Among the musicians that I would care to see perform, there are two who stand out because, despite several overlaps between their schedules and my existence in a specific geographic location, I have never managed to see them in concert: Robert Earl Keen and Hayes Carll. In theory, I should be able to scratch Carll off this list finally; he played in Little Rock on December 27, and Mrs. MDC and I were all set to go to the show.
Unfortunately, for the first time in 86 years, Little Rock had a white Christmas, and it came in the form of a complete snowpacalypse. Starting around noon on Christmas day, a light freezing rain began to fall, coating everything with about a quarter inch of ice. Then, a little before 5 PM, it started to snow. And snow. And snow some more.
All told, over ten inches of snow fell in the Little Rock metro area before the storm departed. This was enough to knock out our electricity (more on that in a bit) and, because we live on a hill that is far enough removed from a major road that it's not high-priority for plowing, keep us homebound until late Friday when enough snow finally melted that we could get out.
Missing the concert was really just the biggest annoyance of a near-week of craptacular happenings. Because the storm came when it did, we cancelled having family come over for Christmas dinner, thinking we'd put it off until the next day. Waking up to that much snow the next day, plus, you know, no electricity (because it was off until Sunday), meant that the dinner was scrapped altogether.
Thursday night, power returned to our entire neighborhood . . . except for our house and five others all right in a row. On Friday, a crew came out, said they were hoping to get our power on that day, dicked around for an hour in the back yard, and then left without saying anything or getting the power restored.
Saturday, Mrs. MDC, in a stroke of brilliance, arranged to borrow a generator from someone whose power had been restored so that, worst case scenario, at least we'd get to see the Texans game. (Clearly, she's a keeper.) Then, Sunday, around 11 AM, a contract crew from my home state of Missouri, led by a guy wearing a Texans hat, showed up, fixed everything, and had power restored to the house by 11:30ish, in plenty of time for kickoff.
After my week of suck, I took this as a sign that the Texans were going to win and make me forget that I'd had to throw out 95% of the stuff in the fridge and sleep between a basset hound and a dachshund for nearly a week.
Unfortunately, the universe doesn't work that way. Or my karmic ledger is still heavily in debt. One of those things. Either way, I didn't get to see the concert, and I did get to see the Texans game.
And, in retrospect, that's about the worst way those two events could have combined for me.
Total hours between 5:40 PM on Christmas Day and 11:40 AM on December 29, 2012, that my house was without electricity.
For a frame of reference on how long this is, consider that, in that same amount of time, I could have: watched the entire run of "Cop Rock" and the entire run of "Homeboys In Outer Space," both sans commercials, seven times; listened to the entire KISS discography (original lineup only), including the four 1978 solo albums, just over 13.5 times; watched the director's cut of 1963's Cleopatra just over 21 times; watched this video of Amobi Okoye's draft selection 2,630 times. ALL of those things would have been more fun than not having power.
Wide receivers in the history of the NFL who have three or more 1,500-yard seasons: Jerry Rice (4), Marvin Harrison (3) and Andre Johnson (3). As a general rule, any time you're mentioned in a group that contains Jerry Rice, you've probably had a pretty solid career.
Andre Johnson's yardage total in 2012, a career high for him. He also set career highs in receptions per game (7.0), yards per game (99.9), and number of times he did something that made you grateful to be living in this time and place in history (lots).
Bored with regular potato chip flavors like Salt & Vinegar and BBQ? Try Pepsi & Fried Chicken (if you are in China)!
December Comparison (5 Games).
QB1: 105-166 (63.3%), 1,153 yards, 3 TD, 3 INT.
QB2: 84-178 (47.2%), 1,169 yards, 10 TD, 5 INT.
You can probably guess that the two QBs are Matt Schaub and Andrew Luck. I posted the comparison because I'm not entirely sure what to make of it.
You could even argue that Luck's stats are slightly inflated in this sample size because of his big game against the Lions on December 2 (391 yards, 4 TD, 3 INT). But, if you go that route and limit this to just the last four game, you wind up removing 2 of Schaub's 3 TDs as well. So, sticking with the month of December, what can we make of this?
Well, a tiny bit of it is due to strength of schedule, but not much. Over this time frame, the Texans the Colts played each other twice, and both teams played Tennessee. The Colts played the Chiefs and Lions, while the Texans played the Patriots and Vikings. While Luck benefited from the Lions' game, it's not like he destroyed the Chiefs (201 yards, 1 TD).
In fact, it's not as if Luck's 10 TDs over 5 games is some sort of amazing number; it just looks impressive because of how it dwarfs Schaub's 3-TD total over the same span. Two TD passes per game is good, if unspectacular, QB production. Less than one TD pass per game (.6, to be exact) is putrid. It's David Carr-like, honestly.
Actually, that's not even entirely accurate: David Carr managed .77 TDs per game in his time in Houston.
So, what the hell happened when the calendar rolled over into December to take Schaub from 1.7 TDs/game to .6? His completions and attempts were still roughly the same (22.3-34.4 per game before December, 21-33.2 in December). His yardage per game dipped a bit from 259.5 to 230.6, but his INT/game dipped as well, from .8 to .6. What was different?
For one thing: field position. Houston's average starting field positions in the final five games were the 36 (TEN), 23 (NE), 21 (IND), 24 (MIN), and 19 (IND). In fact, if you take it back another week and include DET (23), five of Houston's seven worst average starting field positions came over the last six games. (Only DEN (22) and GB (19) would also make that list.)
Lumping Schaub's last good game (the win over Tennessee) together with the first 11 games, we get an rough average starting field position of the 28.5. Over the last four games? 21.8. Now, 6.7 yards may not sound like a ton, but over the course of a game, you're talking about 70 or more yards difference.
I realize that this is not entirely on special teams performance, since drives that start via a recovered fumble or INT will also factor in. Still, if anything, I suspect those are going to skew the number up most of the time (outside of an occurrence like the goalline fumble in the first game against Indy), so I feel like they don't impact this part of the analysis too greatly.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not putting 100% of the blame on special teams for Schaub's late-season decline. You can't have watched those games and come away with anything other than a sense that Kubiak's playcalling was frequently wretched, that Schaub was making some questionable decisions, and that horrific play by the right side of the offensive line has hurt Schaub both by allowing pressure and by killing any pretense of the play-action going that way. At the same time, I am also not trying to be a Schaub apologist; if anything, I'd say I'm slightly anti-Schaub at the present, and his preseason contract extension is starting to scream "sunk cost" to me.
Still, when you take an already terrible unit like special teams, then make them worse, that can't help but have an impact on the rest of the team. In this case, it seems to have basically pushed the offense back just far enough that it could be seen on the scoreboard and on Schaub's final stat line.
In the five games when Trindon Holliday was the Texans' primary return man, the team's average starting field position was just inside the 30 (29.8), and they had better starting field position than their opponents in four of the five games. In the 11 games since Holliday was cut? 27.2, and opponents have started better than the Texans in 8 of those games.
But, yeah, it was totally Holliday and not horrible special-teams coaching that was causing problems.
In Gary Kubiak's first four seasons as the Texans' head coach, the team was actually better in December/January regular season games than in most other months, posting winning records in all four years and a combined 14-6 record over that span. In the last three years, his Texans teams have gone a collective 5-10 in those games.
This Is Awesome.
Rushing attempts for Arian Foster in 2012, which led the league by three carries over Adrian Peterson. Oddly enough, Foster and Peterson both had 40 catches for 217 yards.
Rushing yards for Arian Foster in 2012, which was sixth in the league behind Peterson (2,097), Alfred Morris (1,613), Marshawn Lynch (1,590), Jamaal Charles (1,509), and Doug Martin (1,454).
Rushing TDs and total TDs for Arian Foster in 2012, both of which led the league.
Players, including Arian Foster, who have led the league in total touchdowns in two or more seasons since 1970. The other players are Chuck Foreman (1974, 1976), Marcus Allen (1982, 1984), Jerry Rice (1987, 1993), Barry Sanders (1990, 1991), Emmitt Smith (1992, 1994, 1995), Marshall Faulk (2000, 2001), Priest Holmes (2002, 2003), and Shaun Alexander (2004, 2005). It's a very solid list to be a part of, but you'll note that only Smith managed to do it a third time.
Just . . . No.
The MDC household is generally a big fan of the movies Alien and (especially) Aliens. I dare say the latter is, along with Office Space and Heathers, one of the three movies that Mrs. MDC quotes most often. (If you think it's not always hilarious to quote Bill Paxton's lines from that movie, you're completely wrong.)
Now, I would never suggest that those movies are perfect or do not suffer from some plot holes and bad science. Of course they do; most all science-fiction films have some amount of that, if only because space movies tend to be limited in scope and scale if you can't have faster-than-light travel, ya know?
But there's a world of difference between the little things in Alien or Aliens that require suspension of disbelief and the gigantic mountain of steaming excrement that is Prometheus, which I had the misfortune of watching on Christmas day. I mean, where do we even start? That movie crapped all over . . . well, science.
The examples are myriad, but just a few off the top of my head a week later:
- Right now, in 2013, we have the technology to scan distant atmospheres and get a rough sense of their contents. By 2093 (the year in the film), we have apparently lost this technology, as Stringer Bell plunges Prometheus (the ship) through a cloud layer before asking what the atmosphere of the moon is like. Considering the protective gear needed for the "scientists" on board to explore that mood would vary greatly depending on the answer, that might have been the kind of thing that someone should have pinned down a while ago.
- One of the archaeologists is pregnant with a squid-alien-baby-thing for reasons that I don't give a damn about explaining. She hops in an auto-surgery machine -- basically, the Redbox version of major surgery -- gives herself a C-section, staples herself up (outer layer only, because who needs to worry about suturing/cauterizing internal incisions), and then she just leaves the calamari-infant in the surgery machine. No need to, say, mention to the others on the ship that she just cut an alien out of herself or that it might still be alive. Inexplicably, by the time the contrived plot brings her back to that room near the film's climax, Squid the Kid has grown exponentially, despite being in a room without food. Because the law of conservation of mass hahaha just kidding.
- We're told that the Engineers' DNA is "a 100% match" for human DNA. Except, you know, even two humans wouldn't be a perfect match (other than identical twins). Even if you assume that they were looking only at particular DNA segments, rather than entire genomes, it's highly unlikely that you're going to get such a high match between us and a species of grey-white, nippleless, eight-foot-tall, absurdly strong aliens afflicted with something like alopecia universalis.
- Inside the Engineers' building/ship garage, we learn that the atmosphere is oxygen rich and completely fine for humans to breathe without a helmet. In that case, why the hell hasn't the organic material in the place broken down over the last 2000 years?
- Oh, there's also the whole cadre of scientists on the ship who don't seem interested in science at all. The archaeologist who casually dismisses natural selection because "that's what I choose to believe." The biologist who runs terrified from a dead (but preserved) alien life form rather than having any interest in investigating the greatest biological discovery in the history of humankind. Etc.
Again, I realize it's science fiction. In my mind, however, that means that you can get away with some fictional stuff (faster-than-light travel, or even hoverboards, to borrow from a different franchise). I doesn't mean that you can just butcher basic scientific concepts without having some sort of explanation or excuse for the decision. You can't fail to explain key parts of the movie -- why, for example, is the android (a) more advanced that the android in Alien and (b) a total dick? -- and then just chalk that up to anything but poor filmmaking.
Is what I should have said prior to all of the above, but I'm trying to dissuade you from seeing it, so I didn't. You're welcome.
One Last Thing On Prometheus.
Early in the film, we see David (the robot) learning human things during the two-year flight (at just over 17 times the speed of light). As part of his learning every language ever, he apparently watches old movies. The one that caught my eye was Lawrence of Arabia. Why? Because I have a strange obsession with trying to recognize movies that appear in other movies. So, here are my top five best movies that appear in another movie:
5. Shogun Assassin in Kill Bill, vol. 2.
4. Gilda in The Shawshank Redemption.
3. Evil Dead in Donnie Darko.
2. Scarface in New Jack City
1. The Shining in Twister
HM-Blazing Saddles in Blazing Saddles.
Points scored by the Texans in 2012, marking the first time in team history that they've broken the 400-point barrier. They've allowed greater than 400 points twice (2005, 2010).
Shayne Graham's percentage of made FGs in 2012. Graham went 31 for 38. In 2011, Neil Rackers also attempted 38 FGs for the Texans. He made 32.
Also worth noting: both Graham and Rackers made the same number of kicks from 50+, hitting four of them. Of course, Rackers hit four of five, while Graham hit four of nine.
What The Hell?
Shayne Graham attempted NINE kicks from 50+ in 2012, when he hadn't attempted ANY since trying four in 2009?!? His nine (NINE!!!!) attempts of 50+ in 2012 are half of the eighteen such kicks attempted throughout all of the rest of his career combined. They are also strong evidence that Gary Kubiak has taken up glue sniffing as a hobby.
Someone Should Probably Go Find Her. No? Ok.
Randomly on Christmas Day, I was thinking about the song "Grandma Got Runover By A Reindeer." I'd never really considered the lyrics before, but that song is absolutely nuts.
Here's what I mean: Grandma had been drinking spiked eggnog, to the point that she was drunk enough that the family begged her not to leave. However, she'd apparently forgotten some medication that she desperately needed. Rather than someone volunteering to go for her or even to drive her, the family is apparently all, "Oh, right, medication . . . cool," and they let their old grandma WALK home after dark in the snow. Even if they were all too drunk to drive, how does one of the grandkids not get sent on that mission?
To make it worse, no one even looks for her until the next day. At no point on Christmas Eve did someone say, "Hey, I wonder if grandma made it home" or "You think we should call and check on her since the weather is pretty cold?" Nope, they just all passed out from the egg nog, woke up Christmas morning to find that she was not back and (I assume) called her house, only to get no answer. So they go looking for her and find her somewhat mutilated carcass in the snow, with visible sleigh and hoof tracks around the scene. Therefore, they surmise, she must've been runover by Santa. Who was . . . flying? . . . really low . . . or something? Maybe he saw grandma walking, thought she was a hooker, and tried to pick her up, only to get mad and have Prancer stomp her to death when she drunkenly rebuffed him? I dunno.
Regardless, that's messed up.
The remainder of the song is just as screwy. Grandpa isn't just not sad that grandma is dead; he's practically celebrating. He's watching football with the family and hitting on a cousin. Which, I suppose, means the entire song took place in Tennessee. Which makes me less upset that grandma is dead, honestly. It should've been you, Bud Adams.
Random '90s Rap Video.
2011: 101 catches, 1,314 yards, 10 TDs.
2012: 124 catches, 1,309 yards, 12 TDs.
Those are the combined stats of Houston's TEs (plus James Casey) over the past two seasons. I dare say that the fear that we would miss Joel Dreessen was a tad overblown. Even if you remove Daniels from both samples, you're talking about 47 catches for 637 yards and 7 TDs last year compared to 62 catches for 593 yards and 6 TDs this year.
Random List Of Songs That I Think Certain Artists Should Cover.
Hayes Carll: "The Pilgrim; Chapter 33" by Kris Kristofferson.
Roger Creager: "Roll Um Easy" by Little Feat.
Jason Boland: "Are The Good Times Really Over" by Merle Haggard.
Wade Bowen: "Easier Said Than Done" by Radney Foster.
The Black Keys: "2000 Man" by The Rolling Stones.
Old Crow Medicine Show: "Bar Exam" by The Derailers.
Marijuana Pepsi Sawyer Inexplicable Decision Of The Week.
[Author's note: It's a sad day in Two-Day Hangover Land. It seems that Marijuana Pepsi Sawyer has gotten married and changed the name on her public profile to the (relatively) more professional sounding, "Marijuana Sawyer-Clardy." Dang. Thankfully, we have a long memory around here, at least when it comes to stuff like this, so we'll just forge ahead and pretend like nothing has changed.]
Much like the decision to name your daughter "Marijuana Pepsi," Gary Kubiak's decision to challenge whether the Colts had 12 men on the field was . . .
No, scratch that. Naming your daughter "Marijuana Pepsi" is far more defensible -- even if it wouldn't be allowed in Iceland (h/t TXCleaver) -- that the idiocy of Kubiak's challenge flag in this instance. I'm not going to sully the good name of MPS by comparing her parents' decision to Gary Kubiak's.
BBQU, Playoff Edition.
Ok, so this isn't really about BBQ, but I didn't have a good BBQU worked up for this week, so I figured I'd just shove this part in instead. I can't let a game with the Bengals go by without mentioning the god-awful concoction that is Skyline Chili. First, some background, via the Wiki:
Skyline Chili is unique in that it is not chili con carne, the meat dish that originated in (and is the state dish of) Texas. Instead, Cincinnati-style chili is a sauce usually used over spaghetti or hot dogs, containing a unique spice blend that gives it a very distinct taste. Officially, the recipe for Skyline Chili is a well-kept family secret among Lambrinides' surviving children. However, many Skyline patrons believe that the unique taste of Skyline Chili comes from chocolate and cinnamon, spices common in Greek cuisine's meat dishes. The general recipe is not unique to Skyline — "Cincinnati-style" chili is sold by several chili parlors in the area including Empress, Dixie, Gold Star Chili, Camp Washington, Dawson's School House of Chili, and other chili parlors.
While that description should be enough to make you recoil in horror and become angry that someone would call this stuff "chili," even the Wiki fails to adequately describe how terrible the stuff really is. It's a "very distinct taste" in the same way that I imagine you could call dogshit a "very distinct taste," were you to eat some. Seriously, even if you can get past the fact that it's served over spaghetti noodles, you still have to deal with the fact that it literally reeks of cinnamon and tastes nothing like you'd actually consider "chili" or "edible."