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Win One, Lose One

Finally at home again, and able to enjoy both of my football games on my own TV.

Except "enjoy" might not be the operative word for what I saw today.

The Jets game was a horror. Maybe it was two great defenses tearing at each other. Or maybe two awful offenses stinking up the joint. Probably a bit of both. Ack. Fumbles, interceptions, missed tackles, more fumbles... there were a few exciting moments, but the Jets plainly did not want this one, since they kept giving it away. (I don't think Joe Flacco wanted it either, since he kept trying to give it back). Rex said this was going to be Gang Green's year, but after last week's loss to the Raiders and this nightmare, I'm not so sure. And next week they have to go to Foxboro to face the Patriots. That could be ugly. Nick Mangold better heal fast.

The Giants... well, the Giants pulled out a miraculous win, though not without a little help from the refs. Eli played well, as did Hakeem Nicks, and it was great to see Osi back in action and wreaking havoc in the backfield. But the game turned on the Victor Cruz reception just before the last of Big Blue's TDs, when he caught the ball, broke a tackle, then went down (untouched) and popped back up again... leaving the ball behind, on the belief the play was over. The Cardinals pounced on the abandoned ball, claiming a fumble. The refs ruled no, Cruz had given himself up. That ruling was not reviewable, so the G-men kept the ball and Eli promptly threw the game-winning TD to Nicks (a great catch by Nicks, by the way, a pity it is getting lost in the controversy over the Cruz play).

Needless to say, lots of controversy over the Cruz ruling, with detailed discussions on all the postgame shows. Even Eli said after the game that he thought the G-men caught a break there. That's certainly true. Bottom line seems to me it all comes down to a judgement. The rules do allow a player to give himself up, at which point the ball is dead. Cruz was on the ground, and had plainly stopped trying to advance. He did not "fumble" the ball. He had it, he fell on it, and then he popped back to his feet for the next play, figuring that this play was over. That's good enough for me.

I really like Cruz, by the way. He's an undrafted free agent. Joined the team last year, had a sensational camp, then got hurt in the last preseason game and was out for the season. But this year he's back and making the most of his opportunities. He seems to have great hands, and he fights for the ball and makes the tough catches. It would not surprise me to see him beat out Mario Manningham for a starting job by year's end. So I'm certainly glad that his mistake did not cost the Giants the game. Something like that can weigh badly on a kid still trying to make his mark.

All in all... four games in, the G-Men are 3-1 and the Jets 2-2. Not at all what I would have predicted before the season. But that's why they play the games, as Chris Berman likes to say.

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Rudy Hartmann
Oct. 3rd, 2011 11:10 pm (UTC)
I was in the HBO GoT Season 2 focus group, but...
I am a medieval history graduate student at Fordham University in NYC, I'm also in the GoT Season 2 focus group...and an lifelong Jets fan. The recent Jets game was like one of your novels: harsh and realistic. Instead of gang green winning because they deserved to win, tragedy piled upon tragedy, with defeat snatched from the jaws of victory: sack the Ravens quarterback and recover a fumble? That only raised our hopes to smash them down: they immediately threw an interception. The Jets have always been a 4th quarter team, but still.

I also write to bring something to your attention:

As I said, I'm a medieval graduate student at Fordham University. My research focuses on castle administration in Medieval France, Crusades and the rise of Chivalry. Basically, the currently dominant school of thought (led by Charles Coulson) is that feudal bonds over castles were very peaceful, prefiguring the rise of the modern nation-state; sort of like a doffing of caps, the barons and kings showed each other mutual respect. The view I'm trying to put forward in my MA Thesis is that if you actually bother to read the feudal castle grant charters, they're filled with things where the lord says to his vassal "I own your ass, I have the explicit right at my great force or small force to garrison your hereditary castle with my own soldiers whenever I want" -- using the word "force" a lot, not "abstract concept of government" -- their entire political system was based on violence and military domination....its just that the British school likes to think that means "anarchy", and I'm emphasizing its "codified violence".

At any rate, HBO runs its focus groups in New York City, so last year I called up and got on the list for the season 1 focus group....which never happened (not the pilot focus group, the later one). I think they were re-editing the episode or something -- which worked, the episode was great when it aired. At any rate I stayed on the list, and they called me up to be in the season 2 focus group happening this week.

...only today (October 3rd) they called me up at the last minute to say I'd been kicked out. I asked why. They said that "our client is specifically reluctant to allow students into the focus group".

Flaberghasted, I tried to explain that I'm not some 18 year old business major in glorified daycare for the smallfolk (undergrad) -- I said, "But I'm a 25 year old medieval history graduate student. I "work" for the university; that's how the system works. You TA intro-level medieval lectures and in return they forgive some of your tuition fees". She said it didn't matter and hung up.

Now trying to analyze this, I think HBO is concerned about whether I have "disposable income" -- I'm a full time medieval grad student so I actually don't work a job on the side. Let me get this straight: the smallfolk flipping burgers in the White Castle down the street are more desirable for their focus group, because they have a stable paycheck, than a full time medieval grad student?

...how much money do we "students" need to watch HBO? What about birthday and christmas? My friends and I exchange HBO DVD sets as presents all the time. Its not as if a DVD costs as much as a car or something. I read the books some years ago so I've been hyping up the rest of the Fordham medieval department about how great Game of Thrones is and they're looking forward to the DVD release.

Or maybe they weren't looking for "students" because they assumed that meant stoners eating ramen in the dark in their dorms? How do they think I afforded an off-campus apartment? Aren't they concerned with getting the coveted 18-25 viewer demographic?

By the Gods, I'm *presenting an article* on the Arthurian Romances of Chretien de Troyes next May at the 47th International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, Michigan. "Our client doesn't want 'Students'..." What?

I realize you have no oversight about this matter at all, sir. And I'm sorry to pester you with such...minutiae. But the next time the vampires from HBO marketing happen to be discussing this, I hope you share my bewilderment that the HBO focus group *actively turned away* a graduate "student" in medieval history.

grrm
Oct. 4th, 2011 03:55 am (UTC)
Re: I was in the HBO GoT Season 2 focus group, but...
You're right, I have nothing to do with this. No knowledge, no involvement, no explanations or thoughts to offer.

Except to say that I loathe the very idea of "focus groups." The networks rely on them way too much in picking shows; I did not realize HBO used them at all. If it was up to me, they wouldn't.

(It is not up to me).

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