Friday, December 30, 2011

2012 Rose Bowl

The following is definitely from the Oregon perspective. As a UO alum, I can't think about this in any other way.

OK...I would like to say that Oregon will win the 2012 Rose Bowl game, and do so by a couple touchdowns. And why not. I'd be justified based on how the Ducks played this season. I'd like to say that their superior speed, light speed pace of play and overall skill and toughness will eventually do in the slower, more methodical and traditional Wisconsin squad.

I'd like to say all that.

But experience tells me to think of some other things to say. For indeed, over the past three seasons there are three things that cannot be denied:

First, when the Ducks run up against big, strong defenses (Auburn, Ohio State, LSU) that have had weeks to prepare, they have not fared as well - indeed, they've lost. Some close (3 pts to Auburn, 9 pts to Ohio State), but lost. Perhaps a key difference this year is that despite Wisconsin's D being big, they are not nearly as fast and athletic as, say the "big uglies" over at LSU or Auburn. Stanford was like that and Oregon rolled them pretty good. But, in any case, there is no denying that the Badgers - at least on the surface - present the familiar dilemma for the Ducks.

Second, the Ducks seemed a bit lost for the first half of big games. They did some things well, but they seemed more out of sorts - or at least a bit more than the team they were playing. The result has been that the Ducks really never kicked into high gear on a regular basis until the second half. Too little, too late.

Third, prevalent in Oregon losses over the last three seasons have been turnovers. Oh, the turnovers. They gave it up several times to LSU deep in their own end leading to Tiger TDs - and the Ducks ended up losing by 14. And, in the 2010 Rose Bowl, the Ducks fumbled and were intercepted - directly leading to 10 points by Ohio State. The Ducks lost by 9. Turnovers were pretty even vs. Auburn last year's BCS championship game, but what if the Ducks hadn't turned it over at all?

Meanwhile, Wisconsin brings a lot to the table even if they are big and relatively slow. Their QB is mobile and accurate, they have a great RB and their D can hit. But, I don't see them as the lethal defensive football force that was the 2010 Auburn Tigers or is the 2011 LSU Tigers....and I don't think they are the offensive team that Ohio State was in 2009. To boil it down, the Badgers seem to have a few weaknesses that Oregon's previous BCS bowl and high profile opponents didn't have. And those weaknesses match up against for what Oregon does well.

So, all that being analyzed, I'll end up saying this...

Turnovers are going to be the decisive factor in who scores more points in this game - not rushing yards, passing yards, time of possession, receptions, passing efficiency or anything else. If Wisconsin leads in those more traditional categories, Oregon can overcome it and win - perhaps even by a lot. But turnovers? No. That's the Duck killer in big games against high quality opponents.

Also on this point, few or no turnovers will help mitigate the other factors that have challenged the Ducks in their big games - rust and the time other big teams have had to prepare for the Oregon attack.

So, if the Ducks do not turn the ball over more than one time in the 2012 Rose Bowl, I believe they will win. I REALLY like Oregon's chances if they hold onto the ball. However, if they turn it over 2 or more times, I don't think they will win. That's the history folks. The turnovers hurt in the moment, but they exponentially put the Ducks behind the eight ball.

If the Ducks hang on to the ball, they win. If not, they don't. So I'll go with that.

OK, you thin I'm weaseling out without a real prediction? Ducks with 1 turnover or less win 31-24. Ducks turn it over 2 or more times, they lose 27-14.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011: A Year In Pictures

2011 was a busy year and as usual I took a bunch of pictures of interesting things Diane and I saw over the last 12 months.

Check it out at my own "best of" at my 2011: A Year In Pictures set by clicking HERE.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Best Rock Music From 2011

Best new rock and roll of 2011

Below are a few new rock bands I found in 2011 that I really liked. Also listed are new sets of music by already existing bands that are worth a listen in my opinion.

New Bands, New Music

  • Mona - Mona
  • Funeral Party - The Golden Age of Knowhere
  • The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar

Older Bands, New Music

  • Manic Street Preachers - Postcards From A Young Man
  • Social Distortion - Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes 
  • British Sea Power - Valhalla Dancehall 
  • Glasvegas - Euphoric Heartbreak
  • The Beach Boys - The Smile Sessions

If you're someone asking "where has my rock and roll gone?" the above from 2011 may start helping you answer the question.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nine Year Rememberance: Strummer Wisdom

It is hard to believe nine years have gone by since one of my all time heroes, Joe Strummer, died of a heart defect at age 50. For those of you who don't know who Joe was, he was primarily a guy who turned his back on what was expected out of a young man back in the 1970s and turned himself into an icon of rock and roll rebellion - making his fame as the singer and chief lyric writer for The Clash. Based on that huge early success, he went on to act in a few movies (check out Mystery Train and Straight to Hell) and a music career leading bands like Latino Rockabilly War (late 1980s) and The Mescaleros (late 90s and early 00s). More info on the Mescaleros HERE.

A strong opponent of the scary UK right wing politics of the late 70s, Strummer carved out status as a passionate left-of-center hero to many. He was also one of the first artists to make his music production carbon neutral and was an early and eager supporter of the organization Future Forests - now called The Carbon Neutral Company. After his death, his wife set up Strummerville, a non-profit organization that helps unsighed artists with practice space and support.

Strummer, born name John Mellor, was one of those guys who combined intellect, in inherent (and healthy) scepticism for authority, a desire for personal rebellion, charisma, looks and cool style. For me, it's that first part - intellect - that is crucial to Joe becoming a favorite to me. Indeed, Strummer challenged the status quo, asked people to question their situation, question authority, stand up for themselves and do things for themselves instead of relying on others. (Left: Strummer in NYC in 1981. Picture by Bob Gruen.)

All that being said, in the end I think one of the best ways to remember Strummer is through his words. As a lyric writer, he was a man of words after all. With that, here are just a few things Joe either wrote, sang or said that I think deliver truth and, in most cases, are still highly relevant today...

"All the power in the ands of the people rich enough to buy it...while we walk the streets, too chicken to even try it. Everbody's doing just what their told to and nobody wants to go to jail." - from the song White Riot

“Authority is supposedly grounded in wisdom, but I could see from a very early age that authority was only a system of control and it didn't have any inherent wisdom." - Joe's observations on authority in the movie Let's Rock Again

"If you're out there getting the honey, then you don't go killing all the bees." - from the song Johnny Appleseed

"You have the right to free long as, you're not dumb enough to actually try it." - from the song Know Your Rights

"You grow up and you calm down, you start wearing blue and brown and working for the clampdown. No man born with a living soul is working for the clampdown." - from the song Clampdown

“And so now I'd like to say - people can change anything they want to. And that means everything in the world. People are running about following their little tracks - I am one of them. But we've all got to stop just following our own little mouse trail. People can do anything - this is something that I'm beginning to learn. People are out there doing bad things to each other. That's because they've been dehumanised. It's time to take the humanity back into the center of the ring and follow that for a time. Greed, it ain't going anywhere. They should have that in a big billboard across Times Square. Without people you're nothing. That's my spiel.” - from Joe's radio program and re-used in the movie about his life, The Future Is Unwritten
"The future is unwritten." - Joe observation
"You should get to know your town like I know mine." - from the song City of the Dead
"I have people come up to me and say, because of your band I decided to finish school, because of your band I majored in political science." - Joe's comments about Clash fans

"'Cause the wild side of life is one that you need." - from the song Midnight to Stevens

(Right: An older Strummer with his last band, the Mescaleros. Picture taken by ???)
"I think we're going to have to forget about the radio and just go back to word of mouth."
"When you blame yourself, you learn from it. If you blame someone else, you don't learn nothing, cause hey, it's not your fault, it's his fault, over there.” - Joe observation about music and radio
"Monday's coming like a jail on wheels!" - from the song 48 Hours
When asked by someone if he'd rather be a ticket collector or a garbage man, Strummer said, "A garbage man because at least then you would move about town and see people." - from the movie Lets Rock Again

Music by Joe Strummer that you should check out:
  • The Clash - London Calling
  • Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros - Global A Go Go
  • The 101'ers - Elgin Avenue Breakdown
There is also a great biography of Strummer called "Redemption Song" by Chris Saleowitz that gives you the full spectrum of the man's life and personality.

And you can check Joe out in a documentary film about his life titled "The Future Is Unwritten."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pac-12 Championship Game Prediction

Oregon hosts UCLA in the first Pac-12 championship game on Friday.

The winner of the North division, Oregon is also one of the nation's top 10 teams. Representing the South division, UCLA is decidedly not a top team. But, given USC is ineligible to play in this game, UCLA has the next best record of all the other South division teams. So, they'll suit up and give it a try.

Unlike other leagues with a championship game, the Pac-12 decided to place the game at whichever school of the two representatives is ranked higher. Oregon currently sits at #8 in the nation and UCLA is unranked. So the game is in Eugene.

As for my prediction...I don't see Oregon losing this game. A massive outbreak of turnovers and injuries might make it interesting, but barring that unexpected combination I see this one being "over" by halftime. UCLA just does not have the talent, coaching or motivation to win this one on the road.

I predict 47-17 Oregon. That would put the Ducks into the 2012 Rose Bowl game against the winner of the Big 10 championship game - either Wisconsin or Michigan State.