Archive for December, 2010

It’s Almost 2011 — Time For These NFL Coaches To Start Looking For New Jobs

Posted in NFL Football, Sports, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2010 by thelasthonestman

It’s the last day of the year that was, and first off, I hope everyone reading has an enjoyable day tomorrow and a wonderful new year in 2011.

That said, there’s a bunch of guys who, in the week that’s upcoming, will be looking for  new jobs — or at least, if their employers have any sense, will be.  While the preceding sentence could apply to any number of people, in this instance, I’m talking about a number of NFL coaches who will be entering the unemployment line shortly.

Last off-season was a relatively quiet year for coaching changes in the league, but this off-season could result in a bloodbath — already, four teams (Dallas, Minnesota, Denver, and San Francisco) have canned their top men, one more coaching change than we saw all last season.  And that’s only the beginning.  There’s a good number more who should be cleaning out their offices — or would be, if I was the one making the decisions for these teams (surprisingly to me, one of those is not Lovie Smith, who shocked me completely by reigning in Mike Martz’ worst tendencies, inspiring his charges in Chicago, and leading my Bears to a first round playoff bye — I’m happy to admit I was way off on my prediction for the results in the Windy City this year).

So who should go?  Four of my top candidates are:

Norv Turner — San Diego

Norv's been wearing this expression for most of 2010

So let me see if I’ve got this straight:  the Chargers have had, for the entire season, one of the top-3 offenses and defenses in the NFL — yet they might now finish better than am embarrassing and underachieving 8-8?  Well, at least Chargers fans have the playoff successes of recent years to fall back on.  Or not.

The 2010 Chargers have been a mess since the Chiefs thoroughly handled them way back in Week 1.  You can blame it on the injuries (to Antonio Gates and others), you can blame it on one o f the worst special teams in NFL history (which seemed to give up at least a touchdown a game), or you can blame it on the holdouts (like Vincent Jackson).  But in the end, the ultimate blame lies with Turner, who has accomplished in San Diego pretty much what I expected him to do — less than what the talent dictated he should have.  The Chargers mailing it in last week against the Bungles should have sealed his fate.

Jack Del Rio — Jacksonville

Speaking of mailing it in, how does a team playing for it’s playoff life at home against one of the most dysfunctional organizations in the NFL manage to put up the absolute stinker that the Jaguars did last week?  Especially when their opponent was undermanned and less talented and led by Rex Freaking Grossman at QB?  Has there been a bigger no-show by a team in a crucial game this season so far?

Like milk, picking Jacksonville last week was a bad choice

I was so certain of Jacksonville winning last week (admittedly, as much due to Washington’s failings as the Jaguars’ strengths) that I selected them in a Survivor Pool I was in (for the uninitiated, that’s a contest where you pick an NFL winner every week, but can’t select the same team twice).   Much like Ron Burgundy and milk, I immediately regretted that decision as soon as the game started.  As I posted elsewhere about the game: [The Jaguars are] a thoroughly mediocre team with mediocre personnel and a mediocre coach and led by a mediocre QB.  Ownership can fix one of these problems on Monday by handing Del Rio his pink slip on Monday.

Mike Shanahan — Washington

Which brings us to the team that beat Jacksonville last week.  That victory should do nothing to wipe away the unquestionable stench of what’s been the Redskins season, a season that may have resulted in a few more wins that last year’s debacle under then-coach Jim Zorn, but in many ways, has regressed the once-proud franchise even further.

Maybe Daniel Snyder should have hired this guy to run the Redskins instead

It’s hard to believe now, but back in week 7, Washington beat the number two seed Chicago Bears in Soldier Field to raise their record to 4-3.  The next week resulted in the surreal benching of Donovan McNabb in Detroit for Rex Grossman when the Redskins still had a chance to tie the game on the game’s final series — and ever since then, Washington has seen their season implode.  The Redskins are 2-5 since then, they were embarrassed on national television by the Eagles, they have no quarterback for next season, they threw away draft picks to acquire McNabb, their talent level on both sides of the ball is lacking, and they have several malcontents on the roster stirring up trouble.  Other than that, everything is rosy.

Shanahan is still living off the rep of having won two Super Bowls — it’s getting more clear every day that the credit to those belongs to John Elway and Terrell Davis, and far less to Shanahan’s “genius”, which has resulted in a whopping one playoff win in the eleven seasons since Elway retired.  There’s no way Daniel Snyder will fire Shanahan after only one season of his five year deal gone — but for the sake of his team’s future success, he should.

Gary Kubiak — Houston

"Even if I win this week's meaningless game, I'm not coming back again, am I?"

This entry shouldn’t surprise readers of the blog — I was detailing reasons why Kubiak should be fired last season — and once again, the Houston Texans coach is feeling the pressure of being on the hot seat.  The Texans late season charge that resulted in four straight wins and the franchise’s first winning season saved Kubiak’s job then — though a meaningless winning streak when the team had all but been eliminated from the playoffs shouldn’t have blinded owner Bob McNair to the reality that Kubiak isn’t the man to lead the team to the next level.

There’s certainly plenty of talent on the Texans — Arien Foster’s emergence at running back has been one of the top stories in the NFL this year (though it should be noted that without the injury in the pre-season of Ben Tate, Foster would probably have been buried on Kubiak’s depth chart, just like he was last year), and the ultra-tough Andre Johnson is still one of the best receivers in the game.  Matt Schaub’s play is still inconsistent, however, and the defensive performance this year has been a disappointment.  The Texans’ performance can be summed up in the season’s third week, when following two victories (including one over their arch-rival Colts), Houston lost at home to Dallas — a simply inexcusable loss that exemplifies why Kubiak should be gone — even if it’s a year too late.

Other coaches I think should be fired?  Jason Garrett (his unwillingness to discipline Marion Barber or Roy Williams during his tenure as top man shows he’s simply Wade V.2.0), Eric Mangini (overrated in New York, and he’s not Holmgren’s hire), and John Fox and Marvin Lewis (two guys who have worn out their welcome, and both of whom are in the last years of their contracts anyway).  (UPDATE — Not long after I published this, Carolina announced that as expected, Fox would not return in 2011).

With that, I’m out of here.  Happy New Year to everyone, and I’ll be back next week with my 2nd annual playoff predictions!

So Who’s The Bigger Fools? Marvel Comics — Or The Media That Believes Their Hype?

Posted in Comic Books, Rants with tags , , , on December 27, 2010 by thelasthonestman

And one need not wonder why the comic book industry is slowly dying.

Killing off a member of the FF? What a great idea! We've never seen anything like that before ...

I’m jumping around the internet late tonight, and I see this ridiculous article on MSN detailing how one of the members of Marvel’s First Family, the Fantastic Four, will die in January.  According to Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada, “The beauty of the Marvel Universe is that it is in constant change.  Things are always happening, very much like life itself.”  And  Executive Editor Tom Brevoort is among the voices at Marvel claiming a great significance to the “event”, saying, “It’s a story that will have a transformative effect on these characters — virtually nothing will be the same after the events of this story.”

Whatever.

Just in case you’re not a long-time comic reader like I am, let me save you the trouble of rushing out to your local comic shop to buy the issue, thinking it represents anything more substantial than the continued evaporation of the comic book industry as a medium that’s going to be viable.  Everything — and I do mean everything — about this reeks of Marvel’s attempting to drive short-term sales of the book at the expense of the long-term outlook — which shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been following the comic book industry over the last twenty years, since that’s largely what the people in charge of both Marvel and DC have been doing for far too long.

... Errr ... never mind.

A poly-bagged issue (which Marvel claims is to keep people from spoiling the surprise, but veteran comic people know is designed to tempt people into buying two copies, one to read and another to keep sealed)?  That’s a sales gimmick we’ve seen too many times before (remember the “Death” of Superman?).  “Killing” off a main character?  Well, there was a time when that actually meant something in comics (look no further than the deaths of Gwen Stacy and the first death of Jean Grey), but that was a long time ago — now, death is a tired cliche that both main companies trot out on a seemingly monthly basis, all-but-obliterating its effectiveness as a story-telling device.  And the idea that “nothing will be the same again”?  How many times do the readers need to hear that tripe until it’s just another case of the boy crying wolf — again?

Enough is enough already.  It’s obvious that what the heads of Marvel and DC are doing with the properties they’ve been entrusted with isn’t working — and hasn’t been — for a long time now.  Sales are lower than they’ve ever been, and all of the success of the movie and licensing aspects of comic book characters aren’t going to save the publishing wings of the Big Two, since neither is luring new readers into the stores.  Neither company seems interested in building a base for the future, instead relying on major “events”  and cheap gimmicks (like the death carousel) to sell books (and in turn, crippling the chances of most titles to sell when there isn’t some huge “event” going on in the book).

Marvel and DC's idea for keeping comic book stores from closing in the future will probably be to kill off their owners -- it works in the books, right?

You don’t have to look any further than this Fantastic Four story to see that in full effect.  The book , which I’ve been picking up, has actually been a great read from Jonathan Hickman — but the sales have been less than spectacular.  Instead of allowing an audience to build by — gasp — actually telling good stories over a period of time and building an audience (you know, the way they used to do it), Marvel is resorting to the cheap gimmick of  “killing” off a main character.  Whoopee.

It would be great if the mainstream media didn’t give Marvel (or DC, when they resort to the same crap) the cheap publicity like MSN gave Marvel on this non-story, and it would be even better if someone like MSN would do a story on the dwindling comic book industry, once-thriving but now seemingly headed towards extinction.  That’s a lost hope, however, as it’s unlikely that anyone at that media level follows — or cares — about comic books beyond whatever movie opens at number one next summer — the staggeringly bad distribution numbers of most books these days would seem to bear that theory out.

If you ask me, it sounds like a great time for me to be jumping off of the Fantastic Four title — hopefully, what’s left of the readership of the book will join me and send Marvel a message that we’ve had enough.  I doubt Marvel will hear it, though — it seems they haven’t been paying attention for the last two decades — why would they start now?

Merry Christmas!

Posted in Personal on December 25, 2010 by thelasthonestman

From me to everyone out there reading, I hope you and yours have a safe and joyous Christmas holiday.

Happy Festivus!

Posted in Entertainment, News/Current Events, Television on December 23, 2010 by thelasthonestman

Let the airing of grievances begin!

First Thor Trailer Released

Posted in Comic Books, Movies with tags , , , on December 11, 2010 by thelasthonestman

Consider me psyched up.

Weekend Quickies

Posted in College Basketball, College Football, Comic Books, Entertainment, Movies, News/Current Events, Personal, Sports, The Wrapups with tags , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2010 by thelasthonestman

It’s a hit-and-run update this weekend (but thankfully not like the hit-and-run my wife suffered earlier in the week), as my personal schedule gets a little tighter — though I’m not going to complain about the reason.  I’m one of the lucky ones out there, as I’ve just picked up some supplemental income in the form of a new job.  That makes me one of the fortunate ones in a country where unemployment is now sitting at just under 10% and where unemployment is at a seven-month high — even as we’re smack dab in the middle of what’s supposed to be the biggest retail time of the year.

The Economy will be fine! We're going to recover any day now! Nothing to see here! Nothing to see!

It’s not just retailers shedding jobs, however — industry, financial institutions, and the government are all cutting their workforce — which makes some of the people making claims that we’re entering a recovery look about as clueless as the late Leslie Nielsen telling us there’s “nothing to see here.”  We’re a long way from getting to where we want to economically, and so long as our Congress continues to work in their own self-interests (and the self-interests of the people supporting their re-election bids) and we continue to ignore the problems that aren’t going away — the deficit, a loss of our manufacturing base, and the lack of creating new technologies to spur new industries, just for starters — then we’re going to continue heading in the wrong direction.

— Speaking of the deficit, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that while people being polled these days are in favor or cutting the deficit, viewing it (correctly) as a major problem our country is facing — they largely want the deficit to be slashed while not touching the programs that are important to them.  Well, of course.  It’s that kind of narrow thinking — and a belief of entitlement that our parents and grandparents never had, but that current generations have come to embrace — that’s led us into the quagmire we’re in now.  And unless everyone is prepared to ante up in the form of sacrificing something, then the problem won’t ever get fixed — until as a nation we find ourselves truly looking into the abyss (cue ominous music).

— I saw a large uptick in the traffic here over the last week, and a large part of it were people being drawn to the site searching for Jimmy Valvano-related items.  Jimmy V Week just ended, and for those of you who somehow aren’t familiar with the story, The Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded by ESPN and the late coach Jimmy Valvano.  Over it’s over 18 years, the foundation has raised over $100 million for cancer research.  I wrote a piece about it last year around this time that included Valvano’s inspirational speech from the 1993 ESPY awards — yow owe it to yourself to listen to it if you’ve never heard it (and even if you already have).  Click here for the piece.

"Someday, the Heisman Trophy Club will just pretend I never got this."

— As we head into the weekend and the announcement of the Heisman Trophy winner on Saturday, my friend Steven pointed me over to direction of the Heisman Trophy Winners list at the official Heisman Trophy website — for a good chuckle (and once you’ve finished marveling at the days when players from Army, Yale, and Princeton could actually win he award) scan to end of the list and to the winners of this past decade.  See anyone missing?

While we’re at it, maybe we can take bets on whether or not Cam Newton will be conspicuously absent from the list as well in another five or six years.  If I had to guess, Vegas has that result off the board.

— And finally, the trailer for the new movie from Marvel Studios — Thor (based on the comic book hero of the same name) debuts today (at 6:00 PT).  All I can say is that, if the footage I saw that was leaked a few months ago is any indication, Marvel is hitting it out of the park again so far as their adaptations go.  With the Captain America and Avengers movies forthcoming, it’s a great time to be a comic book fan!

As soon as the trailer is available, I’ll try to get it up here — so check back later tonight!

— With that, I hope everyone has a great weekend — and I’ll see you back here next week.

Showing A Complete Disregard For Safety Behind The Wheel

Posted in Personal, Rants with tags , , , on December 6, 2010 by thelasthonestman

Nothing good comes from a phone call at seven in the morning.

When the phone rang this morning at a little bit past seven this morning, I knew it was trouble.

No one calls me that early.  Frankly, no one calls anyone that early, usually — unless there’s a problem.  When I glanced to my cell phone and saw it was my wife, I was definitely concerned.  I had just talked to her when she’d left the house for work a half an hour or so earlier, and she normally doesn’t call to chat on the way to work so that she doesn’t run her cell phone battery down (and so she can keep it charged for her drive home).  So while I didn’t know what was wrong, I knew something was definitely amiss.

Unfortunately, I was right.  She was calling me to tell me she was in an auto accident, her second in less than a week.

Neither wreck was her fault — not that it matters much.  The first accident happened last week when she was rear-ended on the interstate driving home by a young woman who’d fallen asleep at the wheel. Thankfully, my wife had spotted the woman’s car coming up quickly in her rear view mirror, and she sped up as she approached.  Her quick reactions minimized the initial contact, and the jolt was enough to wake the sleeping driver.  Both my wife and the woman were able to control their cars, and neither were hurt, while the damage to both autos was minimal.

Gasoline trucks are EVIL.

Today while driving to work this morning, my wife was hit again on the interstate — this time she was rear-ended by a large truck (one of those huge gas/flammable liquid trucks — think Stephen Spielberg’s Duel, just less dirty).  The truck pushed up behind her from her right, sliding into her lane and ramming her in the rear.  It crushed the back end of her car and then — the driver fucking sped off!  He didn’t stop to see if she was all right, he didn’t even so much as slow down apparently.  He certainly could have killed my wife if things had gone worse,  and he could have killed any number of other people on the highway with them if the accident had turned into something larger (my wife was able to somehow control her car enough to keep it from spinning while getting it off to the shoulder and out of further harm’s way).  But apparently he didn’t care one stinking iota about anything other than keeping his sorry carcass out of trouble or his time schedule from being delayed.  It’s possible that, due to the nature of the jobs, it’s possible that the truck driver, like the other woman in the first accident, may have been asleep at the wheel — while that might give him an excuse as to why the accident happened, it certainly doesn’t excuse his fleeing the scene.

Meanwhile, while my wife subsequently got a description of the truck and the driver to the police, she was unable to get the plate number (it’s hard to do when you’re fighting to keep your car from wiping out).   But at least there were people who stopped to help her when she was shaking — terrified — in her smashed-up vehicle, and there were people who called the police themselves when they saw the accident happen and reported the driver.   Oh, wait — I forgot — none of that happened either.  No one else stopped or called or anything.  What a wonderful world we live in.

At the end of the day — what’s most important is that my wife is safe (she’s suffering from a sore neck, but she’s otherwise okay — and it could have been a whole lot worse).   But I’m still ticked at that driver and the fact that he’s probably going to get away with what he did.   Maybe next time, the people whose lives he’s ignoring as he barrels on recklessly away from a wreck won’t be as lucky as she was.