Archive for January, 2012

Prior to the Snap: Divisional Playoff Saturday

Since Divisional Playoff weekend is far and away the best weekend of football every year, we’re splitting up my monstrously digressive predictions into two parts. Here’s my take on Saturday’s showdowns:

#3 NEW ORLEANS AT #2 SAN FRANCISCO

First off, what’s the best thing about this Divisional Playoff weekend? That the #1 seeds didn’t get screwed this year. As Pierre has mentioned before but probably won’t discuss at length this year for lack of relevant examples, the NFL’s second round has been hurt in recent years by improper seeding regulations. Now, as you know, the NFL rewards divisional winners with home games in the first round regardless of record (thus, 8-8 Denver hosting 12-4 Pittsburgh). I’m cool with this. The problem comes in the second round, when the NFL re-seeds (i.e. the top seed plays the worst remaining seed); however, the league does this based on seed instead of record, still for some reason rewarding division winners at the expense of top seeds. So most years, the #1 seed ends up playing a better team in the second round than the #2 seed. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while not Googling “Santorum”…

Prior to the Snap: Wild Card Weekend

Regular season? Like who does that anymore? It’s playoff time, and thus time to break out a digressively detailed look at this weekend’s four Wild Card matchups. Do Cincinnati fans have it worse than Houston fans? What car brand sponsorship do I refuse to acknowledge? What mistake has altered our perception of Victor Cruz more than any great play? And just how much does God love Tim Tebow?

#6 CINCINNATI AT #3 HOUSTON

Playoff time! As I’m fond of saying this time of year, the music’s changing…just like it used to in Tecmo Super Bowl.

Speaking of… Neither of these cities has seen a second-round playoff game since the year Tecmo Super Bowl came out, or 1991. Cincinnati hasn’t won a playoff game since a 1990 Wild Card Weekend win over—guess who—the Oilers. Houston hasn’t seen a playoff win since those Oilers won a year later on Wild Card Weekend against the Jets.

Those are long droughts: The longest in the league, along with Detroit (1991). Continue reading

Why Is Matt Taibbi So Obsessed With Campaign Contributions?

I should start this off by saying that I like Matt Taibbi. His coverage of the financial crisis and other political corruption often delves into issues ignored by most media outlets, and his acerbic wit makes for fun reading. Nevertheless, he often fixates on the wrong aspect of the scandal he’s uncovering, and that usually involves focusing on campaign contributions.

In his blog post about the Iowa caucuses, Taibbi yammers on about how contributions corrupt the campaigning process:

“[T]he ugly reality, as Dylan Ratigan continually points out, is that the candidate who raises the most money wins an astonishing 94% of the time in America.

“That damning statistic just confirms what everyone who spends any time on the campaign trail knows, which is that the presidential race is not at all about ideas, but entirely about raising money.”

This is so logically porous that it hardly needs explaining (but that won’t stop me). Continue reading

Going to ’11: The Best Television Episodes of the Year

Community: For a Few Paintballs More

Is This Episode on the List?

Well, the 2012 list is pretty much all wrapped up, but what were the best episodes of TV in 2011?

10) “You’re Getting Old” – South Park

 This was not the funniest episode of South Park this year, or even the best, but it was certainly the most memorable for the way it dealt with the show’s ongoing existence. As Trey Parker and Matt Stone found success on Broadway with The Book of Mormon while their aging series had now passed its 200th episode, they were bound to start questioning the value of a show that “just shows how shitty things are.” When Randy and Sharon Marsh broke up, it seemed like a thinly veiled commentary by Parker/Stone on the series itself (“Every week it’s kind of the same story in a different way, but it just keeps getting more and more ridiculous”). It was so jarring that some people expected it to be a surprise series finale. Of course, I’m happy Parker and Stone are continuing with the series, and the fact they are willing to question the value of the show is part of why it’s so great.

  Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while remembering old acquaintances, to be contrarian…

  • The second season of Portlandia debuts on January 6th. Margaret Talbot writes about Carrie Brownstein for The New Yorker, and Vulture interviews Brownstein and Fred Armisen.