Sunday, January 23, 2011

Super Bowl XLV Dallas / Arlington: Welcome To A Spread-Out Super Bowl

This blogger has formed the Oakland bid to host the 2005 Super Bowl (we lost to Jacksonville), and attended six Super Bowl games. Of all Super Bowls, Super Bowl XLV, pitting the Pittsburgh Steelers against The Green Bay Packers in Arlington, Texas, will be the most "spread out" one in NFL history.

"NFL Major Events," are split primarily between Dallas, Arlington, and Ft. Worth, and while Dallas itself will be the Super Bowl party center, the happenings are so spread between cities that the overall economic impact (commonly said to be $300 million) of the contest will be dampened.

Still, a little benefit is better than none.

A More Transit Connected D-FW Metroplex

This blogger got his undergraduate degree in City Planning from The University of Texas At Arlington before heading to Cal-Berkeley for the Master of City Planning Program. What I know about what's called the Dallas - Ft. Worth Metroplex is that it's large and mostly car-oriented, but it's not LA. It's 15 miles between Dallas and Arlington and another 15 miles from Arlington to Ft. Worth.  Those cities are served by the I-30, which is now called The Tom Landry Freeway.  It's the central traffic spine of the Metroplex.

In the 80s, mass transit was a new concept to Texans, and DART was the subject of public meetings (some I attended) before it was formed in 1988.  Rail travel was a dream then and the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) System was a desired model.  But now the Dallas Area Rapid Transit System connects North and South Dallas, and something called the Trinity Railway Express (TRE) connects Dallas, Irving, the DFW-Airport, and Ft-Worth.

The one problem is the TRE doesn't have an Arlington stop, and that's where the Super Bowl will be played. The D-FW Airport is 10 miles north of Arlington, and to this day, there's no major rail connector between it and Arlington.

Still, kudos are due for the planners for the "North Texas Super Bowl" for at least trying to form a mass-transit oriented experience in a metropolitan area known for its freeways. But as a massive Super Bowl Party-goer it's obvious that the best bet is to rent a car, and then get ready to pay through the nose for it and for gas because you're going to be driving everywhere.

For example the NFL Experience, the giant interactive NFL family-fun convention, commonly located next to the stadium, is 15 miles away from it in Dallas, at the Dallas Convention Center. The "Taste Of The NFL" where you can enjoy foods from top chefs in various NFL cities, is in Ft. Worth. The "Sports Career Expo," is in Richardson, Texas.

You get the idea.

All of this also means that you should have no problem getting a hotel room somewhere in the Metroplex. Heck, maybe you can land a sublet dorm room at UTA for cheap (just kidding). But the wide geographic spacing of Super Bowl events, great for spreading the event wealth, is going to make for a very confusing experience for Super Bowl, attendees, both veteran and rookie.

Stay tuned.

Rashard Mendenhall Dry Humps Ben Roethlisberger After Steelers - Jets Game

(Parental note: this is for anyone over 17.)

Rashard Mendenhall Dry Humps Ben Roethlisberger After Steelers - Jets Game!?! After the Pittsburgh Steelers lined up in the "Victory" Formation and snapped the ball, Steelers Running Back Rashard Mendenhall wound up spread eagle over Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. But rather than help his QB to get up, Mendenhall, who played a key role in the win as the leading rusher, decided he was going to dry hump Roethlisberger.

In fact, as the video shows, Mendenhall was so "into it," he didn't stop until another teammate intervened.

This brings up a number of questions. First, is Rashard Mendenhall Gay? Second, does this mean UC Berkeley Professor Harry Edwards was right when he said that there was a homosexual element in sports that's not talked about? Third, what does Ben Roethlisberger think about what Rashard Mendenhall did? Fourth, what do you think?

This blogger thinks it's hilarious. It reminds me of the line the late Dennis Hopper's character Frank said in the classic Blue Velvet "Let's fuck! I'll fuck anything that moves!"

 But the question of "the Gay element" in the NFL has, of late, lurked just below the surface of normal media view. Rashard Mendenhall's dry hump act is bound to bring it back to the surface.

Pittsburgh Steelers 24, NY Jets 19: Steelers Run Defense The Difference

In the wake of the Pittsburgh Steelers AFC Championship win over the New York Jets, the talk is how Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger somehow finds a way to win big games. But for this blogger, one number, and only one number, describes their win: 70.

As in 70 yards rushing allowed by the Steelers Defense.

The Jets, known for their punishing ground game, averaging 4.4 yards per carry, were held to 3.2 yards on 22 carries. Then the Jets had to take to the air to slow down the clock, score, and make the game close, let alone stand a chance to win. Jets QB Mark Sanchez threw 33, completing 20, for 233 yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn't enough.

Indeed, had the Jets used their offensive strategy of the second half, in the first half, they may have won the game. Junking their run-based game plan, the Jets went to a five-wide-receiver shotgun formation, and smartly threw short passes, none over five yards. New York feasted off the receiver runs-after the catch, and when they wanted to fool the Steelers, they went play action, then rolled Sanchez out. There he threw the touchdown pass to pull within five points of Pittsburgh in the 4th Quarter.

But it was not enough, too late.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to run out the clock and win the 2011 AFC Championship Game.

But encapsulated in the victory is one offensive play set that could give the Steelers Defense fits if they don't prepare for it.

Stay tuned.

Green Bay Packers Beat Chicago Bears 21-14, Win NFC Championship

Congratulations to former Cal and now Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rogers and his team, along with Mike McCarthy, their head coach, for winning the 2011 NFC Championship Game, 21-14 at Soldiers Field in Chicago.

This blogger can't believe it; the game's full of "what ifs."

The Chicago Bears will certainly be thinking about them during the offseason. What if Bears Quarterback Jay Cutler connected with Wide Receiver Devin Hester and scored - twice during the 1st Quarter? What if the Bears Defensive Coaches prepared for the Packers "Pats Style" play action passing game? What if Mike Martz had his offensive system ready to adjust to the Packers' exotic blitzes?

A lot of what ifs for the Bears, which will be followed by a lot of "shoulds." Like, should the Bears keep Mike Martz? (Even with all of the errors, yes). And the Bears definitely must keep Head Coach Lovie Smith, as he made the right moves in turning what seemed to be a failed season into a winning one, one game from the Super Bowl.

A sad day for Chicago, and for this Chicago-born and raised blogger.

Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers are headed to the Super Bowl in Dallas. They will play the winner of the upcoming New York Jets vs. Pittsburgh Steelers battle for the AFC Championship.

Green Bay Packers have 20-14 Lead vs. Chicago Bears, NFC Championship 2011

With 8:29 to go in the 2011 NFC Championship Game, the Green Bay Packers are clinging to a 14-7 lead. (No more, they just scored to make it 20-7 The Packers are ahead because of an offensive coaching move the Bears should have prepared for, but did not. And Jay Cutler's out of the game after hurting his knee.

The Packers Take A Pats Page

The Packers gained over 100 yards passing in the first half alone mostly on a play design popularized by the New England Patriots. It features an off-tackle run action with both the fullback and the halfback. The quarterback, in this case Aaron Rogers, moves over to the run action and fakes the handoff. But rather than drop back, he pulls up and throws to the split end running the deep drive (some call it deep slant) pattern. Because the linebackers are up biting on the run fake, and there's no safety in the way, the window to throw to the split end is open.

The way to stop that play is for the defense to use "bump-and-run" coverage and throw off the timing of the pass by jamming the receiver. The problem is the Bears use cover two zone or play single-high safety with eight-in-the-box and no bump-and-run. That leaves open the window the Packers Aaron Rogers exploited for big gains in the first half.

UPDATE. While the Bears got the ball back, they just coughed it up on an interception returned for a touchdown. It's now 20-7.

Can The Bears Come Back?

Now the question is can the Chicago Bears come back to even make a game of it? I'm really disappointed in Mike Martz' offensive game plan. It seems to forget the short pass, and has largely failed to pick up the Packers safety blitz packages. Part of the bad play is also due to Quarterback Jay Cutler, who missed Devon Hester for big gains three times in the first half.

Now, hold on, as this blog is written, the game changes fast. The Bears went on a fast drive to score, it's 20 to 14 and we've got a game again.


Kanye West - Flashing Lights: The Genius Of Kanye West

For all of his pop-culture missteps and interrupting of Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV VMAs, one thing is consistently overlooked: Kanye West is a musical genius.

Flashing Lights, West's modern classic about a relationship gone bad, is but one example.

Consider that while Flashing Lights was released November 16th, 2007, and as part of the album Gradulation, it's still one of the most-played nightclub songs in the World.

Indeed, it has been used for the Ciroc Vodka commercials, and in several video games. Pitchfork called it the "fifty-second best song of the entire decade." Pitchfork's Ryan Dombal wrote:

It's classic Kanye-- self-possessed, superfluously art-ridden, probably too clever by half. In Kanye's post-everything museum, da Vinci sidles up next to a bust of Julius; a Karen O-repping blog post follows one dedicated to 10-ft. tall "Chewing Gum Sculptures"; Parisian house mingles with stadium hip-hop. "But what do I know?" goes the hook, pop-pushing curiosity still intact

Flashing Lights is the result of a collaboration between Dwele with additional vocals provided by Connie Mitchell of Sneaky Sound System, an Australian electronic group. Mitchell said that while she had reservations about Hip-Hop, and had not known of West at the time, collaborating with him on Flashing Lights changed her mind about it.

Here are the lyrics:

Flashing lights, lights
Flashing lights, lights
Flashing lights, lights
Flashing lights, lights

[Kanye West]
She don't believe in shootin' stars,
but she believe in shoes & cars
Wood floors in the new apartment,
couture from the store's department

You more like L'eau de Stardee shit,
I'm more of the, trips to Florida
Order the h'orderves, views of the Water
Straight from the page of your favorite author
And the weather so breezy,
man why can't life always be this easy
She in the mirror dancing so sleazy,
I get a call like where are you Yeezy
Try to hit you with a 'Oeur de Whopee'
Till I get flashed by the paparazzi
Damn, these nigga's got me,
I hate these nigga's more than the Nazis

As I recall, I know you love to show off
But I never thought that you would take it this far
What do I know? Flashing lights, lights
What do I know? Flashing lights, lights

[Kanye West]
I know it's been a while,
Sweetheart, we hard-ly talk, I was doing my thing
I know I was foul bay-bay,
a-bay late-ly you been all on my brain,
And if somebody would've told me a month ago
Fronting though, yo I wouldn't wanna know
If somebody would've told me a year ago
it'd go, get this difficult
Feeling like Katrina with no fema
Like Martin with no Gina
Like a flight with no visa
First class with the seat back I still see ya
In my past, you on the other side of the glass
Of my memory's museum,
I'm just saying, Hey Mona Lisa,
come home you know you can't Rome without Caesar

As I recall, I know you love to show off
But I never thought that you would take it this far
What do I know? Flashing lights, lights
What do I know? Flashing lights, lights

As you recall, you know I love to show off
But you never thought that I would take it this far
What do you know? Flashing lights, lights
What do you know? Flashing lights, lights

Flashing lights, lights
Flashing lights, lights

[Fade out]
Lights, lights, lights, lights...