Monday, September 12, 2005

A Tale of Two Weekends

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way..."

Almost everything went right for me on Friday and Saturday. Following 13 hours of uninterrupted sleep as a result of a fortnight of non-stop activity, I woke up exactly at noon for a relaxing Saturday, complete with a full slate of college football and the eventual promise of a great night of music. A schmeared bagel ingested, I sat down at the ready in my usual spot: the Ace Couchboy back in non-motion after a summer of frenzied action.

It fell into place all day. I eagerly pumped my fists as three Big Ten rivals went down like a drunken teen searching for elusive popularity. First Michigan got exposed by Notre Dame, then Iowa State utterly dismantled an apparently overrated Iowa squad. And in the Horseshoe Nightcap later on, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Texas snatch victory from the jaws of defeat at the expense of the despised Ohio State.

My Northwestern Wildcats were the highlight of the Saturday slate. Playing a live game on ESPN Classic (finally the Worldwide Leader rents out its most under-utilized space), the Mildcats survived a rather ridiculous late charge against the surprisingly dangerous Northern Illinois Huskies, clinging to a 38-37 win at home. There were plenty of moments I thought we'd lose it. But there were also a handful of times I thought we'd break it wide open. Neither came to pass. Still, we lucked out and moved to 2-0 before this weekend's game against the ranked Arizona State.

The bright side is we have a future Heisman Trophy candidate, freshman running back Tyrell Sutton. If here were smart, he'd transfer to a big-time program and make a name for himself, because he really is that damn good ("Mr. Football Ohio 2004"). When all was said and done, Sutton racked up 214 yards on 30 carries, scoring four touchdowns and making more juke moves than any running back I've ever controlled in Madden.

After Sutton's fourth and final TD made it 38-31 Good Guys, the Huskies charged up the field with less than a minute remaining and scored with seven seconds left. But instead of going for the tie and overtime, NIU opted for the two-point conversion. Now some people like Chipotle Bob think the coach had a stroke on the sideline, but I applauded the move. You're a sub-mid-major, you're on the road, your top back has rushed for 245 yards and three scores: Punch it in.

So what do they do? They throw a low fade to the corner and the receiver falls down. Northwestern wins. I was in favor of the two-point conversion, but that coach is flat-out stupid for not just running it into our sorry excuse for a rushing defense. Either way, Victory!

That game led into Ohio State's nighttime loss, which led right into the pinnacle of the weekend. As I always say here, I don't review shows -- I try to put a spin on what I've seen or capture the atmosophere of what was goin' down. So I won't waste time here describing the San Francisco quartet, Tea Leaf Green, but I will say, these guys fucking rock. They really have it; you can most certainly attach to them that French expression I like to roll my eyes at; they genuinely possess that tough-to-come-by quality that takes a band from just talented to truly special.

Selling out the main space in the Knitting Factory, TLG didn't take a song off on Saturday night. Every song was rocked and jammed out to the fullest: They went on stage at midnight, took a brief setbreak and continued to energize the raucous crowd until 3:30 in the morning. They're excellent song-writers, they're interesting performers, they're retardedly deft at their instruments and they understand how to put on a show. They really get it. They definitely have it.

I'm in. I'm on the bus. Shit, I'm sitting near the front of bus, annoying the driver. As I said to Hoobs that night, if I were an 18-year-old college kid again with no real concern for the outside world as it is, I'd follow these guys all over my region and track their progress closely. The only thing holding these guys back are the vocals, but they're not quite that bad. I guess the best compliment I can give TLG is this: I haven't been so impressed by a band the first time I saw them since those four dorks from Vermont I sometimes like to mention. Go see these guys. Immediately.

My body tired and aching from three-plus hours of standing and dancing, I drifted off into slumber with unbridled optimism and the reckless hope of an even better tomorrow.

Only that day, the brighter day I expected, never materialized. A schmeared bagel ingested, I sat down at the ready in my usual spot: the Ace Couchboy back in action, again. But this time, I watched the Kansas City run attack break through our speedy defense like the Gulf waters over the 17th Street Canal. Priest Holmes and Mr. Larry Johnson just carved us up like a Gang Green Harikari session. We were out of it and deflated by about 1:30.

What a pitiful way to open the season -- the Jets played with the sparkling ineptitude of the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I half-expected the CBS crew to speed up the packaged highlights and pipe in the Benny Hill theme song, or for the legendary John Facenda to arrive at halftime and narrate a slow-motion montage of Pennington fumble after Pennington fumble.

But fear not, fellow Jets fans. It's a long season, and yesterday's crushing blow will hopefully serve as a wake-up call for a team getting too much love. Remember, the 2002 Jets started 1-4, then 2-5, before streaking through the quad and into the gymnasium-slash-playoffs. May I also remind you, as good as that team was, this year's team is infinitely better. Pennington won't grease up his fingers for six fumbles in the first half, Kevin Mawae and the O-Line will get its act together for Miami, Coles won't drop the balls that make it his way...we're going to right this ship, and we're going to look back and laugh at this one. Fear not, I say.

If that defeat weren't bad enough, Minnesota decided to rip off my nuts and show them to me in a mean-spirited manner. I'm in (or, I was in) a couple knockout pools, the idea being you win and you advance. One pool is a $200 entry and a $118,000 winner-take-all payout. Talk about your all-time risk/rewards. A few years ago I made it to the final 16 for $75,000, but that's as far as I've gone. And to be honest, that heartbreak was worse than just about anything.

The Steelers had been 6-1-1 in their last eight games, and on that Sunday in early December they held the first-year Texans to just 37 yards rushing, 10 yards passing and only three first downs. The result? Oh yeah, the Texans routed the Steelers 24-6. If ever there were a time for Fred Willard's "Whaaa haaaapened?" this was it. I'm pretty sure I cried like a girl that day. So close to $75K cash, yet so far away.

So in essence, maybe I shouldn't mind the fact that Minnesota knocked me out of two suicide pools this early. Maybe they did me a favor. But as for how the NFC-favorite Vikings didn't come out at home with something to prove and rip Tampa's fucking heads off is beyond me. Just as I still hate the Steelers to this day because of their indiscretion, the same will go for Minny from here on out. I don't hold grudges...unless you cost me a chance at this type of cash. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to go out and win tomorrow's $200 million Mega Millions jackpot.

How did the The Yankees fit into this weekend? Well, they flipped the script on both days. They grounded my infinite joy by losing big on Saturday and they lifted my descending spirits with a yuge win on Sunday. Hey, I can't write a themed post when there's such an obvious wrench in the mechanics. And now we'll move on to play the most important games of the season...against the Devil Rays. Scary, right?

Overall, I had an incredibly fun weekend of music and baseball and tennis and welcoming back the gridiron superstars. The Jets lost embarassingly, the Wildcats won embarassingly, I lost my chance at riches, I found a new band to obsess about, and my Double Wing (Double Wing) fantasy team is in a heated match going into tonight's MNF game -- booo, Westbrook, booo Crumpler.

So I guess I can say it's all a push. Keep the vig.

Slack Song of the Day: Obviously it's a Tea Leaf Green day -- here are a few shows for your perusal:

1. High Sierra Late Night set (6/30/05 -- setlist, individual songs)
2. Mystic Theatre in Petaluma (3/11/05 -- setlist, indiv. songs)
3. Most recent, Binn's Park in PA (9/8/05 -- setlist, indiv. songs)

And here's a sampler site that some guy on PT put together.

Hopefully Saturday's show will be uploaded by the end of the week, but even still, yo really need to see these guys live to get a good feel.


At 2:55 PM, Blogger offpeak34 said...

Tea Leaf Green was by far the highlight of the weekend. I really wish my crew didn't have to leave...I can't wait to see them again. I haven't seen U-Melt yet, but you also spoke highly of them, how would they compare?

As far as our beloved Jets, I'm heartbroken, but we know what we have to work on. There were opportunities, and the defense stepped up in the 2nd half. That's all that has to be said about that game. I'm onto next week already.

At 3:28 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

TLG blows U-Melt out of the water...don't get me wrong, I enjoyed that U-Melt show thoroughly. But they seem to be a bit more electronika and show less dimensions than TLG. Still, they're both really talented young bands that I'm gonna keep my eye on.

Yes, Jets, let's move on. Gotta beat Miami.


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