A “Trap Game” In The Land Of The Golden Gophers

Tomorrow night Ohio State will play at Minnesota.  It is one of those “trap games”  — a game that the Buckeyes are expected to win, but also a game that poses challenges.

It has been a tough season for the Golden Gophers.  They are 0-4 in the Big Ten, having lost to Northwestern, Penn State, Wisconsin, and Purdue, and 1-7 overall.  They had an embarrassing defeat to South Dakota, and earlier this season they fired their coach.  Still, Minnesota has managed to put points on the board in its conference losses.  They are led by a senior quarterback, Adam Weber, who has thrown for 17 touchdowns, and a big, tall, receiver, Da’Jon McKnight, who has caught nine of those scoring passes.  They have two good running backs who share rushing duties.  The Golden Gopher defense, however, has been a problem all season.

You would expect Ohio State to win this game, but there is reason for Buckeye fans to be wary.  This game is a way for the Minnesota players to salvage something from an otherwise lost season.  The Golden Gophers will be playing under the lights on national TV before what is likely to be their biggest crowd of the season.  They just saw their arch-rival, Wisconsin, beat Ohio State in a night game, and they will be fired up to duplicate that achievement.  I would expect Minnesota and its interim coach to pull out every stop and use every play in the playbook to try to win tomorrow night’s game.

As I said, it’s a trap game.  I hope the Buckeyes are ready.

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Roller Derby Daze

Recently I heard a report on NPR about the growing popularity of roller derby, and I’ve seen articles about the phenomenon, too.  Seriously . . . roller derby?

Well, why not?

My roller derby days date back more than 40 years to Saturdays when UJ and I used to watch Channel 43, the UHF channel in the Cleveland market.  Roller derby was one of those off-brand sport shows, like “Big Time Wrestling,” that you watched on UHF stations.  They all featured simple plot lines and obvious good guys and bad guys.  Roller derby, however, was a bit more intriguing for 12-year-old boys because it involved women.  And what women they were!  Tall, statuesque women made even taller by their roller skates, with elaborate bleached blonde hairstyles, helmets, elbow pads, knee pads, and tight-fitting uniforms.  It was strangely alluring to see them whipped around the rickety ramped track by their teammates, ducking and diving as they tried to score points.

Of course, the rules of roller derby were unknowable, like the rules of cricket.  They had something to do with jamming and jammers, and the goal seemed to be to get around the massive, elbow-throwing skater guarding the rear of the pack and then passing as many skaters as possible.  Who cared, anyway?  I just wanted to see the San Francisco Bay Area Bombers take on their opponents, all the while secretly hoping these titanic figures would plow into the abdomen-level railing and flip over during a crucial point in the match, or would be hip-checked by a savvy opponent and then fly off the high side of the track into oblivion — to be inevitably followed, of course, by helmets thrown down like gantlets and some kind of cat fight in the center of the track.  For a 12-year-old kid, it was great entertainment!

Please Don’t Record My Dreams

The BBC reports that scientists now believe they can develop a system to record people’s dreams.  Their plan is to electronically visualize brain activity and identify dream themes by mapping activity in individual brain neurons that purportedly are associated with particular individuals, objects, or concepts.  The idea seems far-fetched, and the scientists concede they are a long away from actually being able to capture dreams.  I really wish they wouldn’t try.  We’re all better off, I think, if our dreams splinter into hazy fragments and vanish from our consciousness the moment we awake.

I almost never remember my dreams; I only recall those that are so deeply disturbing that they startle me into wakefulness and survive the forgetting process that accompanies the first instant of awareness.  And when you remember your “bad dreams,” you realize that it is not only the topics of the dreams that are troubling, such as being chased by a menacing dark figure or realizing that you are late for a final exam in a class that you have blown off since the semester began months ago.  Usually the physical context is equally unsettling, like suddenly finding yourself buck naked and running down a street in some creepy part of town or sitting with a long-dead relative in a cold, dark house where the walls ooze blood and there is a screaming face visible through every dusty window.  If every dream is so weird, wouldn’t remembering them all just be psychologically traumatic?  And, in a perverse way, wouldn’t it be an embarrassing let down if the vast majority of your dreams instead turned out to be boring downloads of what you did during the day?  Who would want to relive a humdrum workday?  Maybe we instantly forget our dreams because they are so dull.

I don’t know whether dreams are attempts to communicate with us from the Great Beyond, or extrasensory perceptions of future events, or just the products of random electrical discharges in an exhausted brain that needs to wind down after a tough day — and I don’t need to know.  Just let me get some shut-eye, and leave my dream life alone.

Caught in the Rye

It was a dreary rainy day in Columbus yesterday and since I’m not working right now I decided to lay in bed and read Catcher in the Rye in it’s entirety. Of course I loved the book, but while reading it I couldn’t help thinking about how Holden Caulfield would have expressed the current political climate and the fact that things don’t look so rosy right now for the younger generation. Here’s my take.

Boy, I bet President Obama is sore at the Republicans, really sore because he has been in office almost two years and they have yet to work with him on anything to try and make things better. Things are lousy, really awful right now especially the unemployment rate that’s currently at 9.6%. How am I gonna find a job, a good job, boy it makes me blue, blue as hell just thinking about it.

I wanna puke everytime I think about the Congress, the Congressmen are a bunch of jerks and the Senators are a bunch of phonies. They are all like around 100 years old and most of what they say is a bunch of crap. They talk about how they are gonna work together and they don’t, it’s just a bunch of bull. The whole thing just drives me crazy. 

Not to mention the deficit, I mean we are talking about a lot of dough. These politicans are really stupid spending like they do, they are a royal pain in my ass if you want to know the truth because I’m the one that’s gonna have to pay. I get scared sometimes that everything is gonna go lousy unless we do something and we are’nt doing a damn thing.

I can’t think about it any more cause it’s depressing the hell out of me.

An Election (And A Map) In The Balance

We’re now less than a week from Election Day, and the furious last-minute push of radio and TV ads, mailings, and get out the vote calling and canvassing is underway.

In Ohio, the marquee races are a gubernatorial contest between incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland and Republican challenger that appears to be close and a U.S. Senate race between Republican Rob Portman and Democrat Lee Fisher that polls are indicating will be a Portman blowout.  Along with those two headline races, Ohioans will vote for a full slate of statewide offices, Justices of the Ohio Supreme Court, the U.S. House of Representatives, and members of the Ohio Senate and Ohio House.  It will take a while to complete our ballots come Tuesday.

Although they haven’t commanded as much attention, two statewide races, for Secretary of State and Auditor, will have great long-term significance.  The occupants of those two offices, along with the Governor and one representative each of the Republican and Democratic parties, will form the Apportionment Board that will redraw the map of Ohio’s legislative districts after the 2010 census results are released.  The results of the Auditor’s race and the Secretary of State’s race therefore will determine whether the Ohio legislative districts are gerrymandered to benefit Democrats, or gerrymandered to benefit Republicans — or maybe, just maybe, drawn to reflect logical geographical and social factors in a way that results in more fairly competitive races for the Ohio House and Ohio Senate.  (But who am I kidding?)

Edited to correct my mistake in the original post, which stated that the Apportionment Board redraws Ohio’s congressional districts.  Instead, it redraws Ohio’s state legislative districts.  The redrawing of congressional districts is reserved for the Ohio General Assembly.  Thanks to the Philosopher King of the Fifth Floor for steering me in the right direction on an embarrassing error.