Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Angry Liam

If you're telling us to do something fast, fast, fast, tell us what the fuck you want done and stick with one way of doing things. At least until the stupid rush is over.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Week 3: Houston 24, Indianapolis 30

I had a bit of a bad feeling about this game, going in. First off, Indianapolis are the reigning Super Bowl champions and they don't seem to be playing like it (see Tampa Bay, New York Giants and just about every other team to win the Super Bowl other than the Patriots in the last ten years). Second, Andre Johnson is out. Third, Demarcus Faggins is starting. On purpose. Without anyone ahead of him being injured. Still, these aren't your father's Houston Texans (unless you're reading this, Nick or Lily). Matt Schaub has been playing really well and the boneheaded mistakes that plagued the team last year and before that seem to be less.

I listened to Mark Vandermeer calling Mathis's touchdown return to open the game with mixed emotions. Yes, I was excited. Mathis took one to the house and that could only mean good things. But I knew that the game was far from over. Ah well, we were up by seven and no amount of over-thinking things could change that. Only Peyton Manning and the Colts could. And they did. Quick drive, seven points over newcomer Michael Boulware to Stupid Dallas Clark who was supposed to make my day by not playing.

Not a big deal because we've got our own brainy quarterback who can make adjustments. And he did. And the Texans drove. And my heart soared because Matt Schaub truly isn't David Carr. Still, the drive stalled because of an inability to run and a false start penalty. Brown split the uprights and we were up again.

My good feeling was not to last. Manning is Manning and, as such, is unstoppable. He drove his team 65 yards for another touchdown (this time it was Joseph Addai literally OVER Demarcus Faggins for a four yard touchdown run) and just like that reality was setting in. After all, once Houston goes down to the Colts, it's over, right?

Enter the Houston Texans. They drove for 44 yards and had to settle for a punt that would bottle the Colts inside their 15.

A rare three-and-out for the Colts put the Texans in business at their own 38. Then the inexplicable happened. An 8-yard pass, then a running play up the middle that put the clock down to 46 seconds. WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS GARY KUBIAK THINKING? This is not David Carr, to be coddled when there's an opportunity for a score! Maybe Kubiak woke up because he had Schaub pass again but this was a short incompletion that stopped the clock. Indianapolis, likely snickering up their sleeves at the horrible, horrible mincing play, ran the clock down as you do when you have a lead and start inside your twenty with 30 seconds left (instead of doing it when you're nearly at midfield, down by three against the best team in the league) and Houston headed into halftime down by four to the Colts.

The wheels fell off in the third quarter. The Colts completed two 20+ yard completions on their first drive, both to tight ends, as they drove 57 yards for a field goal.

A late throw over the middle to Jacoby Jones was tipped then intercepted by the Colts who took the 21-yard field and drove for a touchdown. That made it 24-10.

My Texans-sense kicked in and I thought we were in for a crap-kicking, but little did I know that these are not your father's Houston Texans (unless you're reading this, Nick or Lily). Granted, the Texans went three and out but after they forced a three-and-out out of the Indianapolis Colts, Jacoby Jones returned the ensuing punt 72 yards to the Indianapolis 18. Turns out that Jacoby Jones separated his shoulder and will miss some significant time but it was still a nice play that should have gotten the Texans back in the game. HOWEVER, Schaub threw an interception the very next play.

Indianapolis, on the strength of a 64-yard completion to Reggie Wayne, kicked another field goal and put Houston behind 27-10.

Undaunted, the Houston Texans started off on their own 27 yard line and Schaub connected with Andre Davis (the other wide-receiving Andre) for 41 yards down to the Indianapolis 1. Two Samkon Gado runs got the Texans into the end zone, 27-17 Indy.

On the kickoff following the touchdown, Rushing returned the ball 47 yards to the fifty. Manning, picking once again on Demarcus Faggins, moved the ball into field goal range, allowing Vinatieri to put them ahead 30-17.

Houston started on their own 25, passing smartly but taking too much time. The clock ticked away while Schaub nickled-and-dimed his way down the field. Normally, I don't have a problem with scoring drives. In fact, they're pretty darn cool. However, the drive started with 10:33 on the clock and ended at 2:53. If you're down by 13 against the best offense in the league, maybe you want to hustle up to the line a little. However, a pass to Vonta Leach made it 30-24. Doing my math, that meant that a touchdown and single point would put Houston ahead. All they needed was an onside-kick or a defensive stop and another touchdown.

It was not an onside kick, so Houston was relying on their defense to get them out of the jam. A false-start by Ryan Diem helped. Demarcus Faggins playing against Marvin Harrison did not. Stupid Manning completed a second-and-nine pass to Harrison for 12 yards and were able to run the clock down to 19 seconds by the time the Texans managed to hold the Colts and get the ball back with no timeouts on their own 20-yard-line. Schaub got sacked on a big blitz and time ran out before they could call another play. Indianapolis wins, 30-24.

The good:

Houston keeps trying, no matter how far down they are, and don't give up until the end of the game, whether it's holding on to a lead, scrambling back from far down or just churning when the game is still in doubt. That's pretty awesome.

The defense came together in the second half, holding Indy to field goals when the offense or special teams was letting them down (or, granted, they were letting themselves down).

For a team with no running game, they still put up 24 points.

Schaub completed passes to ten different receivers.

The return game still seems dominant.

Another sack for Amobi wan Okoye

The bad:

Running the clock out from your own 40 with plenty of time is COWARDLY. COWARDS LOSE FOOTBALL GAMES. I never want to see that kind of mincing, fraidy-cat playcalling, ever, ever again!

Keeping Demarcus Faggins on Indy's best receiver when he was consistently converting for first downs was a bad mistake.

Michael Boulware's first significant action was, unfortunately, marred by having to cover Dallas Clark.

Schaub's two interceptions were horrendous – especially the second one. Talk about a dagger in the heart.

Samkon Gado and Jameel Cook should not be the primary ball carriers for any team.

Next week: rebound game against the Atlanta Falcons and a chance to go 3-1 on the season. Johnson and Jacoby Jones won't be playing and Steve McKinney is out for the year but I'm still hopeful.

Library Book Sale

Kim, the kids and I took in an abbreviated visit to the Library Book Sale on Sunday. Here's the rest.

The Books:
The Ring of Five Dragons – Eric Van Lustbader
Hardcover first book of a series that purports to rival Robert Jordan, David Eddings, George R. R. Martin, Terry Brooks and Terry Goodkind in popular appeal. I’m curious and I have to believe that I will be reading this one with a dubious eye. Why not throw in some more big fantasy names like Feist, Lackey and Le Guin while he was at it? Still, it’s a first book of a supposedly big fantasy epic, so I’ll give it a shot.
The Duke’s Ballad – Andre Norton and Lyn McConchie
I’m worried that it’s a romance novel that just happens to be set in Fantastical times/worlds. Still, I’ve heard of Andre Norton who is supposed to have been very good. I’ll read it, anyway.
Terminator 3 Rise of the Machines – David Hagberg
I like novelizations of movies so I’ll probably like this one.
Star Wars Revenge of the Sith – Matthew Stover
See above.
The Family Trade – Charles Stross
This book starts off in real-world and moves quickly to a parallel Earth. I don’t usually read these kinds of books but the Landover ones and the Covenant ones were both worth reading so I’ll give this one some time.
Fire Sea – Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
This is another step in my never-ending quest to buy all the books that I loved when I was a teenager.
The Silent House – Ed Greenwood
I like his Tales of the Band of Four, so I’m pretty sure I’ll like this. It might even be an installment in the same series.
The Anvil of the World – Kage Baker
Fantasy that Nick pointed out to me. Seems fairly interesting and quirky. I will keep my hopes up, as always.
Wind from a Foreign Sky - Katya Reimann
There are two things that are guaranteed to sell me on a book series. A positive quote from an author I’ve read and enjoyed and “Chronicles” in the title somewhere. This one has both.
Empire’s Daughter – Simon Brown
This one has Chronicles in it too and it also has guys standing on the deck of a ship. I like books on boats.
Broken Crescent - S. Andrew Swann
Computer hacker meets other-worldly Druid-types. Should be interesting.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

R. I. P. James Rigney, a.k.a. Robert Jordan

When I was in junior high school and high school, I spent a lot of time playing video games. Who am I kidding? I play a lot of video games now. But not NEARLY as much as I did back then. I also really enjoyed reading comic books.

Enter: Bob Johnstone. My dad was a veritable fountain of comic books. He delivered Sears merchandise to a store on his route that doubled as a convenience store. He became friends with the owner and said owner started leaving out the "destroyed" books that hadn't sold. Books, magazines and comics. I read a lot of good comic books that way. I also read one thing that changed the course of my spare time from then on.

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan was one of the books my dad received from his friend and the designs on the inside of the book were intriguing enough for me to pick the book up. It was also the biggest book I'd seen to that point.

Throughout the next couple of weeks, I devoured that book. My most vivid memory is sitting at the big green chair in the living room, my legs draped over one arm and my back propped up by the other, flipping through the pages, living the adventures of Rand al'Thor and his friends. Their terror was mine, their panic made my heart beat just a little faster. This was my first experience with a truly earth-moving book.

Another memory I have is of finishing the book and being nearly sick to my stomach, knowing that the library was closed for the next couple of days and I couldn't get my hands on The Great Hunt. When I finally was able to get it out, it fell the same way that The Eye of the World did.

Robert Jordan's writing showed me how easy it could be to get engrossed in a story, how easy it was to pass time not thinking of the angstful and depressing life of a teenaged boy. After all, who has time to think those thoughts when your new best friend is being chased by a Trolloc?

Jordan was working on the twelfth and final book of The Wheel of Time when he became sick with amyloidosis. He died on Sunday before finishing the series. If I'd had the chance, I would have thanked him for my love of reading, my love of fantasy and my love of writing.

I've heard that his wife will take up the chore and finish the last book. If she does, I will read it without reservation, without hoping that it won't suck. I think it will be good, not only because she has been his editor and his wife and shared his vision for so long but because one way or another, it will provide the closure that so many people have waited so anxiously for, over the last 18 years.

It's a shame that there will be no Infinity of Heaven, no more prequels and no outrigger novels (whatever they are).

Thank you, James Rigney for all you've given me. Best of luck, Harriet, in your efforts to close out The Wheel of Time.

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