Friday, March 11, 2011

Post Red40...

Shuffling through my iTunes collection this evening, I found myself digging deeper into the catalogue of my favorite band of all time. In 1999, myself and a friend of mine ventured into the big city of Chicago from our humble hometown of Plano, IL to go see the North Mississippi Allstars. Printed on our ticket as an opener was the name Lucero. Now, at the time, I didn't know if this was single name solo performer or a band. I was just super pumped to see NMAS and really couldn't give a crap about the opener.

 But as it would unfold, we planned WAY too much travel time into Chicago and arrived far ahead of showtime. I'll spare you the hubbub. Long story short; you know the moment as it commonly plays out in movies where the girl of a given character's dreams walks into a room and everything goes slow motion? Let's just say the musical equivalent of that happened that evening at the Vic in Chicago when Lucero took stage. Those guys played their hearts out and connected with every thread of what I stood for in my life up to that moment. I remember leaving the NMAS show early and spotting them in a coffee shop on the corner. I walked in, shook all their hands and asked if they had a website. They were more than happy to rap or a couple minutes. I remember, at that time, I was jocking junior college credits at a school 45 minutes through cornfields from my hometown. I moved into a basement apartment after my mother 'persuaded' me into making her an empty nester by convincing me to graduate high school a half year early. After that show, I ordered their CD through their Madjack Records label website. I was working crazy hours at a railroad-fed lumber warehouse and balancing my studies at the same time. I remember the evening I came home from work to find the CD in the mail. I threw it into my player and took a head-first digger into the couch/bed and had a listen until I drifted off to sleep. 

The sounds that came from the speakers mellowed me like nothing else I'd heard before. Punk attitude conveyed by way of  melodic twang-filled, heart-felt lyrics. I've been fond of these guy's projectsever since. Anyhow, to make an already long story even shorter, have a listen to these guys. Lead man, Ben Nichols, is in my opinion, one of the most under appreciated American artists out there right now. His band prior to Lucero, Red40 put out one hell of an album as well. Check out some of Ben and the Band's works below...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Daft Training Movie Scores

We're in the homestretch here in the Chicagoland area! Just a few more weeks of indoor and outdoor training in inclimate weather before something HAS to break and we'll be able to trot or ride outdoors comfortably. My workout music has been become a bit stale in recent days, so I was looking to refresh it a bit with some new additions (similar post of reference). While thumbing through several blogs I follow, I had an interesting find that would required me to have check my 'cool cat card' (very tiny card) at the door in lieu of same thick framed glasses, a pocket protector...and perhaps a lightsaber. I was surprised to see that the French house-music duo, Daft Punk, had worked with Disney (surprise, surprise)  to compose the musical score for last summer's Tron: Legacy motion picture. It was old news. But, it was new to me and I just had to have a listen.

Now, I had no running knowledge of the original Tron flick, nor any knowledge or interest of it's follow up film. It was my fondness of Daft Punk during the beginning of my 'electronic' music interests with origin that traced way back to my high school days (dating myself, I did back then too) that drew me in for a closer look. After flipping through the tracks, I was impressed by the perfect culmination of traditional instrumentation and electronic grooves that jive together to make for one hell of an epic film score! It has enough pep to keep you going but is never runs over the top to become overbearing during a workout.

Needless to say, I now have somewhat of an urge to see the movie. I love anything Jeff Bridges takes part in anyway. The album is available on iTunes and Amazon for $7.99. I'd suggest giving it a whirl. I dig the direction that Daft Punk decided to take in working on a project like this. I think this project will set a precedent for future film collaborations. There's even a mix album derived from the Tron: Legacy Soundtrack that's in the works for an early April release. The album will featuring some exhilarating adaptations of the score by well known paralleling genre artists such Moby, The Crystal Method, and Paul Okenfold.

So, why not spend a few bucks to help get yourself geeked (more ways than one) while waiting for warmer days ramping up to spring. While you're at it, make note of some of the other famous pump up tracks/film scores that have made their way through the box office. I claim no ownership to any of these tracks. Ok, maybe a few: "To each his own"(Cicero):

Lose  Yourself – Eminem (8 Mile Soundtrack)
Danger Zone – Kenny Loggins (Top Gun Soundtrack)
Eye of the Tiger – Survivor (Rocky IV Soundtrack) Equally inspiring vid...MY GOD!
Gonna Fly Now - composed by Bill Conti (Rocky Soundtrack)
Lust For Life – Iggy Pop (Trainspotting Soundtrack) "What up, Shirt-Off?"
You’re the Best Around – Joe ‘Bean’ Esposito (Karate Kid)
Push it to the Limit – Paul Engeman (Scarface)
Requiem for a Dream – Clint Mansell (Requiem for a Dream)
Crimson Tide Main Theme – Hans Zimmer  (Crimson Tide)
The Kiss / Promontory – Randy Edelman / Trevor Jones (Last of the Mohicans)
Aggressive Expansion – Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard (The Dark Knight)

Or check out these other epic scores on Amazon:

Feel free to leave comments adding other film tracks that are workout worthy...

Catch you on the flip!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

St. Patricks Day's Baddest: Introducing La Noche Miami Criterium

I was sitting back at the breakfast table this morning with my usual cup of joe. I was thinking back and relishing my days spent in Florida a couple weeks prior. I thought about South Beach and all the fun I had while visiting. I could easily say Miami, in general, wouldn't be the city I'd chose to define who I am as a person. But for some reason, I'm drawn like a magnet to the fine city every time I'm in the area. I think it's the fact that it South Beach goes against everything that typically makes me comfortable that gives me such a thrill while I'm there. The people-watching there is some of the best on earth, for sure! In the city's attempt to define it's style by allowing all that is superficial and pretentious to reign supreme, it kind of funny how actually reduces humanity to it's most primitive form. Life in South Beach boils down to a contest of the fabulous; hunters and the hunted, the survival of the fittest... literally.

Going back to my coffee table daydream. I started wondering if there were any races through any downtown areas of Miami. I thought the city would make an excellent backdrop for a criterium. I had no clue my Google search would yield such an interesting results. I found a race, billing one of the grittiest races on two wheels I've ever heard publicly pitched.

However, just a short jaunt from the glitz and glimmer of Ocean Blvd,  crossing over the Julia Tuttle Causeway will drop you into the Wynwood Art District of Miami. This is where vanity fades and irony takes over. It seems wherever there's art these days, a fixie loving hipster community won't be too far from it. It was in this neighborhood of the city that I would learn of a different brand of contest.

On March 17th, in conjunction with the Miami Bike Film Festival, La Noche Miami Criterium will consist of two races, one geared, one fixed (alleycat style) contest on a 4/5 mile four cornered flat and fast road course. As I read on, it only got better. Both of these contests will be held after dark. Needless to say, neither of the races are sanctioned. I so badly want to be there to see this play out in real-time. I hope to hell those putting the race on make sure the course stays well sealed off from outside traffic.

I know this race is a bit unconventional, but I think this is what I dig about it most. I love the attempt to combine a couple of cycling cliques that typically would not run side-by-side to have a clean and simple good time. Well.., maybe not so much "clean", you couldn't pay me enough to participate in the fixed gear race, OUCH! I've always thought organized amateur road and track cycling could benefit with closer ties to its urban dwelling underground fixed gear cousins. If anything, they could earn a greater appreciation for a vegan diet, PBR, and some badass Indie Rock.

 Coincidentally, the race runs immediately parallel to I-95, the nation's most dangerous stretch of highway! The  potential perils of this race could only be rivaled by that of an action movie set. I guess that plays perfectly into it's partnership with the Bike Film Fest. I wouldn't be surprised if this event becomes a documentary in next year's fest. I couldn't think of a better way to spend St. Patrick's Day. It's too bad my time down there is over for the year or I'd be there for sure! You can bet I'll keep my eyes peeled on YouTube on the days following. I'll be hoping to catch a few moments from the contest. Best of luck to the brave souls competing. This one could get interesting!

Articles / Ads Relating:

Bicycle Film Fest - Miami
The Miami Bike Scene

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bring On The Des Plaines Velodrome!!!

I've been very pleased to hear chatter in the past few about a Indoor Velodrome possibly being constructed in Des Plaines. Pardon the bias, this just happens to be the city of my current residency (big grin). But seriously, in my year of living here, I've been quite pleased to witness the works of Des Plaines Mayor, Marty Moylan. I'm especially fond of his works of making Des Plaines a bike friendly city.

I had the pleasure to meet Mayor Moylan in person last year at the Alexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove. He was walking the event, taking in ideas on how to make Des Plaines own fledgling event (Tour de Des Plaines) even better for coming years. He took time to speak with several cyclists and really took great interest in what they had to say. It was great to witness this on the back of the many other initiatives I've seen him involved in regarding public safety and accessiblity since moving to Des Plaines. 

I was able to thank him personally for an event involving the DP Police Department that occured about a month prior on a training ride not far from my home. Long story short, I had been run off the road by a Fed Ex semi while I rode down Oakton Street. I phoned local authorities and told them I'd like to speak to the driver and ask what was the motivation for his actions was. Des Plaines police flagged down the semi and held him roadside to allow me confront the driver. I wanted to ask him what more I could do than hug a curb, wear a helmet, keep to a reasonable speed, and stay highly visible to avoid being mowed down like a bug. The police officer mediated the convo to make sure it stayed constructive and didn't become a shouting match. It blew me away that the Des Plaines Police Department cared enough to take these actions for a cyclist. 

The river walk that has been constructed in Des Plaines is also a great bike friendly renovation that has been completed in recent years. It has played well in to the late summer widening and chip graveling of a large portion of the Des Plaines River bike trail that now offers better access for all those wishing to ride, jog, or go for a casual stroll. 

The odds of a world-class velodrome landing in one's city of residency are uncanny. There are only 19 velodromes in the U.S. currently in operation. Many are unaware of what velodrome even is, let alone the abandoned popularity of track racing in the Chicago during the early 1900's. There is also a valiant, and well developed effort put forward to construct a Chicago Velo Campus on Chicago's South-side Lakeshore. Hey, an indoor velodrome would be a great addition to the Chicagoland area regardless of where it is constructed. 

However, I still feel there are strong advantages for one of the three proposed Des Plaines proposed locations:

- Not far from O'Hare International airport. This would be conducive for national and international events. The Rosemont area is spilling over with great hotels and restaurants. Des Plaines won't be far behind once it's proposed casino is constucted. 

- Easy access from all directions: The proposed locations of the velodrome would be a stone's throw away from both East/West I-90 (In from chicago and the NW Suburbs) and I-294 (down from the North suburbs and up from the West and South Suburbs) Metra runs out from the city in no longer than a 40 minute ride. 

- Also Des Plaines is only a 15-20 drive from the existing Ed Rudolph Velodrome. The folks living in the immediate area of this velodrome have helped to keep track racing alive in the Chicagoland area for years. A cross association of any kind between the two velodromes would be beneficial to the track racing community living nearby. 

- I LIVE HERE!!!  

Check out these linked articles for more detail on the plan for the Des Vegas Velodrome...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mountain Bike Conversion for the Road (on the cheap)...

As I watch my once Florida-tanned skin fade into a translucent shade of white, I realize that I still have at least a month before I can even think about peeling off any piece of gear during my training rides. These are the days when avid cyclists start braving almost any elements simply for the sake of seeing the ground move below them. This is the period it's easily justifiable to have feelings of anger toward inanimate objects like salt, snow drifts, and climate in general. Rollers and trainers are no longer your winter buddy, but the human equivalent of a hamster wheel. The craziness that is brought on during this period of the year in the Chicagoland area bridges all walks of life. Last week, when we reached temperatures that barely reached over 40 degrees fahrenheit; I witnessed a Ford Mustang toting three passengers with the rag-top down. It's moments like these, when I truly start to grasp natural selection and the west side of the bell curve. 

I took to the Chicago Lakefront Path last week. The trails were clear, welll salted, and wide open. It was encouraging to see other clubs out on the trails as well. I ran across riders from several other teams. After cleaning, tuning, and lubing up my Velo Vie Vitesse 300 SE (our relationship is on the mend, dig the new bike) road bike in Florida, my desperate yearning to ride led to taking her out on the trail. Desperate times mean desperate measures. Within moments of embarking on my frigid journey, I realized this had been a bad about the bell curve! (duh). Needless to say, the ride received an immediate and thorough de-salting bath and re-greasing, and maybe even a few verbally expressed apologies to the bike. It was at this point that I realized what I was dealing with. I wasn't in Florida anymore, Toto. Side Note: I can't believe how badly the winter storms chewed up part of the path and seawalls; especially south of McCormick Place, WOW!

Like many right now, times and budgets are tight. I'm for sure 'tightening my belt' as suggested by the Ol' Pres. My goal was to convert one of my lesser ridden bikes into a viable winter ride and do this on the cheap. I decided to take my Trek 3700 mountain bike that was gathering dust in the garage down into my basement workshop and tweak it to make it road efficient.  I purchased a set of Panaracer Urban Max 26 x 1.5'' tires and a couple 26 x 1.5-1.75' tubes. They offered a smooth ride, but enough grip for light ice and show. and compatible tubes; A couple cheap bottle cages (steel); a Topeak M2 Defender fender (sturdy) to keep my rear quarters clean, dry and warm; a Cateye Enduro 8 wired computer (cheap and able to take a beating). I was able to make all these changes by staying within a budget hovering around $150.00. I transferred a set of aging Look Keo pedals from my track bike (to be replaced with a newer, sexier set this spring) and threw them on. I inverted the stem to lower the handlebar for a more aggressive riding position and made a couple couple seat adjusts, tune-ups and I was ready to rock! I had a mountain bike that was now road-worthy, able to handle light snowy conditions, and (hopefully) had the potential to offer some speed intervals on open and clear areas of the park.

I took my revived hefty monster out to Busse Woods in Elk Grove for its first trial run. The trails were clear for the most part. About 30% deep wooded portions of the 7.7 mile loop were still coverd by a mix of ice and snow slush a 2-3'' inches thick in parts. I was overly cautious at first, but I quickly became comfortable with the bikes handling and maneuverability over the ice and snow in a lower gear. It actually became a great bike handing exercise, feeling the changing and sliding terrain and responding to it. I would exit the wooded areas into a more clear, dry, and sun exposed portion of the parth and work up to the bike's highest gear. After a good warm-up it was time to see what this thing could do. 

I never thought I'd see the old tank see a sprint over 30 mph. It took a bit of spinning to try, but I got it on a quarter mile straight-away on the park's back end....barely. I really enjoyed the ride and versatility of bike all brought about by a few simple and affordable alterations. I know, I know, nothing mind blowing to the stud cyclist, but enough to offer a relatively safe and enjoyable ride (when paired with common sense and caution). I'm thinking this will be the bike I'll use as a commuter to and from work during rough weather mornings this coming spring. Further down the road, I'm considering either sawing back the bars a bit to put some  some bar ends to narrow my arm width to somewhat emulate my road bike form. I'll either do this, or go completely patchwork and try to fashion a set of bullhorn bars on hoopty-ride. Hell, I was so happy with the ride, I may make this my permanent commuter / city bike for awhile! If anything, I'm clearly heading down the road to ghetto-fabulousness.

R A N D O M  T H O U G H TS :

- R A C I N G: 
FIRED UP! I'm working on a partnership between my cycling squad Team WDT/Allvoi and a notable charitable organization. I hope to be sharing more information about what's in the work in the not too distant future. I'm excited about the opportunity and hope to see it thrive in the upcoming race season. I love competition, but it feels even better when hard work and effort benefits a cause outside of cycling. 

- M U S I C: 
Fan of folky, melodic, chill music with a slight echoing twang? I'm really digging the album 'The Unfazed' by Portland's-own, Dolorean. Not to be mistaken with the borderline chillwave (dare I bring on a hipster debate) sensations, Delorean. The track 'Thinskinned' is the perfect intro track if you take any interest. The album is available on eMusic. Follow the album link to a page where you can secure a free track download of the album title track 'The Unfazed' (Also an excellent tune). Perfect jams for enjoying your choice hot morning beverage and looking out onto the snow covered landscape. 
Along the same style lines, musically, I've really enjoyed this great adaptation/cover by Sun Kil Moon of Modest Mouse's 'Trucker's Atlas'. Couple great Florida drops, making me think of recent weeks passed. Perfect brain food for those yearning to get out there soon and do some traveling / site-seeing...

- O U T D O O R S: 
I saw my first robin for the year on my trek through Busse Woods. At a time where one looks for the slightest signs of spring, I'll take this for what it's worth for mental motivation! Forest preserves are a bit lonely this time of year. But the creeps parked outside of the bathroom facilities for no 'apparent' reason kept me distant company. 

- S A V E  B I G  B I R D ! ! ! 
The House of Representatives has voted to axe funding for public television media. This accounts for approximately 14% of their budget and could drastically change the landscape of public media. In all seriousness, please follow this link to see how you can get involved by contacting your state representatives and promoting awareness of the issue to ensure these cuts don't pass through the Senate when voted on March 4th! 

Bring on Spring!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dropped the ball...

Been a while since my last entry. I have to admit, I was rather swept up by the last couple of weeks down in Florida. Since my return the weekend prior to Valentine's Day, I've just been reacclimating myself to remaining portion of the cold Chicagoland winter. It was a hell of a trip. After a week or so of great dock fishing, I circumnavigated the central to southern portion of Florida. I departed Tampa to drop off some friends that came for a brief visit in Orlando. There wasn't much to see there. I drove down to Ft. Lauderdale to pick up another friend that flew in from Chicago. I stayed a night in Ft. Lauderdale, taking in the nightlife in the Las Olas portion of town. From there it was down to Miami Beach for a day to enjoy the beach and the always entertaining Ocean Blvd / South Beach area. We then worked our way down through the keys taking in some of the best weather I've ever experience down there this time of year.

Camping in Key West was so relaxing. Met some really interesting transplants and natives. They pointed us in the direction of some really great hidden locals bars and restaurants. Didn't have a chance to cover them all, but I'll be sure to hit them next time. After a few days we trucked back North to Miami Beach for one more night. I dropped my buddy off in Ft. Lauderdale, took one more stroll down Ft. Lauderdale Beach and then it was off across Alligator Alley (only spotted one. It was chilly) and back up to Tampa. I packed the remainder of my gear at my sister's house and pointed north to make Nashville the first day. I missed a bad winter storm that hit the southern region the day before. It was smooth sailing back home with great tunes and plenty of sunshine. It's always becomes a drag when I hit southern Indiana. That's when things pretty much start to look like Illinois....BLAH!

So here I am, once again. I'm riding out the last 5-6 weeks of crap weather in IL (mostly on my trainer). I'm sure anyone who religiously follows my blog have been waiting with bated breath for an entry since my last..... all 3 of you. I missed a lot of big things going on, so here's a poor attempt at catching up....

Superbowl - I had to leave the Key West bar that I wound up in to watch the game. I've never been so gutted by a game in my entire life. Just didn't feel up to watching the Green 'n' Gold since it had only been two weeks since they sent my beloved Bears packing. Have I matured that much (doubtful) or has the humor in commercials really been reduced to the lowest common denominator within a viewing audience? Kinda sad, but it sure beats the dot com ads of the mid nineties. GOOD GOD, those were boring and most of the companies promoted proved to have the staying power of Justin Bieber.

Egypt- YEAH, Facebook liberated one of the world's most ancient civilizations! Leave it to Americans to finally abstain (kinda) from involvement in a major world event, but find a way to justify it's success with a product of U.S. origin. Not trying to be ignorant about the significance of social networking/media in situations like this, but I think the key ingredient is America (gov't) finally starting to see the value of keeping their guns at home. If you think about it, this has really made George Bush look like even more of an ass. Passively feeding the fire of a foreign civil uprising with open and distant verbal support; it's a good template for the future. I prefer implosions over explosions. Good to see Obama starting to earn that Nobel Peace Prize.

Grammy's- Hey, to their credit, they try....kinda. I blame myself for always stumbling upon the event for several hours on end. I always hope that they're going to turn a corner. But always; pop product of the moment, catchy "country" ballad, young pop product of the moment, acknowledgment of those they've snubbed over the years they had their head in their asses and missed a moment, movement, or scene that has in one way or another shaped our nation/world culture. And then there's always the comeback story that everyone seems to always be a sucker for...

Notes from the event:
- I would love to someday arrive to a Catholic Mass in the same fashion that Lady Gaga did. But I'd pop out of the egg dressed as a Rabbi.
- It was good to see Arcade Fire handed the award for Album of the Year. After the conclusion of the show, it left many around the country asking "Who are these guys and I wonder if they sell their CD in Starbucks?"
- Bob Dylan has reinvented himself once again. This time into Tom Waits.
- Mick Jager looks like he's still got some good years left in him...even though he followed up the musical deaths of note over the last year. Is that like the Sports Illustrated cover curse?
- I had no idea Tim Tebow was the lead-man in Mumford & Sons. 
- Can someone ask Will Smith to stop reproducing? He's worse than a Georgian toddler beauty pageant mom. Sometimes parents just don't understand. 
- Lady Antebellums' "Need You Now" should be used on a late night burrito commercial for Taco Bell. Think about it. 

Lance Armstrong Retires...again - Austin's pride and joy better watch out. One more retirement and he'll start to be mentioned in the same breathe as Cher and Garth Brooks. Love what he's done for the sport and for the money he's raised for notable causes. But I'm sorry, with all those at the top of the cycling world falling into conviction and/or speculation of doping, I have to admit that his star has dimmed a bit for me.

IL state Taxes raised by 66%- After being handed some relief from the Federal Government, IL just couldn't wait but a week or two to snatch it all back and stuff it in their kitty. Census number report 200,000 people have left Chicago in the last decade. However, road construction just seems to increase year after year. I like the more pavement per capita approach; better make much of it a bike lane. Bike lanes are green (that's still popular in political agendas, right?) and a bike is all a poverty to middle-class person is going to be able to afford pretty soon. Great time of the year to implement the increase as well. A perfect time for people to look at their lives in the bleak winter months and ask themselves "Why the hell do I live here?!" Note: There are ten states in nation that have NO state income tax. Several of them are warmer!

Rahm 'n' oodles - After Rahm Emanuel's brief period of being removed from the Chicago mayoral ballot, it was great to see his name return after review by the state's Supreme Court. It's not that I'm a huge fan of Rahm, but if a polls are indicating a candidate to have a majority of the vote, I really don't care where they're from. The voice of the people is what is most important. Also, the man left the City of Chicago to serve a temporary and greater purpose for his country. It was shameful to see the insiders of Chicago politics yet again flexing their muscle to try to strong-arm their agenda by way of loophole. I'd like to see politicians try to pull the same on a recent war veteran. It wouldn't happen. But the one thing I'm not fond of regarding Rahm's campaign is the shameless running of commercials with verbal endorsement by Barrack Obama and Bill Clinton. How can  any local government candidate compete with that in a predominantly Democratic city? That's just playing dirty pool. Also, kinda funny how William Daley (brother of Richard M. Daley - current mayor of Chicago for all outsiders or Chicagoans sleeping under a rock for the past 22 years) lands Rahm's abandoned post without much scrutiny.  Funny how things unravel when two parties are in a situation to scratch one another's backs. I'm sure the final decision for the post came down to resume and track record.

Sorry to make this entry sound like an Andy Rooney rant, I'll work on the positivity in the following days. I have plenty of good things in the works and look forward everyday to the improvement of the weather. I think I'm going to hit the Lake Front trail to ride some base miles. I'm getting emails about spring training criteriums. This is making me feel warmer already. I've been spending more time on foot, hoofing it on some cross training runs. I've left the running shoes at home for the past couple years. It's going to be nice to crank out some 5-10K's this year. Maybe even a half marathon; I'm sure a suggestion to do a full will come from someone. Hopefully I'll have the strength to resist. My knees hurt just thinking about it!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Infamia: The Cutler Conundrum

The loss handed down from the Green Bay Packers to the Chicago Bears in yesterday afternoon's NFC Championship game was a hard pill to swallow. But perhaps what made it most bitter was the birth of bubbling accusations directed at Bear's quarterback Jay Cutler. An apparent left knee injury to the 27 year old was incurred in the latter portion of the second quarter of the game. However, it is the validity of the injury that was drawing most scrutiny from masses of fans and analysts alike.

Within moments of the injury's declaration on the game broadcast, Twitter accusations from NFL players, both past and present were being hoisted into the spotlight. Post game analysts took various shots at the young quarterback with heavily opinionated responses regarding his effort to remain in the game. Newscast displayed fans burning #6 (Cutler's number) jerseys in the parking lot of Soldier Field. The hysteria caused by all involved seemed to paint the picture a dictatorship thwarted by coup de ta rather than the simple conclusion of a football contest. Hell, even I took a misdirected shot via Facebook in my feeble attempt to make sense of the post-game situation with many questions unanswered. A day after and a few beers metabolized later, I retracted (erased) the statement. I felt dirty. I came to the realization that  I had taken part of some kind of modern day witch hunt; not my proudest moment.

It's not so much the nature of the inury that has drawn so much attention; it's rather the manner of it's coming to light and it's handling therefrom. We, as fans, have become so pampered by the recent advancements in a game's broadcast. Sometimes if a controversial play is in need of review, networks now furnish a retired referee to key inform fans into the intricacies of game rule and detail as we wait. As proven by the Twitter attacks on Mr. Cutler by fellow players, new instant social network options are proving to bring a fan closer to the inside "dirt" that fuels team rivalries. Ultimately, as an effort to draw more fans to the game, the league has in effect spoiled it's fans with a barrage of options creating a false reality of being closer to the game.

Enter the Cutler situation: we're introduced to the second half of the game with the sudden and brief announcement that Jay Cutler is struggling through a knee injury and Todd Collins, the team's back-up, is on the ready to take over. As a fan I had witnessed many injury scenarios before. However, typically there is a side-line reporter to get the 'skinny' on the severity and cause of the injury. Furthermore, a player that is injured so severely to be pulled out of the game usually takes an exit from the playing field or is shown being given frequent attention by it's training staff. The overwhelming frustration felt by fans seemed to be heavily fueled by the lack of communication of injury detail to those watching. Fans at the game were simply  left to watch their injured quarterback walking the sidelines with an oversized jacket cloaked over his shoulders. Fans at home are not shown the in-depth, frequent updates about their leading man that they'd grown so accustomed to. The frustration builds and unfounded questions of Cutler's drive to get back on the field starts to grow throughout masses of onlookers..

But are the network and the those responsible for the team's public relations the ones to blame for the issue? Fans now look at these modern day gladiators as if they possess extra-human qualities. They train with the best equipment, science, and technology. They consume the most cutting edge dietary supplements. Physical feats of speed and strength are pushed further and further every year. Long standing records are being crushed seemingly every season. We've witnessed the likes of Brett Favre and Jerome Bettis playing important games with broken bones while wincing away unbearable pain. Why, even a couple week's prior, I had witnessed the Philadelphia Eagles' DeSean Jackson leave the playing field barely being able to walk. Minutes later he emerged from the locker room in almost a dead sprint to get back into the game. God only knows what they had to pump into him? All of these assorted showings of "valor" have hoisted men like this into the Hall of Fame and have become the material that has woven the cloth of the NFL for several decades now.

Players live lavish lives of fame and fortune broadcasted on reality T.V. shows and featured in entertainment tabloids. It seems to me that there has actually become a major separation between player and fan all due to the attempts of the modern technology to bring the fan closer to it. These guys are superhuman, unbreakable, and virtually infallible. On the rare occasion that they do break, we want to see them carted off the field on a gurney giving us the ol' thumbs-up to ensure us that they are down but not gone for good. Nothing short of a player displaying the inability to walk, we've grown to expect a full and prompt return to the field.

The long term effects of playing this brutal game are starting to rear their ugly head. Players long retired are starting to show the effects of frequent head trauma. There have been symptoms that parallel ALS that have been linked to concussion related injury. Much respect to the NFL this season for implementing heavy penalties on tackles that can bring on such trauma. I feel it's important that we check ourselves for a moment to find respect in the sacrifice of these elite few athletes that have worked their way into the premier level of the game we all love. It's very important that we don't linger in a crowd like blood hungry ancient Roman masses watching two groups of warring factions bludgeoning one another to death.

When it boils down to it, an the NFL game isn't life, it's simply a game. If it means life to anyone, it would be the players. If there's anyone who can paint this picture better to all us fans, it would BE the players. Yes, believe it or not, hours after the "devastating" playoff loss handed down to the Bears by the Packers, Jay Cutler and crew were already settling down at various steakhouses and restaurants throughout the city. They're not wringing their hands while crying at their lockers. They move on, and so should we. We all enjoy the thrill of living and dying over the duration of a game on the couch, recliner, or stadium seat. But what's most important is we move on at the conclusion of the game. And most importantly, I feel that there is a great need to focus on the return of the pure enjoyment of the contest and not all the unnecessary details between that have made way into our lives as of late.

Turns out, Jay's injury is bonified and legit, but he'll be back and so will we as fans. And remember: (because I was so quick to forget) sacked 52 times this year, and he almost always got up. And lest we forget the famous body-sacrificing helicopter rushing TD he delivered against the Lions ???  (video)  So let this all be a lesson in the importance to all fans, regardless of team, to check ourselves and WAIT for pertinent information before jumping to conclusions. Shame on me for becoming a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale fueled meathead. And shame on the moron that burned a jersey in the parking lot of Soldier Field... Who does that ??? BEARS!