Monday, November 30, 2009

Athletic-Academic Comparison of BCS Conferences

I am a curious man. When I ask myself a question that has an answer that can be discerned with relative ease, I try my best to answer it. With that as a backdrop, I've always held the belief that the Big Ten is the best conference in the country when it comes to a combination of athletics and academics. The only conference I think could hold a candle to the Big Ten is the Pac-10, but I've always thought the Pac-10 was very top-heavy in both academics and athletics, whereas the Big Ten is more consistent throughout.

Thus, I have done such a comparison of the BCS conferences. I have run the numbers for all 65 BCS schools (for the Big East, I included only the football schools), and come to some extremely useful conclusions about which conferences are the smartest, dumbest, most athletic, least athletic, and best all around.

For athletic information, I looked at NCAA championships, which are available here:

The data is through the 2008-2009 season. And yes, I realize it's a little unfair because some schools have a lot more sports than others. But, if we're looking at athletics, then a school that excels at many sports is still better athletically than a school that doesn't excel at sports it doesn't have. Also, remember that there is no Division 1-A NCAA championship in football.

For academics, I looked at the US News and World Reports College Rankings from this past year, which are available here:

Because I am awesome and painfully detail-oriented, I came up with two rankings:
(1) Raw Ranking. Here, I will add a conference's average overall D-1 NCAA championship rank plus its average overall US News rank, and lowest total score wins. For instance, Arizona State ranks 18th in number of NCAA titles and 121st by US News. Thus, Arizona State's raw total would be 139.
(2) Relative Ranking. Here, I will remove the non-BCS schools from both categories and rank each school 1-65 in both categories. For instance, Arizona State's relative ranking for NCAA titles is 16th and for academics is 52nd. Thus, Arizona State's relative total would be 68.

There are 169 schools that have won a Division 1 national title. Thus, if a school has no national championships, then they receive a 170 as a raw athletic score (and 60 for the relative athletic score). There are 133 schools that receive a numerical ranking in US News. If a school is ranked in Tier 3, it is ranked between 134 and 200, so the average is 167, which will be a Tier 3 school's raw academic score (and 56 as a relative academic score). There are no BCS schools ranked lower than Tier 3.

Rather than bore you with all of the gruesome details, here are the rankings:

Raw Athletic (this number represents the average overall ranking of a conference's members' national titles)
1. Big Ten – 29.91
2. Pac-10 – 33.4
3. Big XII – 60.17
4. ACC – 70.33
5. SEC – 70.5
6. Big East – 96.38

Raw Academic (this number represents the average overall US News ranking of a conference's members)
1. ACC – 48.67
2. Big Ten – 50.18
3. Pac-10 – 72.8
4. SEC – 103.33
5. Big XII – 104.17
6. Big East – 114.25

Raw Overall
1. Big Ten – 80.09
Best school: Michigan – 37 (10 athletic; 27 academic)
Worst school: Purdue – 156 (95 athletic; 61 academic)
2. Pac-10 – 106.2
Best school: Stanford – 6 (2 athletic; 4 academic)
Worst school: Oregon State – 250 (83 athletic; 167 academic)
3. ACC – 119
Best school: North Carolina – 37 (9 athletic; 28 academic)
Worst school: Virginia Tech – 241 (170 athletic; 71 academic)
4. Big XII – 164.33
Best school: Texas – 54 (7 athletic; 47 academic)
Worst school: Kansas State – 337 (170 athletic; 167 academic)
5. SEC – 173.83
Best school: Georgia – 72 (14 athletic; 58 academic)
Worst school: Mississippi and Mississippi State – 337 (170 athletic; 167 academic)
6. Big East – 210.63
Best school: Syracuse – 96 (38 athletic; 58 academic)
Worst school: South Florida – 337 (170 athletic; 167 academic)

Top 10 Overall schools
1. Stanford – 6 (2 athletic; 4 academic)
2. UCLA – 25 (1 athletic; 24 academic)
3. Southern California – 29 (3 athletic; 26 academic)
4. California – 32 (11 athletic; 21 academic)
5 (tie). Michigan – 37 (10 athletic; 27 academic)
5 (tie). North Carolina – 37 (9 athletic; 28 academic)
7. Wisconsin – 53 (14 athletic; 39 academic)
8. Texas – 54 (7 athletic; 47 academic)
9 (tie). Duke – 55 (45 athletic; 10 academic)
9 (tie). Penn State – 55 (8 athletic; 47 academic)

Worst 10 Overall schools
1 (tie.) Kansas State, Mississippi, Mississippi State, and South Florida – 337 (170 athletic; 167 academic)
5. Texas Tech – 294 (127 athletic; 167 academic)
6 (tie). Cincinnati and Louisville – 262 (95 athletic; 167 academic)
8. Oregon State – 250 (83 athletic; 167 academic)
9. Virginia Tech – 241 (170 athletic; 71 academic)
10. South Carolina – 237 (127 athletic; 110 academic)

Relative Athletic
1. Pac-10 – 21.4
2. Big Ten – 21.45
3. Big XII – 32.75
4. SEC – 34.33
5. ACC – 38.25
6. Big East – 45.25

Relative Academic
1. ACC – 19.5
2. Big Ten – 20.55
3. Pac-10 – 28.7
4. Big XII – 41
5. SEC – 41.33
6. Big East – 41.38

Relative Overall
1. Big Ten – 42
Best school: Michigan – 19 (10 athletic; 9 academic)
Worst school: Purdue – 74 (48 athletic; 26 academic)
2. Pac-10 – 50.1
Best school: Stanford – 3 (2 athletic; 1 academic)
Worst school: Oregon State – 101 (45 athletic; 56 academic)
3. ACC – 57.75
Best school: North Carolina – 19 (9 athletic; 10 academic)
Worst school: Virginia Tech – 92 (60 athletic; 32 academic)
4. Big XII – 73.75
Best school: Texas – 24 (7 athletic; 27 academic)
Worst school: Kansas State – 116 (60 athletic; 56 academic)
5. SEC – 75.67
Best school: Georgia – 36 (12 athletic; 24 academic)
Worst school: Mississippi and Mississippi State – 337 116 (60 athletic; 56 academic)
6. Big East – 86.63
Best school: Syracuse – 55 (31 athletic; 24 academic)
Worst school: South Florida – 116 (60 athletic; 56 academic)

Top 10 Overall schools
1. Stanford – 3 (2 athletic; 1 academic)
2. UCLA – 7 (1 athletic; 6 academic)
3. Southern California – 11 (3 athletic; 8 academic)
4. California – 16 (11 athletic; 5 academic)
5 (tie). Michigan – 19 (10 athletic; 9 academic)
5 (tie). North Carolina – 19 (9 athletic; 10 academic)
7. Texas – 24 (7 athletic; 27 academic)
8. Penn State – 25 (8 athletic; 17 academic)
9. Wisconsin – 26 (12 athletic; 14 academic)
10. Virginia – 32 (26 athletic; 6 academic)

Worst 10 Overall schools
1 (tie.) Kansas State, Mississippi, Mississippi State, and South Florida – 116 (60 athletic; 56 academic)
5. Texas Tech – 111 (55 athletic; 56 academic)
6. South Carolina – 105 (55 athletic; 50 academic)
7 (tie). Cincinnati and Louisville – 104 (48 athletic; 56 academic)
9. Oregon State – 101 (45 athletic; 56 academic)
10. Washington State – 96 (48 athletic; 48 academic)

Hypothesis proven.

Undefeated After Week 13

I don't know if you were aware, but this past Saturday Tim Tebow (who is, in fact, Jesus Christ resurrected) played his last home game at Florida. Did Urban Meyer cry earlier in the week while talking about Tebow? What bible verse did Tebow have on his eye black? Is Tebow considered a good person and/or football player? How many times did he turn Gatorade into wine? I just wish there had been more coverage on the matter.

Anywho, there were a couple close calls in the ranks of the unbeatens last weekend. Texas, Cincinnati, and Boise State had mild scares from an ag school, a gymnastics school, and a gambling school, respectively. And thanks to a classic bed shitting by Auburn, Alabama remains undefeated heading into this Saturday's SEC championship/BCS championship elimination game with Florida.

Here is a breakdown of the six undefeated teams and each team's remaining games (rankings are BCS rankings):

#1 Florida (12-0)
12/5 - #2 Alabama (12-0) (1.000) (SEC championship game in Atlanta)

#2 Alabama (12-0)
12/5 - #1 Florida (12-0) (1.000) (SEC championship game in Atlanta)

#3 Texas (12-0)
12/5 - Nebraska (9-3) (.750) (Big XII championship game in Arlington, Texas)

#4 TCU (12-0)
Regular season is over

#5 Cincinnati (11-0)
12/5 – at #15 Pittsburgh (9-2) (.818)

#6 Boise State (12-0)
12/5 – New Mexico State (3-9) (.250)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday Top Ten: More Questions I Struggle With on a Daily Basis

Two weeks ago, I posted Ten Questions I Struggle With on a Daily Basis. It was met with significant fanfare, particularly in the Reston, Virginia area.

On a completed unrelated note, I feel like I need to get something off of my chest. Last night, in addition to the usual night terrors, I had a dream that Jessie didn't know who Jermiane Dupri is. Used to date Janet Jackson? In the Ferrari or Jaguar, switchin' four lanes? With the top down, screamin' out money ain't a thang? None of it was registering with her, and I was getting pretty pissed off. Jester, I didn't mean to fly off the handle, but come on.

Anyway, if you think there are only ten questions I struggle with on a daily basis, then you're sorely mistaken. My mind is constantly wandering. Hell, most of the time, I'm not even paying attention when people are talking because I'm so concerned about unanswered questions. I haunt myself.

10 (tie). Why can't I throw a football more than five yards in my dreams? Sweet Jesus, that's more frustrating than when your wife doesn't recognize one of the most successful hip hop producers of the last 15 years.

10 (tie). Do I not chew corn?

9. Arrested Development: What the fuck, America?

8. At what point in a man's life does he acquire "old man smell"? And is there anything that can be done to prevent it?

7. If a pathological liar says he's lying, is he telling the truth?

6. Why do people so often use ellipses incorrectly? I wonder when it will end . . .

5. How can anyone listen to "smooth jazz"? And will there ever be a point in my life when I will tolerate smooth jazz? If so, kick me where my balls used to be.

4. Why do fashion trends that look objectively terrible become popular? Uggs, crocs, women's sunglasses that cover half of their face, stirrup pants, and flat-brimmed baseball caps are some that come to mind.

3. Why does everyone assume people with Alzheimer's are suffering? Why isn't it assumed that they're having new and exciting adventures every few minutes?

2. In 500 years, will anyone know who Brad Pitt is? (Or anyone else who is famous today?)

1. How can anyone walk so fucking slowly? And is every slow walker completely oblivious to the fact that they're walking slowly (kind of like how douchebags don't realize they're douchebags), which would seem impossible, given that you have to try to walk that slowly? Or do they just not care that they are an impediment to everyone else on the sidewalk?

If you can answer any of these questions, please do so.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Undefeated After Week 12

It's getting down to crunch time, and we may very well have 5 undefeated teams going into the bowl season. That's insane, and should certainly get the proponents of a playoff system in a tizzy.

Here is a breakdown of the undefeated teams and each team's remaining games (rankings are BCS rankings):

#1 Florida (11-0)
11/28 – Florida State (6-5)
12/5 - #2 Alabama (11-0) (SEC championship game)

Remaining opponents' combined record: 17-5 (.773)

#2 Alabama (11-0)
11/27 – at Auburn (7-4)
12/5 - #1 Florida (11-0) (SEC championship game)

Remaining opponents' combined record: 18-4 (.818)

#3 Texas (11-0)
11/26 – at Texas A&M (6-5)
12/5 - Nebraska (8-3) (Big XII championship game)

Remaining opponents' combined record: 14-8 (.636)

#4 TCU (11-0)
11/28 – New Mexico (1-10) (.091)

#5 Cincinnati (10-0)
11/27 – Illinois (3-7)
12/5 – at #9 Pittsburgh (9-1)

Remaining opponents' combined record: 12-8 (.600)

#6 Boise State (11-0)
11/27 – Nevada (8-3)
12/5 – New Mexico State (3-8)

Remaining opponents' combined record: 11-11 (.500)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Midwestern Eavesdropping - 11/19/09

A guy dressed as Marty McFly at a Halloween party: "We're going back to the future."Some other guy: "8.8 gigawatts!"
--Chicago, Webster & Bissell
Eavesdropper: GMYH

TV commercial: "Black is the new taco."
Woman who gave birth less than a week before: "My taco feels black."
Eavesdropper: The Loose-Lipped Lithuanian

Twentysomething female, upon entering apartment she had never been to before: "It smells like flowers and gummy bears."
Eavesdropper: GMYH

Thirtysomething female walking with friend: "I thought he was finally cured but then I put a sweatshirt on one night and I was like...why is this wet?"
--Chicago, Wacker & Washington
Eavesdropper: RobD

Twentysomething female: "I totally had my face buried in her fur."
Eavesdropper: GMYH

Fortysomething federal employee: "How do you keep your kids so quiet?"
Mangy, yet sincere, thirtysomething man within earshot of his children: "I beat them."--Indianapolis
Eavesdropper: Messy

Drunk guy at bar, referring to Kenny Rogers: "The man could make chicken and sing ballads."
--Chicago, Rocks, Schubert & Lakewood
Eavesdropper: GMYH

In a group of old people, an overly-excited old lady to her husband in a "Jerry Seinfeld's mom" -esque voice: "I bought us some nuts and dried berries. We can make trail mix!"
--Beijing, airport
Eavesdropper: Yehday

Chick talking on cell phone: "Have I ever told you the story of my teeth?"
--Chicago, State & Hubbard
Eavesdropper: GMYH

Discussion regarding a friend's engagement:
Guy 1: "Is she cute?"
Guy 2: "Well--I mean, yes. She is attractive, in the basic sense of the world. She's a little unorthodox."
Guy 1: "What does that mean? Short hair? Too tall? Pale?"
Guy 2: "Well..."
Guy 3: "The main issue is that she only has one hand."
--Chicago, State & Schiller
Eavesdropper: RobD

Thirtysomething female watching college basketball game, after saying she thought dark-skinned African-American college basketball player was handsome: "I don't like milky. I like dark and shiny."
Eavesdropper: GMYH

Thanks to all who contributed. As always, if you overhear something hilarious, email it to for inclusion in the next installment of Midwestern Eavesdropping.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesday Top Ten: Reasons IU is Better Than Purdue

It's Old Oaken Bucket week, as IU and Purdue will clash this Saturday (3:30 ET, Big Ten Network) for bragging rights (and pretty much nothing else). This, of course, means that it's high-time for discussing Purdue's many deficiencies.

You know I hate Purdue. I've made that abundantly clear. Hell, if you Google "Fuck Purdue" or "I hate Purdue," this here blog is the first result for both searches. Purdue is a vile and despicable place born out of a failed professorship, hog by-products, and a discernible lack of Vitamin D. If you are looking to be underwhelmed, then Purdue is the place for you, from its concrete quads to its consistent underachievement in athletics and academics.

West Lafayette, Indiana is akin to a post-apocalyptic hinterland – not unlike Los Angeles after Skynet – constantly covered in a shroud of gray. Beneath the low-hanging clouds, you will find befuddled and unkempt corn-fed engineering and ag students breathing through their mouths as they trudge around campus in piss-yellow sweatshirts and ill-fitting sweatpants covering skid-marked tidy whities. And the men aren't exactly the picks of the litter either. This is, after all, the school that has produced Brian Cardinal, Kyle Orton, and Carson Cunningham. If you listen closely, you can hear masked screams of ugly-students-past under the constant and bitter wind that wafts the effluence from nearby pig farms and sewage treatment facilities throughout Purdue's campus.

With that introduction, here are the top ten reasons IU is better than Purdue:

10 (tie). While IU touts the fact that the structure for DNA was discovered on its campus, Purdue is proud of the fact that they financed and helped modify the plane that carried Amelia Earhart – who was a whore, mind you – to her death.

10 (tie). Purdue clings to the incorrect notion that it has the largest bass drum in the world. Whether it's the largest or not, one thing is true: it gets hit on more than the average (and I do mean average) Purdue co-ed. Zing!

10 (tie). IU was once ranked the number one party school in the nation by the Princeton Review. Purdue – whose most famous bar is a self-titled "chocolate shop" – once rioted after they won an NCAA title in women's basketball.

10 (tie). IU's campus is perennially ranked as one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, while Purdue needs a giant fan to make it smell less "manure-y."

9. Purdue has courses in animal husbandry, and the National Swine Registry is located in West Lafayette, while IU is home to the Kinsey Institute and the largest library of porn in the world.

8. The women at IU are generally considered to collectively be the best looking women in the Big Ten, if not the entire Midwest. At Purdue, the women are so homely that one of the literate students once wrote an editorial in the school newspaper entitled "Purdue doesn't have enough quality women," and otherwise neutral basketball announcers feel the need to comment about their cheerleaders' lack of attractiveness. If you need further convincing, look no further than former "lady" Boiler Ukari Figgs. Actually, I probably shouldn't have mentioned her. If Jack Link's has taught us anything, it's don't mess with Sasquatch.

7. When attending an athletic event at IU, you might run into John Mellencamp. When attending an athletic event at Purdue, you might run into this:
6. IU's motto, "Lux Et Veritas," when translated, means "light and truth." Purdue's motto, "Education, Research, Service," when translated, means "Keeping Ugly Girls Out of IU since 1869." It's true. I read it on a sign once.

5. Quick, name a famous cult leader responsible for one of the largest mass suicides of all-time who went to Purdue. You can't, can you? But if you were talking about IU, then you'd be talking about none other than charismatic Peoples Temple wunderkind Jim Jones.

4. IU is a Public Ivy. Purdue is a public toilet.

3. Bloomington was the setting of an Academy Award winning film, while West Lafayette – although never filmed (too dark) and never actually mentioned on screen in any film ever – is the inspiration behind the titles of such film as "In Hell," "Anatomy of Failure," and "Porky's."

2. IU's basketball coaches have claimed national championships and Final Four berths, while the only championships Purdue's basketball coaches claim are in Goonies character look-alike contests.

1. Purdue allows its football players to take pictures like this:
IU doesn't.

I would be honored if you would add comments with any additional reasons why IU is better than Purdue.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Couple Happy Birthdays

Happy birthday to my mom and aunt, who both turn 39 again this week and who, for some reason, both read this abortion I call a blog. Sorry for saying fuck, shit, and abortion so much.

Undefeated After Week 11

No undefeated teams lost this weekend. Here is a breakdown of the undefeated teams and each team's remaining games (rankings are BCS rankings):

#1 Florida (10-0)
11/21 – Florida International (3-7)
11/28 – Florida State (5-5)
12/5 - #2 Alabama (10-0) (SEC championship game)

Remaining opponents' combined record: 18-12 (.600)

#2 Alabama (10-0)
11/21 – Chattanooga (6-4) (FCS team)
11/27 – at Auburn (7-4)
12/5 - #1 Florida (10-0) (SEC championship game)

Remaining opponents' combined record: 23-8 (.742)

#3 Texas (10-0)
11/21 – Kansas (5-5)
11/26 – at Texas A&M (5-5)

Remaining opponents' combined record: 10-10 (.500)

#4 TCU (10-0)
11/21 – at Wyoming (5-5)
11/28 – New Mexico (0-10)

Remaining opponents' combined record: 5-15 (.250)

#5 Cincinnati (10-0)
11/27 – Illinois (3-7)
12/5 – at #9 Pittsburgh (9-1)

Remaining opponents' combined record: 12-8 (.600)

#6 Boise State (10-0)
11/20 – at Utah State (3-7)
11/27 – Nevada (7-3)
12/5 – New Mexico State (3-7)

Remaining opponents' combined record: 13-17 (.433)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Who Dey!

I suppose there is nothing about this entire story that is surprising, except the female anchor's reaction at the very end.

On Foo Fighting and You Too

A couple weeks ago, Greg Weeser* emailed me a long, rambling (but well-thought-out) email about Foo Fighters and U2. I have been working on a response since then. Here it is. Greg's email will be in yellow. My responses will be in non-yellow.

Have we done a Foo Fighters / U2 blog chat? (I think Foo last year...)


Watching the Foo Fighters live at Wembley on HD...they have to count as a rather under-the-radar Rock Legend band, no?


They've been going for about 15 years now...they're the kind of band that has many more awesome hits than you'd assume at first...then you hear them live, and realize they kick ass (much like when I took my brothers to Van Halen in the 90s, and they were shocked they knew every song).

True. I have actually said that I think Foo Fighters are one of the best hard rock bands of the past 15 years.

I'd say they'd certainly qualify as the "Frasier" of Rock Bands....basically, the most successful "spinoff band" ever. I.E, a direct descendant of a successful band whose achievements as a new group can stand alone (and above) it's predecessor (though not necessarily as historically memorable as the initial band). Cheers was a legendary show, aired for 10 years or so...but then Frasier comes along, airs longer with better ratings, eventually to the point where people watched Frasier without any thought of Cheers.

Okay. I like that analogy. It's definitely apt. I don't really think of Nirvana when I listen to Foo Fighters.

As groundbreaking as Nirvana was, Foo Fighters has sold many more albums for many more years (though, for obvious reasons, I suppose).

Yes. Kurt Cobain's death effectively put an end to Nirvana's ability to make more albums.

I'm not sure there's any precedence for this....usually when there's a 'spinoff' of an Ultra-successful band, it's either a joke (Wings, Chickenfoot (!!)), or just a solo spinoff (Peter Gabriel from Genesis, Eric Clapton from Cream, etc). Am I right, or am I missing anything?

The Yardbirds, who were successful in their own right, spun off Cream, The Jeff Beck Group, Blind Faith, Derek & The Dominos, and Led Zeppelin. Santana spun off Journey. Free spun off Bad Company. Deep Purple spun off Rainbow and Whitesnake. I suppose if Nirvana spun off Foo Fighters, then James Gang spun off The Eagles and Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, and The Hollies spun off Crosby Stills & Nash/Crosby Stills Nash & Young. Jefferson Airplane spun off Starship. Without them, we'd have no cities built on rock and roll. Wings, although I'm not a huge fan, was a pretty successful spin-off band. I don't mind Chickenfoot. And let's not forget Velvet Revolver, which I think put out two pretty good hard rock albums.

Also, I caught the live YouTube broadcast of U2's Rose Bowl show last week, and aside from 1) It being a huge slap in my face for not buying tickets and 2) An insane technological achievement...the quality of the live internet stream was near-Hi Def quality - it sort of drove home the fact that U2 probably belongs in the running for "Best Rock Band Ever", only next to the Beatles.

No. The Stones, Zeppelin, The Doors, The Who, to name a few, are above U2. I'm sorry, but longevity alone does not get you in the upper echelon. I would put the top 5 albums from any of the aforementioned bands up against U2's top 5 albums, and I think the other bands blow the doors off of U2. But that's just, you know, my opinion, man.

Sure, there's the Doors, Stones, Zeppelin, etc.... but there's a lot of myth to those bands. They all went through dark, lame and embarrassing periods. And all of them fell apart (or in the case of the Stones, *almost* fell apart many times). U2 never hit such a slump. The Pop album was sort of a disappointment, but it was sort of a blip and sold millions anyway. The accompanying Pop Mart tour was still huge, and it's served as a successful template for their succeeding tours.

I disagree about The Doors and Zeppelin. The Doors disbanded because Jim Morrison – you know, their lead singer – died. Only one Doors album (Soft Parade) was arguably "bad" (and it went platinum anyway). Zeppelin only disbanded because John Bonham died. I can't think of one Zeppelin album that I would consider "bad." As for the Stones, yes, many of their albums after 1981's Tattoo You are not great (although every one of them has gone platinum). But I can't think of a U2 album that is better than Sticky Fingers, Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, or Exile on Main St. (which, by the way, were all released within a 3 1/2 year period).

These days, bands aren't as prolific as bands in the '60s and '70s, often going two years (sometimes more) between albums. The Beatles released 12 1/2 (I'm counting Yellow Submarine as a half, since half of the album is Beatles songs, while the other half is movie score) in 7 years. The Doors made 6 albums in 4 years. Zeppelin put out 9 albums in 13 years, with 1982's Coda – a collection of outtakes and previously unreleased songs – being released two years after John Bonham's death, so their first 8 albums were done in 10 years.

On the other hand, U2 has put out 12 studio albums in 29 years. (The Stones's 12th album was Sticky Fingers, which was released in 1971, 7 years after their first album was released.) If you spend 5 years between albums, you sure as hell better be able to put out something good. You are correct that Pop was terrible. Since Pop was released in 1997, U2 has put out only 3 albums. In contrast, in that same time span, the aforementioned Foo Fighters have put out 5 albums, and The White Stripes have put out 6 albums (and Jack White has put out another 2 with The Raconteurs and another one with Dead Weather).

So, while U2 has never hit a slump, as you say, it's because they have managed to stretch things out a little more than last generation's bands did. Yes, U2 is thrust into the spotlight every time they release an album, but then you don't really hear much from or about them for a couple years, unless they happen to come through your town on their tour. (This is not to take anything away from their tours – obviously those have been very innovative and successful over the years.)

More importantly, the band has a queer knack to emerge from potentially arrogant/career-ending flights of hubris (cheesiness of Joshua Tree fashion, failure of Rattle & Hum film, cockiness of Zoo TV tour) to be even more popular than ever. They have been a political band all their existence, but have always kept credibility...and yet retained a huge amount of global influence. I can't really picture any other pop band meeting with Clinton *and* Bush to equal effect.... Ironically, Bono has blurted out "God Bless George Bush" without a hint of sarcasm on the current tour when he talks about the efforts of debt relief to Africa. Almost every other rock band crashes and burns when they enter the political arena in recent times (Dixie Chicks, Kanye West, etc).

I completely agree with this one. Bono is a very credible ambassador. Bob Geldof is about the only other rock personality I can think of who has been able to be as political and socially conscious as Bono while still maintaining credibility. Eddie Vedder has tried and, I think, been successful at being political without hurting his career or his credibility. Springsteen, Neil Young, and Mellencamp come to mind too.

Which is to say nothing of the longevity of their hipness. They've been a 'cool' band since before we (or at least me, old man) were born, yet they can still pull off doing an ipod (or Blackberry, sadly) ad without seeming insincere, pathetic or 'reaching' for their youth. Bands like Aerosmith, the Stones, Paul McCartney, Don Henley....fall far short of this standard...

They have not been a cool band since before either of us were born. Their first album was released in 1980, a little more than a week shy of my third birthday. And you're only three months younger than me. Facts aside, you are correct that they are cool enough to pull off an iPod commercial without seeming insincere, although one could argue that it has an air of selling out. (I'm not saying I think they're necessarily selling out.)

Don't ever bring up Don Henley in the same sentence as Aerosmith, The Stones, or Paul McCartney again. Ever.

The thing that made me think of all this blurbing (aside from the 6 pack of Tecate) was when I considered all of the bands that were 'contemporaries' of U2 back when they first got big ('84 ish). Bands that had a popular following, but also 'socially active': REM? The Clash? Peter Gabriel? Fucking Midnight Oil? They're all big jokes now...a decade or more past their prime. Yet U2 comes around every 3 years for the last 30 years, selling millions of albums, playing dozens of countries in every corner of the planet, collecting new 14-year-old fans and retaining the 50-year olds, getting the respect of teenage punkers and world leaders... I'm not sure any original band has done it as successfully, for as long.

Tecate – nice. I would hardly say The Clash is a big joke now. They're generally considered one of the most influential bands of the past 30 years, certainly on alternative rock. Plus, they broke up in 1986 and Joe Strummer died in 2002, so it's kind of an unfair statement to say they're past their prime. REM, even though I'm not a big fan, put out some pretty well-received albums for a long time. Granted, I can't remember the last time I heard a new REM song (and it's been even longer since I've liked one). As for Midnight Oil, it's probably been really hard to make music since they can't even sleep, on account of the fact that their beds are burning.

I think U2 has been so successful because they have become chameleons. And I don't mean that negatively. They have been able to adapt their sound so that they, for the most part, always sound fresh. That's something that, for instance, KISS had a big problem with. They kicked ass in the '70s. The struggled to find their place in the early '80s, then fit in pretty well sonically with '80s hair metal and hard rock, then fell off the map when grunge hit. With KISS, though, if they were to come out with a grunge album, it would have been seen as (1) them selling out, (2) them trying to be something they are obviously not, and (3) a kick in the pants to their fans.

On the other hand, U2 has not been afraid to change their sound at the risk of alienating fans. They started off rather punky. Surely their move to more a mainstream sound in the mid to late '80s lost them some fans. The same probably happened when they ill-fatedly dabbled with electronica and techno in the mid '90s. But whatever they've done has been well-received nonetheless because they never stray too far so that they no longer "sound like U2," gaining new fans and maintaining most of their fans along the way, which is certainly a testament to their ability to write good songs.

Which is not to say, of course, that U2 deserves to be anyone's "Favorite Band"...I think that's pretty gay and generic when people make that claim for themselves. As cool as they are, there's something emotionally unapproachable about them and their music. They're not flawed enough to be anyone's "all-time fav"... They never had the raw sex appeal or controversy to grab infamy or headlines like The Beatles, Jimi or Elvis... However...they also managed not to break up, overdose or get shot in the head like those guys either. Which is why U2 will probably have the most kick-ass, technologically and cool tour of 2021, for the better and for worse for their legacy.

U2 is not my favorite band and does not deserve to be. I agree that they're not as exciting as most bands. And I also agree that much of their success and reverence relates to their longevity. Frankly, though, had they broken up after Achtung Baby, they would probably be more highly regarded than they are now.

If Foo Fighters is the "Frasier" of Rock Bands, then U2 is the Hank Aaron, compared to The Beatles' Babe Ruth... U2 wasn't first, not as flashy or infamous...but not as overrated or as much of a disaster, either. And in the end, they will have played longer and more consistently great than the legend who set the benchmark...but will never be mentioned first when it comes to conversations about 'the best ever'.

No, no, no. This analogy doesn't work for several reasons:

First, Ruth and Aaron played approximately the same number of seasons (22 for Ruth; 23 for Aaron), whereas The Beatles were together for ten years and U2 has been together for 30 years. (Yes, I realize that Ruth was primarily a pitcher early in his career, but still.)

Second, it implies that U2 somehow had better numbers than The Beatles, which simply isn't true. The Beatles are heads and shoulders above U2 in pretty much every musical category:

Album sales: The Beatles are #1 worldwide with an estimated billion albums sold. U2 is somewhere between #15 and #20 with 150 million albums sold. The Beatles have sold more albums in the U.S. (over 190 million) than U2 has sold in the world.

RIAA platinum and diamond albums: Between studio albums, compilations, and live albums, the Beatles have 39 platinum albums, 24 multi-platinum albums, and 6 diamond albums. U2 has 15 platinum albums, 10 multi-platinum albums, and one diamond album.

Billboard Top 10 albums: The Beatles have had 30 top 10 albums and 18 #1 albums. U2 has had 10 top 10 albums and 7 #1 albums.

UK Top 10 albums: The Beatles have had 26 top 10 albums and 15 #1 albums. U2 has had 14 top 10 albums and 10 #1 albums.

Billboard Top 40 songs: The Beatles have had 50 top 40 songs, 34 top 10 songs, and 21 #1 songs. U2 has had 16 top 40 songs, 6 top 10 songs, and 2 #1 songs. (Since 1995, The Beatles have had as many Billboard top 20 (2) and top 10 (1) songs as U2.)

UK Top 40 songs: The Beatles have had 33 top 40 songs, 30 top 10 songs, and 19 #1 songs. U2 has had 42 top 40 songs, 32 top 10 songs, and 7 #1 songs.

Third, I disagree about the overrated comment, both for Ruth and The Beatles. Ruth was a career .342 hitter, to go along with his then-record 714 HRs and 2,217 RBI and his still-record slugging percentage .690 and OPS 1.164 (to go along with a 94-46 pitching record and a 2.28 ERA). Hardly overrated. The Beatles, well, it's impossible for them to be overrated. They single-handedly changed the course of rock and roll and have influenced every band since them (even the ones that don't want to sound like them).

Fourth, while U2 will have played longer than The Beatles, I disagree wholeheartedly that they are more consistently great. There are no bad Beatles albums, and very few bad Beatles songs. Bono and The Edge are no Lennon and McCartney. I can't name more than a few U2 songs off their past couple albums.

I do agree that U2 will never be mentioned first when it comes to conversations about "best ever." As I think I've made clear, nor should they. I'm not really sure there is an apt baseball analogy. I think a more appropriate analogy is that The Beatles are Jim Brown – a relatively short career with monumental achievement and no down points – while U2 is like a Franco Harris, a Thurman Thomas, or a Marcus Allen, who were all really good, made it to the Hall of Fame, and played longer than Jim Brown, but still didn't have as many rushing yards as Jim Brown and will (and should) never be considered to be in the same league as Jim Brown.

Whatever. Lepp rules.

No doubt.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday Top Ten: Questions I Struggle With On A Daily Basis

I have an overactive imagination, and I tend to overthink pretty much everything. Most days, I ask myself way too many questions to which I don't have the answers. Some of them are stupid and superficial. Others are deeper and extremely disconcerting (to me, anyway). With that, here are the top ten questions I struggle with on a daily basis (in no particular order):

10. If the color I recognize as red is actually what everyone else recognizes as blue, and vice versa, how would anyone ever know?

9. Holy shit, what's up with space? And if it's infinite, how can anyone possibly know that? And isn't the concept of infinity terrifying?

8. At what point in a woman's life does she make the conscious decision to cut her hair like a little boy?

7. I'll premise this one by saying that I am of the view that smart people should have more than the average 2.3 kids and dumb people should have fewer than 2.3 kids. Why do dumb people procreate so prolifically? Is it because they aren't smart enough to comprehend that they shouldn't be spreading their dumb seed? Or is it because they're assholes who don't care about the future of humanity? Or is it because they just don't understand contraceptive techniques?

6. If I can do my job just as effectively wearing a t-shirt and shorts, why the hell do I have to wear business casual.

5. Does heaven get boring? Or once you get there, do you wake up every day without knowing that you will be there for eternity?

4. Why is it that most of the women who wear tights in public have no idea they shouldn't wear tights in public? (By the way, if you're reading this and you wear tights in public, just stop.)

3. Are ghosts real? If so, what the fuck am I supposed to tell my kids?

2. How can anyone under 40 be a Republican?

1. How can anyone know that God exists? And how can anyone know that God doesn't exist?

If you can answer any of these questions, please do so.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Cold Gin Time Again

Aside from football, it was a pretty damn good weekend.

Friday night, I met Chandler and Hanig at WestEnd for a couple drinks, some dinner, and some Arkansas high school football. After getting our fill, we walked a couple blocks west on Madison to the United Center. We wanted the best, and we got the best: the hottest band in the land, KISS!

I've never seen KISS before, and I was terrified of them when I was a child, but I'm glad I overcame my fear. They put on a predictably awesome show, complete with pyrotechnics, loud noises, revolving drum kits, flying band members, and face paint. In all seriousness, the show was everything I expected and more.

After the show, as far as Jessie knows, I went to Rocks for one (and only one) drink, and then came home, fell asleep on the couch for 2 hours and 48 minutes, and then woke up bawling, covered in spaghetti while watching Captain Ron on Telemundo.

On Saturday, Jessie mentioned nothing of the incident, but tacitly threatened me by balancing two small cans of Diet Dr. Pepper on her uterus. The look on my face is one of restrained terror. I read you loud and clear, Jester.
Apparently, over the course of my life, I never learned that putting saran wrap over a bowl of soup being heated to a rolling boil in a microwave can create steam capable of doing harm to human skin. Because I never learned this, I burned the shit out of my thumb Saturday evening. Not literally, of course, as there has never been fecal matter in my thumb.

To reward myself for learning a valuable lesson, I, along with Bohmann, Goni, Chambre, and Mancallum, went to Reggie's Music Joint to see Township. As I may have mentioned, I have been waiting for several years for Township to come to Chicago, and I'm glad they finally did. Just like KISS the night before, Township put on a hell of a show. Not wanting to recreate the Station club tragedy, Township steered clear of the pyrotechnics, instead choosing a safer and equally as effective route of kicking ass without risking the lives of everyone in the club.

They play good, old-fashioned rock and roll, inspired by the bands of yore, including, but not limited to, Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin, early Aerosmith, early Springsteen, Santana, James Gang, and Grand Funk Railroad. Check out their music on iTunes, Amazon, or any of the following webpages:

They are from Boston and play a lot in and around New England and the East Coast. For those of you in that part of the country, you have no excuse. See them.

I had a chance to talk with the guys in the band after their set, and they were normal, down-to-earth guys. Unfortunately for them, they had to drive back to Boston that night because one of them had to work the next afternoon. For those of you keeping track, that's almost 1,000 miles, which is a solid 13-15 hours. That's brutal. Hopefully the next time they come to town (which they estimated would be in January or February), they won't have to drive a third of the way across the country right afterwards, thus allowing them to experience the age-old Midwestern practice of "binge drinking."

On a side note, I had never been to Reggie's Music Joint before. It was a pretty cool place to see music. Plus, on Sunday, they were having a pre-Bears-game pig roast that started at 7 a.m. At that point, I estimate Township would have been somewhere near Brocton, New York.

And on another side note, thank God Barney and Robin broke up.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Undefeated After Week 10

Well, Iowa finally lost, one week too late. Jerks. We are now down to six undefeated teams.

Here is a breakdown of the undefeated teams and each team's remaining games (rankings are BCS rankings):

#1 Florida (9-0)
11/14 – at South Carolina (6-4)
11/21 – Florida International (2-7)
11/28 – Florida State (4-5)

Remaining opponents' combined record: 12-16 (.429)

#2 Alabama (9-0)
11/14 – at Mississippi State (4-5)
11/21 – Chattanooga (5-4) (FCS team)
11/27 – at Auburn (7-3)

Remaining opponents' combined record: 16-12 (.571)

(If Florida and Alabama both win out in the regular season, they will face each other in the SEC championship game.)

#3 Texas (9-0)
11/14 – at Baylor (4-5)
11/21 – Kansas (5-4)
11/26 – at Texas A&M (5-4)

Remaining opponents' combined record: 14-13 (.519)

#4 TCU (9-0)
11/14 – #16 Utah (8-1)
11/21 – at Wyoming (4-5)
11/28 – New Mexico (0-9)

Remaining opponents' combined record: 12-15 (.444)

#5 Cincinnati (9-0)
11/13 – West Virginia (7-2)
11/27 – Illinois (3-6)
12/5 – at #12 Pittsburgh (8-1)

Remaining opponents' combined record: 18-9 (.667)

#6 Boise State (9-0)
11/14 – Idaho (7-3)
11/20 – at Utah State (2-7)
11/27 – Nevada (5-3)
12/5 – New Mexico State (3-6)

Remaining opponents' combined record: 17-19 (.472)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Township is Coming!

I have, on several occasions, touted the band Township, and I have been waiting for several years for them to make their way to the Midwest. Well, the wait is over. They are coming to Chicago this Saturday, playing at Reggie's Music Joint, along with a couple other bands. The show starts at 8:30 and it's only $5. I highly suggest you go see them.

In addition, on they're way to Chicago, they'll be making stops in Pittsburgh tomorrow night (at the Lava Lounge) and Cincinnati Friday night (at The Comet).

Here are the band's various websites, where you can hear their stuff:

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Help Choose Next Year's Lolla Lineup

The organizers of Lollapalooza are doing a cool thing this year. From now until November 10, you can submit the names of five bands you would like to play at next year's Lollapalooza – from headliners to bands only you have heard of. Obviously, there are no guarantees, but it's still cool that they're letting the fans have a say. Click here to submit your five.

FYI, I went with Air Supply, The Beatles, Menudo, GWAR, and Cervical Implosion.

Tuesday Top Ten: Halloween Costumes

Having recently celebrated the greatest holiday of the year, it's appropriate that I share with you what I thought were the best costumes I saw. Ryan's special ladyfriend Kaila and her roommate Mary had a Halloween party, which was a hell of a time. There were some good costumes there and some bad ones as well (most notably, Ryan's intial costume -- intended to be part of a group of Tom Cruises -- as Stefen Djordjevic from All The Right Moves, which entailed jeans, a polo shirt, and a high school football jacket, and was bad enough that he left the party, went home, and changed into a slightly-less-bad costume of a SCUBA diver).

Granted, I tend to take Halloween a little bit more seriously than most, but if you're not going to go all out, then you deserve to burn in hell. No offense to anyone.

I went as Max Fischer from Rushmore. Sic Transit Gloria. I made Perfect Attendance and Punctuality Award buttons, bought the pair of glasses I felt closest resembled Max's, found a Rushmore Academy crest, which Jester kindly sewed onto a blazer, and I styled my hair as close as I could (although I shouldn't have gotten it cut in early September, as I still didn't give myself enough time to grow it out enough). Anyway, here was the result (along with Holt, who was literally a flying Dutchman and wore this costume with no knowledge of the Tom Cruises):While I thought my costume was pretty good, it was by no means the best (or even in the top ten). With that, I give you my top five costumes I saw at the party (in no particular order).

10. Rachel and her boyfriend (?) dressed as Patrick Kane and the cabbie he beat up. I don't have a picture.

9. Some French guy dressed as a redneck. I can't tell if this is hilarious or cruel or both, but this dude's friends put him in this costume. Awesome.

8, 7. Some people I don't know as Gem ('80s cartoon rocker) and Cochese, Sir Stewart Wallace, and The Rookie from the Beastie Boys "Sabotage" video (no picture of Sir Stewart Wallace).

5. Daniel as Alan from The Hangover

4. Goni as Sponge Bob No Pants. You can't really tell, but he has no pants on.

3. Todd and wife as Max and one of the wild things from Where the Wild Things Are. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of this. Todd's wife made his costume, which included a giant mask that appeared to be made, at least in part, of papier mache. A wild rumpus indeed.

2. Kaila and Mary as Laverne & Shirley

1. The Brothers Weeser* (minus Greg, of course) as Doc and Marty, complete with a real live working walkman and a DeLorean, minus the DeLorean. Incidentally, we watched Back to the Future at the third-grade birthday party of The Brothers Weeser* (minus Dan and Tim, oddly).

Monday, November 02, 2009

Help Jeff and Brooke's Adoption Process

As we do from time to time here on GMYH, we promote good causes. One of my fraternity brothers and his wife (Jeff and Brooke, respectively) are in the process of adopting a baby from Ethiopia. Here are the details from Jeff's mouth (well, from his fingers anyway):

We are in the process of adopting a little boy who we have named Cullen, from Ethiopia. We are currently waiting for our case to be heard by the Ethiopian courts (a date that keeps getting pushed back) that will legally make him our son!

The process has been at the same time rewarding and difficult. We have been (and continue to be) stretched to our limits emotionally but have managed at the same time to fall in love with not just one little boy, but a country and cause. The culture and history of Ethiopia is both rich and sad. The result is that their are over 4 million orphans in this country alone.

In the midst of this increasingly long journey, we have come across a unique, philanthropic opportunity that is close to our own hearts. Just Love Coffee is a way to help orphans and their forever families (like us!). By purchasing Just Love Coffee, a portion of the proceeds go directly to helping bring OUR son home from Ethiopia.
They offer a number of blends as well as single origin coffees from around the world (and yes from Ethiopia). They also offer a montly club type service where you can pick the blends you are interested in and have them directly and automatically shipped to you every month (great Christmas present idea!!!!). I know many of you drink A LOT of coffee each month and this is one way that your morning (or all day) ritual can help us bring our son home!!

So visit our site at to start your coffee service now!!

Here is a little more information about Just Love Coffee:

All of their coffees are 100% fair trade which means that farmers who labor to bring us the finest hand picked beans are being paid a guaranteed minimum, sustainable wage. And, Just Love Coffee is not just reselling a product. They roast their coffees to order so that you are receiving the freshest coffee possible every time. Their goal as roasters at Just Love Coffees is for you to experience the unique qualities of the coffee, not the qualities of the roast.

Please help Jeff and Brooke out if you can, and get some good coffee at the same time.

New Addition

Congratulations are in order for Alex and his anonymous wife, who gave birth to a healthy baby girl yesterday. Scorpioooooooo!

Sweetness Remembered

Yesterday marked the tenth anniversary of Walter Payton's death. I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news: the cafeteria in my fraternity. I had just returned from a class and was in line to get some lunch when a guy two years younger than me came up to me and told me "I'm sorry." He new I was a huge Bears fan (and just as big a Walter Payton fan). I said, "About what?" Then he told me Walter Payton died. Then I knocked him out.

I moved to Chicago in the fall of 1985, and pretty quickly fell in love with the Bears. Like many kids growing up in Chicago in the '80s, Walter Payton was my hero. Whether he knew it or not, Payton was a role model for a generation of Chicagoans. Here was a guy who not only possessed all of the talent in the world, but he busted his ass on every play (whether he was running the ball, blocking, or running a route), he was tough as nails, and he was a classy, humble, genuinely nice man to boot.

In my opinion, Payton was hands down the greatest football player of all-time. He had the speed and grace of a gazelle, but he would run you over like a rhino. He never took the easy way out by running out of bounds. Instead, he would lower his shoulder and knock a defender over to try to get another couple yards. He invented and perfected leaping over the pile for a touchdown. And when he scored a touchdown, he didn't dance or spike the ball; he handed the ball back to the ref and headed to the sidelines. In an era not as enamored with passing the ball as today's NFL, he caught nearly 500 passes for over 4,500 yards, in addition to his 16,726 rushing yards. And he was the Bears' back-up kicker and third-string QB. When he retired, he was the NFL's all-time leader in rushing yards, yards from scrimmage, rushing touchdowns, total touchdowns, and several other categories. I still get chills every time I see the clip of him breaking Jim Brown's all-time rushing record (even if I didn't see it live).

I urge you all to check out the Remembering Walter Payton page on the Bears website (thanks to Bohmann for the link). There are some great highlight videos, as well as a tearjerking tribute video. I'm sure I speak for every Bears fan when I say that Walter Payton is sorely missed.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Undefeated After Week 9

Well, the Hoosiers nearly dropped Iowa, but thanks to some questionable calls, the luckiest 5-bounce interception ever, and an epic fourth-quarter implosion, the Hawkeyes escaped to remain undefeated. I punched a pumpkin Saturday afternoon.

Here is a breakdown of the undefeated teams and each team's remaining games (rankings are BCS rankings):

#1 Florida (8-0)
11/7 – Vanderbilt (2-7)
11/14 – at South Carolina (6-3)
11/21 – Florida International (2-6)
11/28 – Florida State (4-4)

Remaining opponents' combined record: 14-20 (.412)

#2 Texas (8-0)
11/7 – UCF (4-3)
11/14 – at Baylor (3-5)
11/21 – Kansas (5-3)
11/26 – at Texas A&M (5-3)

Remaining opponents' combined record: 17-14 (.548)

#3 Alabama (8-0)
11/7 – #9 LSU (7-1)
11/14 – at Mississippi State (4-5)
11/21 – Chattanooga (5-3) (FCS team)
11/27 – at Auburn (6-3)

Remaining opponents' combined record: 22-12 (.647)

(If Florida and Alabama both win out in the regular season, they will face each other in the SEC championship game.)

#4 Iowa (9-0)
11/7 – Northwestern (5-4)
11/14 – at #16 Ohio State (7-2)
11/21 – Minnesota (5-4)

Remaining opponents' combined record: 17-10 (.630)

#5 Cincinnati (8-0)
11/7 – Connecticut (4-4)
11/13 – West Virginia (6-2)
11/27 – Illinois (2-6)
12/5 – at #13 Pittsburgh (7-1)

Remaining opponents' combined record: 19-13 (.594)

#6 TCU (8-0)
11/7 – at San Diego State (4-4)
11/14 – #14 Utah (7-1)
11/21 – at Wyoming (4-4)
11/28 – New Mexico (0-8)

Remaining opponents' combined record: 15-17 (.469)

#7 Boise State (8-0)
11/6 – at Louisiana Tech (3-5)
11/14 – Idaho (7-2)
11/20 – at Utah State (2-6)
11/27 – Nevada (5-3)
12/5 – New Mexico State (3-6)

Remaining opponents' combined record: 20-22 (.476)