Friday, November 04, 2011

Pop Culture Roundup

This past week I read--by which I mean couldn't put down and gobbled up 50-100 pages at a time--Three and Out by John U. Bacon. As I've mentioned several times already, Bacon was given unfettered access to the University of Michigan football program the entire time that Rich Rodriguez was head coach. As a result, Bacon has a unique insider's perspective on the fumbled hiring process that brought RichRod to Ann Arbor, the fallout with West Virginia, the crummy games and seasons, the Detroit Free Press's hackjob and subsequent NCAA investigation, the infamous final Football Bust featuring Josh Groban, and the end shortly after. The main thrust, of course, is what Rodriguez goes through and how he reacts to every new dramatic turn, as well as how his staff and players handle it. There are strong indications that some within the ranks actively work against him or at least resist his approach, and certain figures don't look good at all: former Athletic Director Bill Martin comes off as incredibly incompetent from the search onward, Lloyd Carr at times seems sinister, at other times merely unsupportive, and the Free Press's Rosenberg and Snyder look every bit the D-list Woodward-and-Bernstein wannabe hack saboteurs that they are. Through most of the book, the players really are Rodriguez's team: they show incredible dedication to him even after every loss, at least until the second half of the Gator Bowl. At the same time, Rodriguez exhibits quite an extensive knowledge of and dedication to the Michigan ethos when working with the team that never really showed up in public. In delineating all of this, two of Bacon's main points seem to be that 1) Ever since Bo died, there hasn't been anyone to keep the entire program unified and focused, which made the fracturing of the department, alumni, and fanbase all the easier during these three years, and 2) Neither RichRod nor Michigan did enough, publicly or privately, to make this a happy marriage. This was one of the most engrossing books that I've read in quite a while. I can't remember the last time I tried to take advantage of every free moment to read another chapter.

We ordered WWE Vengeance, during which CM Punk and Triple H took on The Miz and R Truth. Due to shenanigans involving Kevin Nash, the bad guys won. Dolph Ziggler wrestled twice, first in a tag match and then one-on-one against cult favorite Zack Ryder, losing the tag but retaining his US Title. The big event, I suppose, happened during the Big Show/Mark Henry title match: Henry had Show on the turnbuckle for a superplex, and when they landed the ring collapsed. Here, watch:

After this, Alberto Del Rio and John Cena had to have their Last Man Standing match in the collapsed ring, which made for some fun spots. It wasn't the greatest PPV I've seen, but not on the bottom of the list for 2011.

Phineas and Ferb had a special Halloween episode the other week. During the first half, the kids go through a haunted house that a family puts on every year (the dad, interestingly, is voiced by Michael Douglas). During the second half, Candace and Stacy go to a movie called "Early Evening," featuring a werewolf (voiced by Michael J. Fox; the reference took me way too long to get) a girl (Anna Paquin) and a vampire (Stephen Moyer). After seeing the movie, Candace becomes convinced that she's a vampire based on a series of silly coincidences. The episode was clever as always, and Coffeeson still likes watching it even though Halloween has passed.

This week's random musical discovery is "Frontier Psychiatrist" by The Avalanches: