Thursday, January 05, 2006

People, learn what irony is!

Over the last several years I've noticed that so many people mis-use the word "ironic" when describing a coincidence of some sort. It's really become a pet peeve of mine.

Irony usually does involve a coincidence of some sort, but the facts about the situation is what makes it ironic or not.

For instance, recently I saw a story on TV about two golfers whose wives had both delivered premature twins just a few months apart. The babies were delivered at the same hospital and treated by the same medical team. The announcer called it "ironic" that the twins were born under the same circumstances at the same hospital. That's not ironic. It's just a coincidence. For it to be ironic, there would need to be some dark humor somewhere. But there is none here.

Irony is a chiropractor wearing a neck brace. Or a liability lawyer being sued.

Or that O. Henry short story about the comb and the watch. I can't remember the title of the story, but in it a poor man sells his watch to buy a comb for his wife who has long beautiful hair. Unbeknownst to him, his wife had her hair cut and made into a watch chain for her husband to use. So now he has a chain and no watch, and she has a comb but short locks of hair. This is the essence of irony.

Another illustration of irony I can think of off hand comes from a Family Guy episode that parodied the Y2K fears. In the episode, the citizens of New Quahog destroy all their guns because guns are bad and only cause trouble. After the last gun is tossed into the fire they are immediately overrun by a swarm of mutated Stewies. As part of the story, the episode has a scene during the marauding Stewies where one character says to another "Remember how I was trying to explain irony to you the other day?" and is attacked before he can finish his thoughts. Of course, the thought was how ironic that the folks destroyed their guns just when they needed them most.

So irony is a unique set of circumstances that contains some sort of dark humor. Aggravatingly, too many people label unusual coincidences as ironic when they are not.

Of course, the irony here is that they are describing circumstances or situations as ironic when they aren't.

I love irony.

The Eyes of Texas are Upon You

The University of Texas Longhorns are college football's champions due to their thrilling victory over the University of Southern California Trojans in this year's Rose Bowl game. Final score - Texas 41 - USC 38.

What a game.

While Texas' come-from-behind victory is what made the game so thrilling, the game was won (or lost) in the first half last night. Texas led the game at half time 16 to 10. USC moved the ball efficiently throughout the first half but only scored 10 points. USC was in scoring position several times but was thwarted by (1) the failure to convert a short 4th down play, relinquishing possession to Texas deep in Texas territory (2) the ill-advised Reggie Bush lateral that was dropped and recovered by Texas, again deep in Texas territory (3) a Texas interception of a Matt Leinart pass at their own goal line, turning the ball back over to Texas at their 20 yard line.

Had USC been able to hang on to the ball and score some points on all three of these possessions, the outcome last night would have been a USC victory. Those turnovers cost USC anywhere from 9 to 21 points. In the second half, USC outscored Texas 28 to 25. Had they put a few more points on the board in the first half, they would likely have won another championship.

But you still have to tip your hat to Texas. They were down 12 points with about 6 minutes left to play in the game and they were able to score 15 unanswered points to claim the title.

Ironically, in a game that featured so much offense (especially in the 2nd half), it was the Texas defense that gave Texas the chance to win the game.

USC had a 4th down and 2 yards to go for a first down with the ball at the Texas 47 yard line. USC coach Pete Carroll decided to go for the 1st down instead of punting. The Texas defense rose to the occasion and stuffed the LenDale White run just shy of the first down. Texas took over possession of the ball on their own 45, with just over two minutes to play and two time outs in hand.

Texas was able to move the ball down the field, helped by a USC face mask penalty that allowed Texas to avoid a 4th down conversion situation early in the drive. After that, Texas moved down the field and scored the game winner on a 4th down play on a rush by the incomparable Vince Young with 19 seconds left in the game. USC got the ball back and moved it into Texas territory but simply ran out of time.

While I certainly understand the Coach Carroll's decision not to punt, it's not the one I would have made. I would have punted the ball and made Texas march 80+ yards down the field to beat me. Instead, Texas was given a shortened field, only 55 yards away from scoring. The decision to go for the 1st down is one of those "damned if you do, damned if you don't" type of situations. If USC gets the first down, it's likely lights out for Texas and an "atta boy" for Coach Carroll. But USC didn't get the first down, and now Coach Carroll will be second guessed on his decision from now until the end of time. Of course, even if USC punted Texas still might have scored anyway, but most won't think of that and will think Coach Carroll blew it.

Finally, what can one say about Texas QB Vince Young's performance in last night's game? Superlative is what it was. The Texas QB rushed for 200 yards on 20 carries and threw for 267 yards, completing 30 of 40 passes. He rushed for three TD's, including the game winner, an 8 yard rush on 4th down and 5 from the USC 8 yard line. USC fielded the last two Heisman Trophy winners in Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush, and both had fine games. But it was Vince Young who showed everybody what a truly unique and gifted athlete he is.

What a game.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Parade coverage

I watched some of the Tournament of Roses Parade yesterday. I enjoy seeing the beautiful floats, the marching bands from all over the nation and the world, and I enjoy the horse teams and their ornate saddles and rigs.

What I don't enjoy is inappropriate comments from the announcers.

I was tuned into HGTV watching the parade when host Rob Weller made a bone-headed comment. It rained during the parade and he was telling the audience how the rain had been light until just a few hours before the parade started. At about two hours before the parade started, it was "Wham. Bam. Thank you, ma'am." and the rain really started coming down much harder, per Mr. Weller.

Now I'm hardly a prude, but that phrase just seems out of place when covering something as wholesome as the Tournament of Roses Parade. So come on, Mr. Weller, let's not do that again.

College Football Mania

Word on the street is that college football junkies have already reserved their spots in rehab centers around the country, in preparation for the ending of the college football season following tomorrow night's Rose Bowl game.

I've certainly enjoyed the games I've viewed over the last several days. Let's just hope the Rose Bowl game between Texas and USC lives up to all the hype. I think it will.

One thing though. Let's stop all this nonsense that USC is going for its third straight National Championship. USC did not win the National Championship two years ago, LSU did. USC was ranked #1 in the final AP poll for that year, but that no longer counts. LSU finished #1 in the BCS, and that is the national championship. The whole Bowl Championship Series (BCS) was put in place so that a true national champion can be crowned. Prior to the BCS, the national championship was based on the UPI and AP polls after all the bowl games were played. It was mythical.

The fact that the AP puts out a poll is irrelevant since the invention of the BCS. To claim a national championship based on poll that is no longer relevant is just bad form by USC and its supporters. The fact that the BCS is flawed is irrelevant too. The major conferences wanted a championship, and they got it with the BCS. The Pac-10 (which USC is a member) was one of the major conferences to that signed onto the BCS, so it should tell USC that they were not co-champs two years ago.

Happy New Year

With the passing of the Christmas holiday, the "War on Christmas" will be in a state of cease-fire for at least a while. For that, it truly is a Happy New Year.