Friday, December 14, 2012

#TodayIStheDay (A Prayer for Newtown, CT)

"What's most horrifying is that this is becoming normal.

Everything about this is becoming normal."


-My friend Raziq

I couldn't say it better myself.  Here we are again.  27 dead today at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.  20 of them children.  Then come the screaming arguments over gun control.

"Repeal the Second Amendment!" says one.
"Over my dead body!" says another.
"Gun violence is out of control!"
"Guns don't kill people, people do!"

Rinse.  Repeat.

Such anger- and fear-driven responses to tragedy inhibit legitimate conversation and debate as much as anything else.  I myself have been guilty of much misdirected anger toward those I love today.  It's only human.  We're all angry and we're all afraid.  

Both sides are quick to construct straw men to burn in effigy:

"Those hatemongers won't stop clinging to their guns!"
"Those bleeding heart liberals want to destroy the Second Amendment!"

We are, however, better than that.  We are capable of having meaningful conversations that can advance our society toward the kind of meaningful structural change that has the power to limit if not prevent these sorts of tragedies from happening.  So...let's start now...



Let me say, first and foremost, I do not want to repeal the Second Amendment.  I know of relatively few serious folk who consider this a serious solution to our serious problems.  The Second Amendment was conceived by those escaping political and religious persecution from a tyrannous government in order that this new government they were creating could never amass such power and in order that all its constituents would have the power to protect themselves against said government if need be.  However, a few things need to be said about the text of the amendment and its interpretation.

Let's start with the text itself:
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

It's worth noting that "well regulated" are the second and third words of the amendment, respectively.  That probably means they're pretty important.  I, therefore, find it peculiar that Second Amendment advocates use the amendment as a sort of riot shield against things like banning assault weapons or extended clips.  This is what the founding fathers had in mind: "well regulated."  The Second Amendment does not mean the founding fathers believed that any citizen should be able to have any gun they want, whenever they want.

Furthermore, "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms" is a conspicuously (and, I believe, purposefully) vague, broad statement.  Technically, I think you could pretty much ban all but one particular type of gun and that would still essentially leave the right to "keep and bear Arms" intact.  For that matter, think for a second about what constituted "Arms" in the late 18th century.  According to the Wikipedia page on Muskets: "By the 18th century a very experienced soldier could load and fire at a rate of four shots per minute."  Granted this information isn't cited and Wikipedia isn't the most reliable source but the actual number isn't as important as the idea--and you get the idea.  By contrast, the rate of fire for your average semi-automatic nowadays is about 45-60 rounds per minute (more non-cited data from Wikipedia, but, again, you get the point).  I have a hunch that if the founding fathers were alive today, they'd be pretty alright with banning AK-47s and magazines that hold 31 bullets instead of 10.

Tell me again how gun laws create more gun crime...

Another big argument about gun laws (specifically laws banning guns) is that they don't work--that banning guns does not prevent crime and in some cases actually makes it worse because, obviously, "criminals don't follow laws" and if you ban guns it will just make them easier to get on the black market.  There is something to this argument, in my opinion, but not that much.  I don't know enough about all the facts and figures and whatnot but it does make some sense that if you ban guns (the more encompassing the ban, the greater the effect), there are a large number already in circulation that have to go somewhere.  However, with assault rifles and extended clips and the like, I'll take my chances.  The fact remains that even banning guns makes them more difficult to get.

I don't like to use the comparison between guns and drugs because they are two very different things in a variety of ways but that's the argument you always hear: "Well prohibition worked so well for drugs and alcohol, right?  What makes you think it will work any better with guns?"  Make no mistake, the legalization of drugs would make them easier to get.  Perhaps you could make the argument that the people we don't want to get their hands on guns/drugs wouldn't have a much harder time (or perhaps would even have an easier time) if they were banned.  That's why I believe regulation is much more constructive than banishment, at least, perhaps, as a first step toward future banishment.  I do, however, think that such narrow bans as those on assault rifles or extended clips can work.  As the figure below shows, the Assault Weapons Ban that expired in 2004 was effective in limiting the number of extended clips:

"During the federal assault weapons ban, there was a drop in the percentage of firearms seized by police in Virginia that had high-capacity magazines. When the ban expired, the percentage rebounded.

There are many who say that now is not the time for the gun control conversation.  I absolutely agree.  That time passed long ago.  There are many who say it is "too soon"--in reality, it's far too late.

However, my main reason for writing this post is not to go on and on about gun control.  The biggest issue at play hear that will probably get almost no coverage in the media is the issue of the accessibility of mental health care.  According to an article in the LA Daily News:

"About 1.6 million California adults reported having symptoms of severe psychological distress and had problems that interfered with their daily activities, according to the center's 2009 California Health Interview Survey

One-third of those who took the survey, or about a half-million people, were uninsured for all or part of the year when the data was collected"

(Thankfully, starting in 2014, "Obamacare" is beginning to change all that.)

A few months prior to the shooting in Tuscon that killed 6 people and wounded 13 others--including Congresswoman Gabby Giffords--Jared Lee Loughner was expelled from Pima Community College and forbidden from returning until he had a note from a psychiatrist saying he was no longer a danger to himself or others.  James Eagan Holmes saw three mental health specialists before murdering 12 people and injuring 58 more in a movie theater in Aurora, CO.  Help came far too late for both young men.  Ditto Major Nidal Hassan, who murdered 13 people at Fort Hood in 2009 and Seung-Hui Cho, the 23 year-old college student who murdered 30 people at Virginia Tech in April 2007.  Both also left, as did Holmes and Loughner, fairly clear signs of their mental instability but nothing was done and soon it was too late.

I would happily trade in having the gun control conversation in this country right now if we could only have the mental health care accessibility conversation instead.  Sadly, I have serious doubts that this conversation will take place.  It's an uncomfortable conversation to have.  No one likes to talk about mental illness.  It is at the very heart of our vulnerability.  It can claim anyone and there is very little rhyme or reason to it.  As a sufferer of Anxiety Disorder, this is an issue that hits close to home for me.  When I was first diagnosed only a few years ago, suddenly a lot of things began making sense.  The mere ability to understand why I felt this or that way and how Anxiety was affecting my brain made it so much easier to cope with and made life so much easier to understand and deal with.  I was lucky to have the means to treat myself and I still to this day love going to therapy.  Far too many aren't so lucky--and we owe it to them and to all the victims of violence at the hands of the mentally unbalanced to have these difficult conversations in these difficult times.


And I leave you with that.  The victims.  They are what is important today.  27 dead.  20 of them children.  They need our love, our prayers, our support, our everything we have to give them.  We each mourn them in our own way and we do our best to honor their memory.  How can we best honor their memory?  I won't condescend to tell you how best to do this.  I am a mere human being as are we all and none of us is prepared for this or knows how to handle it.  However, it seems to me that the best way to honor those who have been tragically taken from us--at Sandy Hook Elementary and at Virginia Tech; in a parking lot in Tuscon and in a shopping mall in Oregon--is to make damn sure they didn't die in vain.  Let's talk about gun control.  Let's talk about mental health care accessibility.  Hell, let's talk about an overarching culture of violence that is perpetuated by everything from the media to our own government and its foreign and domestic policies.  Some will say that it's disrespectful to the memories of the victims and to their families.  I can't think of anything more disrespectful than saying these important conversations are disrespectful.  To me, that is the highest form of honor and prayer for the victims of this horrible tragedy.  That they should not have died in vain.  That this tragedy and those that have preceded it shall not be meaningless.  That this should be the start of something significant and righteous.  "Today is not the day" to debate gun control, says White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.  I agree.  That day has long passed--and for that reason, every day henceforth IS the day.  #TodayIStheDay

#TodayIStheDay

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Trek Talk: STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS TEASER TRAILER!!!

Holy shit! Have you seen the greatest thing since sliced bread the glory of the new Star Trek film Teaser Trailer. The Star Trek film that daringly uses Sar Trek as a verb STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS. I can not wait to STAR TREK INTO a DARK movie theatre and see the awesome-NESS, projected in the real full screen mode before watching the Hobbit.  I love Star Trek have seen every episode of every series. Was absolutley enthralled by the last J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie which has put Chris Pine on my list of the only dude I'd go gay for, lol. Cumberbatch has some big shoes to fill stepping into the villain role, Eric Bana was intense and had some fantastic line deliveries. I think I'm going to have to catch up on Cumberbatch's Sherlock show to hold me over. 


Monday, December 3, 2012

VIDEO GOLD: THE LION KING RISES

The Dark Knight Rises blu-ray  is due out for holiday gift giving goodness. In a semi related note so is The Lion King on the Blu-ray. This mash-up trailer of the Dark Knight Rises and the Lion King is the purpose of this post. Check it out it is masterfully done. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

VIDEO GOLD: McCLANE AND SON

We hear at the Vundablog love us some action movies. One of the strongest pillars of the action movie genre is always Die Hard. This time Die Hard 5, the debut of McClane and Son ass kicking/terrorist thwarting freelance business. Bruce Willis tearing it up in the USSR. Based on the trailer the movie looks incredibly fun. The only time in the trailer I was annoyed was the gratuitous boob shot and then the card Died Hard was a bit in poor taste. However the action looks top notch premium explosions and car crashes. I'm excited, I think the Valentine's day release date is a bit odd, I'd wait till summer to make an event of this but I'm sure the super studio geniuses have figered it all out.

 
 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hobbitcore's College Football Corner (Week 12)

So, inevitably, I missed yet another week--and a pretty big one at that--but I have a good excuse: I was at DISNEY WORLD!  Yeah, be jealous.  Don't worry though, I haven't forgotten about you, the three or four people who ever read this...







HEADLINES

Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel has catapulted himself into the Heisman conversation

-Well, the biggest headline of the week is a no-brainer: Alabama falls 29-24 to Texas A&M.  I have to admit, I probably saw this coming less than just about anyone.  I was pretty well convinced that Alabama was in a class by themselves and would cruise to an undefeated record, SEC title, and eventual national title.  But what was so much more shocking than the fact that they lost was the way it happened.  After QB A.J. McCarron was intercepted in the end zone on a potential game-winning drive, the Tide would have had one more chance but were...wait for it...drawn offsides.  When was the last time you saw a Nick Saban team commit a penalty that cost them the game?  I have an overwhelming feeling that Nick Saban is going to kick the absolute shit out of his team for that and if they don't win every remaining game by double digits I'd be shocked.  Whether or not that's enough to get them back to the national title game remains to be seen.  Which brings us to our next headline...

-So now the discussion going on across the college football landscape is going on in two parts: 1. Will Kansas State, Oregon, and/or Notre Dame lose a game?  2. Can a one-loss SEC champion jump an undefeated Kansas State, Oregon, and/or Notre Dame?  Let's take it in two parts: 1. Yeeeah, I don't really see it happening.  Then again, when do you ever see it happening?  Kansas State and Notre Dame are relatively new to the spotlight although their remaining schedules aren't as challenging as Oregon's--Kansas State has Baylor on the road and Texas at home, Notre Dame hosts Wake Forest before traveling to USC, while Oregon hosts Stanford and then plays Oregon State in an effective neutral site game.  I'd say these are your undefeated teams in order of most likely to suffer a loss to least likely: 1. Oregon, 2. Notre Dame, 3. Kansas State.  I honestly don't see any of these teams losing--even Oregon, whose remaining opponents are a little overrated if you ask me--but that's the beauty of college football, isn't it? 

When the dust settles, which two of these will be in the national title game?
OK, now, #2.  Can/should a one-loss SEC champion jump one or two of these teams to make it to the championship game?  Well, neither team that will be in the SEC title game has much of a chance to impress anyone with Alabama facing West Carolina and a floundering Auburn and Georgia facing Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech.  I think if none of the current undefeated teams lose, there's basically zero chance of an SEC team in the title game.  If one loses, the chances increase.  The interesting thing about that is that it depends on who it is that loses and here's why: Oregon is still #1 in the Coaches Poll and the Harris Poll right now but remains #2 in the BCS because the computers love Kansas State and Notre Dame.  The computer average actually has Florida #3 so Alabama actually wants Florida to lose another game as well.  Oregon is #4 in the computer average so a Ducks loss doesn't change the computer average too drastically in the Tide's favor but it does change the Coaches Poll and Harris Poll drastically, which are 1/3 of the formula each.  If Kansas State or Notre Dame lose, it would shake up the human polls less than it would shake up the computers--they might not even fall below Bama in the computer rankings with a loss (particularly Notre Dame who are #1 in the computer average).  So Alabama will be (or should be) not only rooting for an Oregon loss but also a Florida loss.  Not only are the human polls more of a factor, they are more volatile after a loss (Oregon would almost definitely fall below Alabama with a loss) and they also have a tendency to be biased--that is, if they want an SEC team in the title game, they're liable to find a way to make it happen (and it will be easier to do if their #1 team loses, causing the biggest possible shake-up).  I'm not prepared to predict anything other than Kansas State v. Oregon in the title game but there are so many factors that it's impossible to say.


CLICK READ MORE FOR PICKS ON OREGON/STANFORD, USC/UCLA, AND MORE...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

VIDEO GOLD: Dial S for Silence

It's wierd how Hollywood has two different Hitchcock movies in popular circulation. The first was on HBO called The Girl which explored a very dark side of the Hitchcock film legacy. The other project is  Hitchcock starring Anthony Hopkins, Scarlett Johansson, and the return to the silver screen of the great Ralph Macchio. More so than Hitchcock hype, I am a stickler for theatre ettiquette. I believe that the filmic experience is sacred. In movie theatres we are in a shared space. Partaking in a sharing of experiences and ideas.  Talking should be at an extreme minimum. Cell phones should be silent and touched rarely through out the film. The following is a viral video for the film which comes out January 2013. The video ironically looks like it was shot on a cell phone, and it imagines what Hitchcock's cellphone ettiquette message would have sounded like. Hopkins Hitchcock looks prettyy legit, I can barely see Odin in it.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

VIDEO GOLD: Wreck-it Ralph

Disney's newest film, Wreck-It Ralph is awesome. Disney has released these sweet viral videos to promote the movie and it is my extrem pleasure to share them with you. The first one is for Ralph's own game Fix-It Felix Jr. The game is similar to Donkey Kong although it also vaguely reminds me of Dig-Dug for the graphics and the fact you have to physically tap to fix the windows, the way you had to tap with Dig Dug to inflate monsters too death. I have been playing this game on my phone everytime I feel nostalgic for the film.
 
 
 
 
 
You can play the games made up for the movie here Fix-it Felix Jr., Hero's Duty, and Sugar Rush. The second viral commercial is for the racing game Sugar Rush. Which is sort of like Candy Land, meets Mario Cart(the title recalls san fransisco rush). The character design work is pure genius. The gameplay and names and concepts for the games are better than most new games coming out which feel like a repetitive stream of dudes in masks with guns. Sugar Rush was released in 1997 in the film's universe, and Fix-it Felix Jr. is from 1982. 

 

The movie doesn't address the idea of console gaming versus arcade gaming but that6 is fertile ground for sequels as weel as online gaming. The film was my birthday movie this year and it was the perfect treat to my year. Last year it was Harold and Kumar 3(debatably the best of the trilogy). This is the viral commercial for Hero's Duty soon, which feels totally like a Halo ripoff in an arcade game, that the game play would be more like a TimeCrisis style shooter or House of the Dead. I hope Wreck-it Ralph get's a sequel beacuse the films universe is fertile ground for  future movies. Because it is our own videogame universe and this is a great non-chalant way to use and deal with it in a fun way on screen.
 
Here are some pics of me and Danielle meeting the films stars at Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Orlando.

 



 





 
 
 
 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hobbitcore's College Football Corner (Week 10)


Well, as you can see, I had another "Bye Week" last week.  I was absolutely swamped with both school work and "church" work so not only did I take a week off from the corner but I missed a whole bunch of games.  I did, however, get to see the Gators blow an easy shot at an SEC title, so that was nice.  Let's take a look...






HEADLINES

QB Jeff Driskel and the Gators were brought back to Earth (literally) by the Dawgs last week

-So the Gators finally got knocked off their cloud.  Thank the football gods.  The sad part is that I probably would have picked them last week because I had even less faith in the Dawgs.  I did always maintain, however, that the idea that the Gators were the #2 team in the country (the computers actually had them #1 which just illustrates the weirdness of the computer calculations and the desperate need for the human element--which then underscores how ridiculous it is that the Coaches Poll is 1/3 of the whole formula when coaches have no time to watch games or follow any team but their own--but I digress) was ludicrous.  Now we have a new #2 who may actually have a case for being #1...

Coach Bill Snyder and QB Collin Klein are leading Kansas State to their most impressive season in years

-I've been sold on Kansas State since they destroyed my 'Canes in September.  Bill Snyder's Wildcat teams have always been a fundamentally sound model of consistency but this is on a whole other level.  They've had two close calls--three if you count a 14 point win over North Texas--and one of them was a big time road win over Oklahoma (who rarely lose in Norman).  The rest have been 30+ point wins in which the Wildcats have scored 50+ points, two of which were against then-top-15 teams.  They're outscoring teams by an average score of 44.4 to 17.1--an average margin of 27.3 points (for those of you allergic to math).  

Collin Klein may not be the best quarterback in college football--although in spite of his awkward throwing motion and relatively modest yardage total, he is #2 in the country in QB rating (behind only A.J. McCarron who has comparable passing numbers) and #3 in completion percentage--but you'd have a hard time arguing he isn't the best player playing QB and he has to be considered the top field general in the game.  Oh, by the way, he's also averaging 5 yards a carry (600+ yards on the year) and has 16 rushing touchdowns--and he also has a RB in John Hubert who has run for another 700+ yards and 10 touchdowns.  Who needs to throw with those numbers?  

The way Bill Snyder has these guys playing--especially the defense--there is nobody left on their schedule that has a chance against them because it's going to take a hell of a defense to stop this train and the best defense the Wildcats face from here on out belongs to a TCU team playing without their suspended starting QB.  It's hard not to see this team as on a collision course with Alabama in Miami in January.

LB Manti Te'o and his Notre Dame defense have been so impressive that he's now in the Heisman conversation

-Notre Dame continues to answer the bell, proving they're the real deal again and again with big time statement games.  This time they went into Norman and handled the Sooners easily.  This is another team with a clear path to a BCS bowl at least with no more ranked teams on their schedule until they close out the season with a trip to the Coliseum to take on USC--although don't count out the possibility of them slipping up against Pittsburgh or Boston College.

-One story that's not getting a lot of coverage is the fall of Auburn.  With a 63-21 throttling at the hands of Texas A&M last week, the Tigers have "clinched" a losing season and at 0-6 in SEC play with Georgia and Alabama their only remain conference games, they're in very serious danger of going winless in SEC play which certainly doesn't bode well for Gene Chizik's job prospects, even if it is just one season (although the Tigers went 8-5 last year and 4-4 in conference last year--not a very impressive post-Cam resume).

CLICK READ MORE FOR THIS WEEK'S PICKS (LSU/BAMA, OREGON/USC, AND MORE) 

Monday, October 22, 2012

VIDEO GOLD: 25 YEARS OF PIXAR ANIMATION

Love the song choice to capture the epicness and scope of deep and primordial ideas bubbling in all these movies.






I remember being in the car with my cousins on the way to see "Toy Story" for the first time. Contemplating the idea of a computer generated film and imagining that the film was made by some sort of giant super computer program, wondering if the fact that it was all computers would be entertaining enough for the length of the movie. I was so deliciously naive. And I was blown away.

One time I tagged along on a date with my brother Gabby and his future-wife to see "A Bugs Life." I was so scared of those effing grasshoppers. I still kinda fear them. "Toy Story 2" has one of my favorite film intros to watch over and over ad nauseam and which I have YouTubed many times. It is the pure glory and imagination of playing with toys perfected.  When I saw "Monsters, Inc." with my cousin Dex we were in a theatre full of children and we were enthralled in the film and at the tease death of Boo near the end of film. Our theatre was a symphony of loud, blubbering children (myself included). Finding Nemo induced tears after the first scene and I can remember feeling chills on my arm hearing Gill (Willem Dafoe) dreaming of escape. "The Incredibles" was like nerd porn for me; super-heroes and Pixar coming together for perfection. I remember sitting in the theatre wishing Sam Jackson would dress as Fro-Zone for a live-action movie. "Cars" didn't get me into the theatres but I eventually enjoyed it with the biggest "Cars" fan I know: my nephew Gabrielito. Watching him enjoy it--and continue to enjoy it--makes me happy. "Ratatouille" I rented on-demand with my mother, which was the perfect atmosphere; and afterwards we had a long conversation about her time living in France. "Wall-E" I borrowed from a friend on DVD and ended up not watching it for months and having to dodge questions about whether I enjoyed it. Eventually I saw it and I immediately had to watch it again. I couldn't believe how little dialogue and plot there was yet how much was magically told in simple movements and visuals. "UP" was a movie I saw on a date with a girl and Pixar yet again stole my tears and probably sealed in that girls mind the fact I was, indeed, a cryer. Which I am. "Toy Story 3" was another one I saw with Dex and it invented my favorite "Toy Story" character: Lots-o Huggin' Bear! "Brave" was a joy to watch with my girlfriend and then we watched it again in theatres with her mother and Derrick. Essentially what I'm getting at is I love Pixar movies. Enjoy.



Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hobbitcore's College Football Corner (Week 8)



















HEADLINES

Landry Jones slicing and dicing the Longhorns

-Well the biggest headline this week is pretty obvious: a pair of shocking blowouts in the Big XII.  Not only did Oklahoma throttle Texas (who I picked to win) 63-21 but West Virginia got their asses handed to them in Lubbock 49-14 (finally their inability to play anything resembling defense caught up to them against a team that, you know, plays defense).  Not only that but now the Mountaineers play host to Collin Klein and Kansas State tonight in a game that's likely to be even tougher even if it is in friendly confines.  

-Perhaps the other big headline was LSU bouncing back in Baton Rouge to edge out the #3 Gamecocks.  The Gamecocks are in some hot water right now with Jadeveon Clowney (foot) and Marcus Lattimore (hip) both banged up to the point that both missed some practice time this week.  Not good news when you're heading into The Swamp.

-Oh yeah, by the way, here are this week's crazy scores.  The insanity continues.  I need to come up with a name for this already.  How about "Defenseless Games of the Week"?  Here they are:
Ohio State 52, Indiana 49
Louisville 45, Pittsburgh 35
Mississippi State 41, Tennessee 31
Texas A&M 59, Louisiana Tech 57

CLICK "READ MORE" FOR HOBBITPICKS, HEISMAN PICKS, AND BCS PREDICTIONS

VIDEO GOLD: Agent Phil's animated debut

I'm not a huge fan of the Ultimate Spiderman cartoon, only watch it occasionally if my nephews are in the Spider-mood. However, I can't pass up how cool it is to see Agent Phil Coulson make his animated debut. His death was only the beginning to solidifying his awesomeness.


I hope Phil has a big role in the new "Avengers Assemble" cartoon. Although he may be too busy for it as they've announced that everyone's favorite Agent Phil will be one of the stars of the new SHIELD TV show. Whedon is taking care of Clark Gregg. Also, Coulson is set to appear in the comics making his immortality fully complete. I don't think fans have taken to a character like this since Harley Quinn. I'm sad to see Avengers: Earths Mightiest Heroes go.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

VIDEO GOLD: Unchained

I love movies. I love westerns. The western is the earliest, most primal form of cinema. Technology is stripped away.  Danger is ratcheted up. Violence can erupt at any moment. The western was one of the most popular and enduring genres of early american popular fiction. Its popularity eventually waned before being reinvigorated by Clint Eastwood and the spaghetti western auteurs. I love me a good spaghetti western. Nothing is more cinematic to me than the spaghetti western music and visual style and Sergio Leone and his collaborators were geniuses. In fact, practically all of my favorite Pirates of the Caribbean moments are homages to the spaghetti western. Eventually its popularity slid once again but perhaps Django  Unchained can once again revive the genre.


This is my most anticipated movie of the year, followed closely by the Hobbit.  This new trailer only makes me more excited getting pieces of DiCaprio's villain. This movie looks delicious and like an instant favorite and classic for me.







Saturday, October 13, 2012

Hobbitcore's College Football Corner (Week 7)












HEADLINES

-Another week, another round of outrageous scores:
West Virginia 48, Texas 45
Ohio State 63, Nebraska 38
Clemson 47, Georgia Tech 31
Stanford 54, Arizona 48 (OT)
I know a lot of people tend to (consciously or not) equate high scores with quality football games but as a defense enthusiast I consistently object to this fallacy.  I remember everyone bitching and moaning about last year's epic regular season defensive battle between Alabama and LSU that LSU won 9-6 because it was, ostensibly, so "boring."  It's sad how short the attention spans of sports fans are.  Me, I love a good defensive battle.  But every now and then you see a game with great defense AND great offense.  They're a rare species but that's what makes them so special.  If you want to see what I mean, dig up a video of the 1971 "Game of the Century" between Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Johnny Rodgers's (white jersey, center-left) famous "Man, Woman, and Child" punt return TD in the 1971 "Game of the Century"

-As the internet's foremost expert on the Miami Hurricanes and their in-state rivals (FSU, UF), I feel it is my duty to educate my loyal readers on the Seminoles' rich history of having their season blown up by lowly North Carolina State.  Yes, Jimbo Fisher has carried on a time-honored Seminole tradition with his first inexcusable loss to the Wolfpack as head coach.  In fact, since 1998, a ranked FSU team has been upset by an unranked NC State team SIX times--THREE of those times, the 'Noles were ranked in the top 10.  Perhaps worst of all, four of the games were broadcast on ABC (2006 and 2010 were on ESPN).  Let's have a look at this long and sordid history...
1998: #2 Florida State travels to Raleigh in Week 2 and gets spanked 24-7 on national TV in their only regular season loss--a loss that didn't even keep them out of the BCS National Championship Game (which they lost to Tennessee), mostly because they beat 5 ranked teams that year (3 of them by 20+ points)
2001: NC State strolls into Doak Campbell Stadium and beats #10 Florida State 34-28...they went on to finish 7-5 with a loss in the Tangerine Bowl (NC State, not FSU)
2002: After a 9-0 start, NC State climbs to #10 in the nation before losing three straight and falling out of the top 25.  The following week, #14 Florida State rolls into town and is sent away with a 17-7 loss.
2005: A 3-4 NC State team rolls into Doak Campbell Stadium and hands #8 Florida State a devastating 20-15 loss on their way to winning 4 of their last 5.
2006: This is probably my favorite (at the very least it's tied with 1998).  NC State starts out 2-2 with wins over Appalachian State and #21 Boston College and losses to Akron and Southern Miss.  #16 Florida State comes to town and leaves with a 24-20 loss.  NC State proceeds to lose EVERY SINGLE GAME AFTER THAT, finishing 3-9.
2010: NC State 28, #16 Florida State 24
...and now we can add to that legacy...
2012: NC State 17, #3 Florida State 16

As much as I loathe the Gators, this is pretty great

-Don't we all feel better now that we've dispensed with the ridiculous notion that somehow because Stanford beat USC and Washington beat Stanford, the Huskies deserve to be ranked?  I said Oregon would dispense with this notion by the end of the first half.  It didn't even take that long.  It was 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.

-Of course, it's only fair that since I get to gloat about calling Oregon's thrashing of Washington, I also point out how totally off base my pick in the Georgia/South Carolina game was.  I thought Georgia would win this one handily but they didn't even get on the scoreboard until there were about two minutes left.  Fail.

This is what college football is all about

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Trek Talk: To boldly go, In your mouth

I'm not particularly a pez collector. I've bought a few interesting pez dispensers in my childhood but nothing I've ever thought to keep or cherish. A few years back I got a Hal Jordan Green Lantern pez dispenser that was to cool looking to pass up.



Pez may yet wrangle some money out of my pocket with Star Trek TNG pez dispensers. I was literally looking around my office for three minutes trying to find some one to share the news of their existence with who would care about this epic partnership between PEZ and Star Trek TNG. 



Saturday, October 6, 2012

Hobbitcore's College Football Corner (Week 6)














HEADLINES

-That's right, I'm back!  Last week was another pretty hectic week and since there really weren't any particularly interesting games on, I decided I would let it go and take a week off.  Obviously can't do that this week.  Though I am out of town so this will be somewhat abbreviated.  Anyway, let's dive right in...

-So, in case you were wondering if there happened to be a Heisman frontrunner yet, West Virginia QB Geno Smith just thought he would clear things up for you.  45-51 for 656 yards and 8 (yes, eight) TDs.  For those counting at home, that's more touchdowns than incompletions.  In fact, after four games, Geno Smith has thrown 169 passes and only 28 of them have been incompletions (13 of which came against Maryland).  20 have been touchdowns.  Not a single one has been an interception.  To top it all off, he's on pace to throw for well over 5,000 yards.  That could all change this week, though.  More on that later...

-By the way, speaking of West Virginia--what the hell happened to defense in college football?!  You all know how much I love to make lists so let's get right to it (by the way, these are only the games I found where BOTH teams scored 30+ points...leaving out things like Oklahoma State's 84-0 win over Savannah State and FSU's 69-3 shellacking of Murray State):
Week One:
Oregon 57, Arkansas State 34
West Virginia 69, Marshall 34
Northwestern 42, Syracuse 41
Miami 41, Boston College 32
Week Two:
USC 42, Syracuse 29 (close enough)
LA Monroe 34, Arkansas 31 (OT)
Clemson 52, Ball State 27 (also close enough...mostly because it's fucking Ball State...)
UCLA 36, Nebraska 30
Arizona 59, Oklahoma State 38
Week Three:
Texas 66, Ole Miss 31
Louisville 39, North Carolina 34
Week Four:
Florida State 49, Clemson 37
Baylor 47, LA Monroe 42
Wake Forest 49, Army 37
Miami 42, Georgia Tech 36 (OT)
Week Five:
Georgia 51, Tennessee 44
Texas 41, Oklahoma State 36
Clemson 45, Boston College 31
Oregon State 38, Arizona 35
Middle Tennessee 49, Georgia Tech 28 (close enough and worth mentioning that a Sun Belt team put nearly half a hundred on a BCS school)
Miami 44, North Carolina State 37
AND THE GRANDADDY OF THEM ALL (no not the Rose Bowl)...
West Virginia 70, Baylor 63
...and, oh, by the way, in those first five weeks, we've seen a team equal or surpass 40 points a total of 78 times, we've seen a team score 50+ points 35 times, we've seen a team score 60+ points 14 times, three teams have broken 70, and, of course, Oklahoma State holds the "high score" with 84.  I can only imagine what the rest of the season will bring.

-One of the most fascinating aspects of this season right now, at least in my opinion, is how completely wide open the Big Ten Leaders Division is.  You may remember at the beginning of the year I said the Leaders Division was Wisconsin's to lose with Ohio State and Penn State banned from the postseason.  Well, Wisconsin is now unranked at 3-2 and 0-1 in conference, having endured highly competitive games from the likes of Northern Iowa, Utah State, and UTEP.  In fact, Purdue is currently in the driver's seat to emerge from the Leaders Division with their unblemished 0-0 in-conference record.  We'll know a lot more about this division in a week and a half with Illinois coming to Madison this week and then the Badgers travel to West Lafayette next week to face the Boilermakers.  Should be interesting.

-I'm so glad we're all over this idea of Stanford being a top 10 team.  I dunno where that came from (OK, yeah, it came from them beating USC but am I the only one that realized that that said a lot more about USC than Stanford?) but we're better off now that it's been put to rest.

-Two weeks ago against Georgia Tech my Canes hit a new...well...I dunno if you'd call it a new low or a new high.  I know young teams are always inconsistent but this is just ridiculous: the Canes scored the first 19 points, then gave up the next 36 points, THEN scored the LAST 23 POINTS.  I don't know what else to say.  It really doesn't feel like this team is 4-1 and 3-0 in conference.  It seems pretty obvious that Notre Dame and Florida State are both going to wipe the floor with this team but besides that, there are nothing but completely winnable games left on the schedule.  If the Canes can beat Virginia Tech, they should win the ACC Coastal with Virginia, North Carolina, and Duke being the only other ACC games on the schedule (besides FSU) while Virginia Tech still has to battle all those teams (FSU included) as well as take trips to Death Valley for a date with Clemson and Chestnut Hill to battle Boston College.  Say what you want about the competitiveness of the ACC out-of-conference but the race for the ACC title is never not fascinating.

-Speaking of Notre Dame I just have to say how excruciating it is that the Irish (along with the Gators) appear to finally be "back."  In fact there's even talk of a national title shot.  Luckily for the non-pious, they still have to get by Stanford, Oklahoma, and USC but those are all very winnable games for this team right now--in fact, they're ranked higher than all those teams.  Until this team at least loses one game, Lou Holtz will be...well, I was going to say unbearable but that's nothing new.  Exponentially more unbearable, I suppose.

-You know, I've already discussed how wide open the ACC Coastal and Big Ten Leaders Division are right now.  And it got me thinking.  So I started looking at the conference standings and I came to a realization: We know almost NOTHING about ANY of these conferences right now.  I mean, think about it, what do we REALLY know right now?  We know Alabama and Oregon are pretty clearly the two best teams in the country and are likely to win the SEC and Pac-12 (although you never know in the SEC).  We know that Florida State is probably going to win the ACC (although the ACC is always unpredictable and the Noles still have to travel to Miami and Blacksburg [Virginia Tech]).  Other than that?  Nothing.  Specifically the three "Big"s (Big XII, Big Ten, Big East) are essentially anyone's to win.  Even Oregon still has to face Washington, Oregon State, Stanford, and USC.  Smoke 'em if you got 'em, folks.  It's gonna be a long, exciting season filled with drama.  I'm literally giddy.

#5 Georgia @ #6 South Carolina --ESPN -- 7pm

On paper this one sounds really exciting but I have a feeling Georgia's defense will just be way too much for Connor Shaw to handle. Don't be surprised if the Dawgs run away with this one.

Hobbitcore sez: Georgia

#8 West Virginia @ #11 Texas -- Fox -- 7pm

This is a tough one. Geno Smith seems unstoppable right now but he hasn't faced a defense like this yet. There are definitely weaknesses in the Longhorn secondary for him to exploit but if the UT Defensive Ends get pressure on him, he could very well make some uncharacteristic mistakes. If not, he'll have another Heisman-worthy day. Don't think the Mountaineers don't know that. Look for lots of screens and quick routes early on to put those DEs on their heels.

Hobbitcore sez: West Virginia

#21 Nebraska @ #12 Ohio State -- ABC -- 8pm

Both these teams have seen their share of struggles but both have potentially game-changing QBs that make this one hard to predict. I'm going with Ohio State's defense.

Hobbitcore sez: Ohio State

#23 Washington @ #2 Oregon -- ESPN -- 10:30pm

A lot of people seem to think this one will be interesting. I think they've been tricked into buying into the Huskies as a top 25 team after beating overrated Stanford. Oregon will put these delusions to rest by halftime.

Hobbitcore sez: Oregon

GAME OF THE WEEK

#4 LSU @ #10 Florida -- CBS -- 3:30pm

Florida has been fairly impressive but they haven't really beaten anyone. To be fair, neither has LSU. This is going to be another defensive battle with two untested QBs going into the teeth of two ferocious defenses. I really don't want to pick the Gators here but I'm just not buying into the Tigers right now. Honestly, this one is a toss-up for me. My hunch is that LSU's defense is a little bit better and even in the Swamp I think they squeak it out.

Hobbitpick: LSU 16, Florida 15 


Heisman Ballot

1. QB Geno Smith (West Virginia)
2. QB Collin Klein (Kansas State)
3. QB E.J. Manuel (Florida State) 

BCS Predictions
ACC: Florida State over Virginia Tech
Big XII: West Virginia
Big East: Louisville
Big Ten: Michigan State over Purdue
Pac 12: Oregon over USC
SEC: Alabama over Georgia

BCS Championship: Alabama over Oregon
Fiesta Bowl: West Virginia over Notre Dame
Sugar Bowl: LSU over Clemson
Orange Bowl: Florida State over Nebraska
Rose Bowl: Texas over Michigan State

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Hobbitcore's College Football Corner (Week 4)











HEADLINES

The Gators and the Irish appear to be returning to the level they were at when these guys wore their uniforms

-Well, it was bound to happen.  When you decide to present yourself as a prognosticator of sporting events (especially college sports), there are bound to be those weeks that make you look completely ridiculous and cause you to second-guess whether anyone cares about the analyses of someone so incompetent as to be so blatantly wrong so many times in one week.  Luckily my confidence remains unscathed.  But let's still go down the list of reasons why I was a complete idiot last week!  In no particular order:
--TEAMS I MASSIVELY OVERESTIMATED: Tennessee, Michigan State, USC
--TEAMS I MASSIVELY UNDERESTIMATE: Notre Dame (ugh), Florida (UGH), Stanford, Pittsburgh, North Carolina, California
--technically correct in picking Ohio State and Alabama although I thought the Buckeyes would cruise and Arkansas would keep it close...not exactly a win (certainly not a win "against the spread" as far as I'm concerned)
--It bears repeating that I was totally convinced USC would CRUSH Stanford.  I should really get two losses for that.  Fail.  (For that matter, I also thought Virginia Tech would destroy Pittsburgh.  Yikes.)

The Crimson Tide have unquestionably been the most dominant force in this college football season

-So, uh...can someone explain to me exactly how LSU has gotten 2 first place votes in the AP poll and 5 in the Coaches' Poll?  Don't give me the "they don't have time to watch the games" argument for the coaches either.  I think it's safe to assume they can read a box score and when you (Alabama) beat Michigan (at a neutral site) and Arkansas (on the road) by a combined score of 93-14...I dunno, to me it seems pretty cut and dry who the #1 team in the land is.  I can't imagine a reason to put LSU #1 other than politics.  And that's just sad.  Although, I suppose, inevitable.

-Speaking of the pollsters, I love seasons like this because they totally flabbergast the voters.  In the last two weeks alone, the AP poll has dropped 7 teams completely out of their Top 25 including #8 Arkansas following their loss to Louisiana-Monroe (which seemed a little reactionary to me at the time but after this week seems a lot more rational--to be fair, though, this isn't the same team without Tyler Wilson).

-Speaking of Louisiana-Monroe, they are no pushover.  If anybody should have been prepared for Louisiana-Monroe's best shot, it's the team that played them immediately following their huge upset of then-#8 Arkansas and yet Auburn still needed overtime to dispatch the Warhawks 31-28.

Last week: 4-4
ATS: 1-7
Overall: 24-9
ATS: 16-17

Zach Mettenberger is giving LSU fans hope that they might finally see consistency at the QB position

#2 LSU @ Auburn -- ESPN -- 7pm

LSU finally gets their first test of the season after steamrolling North Texas, Washington, and Idaho by a combined score of 145-31.  New LSU starting QB Zach Mettenberger has been creating a lot of buzz, completing over 70% of his passes in his first three games.  Of course he hasn't seen a defense like Auburn's but I still think he'll have some success against a pretty shaky Auburn defensive backfield.  I like LSU to make a statement on the road.  It should be relatively close in the first half but eventually the Bayou Bengals will open it up and cruise to victory.

Hobbitcore sez: LSU

Can Denard Robinson do enough to top Notre Dame's dynamic offense?

#18 Michigan @ #11 Notre Dame -- NBC -- 7:30pm

This will be an interesting one to watch.  Notre Dame (unfortunately) appears to be the real deal but on the other hand it's difficult to say we know much of anything about Michigan yet.  One thing is for sure: they're going to need more than just Denard Robinson to beat the Irish.  If Notre Dame wins this one they'll undoubtedly shoot up into the top 10 and people will start talking national title.  Make no mistake, they're not ignorant to this fact.  Expect them to play like it.  Once people start talking national title...well, that will be a different story...

Hobbitcore sez: Notre Dame

Don't blink or you might miss Oregon WR De'Anthony Thomas, the fastest man in college football

#22 Arizona @ #3 Oregon -- ESPN -- 10:30pm

Rich Rodriguez's offense is really humming now after a shaky start in week one, scoring 115 points in their last two games.  However, Oregon's speed on both offense and defense will just be much too much for the Wildcats to handle, especially in the unfriendly confines of Autzen Stadium.  If you like high-octane offense and world class speed, you're going to want to stay up late for this one.

Hobbitcore sez: Oregon

Dark horse Heisman candidate Collin Klein

UPSET OF THE WEEK

#15 Kansas State @ #6 Oklahoma -- FOX -- 7:50pm

I don't know how or why but somehow the Sooners are favored by 16 points in this game.  I guess Vegas hasn't been watching them very closely.  Either that or they haven't been watching the Wildcats at all.  I think Oklahoma will have big problems with Collin Klein and I like K-State to pull out a close win to catapult themselves into the top 10.

The Upset Hobbit sez: Kansas State

Florida State QB E.J. Manuel needs to have a big game to beat the Tigers

GAME OF THE WEEK

#10 Clemson @ #4 Florida State -- ABC -- 8pm

This is a really, really tough pick.  I've been pretty steadfast in my belief that FSU is overrated but these two teams are incredibly evenly matched on both sides of the ball.  What that means is that special teams are going to play a crucial role.  In the end this game will come down to big plays.  Whichever team makes more big, game-changing plays on offense, defense, AND special teams will be the winner.

Keys to the Game
Clemson:
-Keep E.J. Manuel in the pocket (not only because he's so dangerous with his legs but he's also very dangerous with his arm when he's on the run)
-Keep everything in front on defense (last week against Wake Forest, FSU got a 60 yard punt return TD from Rashad Greene and TD runs of 74 and 80 yards from Chris Thompson)
-Get the ball in the hands of Sammy Watkins and Andre Ellington (big plays, big plays, big plays)
Florida State:
-Protect E.J. Manuel and attack Tahj Boyd (this game is going to be all about the playmakers under center)
-Establish a running game (Clemson's defensive front is daunting, as usual, and FSU can't be one-dimensional...they may want to get E.J. involved in the running game or at least move him outside the pocket a few times)
-Keep an eye on Watkins and Ellington (if the Noles can limit the production of these two guys, it will be very hard for Clemson to win this game)

Hobbitpick: Clemson 29, Florida State 27



Out-of-Whack Spreads
Arizona (+21.5) over Oregon
Kansas State (+16) over Oklahoma
Rutgers (+9.5) over Arkansas


Heisman Ballot
1. QB A.J. McCarron (Alabama)
2. QB Geno Smith (West Virginia)
3. QB Collin Klein (Kansas State)








BCS Predictions
ACC: Clemson over Virginia Tech
Big XII: West Virginia
Big East: Louisville
Big Ten: Michigan State over Wisconsin
Pac 12: Oregon over USC
SEC: Alabama over Georgia

BCS Championship: Alabama over Oregon
Fiesta Bowl: West Virginia over Oklahoma
Sugar Bowl: LSU over Virginia Tech
Orange Bowl: Clemson over Wisconsin
Rose Bowl: USC over Michigan State

 My Top 25
1. Alabama
2. Oregon
3. LSU
4. Georgia
5. West Virginia
6. Clemson
7. Florida State
8. USC
9. Kansas State
10. Ohio State
11. Notre Dame
12. Texas
13. South Carolina
14. Florida
15. Stanford
16. Michigan State
17. Michigan
18. Nebraska
19. TCU
20. Louisville
21. UCLA
22. Arizona
23. Boise State
24. Mississippi State
25. Virginia Tech

Thursday, September 13, 2012

VIDEO GOLD: EPIC Power Rangers fan video


Lately, my buddy Jorge has been bombarding me with Power Ranger trivia and footage culled from the internets. I was searching for footage to combat his lust for obscure Power Rangers footage the other day when I came across this fan imation test footage. I do not know the story behind Mikethewolf the artist beyond his own website. However, his art is and this video are super cool. I love the bulky Power Ranger redesign and the fighting is fantastic. The overall look has a "cool" factor that Power Rangers hasn't had since I was nine years old. The fan film was created by Mikethewolf, a very talented artist. You can see his work at his deviantart page.

Hobbitcore's College Football Corner (Week 3)












HEADLINES

The University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks celebrate a HUGE road upset of #8 Arkansas

-So, as is often the case, a week in college football that seemed unbearably boring on paper was incredibly interesting to watch on the field.  If you were to ascribe a headline to Week 2 it would probably be something along the lines of "UPSETS AND CLOSE CALLS!"  Let's go down the list:
No. 8 Arkansas fell to Louisiana-Monroe 34-31 in OT
No. 13 Wisconsin lost to Oregon State 10-7 in a game I figured to be no more than "Montee Ball padding stats." (note: Ball had 15 carries for 61 yards and zero TDs)
No. 14 Ohio State got all they could handle from UCF in a game that was tied until 15 seconds to go in the second half.  OSU began to open it up in the 3rd quarter but still came up with only a 31-16 victory.
No. 16 Nebraska couldn't stop UCLA's dynamic new offense which proved that Week 1 was in no way a fluke by posting 36 on the tough Husker D.
No. 18 Oklahoma State, after blanking poor, lowly Savannah State 84-0, picked on somebody their own size and got a taste of their own medicine as a result (two cliches, one sentence? you bet), yielding 59 points to Rich Rodriguez's Arizona Wildcats with the help of four turnovers (including a devastating interception returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter) and 15 penalties for 167 yards.
No. 19 Michigan needed a whole lot of Denard Robinson heroics to pull them from the throes of a hangover game, barely getting by the Air Force Falcons 31-25.
No. 22 Notre Dame beat unranked Purdue 20-17 on a last second field goal

Texas A&M and Missouri are out to prove they can hang in the SEC

-The other big headline from this week, of course, was that Texas A&M and Missouri played their SEC debuts.  Both games played out more or less as expected, at least on paper.  Texas A&M took control in the first half and then folded like a card table in the second half (well, sort of...not really...I'll come back to this).  Missouri kept it close for three quarters before Georgia ran away with the win. But both Mizzou and A&M should come away from these games feeling as though they've proven they belong in the SEC.  Both stood toe-to-toe with quality SEC opponents (one a top ten team) and competed their tails off and played very, VERY physical football--especially Texas A&M.  The Aggies knocked the Gators on their asses in the first half.  You could tell the Gators were in no way prepared for that.  There was a signature moment--I wish I could tell you I remember when it happened or who was involved.  I want to say it was late in the second quarter and I'm pretty sure the perpetrator was A&M RB Christine Michael and the man on the receiving end was a member of the Gators secondary.  In any case, A&M broke a pretty big run to get the ball inside the red zone and when the Gators finally stopped Michael, he lowered his head directly into the gut of the defender and...just...absolutely LEVELED the guy.  Wow.

-Sadly (and/or, perhaps, mercifully) the epic battle between Florida State and Savannah State was called off with 9 minutes left in the third quarter and the 'Noles up 55-0, much to the chagrin of gamblers everywhere (who were, of course, refunded their money and all bets were called off).

Collin Klein torching the 'Canes' D

-The Homer Hobbit Says: As pathetic as the 'Canes looked Saturday, tell me this Collin Klein motherfucker isn't a beast.  Not only did he throw for over 200 yards on 11 attempts (9 of them completions) but he carried the ball a whopping 22 times for 71 yards and 3 TDs (two of them from a yard out and another from six yards out)--this allowed RB John Hubert to carry the ball a mere 19 times for 106 yards and one more TD.  Kansas State has one more tune-up game against North Texas this weekend before a date with the Oklahoma Sooners in Norman next Saturday.  I see an Upset of the Week in the making.  For the time being, Collin Klein is my dark horse Heisman candidate with 379 yards and 3 TDs on 71.8% passing and 135 yards rushing and 3 TDs on 35 carries.

Last Week: 9-4
*ATS: 6-7
Overall: 20-5
*ATS: 15-10
Upset of the Week: 1-0

* - ATS = Against the Spread -- not actually measuring how I do against the spread, obviously, since I don't pick scores or who is going to win by exactly how much, etc.  This is more of a subjective account of how I did predicting what would actually happen in each game.  For instance, last week I picked Kansas State to "squeak out a win" over Miami.  I correctly picked the winner but clearly was mistaken about the outcome of the game, so that counts as a loss.
** - by the way, this week I plan on being more discerning about the games I'm picking...I know I said I would pick every game on TV but the reality is setting in that no one gives a good god damn about Washington State @ UNLV this Friday night...anydangway...