (+ 2 half) games in his career.

The 1 game Cutler missed coincidentally followed the Giants debacle earlier this year, when he was sacked an NFL-record 9 times in the 1st half.  After Osi Umenyiora + Co. were done repeatedly bouncing Cutler’s head off the Meadowlands’ turf.  The concussed Cutler stayed in for another series, but was eventually pulled by team doctors because he walked back to the wrong huddle.  Hilarious! Total weak sister!

After that, it was revealed Cutler failed to disclose previous concussions while getting his ass kicked by the SEC criminals when playing at undermanned Vanderbilt.  But because he’s kind of docuhebag, when this was disclosed in the Chicago press, he was the bad guy then as well – because he wanted to play and was selfishly (and allegedly) failing to fully disclose his injuries to his teams at the time.

As for the NFC Championship (that was actually painful to type – which is partly why it took me awhile to get here…), Cutler wasn’t having a good game. Missed Hester twice before the injury, once badly. He was hurt early in the 2nd Quarter, probably on that inside rush when the Bears were backed up at their own goal line (where did that Packers’ ST performance come from?).

While he wasn’t ‘lights-out’ before this, the training and coaching staff knew something was wrong, and it clearly showed in the passes that fluttered from his hand as he was unable to properly plant his left foot.

According to Zaidman, the training staff + Martz wanted him benched at halftime, but Cutler begged the coaching staff to let him start the 2nd half.  He did. It wasn’t good. He missed Hester badly on a drag route over the middle on a key 3rd down. After that, it was on to Todd Collins – and if anyone wants to make the statement that Old Man Adam’s Apple didn’t want to be out there, I have no argument for you.

The diagnosis came later – Cutler has a partially torn MCL – an injury that usually keeps players out 3-6 weeks.

The point is: He Was Benched. It was the decision of the training staff.  The barrage of people questioning the guy’s ‘toughness’ is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve witnessed as a consumer of sports’ media.

But that didn’t stop the asinine knee jerk reactions from his peers (though not playing), who were apparently waiting in the weeds to ambush Cutler….

(Note: I understand a lot of these clowns have backtracked in the last few days. Quite frankly, I don’t care. Equivocate until the tarts come out of your guest bedrooms. It doesn’t change the fact that you couldn’t wait to sandbag a fellow player in one of the most violent sports around.)

Asante Samuel: Here’s a good one. This clown is like a poor-man’s Deion Sanders (below). He’ll head-hunt you if you’re a receiver who has left his feet, but if Marion Barber or Michael Turner squares his shoulders while running at him, there’s a good chance he’ll abstain.

If you talk alot of shit in your interviews you got to be warrior in crunch time. I am in total shock rite now.

If he was my teammate I would be looking at him sideways.

I luv my QB @mikevick he has the heart of a lion. I guess others are scared of success.

Man shoot that [expletive] up with a needle. He ain’t got to do much jus drop back and throw the ball.

By the way, Samuel was nowhere to be found when Cutler was carving up the ‘red-hot’ Eagles in a key Week 12 battle (4 TD, 0 INT). Maybe he should’ve ‘shot that shit up with a needle’ in even one of the 5 games he missed this year. Also, I didn’t know Cutler ‘talked a lot of [expletive] in his interviews.’ He’s a [expletive] boring interview – which is part of his [expletive ] PR problem. [EXPLETIVE]

Maurice Jones-Drew: I don’t have the energy to run through all the players dogging on Cutler, but MJD’s ‘Tweet’ perhaps exemplified the oblivious hypocrisy of many of the haters.

“All I’m saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee… I played the whole season on one…”

Well, no you didn’t. As has been pointed out, when the Jaguars were battling the Colts for a playoff spot in Weeks 16 + 17, he was nowhere to be found.  But thanks anyway, MJD. That week 16 no-show helped a certain Peter Francis Yerfaci FFB team win some serious coin.

Then there’s Kirk Morrison who echoed one of the most annoying storylines that came out of this shit…

“If my knee was hurt or acl/mcl/pcl sprain, I would not be standing up on the sideline”

Yeah, I know you’re asking ,’Kirk Who?’ Well anyway, the Jaguars’ LB just wanted to lend his own diagnosis. Or like many, he might’ve just wanted Cutler to express a lot more pain – maybe Favre-it up with a really exaggerated limp. Let every douchebag meatball be able to point it out, “oh see, that guy’s in so much pain. What a warrior.” More on that later.

Finally, I also keep hearing about how Cutler’s “rival” Philip Rivers played in the AFC championship game with a torn ACL. That’s fairly misleading considering he was injured the week prior (not taken off on a cart?! – haha, what a pussy…) and left that game never to return. He then had a week of rehab and was fitted with a brace.  Most importantly, how did the Chargers do that day?

But even worse than the idiot players are the idiot ex-players and national sports writers who are squeezing every incoherent ounce out of this story.  Like a scandalous celebrity death, they all pounced in unison, quick to chastise and feed ravenously at the trough of the stupid.

Let’s start with Schlereth, who has had it out for Cutler since he came to Chicago. Until about 10 weeks ago, the one-time Bronco had his tounge so far up Josh McDaniels’ um, sweatshirt, that he couldn’t help but doubling-down repeatedly on his visceral hatred for Cutler. Of course, it took the Broncos franchise less than 2 years to realize McDaniels is a destructive and megalomaniacal asshole.  Yet that doesn’t stop Schlereth, whose favorite hobbies (when he’s not whoring out his daughter) are apparently droning on about his Super Bowl rings and hating on Jay Cutler.  The 3 time Super Bowl champion would have you believe he carried John Elway to glory. He had this to say barely moments after the clock hit 0:00,

“As a guy how had 20 knee surgeries you’d have to drag me out on a stretcher to Leave a championship game!”

Oh hey, that’s really amazing!   As SI’s Paul Daugherty opined, “Purple hearts for you, Mark. Ever think that’s a reason you had 20 operations? Let’s see you play with your grandkids a few decades from now.”

However, it is amazing that such a warrior missed more than 30 games in his 12 year career, including being placed on IR in 1993 with, wait for it…a virus.

Speaking of viruses, ESPN’s Trent Dilfer loves to hide behind his Super Bowl ring to mask the fact that he was like the dysentary-riddled 5th member of the Baltimore Ravens’ Oregon Trail team, carried to glory by arguably the most dominant defense in NFL history. He hated on the Bears’ and Cutler all season, and reveled in the Championship loss like the ugly kid with the shit-eating grin, so happy with himself the day after he hooked with the really hot girl because she was too drunk to know any better. Keep fucking that chicken, Trent.

Deion Sanders – Yes, Deion ‘the Matador’ Sanders! Among other things, he said Cutler should’ve ”Manned Up.”  Deion Goddamn Sanders. The guy who missed games in 3 different seasons with the same turf toe injury.  Or as Arkush said, “the only defensive player who will go into the Hall of Fame without having tackled anyone.”  Deion Fucking Sanders.

These 3 guys exemplified so many members of the ‘fraternity’ whose bodies can’t cut it anymore, but whose shit-talking mouths are apparently still in their prime.

Then there was the cavalcade of gladiator scribes who couldn’t wait to spend a few days picking this low hanging fruit so they could submit a couple quick stories to their editors before patting themselves on the back and hitting the bar.

The most ridiculous was Jason Whitlock (who I sometimes like). He thinks the Bears organization faked the MRI showing Cutler’s partially torn MCL.  The courageous conjecture really speaks to his gladiator intuition. Granted, he has 0 proof of this, mind you; but it probably got him a lot of page views.

Fox Sports is still pounding on the guy. Today Cutler was spotted with girlfriend Kristin Cavallari (way hot. i don’t care what you say) !walking! in LA. And he apparently wasn’t limping enough for their tastes. For shame.

Along with the armchair gladiators, the baseless armchair diagnoses were even more frustrating to hear.

And you know what? Fuck that. The injury is the injury. The guy picked himself off the turf 200+ times this year and never once threw out the ‘i’m injured’ theatrics so pervasive in professional sports. Why the hell do you care? Also, when did all these assholes pick up their University of Phoenix medical degrees?

“Why wasn’t he icing it?” “Why wasn’t he sitting down? Why wasn’t he limping worse? Why wasn’t he writhing in pain like a dick-slapped Egyptian?  Why didn’t he attach a dozen leeches to his patella?

JESUS! Who are these clowns? According to Arkush, the Bears have one of the most well-respected training/conditioning and medical staffs in the league. After determining Cutler couldn’t play, the training staff taped his knee in order to stabilize it. Where the hell is the deference? They had 2 guys on IR all year!

Which brings me to the last guy…

ok, coach. we get it.

Mike Ditka is one of the most overrated coaches in NFL sports history, but because of his boisterous “fire and passion,” he’s revered and iconic. Like Patton, if the great general would’ve been victorious at Normandy, but then lost every key battle after that.

While not overtly criticizing Cutler’s toughness, he certainly added fuel to the fire, saying “Myself, I would have had to have been paralyzed to come out of the game. I don’t want to say that word. I would have had to be completely knocked out to come out of that football game.”

There it is –  Setting up an impossible standard that’s even more impossible to disprove. Ditka is old and beat up, shrouded in the mystique of playing in a boring-ass era when the players were much less skilled, half the size, and 1/4 as fast.  He’s revered for being along for the ride coaching the most beloved team in the city’s history. He says baseless and irresponsible things that the meatballs love. Which brings me to the last group of haters…

Bears Fans - This is the most painful, yet probably the most predictable.  This applies only to a minority of them, though an incessantly loud and annoying minority.

Chicago is a Bears town. While the NFL is by far the most popular league, at this point in time it’s not putting out the best product (relative to history, that’s cleary the NBA right now). That being said, as an avid supporter of all major Chicago teams not named the White Sox, a Bears’ Super Bowl win would mean the most to me. I’m guessing this sentiment is echoed by most Chicago sports’ fans.

Yet with this undying love of the masses comes a certain amount of blowback. Of the ‘diehard’ fans in Chicago, more idiocy emanates from Bears’ fans than from any other fanbase. It’s not even close.

Of course, part of this may be the nature of the sport and enthusiastic fans in general. While Packers’ fans don’t have problems making too much noise when their team is in their Red Zone offense (pathetic), they have their own unique manifestations of  less-than-cerebral antics.  The unqualified “Kuhhhn” chant that emanates from Lambeau during every short yardage down, regardless of situation, is classic meatball. They have one of the NFL’s most dynamic offenses, yet just can’t get enough of the slow white guy with the German name. I’m guessing the enthuiasm of this cheer also makes it a little uncomfortable for the one black Packer fan (Jerry). Whether it ‘s the referees, injuries, luck, or the playing surface, their excuse-making is small-minded and hilarious, and their quick response to blame (the very solid) Coach Mike McCarthy for any and every loss is even more so. In the off-season, I even heard some Packers’ fans criticizing their fantastic GM, Ted Thompson. You want him gone? Ok.  Send him south a couple hundred miles.

But alas, this isn’t about Packers’ fans, of whom I’m friends with some, many who have been less than gracious in victory. It’s about a segment of Bears’ fans and their own clownish stupidity.

I essentially watched the game in a bubble, pretty much by myself, out of state - the only die-hard at a bar with some dudes who spent almost 2 quarters (seriously) talking about ice fishing. I knew a huge loss like this would result in kneejerk flame-throwing. It happens for every regular season loss, so I knew the exponential increase would be off the charts.

I was expecting it to be a backlash against Lovie Smith – the Bizarro Ditka who has never been properly appreciated in this town.  He’s not a great coach, but very solid, particularly considering the front office has been one of the NFL’s worst drafting teams for almost a decade. He did his best job this year. This team was prepared. They played every down for him. They tackled well. They made adjustments when needed. They even won a couple close games.  That being said, he was probably out-coached last weekend. While I don’t believe The Great Caleb Hanie deserved a seat next to Michelle Obama for the SOTU (as my buddy Paul said), having Todd Collins as your second string QB back-up was an egregious error – particularly considering what everyone saw against Carolina earlier this year.  There were other things as well, though I don’t have the will or desire to relive it. At the end of the day, the Packers are a better team (though the margin isn’t as wide as some would believe). Ouch.

So there I was the next day, expecting to read the newspaper, or turn on 670 and hear the rapid succession of apoplectic ’Fire Lovie’ calls.  Instead it was stories of fans burning their Cutler jerseys. Before any of the facts were in, they had already pounced. He was to be the target for the impotent rage of the defeated Bears’ fan.  And it has been pouring down ever since.

Not since Steve Bartman has their been anyone in Chicago sports who has been so unnecessarily vilified. Even then, there was way more novelty and way less vitriol to that story (especially on a National level). Rex Grossman was ruthlessly hammered for most of his time in Chicago, though that was more underlying and ever-present, as opposed to the tsunami of ass-hattery currently consuming the town.

Just like people overlooked Alex Gonzalez dropping that double-play ball, no one seemed to care that the Bears’ defensive tackles did nothing, or that Bears’ Center Olin Kreutz was absolutely man-handled by (game MVP) B.J. Raji on almost every snap.

If this wasn’t the most painful loss I’ve experienced as a sports fan, it’s close. I still think the circumstances surrounding Game 6(+7) of the 2003 NLCS made that couple days the most crushing.

Still, the Cutler hate made this loss incredibly surreal. To their credit, most Chicago columnists not named Rick Morrissey remained fairly level-headed about the situation. I believe a lot of my fellow fans sympathized with the guy and the unfair treatment he received.

Yet the hyperbolic reactions have said more about the critics than they will ever say about Cutler’s ‘toughness.’  Next year’s Training camp should be a lot of fun.

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It’s Baltimore, Gentlemen. The Gods Will Not Save You.

Posted by Matt on Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

I know one thing: David Simon Earned That Buck.

The Wire is arguably the best drama ever televised. Arguably the best thing to ever air on that vast wasteland.  The show’s complex and astute analysis of the city of Baltimore and its culture of corruption was both insightful and insanely entertaining.

Enter Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld. He’d prefer the city to be portrayed as a little sexier. Or maybe as more of a straight-shooter.  He would like to tell you Baltimore is a good, honest city and probably has some 1099 job as a cafeteria worker down at the airport or something.

Bealefeld called The Wire a “smear on this city that will take decades to overcome,” saying, “You know what Miami gets in their crime show? They get detectives that look like models, and they drive around in sports cars. And you know what New York gets? They get these incredibly tough prosecutors, competent cops that solve the most crazy, complicated cases.”

He continued, “cases…(removes sunglasses) of murrrrder…” (no he didn’t. the video is here.)

He really continued, “What Baltimore gets is this reinforced notion that it’s a city full of hopelessness, despair and dysfunction. There was very little effort—beyond self-serving—to highlight the great and wonderful things happening here, and to indict the whole population, the criminal justice system, the school system.”

Don’t forget the press. City government. Lesbian infiltration of the police force, etc.

As the avclub.com noted, David Simon issued a rebuttal, which reads in part…

Publicly, let me state that The Wire owes no apologies—at least not for its depiction of those portions of Baltimore where we set our story, for its address of economic and political priorities and urban poverty, for its discussion of the drug war and the damage done from that misguided prohibition, or for its attention to the cover-your-ass institutional dynamic that leads, say, big-city police commissioners to perceive a fictional narrative, rather than actual, complex urban problems as a cause for righteous concern. As citizens using a fictional narrative as a means of arguing different priorities or policies, those who created and worked on The Wire have dissented.

Commissioner Bealefeld may not be comfortable with public dissent, or even a public critique of his agency. He may even believe that the recent decline in crime entitles him to denigrate as “stupid” or “slander” all prior dissent, as if the previous two decades of mismanagement in the Baltimore department had not happened and should not have been addressed by any act of storytelling, given that Baltimore is no longer among the most violent American cities, but merely a very violent one.

Others might reasonably argue, however that it is not sixty hours of The Wire that will require decades for our city to overcome, as the commissioner claims. A more lingering problem might be two decades of bad performance by a police agency more obsessed with statistics than substance, with appeasing political leadership rather than seriously addressing the roots of city violence, with shifting blame rather than taking responsibility.  That is the police department we depicted in The Wire, give or take our depiction of some conscientious officers and supervisors. And that is an accurate depiction of the Baltimore department for much of the last twenty years, from the late 1980s, when cocaine hit and the drug corners blossomed, until recently, when Mr. O’Malley became governor and the pressure to clear those corners without regard to legality and to make crime disappear on paper finally gave way to some normalcy and, perhaps, some police work. Commissioner Bealefeld, who was present for much of that history, knows it as well as anyone associated with The Wire.

Mr. Commissioner, you want it to be one way…but it’s the other way.

(Haha, that’s a quote from the show. LOLZ)

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One Sentence Album Review Via Wine Descriptors – Strange Arrangement

Posted by Matt on Monday, January 24th, 2011

Strange Arrangement – Polygraph

What first struck were aromas of cherry and spice that managed to retain their freshness, with an extra kick of spice at the end; a good balance between the supple fruit and acidity at its core.

Grade: A-

Listen to this while: swig-swig-swig-swig-swig-swig-swiggin’ a PBR. Get loose!

(Purchase here or on itunes.)

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Remember When…

Posted by Matt on Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

…Mayor Daley’s legacy was going to be the 2016 Summer Olympics, as opposed to high taxes, a sharp looking park, and floundering public schools?

It was just a javelin throw away.

A year ago, Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics? Remember those? No? Well, its scale is much smaller than the typical summer games. There was a hockey game, some longhairs on snowboards, and women curling. In this edition of where are they now…

if you say so

ELEVEN months ago there was dancing in the streets of Vancouver, as Canadian athletes wound up the winter Olympic games with a record 14 gold medals. Today, true to Olympic tradition, the host city is dealing with a nasty financial hangover. It could have been much worse, and in other Olympic cities often has been. The Vancouver organising committee balanced its C$1.9 billion ($1.9 billion) budget for running the games. At least another C$4 billion was spent on building sports venues and a fast rail line from the airport to downtown Vancouver, expanding the highway to Whistler and providing security. Since this left some useful infrastructure and its cost was split between the federal, provincial and municipal governments, most British Columbians are content. But Vancouver’s taxpayers are unhappy that their city government faces the possibility of a big loss on the Olympic village…With the debt now standing at C$743m, the city has pushed the project into receivership.

Chicagoans – count your blessings. and your ground beef intake.

Prove me wrong, Rio!

 

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Redemption Schlong

Posted by Matt on Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

There’s an epic battle on the 3rd Coast this weekend. I can’t really formulate any articulate thoughts about it. Just thinking about 24 hrs from now makes the vein in my forehead throb like that extra tendon in Clay Matthew’s neck. (What the hell is going on there?)

Anyway, following the Steelers defeat of the Ravens, this week saw the predictable sports’ media deluge of the same old ‘redemption stories’ regarding alleged rapist Ben Roethlisberger.  On Wednesday, the front-page of both ESPN’s + CBS’ websites trotted out the same old tired cliches and missteps in logic. The predictable thesis is that victory on field somehow proves athlete X is a changed person.

I didn’t know people were questioning the effect Roethlisberger’s off-field behavior had on throwing a football or reading the Ravens’ Defense.  He might not be the NFL’s best QB (clearly Jay Cutler), but the big fella has lead the Steelers to 2 Super Bowl victories, throwing big passes at big moments during the process.

And then he got aggressive with any 19-year old in his periphery.

The same stories were written after Michael Vick’s resurgence and the same thing will happen when Tiger wins his next major (I predict 2011). The hacks probably have it in the can already.

Of course the fans will give players an immense amount of moral latitude if successful on the field. Same goes for coaches. Do the sycophantic NFL writers promoters have to do the same? Can we get news? Can we get on-field analysis? Or are these “redemption” stories just too easy to mail in that they can’t resist?

More sports please!

and oh yeah, GO BEARS!

http://deadspin.com/5740217/golden-voice-and-inspirational-speech-set-up-green-baychicago-showdown

 

 

 

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Gratuitous World: Best & Worst Of 2010

Posted by Matt on Thursday, January 20th, 2011

What can you say about 2010 (except that it’s over)? In fact, while this might not be the greatest ‘Best of’ list, it’s certainly the latest. Here is how GW spent its year when it wasn’t throwing rocks at day laborers.

Book You Should Read: War, Sebastian Junger. Left, Right, Center, Whatever. Everyone should read about the daily toll of our nearly decade-long military action. A story of both courage and futility. The corresponding documentary (Restrepo) is also worth watching.

Best Television Show: Breaking Bad (again). Season 3 and still getting better. (How ’bout that finale?) The margin between this and other shows continues to grow.

Honorable Mention: Community. I’ve never liked Joel McHale. Never been interested in The Soup and my usual response to his stand-up is ‘oh, that was the laugh line?’  Watched a couple uninspired episodes last season because the tv was turned on. However, whatever the writing staff shook up this season produced gold. The ‘Armageddon/Apollo 13′ Spoof was one of the funniest episodes of tv this year. Same goes for the zombie-genre episode and heart-warming stop-motion Christmas episode. Well-done.

  • Thurs NBC: Parks and Recreations was also pretty great last year and definitely won the spring. 30 Rock is rebounding this season while someone needs to put The Office out of its highly-rated misery.

Favorite New Show: Via recommendation, just caught the 2nd Season of Party Down on Netflix. Went back and watched the first as soon as possible. Steve Guttenberg episode was awesome.

Worst Franchise Demise: Law & Order: SVU. People watch Law & Order because of the tidy, plot-driven, twist-at-the-3/4-mark episodes. Back in the day, they took this fool-proof premise and added sex crimes. Winner! Now the show is a shell of itself. Why does every episode have to include some melodramatic personal involvement of one of the characters? How many episodes ending with a Mexican Standoff are too many?C’mon! Just give me a serial rapist or abusive stepfather, a little legal battle, and be done with it. I’m starting to root for IAD. Benson & Stabler are TERRIBLE cops. They would be working Macy’s security if this was real life. But it’s not. It’s just a stupid television show. So maybe I should relax.

well that didn't take long.

Favorite Movie: Black Swan. In fairness, didn’t see much this year, but Aronofsky certainly got it done with this effort. I mean, a movie about Swan Lake that can keep me riveted for 2 hours? Well done. I also liked the much acclaimed indie flick Winters’ Bone.

  • Grab-The-Dirty-T-Shirt-Award: Mila Kunis. Not sure if you want to win this one, but you did. Well done. And I don’t care what ethnicity George Lopez wants you to be. We can all get behind sexy. so to speak.

Worst Last Words: In October, the State of Arizona executed convicted murderer Jeffrey Landrigan. When asked for his last words, Landrigan said, “Well, I’d like to say thank you to my family for being here and all my friends, and…Boomer Sooner.”

A classy way to go out for an obviously classy guy. Boomer Sooner is, of course, the official fight song and rallying cry for the University of Oklahoma Sooners, and I’m sure Landrigan’s final homage to the Sooners was duly appreciated by all associated with the University.

But just one thing – and I’m sure you’ll all be shocked – Landrigan never attended the University of Oklahoma, yet chose to use his final words to associate himself with the school.

To me Landrigan is a despicable but probably not far-off representation of all the townie college football fans – from Columbus to Norman to Tuscaloosa, who try to associate themselves with institutions they never attended, I’d like to say, Jeffrey Landrigan – while you’re neither Sooner Born nor Sooner Bred, you certainly are ‘sooner dead.’ good riddance, douchebag.

Best Inappropriate Tweet: 50 Cent - Speaking of MILF. I wanna do something that impact kids in a positive way, thats why im opening an abortion clinic. Ima call it 50/50 chance.

I laugh, but today’s offensive family planning idea is tomorrow’s Vitamin Water.

Hate-Monger of the Year: Pamela Geller - Wow, what stiff competition! Sorry Mr. Beck, Pastor ZigZag Chops, and virtually every Arizona conservative, but no one hated-it-up quite like Geller. I’m talking Barabara Bush type hate (as Richard Nixon would’ve said). Before the manufactured not-at-Ground-Zero-not-mosque controversy, Geller was probably best known as the Holocaust Revisionist who runs the Atlas Shrugs hate blog.  In 2010, she ascended to America’s prestigious ’Queen of Islamophobia’ position.  Here’s just a taste:

Amazon(.com) is pimping for jihad. The Arafat war scarf is on sale. The keffiyeh is the icon of the global jihad. It is as iconic of jihad as the swastika is for Nazis. Notice the advertising of the bloodiest murderer in modern Middle East history (the competition is stiff, after all), Yaser Arafat.

And kudos to virtually every media outlet for allowing her to mainstream her venomous bigotry. She couldn’t take home this award without you.

Best Product Innovation: Rascal Scooter’s Magnetic Stabilizer. Americans are getting fatter. We’re watching 35 hrs of tv a week, and increasingly bathing in corn syrup. Anyone looking for an investment opportunity should check it out…

Just one of the many innovations on display during the expo is Magnetic Stabilizer technology (patent pending) designed to prevent sideways tipping.  Stabilizer wheels utilize this technology to deploy only during contact with the riding surface, instantly giving 3-wheel scooters the superior stability of 4-wheel models.  This technology affords riders excellent 3-wheel maneuverability without sacrificing safety.

Worst Pope Of The Year: In a landslide, it’s Pope Benedict XVI! Among other gems, the disco pope blames the 70s for the kid rapers he protected for decades.

Unproven Fear Of The Year: Keeping my phone in my pants pocket will result in testicular cancer somewhere down the line, thus forcing me to sympathize with douchebag Lance Armstrong

Most Asinine Supreme Court Decision:  It doesn’t take much to keep tabs on the Roberts’ Court. Just look for a corporate agenda and follow the musk. To simplify, Citizens United v. FEC basically says corporations, like soylent green, are people. Enjoy that, America.

Worst Relationship Development: Groupon. Don’t get me wrong – this simple, yet genius business model is well crafted. But Jesus, ‘we have to go to restaurant __ because my groupon is going to expire’  seemed about as contrived as saving sex only during ovulation.

‘It’s -10 wind chill and a Tuesday!’ Doesn’t matter. Groupon, moutherfucker.

Do we really need a water pick? We already have 2. ‘It was a Groupon.’ And that’s where the conversation ends, as if  getting 30% off makes whatever unnecessary bullshit product immediately necessary.

Best Sports Story: Three years ago, the once proud Chicago Blackhawks franchise was in disarray. One timely death and a few successful personnel moves later, and the Hawks were back as the darlings of Chicago.  As one belonging to neither demographic, the rapidity of the bandwagon jumpers combined with the resentful push-back from the die-hard Blackhawks faithful made for a hilarious few months. In June, the Hawks triumphantly hoisted the Stanley Cup. And now that the Bears and Bulls are back, people might care again when if they make the playoffs.

Worst Sports Story – Event: World Cup. Once every four years I am susceptible to mouth-breathing rants in support of ‘American Exceptionalism.’ Well done, soccer.

Worst Sports Story – Individual:  Oh my God, I can’t believe it was possible to overshadow the ridiculous charade that was LeBron James’ free agency ‘Decision’, but CONGRATULATIONS Brett Favre! You did it again! And this time with more cock!

Best Campaign Ad: Alabama. Alabama. Alabama. Roll Tide, War Eagle, and whatever other stupid shit they do down there. I’m pretty sure it’s just football and campaign ads. They just churned them out one after the other. This one was my favorite.

Worst ‘Person Of The Year’ Award: Mark Zuckerberg? Really, Time? Welcome to 2007. amirite?

  • By the way, Least Substantive Publication – Time

Best ‘List’Salon’s Hack 30: Our Complete List Of America’s Worst PunditsA wonderful compilation of the media establishment hacks who drive our substance-free political discourse. E.g., big time hack and intellectually dishonest “historian” Jonah Goldberg (@ #7)…

Repeat offenses: Juvenile (but unamusing) sense of humor, adolescent writing style unbecoming a 41-year-old, laziness, “Simpsons”-quoting, inability/unwillingness to defend arguments when challenged.
Representative quote:

In today’s syndicated column I trot out the cliche that “hindsight’s always crystal clear.” Several readers have already reminded me that I wrote a column arguing exactly the opposite in June of 2002. This is the danger of cliches. I was trying to make a general point which everyone understands but also ended up communicating an even more general falsehood. Like saying violence never solves anything, people understand what I mean even when in reality what I’m saying isn’t true.

Wha?

GW Person Of The Year:  Any reader who can make a convincing argument for anyone will be  ’my person of the year.’ Giddyup.

Most Over-Saturated Celebrity (out-of-nowhere category): Jane Lynch. As an integral part of Best In Show (and Party Down Season 1), I’ll give her a pass for that Glee-whatnot. But isn’t it time for a vacation? I think I see her right now. Sitting over there.

GW Worst Person Of The Year: While BP’s Tony Hayward received well-deserved attention for the catastrophic Gulf Oil Spill, Massey Coal’s Don Blankenship could’ve been criminally liable for the West Virginia mine explosion resulting in the death of 29 miners. An epic gasbag, Blankenship is also one variation of the corporatists controlling this country.

(maynard + blankenship) But buying judges is hard work too! cheese!

I first read about this guy when he was caught vacationing in the French Riviera with a judge on the WV Supreme Court, while Massey had an important case pending in front of the WVSC. Lucrative and Romantic.

He loves to rail against the kind of regulation and enforcement that could’ve prohibited the tragedy. Believe it or not, he’s also climate change denier.  In a letter to the editor of the Charleston (WV) Gazette dated Oct. 30, 2009 Blankenship denied that climate change, or “global warming,” existed, and stated: “Why should we trust a report by the United Nations? The United Nations includes countries like Venezuela, North Korea and Iran.”

Great point. Really does a good job of scientifically refuting the years of research incorporated in the report. Instead we should trust Don Blankenship – he has nothing to gain. Did I mention he’s on the Board of the Chamber of Commerce and a bigtime Tea Party supporter? Probably didn’t need to.

So some lobbyist dollars and 29 deaths later, and Massey is one of the country’s most profitable coal companies! Congrats! ‘Free market,’ K-Street, deregulation, sell your soul, kick a puppy.

By the way, given the chance, he’ll fuck over your kids.  Congratulations, Don Blankenship! You’re GW’s Worst Person of 2010! Huzzah!

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Crazy Town

Posted by Matt on Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

In the aftermath of the Arizona shootings, I’m glad our political/media elite have been able to cover their political tracks. Condemn the tragedy. Condemn the discourse. Condemn the blame. Then proceed to blame the most politically expedient target with the same old discourse – vague false equivalencies and all.

It’s all about you.

It took about an hour for me to realize our political discourse won’t change. Without commenting on the  AZ shooter specifically (though the Right has clearly determined him to be a ‘marxist liberal’ because of a facebook reading list that included beloved heroes of the Left, Adolph Hitler and Ayn Rand), the facts remain that the last couple years have seen a rise in anti-government violence (great read @ Perrspectives). Though the effect political rhetoric had on these incidents is debatable, the hyperdefensive reactions of the Right’s leaders lends itself to an implication of guilt. Or there are just a lot of delusional clowns who will double-down on any ridiculous rhetoric for political or financial gain.

But of course, political rhetoric never has any effect on anyone, anytime, anywhere. So we can just leave that alone. Just grab your 15 minutes and move along.

What’s further disheartening about this incident is the failure to honestly address issues of common sense gun control. I’m a Second Amendment supporter and believe in the right to bear arms. However, (like 1st amendment rights, for instance) these rights are not absolute. Gun-show loopholes, the need of certain semi-automatic weapons, and the ease with which mentally disturbed can obtain a gun are all issues that we should be mature enough to productively discuss.  Of course, mental health issues do not sit in a 2nd Amendment vacuum, and have much cross-over with access to health care and other issues. But alas, this debate will not be had. More time needs to be allocated to Right/Left finger-pointing and what this means for the next election – the only story the Media loves to cover more than a dead celebrity.

Guns don't lie. Black presidents lie.

So I’m not surprised to read about this story that seems to tie a ribbon on what we haven’t learned in the last few days.

A South Carolina gun and accessories company is selling semi-automatic rifle components inscribed with “You lie” – a tribute to the infamous words of 2nd District Republican Congressman Joe Wilson when he shouted at President Barack Obama during a congressional speech about national health care reform in the fall of 2009.

“Palmetto State Armory would like to honor our esteemed congressman Joe Wilson with the release of our new ‘You Lie’ AR-15 lower receiver,” reads a portion of the company’s website.

The company’s site has since scrubbed their effort to romanticize disrespectful congressional rudeness with commemorative firearms. A little more guilt PR? Great for hunting lying game. ‘Really, duck? That ‘quack’ was clearly disingenuous. Prepare to die.’

Joe Wilson is the best.

As for the shooting of Rep. Giffords and the other victims, I don’t really have much else to say that hasn’t been said. The facts will be the facts. The conjecture will be the conjecture. Behavior won’t change and no one will learn shit. It’s a really sad story.

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As Long As It Doesn’t Require Much Legwork, John Kass Will Pretty Much Piss On Anyone’s Grave

Posted by Matt on Friday, January 7th, 2011

For his 88th birthday, McGovern went skydiving. For his 54th birthday, I believe Kass took a couple Vicotin and woke up in his own drool.

In Wednesday’s Tribune, wannabe satirist John Kass wrote a column regarding the prospective White House hiring of Bill Daley, saying,

Right now, Obama sits somewhere to the left of the late George McGovern, but he’ll need to become a certified centrist again when he runs for re-election in 2012.” 

Despite the fact that any Poli Sci 101 student could point out the obvious error of considering a center-left pragmatist ‘Left’ of a longtime Dovish liberal, there was an even greater inaccuracy in that statement. “The late” George McGovern, as Kass called him, is not ‘late’ at all. In fact, he’s alive and well – or at least as alive and well as can be for an 88 year old living in South Dakota.

 John, I understand your schtick. Pithy, colorful columns about the culture of Chicago politics that are sometimes clever, yet rarely insightful. A clear dislike for the President and the Daleys, and a 3 year obsession with trying to criminalize Obama for paying 15% below list for his Hyde Park property. What a hot scoop!

But John, contempt for the Mayor or the President doesn’t give you free journalistic reign to shovel dirt on the empty grave of anyone, much less a longtime public servant such as McGovern.

No wonder your column was so unabashedly brimming with excitement. With the hiring of Daley, the door is open for you to stay in bed and pen 6 more months of vapid ’Chicago Way’ columns without opening your eyes or bothering yourself with the heartbeat of any geriatric political figure.

As far as you’re concerned, you can put down James Baker or reanimate Harold Washington without it having any effect on your one-way pseudo-political analysis. How do I get a gig like that?

John Kass, Stop messing up my ‘Dead Pool.’ Clown.

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Make It A Double (Entendre)

Posted by Matt on Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Because I’m 11 years old.

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Wisconsin Man To Make Tattoo Removal Appointment In 6 Years

Posted by Matt on Thursday, January 6th, 2011

My girlfriend and I have an agreement when it comes to watching television. For 52 weeks, I can watch sports anywhere from 3 to 7 nights a week. In exchange, I agree to watch one bad reality television show. That show is Jersey Shore.

Truth be told, I actually like the show. I like it so much I’ve searched Vegas betting lines for Jersey Shore Prop bets. In particular, I’m looking for the ‘Under’ on the timeframe for ‘the Situation’s’ 1st Sexual Assault charge. Because, you know, he seems about 2 whiskeys, half a steroid cycle, and a shot of cough syrup away from being a sex criminal. And who can’t have a laugh about that?

Unlike the insufferable faux-earnestness or outright vapid ugliness of characters on shows like Survivor,  The Real World, or any of the other 17,000 reality shows, some members of the Jersey Shore cast exhibit at least a semblance of self-awareness. In particular, the much maligned slut-troll Snooki knows she’s caricature.  She might not be able to find New Jersey on a map, but in a certain, bowling ball with a bump-it sort of way, she’s kind of genius. She plays up the unique qualities – all the way to bank. But feel free to watch the show and trash on the little lady, aiding and abetting her collection of millions over the past couple years. Who’s the real idiot?  In fact,  I would go far enough to say, ‘I like Snooki.’

But not as much as this guy:

 

No, America. That is not Packers’ linebacker Frank Zombo. That is Chris Hamilton of Union Grove, Wisconsin. And he either loves Snooki, or is seriously amused about the bet he lost. 

It’s a pretty safe bet Chris will be watching tonight’s Jersey Shore premiere. After the show, he’ll probably start drinking in preparation for Sunday’s Eagles/Packers playoff game. In that case, he’ll probably need to catch up with the rest of the faithful.

Update: Yeah, only took me a hot tub scene to realize I don’t really like Snooki that much. Got a little bit out over my skis on that one. Have a nice day.

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Gratuitous World Blog

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