Andrew Hamm: the Bipolar Express

Ruminations on theatre, music, and just about anything else that crosses my bipolar brain.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Redskins 26, Cowboys 24. Ha ha ha.

Redskins leave Texas Stadium with a fond memory

September 28, 2008 11:34 PM

Posted by's Matt Mosley

IRVING, Texas -- Barring a playoff meeting, the Washington Redskins made their final visit to Texas Stadium on Sunday. And after a 26-24 victory that doesn't even begin to tell the story, they pretty much left the Cowboys' defense in ruin.

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
QB Jason Campbell led the Washington Redskins to a memorable win over the division rival Cowboys.

Make no mistake. Sunday's win bore no resemblance to a fluke. The Redskins didn't steal a game from the team alleged to be the best in football. They walked in the front door and pushed around the Sultans of September in front of their home crowd.

Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell said he ran onto the field after the game in search of his counterpart, Tony Romo. Like most of his teammates, though, Romo had sounded the retreat.

It started in the second quarter and lasted throughout the rest of the game. The Cowboys' frantic comeback attempt only dolled up the final score.

Campbell was characteristically understated after the game, but what he did in the first half suggests that he's on his way to joining the upper echelon of quarterbacks in this league.

Facing a defense that was obsessed with not letting wide receiver Santana Moss catch a deep ball, Campbell calmly took what was given to him. But when Cowboys Pro Bowl cornerback Terence Newman bit on a stop-and-go route late in the first half, Campbell deftly stepped away from trouble and winged a 53-yard completion to Moss.

When I approached his locker after the game, Campbell was actually upset about the play. He felt like he robbed Moss of a record-setting touchdown by not hitting him in stride. Moss, who finished with eight catches for 145 yards, had tied the team record last week with touchdowns in six consecutive games.

"I wanted to get that for him," said a dejected looking Campbell. "That's the first thing I did was go apologize to him."

Redskins coach Jim Zorn said he led three "Redskins cheers" in the locker room before meeting with reporters. The biggest reason Daniel Snyder hired him as coach was his belief that he could take Campbell to a Pro Bowl level. That's why he quickly hired himself as quarterbacks coach.

When the offense looked awful in the season opener against the Giants, Zorn asked Campbell to trust him. That's when Campbell shot back, "You need to trust me too."

After the game, Zorn sounded like a proud teacher.

"He didn't have any of the ups and downs, these sways of emotion," Zorn said of Campbell. "What I always talk to him about is bearing down and what I mean by that is if you grit your teeth to get through difficult situations, you must [get through it]. We were fortunate enough to beat a great football team, but part of that was his concentration level and he just kept it up the whole game."

Zorn felt the sting of criticism after the Giants loss. He thought it was important for his team not to see him "flinch." And even when star running back Clinton Portis complained that week about the offensive line and the play-calling, Zorn didn't take the bait.

Now, he's reaping some of the rewards a lot sooner than most of us thought. And at least for one day, the Redskins looked like the team to beat in the NFC East. Or maybe the Cowboys are simply overrated.

Now, join me for several items that didn't really belong in the previous 700 words:

Did the Cowboys' obsession with T.O. backfire on them?

First of all, let's give the Redskins' secondary its proper due. In the first half, cornerback Shawn Springs jammed Terrell Owens at the line of scrimmage and pretty much took him out of the game. T.O. finished with only two catches for 11 yards, which may have caused offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to overcompensate in the second half.

After all, Patrick Crayton and Jason Witten combined for nine catches, 110 yards and a touchdown in the first half. On the first drive of the second half, Romo completed three passes to T.O., the third going for a 10-yard touchdown. Romo ended up throwing to T.O. six times in the third quarter and five more in the fourth quarter.

The most telling drive came right after the Redskins took a 23-17 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Redskins broke up three consecutive passes to T.O., the last two by Carlos Rogers, who was covering him because Springs left the game with a calf strain.

Of the Cowboys' 58 offensive plays, they either threw or handed the ball to T.O. 19 times. In my mind, that smacks of a team trying too hard to make one player happy. In the first half, he appeared to give up on a few routes when he knew the ball wasn't coming his way. It was pretty obvious that Springs was frustrating him.

After the game, a Cowboys starter on offense said he thought the team tried too hard to involve T.O. in the second half. It's not good when a player senses that coaches are calling plays in order to keep a teammate happy. It's not time to panic if you're a Cowboys fan, but I'd certainly keep your eye on that situation. It's a slap in the face to Witten, Patrick Crayton, Miles Austin -- and especially rookie Felix Jones to freeze them out in order to please T.O.

At least the Cowboys shut down one running back

If there's someone who can make sense of Wade Phillips' justification for not giving rookie running back Felix Jones a single carry Sunday, please contact me immediately.
"He has a specific role that he plays," Phillips said of Jones. "The plays that he works on, they aren't really come-from-behind plays. They are more normal game situation plays. We will be more and more comfortable with him as he learns more."
After Sunday's performance, I'm thinking Wade might want to add a few more "come-from-behind" plays.

Sentimental day for Springs

Playing in Texas Stadium for the final time probably meant more to Shawn Springs than any player on the field. He remembers spending Sundays at the stadium watching his father, Ron, play fullback for the Cowboys.

Springs told me after the game that he opened up the Dallas Morning News today and saw a picture of Roger Staubach being lifted into the air after the Cowboys' 35-34 comeback victory over the Redskins on Dec. 16, 1979.

"You know who was picking him up?" Springs asked. "That was my father."

Ron Springs remains in a coma in a local hospital following complications from a surgery to remove a cyst last year.

Postgame altercation

Redskins running back Rock Cartwright said he and Cowboys defensive tackle Tank Johnson had spent much of the evening jawing back and forth. But as the Redskins were kneeling on the ball at the end of the game, Cartwright said he stood at midfield and gazed through the iconic hole in the roof of Texas Stadium.

Johnson, who's is his second year with the Cowboys, apparently thought Cartwright was attempting to evoke memories of T.O. standing on the star several years ago as a 49er. After the final snap, Johnson raced over and shouted, "Don't disrespect the star."

I'm thinking Johnson may have more important things to deal with after his defense gave up 161 rushing yards. Some of you might recall Phillips saying recently that "no one runs on the Dallas Cowboys."

Well, make that almost no one.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Now Barney Frank will heal us all

Congratulations, Representative Frank, on your promotion from god of mischief to all-loving Messiah and financial healer of us all. That halo is positively Byzantine.

These CNN photos make me giggle. Tee hee.


Determination Beats Talent

My desire to write about Henley Street's Richard III is being hijacked by my need to memorize my lines for Hamlet and work on music for a house party. For now, I'll stay away from things theatrical and focus brieflly on the Phillies' second-straight NL East title, clinched last night. Also, Jimmy Rollins' quote above is just about the best three-word sentence ever.

Dare I dream? Red Sox-Phillies? Would my head explode?

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Barney Frank, god of mischief

Representative Frank looks like he has sprouted the horns of Loki, Norse god of mischief.

I have nothing else of substance to say.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Paglia on Palin

Yeah, yeah, I recognize that my "No more politics" pledge was broken sooner than "No new taxes" and "Mission accomplished." Move on. I have.

Yesterday's Salon saw a piece by one of my intellectual heroes, Camille Paglia. It's really fascinating. I expected Paglia to lambaste the McCain camp for the choice of Sarah Palin. That's not exactly what happened. Instead, I read the first argument for Palin's essential feminism that made any sense.

It's a long piece, so the excerpts are long.

Pow! Wham! The Republicans unleashed a doozy -- one of the most stunning surprises that I have ever witnessed in my adult life. By lunchtime, Obama's triumph of the night before had been wiped right off the national radar screen. In a bold move I would never have thought him capable of, McCain introduced Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his pick for vice president. I had heard vaguely about Palin but had never heard her speak. I nearly fell out of my chair. It was like watching a boxing match or a quarter of hard-hitting football -- or one of the great light-saber duels in "Star Wars." (Here are the two Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn, going at it with Darth Maul in "The Phantom Menace.") This woman turned out to be a tough, scrappy fighter with a mischievous sense of humor.

Conservative though she may be, I felt that Palin represented an explosion of a brand new style of muscular American feminism. At her startling debut on that day, she was combining male and female qualities in ways that I have never seen before. And she was somehow able to seem simultaneously reassuringly traditional and gung-ho futurist. In terms of redefining the persona for female authority and leadership, Palin has made the biggest step forward in feminism since Madonna channeled the dominatrix persona of high-glam Marlene Dietrich and rammed pro-sex, pro-beauty feminism down the throats of the prissy, victim-mongering, philistine feminist establishment....

....Over the Labor Day weekend, with most of the big enchiladas of the major media on vacation, the vacuum was filled with a hallucinatory hurricane in the leftist blogosphere, which unleashed a grotesquely lurid series of allegations, fantasies, half-truths and outright lies about Palin. What a tacky low in American politics -- which has already caused a backlash that could damage Obama's campaign. When liberals come off as childish, raving loonies, the right wing gains. I am still waiting for substantive evidence that Sarah Palin is a dangerous extremist. I am perfectly willing to be convinced, but right now, she seems to be merely an optimistic pragmatist like Ronald Reagan, someone who pays lip service to religious piety without being in the least wedded to it. I don't see her arrival as portending the end of civil liberties or life as we know it....

....But what of Palin's pro-life stand? Creationism taught in schools? Book banning? Gay conversions? The Iraq war as God's plan? Zionism as a prelude to the apocalypse? We'll see how these big issues shake out. Right now, I don't believe much of what I read or hear about Palin in the media. To automatically assume that she is a religious fanatic who has embraced the most extreme ideas of her local church is exactly the kind of careless reasoning that has been unjustly applied to Barack Obama, whom the right wing is still trying to tar with the fulminating anti-American sermons of his longtime preacher, Jeremiah Wright.

The witch-trial hysteria of the past two incendiary weeks unfortunately reveals a disturbing trend in the Democratic Party, which has worsened over the past decade. Democrats are quick to attack the religiosity of Republicans, but Democratic ideology itself seems to have become a secular substitute religion. Since when did Democrats become so judgmental and intolerant? Conservatives are demonized, with the universe polarized into a Manichaean battle of us versus them, good versus evil. Democrats are clinging to pat group opinions as if they were inflexible moral absolutes. The party is in peril if it cannot observe and listen and adapt to changing social circumstances.

I'm really working hard to resist copying-and-pasting half of the article here. Make sure you read the end. You have to love the Star Wars reference and accompanying YouTube link! And her swipe at Gloria Steinem is must-read.

(Bear in mind that Paglia is an Obama supporter and that she makes plenty of attacks at McCain, the "Vampire" of the article's title. But it's her views of two weeks of Palin that interest me in this piece.)

Paglia always defies expectations. I love it when she pisses me off to the extreme left, because I know she's likely to shockingly agree with something radically right-wing--which she'll believe in for ultra-liberal reasons--in the next paragraph. Libertarians make me smile. It usually doesn't matter if I think she's right as much as that she models genuine independent thought always.

Paglia hits on an essentially vital point: Much of the reaction to Palin smacks of an idealogical dogmatism that is swiftly becoming much more dangerous to the Democrats than to the Republicans. Conservatism is becoming cast as the oppressed minority opinion rather than as an entrenched establishment in need of updating. The Democratic party has traded arguing the merits of its ideas for demonizing their Republican opposites.

Congratulations, liberal America: the Greek temple, the 80,000-seat acceptance speech, the hurricane, and the strident lies overshadowing real concerns about Palin have all combined into a perfect storm. You have successfully handed the crown of "scrappy underdog" from Barack Obama to Sarah Palin. And Americans like an underdog.

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Friday, September 05, 2008

NEA "Artists in the Workforce" Report

I transferred this blog entry, on the National Endowment for the Arts' "Artists in the Workforce" study, over to Richmond Shakespeare's blog. Check it out over there.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Bill Melendez: 1916-2008

Bill Melendez, the director of many cartoons including A Charlie Brown Christmas as well as the voice of Snoopy and Woodstock, has passed away at age 91. He was the only person Charles M. Schulz authorized to animate his characters.

Melendez won an Oscar and six Emmys, he animated Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny, and he founded a very successful animation company. But all I can think of is A Charlie Brown Christmas. I know A Charlie Brown Christmas better than any 30 minutes of real life.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Pet peeve #4482: backslash

This is a slash: /

This is a backslash: \

They are not the same thing. The general computer user hasn't had to use backslashes for ten years. Forward slashes are used in web addresses, backslashes are locations inside your computer. So can television news anchors, who should really be smarter than this, stop calling slashes backslashes when they give web addresses? They look like idiots. And they seem to get it wrong ten times as frequently as they get it right.

While we're on the subject of knowing better, stop saying "there is a disconnect." There's no such thing as a disconnect. Disconnect is a verb. The word you're looking for is "disconnection."

Cranky today.