Monthly Archives: November 2011

Adventures in Thanksball: Travel Edition

Date: Thursday, November 24th 2011
Objectives: Reach Las Vegas in time for Thanksgiving dinner; watch a football game.

1000: Arrive at airport. It’s dead quiet. Make my way through security to my gate. Read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and drink coffee until we start boarding. Feel very independent and cool.

1130: Packers vs Lions kickoff. I miss it (I thought the game started at 12:30 dammit!). Also–boarding begins.

1145: Realize the game is on, watch until a few moments before they close the door and I have to get on the plane or risk missing my flight. Catch minutes 10-11 of the lst quarter. Lions drive, no score.

1311: Arrive in Minneapolis airport for my connection. Try to run to a television Starks style but am immediately shut down…by my family (since they have boarding passes they can meet me at my gate for the first time in 10 years). Have to play it cool…”oh, there’s a football game today? The PACKERS, you say? Weird.”

1312: Sister (who has a fancy phone) informs me Packers lead by 7. Do a happy dance in my head.

1330: We reach our gate for the flight to Vegas.

1400: We reach our gate again after backtracking 3 terminals so my sister can get Caribou coffee (some people say it’s the same as Starbucks, but it isn’t. OHHHHH NO).

1401: I locate a television showing the game in time to see Suh ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct. HA!

1405: Boarding begins. I miss the subsequent Packers touchdown. Boo.

1515: En route to Vegas they show Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It may be the worst title in history, but it is actually a good movie, which many people have told me but I was reticent to believe it due to said stupid title. My bad.

1730 (CST): We land in Vegas where upon, while still taxiing to the gate, my sister informs me Packers win 25-15. I throw a mental parade.

As you can see, my interactions with the Thanksgiving day game were limited, and another downside to not having my own DVR is I couldn’t record the game and watch it after my vacation either (though I did explore several other methods, questionable in their legality, which in the end didn’t come to pass anyway). In the end, I had to rely on secondhand sources and a printout of the games highlights, available on the Packers website.

From what I heard and read, they did well. Rodgers had over 300 passing yards, there were a number of interceptions (including Matthews! Sorry I missed that), and rumor has it the second touchdown for the Lions was a bit of a gimmie. If I’d been there to see the Packers give scores away I probably would’ve been annoyed, but I guess this is the Thanksgiving game we’re talking about, so they can afford to be generous. Just so they don’t make a habit out of it.

Though I didn't see the Lions' final score of the game, I'd like to believe it went something like this. Happy Thanksgiving, Detroit!

The only negative thing that caught my attention on the printout was Finley. 5 passing attempts and he only caught 2 of them? And correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t he bobble quite a few last Sunday too? Hmm…a very disturbing trend if you ask me. I’ll be watching him.

Next week: The Giants (dun dun DUN!) Should be an exciting game, both for the matchup and because I will be back safe and sound on my friends couch, watching the game with my own two eyes and mocking the plays with my own loud, half-drunk, snarky little mouth.

Whether we win or lose, it’s good to be home.

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Green vs. Tampa: The Battle of the Bays

Dear Packers defense: WHAT THE HELL?!

Okay, yes, I know the Packers won (35-26) and never trailed the Buccaneers at any point, which is an improvement on earlier games I suppose. But here’s the thing: I’m a very selfish person when it comes to football. Whenever the other team scores, I view it as a tiny loss in and of itself. I’ve accepted that the other team is inevitably going to score, probably more than once and maybe in a way as to put the Packers behind. But why is the Packers defense making it so fricking EASY for them to do so?

Honestly, I’m at a loss here. I don’t understand how this happens. Last week, they played a team with a decent quarterback (Ponder), a strong runner (Petersen) and one or two capable receivers (Shiancoe, Harvin) and the Packers dominated 45-7. This week, they play a team with a decent quarterback (Freeman), a strong runner (Blount), and one or two capable receivers (Winslow, Williams) and at one point they were only a two-point conversion away from a tie, which Winslow luckily dropped, though I assure you the Packers defense had absolutely NOTHING to do with it.

In by far the most embarrassing performance by the Packer defense this season, Blount of the Buccaneers was allowed to barrel through 5 tackles into the endzone....

...where he finally met with some resistance. At least he was denied a Lambeau leap. Go Fans Go!

So what tips the scales? Is it because Freeman is more experienced and therefore more dynamic than Ponder? Are Blount and Winslow that much better than Petersen and Harvin? Or did the Packers once again misjudge the strength of their opponent as they did with the Panthers and the Chargers earlier this season? I know I was assuming this would be an easy victory, and was subsequently shocked by Blount’s tank-like power and Winslow’s Nelson-like speed and catching abilities. Maybe the defense was too, though they get paid a LOT more than I do to not be surprised by exactly that kind of thing.

All I can say is that the Packers’s performance was about average by Packers standards, which is still pretty good, but at this point it’s not good enough. This was the BUCCANEERS, people. They lost three games before coming to Green Bay. A win should have been CAKE! We’re halfway through the season now, and it’s only going to get harder from here, so the defense better get it together and start taking every team they face seriously. Otherwise we should all prepare for some bitter, embarrassing losses in the weeks to come.

In other news, Rodgers threw his first interception of the season. But he also threw 3 touchdown passes. So…we’ll call it even. For now.

Up next: The Lions. Second best record in our division, playing in Detroit on Thanksgiving day and  dammit I can’t BELIEVE I’m going to miss it! I won’t even just be out of town, I will literally be on a plane for most of the game. Tune in next week to hear what I’m sure will be the exciting epic of how I manage to find game updates in transit with nary a smart phone or computer to aid in my quest. In the meantime,  happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Community News

If you are anything like me (a televised entertainment consumer with a basic awareness of current events), you know that NBC recently pulled Community from it’s mid-season line up, effective mid-January 2012.

First of all: DON’T PANIC. They did a similar thing to Parks and Recreation last year, and that show came back just a strong if not stronger. Personally I have no reason to believe the same thing won’t happen to Community as well.

Second of all: If, for some reason, Community ends up getting the axe, you know it’s not the first and it is not going to be the last. In fact, I predict more and more shows of the weird-funny-smart variety are going to be canceled over the next year or two. I know, I know, old news. But do you know why?

It’s not that these shows aren’t being watched. They probably are. The problem is the ratings systems can’t be bothered to keep pace with new technology.

According to the article “Why Nielsen Ratings are Inaccurate and Why They’ll Stay That Way” by John Herman (full article here), Nielsen ratings don’t track viewers via the Internet the way they should. Really, they don’t seem to track anything the way they should. Ratings are based not on how many people watch the show, but how many people see the commercials that air with the show. The more people watching the commercials, the more money the network can get from advertisers and the more likely they are to produce more episodes. Logical, but nauseating, especially given Herman’s insight that, “if every Nielsen family watched a show the day after it aired but skipped through all it’s ads, the show would probably be canceled.”

Because the Internet doesn’t air the same commercials with the same shows in the same way, the ratings system for an episode broadcast on television doesn’t directly translate to the Web. The article says that Nielsen tracks some Internet viewing, but implied that the weight granted to the Internet-viewing audience is not as great as the television-viewing audience. The article makes special mention of this being a particular pitfall for comedies…like Community.

These days, people are really busy and fairly frugal. We want our entertainment when we want it and we want it for cheap or, if possible, free. We can’t expect to be at home at X time to watch X show, and if we have no way of recording it, then we don’t watch it. Not on television anyway. Given these circumstances, online viewing is really the only solution we have: it’s convenient, almost always available and very affordable. It’s shocking to me that networks and advertisers wouldn’t be more interested in reaching (and yes, selling to) another large viewing market, and one that is only going to get bigger as time goes on and cable prices spiral out of control. But if everyone’s getting paid and the only people who suffer are the viewers, what’s the difference?

Until the Internet audience is taken seriously, more shows are going to be unduly canceled. It’s important that you see this not just as the machinations of a greedy network that can’t identify good programming outside of how many IPhones a show can sell, but as the sign of a broken system that needs to change so it works for you instead of against you.

In the meantime, if you want to try and do something for Community now, join the Save Greendale group (Facebook) and/or the #SaveGreendale (Twitter). They will be airing new episodes for a new more weeks yet, so if you do watch it on television or DVR, for the love of God, DON’T SKIP THE COMMERCIALS!!

Double Digits Minus One!

Much better Packers! Finally, a game that didn’t make me want to slink away in embarrassment halfway through the third quarter.

Monday night’s game against the Vikings was an almost perfect showing, and the Packers won easily 45-7. The only score came off of a Cobb bobble on the punt that was recovered by the Vikings at around the Packer’s 15 yard line, from which they easily scored.

As you might imagine, I keep a notebook next to me during every game to take notes and keep track of scores and plays for later reference. Here’s what I wrote about the Cobb fumble:

“COBB!!! AGAIN!! What is WRONG with you?!! I was hoping for a shutout and you fricking RUINED it! Feel bad. Feel bad about your life right now. That was like $150 you got paid to F everything up. Congratulations. Go buy yourself a tie. A-hole.”

Apparently, even in frantic, rage-filled scribbles I don’t swear.

The only redeeming factor about Cobb’s action is on the return after the Vikings score his rage propelled him like a stampede of horses down the field and he practically trampled Jared Allen in the process. Good! I hate that guy.

What kind of tool picks 69 as their number? Sure, everyone says they would hypothetically, as a joke, but no one ACTUALLY picks it.

Other than this glaring error, the Packers were really on top of everything for the duration of the game. They came out strong and they never flagged. The offense was merciless as always, despite Jared Allen’s douchy face coming at Rodgers for the sack on nearly every play. Starks was on fire this game, piercing the line of scrimmage with Peterson-esque speed and fury and leading the game for rushing yards (63). Even Matt Flynn, our second string quarterback they brought in for the last six minutes, got to run in a touchdown at the end of the 4th. Everybody wins!

I know in reality he's a tall man, but this is what I saw in my head when he scored. Way to go little guy!

And finally, FINALLY, the defense is looking more like the defense I fell in love with last season. I don’t know if it’s because they’re coming out strong for the second half of the season like last year or if they are trying to prove themselves after last week’s abysmal collapse against San Diego, but I hope they keep it up. Matthews finally got a couple of sacks in against Ponder, but I think Woodson was the true defensive hero of that game. After he made an catch that was ruled and interception but really wasn’t and the call was reversed, he became a monster on the field, interrupting passes and making more big hits than I’ve ever seen from him in one game. Though he never did get his revenge interception (his “revengerception”?), maybe that will keep him fired up for next week’s game.

Next week: The Buccaneers, with a record of 5-4 and losses to the Lions, 49ers, Bears, Saints, and Texans. I’d say it seems like a likely win, especially if the Packers keep up the AWESOME work.

Week 11: Consider This…

“The kings are the merchants. And their weapon is money. This is why, naturally, rebellion against power takes the form called poverty. The rebels against power are those denied any connection with money.”

This week I am reading The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco, which is where the above quote originates. If you’re not familiar with the book, it’s a story about an abbey in Italy where bizarre deaths of several of the monks occur during a time of intense political contention within the church, and two visiting monks are trying to solve the mystery while soothing the tensions. It reads the The Da Vinci Code mixed with a religious textbook, which is at times both fun and frustrating. However, during one of the more scholarly discussions, the aforementioned quote caught my attention.

In my job, I caption telephone calls for the hard-of-hearing, and I am exposed to a lot of people from a lot of different places in the country. Though I can’t say much about what I’ve heard (damn you FCC, you ruin all the fun), I can say a lot of people are angry, frustrated and scared. And most of it is caused by money–not having enough of it and/or being held at the mercy of people who have more of it. The natural line of defense against such frustration seems to be acquiring more money, but…does that ever really work? Do people ever think they have enough? Does it ever make them feel safe against all that anger?

So…what if instead of accumulating more, more money and status and STUFF…what if the opposite is actually true? What if limiting your wealth, or your need for wealth, is what makes you free?

Let me be clear: I’m not advocating actual poverty. I’m certainly not going to sell all my stuff and go live in a cave somewhere–I don’t camp. This is probably a very easy position for me to take personally as a relatively young, relatively healthy person who only has to support herself, a cat and a turtle. And I think the fact that starvation, homelessness, malnutrition and lack of medical care can live just down the road from the Kardashian residence is an evil, evil joke.

What I am saying is think about your financial troubles, all the stuff you can’t have or can’t afford, and try to see it not as sacrifice or oppression, but rebellion. Really think about what you’re buying and who you’re buying it from before you make a purchase. Cut out expenses whenever you can. I know everyone is doing this already, but here’s the trick: find ways to not only live with this, but be happy about it. Be creative with your limitations. Enjoy your self-sufficiency outside of material things.

If I’m being unclear, maybe this will do the trick:

“The things you own end up owning you.”

That’s Fight Club. And 10+ years later (1999), it’s still right on. The less you have, the less you owe, and the freer you are.